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Game of Thrones Season Three

Updated on September 5, 2012

What Is It?

Game of Thrones is the name of the first novel in George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy literature series. It's also the name given to the TV adaptation of George R R Martin's books, in which the first and second novels in Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series has been made into HBO's Game of Thrones, two seasons of twelve 60-minute shows. Game of Thrones season three, based on A Storm of Swords the third of the Song of Ice and Fire books (the series will most likely also have some content from a Clash of Kings, book two of the series), will be hitting our screens in the next few months. Five books have been published to date, with at least two further planned.

What's It About?

The Song of Ice and Fire series is about a fantasy world called Westeros, and the powerful dynastic families who rule there. The land was once seven distinct kingdoms, which were united by an invasion by a king who, supported by dragons, started the Targaryen dynasty that lasted hundreds of years. 12 years before the first novel or season began, its last dragons dead a century or so ago, the Targaryen line was brought to an end as its insane and dangerous incumbent was unthroned by an upstart king, Robert Baratheon. King Robert's own death early in the first season, coupled with the question of legitimacy over his son and heir, leads the land of Westeros into war as most of the major families of the kingdom, each once royal in their own right, start to battle either for independent sovereignty, or for the crown of Westeros itself. Also competing for the throne are the surviving children of the Targaryen king that Robert unseated, and as season one drew to an end, we learnt that Daenerys, the last surviving child of the former dynasty, who is trying to raise an army in exile, has successfully bred dragons once more. The dragons are coming!

Whilst this game of thrones is played out in the south and the wet middle lands of Westeros, winter is coming to the north. Seasons in this land can last many years, and after a summer of nine years, a long and cold winter is expected. With winter comes trouble both from rebelious savages beyond the wall, a 700-foot high coast-to-coast wall of ice, and from spectres, ghouls and bodies rising from the dead.

Can I Catch Up?

If you missed season one and two of Game ot Thrones then you have missed out on a great deal of the action, but it will still be possible to understand what's going on in Game of Thrones season three. You could read the first two song of Ice and Fire novels to get yourself well up to speed. Failing that, read this synopsis of the main characters in Game of Thrones and you'll be away in no time.

The Main Houses of Westeros

The Starks

The central family of this fantasy saga, the Starks of Winterfell are the northernmost of the great lords. Season one sees them led by the noble, unwielding and cold but morally upright Eddard Stark. Twelve years ago he was instrumental in helping his childhood friend Robert Baratheon seize the throne. He has a legitimate teenage son, Robb and a bastard of the same age, Jon Snow; as well as a nine year old boy, Brandon, who was crippled by Jaime Lannister; a toddler, Rickon, and two daughters: Sansa, who is pledged to marry Robert's son, now King Joffrey; and Arya, who is a rebelious tom boy. At the close of season one, following Eddard's beheading at the order of King Joffrey, Robb has succeeded him as Lord of Winterfell and declared himself the King in the North, supported by his various lords and clansmen. Arya and Sansa were with Eddard in the capital, Kings Landing, when he was killed; Sansa remains there as a captive of the Lannister family, while Arya has been disguised as a boy so that she can be smuggled from the city. Jon has joined the Night's Watch, a monkish army of ne'erdowells and noble second sons who police the wall against the rebels and the monsters lurking the other side of it.

The Lannisters

Cersei Lannister is the widow of King Robert, mother to King Joffrey and to his two younger siblings. Cersei is a vicious, calculating woman intent on securing her children's right to the throne of Westeros; she took Eddard Stark captive when he found out that her children were fathered by her own brother. Cersei's twin brother and lover is Jaime Lannister, a brash but gifted knight who killed the last Targaryen king 12 years ago, despite having sworn to protect him as a member of the Kingsguard. Jaime is the real father of Cersei's three children, thus making them illegitimate and voiding their claim to the throne as Robert Baratheon's heirs. Cersei and Jaime's younger brother Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf, universally refered to as "the imp", a shrewd but likeable womaniser and gambler who although seen by most of the characters, including members of his own family, as pointless or even vile, often occupies the moral centre of the story. He struck up an unlikely friendship with Jon Snow early in season one, and is thought incorrectly by the Starks to have been responsible for the fall which crippled their son Brandon. Towards the end of season one, Catelyn Stark, wife of Eddard, captured Tyrion Lannister and took him to her sister's castle to face trial. Tyrion managed to escape the situation and gather a small army of rebel clansman about him, leading them to help his father Tywin in his battle against Robb Stark's forces. Joffrey Baratheon, son of Robert and Cersei, was a bully as a prince and is proving to be a cruel and vicious king. Still a child, his mother rules Westeros in his stead as his regent, but Joffrey still exercises considerable power, and uses it to taunt and bully Sansa Stark, his betrothed.


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