Season 7 of Game of Thrones premiered on HBO last week and the world is now officially plunged back into GOT-Mania! The first episode entitled “DragonStone” aired on 17th July here in Malaysia, with plenty of flashbacks to remind us of where the characters left off when last season ended. As with all GOT season premiere episodes, the scenes are designed not to provide any real closure or answers; but in fact, set up all the clues that will give meaning to future episodes!
A big fight for the Iron Throne is imminent, but the real war that will define how this story ends is between the living and the dead. While Queen Cersei Lannister and Dragon Mother Daenerys Targaryen plot and strategize on how to secure the throne for themselves, Jon Snow and his allies in the North prepare to deal with something more sinister and infinitely darker: the inevitable war with the White Walker King and his army of zombie demons.
Game of Thrones has truly broken new ground in the genre of fantasy for television. Never before has any television series been given this level of sophistication! The sets and costumes are authentic and glorious! There are plots within subplots, and the characters are colourful and well developed. There is romance, swashbuckling action, sex, politics, zombies and magic all woven into this epic tale. George Martin and the writers of the show are just geniuses!
Every character has a personal journey, and we’ve watched how each matures and transforms throughout the series. The beauty of Game of Thrones is that it reflects the human condition so realistically. There are no obvious moral champions and heroes in this one… No one is perfectly good or perfectly evil in this show. Every character is a product of their environment; their actions are necessary in order for them to survive and cope with the brutal cards they have been dealt. Given the scenarios that each character finds themselves in, it is hard to say that anyone would act any differently if they were put in the same shoes.
But the great thing about GOT, is that the characters are so polarizing and lovable at the same time; and the Dragons are simply magnificent and awesome! For feng shui enthusiasts like us who go absolutely gaga about Dragons, GOT does a great job of crafting a story around these powerful celestial creatures. And for those who love all things magical, you can learn a lot just by watching GOT!
Season Seven is the most lavish and expensive season to-date; but the producers have worked hard to provide a visual feast and fantastic ending to this beloved series. There’s a lot going on in GOT, and it’s not easy to keep up with what’s going on, especially for those who watched the previous seasons so long ago! So here is a quick recap of all the major players and how they got to this point.
QUEEN CERSEI’S CAMP
Cersei Lannister has been through a lot to finally install herself as the Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. As the princess of House Lannister (the largest and richest House in Westeros), she was married to the former King of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon, until she poisoned him to death. Both her sons (children from her incestual affair with her brother Jaime Lannister) were made King, but are now deceased. Her first son Joffrey was poisoned, and her second son Tommen committed suicide.
She is now Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but her allies have shrunk significantly. Although she commands the armies of all the Great Noble Houses, their leaders have either been killed or forced to ally with her by default. Her surviving allies are Euron Greyjoy (who desires to marry her and become Lord of the Seven Kingdoms) and Jaime Lannister (her fraternal twin brother as well as her lover). Sir Gregor Clegane, also known as “The Mountain” is her most trusted henchman and bodyguard.
Cersei is haunted by a prophecy that was foretold by a witch – claiming that although she will be Queen, her sons will not inherit the throne, and another younger woman will eventually supplant her in beauty and power. She is determined to disprove the prophecy and is now getting ready to defend her throne. Although her allies are thin and wary, Cersei has access to liquid wildfire and secrets that can destroy Dragons.
JAIME LANNISTER is Queen Cersei’s twin brother and lover. He is branded “King Slayer”, a negative nickname he earned for killing the former Targaryen “Mad King” to whom he had previously sworn to protect as his Knight’s Guard. His betrayal led to Robert Baratheon being installed as the new King. Throughout the series, we see his character transform from a ruthless warrior to a conflicted soul who is now torn between his loyalty to Queen Cersei and his conscience. In his quest to secure territories and allies for Queen Cersei, he forms a friendship with the Warrior Knight Brienne of Tarth, but their friendship is ultimately doomed, as Brienne of Tarth has pledged her allegiance to Sansa Stark, the enemy of Queen Cersei. In Season 7, Jaime’s loyalties will be tested severely; in recent times, Jaime shows his distaste for Cersei’s growing paranoia, becoming “so mad for power” that she would blow up the Great Sept of Baelor to fulfil her personal aims. Let’s see what unfolds in the next few episodes.
