Most Googled questions about Game of Thrones

Ed Power
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen - HBO

Confused as to the difference between a White Walker and a wight? Baffled by all those Baratheons? Mystified about Mance Rayder?  

Fret not – here's our guide to the most frequently asked questions about Game of Thrones and the world of Westeros.  

Swords

What is Valyrian steel?

A type of steel forged by the godlike rulers of the fallen kingdom of Valyria and imbued with magical properties. Weapons made from Valyrian steel never lose their sharpness and are uncommonly light. The secret of its forging died with the fall of Valyria though it is possible to melt down the steel and create new weapons. Valyrian steel is fatal to White Walkers. 

What is the name of Arya's sword?

Needle. "Sansa can keep her sewing needles, I've got a needle of my own," she said, upon receiving it as a gift from Jon Snow.

Maisie Williams as Arya Credit: HBO

What are all the GoT swords called?

Longclaw (Jon Snow), Ice (Ned Stark), Widow’s Wail (King Joffrey - now worn by Jaime Lannister), Oathkeeper (Brienne of Tarth), Lightbringer (Stannis Baratheon), Needle (Arya Stark), Heartsbane (Samwell Tarly), Dawn (Ser Arthur Dayne), Hearteater (wielded by scaredy-pants Joffrey at the Battle of the Blackwater). 

Why is the Widow's Wail sword called that?

The Valyrian steel sword was forged from Ned Stark’s old blade Ice and presented to Joffrey as a wedding gift by his grandfather Tywin Lannister. Sentimental Joffrey chose the name because it reminded him of the beheading of Stark. 

Where did Jon Snow's sword come from?

Longclaw was given to the Bastard of Winterfell by Ser Jeor Mormont after Snow saved his life from a Wight. 

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) with Longclaw

Who in GoT has Valyrian steel swords?

Jon Snow (Longclaw), Samwell Tarly (who helped himself to the family heirloom Heartsbane on a flying visit home), Oathkeeper (Brienne of Tarth), Widow’s Wail (currently in possession of Jaime Lannister). 

Status

Who are the bastards in GoT?

Ramsay Snow - later renamed Ramsay Bolton after being legitimised (and now dead), Jon Snow, Ellaria Sand and the Sandsnakes (Tyene Sand, Nymeria Sand, Obara Sand).

Ellaria Sand

What is a bastard?

Bastard refers to anyone born out of wedlock. They cannot inherit their father’s lands or titles. 

Why do they name bastards 'Snow'?

Bastards born to nobles – whose parentage has been acknowledged by their noble parent – are referred to by a specific surname: Snow in the North, Sand in Dorne, Storm in the Stormlands etc. 

Religion

Who is the Drowned God?

The Drowned God is the deity worshipped on the Iron Islands. He is often depicted a piece of driftwood with a vaguely  human shape. 

Which religion is true in GoT?

The "official" religion in Westeros is the Faith of The Seven. Such is its influence, all the major families of the Seven Kingdoms will have a priest or "Septon" attached to their household. The only exceptions are the Iron Islands and the North, where belief in the Old Gods of the Forest persists. 

The Faith of the Seven

Who are the Faith of the Seven?

By the tenets of the Faith there is one god, with seven faces representing various aspects of existence: the Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith, and the Stranger

Are there bad gods in GoT?

The god looked upon negatively by the majority in Westeros is R'hllor, the Lord of Light. This is less an ecumenical matter and more a reflection of his follower's penchants for human sacrifice. 

Characters

Who is Daenerys' father?

Aerys II Targaryen, aka the Mad King, was the last of the Targaryens to sit on the Iron Throne. Cruel and paranoid, he was overthrown by Robert Baratheon, Eddard Stark and their allies in Robert’s Rebellin. 

Who is Drogon?

Dragon is the largest and most headstrong but also the most loyal of Daenerys three dragons. He is named after Khal Drogo. 

Drogon

Who is Rhaegal?

Rhaegal is one of Drogon’s two siblings, along with Viserion. Daenerys named him for her brother Rhaegar. 

What is Hodor's real name?

Hodor was originally named Wylis and was a servant of House Stark. "Hodor" comes from "Hold the Door" the words he heard as a future Bran Stark "warged" with him.  

Hodor

Can Bran change the past?

