A Song of Ice and Fire

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Spoiler.gifThis article contains spoilers! You have been warned.
TitleRemovedJinRoh.pngIn the Grimdarkness of the far future, a brief life burns brightly. This article or section is a work of Grimdark. Expect a copious amount of depression, existentialism, hopelessness with a sprinkle of edge. So what can we say but exclaim: I LOVE BIG BROTHER!
Chaos star.jpg This article contains something widely considered by /tg/ to be absolutely disgusting, like pedophilia, rape porn, or any other disturbing topic, like bathing in your allies' blood.
Reason: Among other things, the books can barely go ten pages without having another rape.

Warning: This article contains so many spoilers we're ruining books that haven't even been released yet.

"If you think this story has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."

– Ramsay Bolton, nailing the grimdark theme of this series

"It matters not from whence the blood flows. Only that it flows."

– George RR Martin, Exalted Champion of Khorne when explaining why so many characters get offed

A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as Game of Thrones (though only the first book has that title) is a Grimdark fantasy book series for people who hate fantasy, or at the very least, have gotten their fill of Tolkien pretenders and want something more "distinct". Its central themes include political Machiavellian scheming, ultraviolence, incest/sex with exposition/tons of rape, and everyone trying to survive in such a Crapsack World of perpetual suffering. There is also lots and lots of food. Thus it has become one of the most popular series of our generation and its author, George R. R. Martin, has been praised for his highly realized world and gritty low fantasy style. He was even called "the American Tolkien" by Time magazine gormless idiots who lump diametrically different writers together for no other reason than that they're both fantasy authors. The two authors do both have a passion (and talent) for worldbuilding and writing doorstoppers, but that's also where the similarities generally end. Still, the comparisons to Tolkien would probably explain this series' sudden spike in popularity following the TV show (at least to a point, anyway.) The great joke of an actual World War veteran writing fantasy about heroic knights and elves being compared to and contrasted with a conscientious objector who writes edgy fantasy is not lost on most (though its worth mentioning that Martin is as much of a Tolkien buff as any of us, meaning that he didn't write the series as a "fuck you" to Tolkien's work as some might assume).

The series itself is set on the totally not medieval European ripoff realm of Westeros as it is wracked by a massive succession war drawing its realms into conflict. Everyone's picking up the pieces from the previous war until one family's bid for power starts another war (book one), A bunch of dudes declare themselves kings (book two), they're burning the continent down in their scramble for power, and somehow all the fuck-ups managed to lose anyway (book three). Just when the guys who lost the least start thinking they get to rule over the remaining chaos, more fuck ups happen and more dudes show up (book four). Sadly, winter has finally come and, unbeknownst to most people, evil ice wizards leading soulless undead assumed to be only myths by most people are about to invade the continent from the north. By the fifth book, things are going and/or will go to shit even for the bad guys.

According to a leaked fan conversation, George R. R. Martin jokingly stated the series would end with an epic cock-slap fight between Samwell Tarly and Jaime Lannister.

TL;DR: War of Roses with a helpin' of cliched fantasy George's old sci-fi writing plots given a fantasy overhaul and /d/-lite.

Miniature game has their own page now

Setting and History[edit]

Most of the series takes place on an America-sized continent named Westeros, which stretches from pretty much the North Pole to the deserts of Dorn. It is populated by three main nations: First Men (Northmen and wildlings aka not!Celts), Andals (pretty much everyone else aka not!Anglo-Saxons) and Rhoynar (Dornishmen). All of them came from Essos in waves: the First Men displacing the druids and giants, then came the Andals who pushed the First Men further north and assimilated the survivors, and finally by the Rhoynar, a matriarch-ish society that fled the destruction of their homeland and finally found a home in Dorne. Ironborn (not!Vikings from western islands) are also of note, since despite their First Men ancestry, they developed an entirely different religion and culture based off raiding due to the barren sea-rocks they inhabit (and possibly also influenced by weird creepy things living in the water that lived on the islands before they did)

For thousand years Westeros was an utter mess of seven-ish kingdoms vying for supremacy. But while they were busy banging rocks together, the Eastern continent, Essos, was united by the elves magical dragon-riders powered by incest. The Valyrians would expand all over Essos, but their only presence in Westeros was a small island outpost (later named Dragonstone). At one point, however, the daughter of a minor noble family, Daenys Targaryen, had prophetic dreams about the death of her country, which forced her father to flee alongside his family and most valuable possessions (five dragons and some magic shit). His rivals in power laughed at him, but he turned to be right as a gigantic volcanic eruption obliterated Valyria and started the age of anarchy in Essos

The Targaryens did fuck all for a little over a century, until the ambitious lord Aegon grew tired of sister-fucking and decided to forge his own kingdom in Westeros. Even though his army was tiny and he was facing off against the full might of an entire continent, he also had dragons, which in ASOIAF can grow to comically large proportions, and allowed him to wipe the floor with anyone dumb enough to stand against him. Just to make a point, he burnt down *the* largest fortress in Westeros in a single night, melting down stone walls with dragonfire and leaving it cursed for centuries. Though, because the Targs were so reliant on dragons, the only Kingdom they couldn't conquer was Dorne, who mujahideen'd their way to a truce after killing one of the sister-wives' dragons with a Ballista and (probably) threatening Aegon with the knowledge that they were willing to spend their entire Kingdom's wealth to hire magical assassins to end the Targaryen line.

The Targaryens ruled for 280 years, but their rule was also marked by lots of shitty kings (because of the rampant incest), but also by rebelling bastards (who were the result of non-incest). Somewhere along the way, magic began to leave the world. Spells were no longer as effective and the price for such magic became steeper and steeper (which is why most magic in the "present" requires blood or sacrifice of some sort). This was most evident in Westeros when the dynasty's dragons became successively smaller and smaller; it also probably didn't help that they raised them in a coliseum-style Vault and also only had 5 dragons to start with. The dynasty's fate was sealed in the "Dance of Dragons" which was an internal conflict between Targaryens and the last real war to include dragons and dragonriders.

Their ultimate downfall came just before the beginning of the series, when Prince Rhaegar (supposedly) kidnapped the bride of a powerful lord Robert Baratheon and the Mad King killed her father and brother, who just wanted her back, triggering a rebellion that they lost and once again setting the stage for a Seven Kingdom free-for-all.

Characters[edit]

Clean-Up.jpgThis page is in need of cleanup. Srsly. It's a fucking mess.

Since these books have some thousand named characters, you won't remember most of them without an obsessive disorder over details. Here's a relatively shortlist (mostly based on the TV series rather than the books, but seems to randomly switch between the two) for the characters you'll care about. We'll also be making an effort to mostly focus on characters from the main series, rather than historical figures like Maegor Targaryen, the Dance of Dragons Blacks and Greens, and so on. Trust us, given the number of characters we already have to cover, it's for the best. The houses listed here doesn't even come close to covering them all, either.

House Stark[edit]

"Winter Is Coming"

Honourable, bro-tier northerners who always compare themselves to direwolves and have a few as pets. They have a tendency towards being so resolutely honorable that proves to bite them in the ass due to naivete about how Westerosi corrupt politics actually works (not that dishonorable characters often fare any better, but that's an "Anyone Can Die" setting for you). They're also arguably the protagonists of the setting. Basically Scotland and/or House Lancaster in the War of the Roses (but named after House York).
  • Eddard Stark, The Quiet Wolf: Patriarch, lord and POV death-puppet. Not nearly as stupid as everyone tries to pretend...but still kind of stupid, and very much a dead man walking. Honorable to a fault and deeply repulsed by the politicking that goes on around him, which eventually leads to a mild case of death by decapitation.
  • Benjen Stark: Ned's ranger/Night's Watch brother (so the Faramir to his Boromir), who disappears later in the story and may or may not be the mysterious "Coldhands" (in the TV show he is).
  • Robb Stark, The Young Wolf: Shiny, King Arthur-like hero who veers between being Lawful Stupid and a brilliant military leader. After waging a successful war to avenge his murdered father, he was betrothed to a noblewoman but he ended having comfort sex with a virgin noblewoman which may have been arranged by her scheming bitch mother, while in softcore porno he got the hots for a commoner. Cacks it nastily: he got his head cut off and his pet's wolf's head stuck on his body, which was paraded around while his enemies chanted "HERE COMES THE KING IN THE NORTH!" In other words, he's a Scottish Hannibal Barca. In the show his pregnant wife dies with him for added Grimdark, but in the books he (wisely) leaves her behind when he goes to the Red Wedding.
  • Sansa Stark: Useless teenage girl extraordinaire at the start of the series with dreams of marrying a prince and "having lots of babies", but gets shat on hard by reality, being a case-study in what happens when you go into a Grimdark world thinking like a Fairy Tale Princess. Becomes Littlefinger's replacement goldfish when Catelyn's no longer around, her father got killed and her best friend was sold as a sex slave, and ended up in the worst relationship we can possibly imagine with King Joffrey. Even got deflowered via rape by Ramsey Bolton and married to him before managing to escape with the help of others. Currently acting as a co-ruler to her brother/cousin Jon Snow, and has learned much from her suffering, allowing her to kick Littlefinger out of the Great Game via throat slitting. While in the book Littlefinger is/was setting her up at House Arryn to claim the Vale and the North, the show version becomes QUEEN IN DA NORF in the final episode.
  • Arya Stark: Little tomboy assassin. Has a kill list, but doesn't get to use it so long as she is an amnesiac apprentice of the Friendly Neighborhood Assassins Guild. In the books, she's still training with the Faceless Men, but in the show she's broken away from them and headed back to Westeros to get revenge on a LOT of people, giving her one of the highest kill counts in the series. She goes home to Winterfell when she hears that Jon and Sansa took it back and starts acting as a general "troubleshooter" for Sansa while scaring the hell out of everyone with all her new assassin skillz. Kills the Night King like a fucking champion in Season 8 (though in a way that doesn't actually make any sense), then rides south to add Cersei to her body count. Instead, the Hound talks her out of it and she decides to sail into the unknown west. Kind of the writer's pet in the show, among other things getting to avenge the Red Wedding in a brutally cinematic manner even though Dumb and Dumber justified giving us a pregnant woman getting stabbed to death on-screen because Game of Thrones is above "cliches" like loved ones getting avenged in just such a way. And her aforementioned killing of the Night King that doesn't actually make any sense, since it required her getting the drop on him in a way that was physically impossible without out-of-universe special effects equipment. Book version is still level-grinding to get to her TV version's skill level.
  • Catelyn Stark (nee Tully): A woman who trusts the wrong people at the worst time, causing a lot of misery. Gets killed along with Robb, then comes back (books only) as Lady Stoneheart, an undead witch bent on killing all the Boltons, Freys, Greyjoys, Lannisters... pretty much everyone she thinks was tangentially involved in betraying her and her family, or somebody who just pissed her off (kind of hard to blame her though). The show writers left this part out completely, which caused much rage and skub in the fandom.
  • Bran Stark: Intelligent little boy, named after the founder of House Stark, Brandon the Builder (basically Tony Stark combined with Leman Russ). He was crippled in the first sign of major GrimDark. Has prophetic dreams and becomes a druid. In the TV series, fucks things up by alerting the Others to where he's hiding, which gets all of the Children, his loyal wolf, the Three-Eyed Crow and Hodor killed. For good measure, turns out to have accidentally caused Hodor to become, well, Hodor, as he was using his druid powers to figure out why Hodor is only able to say Hodor, resulting in Hodor's gruesome death-by-zombies being beamed directly into young Hodor's brain. He's now the Three-Eyed Raven and likes going around being creepy as fuck and generally weirding people out. Becomes King of the Seven Six Kingdoms in a hilariously nonsensical plot twist in the finale.
  • Rickon Stark: Four years old at the start, turning into a real little Barbarian from not being raised properly, because everyone who would have raised him was dead or missing. In the books, he and his wildling nanny Osha are on the cannibal-infested island of Skagos, and Davos Seaworth is on his way there to pick them up so that the northern lords who are still loyal to House Stark have a figurehead to rally behind. In the show, he ends up hanging out at the Umbers, then is handed over to Ramsay as a prisoner when Smalljon becomes afraid of the Wildlings living north of him (who were invited by Jon Snow to fight the Zombie Apocalypse), and finally dies via arrow in a sick game of "dodge the missiles" courtesy of Ramsey.
  • Jon Snow, The White Wolf: A bastard living in the Stark household before leaving for the Night's Watch (basically Colonel Schaeffer with more convicted rapists under his command) and excels there because nearly every one of his fellow recruits are peasants who have never had a formal days of training while Jon has had the serious training afforded to all lords. After he takes over by becoming the Watch Commander secures and alliance with the Wildlings, ancient barbarian enemies of the Night's Watch, because when the end of the world is coming you tend to think outside the box. Also gets a Wildling girlfriend, but she dies. He was taken under the wing by the Lord Commander Jora Mormont and given advice by Aemon (a Targaryen who is so old that everyone south has forgotten he existed, and unbeknownst to him, his great-great-granduncle), and managed to actually be a competent leader: after a disastrous loss of strength after the failure of the Great Ranging, and then the Wildling invasion, he unilaterally decides to let the Wildlings through in exchange for their aid in securing the Wall against the real enemy; he even impresses Stannis (The Mannis) with his honor and sense of justice. And then, all the corrupt exiles from the South (and the rejects who were left behind during the Ranging) banded together to kill him.
    • Though he's currently dead in the books as a result of mutiny, he was revived by R'hllor in the series after being stabbed to death by the senior members of the Watch. Isn't actually Eddard's bastard son, but rather the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, meaning that he is, in fact, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. The new KING IN DA NORF according to his supporters after he killed Ramsay Bolton and took back Winterfell, and is also currently hooking up with his own aunt.
    • He turns on Daenerys once he realizes she's lost it and kills her in the throne room, but for some reason her dragon doesn't kill him despite seeing him do the the deed. The Unsullied want his head, but instead, King Bran exiles him to the Night's Watch and he fucks off into the far north to live with the Free Folk.
  • Hodor: Hodor. Hodor, Hodor, Hodor. An enormous and possibly retarded stable boy, and Bran's faithful steed. Hodor. Ok, in all actual seriousness, this guy is probably one of the most tragic figures in this series (and that's saying something). The guy basically received horrible visions of his own death fighting a horde of zombies, buying time for his friends to escape by literally holding the door shut as he was hacked apart. This causes him to suffer a mental break, leading him to develop Immature Personality Disorder and making it so the only thing he can say is a garbled version of his friend's last request "hold the door" for all of his adult life; the logic here is that "hold the door" devolves into "hol' th' door" and eventually "Hodor". You now feel bad for at laughing at the guy.
  • Osha: A Wildling woman who surrendered to the Starks and becomes their servant in exchange for not getting killed. Now dead in the show thanks to Ramsay's dickery, costing the cast another valued waifu.

House Targaryen[edit]

"Fire and Blood"

The former Dragon kings and rulers of Westeros, fair-haired purple-eyed beautiful people who have descended from the ancient technologically-advanced superpower of Valyria, which collapsed because of their colossal hubris. After the anarchic Century of Blood, the Targaryen patriarch Aegon I, instead of reconquering the lost cause of Essos and of Valyria's former empire, looked towards the rather primitive continent of Westeros, and its squabbling Seven Kingdoms, to establish his own Imperial dynasty and unify the Realm. Aegon I is essentially the Low Fantasy version of William the Conqueror and/or the God-Emperor of Mankind, with a little dash of incest.

Thanks to a loophole, the Targaryens were immune to the moral objections relating to incest. Common sense (and common decency) took back seat to a time-honoured policy of catastrophic inbreeding, which made a number of problems, the most obvious of which was that a whole bunch of them were fucking crazy. Aegon I married his older and younger sisters and had several kids with each, which would be the start of another Targaryen tradition: the occasional succession crisis. Because GRRM can't write a book without going off on a tangent (and because the Targaryens were running things for a good chunk of the setting's history), the Targaryens and their 300ish long legacy is full of rebellions and wars ripped from English History and in turn mined by HBO. Fun interregnums include the Dance of Dragons, where the Targaryens used the last of their dragons in a brutal civil-war against each other (and now a TV show), and the Blackfyre Rebellions, where the fat-fuck Aegon IV (who had Henry VII's opposite problems: he fucked everyone and had many heirs) legitimized all his bastards and even gifted one of them the dynasty's greatest treasure: the Blackfyre sword. Actually, considering how much of these rebellions were caused by half-Targaryen bastards, maybe they had a point?

Eventually, the lineage was banished to Essos after a brutal civil war: Aerys II, a crazy paranoid king that savagely executed many different people, made the wrong move of executing the Lord and Heir of the North; the two men were in King's Landing because Aery's son, Rhaegar, the 'non-crazy one, eloped/abducted Robert Baratheon's fiance and their sister. Since he was already married and she was engaged, they left together in secret, which caused Robert the Cuck to go wild. Joining with Eddard, the new Lord of the North, and their teacher/foster-dad Jon Arryn, the three Kingdoms rebelled and Robert warhammered Rhaegar because STR > DEX.

The survivors were smuggled out/hidden from Robert, with Viserys and his then-pregnant mother hiding on their ancestral home of Dragonstone first, before fucking off to Essos when the war was truly lost; Rhaegar's first son and daughter were killed and his wife raped by the Lannister's bannermen, though Rhaegar's best friend who loved him very, very, very much claims to have helped sneak him out of Westeros and hides with him in Essos; finally, Rhaegar and Lyanna's son, Jon/Aegon, was adopted by Ned, who was made to realize that the entire civil war was a misunderstanding and that his whoremongering drunk of a foster brother would've probably been a terrible brother-in-law anyway. Grimdark. Basically, the entire British royal family, but with more incest, and a lot of dragons. Still, they occasionally did have genuinely good people like Aegon V (aka Egg), Jaeherys I the Conciliator, his wife Good Queen Alysanne and complete badasses like Brynden Bloodraven and Baelor Breakspear (too bad Bloodraven is hooked up to Old God wi-fi permanently and Breakspear died before he could become king). Pseudo-Romans and/or the House of Normandy.

