Game of Thrones - I'm starting late and need help

OK, I I’ve been travelling a lot recently and that means lots of hours in hotel rooms with HBO.

I have started watching Game of Thrones and need help with the basics. My searching of the internet gets me fan cites but I need basics of plots, feuds and personalities. Here’s my questions:

What’s the deal with dragons? Why is the pretty blond lady (I can’t figure out her name) able to use them so effectivly? Why does she need this huge army? [BTW: its pretty cool to think of the army as a fantasy Seal Team 6.]

So winter is coming, why is this so important?

I get it, there’s the Starks and the Lannisters but what am I missing?

What’s the background on the effeminate cowardly young King?

WHat’s up with all these grim men with: their hands getting chopped off (he hangs out with a platinum blond with a severe haircut); another sad sack being misled back to a torture chamber; the big furry man running away in a dark forest with your significant other and a newborn baby…

There’s a bunch more I know I need to know but what help can you fabulous dopers provide?

A great way to get background is to go to youtube and search for history and lore of westoros. That will get you 3 minute cartoons giving the backstory to each character and the different houses.

Or read the wikipedia entries episode-by-episode. It would take a pretty lengthy post to get you caught up because of all the different characters and their own individual backstories. There are about a dozen. It’s a wonder that you caught on with zero background.

Did you just start watching whatever episode was currently on or did you watch all of them from the start?

Dany (the blond lady) is the last of the line of the Targareans, the previous royal family. They were taken out by Robert Baratheon. The originally took power using dragons, but all the dragons have died and were thought extinct. Dany hatched a trio of petrified dragon eggs, so she’s the only one with dragons.

Seasons last for an indeterminate time in Westeros. Winters can last for years, being crops die and people strave/freeze to death.

Robert Baratheon’s son. Only he’s not really his son. The queen has been boning her brother Jamie (the dude who got his hand cut off), so he’s an illegitimate king.

I can’t think of too many other shows where it’d be harder to start up halfway through the third season. What I’d do is try to find a friend with an HBO subscription and get their HBO GO password and catch up, especially if you have a laptop or a mobile device.

I’d really suggest you watch the first two seasons. You’re basically asking for a summary of around 3,000 pages of material. We can do that, but you’d be missing out on a lot. Plus, those two seasons are pretty fun.

Yeah, your best bet is to read the Wiki. I’ve been sitting here for half an hour trying to come up with a summary, and it’s impossible. The story and the relationships are very complicated.

You’ve got a lot of down time? Read the books!

She’s the last surviving member of a family of crazy incest-bred royals that used to control dragons and call themselves dragons. She wants to take over the Seven Kingdoms.

Winters last a long time. Instead of preparing people are busy fighting.

The Lannisters are mostly evil and the Starks are mostly good.

Incest-bred sadist. He’s not old King Robert’s real son so not the “true” king, which doesn’t actually really matter, considering the last king took the throne by force anyway. King is whoever can take the throne and keep it.

That incest-bred sadist king? This is his uncle/father. He was taken captive by the Starks. His family has a Stark kid in their possession and Catelyn Stark, the older woman we haven’t seen too much of this season, released him after making him promise he’d ensure their side’s kid’s release when he got back. She sent the blonde knight woman with him to make sure he got where he was going.

People in the North are kind of weird.

The guy living in the woods with all his wives? He sets his sons out as sacrifices. The fat dude secretly porked one his wives and the boy is his. He’s now on the run with them both.

Axis of Awesome:

No he didn’t. Sam gave her a thimble, but he didn’t give her a baby.

Thank you for showing me my new favorite band.


There’s plenty of resources on the internet, but I love this series (as well as introducing people to it), so I’m happy to help- keep in mind all of this info is up-to-date as of the latest episode (Season 3, episode 4) and contains spoilers from Seasons 1 and 2:

The pretty young blonde lady is Daenerys (Dany) Targaryen. The Targaryens ruled Westeros (where everyone else is) for hundreds of years, using their monopoly of dragons to conquer and keep order. The Targaryen’s dragons eventually died out, several decades before the show begins (though the Targaryens continued to rule until the reign of Aerys). Daenerys’s father, King Aerys, went insane and most of Westeros rebelled against him- led by Robert Baratheon, who became the new king (about 15 years or so before Season 1 of the show). Robert Baratheon died in Season 1. Daenerys (and her now-dead brother), then children, were whisked away by family supporters to a continent across the sea. Through politics and machinations (in seasons 1 and 2) Daenerys gained a small amount of power and, in a magical ceremony, three baby dragons that hatched from (seemingly) fossilized dragon eggs. In the latest episode she utilized her small amount of power and dragons into gaining a large army and freeing the slaves of a slave-city. Her ultimate goal is to return across the sea to Westeros and reclaim the throne for her family (just her, for now).

The world of this series is different from Earth- seasons last for years or even decades. The current summer is ending (after a few decades), so preparations need to be made for a potentially decades-long winter. “Winter is coming” also reminds the viewers of the supernatural threat coming from the far north, in the form of the ice-demon-like White Walkers.

