Emma Mc Carthy gives a quick history of Game of Thrones for potential viewers.
If you’re like me, a firm rule in terms of entertainment is never judge a book by its adaptation. More often times than not when you sit down apprehensively to watch one of your favourite tomes come to life through film, you come out of it disappointed and frustrated. Why did they get Mister such and such to play that part when Mister Whatshisname would have been so much better? Why did they cut that key scene when fans of the book love it so much? Why did they turn that character so stupid? All these questions will usually run through a bookworm’s mind after viewing. But there are rare, rare times when everything goes just right. You watch the entire spectacle, absolutely captivated. The actors are perfect, the lands are exactly how you imagined and even the changes fit the story well. I think I can safely say, with little disagreement coming back to me, that no production has achieved this quite like A Game of Thrones.
One of the highest acclaimed series ever, the show has become an unstoppable juggernaut which has very rarely garnered a negative opinion. I for one am ob- sessed with the show and think ten episodes per season is nowhere near enough to quench my insatiable appetite. I recommend it to everyone I meet and no, I’m not over-exaggerating. If you’ve met me, you will agree that at some point in our time together, I have gushed about Westeros with Daenerys this and Ned Stark that. A lot of my less privileged friends are a little hesitant to set their gazes upon the HBO series for one simple reason; they will have absolutely no idea what’s going on. Now this I can agree with, reading the books before feasting upon the show is a good idea or else when there is a mention of the many Targary- ens or of the Vale or any number of backgrounds, it’s a little hard to understand. But with so many deadlines and assessments already looming, you might not have time to delve into George R.R. Martin’s very long saga. So to these potential viewers, I give a gift. The gift of clarity on some of the more confusing aspects.
Seventeen years ago (fourteen in the books), the mad king Aerys Targaryen was besieged upon by a group of rebels which consisted of soldiers Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). Thinking he was protected by his White Cloaks (the royal bodyguards), Aerys put his trust in the knight Jaime Lannister (Nikolau Waster-Caldau) only to have his throat slit and most of his family murdered. Robert took the Iron Throne as the new king of Westeros and married Jaime’s sister, Cersei (Lena Headey) after his own love, Ned’s sister
Lyanna, was raped and murdered by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, something Robert never got over. He appointed Jon Arryn, the Lord who had fostered himself and Ned as boys, as Hand of the King (royal advisor) and made Ned Warden of the North where Ned retreated back to, spending his days in his castle, Winterfell with wife Catelyn (Michelle Fair-
ley) and new baby Robb (Richard Madden). But Ned brought back with him a bitter token for Catelyn in the form of a bastard, known as Jon Snow (Kit Harington). (Bastards get different surnames in Westeros depending on where they are from. The north gets Snow because of the harsh, cold weather.) Catelyn saw this as a major slight and never accepted Jon as one of her own as she went on to give birth to four more children. Ned would also subdue an uprising from what were known as the Iron Islands led by a man called Balon Greyjoy and as punishment, take his son Theon (Alfie Allen, brother to Lily) as a hostage and raise him in Winterfell. Back in the Capital, King’s Landing; Jon Arryn would marry Catelyn’s sister Lysa.
Meanwhile, the last of Aerys’ family including his pregnant wife Rhaella (also his sister as Targaryens married brother to sister to keep lines pure) and last surviving son, Viserys (Harry Lloyd), managed to escape the chaos. Shortly after, Rhaella died giving birth to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) during a storm and the girl was left to the care of abusive, volatile and quite embittered Viserys. They spent their lives roaming the free cities, depending on loyal merchants and rich men for food and shelter. Daenerys knew nothing of her old land besides what her brother told her, many facts of which were skewed to his favour.
So, there you have it. If you’ve read the books, you’re probably screaming at the page about how I left out certain aspects but alas, if I were to go into the entire history that Martin has created, we’d be here until exam time. So go forth, my little viewers, and catch up on the brilliance that you’ve spent so long missing. I’m sure once you’ve watched one series, you’ll hop right onto Amazon and buy every book anyway but hopefully, I’ve made it a little easier to get the ball rolling