  • Aerys II, The Mad King: A pretty fun guy to be around. Had a psychotic fascination for fire, which extended to being a psychotic fascination for burning traitors, a category of people that eventually grew to include anybody he disliked for any reason, anyone who disagreed with him, and a few people who were unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire. Teamkilled by his bodyguard Jaime for planning to burn the city down with everyone inside it, and even refused to accept his death until he actually died.
  • Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn: She was sold by her brother to a barbarian leader Khal (warlord) Drogo in exchange for the promise that he'd use his Khalassar (Warband/tribe) to conquer Westeros. She found her self esteem as his wife, then her husband killed her idiot brother Viserys and promised to conquer the world for Daenerys, making her a full-fledged badass barbarian war queen. Unfortunately, her husband died when Daenerys trusted one of the slaves whose town Drogo had pillaged and burnt to heal an infected wound of his and his horde fell apart (though the book is somewhat ambiguous as to whether the slave did kill Drogo). Then she hatched three dragons (completely by accident when she tried to commit suicide) bringing them back from extinction, and now everyone wants to marry her because she is now one of the most powerful people around due to said dragons and being good-looking (in the books this is by the age-of-consent in Westeros standards, where girls are women when they start getting their periods and boys are men at age 13). Gets shit done except the entire fifth book, in which she mopes around about wanting to marry an annoying, flamboyant mercenary instead of saving herself for political marriage. After banging the flamboyant mercenary, she later marries a Meereenese noble who guarantees he can get her some peace (more likely just as he planned).
    • She also does nothing while insurgents kill her men, a horde of plagued refugees spread disease to her city and standing idly by while an enemy army besieges her walls, all for realistically political reasons because the world is a horrible place. Learns how to train her dragon. In the books she's just encountered another Khalassar after being hauled away from Meereen by Drogo. In the TV series, she takes over all the Dothraki and adds them to her army, then heads for Westeros to invade the place with her army of elite hoplites, massive horde of Dothraki and her dragons. By the time she gets to King's Landing she's taken significant losses, including two of her dragons, and is fucking her nephew (Jon Snow). Officially went Mad Queen as of S8E5, wherein she burned most of King's Landing after the city attempted to surrender and has decided to "liberate" everyone on the planet, whether they want it or not. Jon kills her in the series finale so that she won't go around burninating the rest of the world.
  • The dragons: The three dragons that Daenerys hatched. They're wyverns that breathe fire, have blood hot enough to melt steel, and cook their meat before eating it. Naturally, some of the coolest things in the story.
    • Drogon; named for her late husband, Khal Drogo. Black and red, the biggest and most aggressive dragon. Starts eating people and then escapes, leading to the other two getting imprisoned. Interrupts a gladiator tournament, killing a lot of people before being whipped by Daenerys into flying her to a Khalassar that broke off from her husband's after his death. In the show, he's the last dragon standing after Viserion bites it north of the Wall and his undead body is put down at Winterfell and Rhaegal gets shot down over Dragonstone. Takes Dany's body, destroys the Iron Throne and fucks off to who knows where after Dany is killed.
    • Rhaegal; named for the first of her dead brothers, Rhaegar. Green and gold, the cunning one and the loudest (with a roar "...that would have sent a hundred lions fleeing,"). Kills Quentyn Martell when the latter is trying to goad Viserion (see below). After breaking out of jail with Viserion they go "all your base are belong to us" on Meereen, killing people and taking over the pyramid of a loyal family as his lair. Last seen playing "sack the town" with Viserion in the books. Dead in the show thanks to Euron Greyjoy and some Diabolus ex Machina bullshit.
    • Viserion; named for her other brother Viserys. White and gold and the friendliest (as dragons go, he still eats people). Dug cave for himself in his jail then moved into another pyramid after his and his brother's great escape. Gets killed by the Night's King in the show via a magic spear, then his corpse is reanimated to be the Night King's zombie dragon steed and blasts a hole in the famous Wall, allowing the armies of snow elves and zombies to start flooding Westeros. Now perma-dead thanks to the Night King biting it.
  • Viserys Targaryen, The Beggar King: Daenerys' physically abusive older brother. Best known for being a bully with incestuous lust for her, and an arrogant and incompetent fuck with a massive sense of entitlement. He eventually got himself killed for being an all-around jerk and whiny idiot, which culminated in him threatening his sister and unborn nephew with a sword while drunk in a sacred Dothraki place where weapons and bloodshed are forbidden on pain of death (execution is done by bloodless death - having a scarf wrapped tight around the neck and being drowned in a barrel). Daenerys' husband poured molten gold over his head and called it his promised crown, also ensuring his death didn't technically shed any blood in their sacred place.
  • Aegon Targaryen, Aegon VI: Daenerys' nephew, the son of her brother Rhaegar. Been hiding in Essos for the entire length of the series, but recently raised an army of Westerosi exiles and threw them all a massive Welcome Home party with rape and pillage. Wants to marry his aunt because she has dragons, and might not actually be a member of House Targaryen if you believe some fans. He can actually count past 6, can multiply numbers, can read different language and has a minor understanding of geometry thus cementing him as one of the most educated people in this overwrought series. Can also do his own laundry.
    • Like Dany, he has his own band of misfits following him around. While Dany has Dothraki and Unsullied, Aegon has The Golden Company, a mercenary company of ten thousand, descended from the forces loyal to the Blackfyre bastards. The Golden Company has a long and storied history of invading Westeros and failing, which has led to the theories that Aegon is really a Blackfyre. Because of their long history and descent from actual nobles, the Golden Company is nothing like the mercenary rabble common in the rest of the series, even having dedicated knight, archer, and War Elephant divisions.
  • Brynden Rivers Bloodraven: A Targaryen bastard who came to prominence about a hundred years before the series as a sort of sorcerer, he later became known as the "Three-Eyed Raven/Crow" after encountering the Children of the Forest, and uses his powers to help advert the Long Night and train Bran. He's described as having long, white hair, missing an eye, bound to a tree, knows all and sees all, associated heavily with ravens and omens... yeah, he's very much Odin, come to think of it. Just a lot more of an asshole than the Warrior King of legend.
    • In his prime, he was pretty much just Loki. The Spymaster and Hand of the King during the Blackfyre Rebellions (a rebellion of all Aegon IV's many bastards, who he legitimized on his deathbed because that's how he rolled), he was one of the few to remain loyal. He was a sorceror and had a spy network so thorough, it was a commmon-joke that the one-eyed sorcerer had "a thousand eyes, and one" He had his own elite unit of archers that solved the first rebellion by sticking the claimant, his heir, and finally his twin, full of arrows.
    • Exiled to the Night's Watch after assassinating after assassinating a Blackfyre after promising him safe passage, a running theme in ASOIAF.

House Lannister[edit]

"Hear Me Roar"

Westeros' richest family, proud, pompous, selfish and fabulous assholes. Not much of a martial tradition but if you cross them they will fucking cut you. You can tell they are the bad guys because they have an army of sick fucks, including a zebra-riding mercenary band and 7' 8" Khornate Champion not-Goliath Gregor Clegane. House York (though named after House Lancaster) combined with the House of Rothschild and the Mafia. Their unofficial motto is "A Lannister Always Pays His Debts"
  • Tywin Lannister, The Lion of Lannister: The Godfather, head of the house, and obsessed with his reputation as a Magnificent Bastard extraordinaire. Lawful Evil Personified. He was a most feared general whose greatest achievement was erasing House Reyne from existence, which was immortalised in his own sweet-yet-creepy-as-fuck theme song (The Rains of Castamere) that became used as a warning against anyone standing against him. During his tenure as Hand of the King (i.e. Prime Minister), he was a political genius who operated as the true power behind the Iron Throne, keeping the realm stable and prosperous despite the stupidity of Aerys II and Joffrey. However, despite all of his achievements, he's an absolutely terrible father, who treats his children as nothing more than tools to further his political agenda. He completely overlooks the incestuous relationship his two oldest children had, and hated Tyrion and made his life a living hell for very poor reasons. He humiliated Tyrion whenever it wouldn't threaten the family's reputation, berated Tyrion for being a whore-monger despite secretly being one himself (this is only in the show), tried to get him killed multiple times, and as the capstone of awful parenting, he taught Tyrion not to marry commoners after he married one called Tysha - by forcing Tyrion to watch Tysha get gang-raped, forcing him to rape her too and then annulling their marriage. The only person Tywin truly loved was his wife. He eventually gets his comeuppance when Tyrion finds out the truth about the Tysha incident and kills him with a crossbow, all while mentioning that out of all his children, Tyrion was the most alike to Tywin himself. He's based on Warwick the Kingmaker.
  • Joanna Lannister: Tywin's late wife and first cousin, meaning the next three characters are inbred as well, ironically. Dies giving birth to Tyrion, which is part of why Tywin hates him, though Cersei hates him for other reasons. Caught wind of Cersei and Jaime's incestuous tendencies, but she died before she could tell Tywin. It is implied that her ghost visits Jaime in a dream and mourns the current state of her family.
  • Cersei Lannister, Bitch Queen: Tywin and Joanna's first child. Twin sister to Jaime Lannister and wife to King Robert Baratheon. She fucks her brother Jaime all the time and had three of his children, whom she passed off as Robert's to grab power. She is a massive narcissist who thinks of herself as "female Tywin" and hence seeks to rule Westeros as the Queen, and will do anything to keep her power... even when most of her plans end up becoming utter failures. Crazy as all fuck and prophesied to be killed by the "little brother." This is because of a prophecy made by a witch, Cersei was a child that she'd be a beautiful queen, lose everything, her children would die before her, and the "Valonqar" would kill her. Though that does explain why she hates Tyrion as hard as all fuck, the exact translation of the term that was used is "younger sibling", and not necessarily her sibling, which opens the door to all sorts of characters who hate the fuck out of her. Since Jaime is technically younger by a few seconds, him killing Cersei would be an interesting twist not without buildup. Possibly the Witch was messing with her head because of what a bitch Cersei was being to her, something Cersei never grew out of. Cersei is currently alive only because Varys wants her to be, as she's a terrible queen who'll destabilize the realm enough for him to bring back the Targaryens. She was completely shaved, stripped of power in all but her royal heritage and forced to do a nude walk of penance throughout the city by the High Sparrow (ASOIAF Pope- equivalent/Martin Luther except he won the Reformation) after he uncovered her crimes. Now she's waiting for her hair to grow back and maybe thinking of revenge.
    • She gets it in the show by blowing up the Great Sept of Baelor (ASOIAF Canterbury Cathedral) with everyone she doesn't like inside it, having her cousin killed near the Wildfire, killing Tyene Sand with the same poison that Tyene used on Myrcella and forcing Ellaria to watch, then capturing the nun who was her jailer and leaving her to be tortured to death by zombie Gregor Clegane. She is in short Thanquol disguised as a beautiful blonde woman. Gets anticlimactically squashed by a collapsing ceiling along with Jaime during Daenerys's assault on King's Landing. (her biggest issue? Not dying sooner, for the Seven's sake!)
  • Jaime Lannister, The Kingslayer: Younger twin brother (by about three seconds) to Cersei Lannister and commander of the Kingsguard. He loves his sister in every sense of the word and had three children with her. Killed the last king despite his oath, and is widely hated for it, even though everyone agrees that dying was a massive improvement for Aerys. The reason for this betrayal was that Aerys had a huge stockpile of Acme Brand Magic Napalm stockpiled under the city, ready to be set off the moment a siege broke through the town walls, and Jaime's options were to let it happen or kill Aerys before the crazy fuck got everybody killed. His desire to openly love his sister and win the respect he feels he deserves eventually causes Cersei to reject him. Starts off as an arrogant douche who tried to murder Bran Stark, but accidentally crippled him instead; as the series progressed he became progressively more bro-tier besides the whole wants-to-fuck-his-sister thing, though he eventually begins to question even this devotion after seeing what a bitch she is when she comes to power. He genuinely loves Tyrion, so much so that he actually went off on his own to get him back after he heard Catelyn had him imprisoned in the Vale. He gets freed by Robb and goes on a journey through Westeros, loses his arm, and gets a lesson in valour and knighthood from Brienne of Tarth. He starts to question his legacy after his son Joffrey makes him Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, a position that was only made available because Joff expelled the Knight who had actually earned it. Since Joff and Cersei had filled the Kingsguard with sycophants and their own thugs, Jaime's role as the Lord Commander has left a bad taste in his mouth because he is now the leader of probably the least prestigious iteration of the Kingsguard ever. Basically, Sigvald the Magnificent currently in the midst of a redemption arc. In the books, he is currently being lured into a trap by Lady Stoneheart.
    • In the show, he has finally told Cersei to get fucked after realizing that she has well and truly lost it, and rode north to help fight the White Walkers. He survived the Battle of Winterfell, hooked up with Brienne, and then rides south because he just can't let Cersei go. Winds up getting shanked by Euron Greyjoy and dies via collapsing ceiling.
  • Tyrion Lannister, Halfman: a very intelligent dwarf who is awesome, but hated by everyone, either because of his deformity, or because he's a Lannister. The few people who treat him well is an uncle that went missing, his brother Jaime, Jon Snow who learned a lot from him, and Varys, who at first saw him as an asset, but grew to admire his political abilities and intellect, even declaring him a friend. He seems to do much better when getting drunk with whores, rogues, bastards and barbarians. His silver tongue is one of his greatest strengths (he's witty and good at persuading people) and weaknesses (he's quick with insults and the truth in a city ruled by sociopaths and liars). Tyrion is also one of the only characters with an actual sense of the bigger picture, and an interest toward steering the world toward an outcome that doesn't involve a Warhammer End Times scenario. **Unfortunately, the world's movers, shakers, and those who generally have the power to make a difference are increasingly either a) dead, b) scattered to the winds or c) hate his dwarf guts. Despite the increasing difficulty and fruitlessness of his task, however, Tyrion still fights. After being framed for killing Joffrey, he killed his own father and fled Westeros. In the books, he is currently in exile in the Free Cities, weaselling his way into leading a merc band and trying to sign them up with Daenerys' forces, recognizing her as one of the few chances Westeros has got of fixing its shit (provided she can get her own shit together, which she's having a bit of trouble with).
    • Since characters in this series tend to either be walking tropes, rip-offs of other fantasy characters, or historical people with different names, Tyrion is probably based on the great Miles Vorkosigan (who was himself based on a few people including Sir Winston Churchill) and is a nod to King Richard III (a deformed but competent king later demonized by historiographers of his era). Even if he is usually the smartest one in the room at any given time, though, Tyrion is still not above having some derp moments. Exhibit A, when Tyrion asked his father what happened to his first wife (right before killing him), he took an obvious "I don't know and I don't care" response ("Wherever whores go") as if it was literal directions, and afterward keeps asking random people if they know where whores go, with predictable reactions. (Admittedly he'd just killed his ex and was probably in the middle of some serious PTSD at the time, which is not great for your brain.) The show version eventually meets Daenerys and becomes her Hand only to fuck up a bunch of stuff and lose her trust. He sells her out when he realizes that she's gone round the bend and winds up becoming Hand to King Bran.
  • Kevan Lannister: Tywin's younger brother, considered "the reliable one". One of the few decent Lannisters, though saying that he is perfectly happy carrying out Tywin's bidding. Tried to talk sense into Cersei and was later called in to try and fix her mess. He did such a good job of it that Varys decided to personally thank him. With a crossbow. And a group of knife-wielding children. In the show he dies with the rest of the crowd when the Great Sept got nuked by Cersei - the manner of his book death was given over to Grand Maester Pycelle at the exact same time.
  • Lancel Lannister: Kevan's son, Tywin's nephew and Tyrion, Jamie and Cersei's cousin. A callow, spoilt but well-meaning nobleman. Pretty much Joffery but mentally stable, not sadistic and capable of compassion and honor. Enters a sexual relationship with his cousin Cersei when Jamie is captured, which Tyrion uncovers and uses to blackmail Lancel into spying for him. He later has a religious experience after nearly dying and joins the Poor Fellows of the Faith of the Seven, gives up his incestuous relationship and tries to convert several of his family members (somewhat successfully with Kevan, unsuccessfully with Cersei). Still alive in the books.
    • In the show, he reports Cersei to the High Sparrow (rather than the High Sparrow cleverly uncovering Cersei's plan and trapping her) and dies horribly. Cersei deliberately set him up for a particularly agonizing and drawn-out end; he's lured into a catacomb under the sept that contains a massive cache of wildfire, gets his spinal cord severed so he can't walk, and is left where he can see candles sitting in a pool of wildfire just a little too far away for him to reach it in time, so that he spends his last moments vainly trying to avert a horrible catastrophe before being incinerated.
  • Cersei and Robert's (actually Jaime's) children:
    • Joffrey Baratheon: Spoiled brat and sociopath to the extreme. He's basically Sigvald during his teenage years (and likely inspired Kelly to make the character Sigvald). "Heir" of the throne, and the technical king of Westeros during the War of the Five Kings since he lives in King's Landing and sits on the throne. Turned out to be worse than Aerys. He died and there was much rejoicing. Except by his mother, who instead had sex on his corpse. Fourteen years old at the time of his death.
    • Tommen Baratheon: The new king on the Iron Throne. Nine years old. Married to a teenaged shotacon wife who's (unknown to him) the granddaughter of his brother's true killer. Trying to litigate the criminalization of beets. Loves kittens. He's pretty well-rounded and non-fucked up, which is a miracle considering his parents, both putative and biological. Also seems to be trying to take kinging seriously, but his mom is trying to quash that in her subliminal attempt to hold power indefinitely, so whether it holds is another matter entirely. Prophesied to die before Cersei, which is doubly tragic due to his age and being a much better person than her.
    • In the show, he commits suicide after Cersei blows up the Great Sept (head office of the fantasy knockoff Church of England), killing his godfather, great-uncle, wife, and all his religious friends, because of course her power hunger was more important than his happiness and well being.
    • Myrcella Baratheon: Princess, and Cersei and "Robert's" second oldest child. Ten years old. In order to appease the Martells, Tyrion arranges a marriage with her and the youngest Martell, which pissed off everyone. In the books, she had her face fucked up because of Arianne Martell's amateur intrigues, which overlapped with poor planning, general stupidity, and another guy's backstabbing. Before the maiming, she was quite decent and non-evil. Who knows how she'll turn out now with half of her face cut off. Also prophesied to die before Cersei.
    • In the show, she had a crush on Oberyn's surviving nephew but was killed by Elia in revenge for Oberyn's death, but alive in the books though missing an ear. Also, the readership all got on George's balls for maiming this girl, mostly because it was a sign that he had run out of ideas and was basically just milking Diabolus ex Machina (or that's what he wants us to think).

