Dear friends, the rumors are true, and the nightmare is real: Game of Thrones' seventh season will only have seven episodes instead of the usual 10.
Moreover, the new season won't premiere until sometime next summer, HBO announced Monday afternoon. The series has typically premiered in late March or early April, but with the changing of the seasons comes a change in schedule.
"Now that winter has arrived on Game of Thrones, executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss felt that the storylines of the next season would be better served by starting production a little later than usual, when the weather is changing," said Casey Bloys, HBO's new president of programming. "Instead of the show's traditional spring debut, we're moving the debut to summer to accommodate the shooting schedule."
The news is not unexpected. Benioff and Weiss have been saying for months that there's only 13-15 episodes left in Thrones' future. They also explained recently that the arrival of winter on the show would necessitate shooting more scenes in colder settings.
"Sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes anymore," Weiss said in a radio interview a couple weeks ago. "So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim, gray weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot."
HBO's announcement listed some of the locations where the show will be shooting: Northern Ireland, Spain and Iceland. Northern Ireland has been the show's base since the start, while Spain has seen an uptick in the series' presence since season 5. Locations to be visited in that country include Sevilla, Caceres, Almodovar del Rio, Santiponce, Zumaia and Bermeo.
Thrones hasn't shot in Iceland for some time -- it's typically been the setting for many scenes north of the Wall, including the ominous White Walker threat. It's safe to expect some more on that front.
The slate of directors for next season had been announced earlier and include Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Matt Shakman and Alan Taylor.
Unfortunately, Miguel Sapochnik, the powerhouse director behind season 6's epic "Battle of the Bastards" and "The Winds of Winter," won't be back for this run. Hopefully he'll have a big presence in the eighth -- and likely final -- season.
Until then, there's still the Game of Thrones' cast Comic Con panel this week to look forward to, as well as the Emmy's, where Thrones once again dominated in the nominations. And who knows -- perhaps season 7's delay will give George R. R. Martin some wiggle room to make his fans happy and finally finish that sixth book of his.