In just a matter of days, everyone's favourite TV show will finally return to screens following an excruciatingly-long wait. The dramatic season 6 finale was wholly gratifying, but it did nothing to ease our anticipation with so many questions still left to be answered.
This being the penultimate season, loose ends will start tying up and things will hopefully start falling into place, especially for the ill-fated Starks. To ensure you are fully up to speed before season 7 kicks off, here's a recap of every past season.
King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), travels from Kings Landing to Winterfell to offer a job to Ned Stark (Sean Bean) as the new Hand of the King. Although not at all keen to take on the offer, the Warden of the North, who keeps reminding everyone that, "Winter is here", just can't refuse his old friend's request. Joining Robert in the North is his extended family.
It isn't long before the Lannisters wreak havoc at Winterfell. After Robert's wife, Cersei (Lena Headey) and her twin brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) are caught in throes of passion by Ned's son Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Jamie nonchalantly pushes Bran off the window of the tower and cripples him for life.
The Stark's eldest daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner) quickly becomes smitten with Rob's despicable son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) but is rewarded for her affections by having her direwolf Lady beheaded. Since Arya's direwolf Nymeria attacks Joffrey and flees, he insists that at least one of the Stark pets be punished for the crime. Despite Joffrey already showing his true colours, the naive Sansa still decides to leave for King's Landing to marry the sadistic heir to the Iron Throne.
Alas, Ned and his two daughters Sansa and the feisty Arya (Maisie Williams) depart to the South while his bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) takes off to Castle Black to join the Night's Watch−a semi-monastic military band of brothers who guard the Wall, a massive ice structure that is the only barrier between the Seven Kingdoms and the mysterious land beyond. Before leaving Jon asks Ned about his mother and the latter promises to tell him everything the next time they meet.
Back in King's Landing, Ned finds himself mired in the courtly conspiracies. His wife, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) comes visiting with a startling news about how the previous Hand of the King and the Stark's brother-in-law Jon Arryn was killed by the Lannisters. When confronting the Queen, Ned also finds out that all the Baratheon children are in fact Cersei and Jamie's offsprings. Before Ned has to chance to inform him of his wife's betrayal, Robert is killed by a boar on a hunting trip. In a shocking twist, it is revealed that it was Ned's own wife that drugged his wine and unfortunate is framed and sentenced sentences him to death by Joffrey after facing trial. What follows is the shocking beheading of Ned before his daughters, a scene that sets the tone for the rest of the GoT series.
In the other part of the world at Essos, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is betrothed to the Dothraki barbarian warlord Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) by her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd). The two are only surviving descendants of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, who was defeated by Robert before ascending the Iron Throne. Viserys plans to take back what belongs to him with the help of the ferocious Dothraki army.
Things don't go as planned for the scheming Targaryen as he is killed by Drogo by pouring a crown of molten gold over his head. A little later, Drogo too succumbs to fatal injuries in a battle. Daenerys meanwhile has broken out of her shell and is fast turning into the Mother of Dragons she's meant to be. She walks into the flaming pyre of her husband but comes out unscathed while also hatching the three dragon eggs she received as a wedding gift.
Enraged by his father's death, Ned's eldest son Robb (Richard Madden) declares war on the Lannisters. Robert's two brothers Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Renley (Gethin Anthony) too lead their own separate army to King's Landing with both believing they have the rightful claim to the Iron Throne. Unfortunately for Renley going up against his brother means having to face the wrath of Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the Red Priestess of the pagan religion of R'hllor. Melisandre, the paranormal expert, gives birth to a dark smoke monster who kills Renley, clearing the path for Stannis, who she believes is the reincarnation of Azor Ahai the Lord of Light. Sibling rivalry at its worst!
