Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Hand of the King

"What's the line? 'The King shits, and the Hand wipes."
-  George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones

The Hand of the King. . . . In my opinion the position is cursed! Something awful happens to anyone who takes up the position. However The Hand of the King is the most powerful "appointed" position in the seven kingdoms. The Hand is second only to the King in both authority and responsibility. The Kings appoints a Hand to be their closest adviser and confidant. They also hold the power to make decisions in the Kings name. When the King is absent the Hand leads meetings of the Small Council and is the highest member of the council.

The symbol for the Hand of the King is often if not always a hand. The Hand of the King wears a symbol to represent his position often a piece of jewelry such as a brooch or necklace.

The Hand of the King is generally meant to act as chief agent for carrying out the King's plans and orders, however when a particularly weak King is ruling the Hand more often than not is the man ruling the kingdom and holding everything together. The last 2 reigning Kings in Westeros were good examples of this as Tywin Lannister kept things going as the Mad King Aerys lost his mind, and Jon Arryn served as Hand for Robert Baratheon, who, was a great warrior and fighter, but rubbish at the political side of things. This has led to a common saying of "The King shits, and the Hand wipes".

The Hand of the King lives in the Tower of the Hand at the Red Keep along with his family.In Lord Eddards case this was just Sansa and Arya as the rest of his family remained in Winterfell.

Since the series began we have seen many people take the role of Hand.

1. Jon Arryn: Served as Hand for 17 years under Robert Baratheon. Though the first time when we meet Jon Arryn he is dead. It is later revealed that he was poisoned by his wife Lysa under the instruction of Petyr Baelish.

2. Eddard Stark: Eddard briefly served as Hand under Robert Baratheon before the King died after a hunting accident. Eddard was executed after being falsely accused of treason by Roberts successor, Joffrey. 

3. Tyrion Lannister: Served as Hand under Joffrey until his father Lord Tywin returned from battle in the Westerlands and Riverlands.

4. Tywin Lannister: Assumed the position of Hand of the King after the Battle of the Blackwater. After Joffreys death he continued to serve as Hand under Tommen until he was killed by his son Tyrion. For some time after Tywin's death, Queen Mother Cersei leaves the position vacant and often takes the seat at the head of the council table herself.

5. Kevan Lannister: After Cersei is arrested by the High Sparrow, Grand Maester Pycelle calls Tywin Lannister's brother Kevan to take the position.

So far in the series of both books and tv show, Tyrion Lannister is the only Hand to escape without being killed. Who know's what is in store in series 6 and book 6!!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The War of the Five Kings (Part 2)

"Power resides where men believe it resides. It's a trick, a shadow on the wall and a very small man can cast a very large shadow"
- George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones

When Catelyn arrested Tyrion Lannister, Tywin Lannister (Tyrion's father) was not pleased at the prospect of having the Lannister named slighted. As a result he gathers 2 armies at his stronghold of Casterly Rock incase of invasion from Catelyn's homeland, the Riverlands. One army is to be manned by Tywin himself and the other by his son Jaime. Tywin precedes to make matters worse by sending out his bannerman Ser Gregor Clegane (The Mountain that Rides), the Hounds brother, to raid the Riverlands. He didn't really care about Tyrion and his safety, but god forbid the Lannisters be made to look bad by someone.

Tywin's raids in the Riverlands are preventing the lords and bannermen from gathering at the muster in Riverrun. Tywin's aim is that the raids will force Eddard Stark into the Riverlands where he can be captured by Tywin's men. However his own son Jaime ruins these plans when he ambushes Eddard in the streets of Kings Landing and Eddard suffers a leg injury. Eddard then sends Beric Dondarrion to stop The Mountain and his raids.

The Mountain that Rides, Ser Gregor Clegane
When Catelyn's father finds out what Lord Tywin is doing he demands to know what Tywin's reasoning is. He doesn't receive a reply and so he calls his banners to Riverrun. However with The Mountain causing havoc in the Riverlands, Edmure can only manage to muster about 4000 men together to help defend the main pass between the Riverlands and the Westerlands, The Golden Tooth. 

