Game of Thrones season 7's first photos, which tell us more than the trailer

Including more hints at Azor Ahai

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The Independent Culture

HBO released a batch of photos from Game of Thrones season 7 today, which are cause for more excitement than the teaser trailer as, while the trailer was conceptual and featured footage that won't be used in the show, the photos come straight from scenes in the new episodes.

We look at them one-by-one and extrapolate what we can in the gallery below.

After months of waiting, HBO finally confirmed that Game of Thrones will return for in the US on 16 July. Sky Atlantic and NOW TV will simulcast every episode weekly at 2 am from 17 July, followed by a repeat at 9 pm the same day.

Rather than simply announcing the release date, HBO decided to milk fan hysteria with a Facebook Live video that saw a vast block of ice melt when triggered by viewer comments, eventually revealing when the show would return. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go to plan.

Every other season has debuted around April, yet season seven won't start until July. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss explained: “We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, 'Winter is here' – and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes anymore.

“So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim grey weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot.”

While other seasons have been made up of 10 episodes, season seven will contain just seven. However, thanks to the show’s huge ambitions for the upcoming episodes, they’re spending just as much time filming this season as previous ones.

“Season seven has much more ambition,” Kit Harrington - who plays Jon Snow - previously said. “There are less episodes this year, so they spent more money on those episodes. So, the whole scale of it is up.”