Winter has come

The latest season of Game of Thrones ended in August 2017, which was more than a year and a half ago, and with quite a shock too.  The Wall was destroyed, Littlefinger died, and Jon Snow bended his knees to Daenerys Targaryen in more ways than one.

That seemed like a lifetime ago now, and the extended break between the seasons has given some hardcore fans time to come up with some pretty intriguing theories, and here is a summary of the most interesting ones:

1. Connection between Bran and the Night King

Bran Stark is going to play a crucial role in the upcoming season. Everybody knows that. But given that he basically has some godlike power at this point, fans are trying to predict what he’s going to do with it.

One theory that has been around for a while is that he is actually the Night King. Maybe in an effort to prevent the Children of the Forest from creating the first White Walker, he warged into its body and got stuck there and thus became the Night King.

Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the actor who portrays Bran, has already discarded this theory. Although normally we cannot trust the show’s actors when it comes to them revealing the plot, Hempstead-Wright does have a point when he calls the theory "cheesy."

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The "Bran is the Night King" theory has been dismissed as "cheesy" by Bran's actor

The other theories around this character are more intriguing. We know that Bran caused irreversible damage to Hodor’s sanity when he warged into him through time, so what if he tried to affect other key events in a similar manner? Could it be that he warged into his namesake, the legendary Bran the Builder from the ancient era, and had him build the wall? Or maybe he warged into Aerys Targaryen’s head to try to warm him about the supernatural threat beyond the wall, but ended up driving him mad and led to the king ordering his subordinates to “burn them all”?

Time traveling opens up possibilities for basically anything to happen. If the writers do decide to go this route, it will be interesting to see how well they can pull it off.

2. The Destiny of direwolves

A popular speculation suggests that each of the Stark’s direwolves tells something about the personality or fate of its owner. For example, Ghost was the odd one out, driven away from the rest of the pack at birth for being albino, and so he went to Jon Snow. Sansa's wolf is named Lady, and it died in Season 1, foretelling that the “lady” part of Sansa was going to die as well, and she has to become a hardened and cold-headed woman in order to survive.

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The direwolves are linked to the fate of the Stark children

This brings us back to Bran and his direwolf. He named it Summer, so could it mean that his actions will lead to a new season of peace and fertility? Or, could the fact that “Summer is dead” imply that something dark, cold, and terrifying is coming?

3. Daenerys is going to die?

Many times the books have mentioned a prophecy of a legendary hero called Azor Ahai, who will lead mankind against the darkness. Many have speculated as to who Azor Ahai might be, and Jon Snow is a major candidate. However, if that’s indeed the case, then maybe it’ll come with some bad news.

According to the stories, in order to forge Lightbringer, the sword that has the power to fend off evil, Azor Ahai had to sacrifice his wife and true love, Nissa Nissa. So, is Jon going to do the same with Daenerys?

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Azor Ahai sacrificed his one true love to forge the Lightbringer, will we see the same with Jon and Daenerys?

It’s Game of Thrones after all, so there will probably be no completely “happy ending”. As a result, it makes sense for (at least) one of the well-loved characters to die to bring peace to the realm.

4. Who is Arya running from?

A few weeks ago we got a trailer for season 8, which shows Arya running through the Crypts of Winterfell with a terrified expression on her face. Yes, she could just be running away from a wight, a While Walker, or just a normal human trying to kill her. But can those things really make such a hardened warrior look so scared?

What if the Night King was somehow able to reanimate the Starks that are buried in the crypt? Maybe it’s Ned Stark’s skeleton that’s chasing his own daughter? That would undoubtedly be enough to dishearten anybody, even one as brave as Arya.

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Could it be her father's reanimated corpse that Arya is running from?

5. The Queenslayer

Another prophecy that probably most fans hope will come true is one about Cersei’s death. In the book, it says that she’ll marry a king but will have 3 children that are not his, and all of her children will die before her. In the end, she’ll be choked to death by “the valonqar” – which is the Valyrian word for “younger sibling”.

Cersei believes that this “valonqar” is going to be her brother Tyrion, which is why she has tried to kill him several times. However, this is most likely not going to be the case. It’s too obvious, and that’s not how George R.R. Martin works. Instead, it’s going to be her other brother, Jamie. Cersei is the older of the Lannister twins, so Jamie fits in the "younger sibling" category too.

We know that Jamie left Cersei last season as he was unable to bear her atrocities. Maybe in the end he’ll be forced to kill her to prevent her from committing some sort of terrible crimes that’ll put everyone’s life at risk – the same way he did with Aerys Targaryen. However, if that’s the case, it might signal the end for Jamie himself as well. In the books, both twins have thought to themselves on more than one occasion that they’ll “leave this world together as [they] came to it together.” Maybe Jamie is overwhelmed by the deed and decided to commit suicide. Clearly, he still has very strong feelings for Cersei, having loved her for practically all his life, so this theory is not too far-fetched.

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Cersei Lannister is prophesied to die by her brother's hands, but which one?

Another candidate for the title of Queenslayer is Arya, maybe when wearing Jaime's face. The young Stark girl certainly has plenty of reasons to kill Cersei, and “valonqar” only means “younger sibling”. It doesn’t specify a gender or even whose sibling, so this is definitely something that could happen.

Also, one thing to note is that in the show, that last part of the prophecy about the valonqar is omitted, so it’s entirely possible that Cersei will die from another cause too.

6. Gendry the Blacksmith

Gendry, the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon, returned last season after a long-time absence and played an important part in Jon Snow's venture beyond the Wall to capture a wight to prove to Cersei Lannister that the undead threat is real.

Since Gendry is a skilled blacksmith, fans have speculated that he's going to be the one that forges new Valyrian steel weapons for the living to combat the dead. Someone has to, because as we all know, this special steel is one of the only materials that can truly kill a White Walker. Right now, Gendry seems like the most suitable candidate, since he's already a familiar face and it's unlikely that the producers would introduce a brand new, unknown character to perform a task of such significance.

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Gendry is a skilled blacksmith. Is he the one to forge more Valyrian Steel weapons?

7. Sam The Storyteller

Another theory from fans is that Samwell Tarly is the representation of author George R.R. Martin in the Game of Thrones universe. The character is certainly known for being fond of books and writing, and several of his characteristics (namely his big stature) match that of Martin's.

Furthermore, in the intro credits of every episode we can see the chandelier and the magnifying glasses of the Maester's library before the camera swoops through the different landmarks that are notable in that episode.

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Samwell Tarly is the representation of the author and acts as the one who records this story?

Perhaps this clockwork world map implies that the storyteller (quite possibly Samwell himself) is a Maester in the Citadel library in Old Town recording the events that he personally witnessed.