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This April, one of the greatest sagas in all of fantasy is coming to an end. Armies of the seven kingdoms will battle, the Whitewalkers will seek to blanket Westeros in an infinite blizzard and treachery will consume anyone who dares to sit upon the Iron Throne.
Sound unfamiliar to you? Well if you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you might have missed out on the hit adaptation that is Game of Thrones. Born from the George R.R Martin books that details a song of fire and ice, Game of Thrones is a masterpiece of storytelling and medieval warfare, all wrapped up in a tale of fantasy and regular backstabbing.
Brutal, intriguing and always exciting, there’s no time like the present to get caught up on the series that has redefined pop culture for so many years now. So if you’re looking for a primer into Game of Thrones, here’s your chance to delve into the mythology with this handy dandy primer that’ll have you bending your knee to the genius series in no time!
The land of Game of Thrones
The Known World. Home to beauty, mystery and dark horrors which wait for you beyond the vast wall that keeps their threat at bay… for now. Within The Known World, lies two continents where the majority of Game of Thrones is set. Essos is an Eastern land inhabited by the Nomadic warrior-tribe known as the Dothraki and the Unsullied, mighty warriors trained to fight beyond pain and treat it as an afterthought.
Warm, drenched in sunlight and a jewel separated by a stretch of water known as the Narrow Sea, the untamed beauty of Essos makes it stand apart from its more distant continental twin, the land of Westeros. Unlike Essos, Westeros is inhabited by warring factions who make up the Seven Kingdoms, a collection of nations who only respect one authority (and barely, some times): The King or Queen who sits upon the Iron Throne.
The Iron Throne
The ultimate symbol of power, to sit upon the Iron Throne is to know true power and the burden that comes with it. Forged from a thousand blades of conquered enemies by King Aegon of House Targaryen, the throne is jagged metal and pain made manifest. Constructed in a manner that makes comfort an afterthought, no king or queen can ever sit easy upon it.
A literal pain in the ass maybe, but anybody who’s anybody within the ruling noble houses of the seven kingdoms wants to sit on the Iron Throne and they’ll do anything to take that position. Anything. The titular game of thrones is a saga of deceit, treachery and literal backstabbing as the various houses within Westeros all scheme to take control of the throne and the authority it represents.
House Targaryen, in particular, are completely consumed by their drive to reclaim the throne after their monarch, Aerys II AKA The Mad King, was overthrown by Robert Baratheon. To that end, Viserys Targaryen sets in motion a chain of events that begins the saga of The Game of Thrones and involves a wide cast of characters from the numerous houses:
From Winterfell in the North of Westeros, the Starks are led by Ned Stark and his wife Lady Catelyn. The rest of the Stark family is made up of Ned’s heir Rob, bastard son Jon Snow, eldest daughter Sansa, tomboy Arya and the supernaturally-gifted Bran. Don’t get too attached to some of these characters.
A family of blue blood and heated infighting, the Lannisters are made up of primarily of Jaime Lannister and his sister Cersei, who have an unusually close relationship. Cersei’s son Joffrey is a wickedly awful excuse for a human being, while Jaime’s younger brother Tyrion may just be the sole redeeming member of the family but finds himself an exile within his own family due to his smaller physical presence.
Tywin Lannister rounds out the family, a patriarch with an agenda of his own and indomitable will to see it through.
Exiled to Essos and plotting their revenge, House Targaryen consists of the aforementioned Viserys Targaryen and his sister Daenerys, who is married off to Khal Drogo of the Dothraki in a bid to form an alliance with the warrior-tribe. While Viserys is as vile as he is ambitious, Daenerys’ role in the Game of Thrones is greater than she realises as she eventually becomes a figurehead for the Dothraki and the fabled Mother of Dragons as the story begins to heat up.
Impossibly long and reaching into the very heavens itself, The Wall is a marvel of magic and engineering. Constructed from ice and brick, The Wall is a fortification that keeps bestial horrors at bay from the Seven Kingdoms and is guarded by the Night’s Watch. Once an organisation whose name was synonymous with honour and pride, the Night’s Watch is a shadow of its former self, understaffed and low on morale. A pity, because beyond the wall lies a threat greater than wildlings…
The White Walkers
Ancient, and thought to be a myth, the White Walkers may just be the greatest danger to ever face Westeros. Able to easily overpower a regular human and able to freeze your face off thanks to the ice that runs through their veins, the White Walkers on their own are bad enough but that’s not even half of the danger that they represent.
Able to raise the dead and bend them to their will, the White Walkers are assembling a zombie army of brutes made up of the slaughtered Wildling tribes from beyond the wall, and they’re finally ready to march on Westeros after spending thousands of years in hibernation. Their goal? Nothing less than global extinction and an endless winter.
While you won’t need a degree in linguistics to understand what everyone in Westeros is saying, it does help to have an idea of what some of the more repeated phrases mean in that land! Here’s a quick breakdown for you:
- Winter is coming – It may have given birth to a thousand memes, but in a land whose various seasons are unfathomably long, the approaching winter season looks set to be a frigid age of snow and ice that’ll last for many years before spring finally arrives
- Long night – The reason why Westeros is wary of winter, the original Long Night was an ice age that lasted for an entire generation and saw the first invasion of the Whitewalkers, before the dreaded nightmares were finally driven back into the dark
- Hand of the King – The right-hand man of the King who sits on the Iron Throne, the hand of the king is an advisor and the only other individual allowed to sit upon the legendary symbol of power when the King is absent
- Warg – A rare gift that allows individuals to peer into the minds of beasts and form a connection that allows them to see what animals see
- Bend the knee – A pledge of allegiance, and the ultimate sign of fealty in Westeros
- Maester – Scholars of the land, walking encyclopaedias of knowledge whose insight is prized and valued
And there you go! A brief but hopefully helpful guide to get you ready for a binge of Game of Thrones. There’s no time like the present to get caught up in the intrigue, battles and world of Westeros like the present, and with Showmax offering a complete catch-up of all seven seasons ahead of the debut of the eighth and final series on April 14!
Remember, you won’t need to wait long to see these new episodes either, as Showmax will have them up and ready to go every week.
Season 8 will be on Showmax at the same time as the Primetime M-Net broadcast, from
Last Updated: March 27, 2019
March 14, 2019 at 14:24
Spoiler: everyone dies to a nuclear apocalypse.