Ven­tur­ing north of the Wall and across the Nar­row Sea for Game Of Thrones sea­son five

SFX - - Red alert -

Things can only get bet­ter, right?

After the no filler, all- very- much killer Storm Of Swords, we now ap­proach what some fans re­gard as Game Of Thrones’ chop­pier wa­ters – more specif­i­cally the nar­row sea be­tween Wes­teros and Es­sos; the con­cur­rent time­lines of A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons see the sur­viv­ing char­ac­ters slowly drift across George RR Martin’s sprawl­ing ge­og­ra­phy. Com­bin­ing the two epic books cer­tainly makes chrono­log­i­cal sense ( who re­ally wants to go a sea­son with­out Peter Din­klage or Emilia Clarke?) but risks slow­ing down the ac­tion.

Aren’t they run­ning out of books to adapt?

While Wes­teros- watch­ers could safely as­sume that the two books will be re­ar­ranged into at least two sea­sons, it’s pos­si­ble that the lack of bloody beats now so beloved by au­di­ences could mean that the ex­ten­sive pol­i­tics – and loom­ing cliffhang­ers – gets boiled down into one sea­son. Of course, this heaps a whole load of pres­sure on a cer­tain slow-fin­gered au­thor…

Who are the Sand Snakes?

The bad news? Oberyn Martell needs more than a parac­eta­mol. The good news is that there’s a whole hot land full of sexy Ober- spawn – the “Sand Snakes” – ea­ger to take re­venge on King’s Land­ing. Most of sea­son five’s big cast­ing news re­volves around flesh­ing out the Dor­nish fam­ily heart tree: there’s Keisha Cas­tle- Hughes as Obara ( fight­ing Snake), Jessica Hen­wick as Nymeria ( po­lit­i­cal Snake) and Ros­abell Lau­renti Sell­ers as Tyene ( crafty Snake), along with Alexan­der Sid­dig as their un­cle, Do­ran Martell, the Prince Of Dorne.

What’s this about some­one com­ing back

from the dead?

No, not that one… in­stead Charles Dance’s Ty­win Lan­nis­ter will rise from the killer khasi, if only for a corpse cameo or a flash­back. His daugh­ter Cer­sei is set to re­live the doomy proph­esy from her child­hood as her schemes come un­done - ex­pect her unique spin of the walk of shame cour­tesy of ( new ad­di­tion) Jonathan Pryce’s re­li­gious

leader The High Spar­row.

Any­one MIA this year?

One bunch of peo­ple that we aren’t go­ing to be meet­ing any­time soon: the squab­bling sea­far­ers of the Iron Isles, who look like they’ve gone the way of their Prince Theon’s joy sausage, at least un­til sea­son six any­way. Join­ing the Iron­born on the un­com­fort­able subs bench will be both the sur­viv­ing Stark boys Bran and Rickon – and sadly ev­ery­one’s favourite Hodor­ing slab of Hodor, Hodor.

What is [ in­sert favourite character name] up to?

Mean­while old favourites seem likely to go by the book: Arya and Tyrion both find them­selves in Es­sos, the for­mer to train as a Face­less As­sas­sin in Braavos, the lat­ter now the most wanted man in Wes­teros. Else­where, a dis­guised Sansa learns to play pol­i­tics the Lit­tlefin­ger way, Daen­erys is strug­gling to con­trol both the city of Meereen and her dragons at the same time, while at the Wall Jon Snow must jug­gle his re­la­tion­ship with his new BFF Stan­nis Baratheon and try­ing to do right by the de­feated Wildlings.

Will book read­ers have any­thing new to look for­ward to?

Over the Wall – and not in the books – the ghostly White Walk­ers con­tinue to gather strength ( and blue- eyed ba­bies) giv­ing even A Song Of Ice And Fire read­ers who think they know ev­ery­thing some­thing un­ex­pected. Could this be a pointer to where GRRM is go­ing with his books but also a sneaky way for showrun­ners David Be­nioff and DB Weiss to ramp up the ac­tion stakes?

When will we see i t?

We’d bet our houses on Game Of Thrones sea­son five air­ing from Easter- ish 2015.

Emilia Clarke re­turns thanks to the merger of Feast and Dance.

Game Of Thrones can’t do with­out the cut­ting snark of Peter Din­klage.

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