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After watching the trailer for season four, I was left wondering which plot points it will cover. Obviously, it will start off after the events of season three's finale, which roughly coincides with the end of the first half of Swords. Therefore, it seems logical for season four to be occupied by the latter half, as it was also stated officially.

This here is empty space occupied by letters to push the following paragraphs to after the break because I know how our dear-hearted, not-reading friends fear them spoilers. Nasty, those. Did you hear the dinosaurs went extinct? Jeez, as a protest I didn't go on the internet for weeks after someone broke it to me. And I hadn't even finished Primeval yet!

-- Again, light book spoilers ahead --

However, the few scenes the trailer shows us of Daenerys seem quite a bit further along the story, ergo A Dance With Dragons material. Swords ended with her taking up rule in Mereen, whereas season four seems to be mostly about exactly that, her ruling the city that is - including her dragon troubles alluded to by that final shot of Drogon hovering before a child that are some of the lastmost issues she faces in Dance.
While I'm not opposed to condensing Dany's storyline as it slows down a bit in the later books, this begs the question - be my impression indeed the case - what they will do with her in the following seasons - A Feast for Crows and Dance are by my calculation good for at least three seasons, after all.

On the other hand, the remaining scenes align pretty well with the plot of Swords part two: The battle at the Wall, Brienne's search for Sansa, the royal wedding and subsequent troubles as well as Arya's journey towards Bravos.

So there, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. Just to be clear, though. I don't have any doubt Weiss and Benioff know what they're doing. One thing is for sure: We are in for one hell of a television season in April!
Also, The Winds of Winter can't come soon enough. Quite literally, too, since we Europeans are experiencing a fairly moderate climate this year.
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Book spoilers

Drogon and the child is one of the first Dany chapters in ADWD it's the reason the dragons get locked up in the tower, which leads to the Merenese knot.
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Oh, my mistake. Still book five though. Makes me reevaluate how much time Martin has left to finish Winds of Winter. Two, maybe three seasons?
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Isn't book 5 (at least the first two thirds) chronologically parallel to book 4?
After they finished the content of book 3 the show makers have to work with the content of book 4 AND book simultaneously to get thze timing right.
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*Book spoilers*

I think you're right with your prediction of Dany going further along the story. Most of the stuff going on in KL seems to be on the book timeline but the further you go from the capital, the faster time goes. Theon was seen to get on a horse in one of the clips in the Foreshadowing video they published, indicating that Ramsay sends Theon Reek to persuade the Iron Born at Moat Cailin to surrender.

Weiss and Benioff has often said that they liked Theon's story but this is some dangerous territory they are venturing to. If they make the transition from Theon to Reek unbelieveable, the inevitable Reek to Theon transition will be underwhelming.

The trailer also features a part where a mob ambushes a single man in a narrow street. I think this is a part of Dany's plot. The 'shadow war' that the Sons of Harpy are waging on Dany when she's ruling Meereen.
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This seems like a fair expectation. But again, regarding Dany, the shot of Drogon seems to be the scene when he kills that shepard's kid, a story line which, if memory serves me right, is rather late in Dance and concluded only with the ultimate scene in the book.

You're absolutely right about Reek, too. However, the series will undoubtedly be unable to make the transition as believable as the book because the latter alludes to long and horrible torture, yet only after a long silence on Theon's whereabouts and state - the rest is left to our imagination. That makes his transformation much more abrupt for us - we're kept in the dark for a long time and Martin doesn't have to bother with a "breaking point".
The series on the other hand chose to show Theon's torture, and unless they want to torture us with more of his torture, it's bound to be less "impressive".

Not sure if you could follow me here. Just know I'm fully on board the Reek fan wagon and love his casting in the series as well. I couldn't think of another actor who fits into both the Theon and the Reek character.
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Just had an idea! The show might put the scene of Drogon killing the shepard's kid in a chronologically earlier point because IIRC that's the point when Dany locks the dragons up (admittedly Drogon escapes but still). This would save the show a ton of money. Locking the dragons up means no need for CGI. They can just basically... Film a door and add some dragon squeals and the viewers just go "Oh, they're still there. Okay."

