From new characters to new places, everything you need to know before Game of Thrones season 4 is right here….
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Despite King Joffrey Baratheon’s great proclamation in the final moments of season three of ‘Game of Thrones’ that the war was over following the massacre of the Stark family at the event known now and forever as The Red Wedding, there are still massive threats being leveraged against those sitting on pedestals in King’s Landing. A new enemy is coming to the city by way of Dorne, and Stannis Baratheon’s claim to the iron throne isn’t going anywhere for the time being. Let’s not forget the grim and rotted army building day by day North of the Wall, and a Wilding contingent that might outnumber every person holding a sword in Westeros.
Across the Narrow Sea, the Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen has freed two major slave cities while building her own army — first with 8,000 eunuch soldiers known as the Unsullied before adding another few thousand sell swords as the Second Sons also joined her cause at the behest of their leader Daario Naharis, who is quite taken with the young queen. To the North, Roose Bolton and his bastard son Ramsay have chopped and skewered the Starks and the Greyjoys (some quite literally – even I felt bad for Theon) to become the new wardens of the area with hopes of one day attaining the power to actually rule there instead of just being handed temporary keys to the kingdom.
So as season 4 rapidly approaches, let’s take a look ahead at some of the key players you’ll surely see in the debut including the new faces, places and events that will make up a major part of ‘Game of Thrones’ this year. Don’t worry, despite an entire book collection of George R.R. Martin’s sprawling epic laid right at our feet, we will not indulge in any spoilers outside of a few character traits that HBO hasn’t already revealed ahead of the new season. Get ready for all of the information you might need before Sunday night, and feel free to refer back to this handy guide once 10pm strikes your clock and sadness washes over your brain and confusion settles into your eyes. Valar morghulis! Let’s get started.
Fallout from the Red Wedding
What better place for a beginning than the end of the Stark uprising! The ultimate act of betrayal that led to the deaths of Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Talisa Stark and all of the Stark banner men at Walder Frey’s castle now dubbed The Red Wedding will still be a key component in season 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’. While the Northerners under Robb Stark have been squashed, it doesn’t mean everyone is ready to settle down and call it a day.
The new warden of the North is Roose Bolton, who helped orchestrate the Red Wedding while plotting with Walder Frey and Tywin Lannister. He will rule the North with help from his bastard son Ramsay Snow, who we met last year as the man torturing and tormenting Theon Greyjoy after he burned Winterfell to the ground. Ramsay’s agenda based on the trailers appears to be tracking down the last of the Stark children, because the people in the North will always be loyal to them — so long as they are still alive.
We will also see for the first time in full sight the Dreadfort — the Bolton’s homeland that sits in the North and the where Theon is currently being held by Ramsay. Theon can no longer use his own name, but instead is called Reek. His sister Yara Greyjoy is currently in pursuit to find her baby brother, but whether or not she catches up to Theon or Ramsay remains to be seen.
Arya Stark avoided her own death when she showed up to the Red Wedding just moments after it happened along with her new guardian, Sandor Clegane aka The Hound. This was after Arya spent much of the season as a guest of the Brotherhood without Banners, who are led by a warrior named Lord Beric Dondarrion, who has been brought back to life six times by a priest named Thoros, who worships the Lord of Light.
A Royal Wedding
In King’s Landing, Joffrey will wed his new queen Margaery Tyrell this season while her brother Loras Tyrell is expected to marry former queen Cersei. The royal wedding is expected to be one of the biggest events of the season and a can’t miss affair for anyone in Westeros.
Jamie Lannister has returned from his years in capture first under Robb Stark and then on the way back home from banner men answering to Roose Bolton. He lost his sword hand along the way, but gained a new perspective and attitude while befriending his guard Brienne of Tarth. The closing moments of last season saw Jamie enter Cersei’s room and lay eyes on his lover/sister for the first time in forever, as she looked positively shocked and saddened to see her lover/brother in the state he was in not to mention without his hand. Jamie also appears to be on a mission to find Arya Stark, since she hasn’t been seen since Ned’s beheading in season one and he sends Brienne on a mission to find the young girl.
Tyrion Lannister wanted to take ownership of his family’s homeland Casterly Rock, but instead his father denied him his birthright and offered to make him master of coin instead. He also gained a wife last year as Tyrion married Sansa Stark, although he has yet to consummate with the young heiress, refusing his father’s orders to produce a male child as soon as possible. Sansa learned about her family’s murder at the Red Wedding in the closing moments of season 3.
