Game of Thrones is an amazing television show. It’s more popular than The Sopranos. It’s received more Emmy awards than any other television series. So you could say that it’s definitely worth it to learn what you can about GOT. In this fictional world there are many different types of species, but they all roughly resemble humans- however, they don’t necessarily like each other. In this world, there is a constant battle for ownership over the land.
The series also does something most other fantasies don’t do. It explores sex and the grey area of morality, while refusing to paint a picture of good versus evil. Game of Thrones does not tell the story of “heroes.” Instead, GOT portrays the human condition. Things are just real enough to evoke a feeling of instant familiarity while still allowing room for one to use one’s imagination. The show has grown a lot since its first season and the budget has increased from the days of its pilot. Now, in the show’s sixth season, the budget is over $10 million per episode.
The series could be intimidating at first. Or a little hard to understand if you’ve never watched it before. To the uninitiated newbie, the show may come across as a little contrived or a little confusing. So here’s the 10 things that will make you a Game of Thrones expert. Soon enough you’ll find yourself catching things that your friends, who have watched Game of Thrones for years, could not. And more than that, it’s really really fun to be the know-it-all.
10. It’s Based On A Book
Game of Thrones is entirely based on the book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” by George R.R. Martin. The title, “Ice and Fire,” loosely owes its origins to Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice.” And also (very) loosely to the themes of passion, fire, coldness, aloofness, etc. Game of Thrones is literally about the struggle to gain the “Iron Throne,” upon which the king of the Seven Kingdoms sits. But we’ll get to that more in-depth later.
The series was originally only going to be a trilogy. But George R. R. Martin is now writing the sixth book, “The Winds of Winter,” as we speak. Furthermore, there is a seventh book in the works. Firm decisions on when the series shall end are not established. “I know better than to promise anything,” George R. R. Martin told The Atlantic. But it is widely believed that the seventh book will be the last book.
9. This Is Hardcore-Fantasy
The story starts in a fictional place called “The Known World.” There are two main continents in this fictional world. “Westeros,” one of the main continents, is about the size of South America. It also has terrible weather! Winters and summers are extreme, and they can last decades.
What sets Game of Thrones apart from many other fantasy novels is its realism. Indeed, this is “hardcore-fantasy,” as some would call it. The setting alludes to medieval Europe and feudal society. There is magic and dragons, but the story does not rely on these fantastic elements. There is also plenty of sex and violence, which brings the show a lot of controversy. Game of Thrones deeply explores sex in all its perversions and taboos, and other uncomfortable themes, such as the grey area of morality. GOT refuses to drive the plot forward with the simple (and played out) dichotomy of good vs evil.
8. The Great Houses
In The Known World what you essentially have is a civil war for the Iron Throne and the monarchy of the Seven Kingdoms. The three most important family names to remember are “Lannister,” “Targaryen” and “Stark.” Most of the entire series revolves around those three families. The Lannister and Stark families both wield the power of having a great house. And thus, immense power over vassals and territories within their feudal society. The only superior they answer to is the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
There are other Great Houses in the series as well. Many of the houses have a “motto” and a distinct characteristic. Such as the House of Baratheon. It is the current royal house and one of the youngest. The Baratheon use the motto “Ours is the Fury.” The House Martell were never officially conquered. So they practiced a sort of isolationism in Westeros politics. The Martell motto is consequently, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”
7. House Lannister
House Lannister is the wealthiest house in all the land and lays claim to multiple gold mines. They are also one of the oldest and most powerful families in Westeros. As you remember, the House of Baratheon is the current royal house. However, House Baratheon do not truly control the throne. The Lannister House controls the throne in truth, uses the largest military, and are the most badass. Their motto is “Hear me roar!”, which is right on because of their golden lion coat of arms. House Lannister is the only house in the series with an unofficial motto, and it is “A Lannister always pays his debts.”
Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage, appears in all six seasons of Game of Thrones, and is a major character. If there’s one thing you should know about Tyrion Lannister, it is that he embodies the maxim: size doesn’t always matter. Instead, Tyrion uses his intelligence to overcome his obstacles.
