New season has lots of discoveries

Viewers can expect plenty of revelations in the new season of Game Of Thrones

As Season 6 of Game Of Thrones finally looms, premiering in Singapore on Monday, avid fans find themselves in an unusual position.

Up until now, the showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been able to draw on the series of popular novels, A Song Of Ice And Fire, by American author George R.R. Martin. The show has now overtaken the novelist's output, with the new season starting way ahead of the publication of the next book, The Winds Of Winter.

For the first time, readers and viewers are in the dark about what will happen next.

They can be sure of some plotlines, however.

For one thing, Jonathan Pryce's High Sparrow is sure to feature prominently this year. Given the nature of the show and Cersei Lannister's (Lena Headey) unforgiving disposition, there will be some cruel vengeance coming his way.

She is not the sort to forgive and forget her humiliation at his hands, her walk of shame last season proving a real shock for character and viewers alike.

Through Bran, we discover lots of things about the past which people may not have known. We can't tell you what, but there will be lots of discoveries.

ACTRESS ELLIE KENDRICK, who plays Bran Stark's protector Meera Reed, on his ability to look into the past, present and future

One of the Season 6 trailers features the High Sparrow engaged in a war of words with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Cersei's brother.

Pryce, 68, says: "I can't speak for fans, but I am sure there is a great sense of anticipation because they don't know what happens. This season is not in the books."

Along with the High Sparrow, young Arya Stark also looks set to feature prominently. Played by Maisie Williams, she was blinded for her revenge killing of Meryn Trant and is marooned in Braavos at the mercy of the House of Black and White, where she must continue her training as an arch-assassin.

"Coming into this season, we see how much of a struggle her blindness is for her," says Williams, 19, of Arya's storyline. "Her eyes have been her main weapon and tool that she's relied on for her whole life. Now that has been taken from her. It's the most brutal way of teaching her to use her other senses and it is a skill that is really, really hard for her to learn."

Arya's brother, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), returns after sitting out Season 5.

Last seen towards the climax of Season 4, underground in the lair of the Three-Eyed Raven (played in the forthcoming season by Max von Sydow), Bran is set to rejoin the fray with his protectors and friends, the hulking Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick).

Hempstead Wright, 17, says: "Bran's been on a journey with the Three-Eyed Raven, who has been teaching him to harness the power of the Weirwood tree to look into the past, present and future."

Bran is one of the few characters in the show to possess magical powers, blessed as he is with "the sight" and also the power to send his consciousness into the mind of another animal or being.

Kendrick, 25, notes that Bran's new powers make for an exciting season. "It means that through Bran, we discover lots of things about the past which people may not have known.

"We can't tell you what, but there will be lots of discoveries."

Some of these discoveries will no doubt centre on Ned Stark (Sean Bean), Bran's father, who was slain in Season 1; viewers may even learn about the true parentage of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Stark's illegitimate son.

Indeed, the fate of Snow has prompted much conjecture since his stabbing last season by his fellow Crows in the Night's Watch, with many fans hoping he might come back to life.

Harington, 29, has said that he plays a corpse this year, but Snow's body features in the latest trailer. Some suggest that the sorceress Melisandre (Carice van Houten) will resurrect him.

In fact, Snow figures so prominently in fans' thoughts that they seem to see him everywhere.

Van Houten, 39, recalls her recent post on Instagram showing her taking a walk with her father in Holland on a windy day. Her dad was in the background wearing a hood, "and everybody who saw it on Instagram was like, 'That's Jon Snow'", she says with a laugh, "but it was just my dad".

But Snow fans may be disappointed. Van Houten has hinted that her character has other things on her mind this year. "The main thing for her is that her world is completely shaken," she says, pointing out Melisandre's questioning of her faith, following the death of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), whom she believed would become a messianic hero.

"What's her faith about now? Who's she going to trust? She's confused, which is strange for a character who, for five years, you've seen totally in control. That's her focus this year, trying to get her head around it. She needs to grasp something and find her faith."

Also going on a new journey is Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who looks to be in trouble, having been taken by her former allies, the Dothraki. Will her dragons save her?

Elsewhere, the dead are on the warpath. The end of the last season saw the White Walkers cause chaos in the north and a recent trailer shows that the Wildlings, who managed to escape from the Walkers beyond the Wallcome into violent conflict with the army of House Bolton.

"Things have gone well for House Bolton of late," says Michael McElhatton, 52, who plays its lord Roose Bolton, father of the inimical Ramsay. "They've won the battle against Stannis, where Ramsay did well, but he messed with Sansa (Stark, Ramsay's wife), who has escaped."

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), fans will recall, escaped by jumping from a tower with Theon Greyjoy. This season, they flee from the Boltons before meeting Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and her squire, Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman).

"We're running away from the Boltons," says Alfie Allen, 29, who plays Theon. "It's an ongoing storyline. We see a new person emerge - he's a new Theon. There's more empathy for him for now."

Another set for a change this year is the kindly Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), who has left the Night's Watch with his loved one, former Wildling Gilly (Hannah Murray), unaware of the bloodshed that has claimed his long-time friend Snow.

Bradley, 28, says: "It's always interesting when you have characters you and the audience think you know so well, especially after five seasons. But you get the best out of them when you place those characters in new surroundings and see how they react. This season, it is refreshing to see Sam and Gilly react to a new stimulus."

Murray, 26, agrees, saying with a beam: "I loved making this season. In many ways, it felt like a new show."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'New season has lots of discoveries'. Print Edition | Subscribe