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March 23, 2013

A beginner's guide to Game of Thrones, and a rant for all who have watched it.

First and foremost, I do NOT own any of these pictures and they're not being used commercially. I edited most of them to make them suitable for this post.

I am supposed to be reading The Hobbit, which I borrowed back in February. It is due tomorrow and I'm only half way through. I can't really argue why reading The Hobbit is less exciting than talking about Game of Thrones (GoT for short), so this title is gonna be somewhat misleading. I do find the story quite appealing, especially after watching the movie, which made it even easier to imagine everything (though Tolkien is already describing everything in the most detailed fashion possible) with Peter Jackson's amazing visual aid. I guess I'm not one who was brought up with the pleasure of reading. I listened to classics my parents read to me at bed time when I was unable to read them myself. There weren't novels as a language class requirement in either Chinese and English. Even after I started going to school here, I (shamefully admit that) relied mostly on SparkNotes (SparkNotes really is a wonderful creation for review, though). All in all, a lot of books are timeless, but books are not my thing. I still wish they were.

OK. I don't know where to start. Keeping it spoiler free is no easy task. Let's just say that there will be very vague descriptions about the show's concepts, nothing too specific. But I will eventually venture into details, and I will tell you when those start! It is also important to clarify that I've never read the GoT books (as I have explained my reasons about this in general), so it is very possible my assumptions about the show can be wrong.

If one asks me my favorite thing about GoT, I have to say it is how the story has a general direction that the audience knows it is heading towards aka the defeat of the weak, but we all know there is going to be a long journey before this can be achieved. And through this journey, we get to explore all sides of all the players that are important in determining their own + others' fate. I don't know if you guys notice this, but a lot of shows change direction a lot. You get confused about what they are trying to achieve and eventually give up on it because you feel like it's becoming lame (and it probably is becoming lame). Or some others try to stick with these shows just because they feel responsible for themselves for tying up the loose ends. With this show though, you know a war is coming, and it intrigues you to see how everyone is trying to one-up the others. With that being said, you should know that people are going to die, because there are obviously lots and lots of characters, and they all evolve and are all fit candidates for world domination. There is simply no THE major characters because everyone is important. This also makes the show interesting because you don't know who is gonna be killed off, since no one is not vulnerable. There's no saving-the-day personalities, if you know what I mean.

For all who haven't watched it, let's have a spoiler-free brief introduction of the realm. (By spoiler-free, I mean you're going to be introduced to the background of this story. None of these actually happened on the show, they are also given as known facts in the show...but if you want to know absolutely nothing before you start the show...you can pass up this post now.) And this is just a corner of what you will know. It's the most basic of the basics. Here's a map:

I know this is not the most clear map on earth, but looks rather authentic and I like that. It is important to know that THIS SHOW IS A FANTASY SHOW, THERE'S NO HISTORICAL BACKGROUNDS!!! OK. Because before I watched this show, I had a long-held perception of this show being about a random medieval time with white people in Europe, but it's not. It's purely imagination, which is what makes it wonderful. Let's focus on the left island-looking place on the map. This is where most of the story takes place - a struggle of power. Obviously, in the middle, "King's Landing" is the capital of the Westeros. It's all warm and beautiful there. The three groups of important characters who live there are from House Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, some members of House Lannister, who are kin to the king and are really rich, and king's advisers. Other members of House Baratheon and Lannister who are not so closely related to the king don't reside there, they have their own lands in various provinces of Westeros.

Up north the vast land of "Winterfell" is where House Stark resides. The Stark family is the lords of Winterfell, a province of seven kingdoms of Westeros; and they are the first introduced ones in the show as well. Near the top of the map, you can see "The Wall". And no one goes beyond the wall, because there are evil wildlings up there and it's below freezing (it's already very cold in Winterfell). So people at the Wall (called "Night Watch") are guarding against wildlings, and they are mostly previous prisoners within the realm who give up their life in better-suitable-for-living parts of the realm to become soldiers, essentially. Not that they had much better living conditions...though.