During all this havoc Robert Baratheon kicks the bucket and as discussed in Part 1, he leaves Eddard in charge until Joffrey becomes of age. Eddard secretly changes Roberts will to read rightful heir. His intent here is to offer the throne to the rightful heir Stannis Baratheon. However everything goes belly up when Eddard tries to take Joffrey into custody for being a false claimant. Petyr Baelish betrays him and Eddard is arrested, and the only person in Kings Landing who offered to help him, Renly, has fled the city to gather his own army.

When Robb Stark finds out about his fathers arrest he calls the Starks banners and marches south with a host of 12,000 men hoping to gather more as he marches south. As Robb marches south Tywin launches his invasions on the Riverlands. The battles in the Riverlands ensue.
The first of these battles takes place near the Golden Tooth. Jaime descends on the Riverlands with 15,000 men. His goal is to capture Riverrun. Jaime easily breaks the men guarding the border near the Golden Tooth.
A map of The Riverlands and the some of the area's mentioned in this post
The next battle is the battle at the Mummer's Ford. While Lord Beric Dondarrion and his men are crossing the Mummer's Ford they are ambushed by Clegane and Lord Tywin. Dondarrion's force are nearly wiped. Most of the Stark guardsmen sent along by Eddard, and Dondarrion himself are killed. In his victory Lord Tywin closes off the goldroad and continues his march to the Riverlands. Thoros of Myr gathers the remaining survivors and while performing the last rites for Dondarrion he unintentionally resurrects him from the dead. They continue to lead the remaining men against the Lannisters targeting Lord Tywin's supply lines. When Dondarrion and his men hear that Joffrey has declared them outlaws they form the brotherhood without banners.
After his victory at the Golden Tooth, Jaime marches to the walls of Riverrun to meet the banners that have gathered there. However the Riverlands men are no match for the Lannister host and Ser Edmure Tully and many others are taken captive. Some of the survivors manage to make their way back within Riverrun which forces Jaime and his men to lay siege to the castle.
After defeating Dondarrion and his men Tywin conquers other major strongholds in the Riverlands. Harrenhal is surrendered to him due to lack of defenders. 
Anything that could go wrong for the Tully's has, their castle is besieged and it's heir Edmure Tully has been captured. Their only hope now is with Robb Stark and his men who are stuck between a rock and a hard place between the Green Fork and Lord Tywin's host in Harrenhal.
(I know there are differences between this account of events and that of the T.v show but I know the books better and have tried to keep it as general as possible so as not to confuse those who don't read the books!)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The War of the Five Kings (Part 1)

“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” 

The War of the Five Kings, a major conflict that erupts in the wake of King Robert Baratheon's death. Initially the 5 men fighting for the throne are:

  1. King Joffrey Baratheon, The King on the Iron Throne: Technically not a true heir as he was not Roberts biological son. In the beginning he was supported by the westerlands under his grandfathers house (Lannister) and the crownlands that were sworn directly to the Iron Throne.
  2. King Renly Baratheon, The King in Highgarden: Renly was Roberts youngest brother. Although Renly has no rightful claim to the throne he commands the loyalty of the houses in the stormlands and earns the support of the Reach by marrying Margaery Tyrell of Highgarden. Margaery would later marry King Joffrey.
  3. King Robb Stark, The King in the North and the Trident: Robb became Lord of Winterfell after his father Lord Eddard Stark was beheaded by King Joffrey. He was proclaimed King by his bannermen and is supported by his own northern lords and by the riverlords that are sworn to his mother's family, House Tully.
  4. King Stannis Baratheon, The King in the Narrow Sea: Stannis is the eldest of King Roberts younger brothers and is initially supported only by the lords of the narrow sea, he then gains the loyalty of most of the storm lords as well as House Florent and for a brief period of time House Fossoway.
  5. King Balon Greyjoy, The King of the Isles and the North: Balon previously tried to gain independence but failed. This war now gives Balon another chance to fight for independence. He is supported by the lords and captains of the Iron Islands. 
Technically speaking however, Balon crowns himself after Robb Stark is murdered so really there are never 5 kings vying for the throne at the same time.

Setting the Stage
The stage for this war was set long before it began. 15 years prior to the beginning of the war, King Robert staged a rebellion to overthrow the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. After the rebellion Robert became King and married Cersei Lannister (for political reasons). A few years later the royal succession was secured with 3 children, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen.