House Baratheon[edit]

"Ours is the Fury"

Ascended to the Iron Throne after a successful rebellion against the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. Produces no less than three claimants to the succession, each one very different from the other. Technically a cadet branch of House Targaryen as their founder Orys was allegedly a Targaryen bastard, who took the original Storm Kings (House Durrandon) deer sigil after killing the last one and fucking his only child Argella and then 200 odd years later, King Egg's daughter married their grandfather. They're pretty much the House of Plantagenet.
  • Robert Baratheon, The Usurper: Fat, old, former badass who led the rebellion, and now the king who married Cersei Lannister. Then he fucked a bunch of other women and had lots of illegitimate kids. He was killed while mixing boar hunting and drinking, but whether this death was planned or not is uncertain. On the surface, a king with a thing for easy laughs and partying; right underneath the surface, he's irresponsible and leaves the actual ruling of a nation to his staff, deeper under the surface he's pretty much a sad, lonely old bro who would rather not have been king. Comparable to Henry IV, in that both were powerfully built military geniuses who overthrew the existing monarchy and later succumbed to an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Stannis The Mannis Baratheon: Robert's younger brother, an all-around badass who swings between Lawful Stupid (more so in the show than the books) and getting shit done. believes so strongly in the rule of law that he feels compelled to take the Iron Throne for himself despite wanting nothing to do with it. Is advised by a priestess of the God of light, Melisandre, and a lowborn smuggler named Davos Seaworth raised to knighthood and nobility. His character is ruined in the show into an incompetent pawn of Melisandre and gets killed off just because one of the showrunners didn't like him.
    • Shireen Baratheon: Stannis's kid daughter. The sweet, charming, and intelligent little lady who was left with a deformity on her face from a disease called greyscale. Teaches Davos how to read, and is probably the most innocent person in the series alongside Tommen, Myrcella and a few others. Being the grim and dark universe A Song of Ice and Fire is, however, this means that she's likely going to end up becoming fuel for a vicious fire god. In the show she does, but in the books, she is safe and sound since Stannis isn't stupid enough to bring him with her while campaigning. His wife, on the other hand, being such an idiotic fanatical pyromaniac... well, her odds aren't exactly looking that great.
  • Renly Baratheon, That Gay Guy: Robert and Stannis's youngest brother. Took Loras Tyrell (a.k.a. Knight of Flowers, Pretty Boy, etc.) as his lover. Decided he was better suited to be king, though the bizarre and outdated laws of the land stated Stannis was next in line (though Joffrey and then Tommen were first since they were officially Bobby B's legitimate kids). Was hugely popular since he had Robert's charisma, which led to him getting the most support, but he lacked Stannis's conviction and devotion to the duty of actually doing the work of a king, or even Robert's ability to wage war. Killed by Melisandre with some "help" by Stannis The Mannis for trying to steal his crown, though in the books Stannis may not have been completely aware of the role he played in Renly's death. He's basically That Guy of ASOIAF, since quite a lot of shit is his fault, indirectly or otherwise.
  • Gendry Baratheon, the Bastard Son. One of Robert's many, many bastard children, and the one who gets the most page and screen time. He starts out as a humble blacksmith in King's Landing, who first comes to Ned's attention when Lord Stark is investigating the death of Jon Arryn. From there, he gets shipped off to the Night's Watch to avoid the imminent purge of Robert's bastards and winds up becoming friends with Arya and Hot Pie. After some adventuring and sexual tension with Arya (at least in the show), he joins the Brotherhood Without Banners. In the show, they sell him to Melisandre so she can use him for a blood magic ritual, while in the books he just goes on being a smith and doesn't get involved in anything particularly weird or shady. He's helping run an inn as a Brotherhood front/orphanage when he reappears in the books, but in the show, Ser Davos sets him free and tells him to fuck off, which he does for a few seasons. He eventually turns up back in King's Landing, where Davos finds him and recruits him (and his comically oversized LARPing hammer) for Team Snow. He helps Jon capture a wight to show Cersei, makes dragonglass weapons for the Army of the Living, hooks up with Arya, and fights in the Battle of Winterfell, after which Daenerys legitimizes him as the new lord of House Baratheon.

House Tully[edit]

"Family, Duty, Honor"

Lords of the central riverlands. Being the obligatory central nation they spend a lot of the series being fought over like a cake in between fat kids. Basically Poland/the Netherlands, given they have so many rivers and how hard they've been fucked over.
  • Edmure Tully: Basically the SoIaF universe's eternal butt monkey (because he happens to be a decent fucking person). Despite being an okay guy, he's also a useless ponce with a dense streak a mile wide and a bad habit of bragging about things he shouldn't be proud of. It took hanging in a stockade for a few months to make him experience some growth. When Jaime was brought in to unfuck the situation and end the siege at Riverrun, Jaime's "negotiation" pressured him into convincing his house to surrender, but he made sure that Brynden got out first. In the books, he's currently spending his days at the Lannister house as a hostage to make sure that the Tullys don't try to ruin the situation again.
  • Lord Hoster Tully: In GoT the only act he committed of any note was to die. In the books however he is arguably, though inadvertently, the most destructive character once you've delved into his history. The man looked down upon peasants, cripples, bastards, and broken things, which influenced his daughters and primed them for their mistreatment of such through their travels (especially Catelyn's immediate suspicion of Tyrion, despite the charge and evidence making little sense, but because he's a "Monster" of course he must have done it). He denied Tywin's offer to marry Tyrion to Lysa for said reasons, but he also denied Lysa to marry Petyr because of his low birth and her value of being married off to a higher bidder, even if their age differed by at least 50 years and she was pregnant with Petyr's child. He responded to this pregnancy by forcefully aborting the child via drinking Moon Tea, without her knowledge (something he would have nightmares about approaching his death). Not only did this nearly cause her death, but it destroyed her reproductive system resulting in 5 miscarriages and 2 stillbirths (an event that would lead her to aggressive paranoia so fervent that she killed her husband to prevent being separated from her only living child). All of these actions unfortunately spiraled into helping cause The War of the Five Kings.
  • Brynden Tully the Blackfish: He didn't catch the memo that he was part of the joke faction, and proceeds to spend the entire series fucking Lannister shit up and generally being a boss. Thought to be the black sheep in a family of fish (Thus "Blackfish", geddit?), but in spite of that status held true to the family, continuing to hold Riverrun for Robb in spite of the war pretty much being lost. When Edmure surrendered Riverrun, he escaped by swimming under the portcullis and escaping into the river, causing everyone to shit themselves because he's totally coming for revenge. Also widely accepted by the fans to be a closeted homosexual.

House Arryn[edit]

"As High as Honor"

Mountain lords turned neurotic shut ins. Goes through lords about as quickly as you would expect a castle equipped with a door that opens into empty air. Basically Switzerland/Afghanistan, seeing as how they stayed neutral in the War of Five Kings, their land is covered by nothing but mountains, and they're constantly fighting with the local tribes. They were being entertainingly screwed over by Littlefinger until his death.
  • Jon Arryn: Only appears posthumously and is the catalyst for the whole plot. Used to be a foster father of sorts to Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark. Was the Robert's Malcador the Sigilite during Robert's Rebellion. He was killed by Littlefinger via Lysa when he figured out that Robert's kids are bastards of Cersei and Jaime. His death was blamed on the Lannisters to destabilize Westeros.
  • Lysa Arryn: Loli bride turned Lady of the Vale after the Lannisters forcibly retired her husband from life, at least officially. In reality, Littlefinger convinced her to poison her husband and blame the Lannisters which pretty much started this whole clusterfuck to begin with. A closeted, crazy woman who spends the entire series in her castle "the Eyrie" being useless, breastfeeding her own son at age 10, obsessing over Littlefinger's cock, and refusing to help her sister and nephew in the war she and Littlefinger pretty much started, which may have guaranteed their eventual horrific murders by their enemies. Finally gets her comeuppance when Littlefinger kicks her out the moon door (post-taunting, of course), putting her out of our collective misery. Long live the Lord Protector.
  • Robert Arryn: Littlefuck, Lysa's equally mentally unstable autistic son, who still sucks on his mom's tit and enjoys seeing people "fly" out the moon door to their deaths. He actually seems to be a bit smarter than you would first think and is a really, really good judge of character, except with Sansa. Secretly being poisoned by Littlefinger and Sansa so she can take over the Vale and North. Named Robin in the show because the showrunners were afraid that having two characters with the same name would be too confusing. The show version doesn't get poisoned but turns up in the series finale as the Lord of the Vale.

House Greyjoy[edit]

"We Do Not Sow"

A house founded by Cthulhu-worshipping Norscans. While not actual Vikings in any sense of the word, there is little other way to describe them. They live on some islands off the coast of Westeros and almost their entire culture is based around raiding and the ocean. Their religion holds it shameful for a man to pay for personal possessions, and states they have to get things either by trade, washing up from the ocean or the "Iron Price": seizing something from the body or belongings of someone he defeated in battle rather than paying or trading for it. Also, only possessions acquired via the Iron Price command respect among the Ironborn. The nastiest form this takes is stealing women as "Salt Wives", effectively making them a society of rapists. As an interesting bit of trivia, their local variety of baptism is to be ritually drowned in seawater and resuscitated by their priests, and they don't see drowning as a bad way to go on the grounds that it means their god/gods have accepted them and they'll go to an underwater Heaven that's basically a more X-rated version of The Little Mermaid.
  • Balon Greyjoy: Asshole dad, crappy ruler, and general shithead (all very common things in this world, but still) who rebelled against Robert Baratheon and failed miserably. All of his sons were killed, except for Theon, who was taken as a hostage to ensure his good behaviour. Despite being in a position to join either the Lannisters or the Starks during the War of Five Kings and thereby get whatever he wanted from either (independence and the North, or independence and Casterly Rock, respectively), he does the absolute stupidest thing possible and declares himself independent without support from anyone, attacking the North and the rest of Westeros, thereby virtually guaranteeing that he'll be on the receiving end of another one-sided battle once everyone else has sorted their shit out. In the book he at least tried to make one alliance but it was with the freaking Lannisters and not the other Kingdom seeking independence. Never got that far, though, since he was pushed off a bridge during a storm by an assassin his brother Euron sent.
  • Victarion Greyjoy: Admiral of the Iron Fleet. Gets shit done while wearing Lokhir Fellheart's armour during boarding actions. Does it for vengeance, the lulz and as a ticket to Ironborn heaven (which they believe men can reach if they die in battle or by drowning). Worships both R'hllor and the Drowned God. For all his badassery, is far too stupid to realize that his black Red Priest sidekick's constant rambling about his "great destiny" is inevitably going to end in his burning to death on a sacrificial pyre. Said Red Priest impressed Victarion by surviving being marooned at sea for 3 weeks and turning Victarion's infected arm into a super-strong volcano arm. Seriously. Isn't in the show, which is lame.
  • Aeron Greyjoy Damphair: A priestly Alan Moore who drank seawater. Once a fun-loving party animal, he nearly drowned during the Greyjoy Rebellion and became a dour and devout priest of the Ironborn Cthulhu religion. Confirmed to have been raped by Euron when they were kids. Planned to overthrow Euron, who bribed and manipulated his way into becoming king of the Ironborn. As of the excerpts from the sixth book, he Was captured by Euron and tortured to try and make him renounce his faith, including feeding him spoiled food, drugging him and burning him. Later Euron tied Aeron, naked, to the prow of Euron's ship alongside Euron's tortured, pregnant former lover because she showed Aeron kindness by once giving him proper food. He tried to console her by saying their suffering will end in underwater Valhalla, showing Euron failed to make him deny his faith. Also left out of the show.
  • Theon Greyjoy: Son of the Lord/King of the Iron Islands. Had the personality of a stereotypical high school jock, being an excellent archer and womanizer and proud of it. He was given to Ned Stark by his father after Balon failed to successfully rebel against Robert Baratheon. Swore an oath to Robb, but then ditched him out of a desperate need to please his father. Ends up castrated and acts as the personal slave of Ramsay Bolton after Ramsay puts him through horrific torture to turn him into Reek. Rescued by his sister, but the psychological trauma meant it took a while before he could stop calling himself Reek and start getting back to normal mentally (physically he's now missing a few parts that don't heal or grow back). He's just been reunited with his sister in the books, but is dead in the show, thanks to charging the Night King by himself while protecting Bran.
  • Asha Greyjoy: Theon's older sister and a commander of some renown which is quite a feat - almost every man on the Iron Islands except her father either tried to get in her pants or told her to stop playing around and go do some actual women's work, before she kicked enough ass that they respected her. Rescues Theon after he escapes Ramsay but then loses him to Stannis. Is named Yara in the show because the showrunners thought her name sounded too similar to Osha the wildling chick and is also apparently bisexual. Eventually becomes Lady of the Iron Islands in the show because she's the last Greyjoy standing. Is more or less the only Ironborn who isn't a complete asshole.
  • Euron Greyjoy Crow's Eye: A sick fuck Lovecraftian pirate armed with unnatural sorcerous powers and so evil that Balon banished him from the Iron Islands. Every member of his crew is a mute because Euron ripped all their tongues out. Many of them are also the illegitimate sons of women he's raped around the world during his raids. Uses an eyepatch to conceal a pitch-black eye, his personal "obviously a villain" mark. Raped his brother Victarion's wife, then claimed she wanted it so Victarion had to kill her. Raped his younger brother Aeron. Also showed back up in the Iron Islands the day after Balon died, despite having been raping and pillaging in Essos before that, which is suspicious as fuck. Now the new Iron King. Plans to conquer Westeros and has some unknown plan to deal with Daenerys. Revealed in the book Winds of Winter to be one of the sickest fucks in an entire setting of sick fucks (and that's saying something), including having a god complex while hating religion so much he tortures any clergymen he captures to try and make them give up their faiths using ironic tortures themed around their religions - such as preachers have their tongues cut out and burning priests of the fire god to death. Euron tried and failed to break his priest brother Aeron's faith so he lashed Aeron to the front of his ship to die alongside Euron's own pregnant lover Falia, in what could be preparations for the ruinstorm.

House Tyrell[edit]

"Growing Strong"

Lords of Highgarden and the Reach, backstabbers par-excellence, and owners of a lot of fertile land: of the Seven Kingdoms, the Reach is the "biggest," having the most people, the largest army, and a stable, if not agrarian economy; yes, the Westerlands is richer, yes, the Stormlands have/had the strongest military, and yes, the Vale is the most honor-and-chivalry obsessed, but the Reach and the Tyrells are the only ones who can compete with all three at once. Unlike the current lot of Lannisters they understand the value of good PR, balancing ruthlessness with being somewhat amicable, political savvy and not being stuck-up on honour (which they still have more of than the Lannisters do). They're a bit analogous to France. In the books, it's the Tyrells and their support that keeps the throne aloft post-Robert, first aiding Joffrey, then Tommen. They were "shrewd" enough to stay out of Robert's Rebellion and outside of his court while Tywin was in charge, so their lands are basically untouched by war: the Reach's cities are also the most beautiful, with Highgarden and Oldtown being notable for not smelling like shit and full of garbage. Unfortunately, they've all been wiped out in the show.
  • Mace "The Ace" Tyrell: Lord of Highgarden. Massively fat and overweight, while being stupid, overreaching and constantly mocked by everyone else, he's otherwise known as a friendly man, a good Lord when it comes to management and a good father; in the books, The Throne uses him to print gold and alleviate hunger during the War of the Five Kings, so they give him and his family a bunch of positions to keep them invested. Unfortunately, this isn't enough to save a man in the Game of Thrones. Gets killed with the rest of the noble houses when Cersei blows up the Great Sept of Baelor.
  • Olenna Tyrell: The brains behind House Tyrell's schemes. Known as the Queen of Thorns for being an outspoken, prickly and venomous old lady. Schemed with Littlefinger to have Joffrey killed, but she carried it out with compressed powder "gems" hidden in Sansa's hairnet that poisoned his wine. She is to the Tyrells as Tywin is to the Lannisters, except her daughter isn't a narcissistic sociopath.
    • Alive and well in the books (so far), where she's pretty much the same as the show. She has taken Margaery as her successor, which is why she made sure she'd be engaged to Tommen and had Joffrey offed.
    • Became a fan-favorite for constantly dropping awesome one-liners and calling out smug and/or unpopular characters like Littlefinger and the Sand Snakes. Killed off in the show as Jaime gives her the option of drinking painless poison or whatever Cersei wanted to do to her after beseiging Highgarden. Olenna took the poison, and before she died revealed to Jaime that she was the one who killed Joffrey and told him to make sure Cersei knows it.
  • Willas Tyrell: Mace Tyrell's eldest son and heir, crippled at a very young age when jousting against Oberyn Martell. Surprisingly, he and Oberyn are still bros, even though the rest of their Houses aren't very fond of each other because of this incident. Probably one of the most pleasant and sensible characters in the books, which might explain why they never included him in the TV show. Very fond of breeding animals, especially horses.
  • Garlan Tyrell The Gallant: Second-born son. Badass extraordinaire considered one of the best swords in Westeros, and one of the few people kind to Tyrion. Trains for real combat (often against multiple opponents by himself) unlike Loras, who's a tourney fighter. Single-handedly wrecks many notable knights fighting for Stannis during the War of The Five Kings. And he is the only person other than Tywin to put Joffrey in his place, at his own wedding. Sadly no POV chapter yet and omitted from the TV series (Loras takes credit for his deeds).
  • Loras Tyrell The Knight of Flowers: The Tyrell who appears most in the TV series, since his older brothers got adapted out. Considered to be an example of the perfect knight, despite his youth. Is secretly Renly's gay lover and conspired to take the throne with him and his sister. He was elevated to the Kingsguard as part of the Lannister's appeasement of the Tyrells, but also to ensure that Margaery would be safe if it turned out they couldn't kill Joff/Tommen turned out to be a sociopath too. Last seen badly injured in the books attempting to take Stannis' castle in order to to prove his honor after the Faith Militant locked up his sister, but because none of Cersei's sources could visually confirm it, it's likely that the Tyrells (it was their forces that did the sieging, after all) fabricated a story to get their boy out of there. In the show he ends up tortured by the members of the Faith for being gay because the showrunners retconned them to hate gay people, later joins their ranks of questionable willingness, then dies when Cersei blows up the Sept of Baelor.
  • Margaery Tyrell: The would-be Queen of Westeros, she has married, in order, Renly Baratheon (gay), Joffrey Baratheon (evil), and Tommen Baratheon (8 years old) and has been crowned as queen three times. While she is nice, like Disney Princess-in-a-grimdark-setting-nice, she is still her grandmother's protege , and so is the source of Cersei's paranoia (which is kinda valid as the Tyrells did off Joffrey so that the more-controllable and non-sociopathic Tommen could marry Margy). Cersei was so paranoid about Marge's ascension that she decided to legitimize the Sparrows and allow them to reform the Faith Militant, all because she was afraid Tommen would listen to Margaery more than her.
    • In the show, she marries and uses sex to control Tommen, because the show needed to hit its titty quota and because Tommen is a teenager in the show. Was arrested by the resident Chamber Militant The Sparrow and asked for a trial by faith in the books. In the show, this also happens but she tries to be pious in an attempt to save herself but ended up getting killed when Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor.

