This is our weekly feature where I clarify some of the people, places, and relationships covered in each week’s episode of Game of Thrones. This is a dense world and a lot of information is being dumped on new viewers all at once, and I imagine that more than a few of you might be struggling to sort it all out. I’m not going to spoil anything that’s upcoming, I’m just going to look at what we actually saw and clarify who is who and what is what, in case you missed it in the metric ton of exposition delivered by the characters. After the jump, our new material in episode two, “The Kingsroad.”
Jorah Mormont: An exiled knight of Westeros traveling with Dany and Khal Drogo. House Mormont of Bear Island is a northern family, which means they pledge fealty to the Starks and Winterfell. As such, they are subject to Ned Stark’s justice. When he heard that Ser Jorah had sold some captured poachers into slavery (which is illegal in Westeros), Ned and his greatsword Ice came looking for him, with the intention of doing a little head chopping. Ser Jorah, liking his head exactly where it was thankyouverymuch, fled across the Narrow Sea to make a life as a mercenary.
Maester Luwin: An advisor, teacher and healer at Winterfell. Maester is a title, similar to “Doctor” or “Professor.” To become a maester, one must attend a sort of university (known as The Citadel) far in the south of Westeros, during which time you study a great many subject areas. Upon gaining mastery of a subject, you forge a link (the metal the link is forged from indicates what subject you’ve learned- gold designates economics, silver designates healing, etc) that becomes part of a chain. The chain is worn by a maester to both identify him as a member of that order, and to remind him of his role in serving Westeros.
Benjen Stark: Ned’s younger brother, and First Ranger of the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch is an ancient order of soldiers responsible for guarding The Wall against whatever threats lurk on the other side. Men of the Night’s Watch swear an oath of celibacy, give up all ties to their family (this allows the Night’s Watch to remain neutral and apart from any conflict within Westeros itself, as their only concern is to guard the realm from an external threat), and serve for life- with desertion punishable by death. While they were once robust in numbers and a proud, elite force, over the past several hundred years their membership has dwindled, and now mainly consists of criminals from throughout the kingdom who were given the choice of joining the Watch rather than being executed. The Stark family, however, still considers serving in the Watch to be an honorable calling.
The Direwolves: Direwolves are wolves the size of a pony when fully grown, and at the start of Game of Thrones, a creature understood to live only in the far north beyond The Wall and in legend. They are the symbol of House Stark. It came as quite a shock to Ned to discover a dead direwolf near Winterfell, especially one with six pups. Each of Ned’s children adopt a direwolf, and swiftly bond with their new companion. Sadly, the six direwolves have become five by the end of episode two, as Ned is forced to kill Sansa’s Lady at the order of Queen Cersei. The direwolves seem to share an unnaturally strong connection with the children, as we see Bran’s coming to his aid against the assassin and Arya’s direwolf Nymeria defend her against Joffrey. This link is also hinted at with Bran doing a “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if a direwolf suddenly cried out in terror and was suddenly silenced” in the closing shot of the episode.
Ilyn Payne: The King’s Justice, which is a fancy way of saying “chief head chopper-offer.” Has a face that looks like a skull, and his general vibe of creepiness is compounded by having no tongue. It was ripped out years ago by the Mad King (naturally).
The Dothraki Sea: The seemingly endless plains of grass filling the middle of Essos that the Dothraki live in. This is the reason they are a nomadic culture built around horses.
The Kingsroad: The main north-south road in Westeros, running from King’s Landing all the way to The Wall.
Inn at the Crossroads: Located where the Kingsroad crosses one of the major east-west routes in Westeros, it is a frequent haunt of travelers, merchants, mercenaries and all manner of news and rumor. This is where the king’s party was encamped when Arya had her run-in with Joffrey.
So what did I miss? If you have a question about something not explained above, feel free to ask about it in the comments.
(all photo credits HBO, from their significantly more extensive and superior Viewer’s Guide)