Robb, who has now captured Jaime, sends Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), the only living son and heir apparent of Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, to seek the support of his father. Theon was raised in Winterfell with the Stark children when Ned took him hostage to prevent Balon from ever turning against Robert Baratheon. When Theon is ridiculed by his father, he decides to show that he has a mind of his own by taking over Winterfell and killing the youngest Stark boys. What he actually does is kill two farm boys since Bran and Rickon (Art Parkinson) have already escaped and are on their way further up North with the loyal simpleton Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and wildling woman Osha (Natalia Tena).
Elsewhere, Daenerys' slow but steady journey continues with her reaching the City of Qarth. There she is betrayed by the powerful merchant prince Xaro Daxos along with the warlock Pyat Pree. But soon enough the colluders learn that no one messes with Daenerys as she incinerates Daxos and Pree and gains control of Qarth.
Coming back to the Starks, Arya disguises herself as a lowly cup-bearer at Harrenhal and starts working for Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), the Lannister patriarch who's no better than his kin. More importantly, here she befriends Jaqen H'ghar (Thomas Wlaschiha) of the Faceless Men of Essos who later plays an important role as the mentor on her quest to become a deadly assassin. He also helps Arya escape Harrenhal with Gendry (Joe Dempsie), Robert Baratheon's bastard.
Jon is kidnapped by the Wildling Ygritte (Rose Leslie) while ranging beyond the Wall. Jon pretends to turn on the Night's Watch to gain the Wildling's trust while passions start brewing between him and Ygritte. He is last seen heading to meet the King-beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds). The Rangers of the Watch, on the other hand, are attacked by the dreaded White Walkers.
Unknown to Robb, Jamie is released by Catelyn in exchange for her daughters. He's sent home under the watchful guard of Lady Brienne of Tarth, the former member of Renley's Kingsguard.
By this time Stannis has almost reached King's Landing where the feeble King Joffrey is scared out of his wits. An unlikely hero emerges in Tyrion, as he uses the savage wildfire to destroy Stannis's fleet before the arrival of Tywin Lannister. The wildfire is a volatile liquid created by the ancient society of Alchemists' Guild and which is now stored beneath King's Landing.
Having saved King's Landing almost singlehandedly, Tyrion is rewarded by being demoted by his thankless father. Perhaps as consolation but more so as part of some devious political plotting, he is given Sansa's hand in marriage without either of them agreeing to it.
Sansa's former sweetheart Joffrey is set to marry Renley's widow, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). Equally good at manipulations and machinations, Margery is perhaps a more suitable bride to Joffrey than the sweet Sansa.
Theon's winning moment is cut short by Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), the most sinister of all GoT characters till date. He's the bastard son of Roose Bolton, who captures Winterfell and mercilessly tortures Theon into becoming the submissive servant Reek.
Season 3 will also be remembered as the one with the most heartbreaking episode of all in the whole of GoT series if not in all of TV history. Robb breaks the marriage pact with House Frey by instead trying the knot with Talisa (Oona Chaplin), whom he meets and instantly falls in love with in the battlefields. As revenge, the Freys and the Boltons conspire with Tywin Lannister and shoot Catelyn, Robb, the pregnant Talisa and Rob's direwolf Greywind in the episode known as the Red Wedding. What adds to the agony is that Arya, who has been traveling with the "Hound" Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), is just a few minutes away from reuniting with her brother and mother.
Unaware of everything that's happening to his siblings, Jon Snow defects from the Wildlings and is shot with three of Ygritte's arrows, who couldn't stand the betrayal.
Bran and company, meanwhile have reached the Wall where Jon's friend Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West) shows them how to pass through it. Bran bids goodbye to Rickon, whom he believes will be safer with the Umbers, the loyal bannermen to the Starks.
In the warmer regions of Essos, Daenerys is having a much better time. She now commands the army of the Unsullied warriors while conquering the cities of Slavers Bay one at a time. She befriends Ser Barriston Selmy and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) who appear to be refugees from the Seven Kingdoms.
Season 4 gave viewers some sort of redemption after the Red Wedding when King Joffrey is poisoned to death at his own wedding to Margaery Tyrell. While we later discover that it was Margaery's grandmother Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) who performed the deed, it's Tyrion who faces the wrath of the Lannisters.
