‘GAME’ IS AFOOT Win­ter ar­rives in the Seven King­doms as he­roes and vil­lains bat­tle for con­trol of the Iron Throne in the sev­enth sea­son of “Game of Thrones,” pre­mier­ing Sun­day.

Char­ac­ters con­verge on Wes­teros in ‘Game of Thrones’ sea­son 7 Kristofer Hivju as seen in “Game of Thrones”

The Hamilton Spectator - - THE SPEC TV - BY KYLA BREWER

Sum­mer may be kick­ing into high gear in most parts of the coun­try, but win­ter is about to ar­rive in prime time. That’s good news for mil­lions of diehard fans who can’t wait to see what hap­pens in the Seven King­doms this sea­son.

The Lan­nis­ters, Tar­garyens, Starks and the rest whisk view­ers back to Wes­teros and be­yond in the sea­son pre­miere of “Game of Thrones,” air­ing Sun­day July 16, on HBO. Based on George R.R. Mar­tin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” se­ries of fan­tasy nov­els, the sweep­ing drama chron­i­cles the lives of sev­eral pow­er­ful fam­i­lies that in­habit a fic­tional medieval-es­que uni­verse.

By the end of last sea­son, many of the key char­ac­ters were on the move and, af­ter fol­low­ing sev­eral dis­tinct sto­ry­lines for the past few sea­sons, fans are hop­ing things will fi­nally come to­gether this sea­son. For years, the Stark fam­ily motto, “win­ter is com­ing,” has loomed over the se­ries — a warn­ing of what’s to come. In sea­son 7, win­ter has ar­rived, and the char­ac­ters bat­tle for con­trol of the Iron Throne in an epic war that will surely take out some key play­ers by the time the dust, or snow, set­tles.

Writ­ers had to pack all of the ac­tion into just seven episodes this sea­son, which pre­sented a se­ri­ous chal­lenge. In an in­ter­view with En­ter­tain­ment Weekly, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer David Be­nioff ex­plained their ap­proach.

“So it’s re­ally about try­ing to find a way to make the sto­ry­telling work with­out feel­ing like we’re rush­ing it — you still want to give the char­ac­ters their due, and pretty much all the char­ac­ters that are now left are all im­por­tant char­ac­ters,” Be­nioff said.

Among the lead­ers march­ing off to war is the newly minted King of the North Jon Snow (Kit Har­ing­ton, “Pom­peii,” 2014), who’s man­aged to unite the North and re­take the Starks’ an­ces­tral home of Win­ter­fell. He’s joined by a small but for­mi­da­ble group of loyal friends, such as tough-as-nails wildling Tor­mund Giants­bane (Kristofer Hivju, “The Fate of the Fu­ri­ous,” 2017) and small­but-fear­some Lyanna Mor­mont (Bella Ram­sey, “The Worst Witch”).

It was once be­lieved that Snow was the late Ned Stark’s (Sean Bean, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fel­low­ship of the Ring,” 2001) bas­tard son, but it’s re­cently been re­vealed that he is ac­tu­ally the son of Stark’s sis­ter Lyanna and the long-dead Rhae­gar Tar­garyen, giv­ing him a le­git­i­mate claim to the throne, al­though he doesn’t know it yet. How­ever, fans who be­lieve that this makes Jon safe this sea­son should be on no­tice that Har­ing­ton told the pub­li­ca­tion Games Radar that his char­ac­ter was in “mor­tal dan­ger like any­one else.”

Also this sea­son, Jon’s long-lost half-sis­ter, Daen­erys Tar­garyen (Emilia Clarke, “Me Be­fore You,” 2016), crosses the Nar­row Sea af­ter years in ex­ile in a bid to re­claim her birthright. She ar­rives in Wes­teros along­side her Dothraki, Un­sul­lied, Dor­nish, Tyrell and Greyjoy al­lies — as well as her drag­ons, of course. The Mother of Drag­ons is poised to take the Iron Throne, but first it ap­pears she’ll re­take her right­ful place at erst­while Tar­garyen fortress Dragon­stone.

If Daen­erys wants to sit on the Iron Throne, she’ll likely have to face ruth­less, and some might ar­gue mad, Queen Cer­sei (Lena Headey, “300,” 2006), who de­stroyed the Great Sept of Baelor with wild­fire at the end of last sea­son. She and her lover-brother, Jaime Lan­nis­ter (Niko­laj CosterWal­dau, “Black Hawk Down,” 2001) are left to rule and de­fend their king­dom af­ter the deaths of their three chil­dren.

Fan favourite Peter Din­klage (“The Sta­tion Agent,” 2003) por­trays Cer­sei and Jaime’s brother, Tyrion, who now serves as an ad­viser to Daen­erys. Only time will tell if the Lan­nis­ter sib­lings will be re­united, but it’s doubt­ful it would be a happy re­union. Cer­sei de­spises Tyrion, blam­ing him for the death of their mother, who died giv­ing birth to him, and now for the death of her father, whom Tyrion mur­dered in sea­son 4.

Tyrion’s es­tranged wife Sansa Stark (So­phie Turner, “An­other Me,” 2013) is also a ma­jor player in the fight for the Iron Throne. Heav­ily fea­tured in the sea­son 7 trail­ers, Sansa has helped Jon unite the North, and she has a num­ber of scores to set­tle in the South. All the while, she’s shad­owed by Pe­tyr “Lit­tlefin­ger” Bael­ish (Aidan Gillen, “The Wire”), a brothel owner and po­lit­i­cal wheeler and dealer.

Sansa’s sis­ter Arya (Maisie Wil­liams, “The Fall­ing,” 2014) is fi­nally mak­ing her way back home af­ter years of train­ing with the Face­less Men. Mean­while, Bran Stark (Isaac Hemp­stead Wright, “Closed Cir­cuit,” 2013) is pre­sum­ably the only one who knows Jon’s true parent­age.

TV Me­dia

Emilia Clarke stars in “Game of Thrones”

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