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Game of Thrones

Winter is here! Winter is here! Thank the Seven, winter is here! At long last, "Game of Thrones" has returned for its second season, bringing us our first new trip to Westeros since last year's dragon-birthing finale "Fire and Blood." Tonight, we kick things off with "The North Remembers," an aptly titled episode filled with Stark vengeance, Lannister cruelty and Baratheon plotting. In short: it's everything you know and love about the HBO fantasy series, just with a lot less Ned Stark. (Rest in peace, Lord of Winterfell.)

Our live-blog of the season premiere starts right now, so join in and follow along while we watch winter and war sweep over Westeros!

9:58 PM: And that's a wrap! Hope you guys enjoyed returning to Westeros as much as I did. Check back in a few hours for the first of our new "Game of Thrones" weekly video recaps, and for now, let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments or on Twitter!

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Joffrey Baratheon. Robb Stark. Balon Greyjoy. Renly Baratheon. Who are we missing in the War of the Five Kings? Well, in my opinion, we're missing the big one: the new guy on the street, the man some have called Azhor Azhai Reborn. The final king to enter the ring, ladies and gentlemen, is...

Stannis

Know Your King
Stannis Baratheon, the last player in the War of the Five Kings, is perhaps the most dangerous of them all. No, he doesn't behead lords for the fun of it, nor does he own a direwolf. But he does have the red woman -- and that is more than enough.

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Joel Kinnaman

Those of us who have spent a considerable amount of time watching various television series over the years understand that there is a basic formula to season finales. You want to excite/satisfy your audience in going out with a bang, but also keep them wanting more so they return for another season. AMC's critically-acclaimed and compelling whodunit "The Killing" succeeded on both counts with its finale last season, but in doing so was met with harsh criticism from fans who did not receive a definitive answer to the show's biggest question: Who killed Rosie Larson?

In knowing how TV networks function, I have to admit that I was much more surprised at the localized outrage from certain fans than I was at the conclusion of the season. Lucky for all of us, there is a brand new season upon us and while I'd be happy to drone on about why I'll definitely be tuning into the second season premiere this Sunday, April 1 at 8pm ET/PT, I thought you might appreciate hearing some expert teasery from an insider source: star Joel Kinnaman. Minor spoilers ahead for those who still need to power through season one on DVD.

First off, what the heck is going on with Kinnaman's character Stephen Holder? Is he a dirty or clean cop?

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The War of Five Kings raging throughout the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros features lots of players, not all of them likable. Joffrey Baratheon? Total jerk. Balon Greyjoy? Not as bad, but still pretty grim. Robb Stark is someone we can all root for, but like his father, humor isn't exactly his game. Which is why it's refreshing to have a friendlier face in the mix of this battle.

Someone like...

Renly

Know Your King
No stranger to royal blood and the court intrigue of King's Landing, Renly Baratheon of the Stormlands is yet another man running about Westeros calling himself king. Following the death of his elder brother Robert, Renly has taken it upon himself to become the Baratheon that Westeros needs -- but just because he's likable doesn't make him the right man for the job.

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Not all of the would-be kings of "Game of Thrones" season two are familiar faces. We love to hate Joffrey, and we love to love Robb, but there are other players in the mix who are simply too new to get an immediate read on. In our third day examining the War of the Five Kings, we're looking at one of the new characters vying for the Iron Throne...

Balon Greyjoy

Know Your King
"What's dead may never die." So speak the worshipers of the Drowned God of the Iron Islands. This area of Westeros is ruled by the cold and calculated Balon Greyjoy, yet another of the key players eyeballing a crown in season two of "Game of Thrones." Unlike his competition, however, Balon's a veteran when it comes to playing this particular game.

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The War of the Five Kings is set to explode during the "Game of Thrones" season premiere, and we'll be here all week to familiarize you with the key players in the fight. We kicked off yesterday with cruel boy king Joffrey Baratheon, one of the vilest, most loathsome characters in the entirety of "Thrones." Today, we'll examine someone considerably more likable...

Robb Stark

Know Your King
King in the North and Lord of Winterfell, Robb Stark represents everything that Joffrey does not: honor, loyalty and mercy -- to those who deserve it at least. With his father dead, Robb has been forced to grow up well beyond his years to wage war against the Lannisters... but even he has his boyish weaknesses.

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"Game of Thrones" returns for its second season next Sunday (April 1), bringing a big mess of a war along with it. No fewer than five individuals have crowned themselves king in the great fantasy world of Westeros, each of them with their eye on the Iron Throne. All week long, we'll look at each of these would-be kings and catch you up on everything you need to know about them going into season two.

To kick things off, who better than the man boy currently ruling in King's Landing?

Joffrey

Know Your King
You know him well by now: the cruel boy king Joffrey Baratheon. (Though he has no real claim to that last name, as you also know.) He sits upon the Iron Throne and rules King's Landing with ruthless, reckless abandon. Despite being surrounded by very capable (and very shady) advisors, Joffrey subscribes to the great Eric Cartman's "whatever, I do what I want" philosophy; he is the king, after all, and if he wants heads to roll, roll they shall.

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Want some new "Game of Thrones" season two photos to go into the weekend? Of course you do. Click on The Dink's face to see a huge gallery of all kinds of "Thrones" goodness. You'll see new faces—Melisandre and Jaqen H'ghar, for two—and plenty of familiar ones as well including Dany, Jon, Tyrion (of course) and more. Not a bad way to pass the time until the "Thrones" season premiere on April 1, just over a week away.

Game of Thrones

Tell us what you think of the new "Thrones" photos in the comments section and on Twitter!

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Game of Thrones

Well, this is awful. Or awesome. Depending on how you look at it. Either way, it's pretty darn grisly.

HBO has released a brand new "Game of Thrones" poster as part of the build-up to season two, premiering on April 1. The marketing for the new season has been all about the impending War of the Five Kings, and today's poster squares firmly on the actions of the deplorable Joffrey Baratheon... and exploits the greatest tragedy of "Game of Thrones" season one in the process.

Yeah, if you've seen the first season, you know what I'm talking about. See the bloody evidence for yourself beyond the break. But if you're not caught up on "Thrones" and plan to fix that before season two, warning: HUGE SPOILER ahead. Tread lightly!

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Game of Thrones

Winter is coming, you win or you die, yadda yadda yadda. Enough with the slogans, let's get to the episodes already! "Game of Thrones" fans are rightfully foaming at the mouth for their impending return trip to Westeros on April 1, and while we're still a few weeks away from the hotly anticipated season premiere, here's something to make the wait a little less painful: official descriptions for the first five episodes, courtesy of HBO!

Keep reading for the five episode synopses, but be warned, spoilers lurk ahead!

Season 2, Episode 1: "The North Remembers" (April 1)
"As Robb Stark and his northern army continue the war against the Lannisters, Tyrion arrives in King's Landing to counsel Joffrey and temper the young king's excesses. On the island of Dragonstone, Stannis Baratheon plots an invasion to claim his late brother's throne, allying himself with the fiery Melisandre, a strange priestess of a stranger god. Across the sea, Daenerys, her three young dragons and khalasar trek through the Red Waste in search of allies, or water. In the North, Bran presides over a threadbare Winterfell, while beyond the Wall, Jon Snow and the Night's Watch must shelter with a devious wildling."

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