No Previous Knowledge: Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen

The whole idea for the ‘No previous knowledge’ posts came when a friend told me she really wanted to start watching Game of Thrones but was afraid it was too late to catch up. Naturally I had to tell her that it is such an amazing show she must watch it and then I tried to briefly explain on her Facebook Wall what GoT is all about and… I did the most awful job! At one point I think I said something like: “King Robert was killed by a pig”.  I decided to stop before I disgraced the franchise any further but I knew that if I put my mind to it I could do a better job and so I decided to create a quick Game of Thrones catch-up guide.

Now, before we begin, I want to clarify that this is NOT a post meant for hard-core Game of Thrones fans, it is meant for viewers that have: “No Previous Knowledge” and want to watch the S3 premiere next Sunday, but don’t have time to catch up. I will only scratch the surface of the entire mythology, but the idea is to allow people to understand the basics without having to watch the first two seasons and/or reading the book.

SPOILER ALERT: The following contains spoilers for the show all the way to the S2 finale and also has spoilers for the 1st two book A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings

Game of Thrones – the catch up guide in 5 min or less

Unless you have been living under a rock, inside a cave, under the sea for the past few months you must be aware that Game of Thrones Season 3 starts on HBO (pretty much worldwide) on March 31st. So if you have never watched Game of Thrones nor read any of the books it is not too late! It is definitely worth getting on board now. Better late than never!

Game of Thrones in a nutshell

So first of all, WHERE ARE WE? Well Game of Thrones takes place in a mythical land divided in three continents: Westeros, Essos and Sothoryos. If you are into visual aids YOU CAN FIND A MAP HERE.
Simply put, the story revolves around the fight to be the one ruler of the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros, or in other words who sits in the “Iron Throne” which is located in King’s Landing, the Capital of Westeros.

Who was King and who is king now?

The world of Game of Thrones doesn’t only have its own geography; it also has its own history which goes back thousands of years. You can read more about the history HERE. But for the present story we don’t need to go back that long. Let’s focus on the more relevant recent Kings:
Jaime Lannister


The Targaryen dynasty lasted for almost 300 years. King Aerys Targaryen was the ruler of the 7 kingdoms until Robert Baratheon, aided by his friend Ned Stark, defeated him.  Robert killed Aerys’s son, Prince Rhaegar and Aerys himself was murdered by Jaime Lannister (The King slayer). Aerys’s two smaller children Viserys and Daenerys escaped to the East.

KING ROBERT (The Usurper)

After Aerys Targaryen was defeated, Robert Baratheon became King. He married Cersei Lannister, but it was a marriage of convenience since his true love was Lyanna Stark (Ned Stark’s sister). Robert also appointed his friend Ned Stark ‘Hand of the King’. Cersei never loved Robert and she played an important role in his death. Cersei arranged for Robert’s squire to get him drunk during a hunting trip which resulted in him being killed by a boar [Not a pig]. After Robert died, Queen Cersei also managed to [unfairly] accuse Ned Stark of treason and have his head cut out (in front of his daughters no less).
THE STARKS “Winter is coming”: Dark hair. Sigil: Direwolf. This family is the central focus of the show and books. Ned Stark was the Lord until he was killed. He and his wife Catelyn had 5 children: Robb, Sansa, Bran, Arya and Rickon. Ned also had a bastard son: Jon Snow. Each child [except for Sansa] has a direwolf as a pet. COMPLETEFAMILY HISTORY
Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister & King Joffrey Baratheon
Once Robert Baratheon was out of the picture, the Iron Throne passed to his son Joffrey Baratheon. Only problem being, Joffrey was not really Robert’s son! In fact Joffrey and his two younger siblings were the product of incest between Cersei Lannister and his brother Jaime Lannister. This was the very secret that got Ned Stark killed (among others) and caused Jamie to throw Ned’s son Bran Stark down a tower making him a cripple. Ned didn’t get a chance to spread the word about the incest (having your head cut would do that to you), but rumors started circulating nonetheless causing many opposition for King Joffrey and starting the war of the Five Kings.
THE LANNISTERS “Hear me roar”: Blonde hair, cunning, very rich. Sigil: Lion. The current Lord, Tywin Lannister, has three children: Queen Cersei Lannister, her twin brother Jamie Lannister and their dwarf brother Tyrion Lannister. COMPLETE FAMILY HISTORY.
For reasons that go beyond incest, Joffrey is not everyone’s (or anyone’s) favorite King and many are trying to overthrow him. So…

Who is currently in the running to be King?


Melisandre (the red Priestess) & Stannis Baratheon
Stannis was the late Robert Baratheon’s brother. In the event that Robert didn’t have any sons, Stannis would have been the heir. Since Joffrey is really a bastard, the rightful heir is Stannis. However Stannis was never the charismatic sort of Lord and most houses decided to give their support to his charming little brother Renly Baratheon instead. As a result Stannis decided to take up with a ‘Red Priestess’ who worshiped the ‘Lord of Light’. We are not really sure what is up with that woman, but it is nothing good since she arranged for Stannis to kill his own brother Renly with some sort of juju dark magic. With Renly and Robert dead, Stannis is the only Baratheon left and he is coming for the Iron Throne! Last we saw him he was storming the gates of King’s Landing, but was stopped by Tywin Lannister’s army.
THE BARATHEONS “Ours is the Fury”: Black hair. Sigil: Crowned Stag. The only remaining true born Baratheon is Stannis. King Robert also had many bastards most of whom were killed by Cersei. One escaped, Gendry, and is currently on the run along Arya Stark. COMPLETE FAMILY HISTORY
CANDIDATE #2 ROBB STARK (The King in the North)