House Martell[edit]

"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"

Desert dwelling survivalists who pride themselves on having never been conquered by the Targaryen dynasty (though they later married in). Moorish Spaniards, kinda. Their entire thing is that they're nothing like the rest of the Seven Kingdoms: they're descended from the Rhoynar, a group of people that used to live along one of Essos' longest rivers who practice absolute cognatic (the oldest child, regardless of gender, inherits the throne) succession and take a very liberal attitude towards sex. House Martell also has a rocky relationship with the rest of the kingdom: The Baratheons don't trust them because they were all Targaryen loyalists, the Reach doesn't like them because of historic wars between the two, and House Martell has never forgiven House Lannister for Clegane's rape and murder of Elia Martell, Rhaegar's first wife and mother of his children. Their story arc was completely ruined in the show, as Elia and Oberyn's daughters kill Oberyn's brother and nephew for taking too long to avenge him before being captured and killed themselves by Euron and Cersei.

  • Doran Martell: Lord of Sunspear and of royal descent. Still mad at the Lannisters about that whole "murdered-my-sister-and-infant-niece thing". Playing the longest of long games with Varys, which blew up in his face because he told no one in his family about his schemes (well, maybe Oberyn, but Oberyn is dead).
  • Arianne Martell: One of GRRM's characters who seems to exists solely to fuck everything up at the worst conceivable moment. Still hot as Dornish girls come. See, she is technically the heir of Dorne, being the first-born daughter, and yet was shut out of most of her father's meetings and plans, which caused her to get upset because even Oberyn treats all of his bastards better than her dad treats her. After Doran seemingly accepts his own brother's death without any sort of fuss, she decides that her father is weak and plans to start another front in the War of Five Kings by putting Myrcella up on the throne. However, one of her dad's spies gives them up, and in a huge clusterfuck, Myrcella gets maimed by one of the pro-war knights. She is then taken to her father, who finally spills the beans on his grand scheme: the reason why she was sidelined by her father was because he had secretly betrothed her to her Viserys, but now that Viserys is dead, plans to see if he can broker an alliance with "Aegon," Rhaegar and Elia's son who "supposedly" was secreted away and replaced with doubles.
  • Oberyn Martell The Viper of Dorne: Doran Martell's brother, a bisexual swinger, former mercenary, and a drunkard (and also Inigo Montoya in Dark Fantasy). His girlfriend is a spectacularly beautiful bastard named Ellaria Sand and he has many illegitimate children, mostly daughters, collectively called "The Sand Snakes". Crippled the Tyrell heir in a joust, causing a rift between the two houses; despite this, he's actually best mates with the aforementioned heir, due to Willas Tyrell being straight up the nicest and most balanced man in the series and Oberyn being a very decent person. Known for poisoning his weapons, as well as his battle-cry. Died from a mutual kill, with Gregor Clegane crushing his skull in rather graphically, but Oberyn getting the last laugh, since he got Clegane with a horribly painful and slow-acting venom which stretched his death over days or even weeks, during which time he was ruthlessly experimented upon by a mad scientist, meaning he avenged his sister Elia who Gregor had raped and murdered. So to sum it up, he's a spear-wielding badass whose death in battle against a major villain was deeply traumatizing for all in-universe and out.

House Bolton[edit]

"Our Blades Are Sharp"

The Starks' most important (and most despised) vassal, a former arch-rival made of Grimdark because their entire theme revolves around Torture and they're thoroughly awful, dishonorable, sadistic cowards who can be counted on to do every dirty trick possible before even trying to fight fair. Their sigil is a crucified and flayed man, their castle is a complex of constant suffering called the Dreadfort, and just look at their House motto...all of which shows how stupid the Starks were for thinking they could control them. Tied with Red Wedding collaborators the Freys as the most thoroughly vile house in the entire setting (no mean feat, all things considered).
  • Roose Bolton, The 'Leech Lord: A Lawful Evil sociopathic health nut who's called the Leech Lord because he gets leeched regularly, believing they get rid of bad blood. Second-most powerful Lord in the North with ambitions to depose the Starks. Since the Starks are mostly unable to think like crafty people and are blinded by excessive honour this doesn't prove too difficult. He gets his wish when he stabs Robb Stark in the back, at his uncle's wedding no less, and has anyone associated with Robb killed. He then makes over Winterfell in his bloody image and is currently trolling Stannis. Believes in the abolished practice of "Droit du seigneur" (a tradition that allowed a lord to have sex with subordinate women, whether they wanted to or not) and killed at least one man for trying to hide his wife from Roose (before fathering Ramsay with her via rape). Believed that he and his son could be as evil as they wanted as long as no one found out. Killed by Ramsey in the show, which Ramsay tried to cover with a lie despite the witnesses to his actions. May also be dead in the books, since the letter Jon receives from Winterfell in book five is addressed from Lord Ramsay Bolton.
  • Ramsay Snow/Bolton: A Dark Elf with shaved ears in the wrong universe. The Joker of Westeros. The Chaotic Evil incarnate bastard son of Roose Bolton and a peasant woman he raped (under the hanging corpse of the woman's husband, for fuck's sake!). One of the most fucked up people in all of the Seven Kingdoms (alongside the Mountain, Joffrey, the original Reek, the pedophile marauder Rorge and Euron), because he loves to torture and kill people openly for the lulz, such as Theon Greyjoy, who he crippled, knocked his teeth out, castrated, and brainwashed into calling himself Reek. Reek was originally a peasant appointed to try and control a young Ramsay, but instead Ramsay warped him into a mentally unstable necrophiliac before killing Reek to fake his death, but Ramsay seemed to hold some twisted affection for him. He also sent Theon's severed appendage to Theon's dad in a cutesy box with a letter mockingly detailing his evilness. Will torture anyone who points out his illegitimate heritage even though now he's legally recognized as a Bolton. Also has a pack of hunting dogs he names after women he hunts, rapes and kills. Married a fake Arya Stark and regularly mistreats her, including forced bestiality. Not a fun guy to be around. The only reason he's gotten away with it for so long (as pointed out by his father) is that no one is strong enough to stand up to him yet, but when they are he's going to be killed (especially if his fate in the show is anything to go by).
    • In the show, he killed his father with a knife, fed his stepmother and newborn half-brother to his dogs, then married Sansa Stark and deflowered her via rape. Ramsay was such a monster even Iwan Rheon, THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED THE GUY, hoped he'd die horribly. He got his wish: The consequences of Ramsay's actions catch up with him when Jon Snow shows up with an army capable of threatening him, and after surprise reinforcements from Littlefinger and his own fucked-up teamkilling, the Starks crush the Bolton army, forcing Ramsay to flee back to Winterfell. Despite this, the gate is smashed down, and Jon disarms him and beats him quite brutally before detaining him to await trial. Before the trial Sansa sets his dogs on him, which he had deliberately starved so they would eat Jon. Apparently they found him quite tasty. For all that Season 6 of GoT is Skub, there likely aren't many who would object to this moment.

House Frey[edit]

"We Stand Together"

House of weasels who are always grumpy and have a thing for overreacting to perceived slights. Wouldn't be that important except for the fact that they own the only bridge over a strategically important river, and regularly extort anyone attempting to cross it...that, and performing the Red Wedding, AKA the Magnum Opus of Grimdark that single-handedly ensures they're the most hated fucks in the whole setting in-universe and out. Simply put, there is nothing good or nice you can say about the Freys. They're ugly inside and out, cruel, treacherous, thoroughly dishonorable, and aren't even strong warriors, being a mix of incompetent dumbasses and sadistic cowards. They'd all make excellent Skaven (especially considering they could stand to be killed by some Lizardmen).
  • Walder Frey: The ancient, terrible, ornery old man in charge of the Twins. Universally detested by his peers (and the audience) for being an amoral, sociopathic opportunist, which he returns in kind for said peers "looking down on him" (can't imagine why), and will readily betray an important ally for immediate gain, or if he feels he has been slighted in some minor way, with the aforementioned Red Wedding being the most infamous example of both. His descendants are literally so numerous that no one except GRRM himself has been able to count them all, so we aren't even going to attempt it (not helped by quite a few of them being named Walder as well). Now dead in the show due to getting his throat slit by a vengeful Arya after she serves him two of his sons as meat pies.

Minor Houses and non-Houses[edit]

Night's Watch

The Night's Watch are an apolitical force in charge of manning The Wall, a giant ice wall that separates the relative tranquillity of the south from the Lovecraftian fucked-up-itude of the true north. They are chronically undermanned and undersupplied since nobody believes their stories of a barbarian army or the impending zombie apocalypse. Basically everybody else thinks they're in a game of Diplomacy and the Night's Watch are the only ones who realize they're actually in Warhammer Fantasy Battle, though it's been so long since the last snow elf invasion that even they had forgotten about the undead hordes and focused too much on barbarians. Too add to their problems, they are overwhelmingly comprised of petty criminals who wanted to avoid the hangman, because "taking the black", as it's colloquially known, also brings with it a full pardon for any crime committed, even murder and treason (even rape, though rapists tend to be despised among the Night's Watch). Taking the black isn't also very popular, as a common joke in the Seven Kingdoms is that out 10 people, only would one would willfully take the black, the rest would rather get hanged. They also frequently serve as a convinient catch-all solution for Lords and nobles who fell out of favor, committed treason or were outwitted in the endless Westerosi wheel of politics; lucky for them because said Lords and Nobles are usually the only ones with any fighting experience that are part of the watch and make up their leadership. They've allied with the Wildings and the North, but in the TV show, the Night's King used the undead dragon Viserion to burn a hole through The Wall.
  • Jeor Mormont, The Old Bear: 997th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch at the start of the series. Sees Jon Snow as something of a second son (since his own son Jorah was exiled for enslaving and refused to take the black for his crimes). Leads a ranging north of the Wall to investigate reports that the Others have returned. Ends up killed during a mutiny of survivors after the Others wiped out most of his force.
  • Alliser Thorne: Prick of a knight who was favourite to be the next Watch Commander, but was passed over by Jon Snow. Unable to accept Jon Snow letting the Wildlings live on the other side of the wall in an alliance against the zombie hordes, he staged a coup against Jon. It failed because Jon was brought back to life. He is now dead in the show, having been executed for his treason by Jon Snow. Despite of his many personal failings, he's one of the very few capable fighters (and a pretty good one, even) of the Watch and a skilled commander. Took the Black after siding with the Targaryens during the Sack of King's Landing in the civil war.
  • Aemon Targaryen: Maester of the Citadel at Castle Black. Despite being the third born son of King Maekar I Targaryen, he declined the right to sit on the Iron Throne. One of the few people in the series to die of old age, at 102.
  • Samwell Tarly, The Slayer: Fat bookworm who was forced to take the black after his father Randyl threatened to murder him for being unmanly. Jon Snow's best friend among the Night's Watch, and knows everything because he "read it in a book". Despite being a self-professed coward, Sam became the first person in thousands of years to slay an Other with an obsidian dagger. George Martin himself said Sam's based on Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. Since then, he has started improving his combat skills and balls (in more ways than one for the latter, finding his spine and losing his virginity). He abandons the Night's Watch to help fight the dead and tell Jon who he really is, and winds up becoming the new Grand Maester by the end of the show.
  • Eddison Tollett, Dolorous Edd: Probably the most badass member of the Night's Watch. Responds to situations by making sarcastic jokes about them, and known for being a grim motherfucker in a setting of grim motherfuckers. In the show he became the new Lord Commander while Jon was dead, but gave the title back to Jon when he was brought back to life, and then Jon handed it right back because he needed to go sort out Ramsay Bolton. Dies in Season 8 at the Battle of Winterfell.
  • Benjen Stark: The Duncan Idaho of this series, the dead guy all the other characters and all the readers love so much someone has to bring him back from the dead in later books. Benjen is Eddard Stark's youngest brother and the prime motivation why Jon wants to join the Night's Watch in the first place. Joined the Watch for reasons unknown and disappears without a trace even before Jon arrives. In the TV series, he returns as a benevolent Wight that retained his free will and helps Bran to get back to the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Qhorin Half-Hand: Badass extraordinaire that killed a shitton of Wildlings in his long time of service, rumoured to have spent more time north of the Wall than anyone living southerner in the setting. Lets himself get killed by Jon in a gambit to earn Mance Rayders respect.

Wildlings

Groups of nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes who live north of the Wall. Mostly First Men by blood, they have been heading toward the Wall for the past decade with the reputed reemergence of the Others. Nomadic, aggressive, and very much believing in "might makes right", they do not get along with anyone south of The Wall since they view them as "Kneeling weaklings". Basically every Celtic/Scandinavian/barbarian stereotype combined.
  • Mance Rayder, The King Beyond The Wall: A Wildling orphan who was taken in by the Night's Watch, he became their best Ranger before he deserted to join his people. He united the Wildlings and lead them south to escape the Others. Also a trained bard, but that was not enough to save him from death in the show while he's merely MIA in the books.
  • Tormund Giantsbane: Claims to have a ten-inch penis, and invites his enemies to use their mouths if they want to clean it. Cool as fuck old guy who fucks mother-bears in his free time. Tough as nails motherfucker who preaches the merits of using one's cock for everything. He teams up with Jon Snow for the fight against the White Walkers, then fucks off back to the north once the Night King is dead, making him one of the most sensible people on the show. He and Jon go off to be bros at the end of the show.
  • Ygritte: Wildling woman who Jon Snow ends up falling for and who returns his affections. Has red hair which is considered lucky among the Wildlings. This being A Song of Ice and Fire, she ends up dying because her worldview is not compatible with Jon's.
  • Craster: A sick bastard, formerly a member of the Night's Watch turned polygamous isolationist. By the way, his current wives are his many daughters and granddaughters who he fucks regularly to have more children. Girls grow up to become more wives, boys get sacrificed to the Others. This keeps the Others at bay - and is implied to be a way the Others reproduce themselves, and that sanctuary is why the Night's Watch barely tolerates him. Fortunately, he's been killed off in the story and his offspring go their separate ways.

