Throne for a Loop? A guide to Game of Thrones
It’s only the biggest TV show on the planet. Its last season garnered 12 million viewers on HBO (plus, it is history’s most illegally downloaded piece of entertainment). Game of Thrones, an eight-season series based on George RR Martin’s famously unfinished A Song of Ice And Fire fantasy novels, has spun great storytelling, surprise deaths, intrigue, violence, magic and tons on nudity into an addictive show.
The world now is made up of two kinds of people: those who’ve followed it, and those who never learned to Hold the Door. The final season starts airing on April 14. Catch up here:
Welcome to Westeros. This is where seven aristocratic families have been fighting for control of the Iron Throne for seven seasons. Members of all families have plotted. Lots of people have killed. Lots more have died. Some have been resurrected. Some siblings have produced children. Some children have travelled through time. Much wine has been drunk. And only a handful of them have found time to bathe.
Where are we exactly? Westeros, the continent where much of the action is set, is nothing more than an upside down map of Ireland. This means the tale’s Fingers region is the Dingle Peninsula; the north are the British Isles; and Hadrian’s Wall is the ice wall that separates the known from the unknown.
What happens now? Control of Westeros is now a fight between the dead and the living. The dead are really the undead, blue-eyed, quick-moving, hard-to-kill-again inhabitants of the icy Land Beyond The Wall. They’re led by a Night King. They’re coming for the living. They can only be killed by a particular kind of steel or fire. The living, meanwhile, are scattered across Westeros and have squabbled for too many episodes to match this greater threat. Will they fight each other or Old Blue Eyes?
Will you bend the knee?
Much of the genius of Game of Thrones lies in the fact that you can’t trust or root for anyone for long. There’s no guarantee that the hero-types will even survive, let alone prevail. Protective dads get beheaded. Dragons change loyalties. Tyrants win bets. And the moral code is pushed out the top window of the castle tower.
If you must pick a side, let it be the Starks – the upright northern clan has seen much drama, death and betrayal. They could use a win. They’re up, however, against the Lannisters – myopic, megalomanical Queen Cersei, and her twin-lover (eww, yes) Jaime Lannister. Their canny, midget brother Tyrion supports the Starks, which means he may not last long.
Stark head Jon has allied with Daenerys Targaryen, a woman who has birthed dragons, but has a better track record as a fighter than ruler. Jon himself is half-Stark, half Targaryen – he doesn’t know his lover is his aunt. There are others. But these are the lives that matter.
So, who have been the worst losses so far? A moment of silence for…
Hodor: He was the chaperone of Bran Stark, the second son and fourth child of Ned Stark. Hodor never spoke, just said Hodor, and truly was the nicest guy in the Game of Thrones. His life’s purpose, it turned out, was to die at the right moment.
Ned Stark: He is the Lord of Winterfell, which is the ancestral castle and seat of power of the House of Stark and is considered to be the capital of the north. Ned is the hero’s hero, a man of courage, and the first of many deaths we never saw coming.
Khal Drogo, Robb Stark, Oberon Martell, Tommen: Drogo, Daenerys’s warrior husband; Robb, the eldest Stark, who we thought was destined to be a hero; Oberon, who won our hearts fighting on behalf of Tyrion; and poor Tommen, manipulated by both mother Cersei and wife Margaery — all gone. Nice guys really finish last!
Heard this one? Here are die-hard fans’ conspiracy theories about what might happen next
Jaime will kill his twin and lover Cersei. He’s changed over the seasons, and is tiring of his increasingly crazy sister. Their kids have died. A war is coming. And one scene in the last season, which has them both stand on a map, depicted her standing on Westeros’s Neck and him at The Fingers. Foreshadowing much?
Gendry and Arya will reunite. Friends separated over the years, they might become a couple. But not before Arya assassinates a few more people.
Melisandre will resurrect someone else. She is alive because she hasn’t yet outlived her usefulness to the plot. Please let it be Ned or Khal Drogo!
A Targaryen baby will be born. Daenerys and Jon’s child, an incestuous scion of ice and fire, might be Azor Ahai, the prophesied prince who defeats the undead with a lightning sword.
Jon Snow might be the Prince. His Targaryen lineage means he can ride dragons and be impervious to fire. And Melisandre seems to think so. In the novel A Dance with Dragons, she says: “I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R’hllor shows me only Snow”. He’ll have to kill Daenerys to do this though, like his namesake did.
Bran is the key to everything. He can travel through time and change it too. He might travel back to reason with King Aerys, causing the voices in the king’s head that made him go mad. Or that Bran will battle the Night King. Or he might BE the Night King. Or he might also travel back and become Bran The Builder, the king who built the Wall, causing the rift and the problems in the first place.
Sansa and Tyrion will rule Westeros. They’re excellent administrators and clean-dealing folks, so why not?
Jaime Lannister is the promised Prince. The prophecy is in Valyrian language and its words for lord and light are also the same as the words for gold and hand. And who has a gold hand…?
Varys is a merman. Come on, we’ve never seen his feet!
The story is being narrated by Samwell Tarly. A Song of Ice and Fire might just be a telling of Westeros history from Sam’s point of view.