Bran can impact on the past - however, the degree to which he can actively alter the flow of history is unclear. Did he change the past by turning Wylis into Hodor? Or was Hodor always destined to become a simple-minded giant?

Is Ellaria Sand related to Oberyn? 

Ellaria was Oberon’s lover and confidante. She is the bastard daughter of the head of house Uller, which swears loyalty to the Princes of Dorne. 

What happened to Gendry?

Robert’s sole surviving heir vanished from the timeline when Ser Davos sprung him from Dragonstone and sent him back to King's Landing in a rowboat. His whereabouts are unknown. 

Joe Dempsie as Gendry

Who is Mance?

Mance Rayder, aka "The King Beyond The Wall" was a Wildling-born member of the Night's Watch. He deserted the Watch to join the Free Folk, eventually uniting them under his banner. He was burned alive by Stannis Baratheon after refusing to swear loyalty. 

Plot points

Who fights for Tyrion in the Eyrie?

Bronn the sellsword. 

Why was Varys cut?

Varys genitalia were cut off by a sorcerer in the city of Myr who used them in a magical ritual through which he seemingly contacted an extra-deminsional being. Born a slave in Essos, Varys had been sold to the wizard by his master. 

Why did Varys become a eunuch?

See above.

Varys with Littlefinger 

Which Tarly did Robert kill?

Robert enjoyed telling the story of the first time he killed, his victim a Knight of House Tarly. However the identity of the nobleman is unclear.  

Why was Jorah Mormont exiled from Westeros?

To pay for his wife's extravagant lifestyle, he sold poachers caught on his land to slave traders, forbidden in the Seven Kingdoms. When Lord Eddard Stark discovered he was dealing in slaves, Jorah fled to Essos. 

Why did Tywin Lannister refuse to wed Elia to Jamie and Oberyn to Cersei?

Tywin wanted Cersei to wed Rhaegar, son of King Aerys. His reasons for opposing Jaime’s marriage to Elia are less clear, though one theory is that, because she was sickly, Tywin feared she might not provide his with an heir.

What happens in the play in Braavos?

"The Bloody Hand" is a lurid retelling of the death of King Robert and Ned Stark and of King Joffrey's short reign. Tyrion Lannister is the impish villain who persuades Ned to overthrow the Marathons, poisons Joffrey and kills Tywin before fleeing to Essos.

Places

Where is the Citadel in Game of Thrones?

In the city of Oldtown. One of Westeros's most ancient settlements it is located in the Reach and ruled by House Tyrell.

The Citadel

Where is Samwell Tarly from?

Tarly is the oldest son of Lord Randyll Tarly and grew up in the castle of Horn Hill.

What are the Uplands?

The Uplands is actually the name of a castle in the Reach. It is the seat of House Mullendore, loyal to House Hightower of Oldtown rather than the Tyrell's directly. 

Game of Thrones - Regions of Westeros

Where is Horn Hill?

Horn Hill is in the Reach, at the midpoint between the Tyrell seat of Highgarden and Old Town. 

Is Dorne part of the Seven Kingdoms?

Yes, though desert kingdom is perceived as a place apart, with its own customs and traditions. 

Are the Iron Islands part of Westeros?

The island, which lie off the coast of the Riverlands have historically been regarded part of Westeros and one of the constituents of the Seven Kingdoms. 

Dragons/White Walkers/monsters

Can White Walkers kill dragons?

It is believed that dragon fire is lethal to the Walkers. However, we will have to wait for the ice zombies to tangle with Daenerys's brood before it becomes clear whether the Walkers can give as good as they get.

The Night King with his White Walkers Credit: HBO

What is a wight?

A reanimated corpse, either human or animal,  brought back from the dead by the Walkers.  

How big can Daenerys' dragons get?

Dragons continue to grow through their lives. Balerion, Aegon the Conquerer's dragon, was 125 years old he invaded Westeros, at which point he could swallow livestock whole. 

Is the Three Eyed Raven good or bad?

Bran's mentor was a foe of the Night's King and thus good.

Max Von Sydow as the Three Eyed Raven

What is a Greenseer?

Greenseers are people who possess the magical ability to see events from the past, present and future in their dreams.The are most common among the Children of the Forest, though there are human Greenseers too, such as The Three-Eyed Raven and Bran Stark.

