Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 7 years, it’s likely that you’ve heard of HBO’s hit series Game Of Thrones.
Full of love, deceit, violence and so much more, this show has shaken up TV as we know it and has caused fans from across the globe to declare that ‘winter is coming’ any time things get a little chilly.
The series has also won several awards, including the AFI TV Award not once or twice, but seven times! For those that managed to somehow miss the hype, however, all of this fan talk and weird quoting can seem completely out of place in our very modern and very not-Westeros-like world. That’s where we come in. To save you from ever pulling a blank face and being told ‘you know nothing, Jon Snow’ by an avid fan again, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you through the confusing maze that is Game of Thrones!
Don’t worry; we’ll keep it as spoiler free as possible.
The first stop on our Game of Thrones tour is the houses. This is the most important thing to understand – and by all means not the most straightforward. With a multitude of long names, nicknames, banners and lands to memorise, you’ll be forgiven for slipping up. Fortunately for all of us, popular culture has taken it upon itself to lend us a helping hand.
The show has been mentioned in scores of other TV appearances, whether in passing or a subject debated on. The plethora of online games themed around Game of Thrones elements have certainly not gone amiss, nor has the merchandise available online and in physical stores been ignored.
A veritable cult has grown around the most important names in the show (some expressions have even made it into everyday lingo!), but while you may know the names Baratheon, Lannister, Stark and Targaryen, can you truly claim to know which is which?
- Stark: Home of the ‘winter is coming’ phrase, the Starks are one of the biggest families in the show. In fact, it practically revolves around them, at least in the first series. Based in Winterfell, the family consists of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark/Tully, who have children Rob Stark, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark and Rickon Stark and Jon Snow, Eddard Stark’s bastard son.
- Lannister: The Lannisters always pay their debts, or so one of their mottos claim. We say one of their mottos, because their true house motto is actually ‘hear me roar’. The Lannister’s are based in Casterly Rock mainly, but as Cersei Lannister is married to Robert Baratheon, they also have holdings in King’s Landing. The Lannister’s that we see consist of Tywin Lannister, his children Cersei Lannister, Jaimie Lannister and Tyrion Lannister, as well as Cersei’s three children Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen.
- Targaryen: The Targaryen family are originally based in Dragonstone; however in the series we see the remaining family, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen in Essos. Their family isn’t mentioned in great detail beyond ‘the mad king’ – and you’ll have to watch the show to find this out. Their house motto is ‘Fire and Blood’ – an homage to the dragons that the family once had an abundance of.
- Baratheon:The Baratheon family are based in Storm’s End, but due to Robert Baratheon’s place on the throne, they are also based in King’s Landing. The family consists of the three brothers Robert, Stannis and Renly, and Robert’s children Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. There is also Shireen Baratheon, daughter to Stannis and his wide Selyse Florent. Their motto is “Ours Is The Fury.”
There are many other houses to note, including the Greyjoys, the Martells and many more, however for the basics, these four should do. With countless power couples and ongoing feuds, keeping up with who’s who and who’s where can be a struggle, but with this basic knowledge, you’ll have a much needed leg-up.
There are countless locations worth noting when it comes to understanding Game of Thrones, but luckily there are some script and crowd favourites that are frequently featured in order to give you a place to start. From the capital of King’s Landing, to the ice cold Wall, following the map alone can still leave you feeling lost.
To give you an extra boost, here is our list of the top locations and what you need to know:
- Kings Landing: The largest city in all of the Seven Kingdoms, King’s Landing is the capital and often home to the royal family. It is the site of the Iron Throne (essentially a throne made of iron swords!) and plays host to much of the show. After all, it wouldn’t be a game of thrones without – you guessed it – a throne! King’s Landing is often the butt of countless jokes from outsiders due to its reputation and status as the capital, and is said to smell like human faeces – yes, really.
- Winterfell: Home to the ruler of the North, Winterfell is the ancestral abode of House Stark. It’s essentially a very large castle, and even has its own Godswood. Despite its location so far into the north, a little fact that even the most avid of fans aren’t always aware of is that there are hot springs under the castle that keep it warm, even in the harshest of winters!
- The Wall: The Wall is home to the Night’s Watch, a group of men who have sworn an oath to protect the ‘south’ from the wildlings and any other attacks from the North. The wall is fairly easy to spot – it’s a giant wall made completely of ice, and is often inhabited by purely men wearing heavy capes and leather to keep them warm.
- Beyond The Wall: Beyond The Wall is, well, beyond the wall! It’s an area north of wall that is home to the wildlings, also known as the Free Folk. This area isn’t part of ‘the realm’ and is easy to spot by it’s harsh, constantly snowy conditions. If you’re not at the wall or in Winterfell, you’re probably north of the wall!
Chances are you’ve already come across an avid Game of Thrones fan, and we can hardly blame them for their love. Game of Thrones is such a complex story worth the watch, that the explosion of fan-related content is hardly something we can ignore.
From live orchestral performances of some of the best moments of the show, to an array of in depth and highly detailed costumes for all your Halloween needs, there’s no limit to what the fan base can conjure up. In short, if you’re ever stuck when it comes to this show, just ask a fan – chances are they already have a million theories, enough information to rewrite the show themselves, and all the merchandise that money can buy!
There is so much to know about this amazing show, and a truly ultimate guide would unfortunately involve spoilers that we’re pretty sure you don’t want to hear.
Whatever the case, believe us when we say it’s worth at least catching up on the first series to work out whether it’s truly something that takes your fancy. There’s something for everyone in this show, so why not give it a try?