In an epic monologue that won Dinklage the Emmy award, Tyrion calls for a trail by combat. His champion being the suave prince of Dorne, Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) who was in King's Landing to attend the royal marriage but was in fact there to avenge the Lannisters for the death of his sister. Oberyn is up against the "Mountain" Gregor Clegane and puts up a dazzling fight before his eyes are ripped out by the Mountain.
Tyrion, however, finds a friend in at least one Lannister as Jaime helps him escape prison. But he wasn't going to leave King's Landing before giving his father the most unceremonious death ever by shooting him while he sat on the toilet.
Another escapee from the vicious King's Landing is Sansa who is aided by Littlefinger aka Lord Baelish (Aidan Turner). She's taken to the Vale ruled by her insane Aunt Lysa, who's supposed to marry Littlefinger. Lysa tries to shove Sansa down the Moon door, a door that opens to a six hundred foot drop to the stones of the valley below. But instead, it's Lysa who succumbs to the fate she'd planned for her niece as Littlefinger pushes her down the Moon Door.
Arya finally parts ways with the Hound as the latter finds himself gravely injured after a combat with Lady Brienne. She then heads across the Narrow Sea to become an apprentice under Jaqan H'ghar's Faceless Men.
In Meeren, Daenerys struggles to contain her ever growing dragons while also finding out the bitter truth that her long term confidant Ser Jorah is a spy sent from King's Landing. The ruthless Khaleesi immediately exiles the traitor.
Jon Snow, now back at Castle Black, warns the Night's Watch of the impending attack by the Wildlings. During the heat of the battle, Ygritte dies in Jon's arms. Despite the heartache, Jon has to execute his duties and just as he heads to kill Mance Rayder, Stannis' army shows up to save the day for the Night's Watch.
In the ever unfaithful world of GoT, marriages are simply a means to a political end. So Margaery is now married to Tommen, following his elder brother's death.
Cersei, who now dislikes Margaery, plots with the leader of the Sparrows, an evangelical cult with dubious means of carrying out justice. Loras Tyrell, Margaery's brother and Renley Baratheon's ex-lover, is imprisoned for homosexuality along with Tommen's new bride for lying about her brother. But before Cersei can rejoice, the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) has her arrested for incest. She is then forced into embarking on a naked walk of shame through the streets of King's Landing. If the High Sparrow thought this would teach Cersei a lesson on humility, he couldn't be more wrong.
Jaime has reached Dorne to rescue his and Cersei's daughter Myrcella, who was earlier sent to Dorne to establish a marriage-alliance with House Martell. The Princess is poisoned by Prince Oberyn's paramour, Ellaria Sand just as she's getting ready to sail to safety.
Not all is well in Meereen with Daenerys as she finds herself tackling an uprising. She is ambushed by the Sons of the Harpy at a gladiatorial tournament before her dragon swiftly whisks her away in the nick of time. Tyrion, who is now in Essos after Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) smuggled him away from King's Landing, is left in charge while Ser Jorah and Daario, the commander of the Stormcrows and Daenerys' lover go in search of the woman they both love.
The Stark's bad luck continues as Sansa is now bequeathed to the sadistic Ramsay Bolton by Littlefinger. She is brutally raped on what's supposed to be their first wedding night. Sansa later comes across Theon and escapes with him.
Arya, now training in Braavos to become one of the Faceless Men, realises the path is laden with many trials and tribulations. She comes across Ser Meryn Trant, the senior Kings Guardsman and assumes the shape of a child prostitute to kill him. But since she took the life that was not hers to take, Arya is served punishment by being struck blind.
Bran who has been traveling with Hodor and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), the daughter of Howland Reed, a firm devotee of the House Stark, has finally met with the Three-Eyed Raven. He is gradually finding his powers becoming stronger by the day.
