Ramin Djawadi has once again delivered to the highest of expectations with his score for Game of Thrones’ third season. Despite having few standout “themes” as such, the overall flow and fluidity of the soundtrack as a whole is thoroughly enjoyable and wonderful to behold. Despite being the shortest of the three, it is undoubtedly the most ambitious and best musically.
The fact that Djawadi has managed to incorporate so many moods and connecting motifs in his work is a testament to his musical genius. The music in itself tells a tale; one of tragedy, bitterness, and hopelessness, yet culminating on such an optimistic note that our spirits are lifted after the struggles of the journey.
The track listing is as follows:
01: Main Title
02: A Lannister Always Pays His Debts
04: I Paid The Iron Price
05: Chaos Is A Ladder
06: Dark Wings, Dark Words
07: You Know Nothing
08: Wall Of Ice
10: I Have To Go North
11: White Walkers
12: “It’s Always Summer Under The Sea” (Shireen’s Song) – Kerry Ingram
14: “The Bear And The Maiden Fair” – The Hold Steady
15: The Night Is Dark
16: The Lannisters Send Their Regards
17: Heir To Winterfell
19: For The Realm
It is worth listening and comparing this soundtrack to the soundtracks for the previous two, not only for the music itself, but for the connecting themes and ideas that intersperse throughout. What will follow is a short analysis of each track and how it fits within the overall narrative.
- Main Title – This needs no explanation, only that as with each episode, it acts as a gateway through which we can step into the world of Game of Thrones, and immerse ourselves in its richness.
- A Lannister Always Pays His Debts – The first unique track on the album, this is a full instrumentalised version of The Rains of Castamere. The character it fits most snugly with is Jaime, as we can sense his anguish and bitterness at the world, combined with a hope of redemption.
- Dracarys – This is the powerful militant track heard when Daenerys unleashes Drogon and the Unsullied in the Plaza of Punishment. It signifies Daenerys growth as both a woman and inspiring figure thus far, and is best appreciated when compared with “Love in the Eyes” from the season 1 soundtrack.
- I Paid the Iron Price – This track plays as Theon confesses his sins to his captor. It is a tragic, peeled back rendition of “What Is Dead May Never Die” from the season 2 soundtrack, and signifies Theon’s guilt and regret for his actions.
- Chaos is a Ladder – Perhaps the most interesting thematically, this plays over Littlefinger’s chilling monologue. It is curious that it contains many elements of Arya’s theme, perhaps signifying her slow descent up/down the ladder of chaos. Combined with the fact that the similar track from season 2 is named “The Throne is Mine”, this provides a direct insight into Littlefinger’s ambition.
- Dark Wings, Dark Words – A stripped back choral version of the main theme, this is quite a thoughtful piece, rising in dynamics towards the end. It perhaps most aptly fits Catelyn’s character given her fate.
- You Know Nothing – This track plays as on and Ygritte reach the top of the Wall, and continues into the credits. A beautiful piece touched with a slight hint of tragedy, the violins weave their way around the cello as we can sense the hopelessness of Jon and Ygritte’s relationship.
- Wall of Ice – An imposing track, this of course plays during the wildling ascent of the Wall. We can really garner a sense of the sheer ferocity of the landmark, and the seeming futility of the climb from this track.
- Kingslayer – A soft, brooding piece that plays as Jaime confesses the truth about his reputation to Brienne. We can really sense the years of inner turmoil spilling out, and Jaime’s heroism combined with his damnation. A marvelous juxtaposition.
- I Have To Go North – Perhaps incorrectly titled (in terms of the show), this track plays as Robb lays out his plan to take Casterly Rock to Talisa. Shades of the main theme and the “King of the North” theme combine.
- White Walkers – A terrifying, otherworldly piece, elements of this are used in both the cold open of the third season, and when Sam slays the White Walker.
- It’s Always Summer Under the Sea (Shireen’s Song) – A beautiful, but equally creepy and foreboding song from Kerry Ingram in character as Shireen. Shireen’s frailty and sad story are made quite obvious through her voice.
- Reek – A tumultuous piece, this plays as Theon attempts to make his escape. A pounding, up-tempo version of “What Is Dead May Never Die” is morphed into something much darker as Theon undergoes his transformation into becoming Reek.
- The Bear and the Maiden Fair – A jarring, light-hearted respite from the orchestral pieces, by The Hold Steady. The sloppiness of the rendition brings to mind images of drunken men singing the song while feasting.
- The Night is Dark – This track plays both as Davos awakens after being marooned, and as Selyse informs Stannis of her faith in him. A very haunting yet touching piece, it seems to signify Stannis’ effect on his acquaintances.
- The Lannisters Send Their Regards – Named after the now infamous line from Roose Bolton, this track is utterly terrifying with its off-key strings and booming brass. The slaughter at the Red Wedding can be sensed so viscerally from the track. It ends on a heartbreaking note, sending images of both Robb’s and Catelyn’s deaths, and Arya’s loss.
- Heir To Winterfell – This track plays as Bran accepts his fate, and parts ways with Rickon. The piece suggests that fully accepts the danger in his quest, and ensures the safety of his brother should anything befall him.
- Mhysa – The whole soundtrack was building up to this. A triumphant realization by Daenerys that she is a liberator; that she has done some good in that horrible world, and is worshipped for it. Voices chant in Valyrian as elements of the main theme and Dany’s personal theme interlope. Mhysa is the Valyrian word for “mother”, a role which Dany willingly grasps firmly.
- For the Realm – A Spanish guitar version of the main theme, performed by Djawadi himself. It takes everything down a notch after “Mhysa”, signifying that despite individual victories and triumphs the world over, the realm remains and is affected.
Djawadi has completely outdone his previous work with this soundtrack. I must admit, I was slightly disappointed that a few themes were not included, such as the slow version of “The King’s Arrival” as Gendry surveys the Red Keep, and “Warrior of Light” when he arrives at Dragonstone. However, judging the soundtrack on its own merits, it was the most ambitious so far, and it quite surpassed those very same ambitions. Mhysa is undoubtedly the best track Djawadi has composed thus far, and instills a sense of elation and such catharsis of emotion. It really must be heard and experienced to be believed.
Best tracks: A Lannister Always Pays His Debts; Dracarys; Mhysa
Worthy mention: You Know Nothing
Take a listen for yourself on Amazon!
These soundtracks are a must for any Game of Thrones fan who wants to feel like they’re living in a castle on the edge of Westeros. You’ve already got the direwolf in the back yard and a fresh set of heads on stakes to detour any possible intruders. Why not crank up this music while you’re away to further deter any thieves?
Cian is a student of Theology and History. He frequently confuses the real world with Westeros, and if he’s not talking about A Song of Ice and Fire…he’s talking about Game of Thrones. Mainly interested in old HBO classics such as Rome, Deadwood and The Wire, he currently maintains a vested interest in Boardwalk Empire, Treme and Game of Thrones.