Game of Thrones season 7 premiere set for July 16

HBO announced the return of its epic fantasy series Game of Thrones by melting a giant block of ice live on its Facebook page.

The livestream, which disconnected at least twice over the course of an hour, blasted a block of ice with flamethrowers every time commenters entered the words "fire" or "dracarys" into the chat — the latter being the word for dragon's fire in the series' fictional High Valyrian language.

After an agonizing wait that critics mocked as "atrocious" and "HBO's worst stunt yet" — yet viewed by more than 1.6 million people — the icy prison melted away, revealing July 16 as the premiere date for Game of Thrones' seventh season.

A slightly less cryptic teaser was posted shortly after. It included no new footage, instead opting for some critical lines from previous seasons playing over images of stone busts of animals representing the duelling families' crests.

It did end with a new line from Kit Harington's character Jon Snow: "There is only war that matters: the great war, and it is here," presumably referencing the impending invasion of the undead White Walker army from the north.

 

The show, based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, made Emmy history last year, earning a total of 38 awards over its six seasons, eclipsing the former record held by Frasier's 37.

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss confirmed last year that the final two seasons will be shorter than the previous six seasons' 10 episodes each, hence this year's summer premiere instead of the usual spring.