Game of Thrones - A Song of Ice and Fire - Updated (SPOILER version!)

Game of Thrones - A Song of Ice and Fire - Updated! (WARNING: THIS BLOG WILL CONTAIN 

Hi everyone! With the latest Season almost upon us I thought it was time to not just re-release this blog, but give it a much needed update. So join me as we warp into fantasy with Game of Thrones, a TV show based on the Song of Ice and Fire novels by author George R.R Martin! 

George R.R Martin.
Like Star Trek, I love the Game of Thrones franchise for it's diverse character development and unique storytelling (which I will go into more detail about later!).

This blog will be referring to both the TV show and books but I will be coming from the show perspective as that's how I go into it. I will explain in brief how that happened, what the series is about and why I am such a huge fan!

Advertisement post for the Game of Thrones TV show.

A Song of Ice and Fire box set: books 1-5


Some brief facts.

1. This will be one of my general interest episode in the future with the possibility of an interview with one of the stars of the show!

2. I first got into the franchise in August 2014 through my university friend Rob! Thanks mate!

3. I watched the TV show first and then read the books!

4. Currently there are 5 seasons (soon to be 6) of the TV show that started in 2011 and continues to the present day.

5. There are currently five books written by the author George R.R Martin in the Song of Ice and Fire series. But there will be seven in total. The books are:

A Game of Thrones (1996)

A Clash of Kings (1998)

A Storm of Swords: In two parts (2000)

(1) Steel and Snow and (2) Blood and Gold.

A Feast for Crows (2005)

A Dance with Dragons: In two parts (2011)

(1) Dreams and Dust and (2) After the Feast.

These are the ones that have currently been written and released. The last two will be:

The Winds of Winter (?)

A Dream of Spring (?)

6. The series/books is set in the fictional world of Westeros (the Seven Kingdoms) and across the Narrow Sea in the East.

Map of Westeros - The Seven Kingdoms.

Map of the East - Essos (Across the Narrow Sea from Westeros)  

What exactly is the Game of Thrones?


To be successful you have to be clever, cunning and ruthless. Always knowing when to manipulate others in order to achieve the ultimate goal and use the power that you have to gain more!

Knowledge here is key! You have to be deceptive to your “friends” and “enemies” and stay several steps ahead of them and constantly watch that you don't lose the game! You need to have a instinct of when to move in the game and what moves you make! When to hover and watch and take advantage of a situation that comes your way!

The power you can feel in your grasp and that struggle and strife is to sit on the one throne, where the King and Queen rules all Seven Kingdoms in Westeros called the Iron Throne!

The Iron Throne in King's Landing.

I know, it's damn ugly right! Not to mention, it looks really uncomfortable to sit on! But it's what the Throne represents that is important. Even if you win the game and sit on it, you need allies to help you win it! An army and protection to keep it and maintain order in the Seven Kingdoms! Just because you sit on the throne, it doesn't mean you stop playing the game! Remember that!

So now that you have been introduced to the game, let's start to play!

Houses/players in the Game of Thrones.
House Baratheon.

Sigil – A stag.

Words – Ours is the Fury

Stag - Sigil of House Baratheon.
By the course of season 1 of the series House Baratheon rules the Seven Kingdoms, more specifically the king is a man called Robert Baratheon who is married to Cersei Lannister. At this point Robert has ruled the Seven Kingdoms for seventeen years (fourteen in the books) after with helps of House Lannister and Stark they ended the 300 year dynasty of House Targaryen (the creators of the Iron Throne)

As season one goes on Robert eventually dies and there is a power struggle with the Lannister's taking over the throne, more specifically Cersei and “Robert's” son Joffery Baratheon becoming King. When Robert dies, his two younger brothers Stannis and Renly fight to take the throne.  

Robert (Left), Stannis (Middle) and Renly (Right)
They believe it is their right due to the fact that Joffery is not Robert's father, but a bastard born of incest between Cersei Lannister and her brother Jaime. However as of Season 5 Renly has been eliminated and Stannis is figthing to reclaim the North having rescued the Night's Watch from the Wilding attack at the end of Season 4. 

House Lannister

Sigil - A Lion
Words – Hear Me Roar!

A Lion - Sigil of House Lannister.

There are seven members of the Lannister household.

Left to right - Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion, Joffery, Myrcella and Tommen.

House Lannister is the wealthiest house in all the Seven Kingdoms. Currently in the books and TV show up to the present day the Lannister's still hold the Iron Throne with the crown passing to Joffery when Robert Baratheon dies. The Lannister's face many challenges to the throne from a secret war with their “allies” the Tyrell's (at this point the battle is still continuing). They also have to stop Renly and Stannis from claiming it to battling against the Starks who defied the throne after Joffery executed Ned Stark (Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North).

At the point of season 5 however the Lannister regime is very much under threat with a weak king sitting the Iron Throne and threats not just outside of King's Landing, but within as well. 

House Stark.

Sigil – Dire wolf.
Words – Winter is Coming.

Sigil - Direwolf of House Stark.