EURON GREYJOY became the Lord of the Iron Islands when he murdered Lord Greyjoy (the former Lord of the Iron Islands) and claimed lordship of House Greyjoy. He has pledged his entire fleet of ships to Queen Cersei in the hopes of securing her hand and rule the Seven Kingdoms as her King. His niece – Yara Greyjoy, who is the rightful heiress to House Greyjoy – has stolen his best ships and made allies with Queen Daenerys, Mother of the Dragons.
QUEEN DAENERYS’ ALLIES
Queen Daenerys is the only surviving heir of the Royal House Targaryen, which ruled Westeros for three centuries before they were dethroned by the Baratheons. They are believed to be descendants of Dragons.
In Season 1, Daenerys started off as a helpless, innocent little pawn in her brother’s sadistic game, but has matured and grown into a formidable Queen since then. By this season, she has successfully raised herself a huge army and forged powerful allies to champion her quest to regain the Iron Throne.
Her father, Aerys the Mad King, was the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms until he was killed by Jaime Lannister, leaving her and her brother Viserys Targaryen as the only surviving heirs to the Iron Throne. In an attempt to regain the seat of power, her brother sold her off as a bride to the Dothraki Chief in exchange for their horde of savage fighters. Viserys was eventually killed by the Dothraki, leaving Daenerys to continue the cause of reclaiming the Throne.
On her wedding day, she was gifted three Dragon Eggs, which miraculously hatched into Dragons (that many believed to be extinct). She discovered that she had inherited the line of Targaryen blood which makes her immune to fire. Thanks to her Dragons and her immunity to fire, Daenerys has gained a loyal battalion of soldiers who have willingly pledged allegiance to her. She has allied with Yara Greyjoy and Theon Greyjoy, who supplies her with a fleet of ships to sail to Westeros. She is able to control three powerful Dragons, and command a horde of Dorthraki warriors who are skilled fighters. Her Chief General is GreyWorm, who leads a large army known as “the Unsullied”, specialist soldiers who are trained to ignore pain and fight to their death. Her most trusted advisors are Tyrion Lannister, Varys and Sir Jorah Mormont.
TYRION LANNISTER is the dwarfed son of Tywin Lannister, and brother to both Cersei and Jaime Lannister. His father never believed him to be his true son and treated him with cruelty. Eventually, Tyrion murdered his father and ran away to ally with Daenerys. His intelligence and ability to play politics and strategize has earned him a special place as Daenerys’ “Hand” (right-hand-man). In one of the previous Seasons, Tyrion was able to get very close to Daenerys’ dragons without being harmed; this led many fans to theorise that Tyrion could actually be a Targaryen as well. He and Varys work closely to forge allies for Daenerys.
VARYS is a eunuch, known as the Master of Whisperers due to his enormous network of spies throughout Westeros. Like Tyrion, Varys is highly intelligent and possesses the ability to navigate politics through manipulation and deception. You never really know whose side Varys is playing for – but Varys has mentioned before that his loyalty is to the throne and the best person he feels should sit on it. At the present time, he has placed his hope on Daenerys and pledged allegiance to her.
SIR JORAH MORMONT was originally working as a spy for Robert Baratheon, sent to track the surviving Targaryen heirs and send back information to Varys. But in the process of observing them, he came to respect Daenerys and developed a strong attachment to her. It was Jorah who gifted Daenerys her Dragon Eggs, and coached her into adapting to the Dothraki lifestyle. Throughout the seasons, Jorah has earned Daenerys’s trust (despite moments where she banished him) and Jorah has pledged to serve her till his death. Sadly in Season 4, Jorah contracted Greyscale, a skin disease that turns one’s skin into reptile scales; Daenerys has commanded him to leave her service and search for a cure.
