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Winter is here in the first 'Game of Thrones' season 7 photos

Why it matters to you

Eager for Game of Thrones season 7 to get here? New photos from HBO give a small glimpse of what to expect.

Being a Game of Thrones fan has required extra patience this year. After eschewing the usual production schedule to get the right weather to shoot winter in Westeros, the show’s season 7 premiere was pushed back till summer. In the meantime, we have had to obsess over any and all pieces of information we could find.

Thankfully, HBO threw us a bone Thursday, releasing the first new photos from season 7. While not revealing any plot points, they serve as a good reminder of who is still alive and whom to keep our eyes on when the hit fantasy drama returns. The season is going to be an intense one — not just because they all are, but also because the series finale is just 13 episodes away. There are already interesting plot points in progress, from Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) seating herself on the Iron Throne to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) making her move. The great game could play out in so many ways, and it is going to be fascinating to watch it develop.

The original cast has dwindled over the years, but some of our favorites have survived long enough to at least appear in season 7. The Lannisters have remained particularly strong, albeit not united, with Cersei, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) still key players. The Starks continue to be a threat as well, even though they never manage to be in the same place at the same time. Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) are still kicking, along with Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Of course, the reveal last season that Jon is actually their cousin instead of their half-brother was a major twist, especially given that we now know he, like Daenerys, is part of House Targaryen.

It is clear there is a lot to be unraveled as we head into the final two seasons of the show. When it finally premieres on July 16, Game of Thrones season 7 will kick off another wildly addicting ride.