Lord Petyr Baelish is currently on a ship headed for The Eyrie where he has been promised to marry Lysa Arryn where he will become the lord protector over the Vale until her son Robert Arryn comes of age. He wanted to bring Sansa Stark with him on his travels to the Vale, but ultimately she turned him down thinking at the time that she was going to be married off to Loras Tyrell but instead got promised to Tyrion Lannister.
Stannis Baratheon is still licking his wounds from the battle of Blackwater Bay, but after finding one of his brother’s bastard sons, he believes he’s found the key to ending the war with the other factions currently laying claim to the Iron Throne. Following Robb Stark’s death, he’s even more convinced that the Red Priestess Melisandre has found the magical power to make him king, but before he can soak every last drop of blood from Gendry, his hand and close confidant Davos frees the boy and tells him to head back to King’s Landing to avoid an eventual death.
Just as Stannis is about to put Davos to death for his treachery, the Red woman reads a parchment that arrived from the men of the Night’s Watch informing them that a great war is coming from beyond The Wall, and they need every able bodied soldier to come help right away. Melisandre informs Stannis that this is where his attention is needed right now, and Davos plays a part in the war to come so his life is saved as well.
Across the Narrow Sea
Daenerys builds her army with a group of slave warriors known as the Unsullied before freeing all of them and turning them on their masters in Astapor. From there she gains the employ of a group of sell swords known as the Second Sons after their leader Daario Naharis is quite taken with the young queen, and they work together to conquer another of the slave cities called Yunkai.
Now Daenerys and her new army have one more slave city to free — Meereen — the largest and most well defended of all the slave cities. They won’t go as easily as Yunkai and Astapor, and things are probably going to get bloody for Dany in season 4.
Jon Snow attempted for the biggest part of season 4 to pass himself off as a traitor to the Night’s Watch so he could join up with Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, and gather information on the invading party of Wildings about to make a play for Westeros. In doing so, Jon ended up falling in love with a wilding named Ygritte, before finally turning on them and making his get away. Unfortunately he left Ygritte behind and when she found him, she buried three arrows into his body before he rode away on his horse. Jon made it back to the Wall, where he was greeted by his old friends in the Night’s Watch.
The Night’s Watch were torn apart north of the Wall after the Lord Commander Jeor Mormont was murdered by his own men at Craster’s Keep. The remaining men fled while others were slain north of the wall by the White Walkers. One man who got away was Samwell Tarly, who made off with one of Craster’s daughters/wives — Gilley, who gave birth to a son who she named Sam. On their way back to Castle Black, they encountered a White Walker, who Sam was able to destroy by using a piece of dragon glass thus discovering the secret of how to kill the undead hordes who may eventually move south.
While traveling to Castle Black, Sam and Gilley also run into Bran, Hodor, Jojen and Meera Reed who are making their way north of the wall to pursue the three-eyed raven that haunts Bran in his dreams at night. Meanwhile, Rickon and Osha are headed in another direction because the former Wilding wants nothing to do with going north of the Wall again.
New Faces This Season
One of the major new players this season on Game of Thrones is Oberyn Martell, who comes to King’s Landing to act on the small council on behalf of his family from Dorne. Over the course of the past few seasons, Dorne has been mentioned numerous times most notably for their wine and when Tyrion is asked at Castle Black what the strangest thing he’s ever eaten was and he responds ‘do Dornish girls count?’.
If you’ve seen the trailers (and we’ll have them attached at the bottom of this article), Oberyn is the character seen numerous times saying ‘the Lannisters aren’t the only ones who pay their debts’. His debt comes in the form of revenge after Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane raped and murdered his sister Ella and her children. Now Oberyn has come to the capitol for business and a bit of personal vengeance. He is joined on his journey by his lady love Ellaria Sand, who will also appear in season 4.
Now we met Daario Naharis last season as the leader of the Second Sons when he pledged his loyalty to Daenerys, but the actor who played him a year ago is no longer with the show and he has been replaced by Michiel Huisman. He will open the season just like he ended it last year, right beside Daenerys.
There were a bunch for this season of Game of Thrones and here are the majority of them in one place if you want to catch up before the season debut on Sunday:
Expect another great season of Game of Thrones because from start to finish it remains one of the best shows on television, if not the most consistent series packed tightly into 10 episodes every year. Those 10 weeks fly by so enjoy it while it’s hear, and don’t forget to come back every Sunday night as we recap Game of Thrones each and every week.