The last season of Game of Thrones marked an unprecedented turning point for the series, as the show moved on from mostly adapting the content of George R.R. Martin's books to its own material. It made every new event in the show incredibly exciting - and the same can be said for the raised stakes in season seven. Here's everything that we know so far.
And as if this wasn't obvious enough...
What We Don't Know: The Whole Story
You might have seen a few hysterical reports lately that THE WHOLE PLOT FOR GAME OF THRONES SEASON SEVEN HAS LEAKED OH GOD THE SKY IS FALLING, or something quite like them. But while we know a few very-significant-sounding events from the next season of the show, the supposed synopsis of every episode in season seven that has made the rounds amongst the press isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The reports are based on a single Reddit thread on R/FreeFolk, a Game of Thrones subreddit, that saw a user invent their own synopsis for the season attempting to weave all the disparate nuggets of information we do know about season seven so far into a cohesive whole. It is, as the user themselves says at the top of the post, simply speculation rather than an actual leak. So before we start discussing some of those spoilers below, you can be rest assured: We don't know everything just yet.
But we do know for certain that...
This much was obvious, considering season six ended with Daenerys and her combined forces, with the help of Yara and Theon Greyjoy, setting sail for Westeros at long last. But we have learned that Daenerys' invasion of her homeland may actually happen much quicker than many fans might have expected. After seasons of umming and ahhing, the Mother of Dragons is moving with haste.
There are at least two major areas in Westeros where Daenerys will make her mark. The first is the Targaryens' ancestral seat at Dragonstone - which was occupied by the Baratheons up until Stannis' death - pretty early on in the season, given that major meetings between her forces and other characters occur there (more on those later) in set reports.
The other area is a lot closer to home for Cersei Lannister. Daenerys apparently reclaims an area called the Dragonpit, home to many major scenes currently being filmed. In the lore of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Dragonpit was where Targaryen rulers housed their draconic pets - ideal for Dany's brood - and located very close to the city of King's Landing itself. If Daenerys is setting up shop there in season seven, it means she's within striking distance of retaking the Iron Throne itself, if she hasn't conquered the city already.
The Next Battle of the Bastards?
Part of Daenerys' invasion seems to include what is essentially season seven's answer to last year's "Battle of the Bastards" - the epic battle between Jon Snow's northern rebels and the Boltons. Many reports about this major new action sequence for the show have come out recently, and it's evolved over time; the first rumours indicated that the battle would be primarily fought at sea, between Lannister-allied forces and Yara and Theon's fleet, while also encompassing a minor land battle.
That seems to have recently flipped, with now the majority of the sequence being a land-based battle featuring around 450 extras, making it almost the same size as the Battle of the Bastards. However, the event is described as being less like a traditional battle and more like an ambush by Daenerys' forces. The latest rumours indicate that Daenerys herself could take to the field, atop one of her dragons, and that her armies are ambushing a convoy of Lannister forces - rumoured, but not confirmed, to be lead by Jamie Lannister. Considering it seems like Daenerys sets up shop in Westeros pretty quickly, this major battle could take place early on in the season.
A Meeting of Ice and Fire
One of the biggest things we know about this season is that it seems like Daenerys will find herself with at least one major ally in Westeros when she arrives, and it's none other than Jon Snow himself. Scenes recently filmed on location in the Basque country in Spain saw Jon and Davos Seaworth make landfall at Dragonstone, greeted by Tyrion, Missandei and several Dothraki and Unsullied. Oh, and Theon too, which looks to be like less of a happy reunion for Jon.
All this leads to a moment fans have been waiting for and speculating about pretty much since the show began: Jon Snow will meet Daenerys Targaryen for the very first time. And, considering other events we'll discuss later, it seems like the two will unite their forces in an attempt to wrestle the Iron Throne from the Lannisters once and for all.