Commoners, Knights, and Petty Lords

Basically any character not associated with any of the Great Houses.
  • Varys, The Spider: The eunuch spymaster of Westeros. You can't take a shit in the Seven Kingdoms without Varys finding out where, when, and how watery or dry it was. He does this through paid informants and his "little birds", a spy network of children who sneak through the castle's passageways and air flues to eavesdrop on everyone. Somewhat of a paradoxical character, since his literal dicklessness, reputation and political power make every character extremely vary of him (it's more or less implied that the main thing keeping him in the small council is the fact that he has got enough shit on everyone to blackmail them into submission if they would dare step out of his line) but under the surface, he is the rare example of people in Westeros that isn't an entirely self-serving scumbag and seems to show genuine care and concern for the common folk (Even if his machinations frequently put commonors in peril, but hey, such is politics). To that end, he manipulated events that, according to his plan, would end with a Targaryen on the throne, to permanently stabilize the realm and rid it of the aformentioned self-serving idiots. On a sidenote, he's one of the few, if not the only person to fully comprehend how dangerous Littlefinger actually is. In the books, he's currently trying to install an adolescent Targaryen on the Iron Throne (who probably isn't even one, but he got the looks) Dead in the show, having decided to try and put Jon on the throne instead of Daenerys; Jon says no, Tyrion sells him out when he realizes Jon absolutely means it, and Dany has Drogon barbecue him.
  • Petyr Baelish, Littlefinger: The Master of Coin (the ASOIAF equivalent of a treasurer) and the closest person the Game of Thrones world has to a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch, up to even declaring "Chaos is a Ladder". A dangerous manipulator who manages to trick and steal his way to positions of lordship and wealth because no one takes him seriously, and stabs all the Lannisters in the back when they become inconvenient. As a child, he wanted Catelyn Stark and was tricked into thinking she wanted him when her sister Lysa fucked him while he was drunk. Challenged Catelyn's betrothed Brandon Stark, Ned's older brother who was murdered by Aerys, for her hand in marriage and got his ass kicked because he was a small skinny boy and Brandon Stark was a big strapping man, making that his start of darkness. The guy responsible, directly or indirectly, for the War of the Five Kings because he was the mastermind behind poisoning Jon Arryn, the capture and execution of Ned Stark, feeding several half-truths to Catelyn to motivate her to arrest Tyrion, and eventually Joffrey's death by having Dontos and Olenna Tyrell carry out the plan to kill Joffrey and letting Tyrion take the fall; but no one in the story knows this, not even Varys. People think he can pull gold out of thin air, but he's really been buying debt while letting Robert Baratheon's extravagances and Joffrey and Cersei's dipshittery pull the country into a serious debt of its own. So he's pledged himself to Chaos and destroying Westeros all because he couldn't have Catelyn as his girlfriend, though he changed his focus to her daughter Sansa now, making him a pedophile. Hasn't yet got his comeuppance in the books, but is currently dead in the show after he was out-gambitted by Sansa and killed by Arya (though the less said about how well executed this was, the better). According to GRRM, he's based on the title character from the Great Gatsby, even though he only really resembles the character when putting on an act. Basically has the role of a treacherous figure who gives bad advice on purpose and is responsible for the series of events that lead to a massive, devastating war with horrible consequences, making him one of the vilest folks in the 'verse.
  • Gregor Clegane, The Mountain: A 7' 8" 400 pound mass of testosterone, muscles, steroid overdose, utter disregard for consent, and murderous RAGE, Gregor is Tywin Lannister's top muscle. Killed his own father and sister and permanently scarred his brother. Hobbies include rape, arson, murder, and random torture; he's also been married a few times but not now with the implication he kept killing his wives. He played an important part in destroying the Targaryens by killing a couple of Rhaegar's kids in rather brutal fashion, then raping and murdering his wife. Spends a few novels doing Tywin's dirty work before a Trial by Champion leads to him dying after being poisoned by Oberyn Martell. Qyburn later resurrected him as... something... called "Ser Robert Strong", and is now even stronger, less prone to psychotic rages, and is completely obedient. He's based on accounts of French knight Gilles de Rais and maybe also the scriptural giant Goliath. In the show he goes on to torture Cersei's nun jailer to death in a brutal and unspecified fashion kills Qyburn during the Siege of King's Landing and then nearly kills his little brother, only for Sandor to tackle him through a collapsing wall and into a gigantic inferno that claims both. Standing out as one of the evilest pieces of shit in a world filled with them, to the point that even the author himself has labeled him the worst character in the series.
  • Sandor Clegane, The Hound: Younger brother to Gregor Clegane, called the Hound because of his hound-face helm, his family's heraldry, and being the king's hired muscle without being a knight. He hates knights due to the hypocrisy of being a professional "noble warrior" but mostly since his monstrous brother is a knight, showing it's not so much of a noble promotion. Terrified of fire after Gregor put his head against a brazier for playing with one of Gregor's old toys when they were children, burning half his face, but he's still the second-strongest person in Westeros. A brutal anti-hero with a soft spot for Sansa, but a better person than his brother. After falling sick from Biter's nasty teeth, he ends up being a silent monk burying people in the Silent Isles. In the show, he joins the Brotherhood without Banners and goes north to help fuck up the White Walkers. As of Season 8, he's survived the Battle of Winterfell and is riding south with Arya to put the boots to Gregor. Dies killing his now undead brother in a pretty epic fight amidst the crumbling ruins of the Red Keep.
  • Grand Maester Pycelle: A shrewd, dangerous man putting on a "harmless old man act" and a high ranking scholar from the science/medical guild the Maesters. The longest-serving member of the King's advisory staff, and is actually Tywin Lannister's biggest lackey. He convinced the Mad King to let Tywin in as Baratheon's armies were marching on the capital, where Tywin proceeded to sack the city and claim it for Robert. Gets his head bashed in by Varys in the books and murdered by Qyburn in the show.
  • Qyburn: Formerly a maester, who was kicked out of the order for unethical experiments on the living (taking people and performing vivisections to be precise). Introduced as a part of a mercenary company serving Roose Bolton, which should be a red flag. He moves up in the world when he's sent to escort Brienne and Jaime back to King's Landing and ends with Cersei employing him to replace Pycelle as "science advisor" and eventually Varys's Spymaster. Serves Cersei loyally as long as she lets him indulge his sick experiments, serving as a black magic variety of the court mage. He has resurrected Gregor Clegane as... something. Fabius Bile if he traded his robot limbs, eugenics and power armour for necromancy. He overestimated his hold on Gregor and got his head caved in for it as of the second-to-last episode of the show.
  • Barristan Selmy, The Bold: Knight of the Kingsguard. Which Kingsguard? Take your pick. He's served pretty much every king since Aerys and understandably feels pretty bad about it. Another sad old man who pretty much just wants to die until he decides to go pledge his services to Daenerys. Even in his old age, he is considered one of the most dangerous men in Westeros. Dead in the show (to be fair they gave him a huge last stand), but alive and appointed himself Daenerys' steward in her absence to try and fix Meereen's situation in the books.
  • Melisandre, The Red Witch: A priestess of R'hllor, the god of fire. Proclaimed Stannis to be the messiah-king and is doing everything in her power to make sure he wins (considerable given that she can scry, make shadow baby assassins and set things on fire with her mind). She'd be pretty bro-tier if her god wasn't so vicious. As it stands she's kind of in the grey (in the books, the show seems to zig-zag on her being evil 'cos the showrunners seem to hate religion). Most of the people she set on fire deserved it, and she hasn't succeeded in killing any babies yet. Show version now dead from suicide via rapid ageing after ensuring the Living defeat the Dead.
  • Jorah Mormont: A knight and son of Jeor Mormont, exiled for trying to sell poachers into slavery and eventually joining the exiles of House Targaryen. He is offered a pardon in exchange for spying on the Targaryens but ultimately decides to stay with them after falling in love with Daenerys. Unfortunately, he gets friend-zoned hard. Despite saving her life from an assassin while she was pregnant, she still votes him off the Khalassar after learning he was a spy. He still loves her and follows her in secret, though. In the show, he goes on a quest to prove himself to her and contracts the dangerous disease Greyscale (it's like the unholy lovechild of smallpox and leprosy), but he gets cured and is now back at her side. He dies protecting her at the Battle of Winterfell.
  • Davos Seaworth, The Onion Knight: A former smuggler and bannerman to House Baratheon, and a top-tier hype man, pulling speeches out on the spot on several occasions to convince people to support Stannis and later Jon. One of the most Noblebright characters in the setting, which really isn't bad for a man that only just now learned how to read. During Roberts Rebellion he ran a blockade with a cargo of contraband onions to a castle Stannis Baratheon was besieged in. In exchange for the food he had, Stannis knighted Davos, but Stannis's law-worshipping mindset compelled him to remove four digits from his left hand. Despite this, Davos has served Stannis with unquestioning loyalty, because Stannis knighting him gave his children a future. The fact that Stannis's war for the throne has ended up killing several of his sons hasn't dented his loyalty at all. **Doesn't like Melisandre because he sees her as a user and her beliefs as brutal. He's a devout follower of the Faith of the Seven in the books and the first season of the show but is clumsily retconned into an anti-religious atheist in later show seasons. In the show, he's now pledged to DA NORF and is basically Jon's Hand of the King, except he doesn't get a fancy pin. He survives the Battle of Winterfell and the Second Sack of King's Landing and becomes Master of Ships in the final episode of the show.
  • Shae: A former camp follower and Tyrion Lannister's squeeze for most of the story. Fled from an abusive family and became a camp follower to earn a living. Seems to fall in love with Tyrion, but it turns out she's a gold-digging bitch. When Tyrion doesn't marry Shae she sells him out to Cersei for a better offer, then fucks Tywin when she realizes Cersei won't keep her promise. Tyrion found her in his father's bed and strangled her to death with a necklace for betraying him. The discovery of Shae's corpse in Tywin's bed - posthumously outing him as a whoremonger - upsets Cersei to the point she unpersons Shae.
  • Bronn: A mercenary who acts as Tyrion's enforcer and personal killer until Cersei outbids him and he settles down with a little wife and title. Routinely kills knights by exploiting how arrogant and stupid they are even after becoming one himself. Only in it for the money, which he'll happily tell you himself. The only character other than Littlefinger to end every book in a better position than he started it. In the show, he makes the very sensible decision to sit out the fighting and wait for his promised castle (Riverrun if Cersei wins, Highgarden if Daenerys wins). He gets Highgarden and is named Lord Paramount of the Reach and Master of Coin in the final episode. Some nobles bitch about the idea of an upjumped thug receiving such high and exalted positions until he points out that their Houses were probably founded by people a lot like him.
  • Brienne of Tarth, The Beauty: Surprisingly badass lady knight wannabe (since no women can be knighted), legendarily unattractive but still pretty idealistic despite the shit she gets for her looks. Fate frequently gives her the shit end of the stick, because no matter how hard she tries to finish her quests, she ends up failing or stuff happens that makes it impossible. Secretly crushes on Renly and unaware he's gay. After he dies, Brienne switches her loyalty to Catelyn and helps her bring Jaime to King's Landing as Tyrion promised Sansa's return in exchange for Jaime. She later developed a crush on Jaime. Things don't go well because Jaime lost his hand and the Red Wedding happened. Next, Jaime sends her out to find and keep Sansa safe to make good on Tyrion's promise, since he isn't the complete dick everyone thinks he is. Brienne ends up getting captured by Cat, now known as Lady Stoneheart and an insane undead, who was going to hang Brienne for working with Jaime. Brienne was spared at the last moment to capture/manipulate Jaime.
    • In the show, she's now sworn to House Stark and gets knighted by Jaime just before the Battle of Winterfell and then she and Jaime hook up afterwards, only for him to take off and break her heart, because remember kids, he'd rather fuck his sister than fuck an ugly chick. She is now Lady Commander of the Kingsguard as of the final episode.
  • Lyanna Mormont: A badass ten-year-old girl who inherits Bear Island after her mother and older sister die horribly in the Riverlands - at least if we are going by the show; in the book, her mother is still alive somewhere waging a Guerilla War in the Neck and her older sister Alysanne is the de-facto head of House Mormont. Her activities include pimp-slapping bitches, leading men twice as old as her, and being completely loyal to the Starks despite all their misfortunes. "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK." She dies killing an undead giant at the Battle of Winterfell, which is pretty badass.
  • Wyman Manderly, Lord Too-Fat-To-Sit-A-Horse: The Lord of White Harbour and one of the few Northerners who worship the Seven. Fervently loyal to House Stark, he pays lip-service to the Iron Throne long enough for his eldest son to return home, all to mask a plan to restore the Starks to power, mostly by destabilising the Frey-Bolton alliance, building a navy, marshalling the forces of the lands east of the White Knife river, "losing" Freys in the wilderness and sending Lord Davos Seaworth to rescue Rickon Stark from Skagos. His favourite food is lamprey, although he has also developed a taste for Frey Pie. Also a remarkably graceful dancer, and can survive taking a knife to the throat.
  • Jon Umber, The Greatjon: At first he seems to be your stereotypical, boisterous Northern Lord. However, he becomes one of Robb's most loyal supporters, being first to declare him as 'King in the North' after Ned's execution. Had his moment of awesome when he killed and wounded four Freys at the Red Wedding, all the while being drunk and needing eight additional men to take him down.
  • Beric Dondarrion, The Lightning Lord: Minor lord who agreed to head an expedition to take out Gregor Clegane. This being Game of Thrones, however, his party is ambushed by the Mountain and is beaten rather badly, and he loses his life in the process. Thanks to his drunken Red Priest friend, however, he manages to come back not once, but eight times, and each time he comes back, he becomes more powerful, though at the cost of his memory. He now heads an outlaw faction of grimdark Robin Hood types called "The Brotherhood Without Banners", who are dedicated to punishing those who abuse and mistreat the smallfolk. Ironically, he's one of the few book characters to have died (permanently) in the books but remain alive in the show, except now he's dead for real as of the Battle of Winterfell.
  • Thoros of Myr: Aforementioned drunken priest who is dedicated to R'hllor, though at first he doesn't really give a rat's ass about the Red God, as he prefers to party it up with wine and women, but after he 'accidentally' resurrects Beric, he becomes quite serious about his religion and vows to curb his excesses in drinking. Dies on a mission beyond the Wall to capture a wight (show-version). Bane of swordsmiths across the lands, as he likes to routinely ignite his swords with Wildfire when he gets a hold of some of the stuff, which completely destroys the blade.
  • The Brave Companions: Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be a faction in this setting as fucked up as the Boltons, Freys, and Ironborn, these guys come along and prove you wrong. A bunch of "mercenaries" who are really more just complete and utter lunatics that are incapable of doing what they're paid to in any way except the bloodiest and nastiest, all with maximum Rape thrown in too (especially if Brienne of Tarth is involved, because every single fucking one of these guys wants, tries to, or threatens to rape her at some point). Led by Vargo Hoat, a goat-helmet wearing maniac who likes cutting body parts off of his victims before killing them. The rest of his band consists of a bunch of other sickos who are every bit as bad as him (except Rorge, who is even worse). To put this into perspective, the member of the group who is a pedophile priest (Septon Utt), is the least evil one, if only because he actually regrets what he does and is suggested to do what he does because of urges he can't control. The rest? Forget about it. After Vargo's gruesome death at the hands of the even worse Gregor Clegane, the surviving Brave Companions scatter, effectively dissolving the group but meaning a bunch of these assholes are still active. Cut from the TV show completely.
    • Rorge: Gregor Clegane 2.0, being another big, brutish, psychotic monster who rapes people and murders children and who is a Chaotic Evil super-thug through and through (because apparently we needed another one in the setting), with the added bit of awfulness of being a child-hating pedophile. Along with Gregor Clegane, one of the absolute worst characters in the entire series (a high bar, as you've probably gathered by now). Killed by Brienne. In the TV show, he's a completely forgettable one-shot, throwaway character who gets killed by Arya before he can really do anything and doesn't come anywhere close to the awfulness of his book version.

The Free Cities

Nine city-states to the West of Essos, for the most part, the old colonies of the Valaryian Freehold. Mostly they are ruled by Merchant Princes. They look down on the Westerosi for being a bunch of up jumped backwards war-mongering morons who are only a few silverware sets and maesters away from absolute barbarism. In turn, the Westerosi look down on the Free Cities as being money-grubbing effete cowards ruled by cheesemongers who use bribery, tall walls and dirty tricks to get ahead in the world.
  • Illyrio Mopatis: A rich fat bastard and a Magister of Pentos. Old buddies with Varys and a bigtime schemer.
  • The Faceless Men: A cult of shape-shifting assassins who worship The Many-Faced God of death based in the free city of Braavos that give up personal identity. They claim descent from escaped Valyrian slaves who considered death to be a better fate than perpetual slavery. Their mission hence became being servants of the Many-Faced God of Death. You can hire them to off your rivals, but they request a steep and equivalent price. They also offer a painless, quick suicide for downtrodden and desparate people by the means of poison. Their motto is "Valar Morghulis": All Men Must Die.
  • Xaro Xhoan Daxos: One of the thirteen leaders of the city of Qarth. A flamboyant, languid, bald rich man who looks after Daenerys while she stays in Qarth and gives her many gifts. He wants her dragons as much as anyone else and even tries to marry her despite his homosexual tendencies. He stops wanting the dragons later in the book series after seeing their work in Astapor, and no longer wants her around as her anti-slavery stance is hampering his wealth, so he offers Daenerys ships to leave the area and declares war on her when she refuses. In the show, he's heterosexual, helps steal her dragons, fucks one of her handmaidens and gets locked in a vault for conspiring to have her killed. He's also black and fat in the show when he's white and lanky in the books, being Qartheen and all.
  • Syrio Forel: The former First Sword of Braavos (aka the ruler's personal bodyguard) and later Arya's mentor in King's Landing. He teaches her the way of Braavosi fencing, called "Water Dancing", and sacrifices himself to save her from Lannister thugs, taking down at least six of them with a wooden sword. May have inadvertently set her on the path of becoming a badass assassin by telling her of his belief in the God of Death.

The Dothraki

Horse people who live in a country of endless grass plains referred to by others as the Dothraki sea. They only have one city, called Vaes Dothrak, which is less of a city and more of a place they all meet when important things have to be discussed. Have traits borrowed from several cultures, including Mongols and Native Americans, all filtered through European misconceptions of those cultures of course, such as the Dothraki's antipathy for heavy armour, despite the fact that the Mongols were very heavily armoured and also excelled as infantry, see the Battle of Leignitz. They fear the ocean because of its size and the fact that horses won't drink from it, calling it the "poison water".
  • Khal Drogo: An Expy of Genghis Khan Yesukhei Baatyr (his son would have been the equivalent to Chinggis Khaan). Leads the largest Khalassar among the Dothraki. Despite being a barbarian warlord, Drogo is surprisingly intelligent and treats Daenerys well. After an assassin tries to kill her he promises to conquer Westeros for her and their unborn son and immediately starts raiding towns for slaves and ships. At one town he gets cut in a leadership challenge and Daenerys gets a captive wise woman to heal him. However, the woman hates him because his tribe destroyed her hometown, raped/slaughtered or enslaved her friends and raped her three times so she curses him to become catatonic (along with killing his unborn son), leading a devastated Daenerys to perform an arguable mercy kill by smothering him with a pillow. After she burns herself, her stillborn child and the wise woman on his funeral pyre, Daenerys survives and it brings her dragons to life. GRRM named Drogo after Frodo's father.
  • Daenerys' handmaidens.
    • Doreah: Daenerys' handmaiden and a wedding gift from Illyrio. A woman from Lysene brought by her brother to teach her how to pleasure a man. In the book she dies of fever and starvation crossing a desert, in the TV show, she betrays Daenerys for Xaro's BBC and gets locked in a vault to starve to death.
    • Irri: Daenerys' handmaiden who teaches Daenerys how to ride a horse. Also pleasures Daenerys twice after catching her masturbating once, yet this canonical girl-on-girl action was left out of the show. The character was even killed off there when she survived in the books, but in this case, it was because her actress' visa had expired rather than author railroading.
    • Jhiqui: Daenerys' handmaiden who teaches her the Dothraki language and squabbles with Irri over wanting one of Daenerys' bodyguards when he becomes a badass. Also dies in the TV show while staying alive so far in the books.

Slavers Bay

A civilization of Stupid Evil slavers. The remains of a previous civilization that was once the big powerful empire thanks to having phalanxes of obedient, pain-resistant soldiers which Valyria conquered a long while ago because phalanxes don't do too well against motherfucking dragons. They are ruled by wealthy slave mongers who buy slaves, train them up to do specific things and generally are a bunch of stuck up, decadent, puppy-eating (literally) assholes. Basically a civilization so repugnant even most hippies will be cheering when Dany decides to conquer them.
  • The Unsullied: Eunuch phalanx fighting slave soldiers trained the Spartan way to produce totally obedient infantry that never break ranks. They also don't feel pain due to drinking a special drink daily, and each one has to take a new name from the name box each day so they can't develop a sense of identity. At least until Dany "bought" the lot of them, had them sack the city which trained them, and freed them.
  • Grey Worm: The Unsullied Commander and a no-nonsense badass. When given a chance to take a new name he keeps his slave name because it's the name he had when freed so he considers it lucky. He is completely loyal to Daenerys, considering her his saviour, and in the show, he falls in love with fellow freed-woman, Missandei. This being ASOIAF, however, he can only watch helplessly as his lover is beheaded in front of him by the Mountain. This drives him into a rage, and he eagerly takes part in the sacking of King's Landing in revenge for her death. After the war is over and both Daenerys and Cersei are dead, he takes the Unsullied forces to Naath, in order to fulfil his promise to Missandei that he'd protect her homeland.
  • Strong Belwas: A fat but skilled eunuch gladiator. Loves liver and onions and referring to himself in the third person. Travelling companion/guide of Ser Barristan. Has an awesome scene where he beats the champion of Meereen then mocks the Meereenese by taking a shit in their direction and wiping his ass on their dead champion's cloak. Also saves Daenerys from eating poisoned sweets. Left out of the show.
  • Daario Naharis: A Tyroshi mercenary captain who dyes his hair blue. Betrays his fellow commanders for Daenerys because he loves her as a queen. Fortunately for him, Daenerys loves him back and they pursue a romance for a time, though she doesn't marry him as she's still otherwise smart enough to know she has to save herself for a political marriage. Goes to Yunkai as a hostage in the war on Meereen. Also potentially a shapeshifter, if the show is to be believed.
  • Missandei: A young female slave with a remarkable talent for linguistics and one of the more empathetic people in this dark world, Missandei is freed by Daenerys during her campaign to liberate Slaver's Bay, eventually becoming one of her closest confidants and advisers. While a child in the books, in the show Missandei is a grown woman, falls in love with the Unsullied leader Grey Worm, but later is captured by Cersei and beheaded by the zombified Mountain in front of all her friends, but not before telling her friends to burn the Lannisters to ashes.

