The Game of Thrones has been one of the most watched series of the last few years. I am a late comer onto the GoT bandwagon, having only started to watch the show midway into the second season, but I got hooked. The series has an engaging storyline and beautiful landscapes. It is set in the mythical lands of Westeros and Essos and follows the lives of multiple characters as they struggle to survive in this treacherous world. The story is fantasy and contains elements of magic, but it does explore many themes very relevant to our own world and lives. If you have not watched the series, then read no further, as a spoiler alert is in effect! 🙂
The classic fantasy series (or any type of series actually) has the basic storyline of the main character (usually a hunky hero, but sometimes a loveable loser) battling many enemies and facing many pitfalls, but managing to overcome all the obstacles thrown at him to come out victorious. The bad guys are vanquished and everyone lives happily ever after. The Game of Thrones is not this type of story. Instead it explores much darker themes and has a much more sinister outlook on life. This makes it a much more realistic story and a very powerful commentary on human relations and things like honor, morality, selfishness and what it takes to succeed in this world. The different unexpected twists and turns of the storyline make us reflect on the nature of the world around us and its reality.
The story starts off by introducing Lord Eddard Stark, the Lord of the North. He is the head of the Stark family, who have ruled the lands named as “the North” for millennia. He is a strong warrior, a wise ruler and an honorable man. He does what is honorable and also what is his duty. This sense of honor and duty is what drives him and oftentimes the series portrays it as being old-school even for those times, as it is a code followed by fewer and fewer people. It seems that Eddard Stark or his family will be the heroes of the story, the righteous vanquishing the evil. Lord Stark has 5 legitimate children and one illegitimate son. Robb Stark is his oldest legitimate son and the heir to the lordship of the North. He tries to follow in his father’s footsteps and learn from his example. There are also other members of the Stark family, for example his wife Catelyn Stark and their other sons and daughters. He does have an illegitimate son as well. However that is a source of shame for him, as he considers adultery a bad thing. Yet he did succumb to the temptation, but deeply regrets it. A son was born of this and Eddard manned up to his mistake and raised the boy with his other children.
The story continues by King Robert Baratheon travelling to the capital city of the North, Winterfell, to try to persuade Eddard to become the Hand of the King, the king’s most senior adviser and basically the second most powerful position in the entire Kingdom. This is after the sudden and mysterious death of the previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, Eddard’s brother in law. Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark are old comrades and friends, who fought together to depose the evil king, Aerys II Targaryen. The Targaryen’s were the old ruling dynasty of Westeros. Their ancestor, King Aegon I, originally from the lands of Valyria in the east, came over to Westeros and with the aid of 3 dragons and a strong army, managed to conquer the entire continent and unite it under his rule and to become the first king to sit on the Iron Throne. The Iron Throne is central to the plot of the entire series, as the entire series is centered on the battles of several families to capture it and to become rulers of Westeros.
Aerys II Targaryen went mad and enacted a rule of terror over the lands of Westeros. Many nobles, led by Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark, rose up to try to depose him. They finally succeeded in killing him and deposing his family from the Iron Throne. Robert Baratheon took over the throne himself to rule as King Robert of House Baratheon.
In the opening of the series we are also introduced to Cercei, who is Robert’s wife and mother of their children. She is originally from the Lannister family, who are from the western part of Westeros and who are also the continent’s richest family. Her father is Tywin Lannister and the other major characters from her family are her brothers: Jaime and Tyrion. Jaime is a knight in the King’s Guard, while Tyrion is a small dwarf. Unknown to all, Cercei is actually carrying on an incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime and it is him who is the real father of the Baratheon children (the eldest of which, Joffrey, is the heir to the Iron Throne). This secret will prove to be one of the central points of the entire story.