[WARNING! Potential spoilers for Season 5 of Game of Thrones ahead!]
Season 4 of HBO's wildly popular Game of Thrones left the fate of Westeros more uncertain than ever, with the season finale dispatching some fan-favorite characters and setting others on new, perilous paths. For a great many fans, next year's season 5 premiere cannot come soon enough.
Over the past half-year or so, a number of intriguing reports have surfaced as GoT films around the world - we've seen set images from Croatia which tease a major storyline from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books and the news that a character thought dead could re-appear in some form, most likely in one of the series' first-ever flashbacks.
Now, as the production moves to Spain, which is standing in for the kingdom of Dorne, CBM brings us our first glimpse of the bastard daughters of the late Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), dangerous warriors known as the Sand Snakes, along with some details about a possible fight scene which is nowhere to be found in the books.
There are eight Sand Snakes in the source novels, all of them daughters of infamous Lothario Print Oberyn by various women. The set photos feature the three eldest (and their stunt doubles): Nymeria (Jessica Henwick), Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti-Sellers). We may or may not meet the other Snakes, the four youngest of whom are the daughters of Oberyn and Ellaria Sand, his consort in King's Landing.
In A Feast for Crows, the eldest of the Snakes are imprisoned by their uncle, Prince Doran Martell (to be played in season 5 by Alexander Siddig) for whipping Dorne's common folk into a frenzy in the wake of their father's death. While aspects of this storyline are likely to appear, the rumor that the characters will engage with a fight scene, squaring off against (or alongside) Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the former sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn) points toward a potential shift in the cause of their imprisonment.
If true, then the events leading up to these characters crossing paths will feature more significant changes from the novels, since Jaime, Bronn and Sand Snakes have so far never met each other. In A Dance with Dragons, a Kingsguard named Balon Swann is sent to Dorne to present the prince with the Mountain's skull as a peace offering, so it's possible this task falls on Jaime in season 5, but there's a lot of other Dornish intrigue preceding this which the show has yet to touch on.
Some fans may think they know how the books end, but showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff clearly intend to keep their viewers guessing - maybe right up to the end.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO for Season 5 in the spring of 2015.