Maesters

More than Scribes, (much) less than Mentats, Maesters serve their highborn lords as intellectual muscle. Maesters serve as doctors, teachers, and scientists, and are educated at The Citadel in Oldtown. They are expected to master a variety of topics, with each topic/level of mastery grants you a chain-link forged in a different type of metal (black iron for ravenry, valyrian steel for magic), and once you hit fifteen links, you can become an ordained Maester. Because of the high costs of their education (and the fact that you need to know how to read), Maesters are often highborn, probably a non-inheriting son or bastard. It is semi-prestigious, with the nerds calling themselves "Knights of the Mind" with all seriousness (and probably with some snickering jocks in the background) but you also don't get much say where you'll be assigned (and if the castle changes hands, you go with it, but it's not unheard of for Maesters to get killed along with everyone else.

A fan theory credits the death of Dragons with the work of Maesters, because the Maesters, as men of medieval "science," have a vested interest in the decline of magic, even though they also offer a bachelor's degree maester's link in "higher mysteries" which they consider to be their equivalent of an english major.

Magic and Gods[edit]

The world of ASOIAF has various religions and faiths abound, just like in real life. Similarly, they range between fucking awesome to utterly useless. Dissimilarly, some of them have very tangible, undeniable magic powers, although it is said that the magic became stronger after the rebirth of Dragons into the world, and that in the Far East, where people worship Lovecraft references, that magic is still alive and well, but those are all just rumors.

Blood Magic seems to be the most consistent, with practitioners paying steep prices for magic, while the druidic magic of the Children of the Forest and the Old Gods still hold strong to this day, they just don't have any practitioners left.

Magic and the Afterlife is a theme in the setting as well, most expounded by the faithful of R'hllor: fire is associated with the warmth of life, as well as light; on the other hand, death is associated with cold and darkness; death carries a harsh finality in the series, except when it doesn't: as they've shown in special cases with those resurrected by R'hllor, rebirth comes with a price, and not everyone comes back fully there.

  • The Faith of the Seven: The Catholic Church/Church of England stand-in mixed with elements of Hinduism, which gets both sympathetic and unsympathetic characters associated with it (though mostly only in the books for the former). Holds an anti-slavery stance. The god/s are considered seven aspects of one deity with three male aspects (The Smith, the Father, the Warrior), three female aspects (The Maiden, the Mother, the Crone) and a sexless one representing Death, a bit akin to how the Hindu God Vishnu has multiple aspects. The places of worship are called Septs, and their system includes Septons, nun-equivalents called Septas and a Pope equivalent called a High Septon. The High Septons all give up their names when they become one to confuse future historians (and readers).
    • High Septon 1 Fatfuck: A fat, greedy man who used the position for personal gain. He ended up being torn apart in a riot, because the people resented that he had enough food to stay fat while they were starving.
    • High Septon 2 Lannister Puppet: Successor of High Septon Fatfuck. Chosen by Tyrion so the Faith would be loyal to the Lannisters. Only slightly corrupt, being a pro-Lannister yes-man. Murdered on Cersei's order in the book, while in the show he's retconned into a whoremonger who gets deposed by the Sparrows (see below).
    • High Septon 3/The High Sparrow: Successor of High Septon Lannister Puppet. After the second High Septon shown in the present day of the story died, the smallfolk burst into the meeting to pick a successor and ordered their chosen candidate to be put in charge when his original successor was caught whoremongering. He'd been a wandering preacher beforehand, and his feet were dark and gnarled from lots of walking. When he reaches the position he starts getting things done. Since he was appointed by a smallfolk religious movement called Sparrows, he's given the moniker "The High Sparrow". The nobility underestimates him, either due to having other matters or disregard for religious people, but he turns out to be smart, well-meaning and somewhat ruthless. Under the High Sparrow, he and the other clergymen sell their fancy clothes and decorations replacing them with simple wool tunics, using the money to buy food and clothes for the poor in King's Landing. He also has their Knights-Templar-equivalent reformed to protect the faithful and help them root out heresy and sin. He also outwits Cersei and has her arrested and tried for all her evil deeds. While Cersei's scheming does lead to Margaery's arrest, Cersei confesses to some crimes while concealing others, leading to Cersei taking a nude walk of penance in front of the entire city. After this, he somewhat reined in the nobles' politicking to actually look after the commoners and the Faith, though this does make some enemies. In the show, while he still talks of helping the Smallfolk, he and the Sparrows are flanderized from assorted smallfolk and clergymen tired of the nobles' lawlessness and power plays into one-dimensional stereotypes and thinly-veiled jabs at the Catholic Church in a shoe-horned anti-religion message. While they do arrest Cersei and Margaery like in the books, the High Sparrow's plans all come to nothing, as during the trial most of the Faith, including the High Sparrow himself, get blown to Kingdom Come when Cersei has her agents ignite a massive amount of magical napalm underneath the Great Sept. In the books they're much more like Martin Luther and the Lutherans, except that the Protestant Reformation wins outright.
  • Old Gods: Native American/Japanese Kame/Druid/nature spirits that reside in places called Godswoods. The original practitioners of this faith were the Children of the Forest, non-elf looking Wood Elves, whose magics were responsible for smashing an entire Southern Warhost with tsunamis (leaving only a narrow isthmus between the North and everyone else), the Wall (it was a collaborative effort with humans), and allowing people to look into the past, and (confirmed in the show at least) influence it.
    • Their powers are limited to the North, though, where the last remaining Godswoods remain, but they can grant gifted individuals awesome psychic powers like Warging (mind-controlling animals) and Greensight (Time Travel). For some reason, Martin claims they're based off the Norse Gods. Probably has to do with the way the Vikings made sacrifices to their gods, by hanging them in Ash trees, a symbol for the World Tree Yggdrasil. The Weirwood trees are sacred to the followers of the Old Gods in a similar way. Mostly worship of them is quiet and informal.
  • R'hllor: The God of Fire and Light, and like the Old Gods, actually shows evidence for existing. He gets shit done, being one of the most common faiths East of Westeros, and his priests have powers such as fire magic and motherfucking Resurrection. Has a nasty habit for burning heretics, though. GRRM said this faith is roughly based (read: poorly modelled after) upon Zoroastrianism and Gnosticism. His nemesis is The Great Other: the god of cold and darkness, the leader of the Others, and prophesied to be defeated by the chosen one, or messianic figure: Azor Ahai/The Prince That Was Promised, a figure who is the prophesied warrior that will fight with the Great Other/Night's King during the Apocalypse. Interestingly enough, the prophecy may not refer to a single person, but three (Jon, Tyrion/Bran, and Daenerys). Supposedly, one of these three will also receive an awesome flaming sword called "Lightbringer".
    • R'hllor is very popular among the slaves and poor of the East, though Eastern nobles hate him because of that association. It's actually hard-to-tell how many "miracles" ascribed to him are actually real miracles. Stannis, absolute chad though he is, has a sword called "Lightbringer" meant to evoke the mythical one, but Aemon has noticed that it doesn't give off any heat.
    • For obvious reasons, they are very excited that there are Dragons again.
  • Him of Many Faces: The god of the Dead of the religion whose followers are the Faceless Men. According to his cult of assassins, whom Arya joins, all gods of death are just him: since every religion has a god of death of some sort, he must be the only one that's real. Of course, your mileage may vary as to whether he's real or not, though his most awesome followers are granted shapeshifting abilities and powers to be the ultimate assassins.
  • Drowned God: Cthulhu combined with Odin. Runs an underwater Valhalla were all Ironborn go whey they either if they drowned at sea, the men die a manly death or the women die in childbirth. Probably doesn't exist or he would have done something about Euron Greyjoy... at least in the books. There, Euron is proudly scornful of him, and his brother Aeron fruitlessly and endlessly mutters "no godless man can sit the Seastone Chair". In the show, Euron is perfectly happy to go through the traditional Drownie coronation ritual and Aeron performs it.
  • The Night's King: This is completely different depending on whether you prefer the books or show. Book version: A long time ago, when the Night's Watch was just barely getting set up, its Lord Commander, the thirteenth in line, decided to climb over the Wall and explore some. While in the woods to the north of the Wall, he found a beautiful Other female. He fell in love with her, had sex with her on top of the Wall, which somehow changed him into an albino version of Darth Maul, and set himself up as King of the Wall, making everyone in the Watch his slaves and sacrificial fodder. Naturally, this didn't sit too well with the Starks and the Wildlings, and so they banded together to free the Watch and kick his ass, which they managed to do successfully. Now everyone thinks him as dead or a myth. Show version: he was the very first White Walker ever created by the Children, and he decided to get back at them by wiping out all life. Also, whilst he was apparently beaten in the ancient past and sealed away behind the Wall, he's still "alive" and well, turning infant human boys into new White Walkers. Also, he can apparently raise up entire legions of undead, just by raising his arms and looking completely smug about it; unlike regular Others, who can just raise up maybe a village at most. Given that he's the resident Dark Lord of the series, it makes sense that he can take down a dragon with seemingly little effort (a simple throw of his spear), and resurrect it to be his personal steed a la Arthas. (Whether that particular nonsense is going to show up in the books is up in the air, it's suitably grimdark and not particularly derp so it might.) Then he used the dragon to blow a hole in the Wall and begin The End Times for Westeros. But dead, thanks to Arya's magic ninja haxx which let her kill the BBEG and his entire race and army of zombies in one blow.
    • The Others/The White Walkers: A mysterious race from beyond the Wall, known to HBO fans as "the White Walkers". Can be described as ice demons/snow elves with necromancy. Eight thousand years ago, they invaded Westeros during a decades-long winter (even longer than the usual years-long winters) known as "the Long Night". With an army of undead warriors, they proceeded to fuck Westeros up every which way to Sunday before the locals finally drove them out, established the Night's Watch, and built the Wall to keep them out. Like all fantasy aspects of ASOIAF, they are very cliched.
    • In the TV series, it's revealed that they were created from human captives by "The Children", the pseudo-Elf fair folk race that lived in Westeros before humanity arrived, as an attempt to create a super-weapon. The idea was since humanity bred faster than the Children could keep up with, they would create icy lich-creatures that could create undead soldiers, and these would then wipe out all human life. Instead, it went disastrously wrong because it turned out that the Children actually couldn't control what they'd created, so the Others just want to exterminate all life. In both versions the Night's King is in control.
  • Other Eastern Magic/Religions - The further and further east you go, the more GRRM scatters Lovecraft references to give the world flavour, like the Shadowlands and its cities of oily, black stone, Leng, and fish people. They're just references, though, and will likely never be important.

Locations[edit]

Westeros: The continent where about 80% of the plot takes place. Scotland in the North, Siberia/Northern Scandinavia beyond the wall, Moorish Spain in the South, with the rest being England as far as climate is concerned, only much, much larger.

  • The North: By far the largest of the Seven Kingdoms in size, and the least in population. A rocky, cold and dangerous landscape where life barely tolerable (although it's still preferrable to the eldrich lands beyond the wall), sometimes it even snows in summer, giving you a general idea why it's quite a shitty place to be in when compared with the more southern kingdoms. Living in it are the Northmen, culturally an inbetween of Northern English and Scots. Most of them still revere the Old Gods and practice traditions that feel very alien to those living in the south, of the First Men culture before the Andal Invasion, still holding out here and the Iron Islands. It's also damn near unconquerable by conventional means due to the narrow isthmus between it and the south being a noxious swamp; . Its ruling house at the beginning of the Story is House Stark, later House Bolton; Its capital is Winterfell.
  • Iron Islands: Large, rocky archipelago off the coast of the North and the Riverlands. Their bleak and inhospitable landscape is the major reason why the Ironmen culture, the other hold out of the First Men culture in Westeros which has the unique blend of only political and not cultural Andal influence and lack of Children of the Forest influence as Weirwoods don't grow on islands and only First Men humans ever lived here during those times, is so centered around pillaging and raiding; you can't grow crops on rock. Does have a decently sized economy based around metal working, but nowhere near enough to support its populace. Their capital is Pyke.
  • Riverlands: As the name says, the Riverlands are marked by several large rivers flowing through it and the large fertile valleys surrounding them. The historical whipping boy of the continent after the Andal Invasion took over the old First Men realms (minus the North and the Iron Islands), constantly fought over by the Westerlands, the Stormlands, the Reach, the Iron Islands and the Vale, to the point that it was under Iron Islands rule when Aegon Targaryen unified the continent minus Dorne. Gets buttfucked the hardest during the War of the Five Kings by a metric ton; first by the Mountain carrying out a campaign of terror against the civilian populace on Tywin's orders and second by most of the major fights between the Lannisters and the Starks taking place there. Honestly, after all the fighting, raping and pillaging happening in the Riverlands, one must wonder how many people are actually still left in them. Their ruling house is House Tully (later House Baelish); its Capital is Riverrun (later Harrenhal).
  • Vale of Arryn: Mountainous Region east of the Riverlands home to (supposedly) the finest knights in Westeros due to them having constant field practice in crushing rebellion after rebellion of the native Irish Mountain Tribes (think Forsworn from Skyrim, only a lot more foul-mouthed) and having an absolute abundance of tiny territories to give out. The population lives more densely packed in the few large cities and townships that exist here due and traversing them is dangerous. Its ruling house is House Arryn, its capital The Eyrie, the hardest castle to take in Westeros as it is built on a mountaintop. Gulltown, one of the cities of Westeros, is the main economic hub.
  • Westerlands: The second-smallest Kingdom in size but by far the richest due to its abundance of Gold and Silver Mines. Has a proud tradition of fucking everyone over by the means of money, politics or both combined. Also has a substantial importance as a major trading and naval hub in the city of Lannisport, which is the largest port on the western side of the continent. Its ruling house is House Lannister, its capital Casterly Rock. Casterly Rock was the capital of the old Kings, House Casterly, which was outsmarted by Lann the Clever, who married the last surviving daughter and founded House Lannister.
  • Crownlands: The lands directly controlled by the Iron Throne, surrounding a big bay, with a rather pleasant, mild climate. Centered around the capital King's Landing, which gets an entry of its own. Its ruling house is always the house of the current kings. Formerly divided between the Riverlands and the Stormlands.
    • King's Landing: The capital of the seven kingdoms and by far its largest city. It houses every important institution on the continent, most importantly the Red Keep, where the King of the Seven Kingdoms resides and the Great Sept of Baelor, the religious center of the Faith of the Seven. Aside from the Red Keep and the Great Sept, a filth ridden, downtrodden shithole that is rife with poverty and criminals whereever you may set foot; the City Guard is openly corrupt and acts more like a government-approved gang of thugs. It seems to be something of an unofficial sport among all chacters in the books to never say anything good the city. Architecturally described like Medieval London, at the size of 1600s Paris.
  • The Reach: The second-largest of the Seven Kingdoms, and the most populous. Its wide plains, dominated by fields and plantings serve as the breadbasket of the Seven Kingdoms. Also home to the oldest city in Westeros, Oldtown, which in turn is home to the Citadel of the Maesters. Its ruling house is Tyrell, its capital Highgarden. House Tyrell is matrilineally descended from Garth Greenhand like many other houses. The old ruling family, House Gardener, Garth's direct descendants, was wiped out when Aegon unleashed his dragons, with the then Lord of House Tyrell (at this point permanent stewards to House Gardener), was placed in control as he was married to the last Gardener female.
  • Stormlands: The lands of House Baratheon, a mix of forested mountains and steep, stony shores: so-named for the very frequent storms that batter its coast. The weather here is so bad, their capital is known as Storm's End because all previous castles were destroyed by the weather, so this one had to be built by a competent Northman architect with magic. In spite of the dangerously bad weather, the area can be quite beautiful when not being battered by the elements. The Baratheons are descended from a loyal general who served the original Aegon, who was also rumored to be his half-brother. After Robert ascended the throne, control of the Stormlands was left to his youngest brother, Renly, while the middle-brother, Stannis, was assigned to guard Robert's back on the much-smaller, less prestigious island of Dragonestone.
  • Dorne: The southernmost region of Westeros and the hottest (in more ways than just temperature), consists of rocky deserts in its center and lush, meditterrean areas on its coasts. The Dornish people differ a lot from other Westerosi in ethnicity and culture and have a different origin, that of the migrating Rhoynar people interbreeding with the then relatively isolated local Westerosi. Dorne was also the only Kingdom to successfully resist conquest by the Targaryens and was only brought into the fold through political marriages, and their rulers retain the title of Prince (the Rhoynar and the local Westerosi don't use king or queen, they use prince or princess), not afforded to anyone else not of the Royal Family. Its ruling house is Martell, its capital Sunspear.
  • The Wall: A wall of ice of gargantuan proportions erected by the First Men to protect themselves against the Others/White Walkers long ago that marks the nothern border of Westeros proper and runs across it from west to east for three hundred miles. In the times when the Night's Watch was under full strength, it was an impenetrable fortification against anything that might dare to cross it, not just because of its sheer dimensions, but also the implication that the wall itself is reinforced by eldrich magic keeping the horrors beyond the wall at bay via unnatural means. Nowadays only three of its 19 keeps are permanently manned, leaving wide gaps in the Night's Watch defense against Wildlings, who sometimes climb over it to raid the South. The Night King tears a hole into it with one of Daenerys' Dragons in the final episode of season 7, allowing him and his undead army to pass through.
  • Beyond-the-Wall:
    • Craster's Keep: Not really a "keep" but the home of a man who fucks his own daughters and offers his sons to the Others. He is one of the very few "independent" wildlings and offers use of his home to the Night's Watch when they go off on scouting expeditions. Because it's full of servile (inbred) women, the men of the Night's Watch mutiny and take it over.
    • Thenn: The name of both the land and its people, the Thenn consider themselves to be the true "last of the First Men," because they have laws and lords compared to the anarchist free-for-all of the other Free Folk; they don't speak common, they can actually smith, and they treat the "Magnar," the title of their king, like a god. In the show, they're just shown to be a bunch of scarred barbarians.
    • Lands of Always Winter: The furthest north people have ever gone and have been able to come back from, the Lands are perpetually frozen, and the Others are said to come from here. Clearly, if you head far enough North, you'll hit a Chaos Rift and end up in the Warp.