6. House Stark
It is advisable to the Game of Thrones newbie to not get too attached to any of the Starks. In the series, all legitimate Stark sons could be dead. And no one really knows what happened to them after the “War of the Five Kings.” In season one, the Starks came across a dying/dead “Dire Wolf” that had wolf puppies. Each child received a wolf as their own. So today, the Stark coat of arms is a grey dire wolf.
The Stark House uses the motto, “Winter is Coming.” This is also the only non-threatening motto of the series. But it is a potent warning. Because in “the North”, beyond the great wall, there is a huge army that can signal the beginning of “winter.” This “winter” could threaten everyone in the story.
5. There Is A Magical/Fantastical Element
I did mention that this is the hardcore-fantasy genre. But Game of Thrones is also all about epic-fantasy at heart. Many of the types of magic that appear in the original “Ice and Fire” book series by George R. R. Martin are also included in the HBO show.
Such as “Blood Magic.” Witches and other questionable people use it, but it is otherwise banned from popular use, like crack cocaine! Blood Magic might be able to predict the future…and it also might be able to kill people. “Warging” is another form of magic which allows someone to enter and control the mind of an animal. “Greensight” is like going to sleep and seeing into the past. “Resurrection” is exactly what it sounds like. “Dark Magic” allows one to give birth to a demon…and it is very very evil. “White Walkers” are evil (ice) creatures, and Dragons are benevolent (fire) creatures.
4. The Resources
There are resources available to every newbie. You can follow the show on Twitter @GameOfThrones. You can also watch the after show, “After the Thrones,” for an upbeat and humorous commentary which gives more insight and clarification on all things Game of Thrones, such as character motivations and plot points.
You can also read the entire series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which is George R. R. Martin’s magnum opus. But you don’t really need to do that much reading or work when I’m about to hook you up with gameofthrones.wikia.com. This website is one of the most comprehensive and easily understandable websites out there that will help you remember things such as character names and provide reference points for everything Game of Thrones. Here’s a hint as well- another interesting resource is the main title sequence of the HBO show itself. It is actually a 3D map of everything that happens within the series.
3. Who Is Jon Snow’s Mother?
The show has a big “bastard” theme. In the Known World, each region names its bastards in their own special way. For example, bastards born in “the North,” which is, the northern half of the Seven Kingdoms (and about the size of Scotland), are all given the surname “Snow.” The two most popular bastards in the game are Jon Snow and Ramsay Snow (now known as Ramsay Bolton).
A long-standing question on the show is who exactly is Jon Snow’s mother? In fact, the creators of the HBO series came away successful from their pitch to HBO when they gave their answer to that very question. It must have been a good answer! Jon Snow could originate from Ned Stark’s affair waged while at war. But Ned is loyal. Jon Snow could be a child of incest. No one knows… But it’s important! Try to figure out! Who exactly is Jon Snow’s mother?
Daenerys is a badass. Played by Emilia Clarke, she’s hot and she plays one of the most important characters on the show and in the book. She’s important because she is the only monarch that gives a third-person narrative. She is a member of the House Targaryen, the family that ruled the Iron Throne for almost 300 years. She’s in exile now. But she’s a badass.
She is in her early teens. She starts out as timid and shy. But she grows and develops through her relationship and betrothal with Khal Drogo, lord of the Dothraki, and his warrior ways. She ends up becoming comparable to Joan of Arc, very fierce and bold. Like all young women, Daenerys wanted a couple of babies, but she ended up giving birth to dragons. The dragons are Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Drogon is named after her husband. Rhaegalis named after Rhaegar Targaryen and Viserion is named after her brother Viserys.
1. Don’t Get Attached
The number one rule any seasoned veteran of Game of Thrones knows is that you absolutely cannot get attached to any character. Because everyone that you love is probably going to die. If you think you might like them in the future…they will probably die. If they are children and they are helpless…they are going to die. It they are strong and they are pure…yup, they are probably going to die.
You get the picture but just in case…If they are evil – dying.. If they are popular and important – dead. If they are beautiful then they are definitely going to die. If they are small and unimportant they are going to die and you won’t even notice. In fact, this is another record for Game of Thrones. This series, out of the 40 most recent TV dramas in the United States, has the second most deaths per episode, coming in at 14 deaths per episode.