Women of Game of Thrones are going to war - winter is coming this summer
In the forthcoming seventh season of HBO’s wildly popular fantasy series, we can expect the female characters to be the ones in charge of the narrative
The great war is here. At least, it will be when Game of Thrones returns in July and the show enters the final stages of the battle for Westeros.
A formidable list of contenders are circling from all directions – something that hasn’t escaped the notice of the current occupant of the Iron Throne.
“Enemies to the East. Enemies to the West. Enemies to the South. Enemies to the North,” says Cersei Lannister in the latest trailer. “Whatever stands in our way, we will defeat it.”
What stands in her way are the armies of at least two women with a claim to the throne and several more who would kill to see anyone but a Lannister ruling the realm from King’s Landing. All, however, have the chance to rule the show’s forthcoming narrative.
What started as a classic male-dominated adventure six seasons ago has become an unlikely tale of female empowerment.
The surviving women of Game of Thrones have been endlessly brutalised by the men of Westeros and Essos, but now they have the upper hand … and there’ll be hell to pay.
Based on author George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones has since outpaced the novels. Though Martin is reportedly writing the sixth volume for what is intended to be a seven-book series, HBO’s new season (like the one before) follows a largely rogue story line. (Martin has provided some outlines to show creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff from the forthcoming The Winds of Winter.)
Game of Thrones was a huge and expensive gamble for HBO when it premiered in 2011. It’s since become the premium network’s most successful show and an epic journey in its own right; Thrones launched conversations about the depiction of rape, nudity and violence.
The show’s wildly ambitious filming schedule even forced HBO to push this season premiere back several months. And this season will contain just seven episodes instead of 10.
Now, for the first time in the Emmy-winning HBO series’ history, nearly all of the show’s central characters have slain their regional enemies and are poised to converge on King’s Landing in an ultimate battle for control of the Seven Kingdoms.
Daenerys Targaryen, the Stark sisters Sansa and Arya, Cersei, Yara Greyjoy and Brienne of Tarth are all on a potential collision course. And when last we saw Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister and Theon Greyjoy, they were also planning to march toward the Iron Throne. All seek to topple the Lannister queen and brother/lover Jaime from power.
Cersei is no fool, however. Last season she incinerated her enemies in a wholesale massacre so evil it rivalled the Red Wedding. Goodbye High Sparrow, Margaery Tyrell Baratheon and a good third of the cast. Sweet King Tommen was simply collateral damage.
Her fiery scheme was so brilliant, she deserves the throne she now inhabits for sheer gamesmanship alone.
But no such luck, especially when dragons are involved and Daenerys (who proclaims in the new trailer: “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms and I will!”) isn’t about to give up her dreams of world domination for a cosy life in Essos.
Daenerys, aka Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Protector of the Realm (let’s stop there lest we run out of room), has amassed an army of the fiercest fighters: the nomadic horsemen known as Dothraki and the Iron Islands’ formidable fleet.
Add dragons to the mix and she has the land, sea and sky covered. The strategic counsel of Tyrion, Cersei’s estranged brother, is a small but powerful asset.
Snow – the King of the North and previously assumed to be Ned Stark’s illegitimate son – is also a rightful heir to the throne. But Snow, who was brought back from death by the Red Priestess, has no idea (yet) that there’s royal dragon blood flowing in his restored veins.
The most powerful possible new narrative, however, promises to be that of the Stark women. Sisters Sansa and Arya haven’t seen each other since they were separated as girls in Season One after the execution of their father, Ned, at the hands of the Lannisters. They have both learned a great deal about survival, and Sansa has tasted vengeance and victory and likely wants more.
As for the dozen or so other key characters not mentioned above – including Littlefinger, the women of Dorne, Varys – they’re also hovering about, perhaps concocting more devious plans, deadly poisons or a wider network of spies than imagined in previous seasons.
What is clear is that July 16 feels like centuries away for most Game of Thrones fans. Winter is coming this summer, but not soon enough.