After an eternity of wondering whether or not Jon Snow is dead, Game of Thrones is finally, finally returning. Since, in a lot of ways, the HBO juggernaut has caught up with the five A Song of Ice and Fire novels, fans may be left wondering: Which book is Game of Thrones Season 6 based on? Are there even any chapters left to adapt? It's tricky to answer that. Season 5 actually covered a lot of the plot of the most recent book of the series, meaning many of the characters are actually caught up with what's been published of the series so far. Heck, some characters have even already surpassed their book plotlines completely (take, for instance, the fact that Stannis is still alive and kicking as of the last page of the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons — while on the show, he's very much dead).
That said, Season 6 will likely be something of a mashup of ADWD, the (hopefully) soon-to-be forthcoming The Winds of Winter, as well as new plots of D. B. Weiss and David Benioff's own devising (which they promised Variety would be epic). What exactly, though, is left from A Dance with Dragons, A Feast for Crows, and A Storm of Swords to potentially be covered on GoT's sixth season? Let's take a look:
The Brotherhood Without Banners
We first met the Brotherhood without Banners back in Season 3, when they captured Arya and her friends. Perhaps most notable for their seven-time resurrectee/Lord of Light-follower Beric Dondarrion, the show hasn't featured them as heavily as the books.
According to Vanity Fair, it looks like last season's unlikely duo of Brienne and Pod will be running into the Brotherhood this season, and, if we go by the books, they'll probably be crossing paths with one Jaime Lannister as well. The return of the Brotherhood is exciting for a lot of reasons, chief of which is the fact that it might be the perfect opportunity to finally resurrect Lady Stoneheart. After all, in an interview with Yahoo TV, GoT's VFX supervisor Joe Bauer referenced a certain Season 6 special effect that was originally slated to make an appearance back in Season 3. Sound familiar?
Even if the Lady Stoneheart rumors come to nothing, though, there's another theory out there: Some fans have taken the vengeful Sansa Stark clip from the trailer as a hint that she might be taking over as the vigilante leader of the Brotherhood, in place of the reanimated corpse of her mother. It's certainly out there, but it's possible.
The Return of The Hound
Rejoice, Hound-fans: It looks very likely that the Hound is still alive, finally proving a book theory that's been around for years (you can thank Season 6 castmember Ian McShane for telling Vanity Fair that nifty little spoiler). In addition to their dealings Brotherhood without Banners, it also looks like Brienne and Pod will be meeting Septon Meribald during their sojourn through the Riverlands of Westeros — quite possibly catching a glimpse of The Hound in the process (Rory McCann was spotted near the Game of Thrones set according to Cinema Blend, after all).
The Iron Islands
Much has been made of the fact that Balon Greyjoy (who died circa A Clash of Kings in the books) is still alive on the show — but now that we'll finally be delving into all the Greyjoy family drama going on in the Iron Islands, that likely won't be the case for long. You see, Pilou Asbaek was cast as Euron Greyjoy, Theon's pirate uncle who returns home looking to unseat Yara Greyjoy as Balon's rightful heir. He gets into a lot of shenanigans (fun fact: He may or may not have magical powers), and even has plans to marry a certain Targaryen princess (along with the rest of Westeros, right?).
Sam Heads to Oldtown
Jon Snow may be thoroughly caught up with his storyline in the books, but his best friend Sam isn't. You see, in the books, newly-minted Lord Commander Jon Snow sent Sam, Gilly, and Maester Aemon off to Oldtown, handily leaving himself without any allies (which was just one of the factors that lead to his eventual infamous stabbing). On the show, everyone stayed at Castle Black (well, except for Maester Aemon, who died) — but it looks like they'll be setting sail for Oldtown in Season 6 instead.
Now, in the books, Jon had a few reasons for sending off his friends: Maester Aemon's ailing health, Sam's propensity for becoming a Maester, and perhaps most importantly of all, a certain Wildling baby. You see, with Melisandre at the Wall, he didn't want Mance Rayder's (aka the King-Beyond-the-Wall) child sticking around — because we all know how Melisandre isn't to be trusted around king's blood. To protect the child, he performed a switcheroo with Gilly's son, and sent the pseudo-royal baby to safety in Oldtown. A clever plan, albeit heartwrenching for the mothers.
It's also worth noting that Sam and Gilly will be making a couple of stops along the way — Cinema Blend reported that most of Sam's family has been cast, and I have no doubt that it'll be interesting to meet the Tarlys.
Arya Stark At The House of Black and White
Remember how we left Arya on quite the cliffhanger last season? Even though her blinding felt like a natural place to end the season, the event actually takes place in the middle of A Dance With Dragons — in other words, Arya hasn't quite caught up with her book plotlines yet. In ADWD, she continues her training with the Faceless Men, does some warging, and is eventually tasked with an assassination (which, let's face it, is right up her alley). She'll also likely be briefly crossing paths with a certain Night's Watch brother who just so happens to be en route to Oldtown.
There's certainly a lot of events left, no? Of course, it'll be interesting watching the show start to forge its own path, separate from the books — but rest assured, there's still a lot of George R. R. Martin-penned plot left to cover as well!