House Stark came to Robert Baratheon's aid in his rebellion that ended the Targaryen rule. The Starks reside in the North with Ned Stark (he and Robert have been friends for many years) until Robert comes to Winterfell and asks Ned to be the new Hand of the King. (after the previous one dies) So he goes to King's Landing taking his two daughters Arya and Sansa with him.

Left to right - Ned, Catelyn, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon and Jon.

Unfortunately the Stark house does not play the game and thus Ned is soon eliminated early on, beheaded with his own sword Ice. Soon his eldest son Robb rises with the help of his mother Catelyn to become King of the North and goes into battle against the Lannister's, where they face more adversity until the latest season where the power of the Starks is all but diminished.

House Targaryen.

Sigil – Three headed dragon.
Words – Fire and Blood

Sigil - Three headed dragon of House Targaryen.

Before Robert Baratheon's rebellion bought down the Targaryen dynasty. They had ruled for 300 years (Aerys II being the last Targaryen to sit the Iron Throne) ever since Ageon the Conqueror (who created it) with his three dragons took six out of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros (Dorne managed to resist them)

Left to right - Viserys and Danerys Targeryen.

By season 1 there are only two Targaryen's still standing Daenerys and her brother Visery's, who are the son and daughter of Aerys II. Halfway through the season Visery's is killed, which leaves Daenerys as the last Targaryen who is still fighting to reclaim her father's throne. As of recently in season 5 she is still ruling in the city of Mereen with now some unexpected help from a certain individual.   

Tyrion Lannister

House Tyrell.

Sigil – Golden Rose.
Words – Growing Strong

Sigil - Golden Rose of House Tyrell.

House Tyrell is one of the latest players in the game. Originally they declared for Renly Baratheon when Lord Mace Tyrell pitched his daughter Margery to marry Renly in the onset of the War of the Five Kings. However once Renly was killed by Stannis, the Martell's joined their house with the Lannister's, with Margery becoming betrothed to Joffery. 

Left to right Margery, Olenna and Ser Loras Tyrell (brother to Margery)

She easily manipulates him with the help of her grandmother, the Lady Olenna (Queen of Thorns). Margery becomes Queen briefly when she marries Joffery, but he is killed at his wedding feast. However later a match is made between her and Joffery's younger brother Tommen. 

Tommen and Margery getting married in Season 5. 

At the point of Season 5 she is now married to Joffery's younger brother Tommen, but is now imprsioned along with her brother Loras due to Cersei. But she herself is getting her comeuppance. So it seems for now as though the Tyrell's are no longer a threat, but with the upcoming season today who knows what will happen.

Other houses.

There are other houses involved in the war of the Five Kings supporting or opposing the house's mentioned. Some are also trying to gain control of either the Iron Throne or parts of Westeros, but there is too many to talk about. However here is a link to some of them below if you are interested in finding out more.

House GreyjoyHouse TullyHouse FreyHouse BoltonHouse Martell

The Night's Watch

Though not a part of the actual game itself of fighting over the Iron Throne. The Night's Watch is a crucial part of Martin's world and as such cannot be left out without a mention. It is an ancient brotherhood of men who are based in the far north of Westeros.

Map of the Wall where the Night's Watch is based and beyond.

The Night's Watch is full of men from all different backgrounds of noble birth and commoners that have committed certain crimes. (not in all cases, yet they are sent to the wall anyway) It has bastards, murderers, rapers and all sorts among it's ranks. One includes Ned Starks bastard son Jon Snow.

Jon Snow in the Night's Watch.

It also includes friends of Jon's like Pyp (played by Josef Atlin) and who I had the pleasure of meeting at EM-Con back in March last year!

Pyp (Josef Atlin)

The Night's Watch once these men take their vows are absolved of their past crimes or any association with their past lives. They can hold no lands or crowns, father no children or have wives. They do not answer to any Kings or Queen, but protect the realm for what lays beyond the wall. Once you become a member of the Night's Watch, it is for life until you die. If you try to desert, the penalty is death.

Currently in Season 5 Jon is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch as he faces many problems, with what's beyond the wall and the threat of mutiny from his own men.   

However you look at it the Night's Watch are the only thing standing between the rest of Westeros and what lurks beyond the wall and if the Nights Watch falls then the Game of Thrones these different players play won't even matter. 

Why I love Game of Thrones.

As mentioned earlier at the start of the blog, the two reasons I love Game of Thrones is because of the diverse character development and the unique storytelling, so let's get into exactly what I mean and why!

The Storytelling

This a massive part of what makes the TV show/books so successful. George RR Martin goes completely against the traditional forms of storytelling where the hero of the story gets the girl or whatever and lives and rules over the kingdom where everyone lives happily ever after. He likes unexpectedness and the need for suspense in the characters he creates and the situation they are in to be real. Basically unpredictable fiction

One example is the death of Ned Stark (played terrifically by Sean Bean). Here is a very honourable man in the first book who is one of the main POV's (point of view) who ends up gaining great power by being named Hand of the King and eventually Protector of the Realm when his friend Robert dies. He is surrounded by enemies, the Lannister's and even when imprisoned, you think he will get out it in some way out as he is the hero.

However instead he is executed, with his head being chopped off with his own sword!

