Everything you need to know about game of Thrones –sans spoilers

Game of thrones have become quite popular, popular enough to divide the population into people who have watched GOT and people who haven’t.The show certainly is worthy of all the attention it gets as one of the greatest shows ever due to its convoluted yet logical plots, strong characters and

the realistic portrayal of human nature. Much anticipated season 7 of the TV show is out now, therefore this seems like the right time to talk about ‘a song of ice and fire’.

A song of ice and fire

The TV show is based on George R.R. Martins ‘A song of ice and fire’. A series of fantasy novels, of six volumes, and two volumes yet to be published(winds of winter and a dream of spring). GOT followed the books up until the end of the fifth season. Season six and seven are based on the show runner’simagination, Insights from the author and a bit of fan fiction.

The whole story is about the westeros and Essos set on a setting similar to medieval Europe, with strong resemblances to the feudal system. The throne of westeros or the ‘iron throne’ is the thing that everyone wants to have, and what makes everyone fight and scheme. The person who sits on the iron throne gets to rule all of the westeros.

The whole story revolves around the power struggle between the great houses Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Tyrell, Arryn, Greyjoy, Martell and Targeryan to take the iron throne for themselves and how other houses like house Tully, house Frey, house Mormont get caught in-between all these. The Wall, protects everyone from the white-walkers who are like ice zombies and the night’s watch defend the wall. Free folk or the wildlings live beyond the wall and pledge allegiance to no house. Beyond the Narrow Sea lies the Essos, free cities of Lys, Myr, Pentosh, Braavos and so on. The much discussed Dothraki, the slave cities of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen are also parts of Essos.

What sets GOT apart from others?

What makes GOT special is how skilfully all kinds of human experiences are weaved into the plot. It has love, war, greed, betrayal, tyranny, violence, honour, gallantry, sorcery, death, bravery, myth all rolled into one. But personally for me, what shines through is how most of the story is a result of the acts of men and women not acts of magic or some other overwhelming force. It’s true that there are dragons and dire wolves, black magic conjured by people who follow the lord of light, but they don’t dominate the storyline. However, they certainly give more depth to the story and make it more interesting to the readers and watchers alike. GOT doesn’t have one powerful villain either, instead it has a bunch of powerful characters who are tied by their unfortunate circumstances. For example Cersei Lannister is disliked by many because of her scheming and heartless nature, but she did it all for her children and I would say, for a woman surrounded by powerful men she is pretty impressive.


GOT didn’t have a main plotline in the previous seasons but seasons six and seven are gathering all the individual plotlines into one. All the subplots were what kept fans in suspense all these time wondering what will happen to their favourite characters. There are a few aspects that have a strong presence in the book but not so much in the TV show. They will give a deeper understanding to the TV show fans and will make it more interesting for the people who are yet to be fans. The story of Rhaegar Targeryan and Lyanna Stark is discussed briefly in the season six of the TV show but in the books there are many mentions of Prince Rhaegar and Lady Lyanna. The show hasn’t showed the reign of the mad king Aerys and the circumstances that lead to the instability of the iron throne either. As a fan who prefer the books more than the series, I think prince Rhaegar should have a place in the show. Jon Arryn also deserves a bit more credit seeing that his death was the reason that got Eddard Stark to come south and what got the wheel spinning. Azor Ahai, a legendary warrior in the faith of R’hllor is another interesting subplot. The red priestess, Melisandre initially championed Stannis Baratheon as Azor Ahai, but he didn’t turn out to be the saviour. As of now, there are several candidates for the position. Lord Beric Dondarrion of the brotherhood without banners was resurrected many times by the red priest, Thoros of Myr. Jon Snow who is qualified with the unusual turn of events in season six, Tyrion Lannister who almost died at the battle of the

Blackwater and Daenarys Targeryan who joined the Squad after clearing the language mishap in season seven. Lady Stoneheart or the resurrected Lady Catelyn Stark is another fan favourite that doesn’t have a place in the show (yet).

All the strong Characters…

This article is not enough to talk about all the interesting characters in GOT, but I’ll talk about a few. GOT have a lot of characters both loved and hated by fans. Universal Fan favourite is Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark.  Then comes Daenarys Targeryan, mother of Dragons, both rose high despite their rotten circumstances. Tyrion Lannister, the imp, Lord Varys, Sir Barriston Selmy, Jeor Mormont and Jorah Mormont, Meera and Jojen Reed, Hodor and Sir Dawos Seaworth

are few other pivotal characters. Petyr Baelish, Walder Frey, Cersei Lannister, Tywin Lannister, Ramsey Bolton and Gregor Clegane are few of the characters who belong in the universally hated category. The Stark children, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon with their dire wolf pets are also loved by many.

Flipside of GOT

 Like everything in life GOT also has it’s bad side and is subjected to criticism.  The show is mostly criticised for its generous use of violence, including sexual violence. I find the use of violence and intimacy in the books tolerable compared to the show. I have to admit, the first two seasons of the show were very explicit and I was in a constant state of culture shock.  It certainly is not a show that you can watch with your family, especially if you come from a conservative household. I find that the use of rape and incest a bit unsettling. This might be the influence of the conservative nature of Sri Lankan Culture, but I just can’t get my head around Cersei and Jaime and of course the Targeyans. The use of Rape is wrong in so many different levels, true that it is a human experience, but how it is used in GOT is just plain wrong. And all the deaths! Imagine how disappointing it is to see your favourite character dying halfway through the show! Deaths of Lord Stark, Robb Stark and Rickon Stark were only a few such deaths that made us all disappointed. But then again, Valar Morghulis.

One article about Game of thrones is just not enough to describe it in all its glory. It is so much more than a TV show or a series of books. I tried my best to capture the essence of the story without dropping spoilers, hope you all enjoyed.  All articles must end just like all men must die. –Valar Morghulis- .

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About the author

Shelani Palihawadana

Faculty of Law - 3rd year
University of Colombo

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