The Reek storyline felt pretty natural in the third season. Theon accepted the name 'Reek' pretty fast and now they have a season to make Theon change his persona. It's going to be tough, especially when the viewers did give negative feedback about Theon's torture scenes... Maybe they can just randomly open a scene with Theon missing more fingers? Zoom the camera out from a mutilated hand to reveal that Theon has indeed been tortured off-camera. Another way is to give Theon someone to talk to. Just some one dimensional character that's basically just there as a 'canvas' on which Theon can paint a picture of his shattering psyche (that sounded pretentious and non-sensical XD).
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There is a tiny little spoiler down below, I tried my best to hide it, but this is a warning to any non-reader who might have stumbled on this post.

I think that the storylines that they're gonna push forward, that is, go into Feast/Dance materials are: Bran's, Brienne's, and possibly Daenery's. Considering the casting announcements, it's obvious that Bran's storyline will contain his Dance chapters. I'm not 100% sure about Brienne, but if they do, it will line up perfectly with LS. I think that Daenery's storyline will be pushed in the last couple episodes of the season, considering another casting announcement earlier this year.
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* Book Spoilers *

I feel Brienne will venture even further into book 4 than any of the characters (Jaime included), much like Theon and Ramsay did into Book 5 at the beginning of season 3.

Daenerys seems to go at the same pace just like the events at King's Landing and the Wall. The only plots I'm afraid of are Yara's and The Brotherhood's
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*Book spoilers*

Brienne and Sansa will most likely venture onto some of the book 4 material.

Dany seems to go a bit into Dance material. Not much though. Dany is the poster girl of Game of Thrones and she has gone through like 80% of her Storm of Swords material. The writers aren't going to decrease her screentime by that much; venturing into 5th book is a logical move.

Ramsay tortured Theon during the third book. Just off-page. In the books, Ramsay sent the skin of Theon's finger to Robb to tell him that Theon had been captured. So nothing to worry about.

Theon's storyline is something the writers can't rush. A lot of the book readers (me included) consider his storyline in the fifth book to be amongst the best writing of the whole book series. Messing that up would be bad... That being said, the trailer/foreshadowing thing does feature a small screen of Theon on a horse, which makes me believe that they'll venture to his early 5th book material.

Sorry for the length of the reply.
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considering the climactic scenes have switched between fire, ice, fire I agree it will be ice, but I think/hope it will be Hard Home overrun by the White Walkers if only to show that they are a serious threat.
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I think there is so much material for Danny in book 5 that they have to start this season in covering it there is a lot happening for her in book 5.
fighting sons of the Harpies
locking up dragons
Targaryan pretenders?
wedding
siege of Mereen
pits of Mereen
the Dothraki sea
and they have to find an appropriate climactic scene to bridge the seasons.
my guess is the start of the siege of Mereen by Yunkai.
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On the other hand, they haven't even started with neither the Ironborn nor the Dorne story lines yet. Those are especially important in regard to Dany as well as to the plot's time line. Euron's gotta sail all the way across the Summer Sea, so does Tyrion.
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*Book Spoilers... HEAVY*

Considering that 4th and 5th books are basically one giant book, it's kind of hard to know where they are going to leave Dany's storyline this season. Or anyone's for that matter.

I think Dany locks the dragons this season and the Sons of the Harpy will start their shadow war. I am actually pretty sure that Dany won't have the climactic scene of the season this year.

I think the season will leave Dany's war against the Sons of Harpy as a cliffhanger BUT the main climactic scenes will be Jon Snow elected as Lord Commander and the hanging of a certain Frey by a certain Lady. Depending on when Tyrion escapes, it could be that he escapes during this episode after his meeting with Tywin and Shae (the ninth episode most likely ends here, leaving Tyrion with only one scene with Jaime in the tenth episode).

That also leaves the Targaryen pretenders for season 5.
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Right, completely forgot about Brienne and Bran... But what will Dany do in the following seasons if she does most of her Dance story this season already? Will they choose a similar approach as Martin, namely divide the stories of Feast and Dance which take place concurrently into seperate seasons? That would mean basically a whole season of Dorne... That's highly unlikely as they would have to let go most of the highly recognizable actors who would hardly stick around after a season without them.
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If Theon's and Brienne's stories are any hint, I think the last two books would be merged in chronological order rather than the one from the books.

That way Daenerys's, Bran's and Arya's plot would advance at the same rate as plots told in chronological order like Jon's, Jaime's and Jorah's do.
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