"Game of Thrones" season 4: What you need to know

Emilia Clarke and Nathalie Emmanuel are seen in the fourth season of "Game of Thrones." HBO

We are just days away from the return of "Game of Thrones" -- but as we await the acclaimed HBO drama's return on Sunday night, here's a refresher on where we left off in the world of Westeros, and what we know (so far) about what's to come.

There aren't any fourth-season spoilers here, so read on without fear. But this post includes plot points from last season, so if you're not caught up then proceed with caution.

Season 3 ended with the aftermath of that episode. (Yeah, we're still not over it either.) At the so-called "Red Wedding," the Lannisters orchestrated a bloodbath that ended with the deaths of "King of the North" Robb Stark, his mother, Catelyn, his pregnant wife and most of Stark's men.

Young Arya Stark -- who is becoming more vicious and bloodthirsty -- came so close to reuniting with her brother and mother at the Twins before they were so brutally murdered, and will now be out for revenge.

Her sister, Sansa Stark, is still at King's Landing, where she was originally supposed to marry King Joffrey but was instead forced into an (unconsummated) marriage to Tyrion Lannister. And the youngest Starks, Bran and Rickon, are presumed dead by many but are very much alive. Rickon has split off with Osha, while Bran is heading North of the Wall with Hodor and the Reed siblings.

Also at King's Landing now is Jaime Lannister, who's returned short one hand (cut off while he was a prisoner) and did not get the warmest reception from his sister, Cersei. With him there is Brienne of Tarth, his onetime captor and now friend.

Jon Snow has broken free from the wildling army and arrived at Castle Black, with three arrows in him courtesy of his (now-ex) wildling lover, Ygritte. In even worse shape is Theon Greyjoy, who spent much of last season being tortured and then castrated by Ramsay Snow, Lord Bolton's bastard son. Against her father's wishes, Theon's sister, Yara, sets off with group of men from the Iron Islands to rescue him (or the parts of him that haven't been cut off, at least).

There's also Daenerys Targaryen, who spent much of last season not only as the Mother of Dragons but a freer of slaves. She amassed an army of Unsullied warriors and then freed the slaves of Yunkai in her quest to take back the Iron Throne. And those dragons of hers are getting older -- and might not be as easy to control.

So, where will things go from here? Those who read the books have an idea of what's to come -- this season is based on the second half of "A Storm of Swords," the third book in George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series -- for example, another wedding (that of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell) and the arrival of a new character, Prince Oberyn Martell, also known as the Red Viper of Dorne.

But, as Martin himself warns, even those who've read the book might be in store for some surprises.

"People like to say no one is safe in my books, which is true," Martin told CBS News recently, "But people are even less safe on the TV series."

Tell us: Are you excited for the new season of "Game of Thrones"?


  • Jessica Derschowitz

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