‘Game of Thrones’ fans wait patiently for winter winds

Winter may not be coming as quickly as fans hope. Season 6 may not begin until May 2016.

Jon Snow: Definitely dead, then definitely NOT dead in Season 6. Photo: HBO
Jon Snow: Definitely dead, then definitely NOT dead in Season 6. Photo: HBO

SAN DIEGO, November 9, 2015 – Fans of the HBO hit series “Game of Thrones” must exercise extreme patience between seasons waiting for their favorite show to return. With the HBO version veering away more than ever before from the plotlines in the novels, now having outrun the five existing books of the proposed seven book series, they’re even more anxious than usual for the start of Season 6.

Bad news. It seems winter isn’t coming as quickly in Westeros this year. While no official series start date has been announced, HBO’s current spring schedule announced at the end of October doesn’t provide any timeslots on Sundays for “Game of Thrones Season 6” until May 2016. Assuming HBO doesn’t move the series to another night (which would be risky), it would be the latest season start date so far; Season 1 began on April 17.

The most intriguing rumor about the theoretical delay in starting Season 6 suggests it’s to allow author George R. R. Martin’s next book in the series to be published before it begins so the HBO series doesn’t spoil things for readers (or for the publishers and booksellers hoping to make big money from it). Without it, Season 6 will be the first season to cover material that hasn’t yet been put down on the page first.

Martin appeared over the weekend at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago to accept an award from his alma mater. Martin earned both a bachelor’s degree and masters degree in journalism at Northwestern.

Get on with it, George. Photo: HBO
Get on with it, George. Photo: HBO

During his visit, Martin commented that he can’t write any faster. “I write at the pace I write.” On his blog, Martin also dismissed a rumor from a translator in Italy who claimed he was asked to reserve time to translate the new novel at the end of 2015, saying the blog would be the only source of any official announcement about publication of the book. This isn’t exactly an outright denial, is it?

Meanwhile, idle fans make for busy fan websites. Spoilers and speculation are rampant about Season 6 fueled by photos leaked via social media posts from locals snooping on filming now underway in locations including Northern Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Mexico.

While readers have a general idea how many of the unresolved questions may be answered, nothing is assured and everyone is trying to read the tea leaves and mine for clues from leaked production photos and comments uttered by cast members in interviews.

Melisandre's appearance back at Castle Black must be more than a coincidence. Photo: HBO
Melisandre’s appearance back at Castle Black must be more than a coincidence. Photo: HBO

The question on everyone’s mind: Is Jon Snow really dead? Actor Kit Harrington has been spotted on location in Ireland. The leading theory is that Melisandre resurrects a dead Jon Snow, just as she saw Thoros the Red Priest resurrect Beric Dondarion in Season 3. So everyone can definitively say that Jon Snow is dead, but he still returns.

Assuming this to be the case, discussion swirls around Jon Snow’s role with the Night’s Watch. Given the men turning against him, if his death releases him from his vows, Snow may decide his fate lies elsewhere, taking over for Stannis Baratheon and leading various factions against Ramsey Bolton in what is being referred to as the “Battle of the Bastards.” In the novels, Jon receives something known as the “Pink Letter” but this hasn’t happened in the HBO series. Assuming he receives it at the beginning of Season 6, it will change his priorities.

This will be the epic battle of Season 6. Photos of the battle scenes have been published and they show a whole lot of human and animal carnage (the dead horses are merely props, don’t worry).

Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy escaped Winterfell at the end of Season 5. Sansa doesn’t know Jon Snow is dead, and may try to find him. But actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa, has been seen in Ireland where these battle scenes are being filmed. Hmm.

