Game of Thrones Season 5 spoilers are already creeping onto the internet, even though Season 4 just wrapped up on June 15, and the next season of the hit HBO sword-and-sorcery fantasy drama has not even begun filming yet. But rumors circulating in the past week include the recasting of an important character, and a major storyline in an as-yet-unseen region of Westeros.
Note that discussing Season 5 spoilers means giving away plot details for the first four seasons. If you are not caught up, please read no further.
While the recasting news has not been confirmed, the show's top producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss have made one major plot development official. In Season 5, Game of Thrones fans can expect to spend plenty of time in the southernmost kingdom of Westeros — Dorne.
"There will be Dorne, and we're excited about it," the two Game of Thrones showrunners told Entertainment Weekly. "Who wouldn't want to hang out in Dorne? They have admirable values and priorities. And have you seen Oberyn's coat?"
And if the show is moving — at least for one of its numerous interweaving storylines — to Dorne, that means the character of Princess Myrcella Baratheon will, it's been reported, play an integral part in the story. The daughter of Queen Cersei and her brother Jamie Lannister, and therefore brother to current King Tommen and deceased King Joffrey, Myrcella was last seen in Season 2, being shipped off to Dorne as part of a deal to seal a Lannister alliance with the Dornish.
Cersei spent a good deal of screen time pining for her lost daughter in Season 4, and now Myrcella returns — but she will, rumor has it, be portrayed by a new actress. The key Game of Thrones Season 5 character has been recast, with Northern Irish actress Aimee Richardson out and English actress Nell Tiger Free in. HBO has not confirmed that news yet, however.
The 15-year old Free appeared in the 2012 film Broken and most recently in the British ITV television series Endeavour.
Look for Myrcella to become embroiled in a major romantic storyline with Dornish Prince Trystane in Game of Thrones Season 5.
In their EW interview, the producers also confirmed the true nature of Littlefinger's ambitions. Exactly why has this rather minor Westeros Lord taken such great personal risks, now being responsible for the assassinations of one king and one Hand of the King, as well as the murder of his own wife, albeit a wife he never cared for and who was completely crazy?
"He wants everything," the producers said. "He wants to sit on that throne. By necessity, his path there will be twisted and indirect. But everything he does in some way points to that goal."
At the end of Season 4, characters who had been leading their own, apparently unconnected storylines began to come together. Jon Snow formed a tenuous alliance with self-proclaimed "one true king" Stannis Baratheon, while Arya Stark had a fateful run-in with Brienne of Tarth who kills Arya's reluctant protector, The Hound.
In Season 5, expect the path-crossing to continue, as the now-fugitive Tyrion Lannister experiences what should be a memorable run-in with the disgraced Ser Jorah Mormont, recently exiled from the service of Daenerys Targaryen.
Finally, this may not exactly be one of the Season 5 spoilers, but Britain's Queen Elizabeth II plans to visit the set of Game of Thrones in Belfast, Northern Ireland next week. No word on whether the real-life monarch will take a seat on the Iron Throne.