'Game of Thrones' Golden Company: Everything to Know

The season premiere of Game of Thrones saw Cersei Lannister with a new golden-clad army at her back.

Game of Thrones returned at last on Sunday, and it wasted no time. Early in the episode, Euron Greyjoy sailed back to King's Landing as Cersei promised he would, and he brought with him the Golden Company. While book-readers are familiar with this mercenary army, this is the first time they have appeared on the show.

Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire lie ahead!

The Golden Company is an army of sellsword knights from Essos, the continent across the Narrow Sea from Westeros. These men are the descendants of soldiers who fled Westeros several generations ago after losing a war known as the Blackfyre Rebellion. Since then, they have been self-sufficient, fighting for different kings and lords and waiting for their chance to return home.

On the show, it looks like Cersei has finally given it to them. The season premiere found the Golden Company's leader, Ser Harry Strickland in the throne room with Cersei and Euron Greyjoy. He reported that they had brought 20,000 fighting men and 2,000 horses with them, though unfortunately, they had no elephants.

The golden company could turn the tide in Cersei's favor. The army is incredibly well-trained and disciplined. The biggest limiting factor is their exorbitant price, but as Cersei explained in Season 7, the Iron Bank is now sponsoring her after she paid back her massive debt with the Tyrell family's gold. With the Golden Company, Cersei could now try to reclaim all the lands she lost or even sneak up on Winterfell on its undefended side as they await the White Walker attack there.

Then again, things could go any number of ways on this unpredictable show. In the books, the Golden Company is bound by a certain internal code of honor, and it seems unlikely that those men would follow Cersei Lannister for very long once they were back in Westeros. On the other hand, the books play out very differently from the show, and that version of the Golden Company made it home much earlier.

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This is just one of the dangerous moving pieces fans must keep their eyes on as they head into the final season of Game of Thrones. Cersei and her army would be hard pressed to present a bigger threat than the Army of the Dead marching down from the north, but if anyone can handle it, she can.

Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.