With its morally ambiguous characters and gratuitous scenes of sex, torture, nudity and violence, Game Of Thrones sounds like a recipe for divided opinion.
But shocking plot-twists and political subtexts have made it a global hit, with a heaving awards rack to accompany its legions of loyal fans.
As the characters return to battle it out, two cast members reveal a few snippets about their new storylines.
Jaime Lannister The twin brother and secret lover of Queen Cersei Lannister, and father to their teenage son – the sadistic King Joffrey Baratheon, Lannister begins series four back in the family fold. “He’s now the Lord Commander of the King’s tribe and he’s trying desperately to find his place to reconnect to this world,” says Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 43. “He also has to deal with the fact he’s got his family back together for the first time, which is a very complicated situation.”
The skilled warrior is also coming to terms with the loss of his hand, after bandits cut it off in series three. “He can no longer fight, so the start of season four is very troublesome for Jaime.”
Fans will just have to wait and see whether he reverts to his old villainous ways.
Brienne Of Tarth, A highly-skilled warrior, Brienne is 6ft 3in tall and stronger than most men. British actress Gwendoline Christie says it’s a thrill to play such a strong female. “It’s really exciting because she is dynamic with an incredible physical strength, and we also see a real depth of emotion,” says the actress, who’s in her mid-thirties. “This is a woman who has a journey of burgeoning femininity, of what it means to be an alternative kind of woman in a world of convention, a convention that she has rejected and continues to reject.”
Unlike the first three series, which have built to a grand finale, “there are a series of climaxes that occur” this time around.
“The story twists and turns in different directions, combinations of characters that have never been together before are now thrust together or one seeks another out. And as ever, you can expect the unexpected.” As for Brienne, she has to find her feet in King’s Landing, following her epic journey with Jaime Lannister.
“At King’s Landing she’s in an environment she’s not used to.
It’s a place of intrigue and secrets and it’s a kind of intellectual warfare, as opposed to a direct physical one,”
lThe new series of Game Of Thrones begins on Sky Atlantic on Monday, April 7.