OLLEANA TYRELL is the Lady of House Tyrell, the second greatest (and richest) House next to the Lannisters. In the beginning, House Tyrell was allied with House Baratheon until all the Baratheon heirs were killed. She later formed an alliance with House Lannister, by marrying off her grand-daughter Margery Tyrell to Cersei’s sons – Joffrey and later, Tommen. Cersei grew to regard Margery Tyrell as a threat to her (based on the prophecy) and plotted to have her killed. Eventually, all of House Tyrell’s children (Margery and her brother Loras) were killed by Cersei when she blew up the Great Sept of Baelor. Due to this, Olleana Tyrell has now switched sides to ally with Daenarys Targaryen, and has vowed to avenge her grandchildren’s deaths. She has formed a friendship with Ellaria Sand, the de facto ruler of the kingdom of Dorne in the South (who also have vendettas against the Lannisters). Since House Tyrell is such a Great House, she brings with her many allies such as House Tarley, Redwyne, Florent and Hightower.
ELLARIA SAND was married to Prince Oberyn of House Martell (the royal house that rules the Kingdom of Dorne), and brother to King Doran Martell. The kingdom of Dorne was originally allied with House Lannister, being that the King’s son was betrothed to Cersei’s daughter. After Cersei’s henchman Sir Gregor Clegane kills Prince Oberyn in a combat trial, Ellaria pressures King Doran to go to war with the Lannisters. When he refused, she killed him, his son and Cersei’s daughter to gain control of Dorne. Ellaria is now the de facto ruler of Dorne, and has allied her armies with Daenarys and House Tyrell. She is also the mother of the eight female Sand Snakes.
JON SNOW’S ARMY
Jon Snow is probably the only “hero” character in the show that has not been corrupted by all the cruelty and difficulties he has endured. Despite being slandered, tortured, wrongly accused, even murdered and brought back to life by the Red Priestess Melisandre, Jon Snow continues to make merciful decisions as he consolidates his army. At the start of the show, Jon Snow is introduced as the disgraced “bastard” son of Ned Stark, (the late Lord of House Stark that was killed by Cersei Lannister), but we now know that he is actually of Targaryen descendant, the secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark (and therefore, nephew of Daenarys Targaryen and cousin of Sansa Stark). At the time of writing, Jon Snow has no knowledge of his ancestry, and still believes himself to be the bastard son of Ned Stark and half-sister of Sansa Stark.
Unlike Daenarys and Cersei, Jon has no designs to occupy the Iron Throne. During his time with the Night’s Watch, he had a chance encounter with the zombie Night King, confirming an age-old legend of “white walkers” which many people thought no longer existed. Jon Snow’s main quest is to create a large army who can defeat these White Walkers, before they wipe out all humanity in Westeros.
At present, Jon Snow has won the allegiance of almost all the Northern Houses and been named “King of the North”. His strongest advocate is Lyanna Mormont, Lady of the Bear Islands whose unwavering loyalty has convinced the other Northern Houses to support Jon. From time to time, he takes advice from Davos Seaworth. The red sorcerer Melisandre believes him to be the “Promised One” and has offered her magical services to his cause. His close friend Samwell Tarley has gone to the Citadel to look for methods to destroy these White Walkers, and discovers that Dragon Glass is the only weapon that can kill them. Jon has also won the respect, friendship and support of Tormund Giantsbane, leader of the Freefolk. Many Free Folk have perished from attacks by the Night King and his army; making his alliance with Jon all the more necessary.
