'Game of Thrones' season 3 doesn't premiere for another month, but after that new trailer, the wait has stopped being annoying and has started becoming deeply, painfully uncomfortable. Since sacrificing a loved one to the the Lord of Light isn't going to speed up the wait, we'll have to pass the time talking about what we're most excited to see in the new season.
Although there are dozens of surprises awaiting us in the third season of 'Game of Thrones,' here are our top ten most anticipated moments and characters, derived from reading and re-reading 'A Storm of Swords,' the source material for the new season (well, at least the first half of it). Although we'll avoid any major spoilers, please note that we'll be discussing elements of the books that have yet to transpire on screen, including a few story beats and characters that may upset the spoiler-sensitive. Proceed with caution!
Mance Rayder, King Beyond the Wall
For two seasons, we've heard all about the infamous Mance Rayder, the former Night's Watchman who deserted The Wall and fled north, but we finally get to meet him in season three! In addition to being a traitor, Mance has declared himself "King Beyond the Wall" (because it's not like Westeros has too many kings right now), has mustered an army of Wildlings and is marching his forces south, away from the recently arisen White Walkers and straight toward the woefully undermanned Wall and its small army of old men and young boys. Played great character actor Ciaran Hinds (who HBO fans will remember from 'Rome'), Mance rides a fine line between hero and villain -- he's the kind of guy who looks like a menace until you hear his side of the story. In other words, he'll fit right into the grey world of 'Game of Thrones.'
Remember Bran's weird dreams in season two? The one with the three-eyed crow or the one where he's inhabiting the body of his direwolf, Summer? Or how about the dream where he prophesied the Greyjoys taking Winterfell? Bran is finally going to get some answers when he meets up with Jojen and Meera Reed, children of a Stark family ally who know a thing or two about magic. Although they were originally introduced in the second book (i.e., the second season), they've been moved to the third season, where their knowledge of the North and its many mysteries will help Bran (along with Rickon, Hodor and Osha) survive threats from every angle.
The Lannisters, Together at Last!
Like most of the families in 'Game of Thrones,' the crafty (and brutal) Lannister clan have spent the series thus far scattered across the continent, only occasionally crossing paths. But a reunion is due! With Tyrion on the mend following the Battle of Blackwater, Cersei still trying to control the sociopathic King Joffrey, the cruel Tywin wearing the Hand of the King badge and Jaime on the way south, Westeros' most dysfunctional (and fascinating) family will soon inhabit the same city. It'll be just like your Thanksgiving dinners...but with more thinly veiled threats and some literal backstabbing.
The Adventures of Jon Snow
Let's face it: Jon Snow didn't have much to do last season beyond getting beaten up by an old man and being taken prisoner by a woman. Season two may not have been very flattering for the bastard of Winterfell, but season three looks to rectify that as Jon finds himself behind enemy lines and deep undercover, working against Mance Rayder and the Wildling forces by pretending to join them. In the books, Jon's storyline doesn't truly take off until 'A Storm of Swords' and the show should reflect this. Expect everyone whose eyes glazed over during the north of the Wall scenes last season to be riveted by the increasingly hostile adventures Jon will find himself in this season. Things get nuts.
One of the problems with adapting George RR Martin's novels to the small screen is that entire storylines and characters have to be pushed to the background or cut entirely. This has been the case with the Catelyn Stark's family, the Tullys, and the Riverlords who serve them. We heard about Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane attacking their lands in retaliation for Tyrion's kidnapping back in season one and we heard about them assisting Robb Stark's war against the Lannisters in season two, but it looks like we'll finally get the chance to meet them in season three! With Tobias Menzies (the second 'Rome' veteran joining the cast this year) playing Catelyn's younger brother Edmure and Clive Russell playing her badass uncle Brynden, it looks like one of Westeros' unsung families is about to get its TV due!
The story of Sansa Stark has been a tragic one, with the young girl imprisoned and abused by the vicious king who intended to marry her...until he cancelled the engagement to wed the ambitious Margaery Tyrell. Now, Sansa is a hostage without the protection of being a future queen, but she has more allies than she knows. In 'A Storm of Swords,' she befriends Ser Dontos -- the drunken knight forced to become King Joffrey's fool back in the first episode of season two -- and they devise a survival plan. Although we're not sure if Dontos will return to the show, there's another main character who can take his spot quite easily. In any case, season three will find Sansa tormented, but significantly less lonely.
Jaime and Brienne: Road Trip!
After hanging around the fringes of season two, expect to see a lot more of Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth this season as the two of them embark on a road trip to King's Landing, a journey fraught with all kinds of peril. The scheming and deadly Jaime and the honorable-to-a-fault Brienne make for a strange duo and to say that they don't get along or see eye-to-eye is an understatement. It's a classic case of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable object -- think of it like the Odd Couple, but with more beheadings and eviscerations.
Like Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen spent much of season two sitting on the sidelines, but also like him, her story really takes off in the third book (and thus, the third season). With her newfound wealth, a trio of firebreathing (and rapidly growing) dragons and a ship at her disposal, season three will find Dany finally getting around to recruiting an army to take back Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne. Of course, the circumstances under which she gets her soldiers and how she reacts to being in a postion of military leadership are things you'll have to see for yourself when the season begins...but expect things to get bloody. After all, this is 'Game of Thrones.'
And you thought Jaime and Brienne were an odd couple, huh? When everyone's favorite physically and emotionally scarred warrior and everyone's favorite pint-sized assassin-in-the-making cross paths in the wilds of Westeros, one of the most unlikely and entertaining relationships in the entirety of the series is born. Considering just how good Maisie Williams and Rory McCann have been on this show, the thought of these two matching wits is giving us flashbacks to the Arya's scenes with Tywin, which were arguably the best moments in season two.
We're not going to say much of anything here, but "RW" are the initials for the most infamous moment in all of "A Song of Ice and Fire" and it will undoubtedly be the water cooler scene of 2013. If you've read the books, you know exactly what we're talking about. If you don't know anything about it, don't look it up! We're certainly not going to spoil it here. Not since Ned Stark lost his head has the show had to grapple with such a game-changing, landscape shifting event. You'll know it when you see it.
What moments are you looking forward to in 'Game of Thrones' season three? Whether you're a massive fan of the books or just a casual watcher, let us know in the comments below! Just mark your spoilers. Don't be that