Season 4 of the hit HBO vampire franchise, 'True Blood' is underway with a new coven of witches and unexpected changes in the vampire world.  Episode 1 aired on Sunday with the second epiosde of the series available early On-Demand and via the HBO Go app.

Note:  My preview contains spoilers through the second episode of Season 4 and Dead to the World.

'True Blood' creator Alan Ball has always used the Charlene Harris book series as inspiration and rough outline. With the first two episodes of the new season, it appears 'True Blood' will be continuing its carefully charted course, several degrees askew from the Southern Vampire Mysteries.

Season 4's main plot arc revolves around the novel Dead To The World, which introduces a coven of witches to interfere with life in Bon Temps.  The witches are a threat to the vampires and erase the memory of Eric Northman, the sheriff of Louisiana's Area 5.

The biggest diversion from the plot of the book is that Vampire Bill is now the King of Louisiana.  One of the season 3 cliffhangers saw Bill Compton enter battle with Queen Sophie-Anne.  We find out in the second episode of this season that Bill was backed up in that fight by human agents of the American Vampire League who shot and killed the Queen.  Bill has been an agent of the AVL all along and working with Nan Flannigan.  Thanks to Bill's loyalty, he's rewarded with reign over Lousiana, and nominally, Eric Northman.

Sookie's time with the fae felt like just a few minutes to her while in Bon Temps, a full year has passed.  Her house has been sold to a new owner with a substantial interest in the historic Stackhouse home and its contents.  Sookie's been struggling to reintegrate herself back into town society.

Elsewhere, we find that Jason is trying to balance being an upstanding lawman with the needs of the backwards werepanther community of Hot Shot.  It appears that the major book plotline of Jason becoming a shifter will take place this season on TV.

At Merlotte's, Sam has found companionship with a new group of shifters and we're introduced toArlene's newborn baby.  She's convinced it's the evil spawn of  season 1 baddy Rene Lenier .

Tara's taken up residence in New Orleans, became a cage fighter and has a new relationship.  Her cousin Lafayette continues his relationship with Jesus and quickly becomes entangled with the new witch coven.

With the exception of Sookie escaping from the fae, which came off corny to me with its energy bombs, Season 4 is off to the same sultry, dangerous, vein-throbbing action of the previous seasons.