But a few months later, a bout with the flu trapped me in the house during a Game of Thrones marathon. At first I watched out of a bemused condescension, confident that I would see all my worst stereotypes confirmed. But as the hours went on, I found myself increasingly involved in the story and its characters. And by the end of the day, I had to count myself a fan as well.
Feeling bad about my earlier dismissal, I decided I would celebrate the new season by writing a primer for those who might still have some skepticism about the fantasy genre. Game of Thrones is chock full of plot and characters, to be sure, but I think the dramatis personæ offered below should give the Thrones newbie a good sense of where things stand as we enter season two.
See you Sunday nights!
|The King before his death|
Game of Thrones is, most broadly, a chronicle of the power struggle for control of Galthea after the death of King Thaälis. A wise and benevolent ruler, Thaälis brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom by marrying Princess Danrei of Falthingstoke some 70 years earlier. At the beginning of the series, Falthingstoke, Galthea's historical enemy, is once again signaling its plans for war.
The King is a widower, the Queen having died giving birth to Ylmorda, Princess of Sparrows, some twenty years earlier. The Queen does make one appearance in the first season, however, when two guards witness her ghost weeping on the castle ramparts, facing her ancestral homeland. The Wizard Menlocus (below) interprets this as a portent of impending conflicts with Falthingstoke. All indications are that he is right.
|The poetic Mulvern|
Thaälis' first son and thus the rightful heir to the throne of Galthea. But Mulvern would rather be a poet and lover than a warrior and king, so his claim to the throne is tenuous at best. As Game of Thrones opens, we see that many in the kingdom question both his wisdom and bravery. In one powerful scene, Mulvern enters a village tavern--disguised as a commoner--so that he might eavesdrop on his subjects' opinion of the new king. When a braggart boasts he could best the "pathetic prince of poets" in a duel, the steel begins to fly! After easily defeating his foe, Mulvern reveals his true identity--and then recites a poem to the stunned mob!
Mulvern often wishes he could simply deliver the throne to his younger and more ambitious brother, Forquest, but is prevented in this "cowardly" abdication by his even more ambitious wife, Lady Mulvern. Their union is an uneasy one, arranged by their elders so as to continue the peace between Galthea and Falthingstoke. Mulvern's true love is Clymytharia, a lowly peasant girl recently brought to his court-- but duty and station prevent him from acting on this desire (at least so far!)
|Brittathena the imposter|
(but really the common whore, Brittathena)
Believed by all to be Estoria, the last of the Falthingstoke daughters to marry into the House of Galthea, Lady Mulvern is in fact an impostor. She is actually Brittathena, a village whore from Falthingstoke who--in league with Dipples (the dwarf, see below)--pushed the real Estoria overboard on the sea voyage to Galthea. As no one else on ship had ever seen the real Princess, Brittathena was able to assume her wardrobe and position in time for the betrothal to Lord Mulvern. Only she and Dipples know of this deceit, making Brittathena and the dwarf uneasy allies in this "game of thrones." Brittathena would simply have Dipples murdered, but the clever dwarf insists that an incriminating letter remains with an "associate" back in Falthingstoke--to be opened only upon news of Dipples the dwarf's death.
|Dipples in drunken revelry|
Former court jester to the King of Falthingstoke, Dipples earned his freedom upon the king's death and quickly became a degenerate drunk in a nearby village. Catching sight of Brittathena, however, he could not help but note her stunning resemblance to Estoria, the youngest princess of Falthingstoke. And thus their evil plan was hatched. Dipples often uses his access to the Castle Galthea to spy for Falthingstoke, sending notes back across the channel by carrier pigeon.
|Forquest in battle|
Second son of Thaälis, brother of Mulvern. More brash and headstrong than his brother, Forquest is eager to engage the massing armies of Falthingstoke on their own soil--a pre-emptive attack of sorts. But Mulvern does not favor this strategy and still believes diplomacy is possible, a great point of contention between the two brothers. As Forquest commands the largest and most elite of Galthea's brigades, the prospect of a coup is ever present, a possibility suggested but never openly advocated by Brutulis, Forquest's best friend and second-in-command.
|Kawlon, friend to Forquest|
A beautiful peasant girl from the remote regions of Galthea, Clymytharia was brought to Castle Galthea when a soldier noticed she had the uncanny ability to communicate with animals (although, oddly, she seems incapable of conversing with Kawlon, adding credence that this ancestral falcon is in fact a spirit or even a demon of some sort).
|Clymytharia, bewitcher of rodents.|
|Brave Brutulis, bested by a young maiden|
Brutulis the Just
Second-in-command of Galthea's elite brigade and friend of Forquest, Brutulis is a burly barrel of a man who has earned the undying respect of his men for his bravery and loyalty. He believes Forquest would be the better King, and yet serves Mulvern with honesty and valor. He is also lovesick for a young village maiden who appears indifferent to his advances, often becoming comically tongue-tied in her presence.
Other recurring characters:
The Wizard Menlocus and his young apprentice, Zolan
Elderly wizard of Galthea, Menlocus has powers that are still great though occasionally a bit unfocused. For example, his attempts to create a "love potion" for Brutulis (in his courtship of a village maid) instead produced a terrible itching power, further alienating the young lass from Brutulis' affections. Zolan is Menlocus' trusted assistant and apprentice, destined to become the Wizard of Galthea upon Menlocus' death. What Menlocus does not know, however, is that the boy Zolan is in fact a girl, disguised so that she might learn the spells and potions forbidden to her sex.
Ophenia, the Oracle of Halstrud Lor.
As yet seen in only one episode, this crone living amid a forest of perpetually dead trees is likely to figure more prominently in season two.
|Dysentery-small player on a big stage|
Has yet to make an appearance in the series, but should figure prominently in upcoming episodes.
Ylmorda, the Princess of Sparrows
The youngest child of of Thaalis and Danrei, Ylmorda has yet to figure centrally in the plot of Game of Thrones. There was some suspicion that she might elope with Locrutious, a smooth-talking spice merchant who visited the castle for a couple of episodes--but this plot seems to have been dropped.
|Drakknoir attacks the village of Jersicus|
Terrance the Barkeep
Owner of the inn and tavern in the small village near Castle Galthea, Terrance is most often seen behind the bar stoically drying freshly washed tankards. He has a wife, Bertholla, who we have yet to see, but often hear bellowing commands to her husband from off-screen (much to the merriment of the men gathered in the tavern).
A matronly servant in Castle Galthea, she well may know more secrets of the Kingdom than even its most exalted leaders.
|Shemp the Greasy...dead.|
Included primary for comic relief, the Brothers Fine are three bumbling blacksmiths who work in the small village near Castle Galthea. They are particularly adept at shooting red hot ingots into each other's trousers and dropping molten horseshoes on each other's heads. There was a tragic turn in the season finale, however, when a hammer thrown in jest by Möe struck Shemp the Greasy right between the eyes, killing him dead on the spot.