Game of Thrones season one caught many viewers, the world over, by surprise in 2011 with it’s portrayal of political drama and sometimes sexually charged violence. A series of novels by George R. R. Martin that rival the Lord of the Rings franchise as king of the fantasy worlds, this first season introduces those at home to a world of scandal, legend, and characters not easily forgotten. To put it simply, Game of Thrones has readily captivated the world through the network of HBO, even real-world royalty.
The first family viewers are introduced to in this Game of Thrones is the Stark family, their crest being that of the dire-wolf. The stark family lives in the northern country of the kingdom known as Westoros. Their patriarch, Ned Stark, has five children that are recognized as being legitimate heirs, with a sixth son that was conceived out of wedlock. Those conceived in such a way automatically take on the surname of Snow by default.
Visiting the northern area arrives the king’s family, the Baratheons. The king and Ned Stark had been close friends while younger, and had overthrown an individual called “The Mad King” many years before to put the Baratheons in power of the seven kingdoms. Robert, the king, forged a family with those whose name are the Lannisters. Robert’s wife, Cersei, have multiple children together, or so she claims.
The purpose of the king’s visit is to ask Ned to move to the city known as King’s Landing, to be the king’s right hand man, to be a force of justice in this game of thrones. Stark reluctantly agrees, and a great feast is held in the king’s honor. One of the Stark children we come to know is named Brandon, a child who likes to climb tall buildings against his mother’s wishes. One afternoon, Brandon climbs hundreds of feet into the air on a tower, and comes to find two lovers in action. Upon looking, he finds that the lovers are Queen Cersei and her blood brother, Jamie Lannister. The couple catches him, and throws him off the tower to hide their secret. Brandon survives, but is left paralyzed from the neck down. The queen’s secret is kept for the time being, prolonging her game of thrones.
Stark takes his two daughters, Sanza and Aria, with him to King’s Landing, only to find that those who live in the south are driven by greed and power, by “playing the game”, or at least more so than in the north. Through investigating the death of the former “hand of the king’s” death, Stark comes to the realization that the hand was killed for finding out a terrible truth: King Baratheon’s supposedly legitimate children are not from his loins. Stark is ready to pull the plug on the charade, when the king is gravely injured in a hunting accident. In his will, the king asks Stark to make sure his son Joffery becomes king upon his death, but Stark writes in “the rightful heir to the game of thrones”, instead of writing in the name of Joffery Baratheon.
Realizing what Stark plans to do in outing the Lannister secret, queen Cersei has Stark arrested, claiming him to be a rebellious leader, and no true friend to the king. Knowing that his daughters and his own safety are at risk, the younger daughter Aria is sent away to a place known as “The Wall” to be protected by her family that remains in the north, where the game of thrones are more straightforward. Sanza was captured by her own doing, claiming her love for Joffery, and before Ned could be captured he sent out word to all kingdoms that Joffery and the other supposed heirs to the throne are in fact the incestuous offspring of the twin brother and sister, Cersei and Jamie Lannister.
The two claim that Stark is a liar, and his claims are completely unfounded. Joffery ascends to king, and a deal is made to send Stark to the wall to live out his days as an exile in Castle Black, protecting Westoros from those who live “beyond the wall”. However, as soon as Stark makes the deal in front of the court, Joffery goes back on his word and orders Stark beheaded and empales upon a pike, as Sanza watches. The reign of Joffery the terrible begins, showing this game of thrones is deadly.
In Game of Thrones, “The Wall” is a great wall of ice that separates Westoros from the people known as “wildlings”, as well as creatures of legend such as dire wolves, trolls, and ancient creatures long since thought extinct known as the White Walkers. This is where Jon Snow, bastard son of Ned Stark, chooses to reside at. He joins a brotherhood known as “The Black” whose sole purpose is to guard the wall and protect it from any forces that threaten to endanger the residents to the south of the wall. Taking an oath known simply as “The Black,” is thought to be the most honorable thing an illegitimate child or convicted criminal can do.
During his time at the wall, Snow hears tales of the dead in the north rising up, and the return of the White Walkers. Any man or woman who dies north of the wall has their bodies burned, though this happens there because if not burned the bodies rise from the dead to kill at will. Few believe Snow, however, thinking him to be a boy playing some personal game of thrones, even after the leader of “The Black” is nearly killed by a resurrected corpse.
Playing their own game of thrones on the other side of the world, the two surviving heirs to the “Mad King”, Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen, brother and sister, strive to reclaim the crown that was usurped from their family more than a decade before. In Viserys’s eyes (an infantile male), the easiest way to do this is to give his sister as a gift to a man known as Khal Drogo, the king of a people who rape steal and plunder throughout the lands, in exchange for an army to conquer King’s Landing with. Ages before, the Targaryen family rose to power because they controlled ferocious dragons. During the uprising 14 years before, all of the Targaryen family minus the two who escaped were all murdered to ensure their family could never again rise to power. As part of a wedding present, Daenerys is given three dragon eggs that she is told are priceless though they hold no life.
Eventually, Daenerys comes to love the man she is forced to marry, and takes on the role given to her called Kalesie, queen to Khal Drogo. Viserys becomes enraged that he still had not received the army promised to him, and threatens to kill his sister should he not be paid. He is promptly given what he had asked for, a crown of gold, though it comes in the form of molten metal poured onto his head, killing him. Daenerys convinces Khal that he and his people must cross the seas to take back the throne stolen from her family, and becomes pregnant with his child.
During the conquering of another village, Khal becomes poisoned and falls gravely ill. Believing that one of his slaves recently captured, a witch or medicine woman, can save her husband’s life, Daenerys agrees to take part in a blood ritual supposedly to save him. Instead, not only does it kill Khal Drago, it causes Daenerys to go into labor and her fetus dies in the process.
It is a common practice to burn the bodies of those who have died, and Khal Drago is no exception. While his funeral blazes, Daenerys picks up her dragon eggs, and walks into the fire with them, seemingly committing suicide. Much to the surprise of all those in attendance, after the fires have stopped burning she walks out, completely unharmed. Sitting on her shoulders are three baby dragons. This is how the first season of Game of Thrones ends, with cliffhangers from every angle.
By Benjamin Johnson
Viewing of Game of Thrones
Photo by Dennis Jarvis – Flickr License