The Starks and the Lannisters are two of the most powerful families who assisted Robert Baratheon in his successful rebellion, though they never got along with each other very well. The Starks hold (or held) most of the North, and the Lannisters hold a big chunk of the west, as well as great wealth. When Robert Baratheon died, Ned Stark was Hand of the King (kind of like Prime Minister to a monarch), and he discovered that Robert’s heir, Joffrey, was actually not Robert’s son- Robert’s wife Cersei Lannister had incestual relations with her brother, Jaime, and all the children Robert thought were his were actually Jaime’s. Ned Stark was removed from power and executed before the truth could come out, and Ned’s son Robb Stark was declared “King in the North” and declared war on the Lannisters. At the same time, Robert’s brother Stannis discovered the truth about Robert’s “children” and declared that he was the rightful king (in season 2, Stannis killed his younger brother Renly, who also wanted to be king).

This is Joffrey, ostensibly the son of Robert Baratheon but actually the son of Jaime and Cersei Lannister. He is cruel and incompetent, and he was the one who ordered Ned Stark to be executed- the original plan of the Lannisters was essentially to exile Ned Stark, which probably would not have started a war.

The handless guy is Jaime Lannister- Queen Cersei’s brother (and lover) who had great renown as a warrior, called the Kingslayer because he killed the last Targaryen king, Aerys, even though he was sworn to protect him.

This is Brienne of Tarth- a skilled warrior (quite unusual for a woman) who originally served Renly Baratheon, but when he was killed she decided to serve Catelyn Stark- Ned Stark’s widow and Robb Stark’s mother. Against Robb’s wishes, Catelyn freed Jaime Lannister (who was Robb’s captive) and sent him with Brienne to go to the capitol city (King’s Landing) and exchange him for Catelyn’s two daughters, Sansa and Arya. Sansa is a captive of the Lannisters, but Arya has already escaped (and is wandering the wilderness of Westeros).

This is Theon Greyjoy. Theon, from a prominent family that rebelled against Robert Baratheon about 10 years ago, was raised with the Starks as a hostage against future rebellion (though he was treated well by the Stark family). He was a close friend of Robb Stark who, in season 2, betrayed Robb in an attempt to gain respect from his own family (the Greyjoys) that he did not know well. He was captured (we don’t know yet by who), tortured, toyed with, and apparently will be tortured some more.

This is Samwell Tarly (called Sam), a member of the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch guards the Wall (a 700 foot tall wall of ice) in the far north against invasion from even farther north. A large force of the Night’s Watch was recently butchered by the White Walkers (ice demons), and the remnants are trying to make their way back south to their fortresses along the Wall. There was a mutiny in the most recent episode, and Sam escaped with a young girl and her newborn son who lived at the site of the mutiny.

Jon Snow, another member of the Night’s Watch, has infiltrated the Wildlings, a collection of far-north tribes led by the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, who is leading them south to assault the wall.

Tyrion Lannister (the dwarf) is Jaime and Cersei’s brother. He is very intelligent but often belittled due to his stature. Their father, Tywin Lannister, is very prideful, intelligent, and ruthless in maintaining power and protecting the Lannister family. At this point it’s fair to say Tywin Lannister is the most powerful man in Westeros. Varys, the bald eunuch, is the spymaster in King’s Landing and generally serves whoever happens to be in power.

Arya Stark (a courageous tomboy adolescent girl), having escaped King’s Landing, is trying to reconnect with her family, and is currently being held by a group of enlightened bandits (think Robin Hood and his merry men) called the Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion. Beric has also captured a former warrior who served the Lannisters, Sandor Clegane, who Arya just accused of a murder that happened in season 1. Sandor is a rather mixed character- he is a brutal warrior, but refrains from cruelty, and in Season 2 saved Sansa Lannister from rape and murder.

Petyr Baelish, called Littlefinger, is a low-ranking lord who has amassed considerable wealth and influence by manipulation. He currently serves the Lannisters. He is departing soon to court Lysa Arryn, Catelyn’s sister who controls a powerful region in Westeros called the Vale of Arryn. Petyr also seems to be attracted to Sansa Stark.

I’m happy to expand on any of this, or answer any other questions!

This is false, by the way- the boy is Craster’s- Sam just liked the girl and felt sorry for her.

Edit: Ninja’d, by about 15 minutes. Guess I took too long with that last post!

That’s Sansa Stark, not Sansa Lannister. Please ignore that mistake.

Magical ceremony? It was a cremation! Well, suti, she was going to burn herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. Well, that’s what everyone else was expecting, anyway.

And that slave-army-city was just asking for someone to come along, take the whip and have the slave-army conquer it and kill everyone. Saw it coming a mile off.

Also, the seven royal/noble families of Westeros have totemic animals, and at least the Starks have a mystical link with theirs, being able to control and keep the Direwolves, more or less. Whether the Lannisters once had the power to control lions, or the Baratheons stags, who knows. But it’s not just dragon-girl and her pets. Some sort of hereditary Waug-ism, maybe.

I think they said in earlier episodes the current summer was nine years long, rather than decades, and that such long summers often breed longer and fiercer winters, and their current food stocks are only for 5(?) years. Something like that.

I don’t think Robin Hood was a fanatical follower of a murderous fire god…

The Game of Thrones Wiki on Wikia is an excellent resource, and it follows the show with some supplementary/historical information taken from the books. Just stay away from A Wiki of Ice and Fire, as that one is up to date with the books, which the show won’t get to for probably another two or three seasons.


Yeah, wasn’t Yahweh originally god of storms?