We know, we know. Season five has barely been cold in the ground a month and season six won't be here until next Spring, but like transfer talk in the football closed season, feeding on rumours and speculation is the only way to appease your Game Of Thrones addiction.
Luckily, there are already a few interesting tit bits lying around about what may happen when we return to Westeros, so here they are.
We'll update you as we
guess learn more.
1 | Bran is back
Not a rumour but a cast iron (throne) fact: Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays the crippled but supernaturally-gifted young Stark son, tweeted just this week that he is in Belfast filming for season six.
Having been left out entirely in season five – a good job, given the show had arguably too many storylines going on as it was – we are presumably going to pick up with Bran where we left him, in the underground home of the mysterious Children of the Forest and the 'three-eyed raven' – actually a Gandalf-alike old fella – where he'd be told he would never walk again, but he would 'fly'.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Hempstead-Wright said: "I can't say a lot, but I am back this season, and it's going to get particularly interesting with Bran. He has some interesting visions."
2 | We're going to find out about R+L=J
There is a long-standing fan theory that Jon Snow, far from being Ned Stark's 'bastard', was actually born to Ned's sister Lyanna Stark and her lover Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (hence R+L=J), making him a pure blood prince of some standing – particularly if the pair married in secret.
It has only ever been hinted at in the books, but a filming location confirmed for season six has led to speculation the idea might by explored in the TV show. Why? Because the Spanish Castillo de Zafra in Guadalajara, pictured below, bears a resemblance to a fictional location described in the books as the Tower of Joy, which is where Ned found Lyanna just before she died (and, as the theory goes, took the baby Jon into his care).
It is possible, given the events at the Tower took place 17 years before the story begins, that we'll be visiting the Tower of Joy in a flashback (if you remember season five opened with one such scene – Cersei visiting a witch when she was a child).
But wait, there's more. A few weeks ago HBO announced a list of unnamed roles it was casting, including one called 'Legendary Fighter' who is a 'paragon of knighthood', in his 30s or 40s and carries a famous sword.
Could this be Ser Arthur Dayne, also known as 'The Sword in the Morning', who Ned Stark describes in the books as the finest knight he ever saw? It would fit with the above when you consider that Dayne died at The Tower of Joy – he was holding Lyanna captive when Ned and his companions arrived to free her.
The question is, whose flashback would we be seeing, given Ned, Lyanna and Dayne himself are now all dead? One theory is Howland Reed, father of Jojen and Meera (the two annoying kids last seen trekking with Bran / being stabbed by skeletons), who is the only person left still alive who was at the battle at the Tower. If we see him introduced in season six, all the pieces should slot into place. Otherwise, y'know, it's just a tower.
3 | Jon Snow is alive
OK, so people were saying this before the credits finished rolling on final season 5 episode 'Mother's Mercy', partly out of passion (it's Jon Snow! He can't be dead!) and partly out of commom sense – we saw Melisandre, the High Priestess with previous when it comes to resurrecting the dead, sneaking back into Castle Black just before Snow was stabbed, which would be a rather pointless event to show otherwise.
But then Kit Harington said, in as plain terms as possible, that he wasn't going back to the show, and many of us assumed he'd gone the way of so many major character before him.
But then we saw him at Wimbledon with suspiciously Jon Snow-alike hair. Harington has long made his frustration clear that being in the show prevented him, contractually, from losing the flowing locks. So could Kit have been bluffing? If you believe, as most fans do, that the true nature of his parentage is central to the plot of the show, it would seem somewhat pointless to explore that without him about.
4 | We're going to see a lot more of Sam (and meet his father)
Another clue in the casting call for season 6 was the role of 'father', which is described thus:
"Aged 50s to 60s, he's one of the greatest soldiers in Westeros – a humorless martinet, severe and intimidating. He demands martial discipline in the field and in his home." It's described as 'a very good part' that is 'centrally involved in a protagonist's storyline.'
The best bet is that this is Randyll Tarly, Sam's father and – if his son's recollections at the wall are anything to go by – not a very nice piece of work. Why? Well first, Stannis made a point of bringing Randyll when talking to Sam a few episodes ago: "He defeated my brother at the battle of Ashford. Only battle Robb ever lost. I told him he shouldn't go so far west so soon but he never listened. Fine soldier your father." The show wanted us to know more about Randyll for a reason.
The casting call describes The Father's Family:
"Mother in her 50s. She's a sweet, plump, and adoring mother, and has a soft spot for one of her children who benefits from her decency. Sister in her early 20s. She's a kind, friendly and unpretentious woman. Brother in his early to mid-20s . Athletic, a good hunter, an excellent swordsman, manly, not particularly bright but the favourite child of the father."
All of which fits in with what Sam has said about his family at various point in the show so far. That – combined with some other location news that seems a good fit for Oldtown (where the Tarlys are from) – has led many fans to believe Sam, Gilly and the baby are on their way.
5 | The Hound may be coming back…
We know it didn't look good for The Hound when Arya left him dying by the rock, but…
Another new character currently being cast is called simply 'Priest'. He is described thus:
"In his 40s or 50s. A gruff ex-soldier who found religion. Now a no-nonsense rural priest who ministers to the poor of the countryside. He's a salt-of-the-earth man who has weathered many battles."
Anyone who has read the books knows that this description fits the character of Septon Meribald pretty clearly, who is a man Brienne meets on her travels. In the book, there is a scene involving Meribald that has resulted in a fan theory that The Hound survived and is now living as a gravedigger at a monastery, which could be the point of Meribald being introduced to the show. Remember, we never actually saw The Hound die...
However, while the theory may turn out to be true in the books, it seems unlikely to us that, in addition to Jon Snow, the writers of the show will bring The Hound back from the dead. Wouldn't that start to undermine one of the great appeals of Game Of Thrones, that the death of popular characters can (and will) arrive as swiftly and brutually as Winter itself?
Who knows, but it'll be fun spending the next few months trying to guess.