Language

Is Valyrian a real language?

Valyrian is a fictional language created by George RR Martin. For the television adaptation a linguist was hired to sketch out the basics of the language, using the phrase "Valar Morghulis" – "all men must died" as starting point. 

What is the meaning of "what is dead may never die"?

As part of their initiation into the service of the Drowned God, inhabitants of the Iron Islands are held underwater until they lose consciousness. They are then resuscitated - hence the saying "What is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger."

What is the meaning of the Greyjoy words "we do not sow"?

As Balon Greyjoy declares: "we do not sow but only reap". This refers to House Greyjoy's history of piracy and plunder.

What is the meaning of "valar morghulis"?

A High Valyrian saying that translates as "all men must die". The customary answer is Valar dohaeris – "all men must serve".

What does Dracarys mean?

It is High Valyrian for "dragonfire" – when Daenerys uttered the word to Drogon she was commanding him to scorch a foe with his flammable breath. 

Why do the Lannisters always pay their debts?

The phrase is both a boast regarding the Lannister's immense wealth and also a warning not to cross the House as it will have its revenge. 

Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister

Armies and wars

How big is Daenerys' army?

Khal Drogo's army was estimated to be 40,000 strong.And though his forces were ultimate decimated, it is estimated that the surviving Dothraki at her command are in the region of 60,000, to which can be added 8,000 Unsullied– and three dragons. 

Who has the biggest army on GoT?

Aside from the Night King's undead horde, and Daenerys' invasion fleet, the largest army is believed to belong to House Tyrell, with approximately 65,000 soldiers. 

Daenerys

What is Nymeria's War?

The struggle by which Dorne was united under House Martell, in which the Martells allied with Princess Nymeria of the Rhoynar people who had fled to Dorne from Essos after losing a struggle against Valyria. 

What is Robert's Rebellion?

An uprising against the cruel and despotic King Aerys II Tygarian, led by Robert Baratheon, with the assistance of Lord Eddark Stark. 

 Pilou Asboek as Euron Greyjoy Credit: HBO

How did Euron Greyjoy build a whole fleet of ships so quickly after Yara and Theon stole the Iron Fleet?

Euron promised to build a fleet of 1,000 ships to take to Daenerys. At the generous estimate of one ship a week it should have taken him the best part of 20 years. Let's put it down to quick work on the part of Euron and his followers and the usurper’s skills as a motivational speaker. 

What happened in the War of the Five Kings?

The War of the Five Kings was waged for control of the Iron Throne following the death of Robert. The five Kings were Joffrey Baratheon, Stannis and Renly Baratheon, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy. It ended with the North falling under the control of traitorous House Bolton and with the Lannisters continuing to control King's Landing, despite the assassination of Joffrey.

Miscellaneous

What is a Master of Whispers?

The Master of Whispers is the King's spymaster/ chief of intelligence on the Small Council.

What is a Maester?

One of an order of scholars, healers and scientists who have studied at the Citadel in Oldtown. 

What is the iron price?

Paying the "iron price" means seizing something by force rather than buying it and is part of the piracy culture of the Iron Islands. 

What is the purpose of the GoT wall?

The Wall is regarded by the citizens of Westeros as protection against the Wildlings. However, it was in fact constructed, and imbued with magical defences, as protection against the mythological White Walkers.

Tommen takes his place on the Iron Throne

Who is really the rightful heir to the Iron Throne?

Gendry  is the last living offspring of King Robert, though his illegitimacy rules him out. With the Baratheons all dead, one theory is that, tracing the bloodlines back, the Lannisters are the true heirs. Meaning the rightful king is Tywin's firstborn son Jaime – who can inherit the throne after being released from his Kingsguard vows by Tommen.

Why is there so much irony in GoT?

Viserys killed by a molten crown, Jaime suffering horribly whenever he does the right thing (losing his hand speaking up for Brienne etc ), mighty warrior Khal Drogo felled by a trivial flesh-wound… Game Of Thrones is loaded with pathos and irony. This is clearly part of the sensibility of author George RR Martin – one which has translated readily to the television. 

Game of Thrones season 7 begins in the UK on July 17 on Sky Atlantic and Now TV

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