The much anticipated Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones is set to air over the next few days, in the US on Sunday night and in the UK on Monday (9pm, Sky Atlantic). The show has gained international popularity over the first four series, and critics have so far praised the new season, with Vanity Fair reporting, “Game of Thrones is better than ever in Season 5″. With the new season about to kick off here is a quick overview of where we left off at the end of Season 4, to save you the approximately 37 hours of viewing time required to watch the existing episodes. Needless to say if you are not up to date this article is saturated with spoilers, so avert your gaze now.
Beginning with King’s Landing, Joffrey was killed with poisoned wine during his wedding to Margaery Tyrell in the second episode of Season 4 by Margaery’s grandmother. However, Cersei blamed Tyrion for the murder and had him arrested. He was given a trial by combat, with Oberyn Martell fighting as his champion against The Mountain. Despite starting well, Martell lost the fight in one of the most horrendous scenes in the show to date, and Tyrion was sentenced to death. However, with the help of Jaime and Varys, Tyrion escaped, but not before murdering both Shae, his lover, and Tywin Lannister, his father. Sansa was also in a difficult position in the aftermath of Joffrey’s death, but escaped King’s Landing with Littlefinger. The two headed to the Vale to meet Lysa Arryn, Sansa’s aunt. Littlefinger married Lysa, but shortly thereafter killed her by pushing her out of the infamous Moon Door. Sansa transformed to pass herself off as Littlefinger’s niece, and protected Littlefinger when called to give her account of how Lysa died. Also in King’s Landing, Tommen has been crowned king and is betrothed to recently widowed Margaery Tyrell.
Arya Stark spent Season 4 with The Hound, with both of them travelling to the Eyrie where the Hound would sell her to her aunt Lysa. However, before they got there they ran into Brienne of Tarth, who had promised Catelyn Stark that she would find and protect her daughters. Brienne and The Hound fought, resorting to fist fighting after losing their weapons. Brienne eventually began to triumph and The Hound was left for dead, with Arya refusing to finish him off. However, we never actually received confirmation that he had died, and thus some speculation remains that he will return. Arya meanwhile got on board a ship to Braavos to escape the danger she was in in Westeros where her aunt, mother, father and brother Robb had all been killed.
In the North at the Wall, the Night’s Watch successfully defended themselves against a wildling invasion. However, Jon Snow’s lover Ygritte was killed in the process. Jon Snow then went to ‘negotiate’ with Mance Rayder, but was suspected of a more murderous motive when Rayder saw him looking at a knife. However, before the situation escalated, Stannis Baratheon arrived, killing most of the wildlings. On Jon Snow’s advice he took Rayder as a prisoner rather than killing him, and also burned the dead to prevent them returning as White Walkers. Jon also burned Ygritte’s body, after finding out that she truly loved him from Tormund.
On the other side of the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen continued in her mission to end slavery. She discovered that Ser Jorah, who had seemed her loyal servant, was in fact spying on her, and thus she was forced to send him away. Her dragons were also causing problems, as she was increasingly unable to control them, and she discovered that one had killed a child. She locked two in the catacombs at Meereen, but the third dragon, Drogon, the largest of the three, remains free.
Various smaller plotlines also continue, although they could be expanded. Theon Greyjoy has been successfully transformed into ‘Reek’ by Ramsay Snow, to the point of fighting against a rescue attempt by his sister. He is now helping Ramsay Snow and Roose Bolton to take over the North. Bran continued to travel North in an attempt to find the 3-eyed raven along with Jojen and Meera Reed. However, after an encounter with the White Walkers which left Jojen dead, they were saved by a child of the forest and taken to a man who told Bran he could teach him how to fly.
With rumours that the television series is moving away from the story as told in Martin’s books, this season is set to be full of unexpected twists and turns, even for the hard core fans. Martin revealed that there will indeed be deaths in the TV series which are not present in the books (we have had one already with Jojen at the end of Season 4). Potential spoiler alert: One more hint which has circulated regarding the new series is that a forgotten character from Season 2 will make an appearance, but I’ll leave it up to you to figure out who.
In short: Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords and honest men. All will play the Game of Thrones. You win, or you die.