Lady Olenna Tyrell returns to Game of Thrones to pull a few strings. Photo: HBO
Lady Olenna Tyrell returns to Game of Thrones to deal with Cersei. Hooray! Photo: HBO

This will not be the only major battle in Season 6. House Tyrell led by King Tommen with help from Jaime Lannister apparently storms King’s Landing to rescue Margaery Tyrell. When last we saw her, she was still a prisoner of the High Sparrow. Numerous photos have circulated from the location in Girona, Italy showing Margaery freed from his grasp by the Faith Militant. Knowing Margaery to be a master manipulator, the story goes tthat she has professed her allegiance to their cause as a ruse. Also factoring into this plotline, actress Diana Rigg, who plays the wonderful character Lady Olenna, Margaery’s no-nonsense grandmother, said recently in interviews she would be back for Season 6. Rigg promised more Olenna vs. Cersei faceoffs. Fantastic.

Back in Meereen, we last left Daeneyrs Targaryen with her dragon Drogon, dropped into the middle of a field with Dothraki people bearing down on her. Filming has been done at a national park in Navarre, Spain, with more than 1,000 extras all dressed as Dothraki. Presumably this is the group who found Dany. Actress Emilia Clarke (who plays Danaerys) has been photographed wearing Dothraki clothing and also Unsullied armor. Various location photos have been leaked by U.S. Ambassador to Spain James Santos.

Recall that Danaerys dropped her ring, presumably as a bread crumb for Joran Mormont and Daario Nahaaris, who are looking for her.

Danaerys Targaryen and Drogon await the Dothraki as Season 6 begins. Photo: HBO
Danaerys Targaryen and Drogon await the Dothraki as Season 6 begins. Photo: HBO

Scenes showing Drogon burning down a Dothraki temple, from which Danaerys emerges out of the fire just as she did after husband Khal Drogo’s funeral, apparently win over the Dothraki to Khalessi as their leader. Doe she bring them back to take over Meereen? Or does she decide to go forward with them leading on dragon back to take back the Iron Throne?

Danaerys may not want to return to Meereen. She left it in bad shape, with the Sons of the Harpy on the rampage, and the unhappy slavers piling on. She also left Tyrion in charge, with his fate unknown. Tyrion is the character author Martin identifies with most, and the one character we feel confident will not be killed before the series is over. (This might be his kiss of death, though).

Also spotted in Spain at a new location, Castillo de Zafra, is Issac Hempstead-Wright, who plays Bran Stark, along with young swordsmen who have a fight. It seems to be a flashback sequence seen as a vision through Bran’s eyes of a key historical incident. The characters are believed to be a young Ned Stark and Howland Reed, father of Bran’s companions Jojen and Meera, along with knight Ser Arthur Dayne. Fans hope this scene depicts Ned’s attempt to rescue his sister Lyanna Stark at the “Tower of Joy,” where she is being held prisoner. Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped Lyanna and imprisoned her there. Lyanna was bethrothed to King Robert Baratheon, but Rhaegar fancied her. This action created a lot of bad bloods, battles and perhaps answers an important question about the background of Jon Snow.

One key character in the novels has yet to make an appearance. Devout novel reading fans have been eagerly awaiting the entrance of Lady Stoneheart, who will get no additional description to avoid spoilers. But the HBO series has rolled on without her showing up. She provides a significant plotline. We won’t give on the good Lady; we can only hope this character has not been entirely abandoned, whatever role she eventually plays.

All of this is colored by the desire of fans hoping for certain things to happen: Danaerys and her dragons kill all the White Walkers. Sansa Stark (or someone, anyone) kills Ramsay Bolton. Arya Stark kills Meryn Trant. Tyrion gets out of Meereen alive. Jon Snow kills a whole lot of bad guys. Something worth watching finally happens in Dorne. Cersei’s humiliation is complete, and at least someone ends up happy. Maybe Jaime and Brienne get together. And … Lady Stoneheart!

But: Red Wedding. We know no one and nothing is safe in the “Game of Thrones” universe.

One thing we can always count on is the unexpected. Heroes and children die. Villains prevail. Plots thicken and schemes succeed. Bring on Season 6.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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