Fans all over the world are highly anticipating the triumphant return of cult show Game of Thrones, as Season 4 premieres on April 6. Going along with the books, the number of characters seems to increase with each passing season, so it’s safe to assume that Season 4 won't be any different.
The problem with a fantasy show of this scale is that there are so many characters that it's hard to keep track of who's doing what, who's alive, who's dead, and generally what the hell is going on.
So here's your one stop refresher course before the beginning of the next epic chapter.
The biggest shocker of Season 3 was the Red Wedding, in which pretty much half the cast was massacred. Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn, his wife Talisa, and his unborn child were all casualties of Stark bannerman Roose Bolton's betrayal. The aftermath of the Red Wedding will have repercussions throughout the next season.
In The Thick Of It
Arya Stark seems like the unluckiest Stark (and keep in mind the other Starks keep dying). She comes so close to being reunited with her family several times, only to be cruelly thwarted. Her companion/kidnapper Sandor Clegane, more commonly known as 'the Hound', arrives at the Frey castle in hopes of exchanging Arya for a ransom, only to walk into the slaughter that was the Red Wedding. Catelyn's gruff uncle Blackfish Tully is also on the run at this point. Also in the Riverlands are the Brotherhood Without Banners – a group of outlaws run by Lord Beric Dondarrion and the red priest Thoros of Myr. These events will definitely tie into the next season.
Towards the East is Stannis Baratheon, who is still reeling from his previous failed attempt to seize King's Landing. At this point, he's still working with the Priestess of R'hllor Melisandre, who had tried to get the king to sacrifice his bastard nephew Gendry in order to gain the power to crush his enemies. Davos Seaworth, the only honourable man in King Stannis' employ, frees Gendry and ends up staying with Stannis' forces only when he discovers a call for help from the Night's Watch.
With the the Starks dying out in the battles past, the Lannisters are reigning supreme in King's Landing. When we last left, King Jofferey was to be married Margaery Tyrell, whose grandmother Lady Olenna, more commonly known as 'the Queen of Thorns' is bankrolling the Lannister reign. Queen Cersei is still to be married off to Ser Loras while Sansa Stark was married off to the imp Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion's paramour Shae, still working as Sansa's handmaiden, is still very much at King's Landing, despite Varys' attempts to get her to flee. Jaime Lannister returns after being taken captive by the Starks, but keep in mind he's missing his sword hand. He returns along with Brienne of Tarth (who will play a bigger role in the seasons to come), who is still hellbent on finding the Stark sisters for Lady Catelyn. Joffrey's little sister Myrcella was shipped off to Dorne at Tyrion's behest, while Peter 'Littlefinger' Baelish travelled to the Eyrie with the hopes of forming an alliance with Catelyn's sister Lysa Arryn, the widow of the John Arryn, the first Hand of Robert Baratheon. Arryn's death was what triggered the entire series of events ever since season one.
And the man pulling the strings is still at the helm of all of it – Tywin Lannister.
In the North
When we last saw Jon Snow, he had just revealed to his Wildling friends – and his new companion Ygritte – that he had not really betrayed the Night's Watch after all. Jon has spent Season 3 with the Wildlings – and Ygritte – far north of the Wall as the mass of free-spirited people (democratic, as opposed to the feudal seven kingdoms) led by the King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder, a former member of the Night's Watch, move south to escape the coming of the White Walkers.
On his return to Castle Black, Jon learns of his friend Samwell Tarly's adventures. After a disastrous battle against the White Walkers, followed by a mutiny by some of the Night's Watch's own in which Lord Commander Mormont and Craster were killed, Sam fled south with one of Craster's daughter-wives Gilly, and her newborn son.
On the way, he slays a White Walker with an old 'dragonglass' dagger Jon had found many days ago, and also bumps into Jon's younger half-brother Bran and his group of companions, which now include Meera and Jojen Reed, apart from his faithful half-giant companion Hodor.
A little earlier, Bran and his group had parted from his younger brother Rickon and Osha, their Wildling guardian. With Roose Bolton's forces scouring the north, hunting all the remaining claimants to Winterfell, the ancestral Stark home, splitting up seemed to be the best way to dodge their pursuers and keep at least one of the heirs to King Robb and House Stark alive.
House Bolton rules the North by now. Roose Bolton's bastard-turned-legitimate-heir Ramsay Snow, has stayed back in the North in his father's stead. Ramsay captures Theon after tricking him out of Winterfell and tortures him for most of the previous season.
Across The Narrow Sea
The Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen continues to pillage and conquer cities across the Narrow Sea, with Jorah Mormont and Ser Barristan Selmy by her side. Now, equipped with her rapidly growing dragons and the army of highly trained eunuch slave warriors known as 'The Unsullied', she travels from Astapor to Yunkai along with Daario Naharis and the rest of her armies. Season 4 will mark her getting a little bit closer to reaching the Iron Throne.