My 6 Favorite Game of Thrones Characters…So Far
How cool is it that Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are two of the most popular shows on TV? Here are two genres – fantasy and zombie – that would have been relegated to just us geeks and nerds only a few years ago. But instead they’re cultural phenomenons! This is an exciting time to be a geek, that’s for damn sure. Of the two, Game of Thrones is definitely the better show. Thanks in no small part to the power of HBO, Game of Thrones is an epic, world-spanning story of power, intrigue, war, sex and dragons.
I am not a full Game of Thrones geek like some of my friends. I’m up to date on the TV show – and am currently watching the third season like the rest of the world – but I’ve only read the first two books. I’ve decided to go show-first, book-second. They make great companion pieces. The books provide further detail and depth to the show’s characters and world, while the show turns the characters into flesh and blood people, giving you a better visual understanding and experience that you can take back to the reading. I’m all for letting our imaginations run wild, but sometimes it really does enhance the experience to know what people and places look like when reading a book.
I wanted to do something Game of Thronesy for my List of Six this week, so I’ve decided to run down my top 6 favorite characters in the series, often forged from a combination of show and book. I put ‘so far’ in the title, because Game of Thrones is, first of all, a long way from being over, and second, notorious for killing popular characters. I’m more than a little nervous that some of my favorites won’t live to see a happy ending. But such is the risk you take when you fall in love with such an amazing series!
I’m going to do my best to avoid any major SPOILERS, but even still, you should be warned. Join me after the jump!
First, a quick word about the show just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about, but still, for whatever reason, want to check out my list. Game of Thrones is a show on HBO based on the book series A Song of Fire and Ice by author George R.R. Martin. It’s a medieval fantasy story set in the fictional continent of Westeros, full of swords, war and a little bit of sorcery. The story is about half a dozen powerful families battling for the throne of the King of Westeros. The title ‘Game of Thrones’ stands for the politics, both large and small, that one must maneuver on their quest for power. Who do you trust? Who do you love? Do you stand for justice and the greater good? Or do you work only for yourself and stab your friends in the back?
Because in the game of thrones, you win or you die!
Believe me when I say the real show is a lot more complicated than that little paragraph I just wrote. There are dozens of characters and almost each one has their own subplot. It’s a sprawling tapestry that stretches to all corners of this fictional world. I could spend hours trying to explain it all to you. And I’d probably love that. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll spare you the big explanation and give you a few quick important facts.
The Starks: The main characters of the series are the Stark family, the father of whom, Ned Stark, was played by Sean Bean, and is famous for saying, “Winter is coming”. The Starks are a proud, noble family who are in charge of the city of Winterfell in the north. The Starks are big on honor and duty.
The Lannisters: Opposing the Starks are the Lannisters, the richest family in Westeros and the current rulers. The sadistic teenager Geoffrey is King, and most of his family is with him in the capital city of King’s Landing. The Lannisters are usually selfish and cunning, not afraid to use their riches and their intelligence to get what they want, while maintaining their own personal code of honor. A Lannister always pays his debts, after all.
Daernerys Targaryen: Before the Starks, Lannisters and the other families started warring for the throne, Westeros was ruled by the Targaryn Dynasty, but they were overthrown. The last surviving member of that family is the young Daernerys, who has fled across the sea to the far east. Daernerys wants the throne back, and is trying to build an army to march back to Westeros and take it by force. It helps that she recently came into possession of three baby dragons, the first dragons born in hundreds of years.
That should be enough to understand my list. Now then, on with the show!
6. The Hound
This scarred warrior is the personal bodyguard of King Geoffrey. He’s a no-nonsense thug who is very aware that he looks like a monster and doesn’t give a crap what other people think of him. He does what he’s told, even when he’s being ordered around by the brat Geoffrey. But I think there’s more to the Hound than we’ve seen so far. There have been hints here and there that the Hound has a softer heart than he lets on. I think there’s some nobility hiding behind his burned face, and he’s just looking for the right moment to prove just how awesome he can be. Or maybe I’m wrong and he really is just a thug. I don’t know yet, but for now, the Hound is a pretty cool dude.
