If HBO continues its familiar scheduling pattern, Game of Thrones Season 4 is still about a year away. However, those of us who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire book series have a sense of what we can expect from the future of the show, based on what we've read in the books.
Season 4 will reportedly cover the back half of the third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, with, perhaps, some material from books four or five thrown in. Based on that, we can make some educated guesses as to the basic outline of major arcs next year. So for those of you who really don't mind book spoilers — or who want a refresher because Storm of Swords came out over a decade ago — let's talk about what Season 4 might look like for the major characters.
MAJOR BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD. CLICK AWAY NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW.
Disclaimer: Obviously, the show departs from the books in major ways. None of this is a guarantee — it's speculation based on ASOIAF. For TV specific spoilers, check here.
Dany. The rest of Dany's story in Storm of Swords involves the city of Meereen, another slave city where her easy victories come to a quick end. The people of Meereen kill slave children, burn the land, and generally makes her life — and the lives of her followers — incredibly difficult. She eventually causes a slave uprising and takes the city. She kills off the nobles in Meereen, and then decides to stay put to learn how to rule, in part because she hears Astapor and Yunkai aren't faring so well after she destroyed them. No kidding. [Get more details here.]
We imagine Dany's arc in Season 4 will include the sacking of Meereen, as well as her decision to stay. Beyond that, we're not sure. A large chunk of Dany's plot in the rest of ASOS involved finding out Jorah was a spy (in some ways already dealt with in Season 1) and Barristan's identity (which he never kept a secret on the show). We expect the writers will find a different way to fill out Dany's story — perhaps putting more emphasis on her developing attraction to/romance with Daario.
Jon, Sam, Stannis, and Melisandre. Here are the major events left at Castle Black from A Storm of Swords: The Wildlings attack the Wall; Jon, despite his injuries, helps lead the defense; Ygritte is killed (tear). Later, Jon is accused of oath breaking by Janos Slynt and Ser Alliser Thorne, imprisoned, and then sent out to kill Mance Rayder himself. While Jon is in the Wildling camp, Stannis and Melisandre show up, capture Mance, and generally save the day. Stannis offers to re-legitimize Jon (which would make him Lord of Winterfell), but around the same time — after some internal politicking and with a lot of help from Sam — Jon is elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, so he stays in the Night's Watch. [Get more details here.]
We imagine that most of these beats will stay in place, though it's possible Jon's trial/imprisonment will be cut down significantly, or even thrown out entirely. We love Rose Leslie as Ygritte, so in our heart of hearts we hope she somehow lives, but we doubt that will happen.
Something else that's worth noting is that Stannis showing up happens late in the book, and we don't see him at all during his journey north. Will the writers show us that journey? Will they move his triumphant appearance up? Will we just not see him for most of the season? Who knows.
Bran and co. The only thing left for Bran to do from ASOS is meet "Coldhands," a mysterious figure who looks like a wight, dresses in Night's Watch black, and seems to be intelligent and perhaps even well intentioned. In A Dance With Dragons Coldhands leads Bran and his crew north to seek out the "three-eyed raven"; it's possible the writers will bring some of that into Season 4, perhaps with an emphasis on Bran learning more about his warging abilities. (Don't expect to see Rickon: He disappears for freaking ever in the books. Who the heck knows what's going on with him.)
Arya and the Hound. Assuming the writers stick to the book timeline for these two, we can expect to see a lot more of The Hound and Arya wandering around as The Hound tries to figure out which member of her family to ransom Arya to. Hint: He never succeeds. In ASOS they stumble on the Tickler and Polliver (two unsavory characters from the Harrenhal chapter of Arya's life), who they fight and kill; The Hound is injured and Arya leaves him to die. She ends the book by getting on a boat to Braavos, using the coin Jaqen H'ghar gave her. [Get more details here].
The Tickler is already dead on the show, but the writers could easily replace him with any number of other characters on Arya's death list. That still doesn't give her much plot for this season. Will they include her journey to Braavos? Will they perhaps incorporate her wanderings in with some other plot? We could see it going a lot of ways.
Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood Without Banners. Here's a big spoiler: The Brotherhood Without Banners finds Cat's body and re-animates her, turning her into "Lady Stoneheart," a cold, revenge-seeking figure who kills anyone associated with the Freys, Boltons, or Lannisters, whether or not they had any connection to the Red Wedding. In the books, Lady Stoneheart isn't introduced until the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, but it's possible the show will bring her in earlier. Either that, or they could close the season with her.
The Greyjoys. Yara's whole "rescue Theon" plot is made up whole cloth, so we're not really sure where the writers are going with that. Although not so purposeful, Yara (Asha in the books) does eventually find Theon in A Dance With Dragons. That's after a fair amount of other plot involving her, but it's possible they will switch up that timeline or condense her plot significantly. Or maybe it will go in another direction entirely. We do know that Balon Greyjoy has to die at some point soon, so we're betting that will happen this season. [Get more details here]
King's Landing. King's Landing is where the major action still remains, and there is a lot of ground to cover. Here are just the major plot points:
We're introduced to a contingent of Martells (or at least Oberyn, a big ol' badass)
Jaime is appointed Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, has a complicated relationship with Cersei, deals with Tyrell bannerman accusing Brienne of killing Renly, and sends Brienne off in search of Arya and Sansa (more on the latter in a sec). [More details]
Joffrey and Margaery's wedding, at which Joffrey is poisoned and killed (yes! Finally!)
He's actually innocent but Tyrion, because of all those threats he's made, is the one put on trial for Joffrey's death. Who accuses him? Cersei, of course. What a healthy family.
The trial is a Big Thing, and Tyrion eventually opts for trial by combat; he picks Oberyn to represent him, while Cersei chooses The Mountain. After an epic fight, Oberyn is killed, and Tyrion condemned to death.
Tyrion escapes with Jaime and Varys's helps; Jaime admits that hey, remember Tyrion's wife from way back when who was actually a whore? Yeah, well, she wasn't actually a whore: she really did love Tyrion, and Tywin had her gang raped. (Yeeeep.)
Tyrion, on his way out of the castle, stops by Tywin's room, where he finds Shae in his father's bed (which will be very hard to explain with this version of Shae, if they keep it; they very well may not). He kills Shae, and then finds his dad on the toilet and kills him with a crossbow. Bye, bye, Tywin.
As we said, that's just the basic outline of events and while some of it might be changed or cut (Jaime and Brienne's plot seems pretty flexible to us — other than sending her off in search of the girls, the rest can be cut or expanded as needed), the big points (the deaths, the trial, etc.) will almost certainly be hit. So, yeah, there's a lot to deal with.
Sansa. Meanwhile, after Joffrey and Margaery's wedding Sansa is spirited away by Littlefinger, who takes her to the Eyrie, where Littlefinger continues to creep on her. The ever-psycho Lysa Arryn (aka her aunt) tries to kill her out of jealousy — resulting in Littlefinger throwing Lysa out of the very "moon door" she tried to condemn Tyrion to back in Season 1.
What are you looking forward to in Season 4? What do you hope they cut? Sound off in the comments below.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.