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'Game of Thrones' picked up for season 5 and 6 by HBO

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"Game of Thrones" has been picked up for two more seasons, just days following the season four premiere, according to a media announcement from Michael Lombardo, presient of HBO Programming, emailed by HBO on April 8, 2014. The two season renewal is a vote of confidence that comes as no surprise, since the fantasy based on the books by George R. R. Martin has an avid cult of followers. HBO's Game of Thrones viewer's guide helps viewers keep up with the complicated storyline.

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Pictures from the season four premiere, "Game of Thrones: Two Swords" are attached in the slideshow. The fourth season of ten episodes of "Game of Thrones" launched on Sunday, April 6. New episodes of the fantasy with premiere on subesqeunt Sunday nights (9-10 p.m. ET/PT).\

The season four premiere had outstanding ratings, according to the announcement from HBO. The episode, "Two Sword," was watched by an average of 6.6 million viewers, making it HBO’s most-watched program since the finale of “The Sopranos” in 2007, which garnered 11.9 million viewers. The premiere's ratings improved over the season three premiere by 52% and the season three finale by 23%.

Lombardo called the epic fantasy a phenomenon, stating, “Game of Thrones" is a phenomenon like no other. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling.”

The fantasy story of treachery and nobility is set on the fictional continent of Westeros, a harsh land where summers and winters can last years, and only the lust for power is eternal. The series is beautifully filmed, making use of elaborate sets and exquisite costuming to tell an often bloody story of intrique and the lust for control of the iron throne and the kingdom.

"Game of Thrones" boasts a large ensemble cast of series' regulars, including: Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister), Aidan Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish), Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Diana Rigg (Lady Olenna Tyrell), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark).

Additional castmembers include: Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Conleth Hill (Varys), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Rory McCann (Sandor “The Hound” Clegane), Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow) and Carice van Houten (Melisandre).

The executive producers of "Game of Thrones" are David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Carolyn Strauss, Frank Doelger and Bernadette Caulfield; co-executive producers, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis and George R.R. Martin; producers, Chris Newman and Greg Spence.

Game of Thrones Purple Wedding photos from HBO

Game of Thrones Breaker of Chains video recap and photos from HBO

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