It’s one of the most popular things on television, regardless of genre. It’s also one of the most difficult to explain to somebody who hasn’t been watching it from the beginning.
But who has time for that?
Here is famed steampunk fantasy author John R. White‘s breakdown of the series for the Seriously Uninitiated.
Everybody wants to be king, except for Ned.
A fat drunk king has a shifty wife (Cersei) with shifty brother (Jamie). There is also a shifty and cool brother (Tyrion) who is rather short, but totally awesome. Brother and sister have a shifty, creepy kid (Joffrey). These people are called the Lannisters.
They go to Winterfell.
Winterfell has a family who likes dogs. They are a mom and Dad who have two daughters, and three sons, a handsome cool bastard son – Jon Snow (which is like the foreshadowing name of all time) and a hostage who is kind of son like, but very pathetic (Theon Greyjoy).
These are the Starks.
Creepy Lannister Sex
Shifty Lannister brother is caught have plot-important creepy sex, so he breaks not-bastard son (Bran).
Ned, the father, takes a job at King’s landing with bad career advancement. He has a bad advisor named Littlefinger who is the shiftiest male SOB around. Even his friend – the bald emasculated Varys and who is incredibly shifty – holds no candle to the SOB.
Ned dies, then more people die, and then all sorts of crap happens. Oh yeah, and people have tons of sex, the king dies, and then everything goes to hell in a hand basket.
By the way, this dick Viserys Targaryen has a hot sister named Daenerys, who in the book is, like 13 but even HBO isn’t that creepy. Yet.
The Targaryens go and meet Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). Women, and let’s be honest not a few men, all over the world, lose their minds. A lot more sex happens, and then Viserys is a douche and dies from a gold hat. No serious, it’s a thing.
A nice lady gives Dani three eggs.
Khal Drogo dies, then more people die, and then all sorts of other confusing crap happens. Dani doesn’t die but three dragons are born, and now Dani is badass, because she’s now the mother of three dragons.
Oh yeah, this shifty dude Jorah loves Dani. Dani doesn’t love Jorah. Dani loved Kal – for no possible reason since he raped her. (But since it’s plot related, and she’s having sex with Jason Momoa everyone lets that go.)
And that’s Season 1. I told you I’d get you through this quickly. Now for seasons 2-7.
Seasons 2-7: Winter is Coming.
Winter is coming. This is said a lot. Really, I mean, a lot.
Jon takes a crap job on an ice wall, then he pretends to quit, and people die, but his good friend Sam (not Frodo’s Sam, not Samwise Gamgee, but a taller and less brave version of that Sam) refuses to quite on him. They discover beyond the ice wall is a bad place, with tough, scary people – except for a guy named Tormund. We love Tormund, and he loves Brienne. Brienne, however, does not love Tormund.
Oh yeah, ice Zombies. Look I know zombies are kind of played out. We all know that, but ice zombies are cool and scary as hell. Oh, and they have a king. He looks like an albino Darth Maul, but never says a word.
Ok, Robb Stark – the oldest son takes his dad’s death poorly and starts a war. He loses because he breaks some promises and he, and his mom are killed for – including the nice hot wife he made a bad choice for. He does, however, have a Very BA lady Guard (Brienne), while not hot in a conventional way winds up being the most beautiful person in the show.
Brienne promises to protect Rob’s mom, the lady Winterfell, but fails. She promises to protect Creepy Lannister brother #1, but sort of fails and Jamie loses a hand. But we love Brienne anyways.
The Stark Girls
Ok, the Stark Girls – there are two of them, and one of them is Sansa the Redhead who although very pretty will contribute next to nothing to the entire series accept being a pawn for everyone involved, and mostly being used by Littlefinger. Oh, and she’ll get married a couple of times, once to Tyrion. And then there’s Arya, who is everything Sansa isn’t, and always manages to wind up involved in everything whether it’s strictly to do with her or not.
Arya is the younger daughter and is the best role model for your daughters ever. She learns to fight, cross-dress, and then stops cross-dressing. She makes the best friends, goes to school to become a better badass – and to steal people’s faces. No, seriously. It’s a thing. She is persistently badass up to the last show, and we all love her. (By season eight a guy loves her ‘in that way’, as she’s now of age.)
Then there’s this guy who’s afraid of fire – because his brother’s a dick – is named the hound; he is very tall, nobody likes him, but he keeps the Stark girls alive for no real reason we have been able to figure out until this day. Meanwhile, Geoffrey, who was supposed to marry Sansa, doesn’t and dies. It’s a beautiful moment. Cersei now has the throne.
The hostage – not brother – Theon … Oh, God, it’s so awful. I mean, <breaks down crying>. All I can say he has a cool sister that when he reunites with, it’s kind of awkward.
Cersei proceeds to get even scarier.
Even More Sex
Then even more sex is had, I mean possibly more sex than all white people in human history have ever had: straight sex, gay sex, group sex, but mostly no sex-that-has-anything-to-do-with-anything-or-advance-the-plot sex.
Except for Dani, because the Actress told the showrunners to have sex with themselves, because she a serious actress. (Did I not say that Dani’s a badass? So is the actor that plays her.)
Almost Everybody Dies
Everyone who tries to be king But Cersei and Dani die.
Dogs die. Crows die, monosyllabic people die. Zombies die. Babies die. Everyone every character that’s not a major character will die. (You will learn never to love again.) Stark children with the name starting with ‘R’ die. Moms die. Dani’s dragons make a crapton of people die. Animals die. Zombies die twice. A dragon dies.
You will come to both fear, and love the song ‘ The Rains of Castamere’.
Now You’re Up To Date
Really, that’s all you need to know about seasons 2-7.
You’re up to date. If you don’t recognize someone, that’s okay because they’ll die.
And that’s Game of Thrones in a nutshell. If you need to explain it to somebody else, just read them this page, or save even more time and send them the link.
John R. White
John R. White was born in Oxford Mississippi in 1964 and is still rather peeved about that; frankly he would have been much happier were it the other Oxford. You know … the one in England. Other than having a life filled with sheer terror, inordinate chaos followed by absolutely bloody marvellous incidents, there is not much to tell. John has travelled the world, fought in full suits of armor, but considers his greatest adventures best shared with his lovely Mary, and their feline overlord Tesla.
John was a guest on Krypton Radio’s The Event Horizon, and talked with hosts Susan Fox and Gene Turnbow about his books, his games, and his life as a novelist.