HBO is gearing up to debut the sixth season of its critically acclaimed fantasy drama and ratings powerhouse Game of Thrones. Based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, season 6 of Game of Thrones is set to venture into unprecedented territory since season 5 largely brought the television series in line with the books Martin has so far completed – though, there are still two planned novels on which the author is working.

As with the premieres of many other Game of Thrones seasons, the sixth year with pick up the stories of many men and women across the fictional land of Westeros and beyond. Now, new magazine covers feature a number of the female characters set to star in season 6.

EW released six new covers featuring fan-favorite characters like Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). Check out the EW covers:

Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Daenerys Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Covers: The Women of Westeros


Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Arya Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Covers: The Women of Westeros


Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Cersei Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Covers: The Women of Westeros


Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Sansa Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Covers: The Women of Westeros


Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Margaery Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Covers: The Women of Westeros


Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Brienne Tarth Game of Thrones Season 6 EW Covers: The Women of Westeros


Additionally, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo spoke about these, and other female characters, and their impact on the goings on of the world of Game of Thrones in season 6:

“The women are rocking this season — and I’m not just saying that because they’re on your cover. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) always does, but also Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), Arya (Maisie Williams), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Cersei (Lena Headey), Margaery (Natalie Dormer), and other characters too, like Yara (Gemma Whelan). They power this season. It’s organic to the storytelling, yet a radical shift. It’s the women that are the hope that we’re watching as the chess pieces move this season, and it’s very exciting.”

Though the female characters on Game of Thrones have been among the most beloved by fans since the first season, many viewers have taken issue with their depiction in the series. Specifically in season 5, showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff combined the storyline of Sansa with that of a more minor character from Martin’s books, resulting in the wedding night scene between her and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). But, that wasn’t the first controversial scene depicting violence against a female character in Game of Thrones, only the most recent and perhaps the one that caused the biggest backlash.

So, although Lombardo says there will be a shift in power to the women of Westeros in season 6 of Game of Thrones, the show’s track record in portraying its female characters and the decisions made by Weiss and Benioff in adapting Martin’s work don’t necessarily fall in line. However, as many of the women depicted in these EW covers – like Brienne, Arya, and Sansa – are fan favorites, bringing them to the forefront may help to make up for Game of Thrones’ more controversial portrayals in the past. After all, season 6 is said to be the best yet.

Next: Game of Thrones Showrunners Say Season 6 Won’t Spoil Future Books

Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on HBO on April 24th, 2016.

Source: EW