Get Ready for Game of Thrones

Winter is coming, people: Here's your character-by-character recap of where we left everyone at the end of last season.

Winter is almost here.

This Sunday at 9 p.m., the third season of Game of Thrones begins on HBO. Anyone familiar with the show—or the books—knows they are jam-packed with places and characters. Oh, and zombies.

For a full breakdown of plot and characters, there are endless websites out there. (Particularly helpful is HBO’s site with a map and family trees.) Of course, I don’t have time to discuss every character (sorry, Stark kids), but here, to spark your memory, is an overview of the major characters … including whether they are still alive going into the third season.

Robert Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms
Married to Cersei Lannister and “father” to Joffrey (more on that later). Invites his old friend Ned Stark to be his Hand (e.g., his lead adviser). Is wounded during a hunt. Appoints Ned as regent of the throne until Joffrey is old enough. Dies in season one.

Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Hand of the King
Married to Catelyn and father to three sons (Robb, Bran and Rickon) and two daughters (Sansa and Arya). Also father to Jon Snow, though Catelyn is not Jon’s mother. Takes daughters Sansa and Arya with him from Winterfell in the North as he takes new post as Hand in the South. After appointed regent, attempts to expel Cersei and Joffrey from Kingdom when he learns Joffrey is not Robert’s son. Is, instead, tried and sentenced for treason. Beheaded in season one.

Cersei Lannister, Queen
Widow of Robert. Secret lover of her brother Jaime, Joffrey’s actual father (and uncle). Is responsible for Ned’s arrest and murder. Hates and tries to blackmail brother Tyrion. Alive.

Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the King
Brilliant, dwarf son of Tywin and brother of Cersei and Jaime⎯who both greatly despise and distrust him (and he, them). Takes post as Hand (chief advisor) to nephew Joffrey. Tries, in vein, to temper Joffrey’s homicidal tendencies. Leads successful defense against the army of one of Robert’s brothers from taking the Throne. Suffers severe wounds to his face. Is replaced by his father⎯Joffrey’s grandfather⎯as Hand. Alive.

Joffrey Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms
A cruel and twisted little shit. Takes pleasure in the pain of others, especially his betrothed, Sansa Stark (Ned Stark’s oldest daughter). Deserts the battlefield during attack. Drops Sansa for another. Alive.

Lady Catelyn Tully (Stark)
Is residing in the North when Ned is executed. Fears for safety of daughters Sansa and Arya, who remain in the South. After North secedes from Seven Kingdoms, son Robb becomes King and sends her to negotiate an alliance with Robert Barathaeon’s brothers. After one brother is attacked and killed, Catelyn and a female guard, Brienne, escape the Barathaeon camp. Returns to the Northern camp and frees the now imprisoned Jaime Lannister. Instructs Brienne to take Jaime to Joffrey in exchange for Sansa and Arya. Alive.

Arya Stark
After death of father Ned, escapes the Southern castle disguised as a boy. Before she can reach home at Winterfell, is taken captive. But with help of a prisoner, is able to escape. Alive.

Theon Greyjoy
Son of Lord Balon, Lord of the Iron Islands. Ward of Ned Stark and best friend to Robb. After Ned’s death, is sent to arrange alliance with his father. Is dismissed by his father as being too Northern. Tries to prove his bravery by overtaking Winterfell while Robb is away. People uprise. Winterfell is burned. Alive.

Jon Snow, Steward to the Lord Commander
Bastard son of Ned. Takes the lifelong oath of the Night Watch, which guard the northern wall of the Seven Kingdoms from the wildlings (people) and the White Walkers (zombie-like creatures). Joins an expedition to find another of the Watch who went missing. On patrol, captures a wildling woman, Ygritte. When she escapes, he’s taken prisoner. Alive.

Daenerys Targaryen
Daughter of Aryes, King of the Seven Kingdoms. As a child, fled from the Seven Kingdoms when her father was murdered (thus leading Robert to take the Throne). In exile, marries Khal Drogo and is leader to a tribe of people after his death. Becomes mother and guardian of three newly hatched dragons (the first in centuries). While seeking assistance for her people, dragons are stolen. When she gets them back, she locks away the thief and takes enough of his possessions to purchase a boat to return her to the Seven Kingdoms, where she plans to reclaim her rightful throne. Alive.