Game of Thrones fans are fired up by the new series
The hotly anticipated fifth season of fantasy series Game of Thrones finally burst onto UK screens last night - and fans were delighted with the latest offering of blood, sex, swords and dragons.
The HBO epic filmed in Northern Ireland has built a reputation on being unafraid of dispensing of its characters in cruel fashion - and last night one of Belfast's best-known actors was burnt at the stake by a witch.
In the first harrowing killing, Mance Rayder - played by Ciaran Hinds - went up in smoke.
But a timely arrow fired by by Jon Snow - played by Kit Harington, who recently apologised to the people of Belfast after denigrating the city - meant the wildling leader's fiery suffering was short-lived.
Not everyone appreciated the character. "RIP Mance, you were an overrated character," wrote one fan on the AV Club website.
"First Kit Harrington says Belfast is depressing and then he puts an arrow through Ciaran Hinds, the guy is on a roll," said Twitter user Martin.
Meanwhile, scheming 'on-the-run' dwarf Tyrion finally emerged bleary-eyed from a crate in which he escaped after shooting his father with a crossbow as he sat on a throne of a different kind - a medieval toilet.
"Tyrion, drinking and vomiting his way across the sea away from his family, was accompanied by creepy eunuch advisor Varys. Tyrion and Varys usually get all the best lines, so it was a treat to see them together," wrote the Daily Telegraph.
It added: "This wasn't the most dramatic episode so far, but the acting and writing were sharper than ever."
However, the Independent sounded a note of disappointment, although it said the writing and production values "remain superb".
The New York Times said: "It was a scene-setter episode that was more chatty than bloody, with a couple of exceptions."
Fans were delighted. "Think I've wet myself," wrote an excited Tilly Hall.
Andrew Sabbatinelli tweeted: "Mondays cannot come quick enough now."
And Bryn Martin wrote: "Well that's set the standard for the series! It's going up another level!"
"Fantastic start to season 5, looks like a promising season!" added Tasmin Dodson.