The Stepstones: Formerly a solid land bridge between Westeros and Essos, it was brought down by Children of the Forest magic in a failed attempt to stop the First Men invasion. Now an archipelago of islands infested by various ne'er-do-wells.


Essos: A huge landmess (no, not a typo) about southeast of Westeros and home to many independent city-states west of the big mountain range. Generally agreed upon to be largely desolate wilderness sprinkled in with the occasional kingdoms that seem exotic and alien to Westerosi. Most of its western half used to be the center of power of the legendary Valyrian Freehold, with the Free Cities being colonies of them that survived the downfall of the Valyrian Empire hundreds of years ago. The exceptions are Slaver's Bay, conquered by the Valyrians before regaining independence after the Freehold's collapse, Qarth, Ib and some of the others.

  • Old Valyria: The former center of the all-powerful free state that ruled over most of Essos at its peak and posessed magic and technology, as well as dragons to keep control over it. Valyrias strength was legendary, so much so in fact that the downfall of it still influences politics in the world centuries after it occured. No one quite knows why Valyria fell, the only certain thing is that it was plagued by a sudden series of natural disasters that all but destroyed its homelands and left it in ruin. Valyrian culture only survived in bastardized forms in the Free Cities and, prior to their extinction, House Targaryen in Westeros. The ruins of Valyria are said to cursed and avoided by all but the most desperate of travelers. Traveling through Valyria is similar to sailing through the Eye of Terror: not only are you dealing with dangerous seas (boiling seas akin to underwater tectonic activity), but also fucking daemons, and parasitic plagues.
  • Free Cities: There are 9 city-states on the Western Half of Essos. 8 are former Valyrian colonies, with Braavos being the notable exception to most of the things they have in common. What ties them all together is that they're all connected by trade and feudalism isn't such a big thing here, which also makes their culture remarkably different from the Westerosi. Westerosi tend to view them as greedy opportunists while the Free Cities in turn view Westerosi as ignorant morons at best and backwards savages at worst. If you were going to have a setting based on ASOIAF and didn't want to spend the entire time shitting in the dirt or bleeding out in a ditch for some inbred noble, this is where you'd want to be:
    • Braavos: The only one of the nine free cities to not be a Valyrian Colony (excepting the other countries like Qarth and Ib, who don't count among the nine). It was founded by Slaves that escaped their overlord in a marsh on the northernmost tip of Essos. It is mainly known for its massive port and the Iron Bank of Braavos, the biggest bank in the world. It also houses the House of Black and White, the central temple and headquarters of the Faceless Men.
    • Pentos: Another large trading port on the western edge of Essos. It serves as the major trading hub between Westeros and the rest of Essos.
    • Lys: Located on an island off the coast of Essos. Founded as a resort for Freeholders, it has the largest population with the Valyrian phenotype in the known world. A decadent city whose most famous export are prostitutes.
    • Myr: The women here are hot, considering how often Westerosi seem to come back with wives from here. Other than that, its only notable feature is its forever-war with Lys and Tyrosh.
    • Norvos: They make really good bodyguards that are taught to see their axes as their waifus.
    • Qohor: Not much is known about them, except one of the brutal mercenary companies is from here, and they worship the Black Goat.
    • Tyrosh: Greedy slavers. Not really notable, except they're one-third of the constant warfare of the Disputed Lands along with Lys and Myr and for being extremely flamboyant.
    • Volantis: The crown jewel, first colony of the Freehold and considers itself the successor state to the Freehold.
    • Lorath: No, they don't speak for the trees. Lorath is the poorest of the Free Cities, and not much is known about them. Its most notable feature are the underground labyrinths that dot the island and which predate the Valyrians. Typical of Martin, the Labyrinths and a similar cult in Essos (the cult of the Pattern) are a reference to someone else's work, but no, he doesn't like fanfiction.
  • Ghiscari Empire and Slavers Bay: To the East of Valyria and the Free Cities, these cities pre-date Valyria. Before they were conquered, they had their own empire and worshiped the Harpy. Nowadays, they trade with the Dothraki, exchanging tribute for slaves, which they then market to the rest of the World. Vaguely the Middle East of ASOIAF. They are: Old Ghis, New Ghis, Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen. In the books, Dany is stuck here trying to manage the clusterfuck that is deslaverizing these lands. Currently locked in a brutal war where the newly-freed slaves are either fighting the surviving slaver-nobles, other cities, or each other.
  • Qarth: What separates the "East" from the "Far East." It's to the West of Slaver Bay and East of not!China/Japan, so any traffic between the Free Cities, Slaver's bay, and them, requires them to pass through Qarth. Home to a bunch of fucking weirdo Orientalist tropes that vie for power: The Pureborn, the noble descendants of ancient Qaathi Kings and Queens that fled the sacking of their cities to Qarth, so hold no real power beyond their titles; the Ancient Guild of Spicers (it's in the name); the Thirteen, another group of Merchants; the Tourmaline Brotherhood (more merchants!). Qarth is also the location of the House of the Undying, a group of Warlocks that drink "shade-of-the-evening," which is pretty much Spice from Dune, but made from trees and not wormshit; the House of the Undying and most of its Warlocks were burnt down by Dany's dragons after they tried to steal them; they sent out some guys for revenge, but they ran into Euron where he promptly murdered them all and took their spice nightshade shade-of-the-evening. Functionally Singapore, but with a more Indo-Persian aesthetic.
  • Rhoyne: Destroyed former city of the Rhoynar, who fled the Valyrian Freehold and migrated to Dorne. The former capital is currently infested by Stone-Men, Greyscale survivors who have gone feral.
  • Ib: not!Dwarfs, but described more like Neanderthals than Nordic shorties. They're squat, barrel-chested, with thick wiry black hair, heavy sloping eye brows and square-teeth of neanderthals, They're also incredibly hairy, and even their women have facial hair., Instead of digging holes in mountains, they travel the sees in equally-stocky whaling ships. They tend to keep to themselves, but are natural sailors, suitable for long voyages.
  • The Dothraki Sea: Not a sea, but the name for the not!Eurasian Plains. Before the Freehold collapsed and the Dothraki tribesmen took advantage of the chaos of the Century of Blood to conquer it and burn down all but one of the old Qaathi cities (with only Qarth itself surviving) and most of the old Kingdom of Sarnor along with other minor cities, it was known as the Great Grass Sea.
    • Vaes Dothrak: The capital and only permanent Dothraki settlement. It is forbidden to carry weapons or spill blood here (doesn't mean you can't kill through other means).
  • Golden Empire of Yi Ti: Not!China, with a mysterious history and pattern of legends eerily-similar to Westeros' own. Like China, has a long history of Emperors, each dynasty progressively ruling over smaller, weaker empires. The current dynasty is actually so weak, they're not taken seriously outside their capital.
    • The Five Forts: In the not!Chinese version of the Long Winter/Long Night, the Empire of Yi Ti was cast into a long night that never ended, where the evil Lion of the Night was unleashed by the Bloodstone Emperor. He was beat back by the Lord of Light/Hyrkoon the Hero/but the name that the Yi Ti know him by was never stated. Just like the Wall in Westeros, the Five Forts were said to be erected by a great Emperor soon after to make sure the crisis never happens again. Just like Westeros, the Five Forts have waned in importance, now only protecting the Yi Ti from barbarians. The Five Forts are said to be made from a material of "fused black stone," similar in description to many ancient ruins all over the setting. Harrenhal is also described similarly, but Harrenhal was stone melted by dragonfire, so the idea that the Five Forts was made with the aid of dragons and/or magic has been floated by fans.
  • The Jogos Nhai: not!Mongols, but they ride Zebras and are literally cone-heads.
  • Asshai-by-the-Shadow: Further-Further-East, it may as well be mythic. The city of Asshai is depressingly gloomy, the entire city is composed of dark black towers made of fused, black stone that seems to "drink the light."

The South: Summer Isles: Think Avelorn, but Black. An archipelago to the Far South of Westeros, everything here is pretty idyllic. War is very formalized, prostitution is a religious rite, there are no white people, it's practically paradise. A deposed prince was sent to exile in Westeros and had been trying to get Robert to make the journey south to put him back on the throne, but no one really took him seriously.

Sothoryos: Jungle hell.

  • Yeen: Made of the same creepy black metal in Stygai, implied to be an old Empire of the Dawn Outpost. Even the death world jungle (as in, not just the animals, the actual jungle itself) refuses to go in there for fear of dying.

Ulthos: not!Australia, and has absolutely no lore. Seriously, GRRM has literally never mentioned it except in relation to another place that also has no lore. It's a passing mention that his obsessive fans took note of, and when they literally helped wrote the setting book for him, their guess became canon.

The appeal of A Song of Ice And Fire[edit]

Exactly what catches the eyes of a given fan/critic/lout who complains about how bad it is anytime the show is mentioned within earshot to ASOIAF and its TV adaptation varies from individual to individual. Still, there's a couple of major draws.

The Worldbuilding: The main reason why this series gets compared to The Lord of the Rings, ASOIAF is literally drowning under the weight of its worldbuilding, being crammed as full of facts about fictitious regions, histories, cultures, dynasties and races as GRRM can fit it. Your mileage will vary on how good that info is, but there's plenty of info in it. It is worth noting that much of the vagueness of various aspects of the world's lore comes down to the limited perspectives of each of the characters' point of view, so many places and events are often only known partially through superstition, rumors, and often second hand experiences passed down and muddled over time; all of which play quite heavily into the overall story structure of the series.

A vast colorful Cast: A lot of works of fantasy get by with a few archetypal characters (the Young Guy out to Prove themself, the Wise Wizard, the Dark Lord, the Mischievous One, the Grizzled Veteran, the Princess, the Dwarf, etc) and maybe a guy or two which rises above this. A Song of Ice and Fire has dozens of viewpoint characters and a hundreds of secondaries each with different situations, drives, motives and quirks that make them reasonably interesting. Even if you don't like one or some of them, there are plenty of others. When they die, it often hits home. Speaking of which...

Mainstream Dark Fantasy: Dark Fantasy is not exactly a mainstream niche. ASOIAF stands out by deliberately trying to market itself to the mainstream, despite embracing an abundance of dark fantasy tropes; gratuitous violence, sexuality and sexual violence, moral ambiguity, political intrigue, and a willingness to suddenly kill off any character, even the most likeable or heroic of them.

Low Fantasy: On the surface, ASOIAF is an old-school Low Fantasy setting, being a medieval-tech world with the story openly focused on the mundane lives of people struggling for political power and though supernatural elements do exist, they tend to be used sparingly.

High Fantasy: But if you scratch the surface, ASOIAF is also a High Fantasy setting, which is always the more marketable of the two, with the big backstory about how the world is facing impending doom from an army of wintery fey and their undead minions. There are also non-evil higher powers working against them, but they get swept under the rug in the show. Also, dragons. As the more marketable genre, it's also inevitably the more skubby one, for whatever that's worth.

Gratuitous Sexuality: More a thing for the TV show than the books; GRRM's scenes were raepy in the earlier volumes, and apparently our boy must have overheard the nickname "George Rape Rape Martin (I Like Rape)", because he dialed back the forced boning in #4-5. The frequent scenes of nudity and sex in the early seasons of the show were a big selling point for many people (the casting of people from the sex industry for some of these scenes also helped).

Not much in terms of generic fantasy tropes: Hate how almost every fantasy just has to have things popularized by Tolkien such as elves, dwarves, orcs and all that stuff? You're in luck because ASOIAF doesn't have a "five races" system, their accompanying stereotypes or the plot hinging on a magic item. On the other hand, it does have several generic fantasy tropes, such as dragons, Medieval Stasis, undead and at least two contenders for Dark Lord status, so if you hate them too, well...

Lots of Houses and Sigils: OK, so this is sort of a joke...except not completely. For those who are artistically minded and love coming up with their own OC groups and/or fleshing out minor characters, this setting really does invite it with the absolutely insane number of houses that each have their own distinct logo/color-scheme combo.

Oh Yeah, About The TV Show[edit]

Yeah, pretty much.
Skub Strip Panel 3.png This article or section is about a topic that is particularly prone to Skub (that is, really loud and/or stupid arguments). Edit at your own risk, and read with a grain of salt, as skubby subjects have a bad habit of causing stupid, even in neutrals trying to summarize the situation.

After the first three books became hits, many Hollywood producers and directors had come to the sadistic neckbeard, asking him about making a movie adaptation. At first, he was reluctant at best, due to the fact that a lot of his content would've been cut out to fit into a movie trilogy (see the Lord of the Rings live-action films). Then, a couple of dudes, David Benioff and D.B/Daniel Brett Weiss (AKA D&D, or more accurately as of the final season, Dumb & Dumber), decided to contact him and asked him at a local restaurant about turning ASOIAF into a Television show produced by HBO, the top-rated soft-core porno channel. The story goes that George asked them a very specific question (Who is Jon Snow's mother?). Satisfied with the response they gave, he gave them permission to start work on the show, which would be titled after the first book, Game of Thrones. They would later go on to prove that this is not a good way of choosing who should adapt your work.

The television show casts several well-known performers, such as Sean Bean as Eddard, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, Lena Headey as Cersei, and Charles Dance as Tywin. They have also cast some comparatively less well-known actors and even ones new to cinema, such as Sophie Turner (Sansa), Maisie Williams (Arya), Kit Harington (Jon), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay), Alfie Allen (Theon), and Richard Madden (Robb)

Thus, book snobs seem to think that every episode post-season 4 is nothing more than Emmy-bait. Regardless of the fact Kit Harington still doesn't have an Emmy, there's a valid contention in that regard, with the number of liberties taken overshadowing the initial appeal.

The final season (more on that below) was eventually revealed to be such a train wreck because Dumb & Dumber did not want to work on the series anymore and had let the success with the earlier seasons go to their heads. In their arrogance, instead of handing the reins to someone else, they decided to plan out their own ending and use it as an audition to Disney so they could write for Star Wars. By then, they'd run out of books to adapt, there was no superior writing for them to leech off of and there was no one to gainsay them in their echo chamber of a writer's room (even George himself was cut out). The result was absolutely shit writing that caused a glorious breakage in the skub dam that left many a fan's anus weeping (provided they weren't early seasons fans, book series fans, or any of the other assorted onlookers taking part in the mightiest of keks) and, if anything proved George's Ramsay's quote at the beginning of the article true. Goddamn Dumb & Dumber, could you talentless Derp machines do any worse if you tried? Luckily, comeuppance came after them and Disney, having some sense, told them to fuck off with their Star Wars ideas after the backlash towards the final season. Not that Disney Star Wars has been without its share of controversy and Rage, but you know it's bad when someone gets told to piss off from even that.

The Greatest Irony and Tragedy of the show's writing was that in the first few seasons, with George RR Martin consulting them and with a wealth of material from the first few books to work with, D&D were actually pretty damn good at adapting the books into a TV format. In fact, quite a few scenes were in fact not only adapted, but actually created from scratch outside of the source material. One of the most noteworthy is the iconic introduction of Tywin Lannister in Season 1 Episode 7, where we learn everything we need to know about his character with nothing but precisely chosen dialogue and a rather blunt visual metaphor of him gutting a stag he slew in a hunt, all while brutally laying into Season 1's initially perceived villain, Jaime. Contrast this with Season 5 where the show's major decline began with blunders such as the omission of fan-favorite Lady Stoneheart, literally butchering the Dorne subplot with Martell family team-killing and changing the Sparrows' movement to a militant atheist's stereotype of religion. This decline makes a lot more sense after George himself admitted that Season 5 was the first Season where he was was really locked out of the loop.

Goes to show how much they had fallen when the well ran dry and the show' writing and adaptation process was no longer the finely honed instrument it had started as.

TL;DR

Producers Dumb&Dumber-style change characters and railroad the plot at a whim, the tits and ultraviolence spigot is opened even wider than the books, and most scenes are made for the actors to show off their skills at making their signature angry/murder/brooding/etc. faces, and wrapped it up with a season of TV soon to be discussed that even Matt Ward would be 100% justified in pointing and laughing at. Seasons 1-4 are worth your time, 7 and 8 are best ignored, and 5 and 6 are the Skub ones.

The Final Dumpster Fire Season[edit]

NotAwesome.png
This article is about something that is considered by the overpowering majority of /tg/ to be fail.
Expect huge amounts of derp and rage, punctuated by /tg/ extracting humor from it.
Rage-a.pngThis article or section contains opinions shared by all and/or vast quantities of Derp. It is liable to cause Rage. Take things with a grain of salt and a peck of Troll.
Plot-armour-plot-armour-aryas-plot-armour-56208058.pngThis article or section involves Plot Armor so asinine, that its sheer bullshittery warps and breaks the very fabric of the setting's universe. Expect Rage, Butthurt and accusations of Mary Sue being flung around in an endless Skub debate. THEY MAKE IT HAPPEN. You have been warned.


