Welcome to Westeros: 7 Things You Might Not Know About Game of Thrones

By MJ Snow on Mar 31, 2013 to Game of Thrones


The HBO Series Game of Thrones finally returns on Sunday for it’s third season. Many fans of the show are eagerly returning to the series after what seems like an endless off season. Some have been playing catch up on Seasons 1 and 2 in order to begin Season 3 live on March 31. Other viewers, however, will be tuning in for the first time this season. If you’re finding yourself newly arrived to Westeros and wanting a little bit more information, here are seven things that will help you find your way through the Seven Kingdoms and beyond…

1 – The Books


The HBO series, Game of Thrones is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels written by George R.R. Martin. There are currently five books available in the series, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons. Originally intended to be a trilogy, Martin has now allowed for seven books in the series, however he has stated that he plans to tell the story and will not shorten or lengthen it in order to fit into a set number of volumes. In addition to the five existing novels, there are also three prequel novellas available, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, which are set in the World of Westeros. Martin is currently in the process of writing the sixth installment, The Winds of Winter and has announced that A Dream of Spring is to be the title of book seven.

Longtime fans of the books often lament about the incredibly long waits between the books’ releases, specifically the six year gap between the fourth and fifth books, and many worry that the series will never actually be finished. The HBO series, while visually appealing, deviates so far and so frequently from the storylines Martin has written in the book series, that it’s no longer similar to that of the novels at all, and I highly recommend that people who enjoy the show should read the books for the true A Song of Ice and Fire Experience.

2 – The Winds of Change


Some of the changes made for the HBO series tend to confuse book readers and television viewers, alike. Just to get things straight, Yara Greyjoy, sister of Theon, is actually named Asha in the books. The show’s creators felt that the audience would confuse Asha with the character of Osha. Another big identity change is that Talisa Maegyr, who is loosely based on the character of Jeyne Westerling. However, for reasons not yet revealed, this character’s name and backstory have been changed completely. Ros, the omnipresent whore of the television series, is not actually a character in the books, at all. Sadly, she is given to us as the “token whore,” replacing character such as Alayaya, Chataya and most of the other individual unnamed prostitutes who appear in the books.

3 – Life is Not a Song


There are many players who weave the complex web that is the Game of Thrones, and you’ll soon find that even the heroes have their faults. One of the things that many fans find appealing about the series is that nobody’s perfect. In fact, you probably have a better chance of coming out on top if you’re at least a little bit underhanded. The good guys sometimes need to get down and dirty in order to come out on top.

4 – Winter is Coming


The seasons run differently in Westeros than they do in our world. When we find the series beginning, it’s Summer time, however you’ll soon find that the seasons can actually last years there, rather than months. Also, the length of seasons tends to be extremely unpredictable.  Currently, what we know is  that Winter is coming, and that it looks to be a long one.

5 – Where Am I?


Get your GPS ready, it’s not always easy to keep track of all the locations in the series and the territory continues to expand with each passing season. There are maps to be found in the books, but there are also a number of online maps that can be used to help you keep your place. Check out Tower of the Hand’s ‘zoomable’ map here and this very detailed speculative map by serMountainGoat, here.

6 – Supersize It


Season 3 will cover close to half of the third book of the series, A Storm of Swords, however, the show’s timeline does not necessarily match up with that of the books. We will see some plot elements brought into the third season that won’t occur in the novels until the fourth and fifth books. Also, due to the large amount of ground to be covered in Season 3, each episode will run slightly longer than those in Seasons 1 and 2. Over the course of the season, these extra minutes will add up to almost an additional full episode’s worth of material.

7 – Everybody Dies


Well, technically not everybody, but in the world of Westeros, no one is safe, not even the heroes. My best advice to the new viewer is not to get attached to any of your favorite characters, as there is a chance that they won’t make it through to see the series completed. You’ll see minor characters become major characters as the main players drop like flies, never to be seen again. Or so we are led to believe. Keep in mind that in a place where magic is in the air, anything is possible.

MJ Snow is a Canine and avian behavior specialist by day; a role player, blogger and writer by night.  A long time George RR Martin fangirl and Game of Thrones Addict, MJ spends way too much time in Westeros. MJ is the founder of The Snow Keep, a short story and fan-ficiton blog and The Brothers Clegane, a Sandor & Gregor Clegane tribute blog, she also co-curates several other Game of Thrones themed blogs.

MJ on Twitter  Google Plus

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10 Comments on "Welcome to Westeros: 7 Things You Might Not Know About Game of Thrones"

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well i like the books and the series both. they are so amazing. can’t get enough of it.

“The HBO series, while visually appealing, deviates so far andso frequently from the storylines Martin has written in the book series, that it’s no longer similar to that of the novels at all….”

I find that to be not true. Smaller details have been changed, but many of the motivations, many of the journeys, they’re the same. Its okay to encourage people to read the books, but that its strayed so far “its no longer similar” is sheer hyperbole at best.

I think you need to reexamine the statement “no longer similar to [the storylines] in the novels at all…” because that is nonsense.

I believe you have a point but blatant overstatements make you sound like a fool.

Disagree. The show strays quite a bit from the books (e.g. the sorcerers that try to capture Danaerys in the show, how Jon Snow runs into the wildlings, etc.) or adds content where the book didn’t go (e.g. how Robb met his wife). No reason to get defensive about it – but the books tell a MUCH different story.

much different? bit of an exaggeration imo.

Disagree with you here, if the show told a MUCH different story Ned would probably still be alive and many other characters by the end of this season would be too. The things you point out are changes made for television which have to be made because you are telling the story through a different medium. Things that work on paper (such as Arstan) do not work on screen (we would have nailed Ser Barristan right away). These changes were expected for anyone who had realistic standards for someone trying to condense a 1000+ novel into a mere 10 hours… Read more »

Im so ready for the new seaon premier tonight!

I wish I could find a Time posting for when this airs as in Pm

Nice work, it bridges information for newbie fans and also for fans who’ve been there since the beginning. Season III looks like it’s going to deliver not only in terms of storylines, but special effects and character arcs and costumes. How many hours left until tonight’s premiere?! :)

Thanks Eleonora! I’ve had newbie fans asking me these questions for the past couple of weeks that I decided to put it all together, as it might be helpful to other people. We’re counting down the minutes all day today!


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