Game of Thrones Explainer: Week 3

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 three, “Lord Snow.”


Lord Petyr Baelish"Littlefinger" Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish: Master of Coin, and member of the Small Council (the Small Council being the Westerosi version of the Cabinet).  Littlefinger is a genius at finding the money necessary to keep the realm solvent, as Robert has leveraged the Seven Kingdoms to the hilt to provide for his love of tournaments, hunts, feasts, etc. (unfortunately, much of that “genius” has involved borrowing heavily from the Lannisters).  Littlefinger grew up in the Household of Lord Hoster Tully, the father of Catelyn.  She viewed Petyr as sort of a little brother, he in turn was madly in love with her.  This created quite the awkward situation when she was betrothed to Brandon Stark, and Peytr attempted to duel him for Cat’s honor.

Varys  Varys: Master of Whisperers, and member of the Small Council.  Varys is essentially the Crown’s spymaster, as he has “little birds” everywhere that keep him informed of nearly everything that is going on in Kings Landing, Westeros, and much of the known world.  Varys is a eunuch and is also known as “The Spider.”

Renly Baratheon  Renly Baratheon: Robert’s younger brother, and member of the Small Council.  Renly is extremely popular and well liked, much as his brother was in his youth.

Grand Maester Pycelle  Grand Maester Pycelle: The maester (see last week) assigned to King’s Landing for many years (Robert is the fourth king that he’s served), and member of the Small Council.  An experienced counselor and healer, he is the institutional memory of King’s Landing.

Ser Barristan Selmy  Ser Barristan Selmy: Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and one of the most respected and feared knights in all of Westeros.  Known as Barristan the Bold, he held to his oath as a member of the Kingsguard and fought to defend Aerys Targaryen until the bitter end.  Respecting both his warrior spirit and his commitment to his duty, Robert pardoned Ser Barristan and raised him to Lord Commander of the current incarnation of the king’s bodyguards.

Jory Cassel  Jory Cassel: Captain of the Stark household guard, and close companion of Ned Stark.  Accompanies him to King’s Landing.

House Mormont  Jeor Mormont: Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch and father of Jorah Mormont.

House Mormont  Maester Aemon: The maester assigned to Castle Black, and one of the oldest men in Westeros.

Jon Umberaka "Greatjon"  Syrio Forel: A bravo from Braavos, hired by Ned to teach Arya how to fence.  The Braavosi are a seafaring people from one of the Free Cities in Essos, across the Narrow Sea.  A “bravo” could best be described as a sort of sword-fighting pirate. As a former First Sword of Braavos, Syrio was at one time one of the most deadly men in the world with a blade in his hand.  The style of sword fighting practice by the Braavosi is called “water-dancing.”  They use slim swords, and emphasize speed and precision over brute force.  It is much derided in Westeros, who much prefer smashing stuff with giant broadswords.


Castle Black: The headquarters of the Night’s Watch.  Less a proper castle and more a ramshackle collection of outbuildings huddled around the base of the Wall, Castle Black is home to about half of the men serving in the Watch (the remainder being split between The Shadowtower and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, these two being the only others of the Watch’s nearly twenty castles that are still inhabited).

(all photo credits HBO, from their significantly more extensive and superior Viewer’s Guide)

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