Sansa Stark is the eldest daughter of Ned Stark, and by Season 7, she is now Lady of House Stark (Winterfell). Her father, brother and mother were brutally murdered by Cersei and her allies. Eventually, she was married off to Ramsey Bolton as a reward for House Bolton’s betrayal of the Starks. Of all the female characters in the show, Sansa has suffered the most in the hands of her captors. She was first betrothed to Prince Joffrey (Cersei’s masochistic son), then to Tyrion Lannister, and later married to Ramsey Bolton, who raped and beat her repeatedly throughout their marriage. Sansa was able to escape from Ramsey Bolton and reunite with her half-brother Jon Snow. Together, they defeated Ramsey Bolton and managed to reclaim her family home – Winterfell – and gain the allegiance of the Northern Houses.
During the battle with Ramsay’s army, Jon Snow was about to lose the battle, but it was Sansa Stark who saved the day by requesting help from her long-time admirer – Petyr Baelish. Petyr Baelish brought a battalion of soldiers from House Arryn (and other houses) and together they usurped the Boltons and reclaimed the North. Despite this, the Northern Houses have named Jon as King of the North, but not Sansa as Queen of the North. Jon and Sansa present a united front, but it is becoming obvious that Sansa differs in her views and style of leadership compared to Jon. There is much speculation that she secretly yearns for the seat of the Iron Throne, and may work closely with Petyr Baelish to achieve her aim. Sansa’s bodyguard and protector is Brienne of Tarth, who promised Sansa’s mother that she would take care of Sansa until her death.
Petyr Baelish was formally Master of Coin in Robert Baratheon’s council. He is as manipulative and scheming as Varys and Tyrion, but he has no loyalty to anyone except himself. Throughout the seasons, he has systematically engineered opportunities to amass his own fiefdom and accumulate a vast treasury of wealth and spy networks. At the time of writing, Petyr Baelish is now Lord Protector of House Arryn. Long ago, Petyr Baelish fell in love with Caitlyn Stark (Sansa’s mother) but she did not return his affections. After her death, he turned his attentions to Caitlyn’s daughter – Sansa Stark, and has declared his affections for her, pledged allegiance to her and proposed an alliance that will put himself and Sansa on the Iron Throne. We shall see how this partnership unfolds in future episodes.
THE NIGHT KING is the King of the White Walkers, an ancient race of humanoid ice creatures. Their arrival is usually accompanied by blizzards and the dropping of temperatures. Any human that is touched by the Night King or his White Walkers will freeze and turn into a White Walker soldier of the Night King’s army. In Season 4, it was revealed that the Night King was formerly a human being, but was turned into a White Walker by the Children of the Forest when one of them drove a Dragon Glass dagger through his chest. It is believed that the White Walkers were first created to protect the Children of the Forest from man’s ravage on their forests. White Walkers have super human strength and can shatter metal weapons on touch. The Night King can also raise dead corpses into soldiers at the wave of his hand, and “mark” someone so that he knows exactly where that person is; no magical boundary can block him from pursuing a person who is “marked”. At this time, the only weapons that are known to be able to defeat White Walkers are Dragon Glass and Valerian Steel. Although never explicitly stated, it is implied (by the theme song and title of the show) that Dragon Fire and Wildfire might be the only mass weapons that can be used against the armies of White Walkers.
NUMBER SEVEN MEANS WAR!
The producers of the show seemed to have given a lot of attention to theming Season Seven around the number Seven. We couldn’t help but notice several recurring number of “sevens” that have surrounded the final season! First… this is the SEVENTH season of the series… which has a total of SEVEN episodes. The first episode of Season SEVEN was launched on the SEVENteenth day of the SEVENth month, in the year Two Thousand SEVENteen in all parts of the world except the US. In feng shui numerology, the number Seven signifies violence, war and betrayal… which quite aptly sums up the energies that surround this final instalment. Winter is coming… and blood will be spilled throughout all of Westeros. The Big War will determine who finally gets to rule the seven kingdoms, if there are any kingdoms left by the time the White Walkers have charged through the land. This is the true story behind the story – the legend of Fire and Ice. Will Daenerys’ fiery Dragons, together with Jon Snow’s Dragon-Stone equipped army be able to melt and destroy the chilling zombie army of the White Walkers? We’ll know in seven weeks’ time.