The HBO epic and its disconcertingly high mortality rate returns with a host of new characters, returning favorites and even bigger dragons.
The Bear and the Maiden Fair
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) faces off against a bear with only a wooden sword to defend herself.
Daenerys and her Dragons
The Khaleesi's trio of offspring have grown, helping her make a few power plays in the third season.
Tyrion and Shae
Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Shae (Sibel Kekilli) butt heads over the Lannister's engagement to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner).
Tywin versus Joffrey
Lord Tywin (Charles Dance) reminds grandson King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) that he's not the absolute authority at King's Landing.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), no longer the hand of the king, ended season two with a severe deficit of power.
Game of Thrones' graphics team have stepped up their game even further in season three, with an increased focus on Daenerys' CGI co-stars.
Season two left Arya (Maisie Williams) going on the lam again and looking for her family, having escaped Harrenhal and turning down a chance to train with the "Faceless men."
Robb Stark and Talisa Westerling
Another new coupling, Robb (Richard Madden) shirked an alliance-friendly marriage to web Talisa Westerling (Oona Chaplin) -- the Yoko Ono of the stark camp.
Theon (Alfie Allen) gets no break as season three continues, still held prisoner and facing worse torture every episode.
Dragons in tow, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) got her mojo back at the end of season two, leaving Qarth in her rearview mirror in a newly acquired ship.
Brienne of Tarth
Fulfilling the series' requisite buddy-comedy storyline, she-warrior Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) continues to escort the snarky Jamie Lannister back to his family.
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Game of Thrones' resident wine-o, has lost a lot of her influence over son Joffrey.
Far north, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) kicks off season three a prisoner of the wildlings and about to meet the King Beyond the Wall.
The mother of Stannis Baratheon's assassin smoke baby, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) will reappear after her king’s devastating loss at Battle of the Blackwater.
Crippled after the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) starts the third season under far less auspicious terms than his introduction.
Another new addition, Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) sports the nickname "Queen of Thorns" for her biting wit in the royal court of the House Tyrell.
Younger brother of Meera, Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) appeared in the second installment of the Song of Ice and Fire novels but doesn't make his Game of Thrones debut until season three.
The only daughter of Greywater Watch reigning family House Reed, Meera (Ellie Kendrick) is also the oldest.
Heading north from ruins of Winterfell, Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) was last seen heading for the Wall at the bequest of a dying Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter).
Ygritte (Rose Leslie) turned the tables on Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in season two, taking him prisoner and turning him over to the wildlings.
Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell
Kings Landings' new super couple Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) could prove a force to be wreckoned with in season three.
Only mentioned up until this point, Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) is a Night's Watch defector and the feared King Beyond the Wall.
The widow Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) is persona non grata in her son's camp, having freed Jaime Lannister in a bid to get her daughters back.
Richard Dormer joins as Game of Thrones as Beric Dondarrion, originally played by David Michael Scott in the first season.
No longer betrothed to Joffrey, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is fleeing King's Landing to find her family.
Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully
Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully (Clive Russell) joins the series as Catelyn Stark' previously unseen uncle.
The hand (and grandfather) of the King, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) was finally reunited with most of his family when he swooped into King's Landing at the end of season two.
Thoros of Myr
New addition Paul Kaye joins the third season as Thoros of Myr, a red priest of the much-talked-about Lord of Light and a famous warrior.
Still technically a prisoner of the Starks, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldauas) is making his way back to King's Landing as a part of a deal ordered by a rogue Catelyn.
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