With his quest for the Iron Throne not over yet, Stannis starts his march south towards Winterfell. Under the mystic spell of Melisandre, he agrees to burn his own daughter Shireen as sacrifice to the Lord of Light so that he may receive luck in the battle against the Ramsays. Seeing their leader under the influence of the Red Priestess, Stannis' soldiers start deserting him and he is eventually defeated by the Boltons. He is later found by Brienne who avenges Renley's death by putting him to death.
The epic battle of the season is fought at Hardhome, a Wildling base when the frightful Whitewalkers come calling. Jon is forced to flee to Castle Black where he warns his fellow men of the Night's Watch of the dangers beyond the Wall. In a shocking move, he is stabbed for being a traitor and joining forces with he Wildlings.
In a surprising generosity shown by GoT showrunners, the viewers were given a much-awaited sigh of relief as Jon is brought back to life by Melisandre. In another great news for the Starks, Sansa finally reunites with her half-brother Jon at the Wall after which the plan to seize Winterfell back from Ramsay Bolton is put into action. Bolton has by now killed his father to become the supreme ruler of the North or so he thinks.
After escaping with Sansa, Theon reaches his home in the Iron Islands, to find his uncle Euron Greyjoy has usurped the throne. Along with his sister Yara (Gemma Whelan), Theon steals the battleships and takes flight to Meereen to form an alliance with Daenerys.
Over in Meereen, Tyrion has managed to keep the peace, precarious as it is, in the Queen's absence. Talking about the Mother of Dragons, she has been imprisoned by the Dothraki who believe she has to serve her life in bondage as the widow of the slain Khal. So Daenerys does what she is best at— incinerate the enemies and emerge unscathed from the fire herself. She then becomes the undisputed leader of the Dothraki. With a formidable naval fleet, the Dothraki army and of course the dragons, Daenerys finally sets sail for Westeros with Tyrion and the Greyjoys in tow.
In King's Landing, Cersei is able to wipe out both the High Sparrow and Margaery in one sweeping revenge. She is supposed to be presented at the Great Sept for her trial but instead uses the wildfire to gobble up all her enemies present there. Soaked in grief Tommen commits suicide by jumping off the window as Jamie brings news of Myrcella's death. With none of her children left alive, Cersei bears the crown and sits on the Iron Throne with a grave expression that can't bode well for anyone not in her good books.
Arya, who has gained her eyesight back, finds herself engaging in a constant conflict against the Waif who seems hell bent on killing her. When she finally manages to conquer her nemesis, Arya completes her training with Jaqen H'ghar claiming that she's finally "no one." So what's Arya's first order of business? Getting even with Walder Frey for the murder of Robb and Catelyn. She shapeshifts into a maid and feeds Frey a pie made from the meat of his own sons before slicing his throat. Go Arya!
Bran continues his training with the Three-Eyed Raven but the Night King disrupts and kills Bran's mentor. Hodor, Meera and Bran flee the attack but in an emotional scene, Hodor has to sacrifice himself by holding the door against the Whitewalker to ensure Bran's escape.
Vote for your ideal leader:
Bran's time traveling superpower also almost confirms a major fan theory. He watches as Ned makes a promise to his dying sister Lyanna to keep the baby, she has just brought into the world, safe. The baby is Jon and the father most probably is Rhaegar Targaryen.
As the Battle of the Bastards is fought between Jon and Ramsay Bolton, someone had to give up their life and this time it's Rickon, the youngest Stark. When it seems like the more popular bastard is about to be bested, Littlefinger comes with the army from the Vale to ensure he does something good for once in his life. But we can't help but wonder what he's planning up his sleeve for this magnanimous effort.
Back in Winterfell, it's good to finally see the rightful heirs back home as Jon is proclaimed the King in the North. What's most satisfying though is watching Sansa in all her new-found confidence feeding Ramsay to his own hungry hounds. At long last, season 6 gave the Stark fans a lot to cheer for.