5. Robb Stark
Robb Stark is the oldest child of the Stark family, and the heir to Winterfell. He’s tall and handsome and lives to be as honorable as his father. Whether or not he will succeed is one of the main overall plots of the series, and one I find myself enjoying most of all in the books. He’s more of a minor character on the show, but has a larger, more exciting presence in the books, and he has definitely grown on me. The war for the throne, with Robb leading the charge, seems like a bigger deal in the novels. It doesn’t help that HBO can’t exactly afford to film Braveheart-esque scenes of battle for the show. Such is our loss. But HBO is finding more and more for Robb to do, and his story of leadership and responsibility is one I am enjoying above most others.
4. Jorah Mormont
Jorah Mormont is the personal bodyguard of Daernerys Targaryen, quite possibly because he’s in love with her. He’s a noble and heroic knight who wants to help her regain the throne because he believes she’ll make a good ruler. Jorah is also a great example of why it helps to read the books along with the show. Most people probably just know that Jorah is a knight and he hangs out with Dany. That’s all I knew about him when I first started watching. He’s a cool knight and is very honorable, and I figured that was all there was to know about him. But that’s not the case at all. The Mormont family actually serves several key roles throughout the series. Not only do they hail from a place so badass that it’s called Bear Island, but his sister fights in Robb Stark’s army, and his father is the gruff, old leader of the Night’s Watch. I had no idea that Jorah was connected to these characters until my brother pointed it out to me. And there’s even more to discover in the books, like how Jorah ended up in the far east and what become of his family sword. The whole Mormont family is just awesome.
3. Arya Stark w/Gendry
Arya Stark is the youngest daughter in the Stark family, and she’s something of a tomboy. She had no interest in being a princess and learning all of the ladylike skills and lessons she’s expected to learn. Instead, she wants to fight and kill people with a sword, and Arya’s secret sword fighting lessons in the first book and first season are one of the best parts. She’s a scrapper, and I’m very excited to see what she does with her life. Will she be the one to bring honor to her family in the end? Will she become a leader among the people? Or will Arya sneak across the sea to the far east and train to become a Faceless Man assassin? I think were all rooting for the latter. Arya is joined on her adventures by Gendry, bastard son of the former king. He’s a tough, handsome, blue collar sort of kid, but he’s pretty cool when teamed with Arya. Because even though Arya is going to be a badass warrior chick, it’s still cute to think she’s probably going to get a crush on her companion down the line.
On the surface, Varys is one of the least likeable characters on the show. Bald, fat, pampered and greasy, Varys comes off as a hoity toity creep waddling around the castle as some kind of advisor to the king. It doesn’t help that everybody is always pointing out that he’s a eunuch, which just makes him all the more creepier. But then you have to pay attention to what he actually does, and you have to read about his exploits in the books. You will quickly learn that Varys is probably the biggest warrior for truth and justice in the entire series. Varys serves as the king’s chief spy, and he always seems to know exactly what everyone is doing anywhere in the world. Varys uses this information to advise the king, but secretly, he uses it for the good of the land. He wants peace and prosperity, but he’s not a big strong warrior who can achieve peace through strength of arm. And he’s not going to stupidly stick his neck out for things like honor and nobility. He’s going to be sneaky and do what he needs to do for the good of the realm, while letting everyone think he’s a creepy, evil weirdo. Varys is happy to play that role for the greater good, and that’s why he’s such a cool character.
1. Tyrion Lannister w/ Bronn
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Everybody loves Tyrion, and why shouldn’t they? He’s written to be the coolest character in the series. You’re supposed to like him. And played by the amazing Peter Dinklage, Tyrion comes alive on the screen as the smartest and best schemer in the entire kingdom. Tyrion is the dwarf son of the Lannister family, viewed as a disappointment and disgrace to the proud, rich Lannisters. But he’s still a member of the family, so he still gets the finest clothes and the best education. Tyrion is the underdog who we all know is better, smarter and cooler than everybody else, no matter what his family might think of him. He’s kind to the good guys and he’s smarmy to the bad guys. With his bodyguard and best friend Bronn at his side, watching and reading about Tyrion playing the game of thrones is the best part of the show and book. Although, this almost makes me think Tyrion is not long for the world. He’s everybody’s favorite character…which probably means he’ll be killed for highest dramatic effect. But again, don’t spoil it for me. I’ll have my heart broken at the proper time, thank you very much.
Those are my favorite characters, who are yours? Whether in the book or the TV show, who do you love on the Game of Thrones? Or who do you absolutely hate?