Robb Stark and his wolf Greywind

Robb was the oldest son of Ned Stark. He doesn’t really want to be king, but he sure as hell wants to avenge his father’s death. In addition there is the issue that, according to him, his two little sisters are being held hostage by King Joffrey. Sansa Stark was promised in marriage to Joffrey. For some stupid reason the engagement was still on even after Joffrey and Cersei arranged for Ned Stark to lose his head. Joffrey relieved Sansa of the engagement once he got a more convenient new fiance, but kept Sansa in court. Of course, Sansa isn’t very fond of Joffrey these days and she pretty much is a prisoner. Nevertheless, the youngest Stark girl, Arya, was a little more clever (andbad-ass) and she managed to run away after her father was killed. She pretended to be a boy for a while, but then they were caught by the Lannister army. She managed to escape again and now is on the run with King Robert Baratheon’s bastard son: Gendry. In summary, Robb Stark has plenty to fight for and he is doing a great job so far. His army even proclaimed him “King in the North” and he is slowly advancing South towards King’s Landing.


Daenerys Targaryen was the daughter of King Aerys Targaryen, so in a way she has a better claim than anyone else. Her brother Viserys was supposed to be the one reclaiming the throne, but he is dead now (and we are not so sorry about that, he was kind of a jerk). At first glance, Daenerys seemed to be a poor teenage girl who was abused by her brother and was sold to a savage in exchange for his army. Turns out the savage, Khal Drogo, was actually quite a decent fellow, he was kind to Daenerys and he even disposed of her idiot brother. Unfortunately Khal Drogo died too. The good thing is that after his death, Daenerys took command of his people and hatched her dragon eggs. So now, she is a pretty bad-ass smart and determined girl who happens to have DRAGONS (and she is also fireproof BTW). So yeah, I would say she is a serious contender for the throne.
Gendry and Arya Stark
THE TARGERYANS “Fire and Blood”: Silver Hair, violet eyes. Sigil: Dragons. The only remaining Targaryen heir is Daenerys. COMPLETE FAMILYHISTORY.

Balon Greyjoy isn’t after the Iron Throne either, but he is up for the “King of the North [and the Iron Islands]” title. He hates the Starks, he had rebelled against them once before but lost. With Robb Stark away in the war, Balon took the opportunity took the Stark’s castle: Winterfell, where Robb’s two little brothers: Rickon and Bran were taken hostages. The younger Starks managed to escape accompanied by their wolves, their giant servant boy and a wildling woman.
THE GREYJOY’S  “We do not sow”: Stern “Iron Men”. Sigil: Golden Kraken. The Greyjoys live in a series of inhospitable islands and are master sailors. They rebelled against King Robert but lost and Lord Balon Greyjoy’s son Theon Greyjoy was taken hostage (and raised) by Ned Stark. Robb Stark thought of Theon as a brother but Theon ends up betraying him. Theon has a sister Yara (Asha in the books). COMPLETE FAMILY HISTORY
CANDIDATE #5 MANCE RAYDER (The King Beyond the Wall)

Jon Snow and the wildling woman Ygritte
The Seven Kingdoms are delimited in the North by the WALL, which is basically a big-ass wall that guards their lands. The protection of the wall is the responsibility of an army of celibate men called the ‘Night’ s Watch’. The Night’s Watchmen are either noble voluntaries or prisoners that have been given the choice to join or die. Ned Stark’s bastard Jon Snow is a member of the Night’s Watch. We are not quite sure what is going on beyond the wall, but we know there are all sort of terrifying creatures and a group of ‘wildlings’ who are currently being amassed by a former Night’s watchman: Mance Rayder “The King Beyond the wall” (yep, yet another king). Last we saw Jon Snow he was captured by wildlings and taken to see Mance Rayder.

Some other important characters
Petyr Baelish

Tyrion Lannister: We haven’t talked much about Tyrion, but he sure is one of the best characters. He makes up for his flaws in appearance by having superior intellect and an ability to con people. During most of S2 he served as acting ‘Hand of the King’ and did a pretty good job, however with his father’s, Tywin, return his fate is uncertain.
Varys and Tyrion Lannister

Varys: He is part of the Small Council of the King (something like the Senate). The eunuch is in charge of gossip and has informers everywhere. We can’t really tell who he is loyal to, but he has been pretty chummy with Tyrion lately.

Petyr Baelish: He is the ‘Master of Coin’ of the Small Council. He is a very devious character. He has been forever in love with Catelyn Stark and played a role in Ned Stark’s execution.

And that concludes our VERY summarized guide of Game of Thrones. It does not even begin to scratch the surface of the complicated mythology, however I think it is more than enough to understand what is going on once Season 3 starts. If you are on the fence about watching Game of Thrones next Sunday don’t hesitate any longer! It is the definition of an Epic TV Show and I have noticed that it can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. Get on board!

For some more details about where we left all the characters you can check this SLIDE SHOW AT VULTURE

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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1.  In this season it holds true. Season 4 is preparing to have a steady stream of OMG moments throughout with lots of twists, action, intrigue, suspense, and breath taking scenery that Game of Thrones has come to be known for. game of thrones season 7 episode 6 watch online


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