Ned Stark about to die.
Ned Stark dead

Talk about twisting the knife in for us TV viewers/book readers! Martin completely switches storytelling on it's head, with the hero winning cliché thrown out the window! He goes against the traditional forms of fantasy storytelling, which is so refreshing and exciting as you don't know what will happen or who will be killed off next!

By doing this as explained you create real suspense and which compels you to read or watch more. Even though he wasn't one of my favorite characters, I still liked Ned. Like most people when watching/reading, I was shocked at the death of Ned Stark!

There are other main character deaths within the show, Ned's is just one example. Suffice to say after Ned's death, the body count of character deaths rises high! 

Character Complexity.

Apart from the storytelling the morally complex character is another reason why the books/show has become so popular! Martin's belief is that no one in the world is wholly good or evil. We all have the capacity for greatness and doing unspeakable things. This is what he reflects in his characters as he discusses:  

Character morality and surprise deaths.

There are many characters that can be talked about in terms of this. However I am going to focus on just one, Jaime Lannister who has recently become what I call a sub-favorite character of mine.

Jaime Lannister.

Initially when first watching the show, I immediately saw this character as a straight and out villain, but later about halfway through season 3, he commits an action, I never thought possible and even in his early days, certain actions he commits are vaguely understandable, even if you don't like what he did.

Jaime Lannister
One of the most shocking things he does from the pilot is push Bran Stark out of a window, with the intention of killing of him as the boy climber catches Jaime and his sister Cersei, ahem, lets just say in a comprimising position. This seeded my hatred for the character as he intended to murder an innocent child! Bran is extremely lucky to say the least in that he lives, but is paralysed and will not be be able to walk again.

Bran Stark pushed       

Throughout season 1 he does other things as well, he hurts Ned Stark (indirectly) but still and kills Jory Cassel. (a Stark household guard and friend of Ned)

Jory Cassel (left) against Jaime Lannister (right) 

He also ends up killing a distant relative of his while imprisoned by Robb Stark and kills others during a battle called the Whispering Wood. Oh and he also back in the day broke his oath as hand of the King to Aerys II Targeryen and killed him, by stabbing him in the back.

Such a nice guy right!

Some of his actions are understandable, even if we don't like it. If your held in captivity by your enemy, what would you do to escape? As for pushing Bran, well he says he did if for love, but if I'm honest I'm a lot more hesitant in forgiving Jaime for that.

So what changes?

Well in season 3 he travels with a woman named Brienne of Tarth.

Brienne of Tarth.

Long story short, Jaime gets his right sword hand chopped off and while initially he hates Brienne he ends up saving her from being raped and killed by a bear, which surprised me as he had the opportunity to leave her behind, but he goes back for her! That surprised me to say the least!

Jaime, utterly defeated from losing his right sword hand.

The other thing is the real reason he killed the mad king Aerys as he tells Brienne that the king ordered him to kill his father Tywin, and let hundreds of thousands of people die and burn, men, women and children. What would you do if you were caught in the middle of a siutation like that? Keep your oath and let your father and hundred of thousands of innocents get slaughtered or break your oath to protect them? 

Jaime telling Brienne the real reason he killed the Mad King Aerys.

These two things, one an action and the story behind another action is the seed of sympathy I started to feel for Jaime Lannister. We also come to understand his inner workings in book three onwards better, when he becomes a POV character. 

From here on in he keeps to his oath of finding the Stark daughters for Brienne and Catelyn Stark (she lets Jaime go on that promise, with Brienne taking him back to King Landing). He helps his brother Tyrion (my most favorite character who is totally awesome!) and in the books later, specifically in book four, A Feast For Crows, he pulls away from his sister Cersei, which I also like.

This is where Jaime became one of my favorite sub-characters. I can almost forget that he crippled Bran! Almost, but not quite! He was punished with losing his hand and since is on the road to redemption, by redeeming himself on a honorable path. Who knows where it will lead for him? 

Jaime in season 4, a new transformation! 

This is what an amazing job, both Martin and the creators of the show have done with just one example. One character who I hated from the get go is transformed to where if Jaime Lannister was killed off, I would actually be sad! They have made me see there are no such things as heroes and villains. There is an in between, even the most honorable can do unspeakable monstrous things and monsters can commit acts of compassion. This is what humans are like in a realistic way, complex.  

As you know from our EM-Con podcast last year we recently had the pleasure of attending the convention in the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham where I met Game of Thrones stars Ron Donachie (Ser Rodrik Cassel) and Josef Atlin (Pyp) in the form of autographs, photo shoots and attending a Game of Thrones Q and A panel along with the other stars.

Advertisement for EM-Con 

It was really awesome to meet these guys and at some point in the future we may have Josef Atlin on as a guest on our show for an interview as it relates to Game of Thrones as one of my general interests!  

Hope you enjoyed this introduction to George R.R Martins world of a Game of Thrones. 

So yeah that's it guys, I'll be back soon with another blog, until then this is Jamie from the Engage Podcast warping off into the unknown! Punch it!

P.S Enjoy the show, the books and the latest season coming up!

No comments:

Post a Comment