"If you try to do something fancy with your ending and you screw up, your audience will probably remember the botched ending more than the well run marathon"

– JP from Terrible Writing Advice (and advice Dumb and Dumber obviously didn't heed)

Seasons 5, 6, and especially 7 all got their share of grief from people. Mostly deserved in the case of Season 7 and arguably so for 5 and 6 (though the latter did at least finally give Ramsay his just desserts, most of the problems that cropped up in 5 and 6 happened when the show passed the book in particular plotlines and mostly served as an early warning, 7 is when things started getting criticized in general rather than individual plots or details). Season 8 though? Well, read on:

The Final Season kicks off with the Night King's army attacking Winterfell in a battle meant to be epic, but instead so chock full of tactical fails from the living, they make General Custer look like Sun Tzu. The most infamous examples include Melisandre's powers being underutilized, putting soldiers in front of trenches/walls they should be behind/standing on, no flanking charges and hiding the non-combatants in a crypt while fighting necromancers. The battle is resolved when Arya teleports directly to the BBEG and kills him with some sleight-of-hand that destroys his entire army Keystone Army trope-style and ends the winter. Also Theon, Jorah and Melisandre die, but the story sweeps their deaths under the rug like they're nameless background characters.

Then the Westerosi go full-retard and start hating Daenerys. Yes really; Dany helped end a nation-destroying winter plus a zombie apocalypse, has a claim to the throne AND is their best ally against Cersei... but they want her gone. Even Sansa suddenly turns against Dany and starts seeking the throne, despite having no claim to the rest of Westeros and Dany being easily able to kill her for treason. Everyone inexplicably starts wanting Jon to be king despite his attempt to abdicate, and Jon himself even starts thinking Aunt Daenerys might be a bad queen... but that doesn't stop him from starting a sexual relationship with her. The fact that Robert's bastard son Gendry is now a lord, giving him a claim to the throne at least as strong as Dany's or Jon's, is swept under the rug. Varys also jumps ship from Dany to Jon for no reason, even trying to kill Dany in an uncharacteristically stupid move. For his efforts, Tyrion reports Varys to Daenerys, who has Varys executed by Drogon's fire-breath.

Then Daenerys press-gangs people who should logically be happy to fight for her into an army to attack King's Landing and brings them there by sea. Along the way Rhaegal, one of Daenerys' two surviving dragons, is killed by ballistae from Euron's ships. This is despite the facts that Daenerys and her dragons should've easily been able to spot the ships, they were flying well out of ballista range and Euron had no way of knowing where they'd be. After Daenerys and Drogon single-handedly destroy the Iron Fleet (amid poorly animated weather*), they reach King's Landing. Cersei's artillery does nothing despite Daenerys, all her advisors and her dragon being within lethal range plus Cersei's lack of scruples. They in turn do nothing but watch Daenerys' friend Missandei, who was captured offscreen earlier, get executed by zombie-Gregor (despite the fact Cersei and co. had no reason to believe Missandei was anyone of import to either capture or execute. Maybe someone left a copy of the script in Cersei's solar next to her Starbucks latte**)

The battle for King's Landing has Daenerys' forces break in and battle through the streets. Meanwhile Jaime snuck though the tunnels to find and reconcile with Cersei. The Hound regresses to his old violent self and tracks down zombie-Gregor to take him down in a battle that kills them both (although most consider this the one bright spot in the episode). Arya gives up on revenge and decides to let Cersei go despite having strong non-revenge-related reasons to kill her. The famed Golden Company is quickly killed off and Cersei signals a surrender by ringing the bells (the bells aren't, and have never been, signals for surrender). Then, in the capstone of bad writing for this season, Daenerys' switch flips from good to evil because the writers want it to happen, and Dany abandons her plan of freeing and leading Westeros to purging King's Landing with her dragon and army. Cersei and Jamie die together in a cave-in and Tyrion mourns their deaths despite being ready and eager to personally kill Cersei earlier. This is followed by Dany's Saruman/Hitler-esque speech that has nothing to do with her former character. Tyrion is arrested for criticizing Daenerys by saying "If this is liberation, I don't believe in liberation theology." Yes, the writers think theology and ideology are the same thing (an unsurprising mistake, given they shoehorned in anti-religious rants for the past three Seasons despite the books' even-handedness). This last one has proven to be its own personal bit of Skub, as many have argued that Daenerys going evil is in keeping with the cynical themes and tone of the setting. While this isn't wrong on its face, it does nothing to change the fact that the execution is 100% half-assed. Walter White's descent into villainy this is not, or even Anakin's arc in the Star Wars Prequels, which looks like The Godfather compared to what Season 8 does with Daenerys.

In the aftermath, Jon assassinates Daenerys for the King's Landing massacre... right in front of her dragon. Drogon, due to Jon's stronger-than-Valyrian-steel-plot-armor, doesn't kill him but melts the Iron Throne (accidentally according to the showrunners) while chucking a tantrum before grabbing Dany's body and flying away. Jon is somehow charged with Dany's murder despite there being no evidence that he did it, but surprisingly none of the surviving characters still loyal to Dany try to kill Jon (such as the Unsullied or the Dothraki). Despite there being several legitimate choices of king still available, including Gendry, the nobles decide to replace a dynastic monarchy with an elective one and make Bran king. Bran is nominated by Tyrion for a nonsensical reason ("he has the best story"), Tyrion somehow getting a say in the meeting despite being imprisoned for treason.

The Unsullied go to Southros under command of Grey Worm (the only one who still has a personality at this point). The Dothraki are forgotten about by everyone else. Tyrion is freed and made Hand of the King to Brann. Brienne is made Commander of the Kingsguard. Bronn is made Master of Coin (and Lord of Highgarden). Gendry is completely forgotten. Samwell is made the new Grand Maester and the North secedes and becomes independent under Queen Sansa (which definitely wouldn't cause future problems and tensions). Arya sails to the West for some unknown reason and Jon is exiled but doesn't care because he gets to go back up north with the Wildings like he wanted. The end.

This trainwreck of a plot is a testament to how two morons can royally fuck up a show beyond any redeeming qualities the cast and crew can put forward. And even then there were screw-ups among the production staff, such as *the animators being unable to decide whether the sky is sunny or overcast when Dany and Drogon destroy the Iron Fleet - which mattered because Dany's plan to not get shot down involved having the sun behind her - and **not removing the actors' water bottles and coffee cups from the set before shooting. Hyperbole is sort of the norm here, but it really is hard to overstate how badly Season 8's finale fucks up. Game of Thrones was everywhere culturally for most of the 2010s, drawing in huge numbers of people who would otherwise never be caught dead indulging in High Fantasy works with us uber-nerds. Now, the entire Thrones fandom has practically disappeared or gone underground. Honestly, it would be an impressive achievement if it weren't so terrible.

House of the Dragon: The other TV show[edit]

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again."

– Benjamin Franklin (and also Maul when trying to kill Kanan)

Deciding that there was still a market for Game of Thrones stuff even after the last season turned the 2010s biggest pop-culture phenomenon into a laughingstock*, HBO bet the bank on some spin-offs, the first of which is now upon us. House of the Dragon is a prequel dealing with the Dance of Dragons, a civil war between two Targaryen factions that ends up consuming Westeros and everyone in it World-War style, and featuring lots of dragons fighting dragons and the standard Westeros fare of fairly bad people doing extremely bad things. Like Game of Thrones before it, it boasts a star-studded cast, a big budget, and a lot of hype. Time will tell if it redeems the failures of the original show or repeats them. If there's a reason to be optimistic (aside from Dumb and Dumber being absent), it would be that the whole story of the Dance of Dragons is written and mapped out, meaning the writers don't have to come up with their own shit to make an ending that George hasn't yet written. Has gotten off to a strong start, so there's the hope that it will be able to redeem the legacy GoT's last two seasons absolutely ruined.

  • Given that the premiere was apparently so widely watched it crashed the streaming for many people, they might actually be right.
    • In fact, with Martin having more oversight over the writing of this series, and director Miguel Sapochnik actually having a passion for the setting and genre rather than just answering a mystery question to GRRM's satisfaction, the current 6 episodes have seen sky high bumps in both HBO viewership and rave reviews. The slow burn over years as the characters inch closer towards disaster has left the majority of viewers on a palpable knife's edge so far.

GRRM and Your Dudes[edit]

Want to make your own ASoIF setting for a role-playing game? Well, readers have enough room to fantasize about their own minor noble House (or kingdom during the Age of the Hundred Kingdoms).

A good example of what you could do is the House from the old "Telltale Game of Thrones", House Forrester. Their relationship to the canon is as follows:

House Forrester (lords of someplace in the Wolfswood) -> is sworn to -> House Glover (overall lords of the entire Wolfswood) -> is sworn to -> House Stark (rulers of the North).

Fantasy Flight Games had a very brief tie-in making those annoying attention-sucking Facebook games, way back when FFG did that sort of thing. Just goes to show how even the other guys will do anything for money.

There's also an actual tie-in tabletop RPG now, which uses its own system and looks kind of like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay with a heavy helping of resource-management strategy feel. Players are assuming the role of a minor House to guide to glory, or, more accurately given the setting we're in, NOT to ruin utterly in a season or two, which would still be more than many A-list players mustered in canon. Each PC has a specific position within said House, and only the role of official Head is mandatory; the rest could be wife/children/brothers and sisters/all other kinds of siblings, bastards (with rules for obtaining the legitimate recognition), maesters, sworn/subservient knights, or most of anybody else. This naturally opens up near-infinite possibilities for families screwed up seven ways to high heavens, which would make Lannister's brand of infighting-slash-inbreeding look as sane as the High Septon.

The setting is also ill-suited for "adventures in Westeros" style of gaming for two reasons:

  1. In the grim darkness of low fantasy, a roaming nobody with no banner to talk about, no House allegiance, no nothing isn't generally treated to a Tavern With Quest Givers, but rather more to a Tavern Where You Are Shanked For Your Sword And Boots And Dumped At The Nearest Forest. Heck, even the big wheelers and dealers are routinely seen invited to the latter when they are slow to properly introduce themselves.
  2. Working on your initially-puny House will quite realistically involve thy neighbours first and foremost, then liege lords from the higher House yours is sworn to, and on occasion shopping around for an advantageous marriage - there simply ain't gonna be that much spare time to "travel to see places". Both of these are also why tourism wasn't a very popular pastime in medieval Europe (aside from Pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Cologne and Santiago de Compostela) and why those who were "living on the road" usually enjoyed the lowest social standing.

A note to aspiring Lords: do NOT, under any circumstances, allow your "combat-optimized" siblings an unsupervised minute in a social setting. Game's "social combat" system is a thing more brutal than the physical one, and it takes a socially-optimized character all of a few minutes to mindfuck one who is not (read: everyone but dedicated diplomats and Heads of the Houses, and not every one of the latter, to boot, as illustrated by several amazing boneheads in canon) into believing pretty much anything short of Grumpkins and Snarks. Stupid NPCs or a stupid GM will make said mindfuck obvious, allowing you to "mindfuck 'em back" without abuse of OOC info; cunning ones will not.

On a side-note; GRRM is said to take a dim view of fanfiction, saying it kills creative ability. This is kind of a double-edged statement, since a lot of George's characters here are either rehashes of his characters from previous works, references to other fictional characters (like Littlefinger and Samwell being based on Jay Gatsby and Samwise Gamgee), walking tropes (such as Ned Stark and Robb Stark being the "Honor Before Reason" characters) or historical references (such House Lannister ripping off House Lancaster and House Tyrell being totally-not-House-Tudor - to the point that Margaery Tyrell is played by Natalie Dormer from "The Tudors" TV show). While this makes everything he wrote just another...fanfiction, and his disapproval hypocritical. Still, given the "creative" output of the average neckbeard, he's perhaps not entirely wrong. For another layer of irony/hypocrisy, he sold the rights to make a TV series of the books to HBO, who's adaptation would eventually devolve into a glorified fanfic.

Games[edit]

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Like any fantasy author who finds themselves unexpectedly in the warm embrace of commercial success, Martin quickly licensed the shit out of his setting; spawning everything from resin miniatures to replica great swords. While most of this is worthless junk to foist on obsessive fanboys /tg/ has agreed that a few of the games are made of win. The first two are a collectable card game put out in 2002 by Fantasy Flight Games and a Risk-esque board game that followed shortly after in 2003. One of White Wolf's subsidiaries also put out a d20 RPG in 2005 but it quickly tanked because, come on, White Wolf. Martin since wrested the rights back and developed a new version with Green Ronin Games.

Now let's have some serious talks about the Game of Thrones games, because they have become some sort of endless source of amusement and frustration for the gaming fanbase. Game of Thrones is, roughly speaking, the second franchise with the most licensed board games, after Star Wars. Some of them have acquired quite a legendary status and a fanbase that goes beyond the book or series fans.


The great juggernaut for all the ASOIAF-based games is Fantasy Flight Games:

  • First and foremost we have A Game of Thrones: The Board Game: a game that after two editions still ranks high in /bgg/'s top 100, and has recently had an expansion. The board game has become some sort of meme for the modern board gamers and it could be considered the equivalent of a more advanced Risk, in which dice and blank character got replaced by a very flavourful and brutal combat system and a lot of thematical mechanics fueling the engine. Overall this game has been associated with concepts such as requiring maximum player count to really be entertaining, having an amazing amount of length and depth and being a very faithful representation of the political feeling the series inspired. Almost any boardgamer or wargamer worth his salt has played this game and enjoyed its highs, its lows and the amazing amount of frustrations it brings. This is probably the most well known of all the ASOIAF games and it was released way before Game of Thrones was a cultural phenomenon back in 2003.
It also has a digital edition, sold on Steam and Android
  • Another game that bears mention, both for its excellent mechanics and its historical significance is A Game of Thrones: The Card Game. It is one of the most balanced card game experiences you can get, also full of flavour and with quite a great amount of balance and non-linear thinking. The best part is, unlike certain other popular card games, the game follows the living card game format: players know exactly what each booster pack brings and can buy cards in a more responsible manner, rather than playing bingo and hoping to get a rare card. Also, the sole core set already provides more replayability than some fully-fledged board games.
  • Finally, the last game to mention in the FFG venerable trilogy of games is Battles of Westeros, arguably the most ambitious and least successful of the three. Battles of Westeros was a fully-fledged wargame that used the Memoir 44 and BattleLore rules as a base, but then evolved into its own by introducing mechanics such as commanders, tactic cards, and very creative scenario rules. Miniatures were made in 15mm and, for their time and scale, they were quite detailed; some commanders are real standouts (for example, Robb Stark's has his direwolf jumping at his side).
Thanks to its scale, the game was able to provide players with a great number of options and units at a fraction of the price of other board games. With a core set that was already stacked with units and variety, and then faction-specific expansions that added several more units and commanders. The game also came with scenario books that provided narrative play with quite creative rule variants, such as storming palisades, having decoys in escort missions, and bombarding enemies with catapults. One scenario even tried to bring to life the Battle of the Blackwater (the hybrid invasion of King's Landing by Stannis the God-Damn Mannis Baratheon). The game was incredible and quite a creative wargame, but its main issue was that the setup time was just terrible. Incredibly complex and tiresome when compared to the actual gameplay time.

There are others, such as the ASOIAF-themed Catan expansion called A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch, another card game called A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King, and another board game Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne. The quality of those, however, remains to be seen.

And then the miniature-producing Kickstarter juggernaut CMON decided to produce its own wargame, with AMAZING miniatures. The game began with, of course, a Kickstarter, and after that, the game has had at least 2 dozen more releases with 3 more factions added.
The game has some mechanics taken from rank and file games, such as Kings of War, combining them with mechanics taken out of "battles of Westeros" particularly the tactics deck. A new page is in the works: ASOIAF Miniature Game

Books[edit]

  • A Game of Thrones
  • A Clash of Kings
  • A Storm of Swords: Split into 2
  • A Feast for Crows: half the characters, the point where the series goes down the toilet
  • A Dance with Dragons: split into 2 the first is about the other half of the characters, and manages to pick things up a bit
  • The Winds of Winter: First rumored to be ready by late 2018, then given an official release date of Summer 2020, those times have come and gone and the book is unreleased. Though he has shared chapters of the book.
  • A Dream of Spring : Unreleased and unlikely to ever be.
    • GRRM will most likely die before writing this, though he has given an outline for how he wants the series to end that might be made public knowledge if he dies before the book series is finished.
  • The Dunk and Egg Series: A story about a landless hedge knight travelling across Westeros with a Targaryen squire, so he can teach him how not to be an asshole to peasants. Consists of three small novels, with the fourth one being essentially ready (it was supposed to be published in a Dangerous Women anthology, but was shelved by Martin).
  • Fire and Blood: Martin's Silmarillion (it even had a GRRMarillion working title at one point) that details the rule of Targaryen kings since the Conquest up until Robert's Rebellion. Only one tome, which abruptly ends on King Aegon III sixteen birthday, was relased, with the second one being released never after Winds of Winter.
    • Sons of the Dragon: standalone chapter that was released 2 years before full FoF, detailing reigns of Aenys and Maegor.
    • Rogue Prince: chapter about King Viserys' reign on which most of HOTD's Season 1 is based.
    • The Princess and The Queen: chapter about Dance of Dragons (do not be confused with Dance with Dragons).

On The "Grimdarkness" of the Setting[edit]

One important note: While the setting is usually held to be "Grimdark", it is also very true to Real Life in its nastiness, with real consequences for assholes. George himself has said, quote; "No matter how much I make up, there's stuff in history that's just as bad, or worse." Book one is almost exactly the beginning of the War of the Roses, except with England enlarged to a continent's size and the seasons stretched out to let the travel times work. (...And then the dragons wake up, the ice elves and their undead armies return and magic makes a comeback. It's not a perfect analogy. All that stuff is closed in their own sub plots and they don't involve the main continent in the book, that is left to "common" war and plotting.)

For an example of Grimdark, but with consequences: The King can order the execution of the head of the leading noble family of the North, for essentially no reason, but now he doesn't have hostages to exchange when their relatives and/or armies come after him seeking revenge. (And all this is modeled on various occasions where more or less exactly this kind of thing happened in real life medieval Europe.)

In other words: Truly heinous shit goes on, and there's nothing stopping that kind of shit... but there are consequences to that kind of shit that act as an effective counterbalance against being seen to do that kind of shit to the smarter nobles in the kingdom. And, because anyone can die, the shittiest characters are no more guaranteed survival than the nicest.

Also worth mentioning that there's reason to think that, despite the quote that began this page, the series may not actually end on 100% downer note, as Martin has said he hopes his series will end in a way akin to the Scouring of the Shire from Lord of the Rings, which, despite the name, is more of a bittersweet ending. So who knows (though this also presumes the author will actually get around to finishing the series at all).

In sum, whether the setting fully qualifies for "Grimdark" is a matter for debate. Probably the best way of looking at is that it is Grimdark, but in a nuanced way.

See Also[edit]