Let's move on to the bigger right piece on the map, "Essos". This is not a part of Westeros, and is  believed to be inhabited with exotic peoples. A (House) Targaryen was king of Westeros before Baratheon. But I think he went crazy so they killed him and his two children are in exile in Essos at the beginning of the show. Most peoples of Essos don't really build ships, so these two Targaryen children cannot come back. And as you can imagine, "exotic" places mean deserts with not-fully closed peoples.

These are three main locations that you will become aware of once you start watching. As you probably figured, not all Houses are in peaceful terms with each other. (There are also more Houses and more complicated relationships, obviously.) This brings me to my second point about why I love this show - all characters are amazing!!! Each is so unique and totally relate-able, no matter old or young. It really is a vast assortment of people (personality-wise) that you can see in the world right now. The drama is based on love, family, loyalty, and many other relate-able themes. It keeps us guessing with unexpected new events coming up, but rarely strays from the central storyline. And it also never over-complicates the story, which is what happens to many other shows. (And for those shows, I would often find myself already forgetting some important facts that was introduced a while ago, and I have to look up things after watching episodes. Yuck!) It finds ways to go on without introducing unnecessary new ideas. I believe this is because of how multidimensional each character is. But still, the story is injected with the excitement of new faces every so often when an old character is exhausted and killed off.

GoT is also very clever dialog-wise. My favorite character is Tyrion Lannister (probably the likely favorite among many fans). He is so intelligent and is a champ at taking advantage of his strengths and hiding his weaknesses. I'm sure we all love the smart characters, Arya as well. I don't want to expose too much details here. But I'm sure everyone will find a character (or many, like me!) that they really like in this show! (HBO didn't get along with me so well in True Blood...I kinda liked Eric because he was hot, but I didn't find a character I really really enjoy until Russell Edgington. Watch this scene if you have seen season 3 episode 9, or if you don't plan on seeing True Blood at all. Viewer discretion is advised. But this scene is crazy awesome.)

Oh, there are also a little bit of black magic, dragon, and some awkward sex scenes that we can all ignore.

Yes that was my awesome warning of spoilers. Because "spoiler alert" is so 2012. If you're reading this, then you are probably as super excited about this new season as I am. I feel the need to rewatch the second season before I start, but all the important details are still very fresh on my mind. These GoT season finales were so good! Such amazing cliffhangers that are perfect bits of taste of what to expect in the new season!!! My favorite storyline last season was definitely Arya meeting Jaqen H'ghar and the phrase "valar morghulis" (and Arya and Tywin Lannister's exchanges were also cool). I honestly cannot wait until I see the next time they meet up (hope we wouldn't have to wait long). I also enjoyed Sansa + The Hound's shared scenes. I feel like everyone ships them even though they are an unlikely pair. My least favorite bits were Stannis + Melisandre (what kind of crazy witchcraft was that?!), I thought that was even worse than some good characters dying. They are just not very likable characters. It's not that I hate them, it's just...they are not cool. Unlike them, characters like Joffrey are people that you hate with a passion. And he just turned majorly sadistic. :O

I have mixed feelings for some characters like Daenerys Targaryen. (This is my mixed-feelings section.) A lot of people love her. I like her ever-stronger personality too, and how gorgeous she is. But you know, she's like a potential threat to other characters that I love. I also have mixed feelings for Margaery Tyrell. I love how she has becoming more and more important as a player in this game. But I find her kind of creepy...I also have mixed feelings about Theon. Of course, there's always the unliked child seeking acceptance from his family. He's trying too hard. It is a very reasonable plot if you think about it, but he kind of just made his own life miserable.

Besides those, I'm excited to see what happens beyond the wall, especially after the hilariously-looking group of white walkers surrounds Sam (who is equally funny). I am also excited to see what Lord Varys is gonna be up to, plotting against Littlefinger. Brienne and Jaime Lannister also have enjoyable travel scenes. And of course, I feel bad for Tyrion Lannister and hope to see him doing well again. Lastly but not least, I want to know what happens to all the Starks all over the place.

Who are your favorite characters in GoT? What about your favorite scenes?

I'm in no way a political expert...but this sounds funny and hopefully doesn't come off offensive to anyone. (OK, it is funny if you don't take it seriously...)

Original photocreds: 1, 2 (I honestly don't know where I got this, I believe it is the official map), 3, 4


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