Game of Thrones: How Winter Will Change the Landscape of Westeros

Game of Thrones season 6
Jon Snow goes to battle in "Game of Thrones." Helen Sloan/HBO

This article originally appeared on iDigitalTimes.

In Winds of Winter and Game of Thrones season 7, winter isn't coming—it's here. House Stark's ominous words will finally be fulfilled, and all the perils of years-long winters will descend upon Westeros. The change of seasons will bring about serious consequences for all the people of Westeros. Here's what they can expect now that cold weather is descending upon most of the Seven Kingdoms.

The North Hunkering Down

The North is naturally affected most by the onset of winter. The North is relatively cold already, and the winter is no laughing matter. In a normal winter, the realm is well-prepared for the biting cold and lack of food; Winterfell itself has a geothermal heating system, and the population of the castle and the immediate environs balloons as the smallfolk from around the North resettle in the North's great citadel for the winter's duration. But this year will bring new challenges: Winterfell is back in Stark hands, at least in the show, but it was still gutted by Theon and is not in proper working order. The people of the North are used to adversity, but this winter will bring greater challenges than ever. Between the ironborn raids and King Robb's war, supplies are already scarcer than usual. It will be a tough year.

The South Growing Stronger

The South, on the other hand, benefits from the winter—relatively speaking. Dorne and the Reach don't get nearly as cold as the North or the northern reaches of the South, which gives the Tyrells and Martells a relative advantage in terms of mustering their forces to fight Daenerys— not to mention Cersei. Trouble is, signs suggest that the coming winter will be exceptionally cold, long, harsh and dark… and even the Reach may not be fully prepared.

More Raids And Fewer Wars

One good thing for all of the Seven Kingdoms: The winter will bring a pause to years of civil war. The lords of Westeros simply can't march armies of the same scale across the Seven Kingdoms during winter. Sieges are far more difficult because it's far harder for a besieging army to live off the land or maintain sufficient supplies in winter. And mobility is constrained. All of this applies even to the Dothraki, who will be hindered by the weather as much as anyone else—but perhaps not hindered enough for Cersei. Dragons don't mind the cold weather.

On the other hand, raids will increase during the winter. The ironborn will continue to be a threat, both because of Euron Greyjoy and because of the natural impulse to go after easy pickings during the cold season. But raids by brigands will increase even more, especially because of the general dearth of supplies following the wars.

Mass Starvation

The War of the Five Kings and the subsequent, ongoing rebellions in the Iron Islands—as well as newly fomented rebellions in the North, Dorne and the Reach—will have a devastating effect on the smallfolk of the Seven Kingdoms. The riverlands have already suffered from the region's wholesale pillaging, but it will only get worse as winter comes. And if the Dothraki or the White Walkers devastate other regions, which they will, mass starvation will descend upon Westeros—the most devastating plague of all. The riverlands will not be in good shape, nor will the North. Even warmer regions may run into issues—especially the Reach, which did not prepare for winter properly under Renly Baratheon.

Dothraki, Dragons, White Walkers And A Second Long Night

The real trouble with the new winter in Winds of Winter, of course, isn't the depredations of the cold. It's the upcoming, near simultaneous invasions of Westeros by two extremely powerful armies led by supernatural champions: The Dothraki are on their way across the Narrow Sea, led by a fire sorceress with three dragons at her command. Daenerys wants to come as a liberator, but the truth is, she'll wreak untold destruction along the way. The forces of ice, though, are even more dangerous—Daenerys has selfish, not entirely ill-hearted intentions, but the Night King is a malevolent force of death and evil , with an undead army of boundless size at his back. He will bring the Long Night once again and devastate the North while the Dothraki devastate the South. By the time fire and ice clash, the winter will have wreaked a terrible toll on the people of the Seven Kingdoms. We'll see if they survive.