It surprised absolutely no-one when HBO renewed Game of Thrones for season 7. What did come as a shock were rumors that the series might return with a much shorter episode count and a delayed release date. Well hold onto your leather britches, folks: today both of those rumors were confirmed by the network.
As expected, season 7 has its episode count reduced from the usual ten to a mere seven. Showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff already commented that the plan for the final two seasons is to wrap up the show in roughly 13 episodes. Palpitations aside, it's not entirely a bad thing. Season 6 ploughed through its story much faster than previous seasons. Now that we're headed into the final stretch, who wants a 2-3 episode arc that dawdles around somewhere no-one's bothered about? (ahem, Dorne.)
Normally there's a year-long gap between seasons, but that too is set to change. Due to the whole 'winter is here' thing at the end of season 6, showrunners aren't concerned with shooting in sunny locations. If Westeros is meant to be grey and bleak then it might be difficult to believe if everyone's strutting about with a tan. So unlike the show's typical spring start, cameras will instead roll at the tail-end of this summer. That means we won't be seeing any new Thrones until summer 2017. Yes. A whole year from now.
On the bright side - perfect time to start that seasons 1-6 rewatch, no?