In the world of Game of Thrones, seasons can last years – even decades. However, that can seem like nothing compared to the relative time experienced by fans of the show between television seasons. Rabid anticipation has a way of transforming mere months into epochs.

Thus, Game of Thrones followers had reason to rejoice last week as HBO revealed a premiere date for season 3 of the series. Now, as a follow-up to that briefest of announcements, HBO has released a teaser trailer that reveals very little – but also gives us some clues as to the evolving tone of the show.

Released late Sunday, the teaser trailer for season 3 of Game of Thrones contains no new footage, a short bit of monologue, and text reiterating the March 31 premiere date. This is similar to the vague first teaser for the show’s second season – more or less a glorified season announcement or animated poster.

However, one can actually unpack a good deal about the show’s upcoming direction from this teaser. The words played over the trailer are almost certainly being spoken by Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the red sorceress in the service of erstwhile-King Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Her warning about a war between the forces of “ice and fire” echoes not only her immolation-centric religion, but also the overarching title of the show’s source material, A Song of Ice and Fire.

The books that inspired Game of Thrones (penned by George R.R. Martin) have made the dichotomy between the two elements a running theme – much more so than the television show to this point. Does this teaser indicate that we will see a much more explicit exploration of themes and subplots important to the books? Will we soon see a more overt depiction of the story’s big, main conflict – namely, between all warm-blooded life and the mysterious White Walkers? If Game of Thrones holds true to the structure of the books, this is almost guaranteed (and in quite the spectacular fashion, to boot).

At the same time, fans of both the books and their television adaptation know that the latter has begun to make some significant deviations from the source material. In terms of both structure and plot points, season 2 of Game of Thrones threw more than a few curveballs at any audience member who read A Clash of Kings (the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series) and thought he or she knew exactly what was coming. We can expect more of the same from season 3, which will begin to adapt the third novel in Martin’s epic, A Storm of Swords.

Though speculation based on an information-lite teaser trailer feels silly at this point, the urge to extrapolate is undeniable. After two dynamite seasons, Emmy awards and nominations, and a growing cult following, Game of Thrones is heading into season 3 with unparalleled expectations. If this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it teaser tells us anything, it’s that HBO will be milking our anticipation for all it’s worth, right up until the last night in March.

Game of Thrones season 3 will premiere on March 31, 2013.

Source: HBO