TV: The Blagger’s Guide To… Game Of Thrones
Where in Seven Hells do we start? Game Of Thrones is based on a series of books entitled A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin, and named after the first in the series. It’s set in the fictional medieval-type world of The Seven Kingdoms. There are knights, horses, bloody battles, magic, LOTS of sex, relationships of a romantic, platonic, diplomatic, political, and lustful nature, kings, queens, peasants, warriors, refugees, slaves – and, I shit you not – dragons. Motherflippin’ DRAGONS.
This guide won’t focus on the books, because really, if you’re reading a Blagger’s Guide to catch up on a telly show instead of watching it, you probably won’t have the time to read all five books in the next while. However, many who have watched and loved the show haven’t read them either, and those who have, or are working their way through them, generally have no complaints about how the show is treating the content. The fact is that it could never hope to include as much as the books do, but the general consensus is that it does a damn good job. So onward we go with an attempt at getting you up to date with the meat of the story.
The story essentially focuses on the battle for The Iron Throne, which oversees The Seven Kingdoms in a land called Westeros. Summers and Winters last years, and vary every time. Long before the series brings us in, we are told of how the Iron Throne is constantly under threat with every new king; many long-established families within the different areas have a desire to occupy it, and some have been more successful than others in doing so. The series weaves a web of intricate plots and storylines, all depicting the various ways each family try and either work their way up the political ladder, or simply survive and maintain their status quo. It’s about justice, retribution, political scandal and intrigue, loyalty, the art of war… oh, and I don’t know if we’ve mentioned this before, but DRAGONS.
The Main Players
The show covers five different factions all fighting for their own perceived claim to The Iron Throne, some motivated by personal sense of inherited entitlement, some for what they believe to be the good of the realm. As such, there are more characters and sub-plots than you could shake a very giant stick at. But here they are divided into their respective factions.
King’s Landing is the home of the Iron Throne, and Robert Baratheon is King. However, it’s his in-laws the Lannisters who are the power family as the series goes on. Golden-haired and blue-eyed, they could very well lead a poster campaign for Medieval Gap. Cersei, his wife, is a woman so cold she pees dry ice. She and her twin brother Jaime are doing the nasty on the side, and her three children are his, not poor auld King Robert’s. To be fair, you wouldn’t need a Jeremy-Kyle DNA test to try and establish paternity considering Robert is a stocky brunette and all her offpsring look like an Aryan dream. Jaime is a knight, known as The Kingslayer for helping Robert dispatch his predecessor Aerys Targaryen (known as The Mad King).
Joffrey is the eldest child, set to inherit the kingdom after Robert, what with everyone believing he is his biological son and all. Easily one of the most detestable characters ever to grace a television screen, he is cruel, evil, selfish and power-hungry. He really kicks into asshole high gear when Robert dies and he becomes King, ignoring all advice to the contrary and beheading Ned Stark for treason towards the end of Season 1, thus kicking off a gigantic war with the entire North. Feckin’ eejit.
The Lannister patriarch is Tywin, a proper old-school nobleman-type, who we see more of in Season 2 as the wars wage on, slightly annoyed at having to come back to King’s Landing to clean up the mess that his kids have made of the place. Unwittingly takes on Arya Stark (mentioned below) as a servant-boy when he plucks her from a bunch of prisoners, and she gets to hear all his conferences and war council meetings while she pours his wine. Not his smartest move.
However, it is Tyrion Lannister who almost steals the entire show. Brother to Jaime and Cersei, his dwarfism earns him the nickname ‘Halfman’ or ‘The Imp’. What he lacks in stature, he makes up for in absolute bucketloads with wit, cunning, charm, diplomatic and survival skills. He lets everyone off to do their political scheming and war-mongering, while he drinks, gambles and cavorts with the ladies.
Don’t be fooled though. He becomes an absolute badass during Season 2 when he runs headlong into battle to defend King’s Landing and earns mad respect from the men, who are more than a little pissed off with Joffrey and his cowardice. He also has absolutely no time for the antics of his wayward nephew, and puts him in his place more than once with the old ‘Five Across The Face’. It’s this kind of thing that has earned him a place in the hearts of all Thrones fans.
My my, the Starks are a great bunch. Eddard, the head of the family, is played by Sean Bean (who else to play a rugged salt-of-the-earth Northern Lord?) and pretty much nails down the title of ‘Strong Silent Type’. In fact, if you looked up the word ‘stoic’ in the dictionary, you’d see his craggy Northern face staring back at you, telling you to stop wasting your time reading because ‘Winter is coming’. The characters say that a lot. Because, well, it is.
Eddard (Ned to his familiars) has managed to rack up about thirty-four children in his time as Lord of the North in Winterfell. Well, maybe not. But he does have six. Robb is the eldest and set to inherit The North when his father’s head has an unfortunate collision with a sword in the penultimate episode of Season 1. Sansa, the eldest daughter, is full of romantic notions and set in her role as dutiful daughter, while her younger sister Arya is an absolute firecracker of a young wan, rebelling against anything that requires her to be a submissive quiet female, preferring swordplay to sewing and even passing herself off as a boy all through Season 2 to escape the clutches of the Lannisters after her dad’s execution. Bran is the second youngest and has a tendency to climb things a lot. His spider monkey tendencies become his undoing when one day, with no regard for the concept of gravity, he crawls up a building and discovers twin siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister in flagrante delicto while the Royal party are visiting at Winterfell. Cheeky buggers. Jaime pushes Bran out of the window, paralysing him from the waist down, and Bran hasn’t cracked a smile since. Jon Snow is the illegitimate son of Ned, who seems allergic to smiling but is rather pleasant to look at. He joins the Men of the Night’s Watch, an all-black wearing army of men of varying flawed character whose job it is to protect the realm from all the scary things that roam beyond The Wall. There’s also the baby of the family, four-year-old Rickon, but he hasn’t done anything yet. Lazy git.