Roberts brother Stannis soon became suspicious of the legitimacy of Robert's children. He shared his concern's with Jon Arryn, who, at the time was Hand of the King. The 2 men investigated and believed that Robert had not fathered Cersei's children, rather, they had been fathered by Cersei's twin brother Jaime Lannister. Before Stannis and John could bring their findings to King Robert, Jon was fatally poisoned. Stannis now feared for the safety of his family and he fled with them to his stronghold of Dragonstone.

King Robert is now in search for a new Hand and so he travels North to offer the position to his friend Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell. During the Kings time at Winterfell, Eddard's wife Lady Catelyn receives a letter from her sister Lysa Arryn (the widow of Jon Arryn) that implicates the Lannisters were responsible for poisoning Jon Arryn. As a result Catelyn convinces her husband to accept Roberts offer and go to Kings Landing to investigate matters further.

Bran is known for his love of climbing things, while the King and his family are visiting Winterfell Bran climbs one of the towers in Winterfell and see's Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime having sex. To hide their secret Jaime pushes Bran from the tower in an attempt to kill him, but Bran survives although he is in a coma. After the royal family leave Winterfell with Eddard Stark and 2 of his daughters, a hired assassin tries to kill Bran while he is still unconscious. Bran's direwolf, Summer, kills the assassin before he can harm Bran. After the attack Catelyn is now certain that Bran's fall was not just an accident and decides to leave Bran's bedside and tell her husband personally of the attack.

When Catelyn arrives in the capital she is met by an old friend, Petyr Baelish (who is a little weirdly obsessed with her). Petyr tells Catelyn that the dagger the assassin used belonged to Tyrion Lannister, the queens other brother. Catelyn finds her husband and tells him the news, not knowing what Petyr has told her is a lie. During her return to the North, Catelyn finds Tyrion at the crossroads inn and has him arrested for the attack on Bran. She takes him to her sister Lysa in the Eyrie where he faces a trial for his "crimes". Tyrion wins his freedom after a trial by combat, but his arrest has made tensions between the Starks and the Lannisters even worse.

During this time in Kings Landing Lord Eddard was investigating Jon Arryn's death and comes across the truth about the royal children. This is when Eddard makes his first wrong move that leads to his death. He confronts the Queen and offers her the chance to go into exile with her children before he informs King Robert. Being Cersei Lannister however the Queen does not like being threatened and while King Robert is on a hunting trip she has him given very potent wine. In his drunken state Robert is mauled by a boar. On his death bed he orders that Eddard serve as regent until Joffrey comes of age. Immediately Eddard organizes for power to be given to the rightful heir Stannis Baratheon. This was Eddard's second wrong move.  

Roberts younger brother, Renly, see's the power struggle that is about to erupt and he offers to help Eddard seize the royal children. Eddard refuses, so Renly flees Kings Landing with his secret lover Loras Tyrell of Highgarden. Later Eddard realises he may actually need soldiers behind him and enlists the help of Petyr Baelish to ensure he has the help of the City Watch. However Baelish and the City Watch support the Lannisters. Eddard is imprisoned and Joffrey takes the throne with Cersei as his regent. When Robb Stark hears of his fathers arrest he calls his bannermen together and marches south. Although King Joffrey is still the only King in the realm, it is now that the War of the Five Kings begins.

As we all know this war is on going and new contenders for the throne seem to be popping up all the time, as a result I will be covering this topic over a number of posts. So if you liked this post give it a like and let me know in the comments below what other Game of Thrones topics you would like to see or know about. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Map of Westeros and Essos

Below is a map of Westeros and Essos. So you can get a better idea of where all these places are when I am talking about them! 

The Major Families of Game of Thrones and where they live:

House Stark - Winterfell

House Baratheon - Kings Landing
House Lannister - Casterly Rock
House Arryn - The Eeyrie
House Tyrell - High Garden  
House Tully - Riverun
The Nightswatch - The Wall
House Targaryen - Have no true home but travel around Essos.
House Tyrell - Highgarden
House Martell - Dorne

As we all know Daenerys has been on the move for most of the series. Here's a quick synopsis of where she's been and what she's done.