A Familiar Face Returns
Jon isn't the only familiar face showing up on Daenerys' doorstep at Dragonstone this season. Another long-absent character from Game of Thrones will seemingly be involved with events at the castle: Gendry, the illegitimate son of King Robert Baratheon, last seen merrily sailing away from the clutches of Stannis and Melisandre in season three.
Actor Joe Dempsie was spotted in Belfast when production on the show there began a few months ago, but recently set images that came out confirmed Gendry would again appear in the show, seemingly meeting Tyrion and Davos Seaworth along the shore below Dragonstone once more. While we don't have any clues as to what Gendry will be doing in the next season - presumably he's just knackered from rowing for the past four years - or how he'll fit into Daenerys' plans, his return seems like it could play a major role in helping to destabilise Cersei's grip on the Iron Throne.
New Allies and Enemies in King's Landing
Daenerys isn't the only one making big new alliances next season - hell, she isn't even the only one teaming up with a Greyjoy. Apparently Cersei will ally herself with Euron Greyjoy himself, sending him off to fight his own relatives (and, apparently, capture one of them - rumoured to be Yara rather than Theon) at sea and presumably shore up Lannister defences in preparation for Dany's arrival.
But Queen Cersei is, in her typical style, also making some big enemies in the capital, too. Recent reports indicate that Tycho Nestoris, the Iron Bank of Braavos representative played by Mark Gatiss in season four and five of the show, will head to King's Landing next season, looking to collect on the many loans the crown has made from the bank since Robert Baratheon took the throne. Reports about Nestoris' role in the season indicate that Cersei will make a hugely important decision involving him, with major ramifications for the show going forward. Considering the Iron Bank is known for supporting the enemies of those that stiff it out of money, could Cersei renege on the popular belief of Lannisters always paying their debts?
We know that the Dragonpit will be a monumentally important location in the upcoming season, not just because of Daenerys' presence there and its proximity to King's Landing, but because there have been a ton of rumours about basically almost all of the principle cast filming scenes there, in what could possibly the biggest reunion of the show's ensemble cast pretty much since Game of Thrones began.
Obvious choices like Emilia Clarke have been spotted filming in the two locations believed to be being used in Spain for the Dragonpit - the amphitheatre in the Roman ruins of Itálica and the Royal Dockyards at Seville - in recent months, but an absolute ton of actors from the cast have been rumoured to film scenes there as well, including what could be some of the climatic scenes of the season. A recent report indicated scenes being filmed that include 17 members of the principal cast, including Jon and his allies; Daenerys and her retinue; Cersei, Jamie and the Lannisters; and even, bizarrely, Sandor Clegane. While we don't know what happens at the Dragonpit yet, expect it to be a major locale in season seven.
Another Stark Reunion?
A lot of what we've heard about season seven so far is isolated to the south of Westeros and the impending conflict between House Targaryen and House Lannister - so what of the North and Beyond the Wall?
Actually, we've heard hardly anything about the North so far, especially with the news that Jon, Brienne and Davos will be riding south to meet with Daenerys. There's one major, still unconfirmed exception, that could take place next year. Paparazzi pictures that emerged last month from filming in September seemed to indicate that Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark), Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Bella Ramsay (Leanna Mormont) were all filming at the same time at studios in Belfast together.
While this doesn't necessarily confirm that all the actors are filming scenes with each other - the images were of the actors emerging from makeup trailers, rather than actually filming - it's led to a lot of speculation that the shattered remnants of the Stark family could come together at long last. While Bran was left beyond the Wall last season, we do know at least Arya is back in Westeros, so a reunion of the Stark kids and their allies in the north could be on the cards. It's just not a plot point that's as concrete as others we've heard about.
While a lot of these sound like major events for Game of Thrones, there's still a lot that we don't know about the next season - and with no book material to draw upon, anything could still happen. Stay tuned to Morning Spoilers in the future to see what else we learn about Game of Thrones before it returns to our TV screens in winter 2017.