This is the family dynasty that occupied The Iron Throne before this series brings the viewers in, and we discover that King Robert fought his way onto the Throne by having Aerys Targaryen – The Mad King – slain by his brother-in-law Jaime. So naturally, the two surviving Targaryens are slightly miffed. Viserys is a man obsessed with the notion that he is a dragon of some sort, while his little sister Daenerys appears in fact to actually unknowingly genetically be connected to them. Both are platinum blonde pixie-looking creatures, like grown-up Children of the Damned. Danerys is traded to Khal Drogo, the leader of a tribe called The Dothraki, a mad bunch of bastards if there ever was one. These guys know how to party. Looked on by most in the Seven Kingdoms as savages, viewers are informed that if there isn’t at least a couple of fatalities at a wedding ceremony, it’s boring as all hell. Imagine what their Debs must be like…
Viserys hopes to use Drogo’s army to help regain the Iron Throne, but it’s ultimately Daenerys who emerges as the force to be reckoned with. She’s enough to be dealing with, what with her psychotic brother getting his comeuppance from Drogo in a most uncomfortable fashion, premature widowhood and a stillborn baby. However, the finale of Season 1 sees her waking up in the aftermath of a massive funeral pyre, naked as a jaybird, accompanied by three newborn dragons. Now THERE’S a sentence I never thought I’d write.
With Ned discovering that Robert Baratheon isn’t the biological father of Joffrey, the other two Baratheon brothers want in on the kingly action. Stannis and Renly don’t like each other very much, and their rivalry is a focus in the second season. Stannis manages to kill off poor Renly in a most supernatural fashion with the help of a priestess called Melisandre. Bold boy.
In Season 1, Theon Greyjoy is a minor player. His father staged a rebellion against House Stark years before, and Ned crushed it, taking Theon as hostage. Despite this he grew up to be Robb Stark’s friend and right-hand man. In Season 2 though, he gets notions about himself and manages to rebel against House Stark himself, returning to Winterfell to try and claim it as his own. He’s one to watch for Season 3.
The Best Bits
Only two seasons in, but there’s so much happening to so many people, we’ll give you a selection from the both of them. By now though, we’re sure you’re running around bribing mates for the episodes while screaming ‘WINTER IS COMING!’.
- The very first episode lets viewers know that not all enemies are human. We get a glimpse of the White Walkers, zombie-like creatures who have to be burned in order to die. They’re scary weird things that roam the Northern Realm beyond The Wall, and the men of The Night’s Watch are the first defence against them. You’ll see them again in the finale of Season 2, and I guarantee you, you’ll get an awful fright altogether. There’s flippin’ LOADS of ‘em.
- In Winterfell, while Bran is recovering from his fall, a mysterious intruder arrives to finish the job Jaime Lannister started. Catelyn Stark tries to defend her son, and gets injured in the process. Bran’s pet direwolf (A Game of Thrones version of a wolf – massive) saves the day by ripping out the man’s throat, then casually lies back down on Bran’s bed like it’s no big deal. Awesome.
- Viserys Targaryen gets his longed-for crown, Dothraki-style, after pushing his sister and her husband too far with his power-mad antics:
- The story pulls no punches and isn’t afraid to kill off popular characters for the sake of the greater plot. So when Joffrey goes against all advice and gleefully has Eddard Stark executed, you’re well and truly thrown, genuinely not knowing who or what is going to be destroyed next (unless you’ve read the books, of course).
- A female knight called Brianne who is a total legend. Disregards all slagging and derision to become Renly Baratheon’s sworn protector – until he’s killed by a magical force, obviously. Unfortunate situation, but she allies herself with Catelyn Stark and just generally kicks ass all over the place.
- A minor character called The Hound – one of King Joffrey’s main henchmen. An absolutely lethal giant of a man who, despite his penchant for killing and doing whatever is asked of him by his king without question, has a bit of a soft spot for Sansa Stark. He minds her, bless him, by trying to protect her from Joffrey ‘Patrick Bateman’ Baratheon. It’s his heroic, gory rescue of her from an angry mob of men intent on raping her that earns him a mention here.
- Theon Greyjoy seizes Winterfell and has to make an example of Ser Rodrik, the Winterfell Master-At-Arms, to prove he’s the new force to be reckoned with. He botches the execution, taking four swings of a sword to get the job done. Harsh stuff – but fantastic telly altogether.
- Season 2’s finale is a humdinger, particularly the last five minutes. Out in the snowstorms beyond The Wall, we finally get to see exactly what had those poor men in The Night’s Watch all a-quiver in the opening scenes of the very first Game of Thrones episode. An entire army of White Walkers marches through the blinding snow, with a close-up of the scariest-looking yoke you ever did see at the front leading them. First dragons, now zombie-yokes. What more could you want in a show?
Cool Useless Info For The Pub
- Theon Greyjoy is played by Alfie Allen, brother to Lily. You might remember him from the song she wrote about him. He’s come a long way since this:
- Fancy buying yourself The Iron Throne? Of course you do.
- Saturday Night Live’s famous Game of Thrones sketch.
- If you want to make the ladies in the club swoon like Khal Drogo, learn to chat them up in Dothraki.
- Into your music? Check out this metal version of the Game of Thrones theme music. It’s rather fantastic.
Boom. That should keep you going with all your obsessed mates for a bit. Believe us, there are some serious fans out there. That’s what you get when someone creates an entire fantasy world that’s so much more interesting and magical than the one we currently inhabit. It’s definitely worth a visit, though. Only problem is, you may never want to leave.