Game of Thrones is the greatest thing ever. That’s just that. Even staunch fantasy-haters like my sister have gone so far as to subscribe to HBO just to watch! But as good as it is, it’s still a sprawling, dense, complicated story. Luckily for you, I read all the books so you don’t have to (but I mean, still, you should. They’re awesome.) For your viewing edification, I present some footnotes to the season 3 opener “Valar Dohaeris.”
“Valar Dohaeris” is High Valyrian (like their answer to Latin) and means “All men must serve.” It’s the common response to “Valar Morghulis” (last season’s finale’s title) which means “All men must die.”
A word on White Walkers and wights. First, I know wight isn’t a word; but it is in the books, so stick that in your pipe. The White Walkers are an ancient and seemingly nefarious race of Westeros. Thousands of years ago they terrorized the land, bringing with them what’s known as “The Long Night”, which is exactly what it sounds like. Do you remember Bran’s nanny telling him the story about “a night that lasted a generation… when women killed their babies in their beds to keep them from starving to death… etc. etc.”? Because she was referring to the Long Night. Oh, and The Wall? Its original purpose was to keep the White Walkers at bay. (You don’t just throw up an 800 foot wall of ice for hahas.) They’re obviously a formidable force, and probably the worst part is that everyone now living has relegated them to mythical bogeyman status.
In the books, Sam wasn’t such a coward when the White Walkers came a-walkin’! He actually killed one with the dragonglass he and the fellas found last season and earned the nickname “Sam the Slayer.” Some guys just can’t win.
HOW SAD IS THE NEW VERSION OF WINTERFELL IN THE TITLE SEQUENCE?! It’s almost worse to see the little animated castle burning on the map than it was to watch those actual scenes. L Winter came.
When Cersei stops by to visit Tyrion she says, “They said you’d lost your nose, but it’s not as gruesome as all that.” In the books, Tyrion’s nose got lopped clean off, adding to his already rough lot in life.
The mild-mannered guy who keeps lurking around Robb Stark (pretty much the only Northerner without a beard) is Roose Bolton. So far he’s seemed pretty normal, but I just want to emphasize that the Boltons’ sigil is the flayed man, their words are “Our Blades Are Sharp”, and their keep is called the Dreadfort. Just sayin’.
Tywin… is the worst father ever. I mean, seriously, Father’s Day in that house. Ugh. BUT, I am compelled to share some background information, albeit only partially so as not to spoil anything. Let it just be said that a third party (somewhat) impartial character in the books reports that the Lady Johanna Lannister wasn’t necessarily the most faithful wife; nothing is proven, but Tywin did have cause to doubt her fidelity. Therefore, when he basically disowns Tyrion as his son, it’s not just because he’s a dick, but because he honestly suspects Tyrion isn’t his. Think of them as the golden-haired Catelyn Stark and Jon Snow.
Geography is more important in Game of Thrones than it is in real life. Find a map of Westeros. Study it. IT WILL HELP. Since I know you won’t, though, some guidance: Dany is on the eastern continent, Essos. When she started out in season 1, she was in one of the 9 Free Cities, which are nearest Westeros. She joined the Dothraki and moved west into their lands. After Drogo died, she journeyed further east through the desert known as the Red Waste and ended up in Qarth. From there, last season she melted down Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s assets to buy a ship, which she is now sailing south and west, ending up somewhere around the middle of that continent on the southern shore, in a place called Slaver’s Bay. It’s a huge seaport that thrives on the slave trade from ships coming from all directions. She’s in Astapor right now, but we’ll see a couple other Slaver’s Bay locales before the season’s over. Oh, and for reference, she’s still ridiculously far away from King’s Landing. Like, New York to China far.
Did you catch Margaery’s mention of the Tyrells solving the hunger crisis in King’s Landing? War is tough on the little people. With all the men off fighting a war, winter (perpetually) coming, and battles ravaging crops (also, not that it’s been mentioned, but the Lannisters have had their henchmen out burning fields in the Riverlands to starve their enemies out), food sources are running dangerously low and people are beginning to starve to death in earnest. The Tyrells hold the most fertile land in the country, and their alliance has brought food into the city; this is an important example of their power and significance. We may know more about the Lannisters and the Starks, but the Tyrells are just as important and noble a family, and one to watch this season.