'Game of Thrones' Creator Talks Season 3 Surprises - Plus 68 New Images

In just under two weeks, the long-awaited third season of Game of Thrones premieres on HBO - and going by the previews, the latest jaunt through the lands of Westeros will be epic in the truest sense of the word. Armies have been marshaled, evil lurks in the frozen North, and noble families continue to scheme and politic against and amongst themselves; the story has become a melting pot of conflict, boiling over into the world around it.

One might think that after writing the novels upon which Game of Thrones is based, George R.R. Martin - who also shares a co-executive producer credit on the HBO show - might not be too eager to retread old territory - especially since he has two more books to go before his massive fantasy series is complete. But Martin has penned an episode per season since the program first aired two years ago ('The Pointy End' in season 1 and 'Blackwater' in season 2), and he carried on this tradition into season 3 by shouldering script duties for its seventh episode, titled 'The Bear and the Maiden Fair'.

Zap2it caught up with Martin on the Game of Thrones season 3 red carpet and asked him why he chose that particular episode; he responded with the following direct quote:

"There was some cool stuff in that episode. There were a number of characters that I didn't get to write about last year because remember last year I did 'Blackwater,' which was a very focused episode [...] It just all takes place in King's Landing, so I didn't get to write about Dany, I didn't get to write about Arya, I didn't get to write about Bran or Jon Snow. I was just strictly writing, so I've been away from those characters for like two years. I wanted to write an episode that had some cool stuff for all of them in it and it worked out pretty well."

King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleason) takes aim with Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer).

Martin is nothing if not passionate about the world he has built on the page, so it's easy to understand why he would want to take on an episode that spans a wealth of different locations and characters - including fan-favorites Jon Snow and Daenerys. His attachment to these fictional people runs very deep -  so much so that he actively did not want to write the S3 episode in which a certain important event from the text occurs. We won't say anything more for fear of SPOILERS.

Martin also talked to the outlet about the new series he's developing for HBO, which is still likely to be either fantasy or sci-fi in nature, and spoke a bit more on the final pair of books in the A Song of Ice and Fire franchise. According to the author, fans shouldn't have to wait for the sixth installment, The Winds of Winter, as long as they had to wait for the fifth book,  A Dance With Dragons - but as always with the ever-industrious Martin, nothing is really guaranteed, and readers will just have to hope for the best.

Game of Thrones - George R R Martin & Peter Dinklage

With the show slowly but surely catching up to the books, it'll behoove Martin to work faster; in light of that, it's possible he'll have The Winds of Winter up for publication sooner rather than later.

Concurrently, UK network Sky Atlantic has generously released a tsunami of new stills from the first few episodes of Game of Thrones' season 3.

We've got some familiar faces like Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), as well as new ones, such as Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully (Clive Russell), and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg). If your anticipation for S3 isn't already at its peak, then these images ought to do the trick:

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Game of Thrones season 3 premieres March 31 on HBO

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