After taunting viewers with a series of cliffhangers last year that included the beheading of Stark family patriarch Ned Stark (Lord of the Rings' Sean Bean), the regrettable ascendancy of illegitimate Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) to the throne, and the fantastical dragon-whispering by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), HBO's runaway hit, Game of Thrones, had a lot to live up to upon the return of its second season on April 1.

One thing's for sure: the power struggles this season are going to be legendary, as Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), brother to the late King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) and rightful heir to the Iron Throne, prepares to descend on King's Landing to claim what is his from his distant home of Dragonstone.

Other characters with an agenda of their own march toward the gates of the king. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) is hell-bent on forcibly deposing Joffrey and his advisor mother Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), rescuing his sisters Sansa and Arya (Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams, respectively), and — while he's at it — exacting vengeance for his father's murder.

Perhaps the most entertaining subplot, however, involves the new adventures of the delightfully irreverent and sinfully methodical Tyrion Lannister (the newly top-billed Peter Dinklage, pictured), who arrives in King's Landing to fulfill his recently-appointed role as Hand to the King, much to the outrage of his sister Cersei, also mother to King Joffrey.

Tyrion wittily taunts her as he reveals his new role as her son's right-hand-man and primarily political advisor. "You love your children," Dinklage-as-Tyrion observes. "It's your one redeeming quality — besides your cheekbones."

Tune in to HBO Sundays at 9 p.m. to find out how the Game of Thrones plays out.

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