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‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 will be shorter, while wait for it will be longest yet

Waiting for Game of Thrones to return is nearly as agonizing as a Westeros winter — complete with White Walkers — especially after the tumultuous season 6 finale. Unfortunately, the ongoing wait is going to the longest one yet, and there are fewer episodes waiting on the other side. HBO has announced that the season 7 will premiere in summer 2017 and consist of just seven episodes.

With winter finally having arrived on the show, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wanted to move production back to shoot with “some grim, gray weather,” they revealed during a recent UFC podcast. Logistically speaking, it makes sense, even if the unfortunate consequence is that the decision “pushed everything down the line.” Production won’t begin until later this summer, according to HBO President Casey Bloys. It will be based in Northern Ireland, while parts of the series will also be filmed in Spain and Iceland.

Related: Here’s who will be behind the camera for Season 7 of Game of Thrones

Although we’d held out hope that a shorter season 7 would keep the series on track for its usual springtime premiere, that is unfortunately not the case. The threat of a delay is now a reality, in spite of the fact that season 7 will be three episodes shorter than the show’s usual 10-episode installments. At least we can take comfort in the fact that it won’t be the last.

Season 7 will pick up with the fight for control over the kingdoms of Westeros and the Iron Throne. Last season ended with — spoiler alert! — Cersei Lannister (played by Lena Headey) taking over the coveted position of power, but she’ll continue to be challenged by her rivals, including Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), who, at some point, have to discover that they’re related.

The wait won’t be easy, but the payoff will be worth it.

Updated 7/18/16 by Stephanie Topacio Long: This post has been updated to incorporate the show’s summer start date and official episode count.