Warning: Some spoilers for those who haven't caught up with the series yet or are only beginning to watch.

Pentos - Norvos: Pentos is where we first meet Dany and her brother Viserys. They are living with Magister Illyrio Mopatis. Illyrio and Viserys arrange for Dany to marry Khal Drogo. After the wedding they then leave Pentos for the Dothraki City of Vaes Dothrak.
Norvos - Qohor: They pass through the free cities of Qohor and Norvos on their way to Vaes Dothrak
Qohor - Vaes Dothrak: When they reach Vaes Dothrak, Drogo and Daenerys spend a long period of time here. It is here that Daenerys finds she is with child and Viserys gets the golden crown he's wanted so much!!
Vaes Dothrak - Lhazar: Drogo then marches his khalasar to Lhazar where he plans to take slaves so he can sell them in Meereen for money for the invasion of Westeros. Clearly this doesn't work out as planned as Dany loses the baby and Drogo dies. It is just south of Lhazareen lands on the edge of the Red Waste that Dany hatches her dragons on Drogo's funeral pyre.
Lhazar - Vaes Tolorro: Dany then marches what is left of her khakasar across the Red Waste. After days and days of marching they find refuge in the abandoned city of Vaes Tolorro.
Vaes Tolorro - Qarth: After regrouping Dany marches on to Qarth where she faces some challenges but comes out on top with enough gold and treasures to help fund her invasion of Westeros. Upon leaving Qarth Dany and her followers board a ship to return to Pentos by Sea.
Qarth - Astapor
Astapor - Yunkai
Yunkai - Meereen: After boarding the ship Ser Jorah convinces Dany it would be a good idea to stop in slavers bay to buy an army of unsullied, and well we all know how this turned out. Dany got herself into a war that liberated thousands and thousands of slaves but also left many dead and slavers bay in destruction. After this Dany decides to remain in Meereen to learn how to rule efficiently.
Meereen - "Dragonstone": At the end of the last episode in Season 5 we see Dany ride off to safety on the back of her dragon Drogon. In the books she finds refuge on the hill Drogon has made his home and she names the hill "Dragonstone" in memory of her home. However in the TV series Dany does not remain on the hill and ventures away from it to gather her thoughts, we last see her being surrounded by a hoard of dothraki riders in a very large khalasar.

The Long Night

As a result of college and life in general this year I didn't have any blog posts for season 5 of Game of Thrones. Now that things are finally settling down and my course is finished I am going to do my best to get back into the swing of things. I'm going to kick things off with a short "history" post and explain a little about "The Long Night" that has been mentioned many times throughout the series.

Approximately 8000 years before the Targaryen Conquest a terrible darkness fell during a great winter that lasted for years. The Long Night lasted a generation and brought with it famine and terror. During the darkness and cold of the Long Night, the White Walkers invaded Westeros from the far north. Nobody knew why the White Walkers came or where they originated from, but they killed everyone who crossed their paths. They rose the dead as Wights to kill the living and soon led their army of undead across the continent.

Eventually, the First Men and the Children of the Forest joined forces to defend themselves against the White Walkers in a conflict knows as the War for the Dawn. The White Walkers were defeated and driven back to the uttermost north. After they had driven the White Walkers back, the First Men and the Children of the Forest built The Wall in the far North of Westeros to prevent them from returning. The Wall stands 700 feet tall and stretches from one side of the continent to the other. Legend tells us that the Children of the Forest infused The Wall with powerful magic to prevent the White Walkers from crossing it. In order to defend The Wall, an order called the Nights Watch was set up should the White Walkers return to attack the realms of men again.

A tiny section of The Wall
In present day Westeros many people believe the Long Night is just a children's story and that White Walkers and their undead armies are nothing more than legends. Even many of those who do believe they once existed, think they are now extinct, especially since none have been seen in the near 8000 years between their defeat and Robert's Rebellion.

However when the series begins the White Walkers and their Wights are some of the first characters that we meet. The Nights Watch has sent warnings of it's findings to those in the south but they go unanswered. As the War of the Five Kings goes on in the south it leaves the severely under-manned Nights Watch to defend the wall. Westeros is unprepared . . . .and Winter is Coming!