You could be forgiven for overlooking the fact that the original title of Game of thronesis actually A song of ice and fire. A game of thrones, after which the whole TV show is named, is merely the title of the first book of the author George R.R. Martin. Having two different titles for a single story therefore adds to the possibility of two different storylines and two different endings.
Now the series’ completion is almost upon us: the eighth and final season will broadcast from April 2019, and its inaugural teaser is called for the throne. More than ever, it suggests that the bitter power struggles which from day one have been a trademark of this dark and brutal saga will continue, unpredictable to the end as we keep witnessing acts of betrayal at the hands of ruthless and unabashed men and women. And still hovers the big question that has propelled the series forward up until now: who will die, who will prevail?
But « the game of thrones » is played in summer, and the one just past has been the longest as far as the people of the Seven kingdoms remember. Thus winter came, and with it the long night and the White walkers. With winter, a whole different narrative unfolds.
And so A song of Ice and Fire is, at heart, a « song », a mythological account of great scope, full of heroic deeds, cataclysms and prophecies, all of which trace back to the very birth of George R.R. Martin’s fictional world. This epic culminates in a primeval clash, risen from the depths of the past and expected to conclude by the end of the six episodes of season 8. The second teaser, entitled Dragonstone, pushes in that direction by showing the continent of Westeros engulfed in fire and ice.
Comparative mythology, especially the work of Georges Dumézil on the trifunctionalism of Indo-European mythologies, gave me keys to comprehend the rules of the « game », as well as those of the « song ». It has also helped me sort out the numerous characters of the story. The TV adaptation of Game of Thrones indeed lends itself well to this type of approach, allowing to shed light on some of the narrative mechanisms and their underlying logic, especially questions of rulership and the legitimacy of a character to be king or queen.
Both ancient and medieval times embraced a tripartite vision where gods went in threes. From that proceeded a vision and a way to organize human society so as to replicate that of the gods. Only thus did men think that cosmic harmony was respected. This organization mirrors the symbolic structures of the human mind, the way we tell stories, as well as the way we see the world, at least from an indo-european cultural perspective. It is this deep-rooted idea of natural order that leads us to accept without too much surprise the death of a character or the resurrection of another, deeming that the presented facts make sense while not clearly knowing why they happen.
The Trinitarian model (e.g. the Christian Trinity, the Hindu trinity, etc.) organized society according to three hierarchical functions: the king and the priest rule and pass laws; the warrior serves his lord and fights in the war; the merchant and the peasant produce goods for the community. This ancient order defined the organization of France up until the 18th century through the three estate system: clergy, nobility and third estate (le tiers-état). A Game of Thrones illustration of this would be the three-class organization of the Night’s Watch: the stewards give orders and run the place; the rangers fight; the builders mend the wall. I was surprised to realize how much George R.R. Martin‘s world can be viewed from that angle. Incidentally, the author even makes a double reference to the arya, the indo-european « noble fathers », within the genealogy of the two great royal dynasties: Arya Stark and the family name Targ-aryen.
These are no coincidental nods. They are evidence that in order to build a world as vast and vibrant as this one, the author must have resorted to comparative mythology. However, I will avoid spreading myself too thin through a broader analysis, and so will stick to the matter at hand: the main plot and the three key characters that are Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion. It won’t break new ground but will allow us to shed some light on the story and the characters’ place within that framework, and to wrap up this article with a little speculation on the upcoming finale.
The first function is that of power and the sacred. It is the link between the earthly world and supernatural forces. It is the dominion of kings and priests, who stand between gods and men with the privilege to rule and ensure social order.
At the time in which the series plays out, only two royal dynasties retain a claim on this superior sovereignty: the Starks and the Targaryens. The Stark are descended from the first men who came to Westeros. They appeared in the age of the first long night, took part in founding the Night’s Watch and building the Wall, then ruled the North for thousands of years. As for the Targaryen, their origin lies in the old empire of Valyria, which reigned in Essos. They are the one who brought the Seven Kingdom under unified rule through the power of their dragons. Magico-religious sovereignty is also a legitimate juridical rule: to be good kings in accordance to a moral ideal of wisdom and justice, kings must speak and enforce the law.
“And any man who must say ‘I am a king’ is no true king” (Tywin Lannister)
For one does not proclaim oneself king, one is proclaimed and recognized as such by one’s subjects. Unrivaled in power and prosperity, House Lannister knows this issue of legitimacy all too well, since it is the only thing neither its strength, nor its money can obtain. Thus Tyrion, after slapping his royal nephew Joffrey who was yelling “I am the king!”, observes that his hand has not fallen off his wrist, and that by slapping the king he has transgressed no sacred rule, because Joffrey is after all an ordinary man. He humbles him yet again by saying that Westeros has had its share of stupid kings and vicious kings, but never both at the same time. In effect, Joffrey’s illegitimacy is twofold: he is not the son of the king whose name he bears, who latter died in a conspiracy plotted by his mother Cersei.
Besides kings, priests are the second representatives of the first function. Their supernatural messages are often conveyed through oneiric visions or through prophecies uttered by priestesses or witches. Melisandre of Asshaï and priest Thoros of Myr are linked to the fire and light god R’hlor, who grants them visions in the flames and gave them the ability to resurrect others. The Three-eyed raven reports to the old gods, the High Sparrow and the septas to the Seven, Jaqen H’ghar to the Many-faced God. The story features several other deities, such as the Drowned God of the Iron islands and the many gods of Essos. Although the series refrains from a more comprehensive pantheonic catalogue, however the return of the long night reinforces the presence of R’hlor and his believers, who profess that there is a god of darkness and cold, the Great Other whose white walkers would be the servants. The cosmological battle of fire and ice would therefore be theirs, transposed into the world a second time after the first long night that took place 8000 years ago. This ice god is not a strictly evil divine entity, but rather a god of death, opposed in all sides to R’hlor who is not really a beneficial god. This dualist concept recalls the old Mazda religion, while the question of the morality of the characters, rests entirely on their actions and conscience.
Daenerys Targaryen is tied to the ancient empire of Valyria and to the god R’hlor. She is the last and late daughter of the last king of the Targaryen dynasty, Aerys II (aka The Mad King), and she commands three dragons, whom she raises as her own children. Thanks to a hereditary power, she is immune to fire and heat. In the face of such prestige, her link to the supernatural order and her royalty can hardly be doubted. Her many titles come as a reminder:
“Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt, Mhysa and Queen of Meereen”
Daenerys is not a woman hungry for power, but her name and her upbringing left her no other choice than to become a queen. However, she truly became a queen not the day she married Khal Drogo, but when she rose from the flames of her husband’s funeral pyre, unscathed and unburnt. It is this symbolic death, followed by her rebirth as the mother of three young dragons, which makes witnesses bow before Daenerys. The Dothraki do not proclaim her queen, as they do not hold this power. However, by bowing, they unreservedly acknowledge the miracle of her royalty. Much later, as she stands before the khals gathered in Vaes Dothrak, the Dothraki capital, she denounces them as petty kings unable to lead their people, unlike her, and proceeds to cause a fire, burning them alive. She then replicates the feat of emerging from the flames in the sight of the people, who once more bend the knee. This is an obvious display of superior sovereignty.
As a queen, her political decisions are pretty drastic. She overthrows traditional orders everywhere she goes and proclaims a new moral order by stating that slaver cities must free all the slaves. No longer will the Dothraki enslave the vanquished, and the Iron-bornwill cease their pillaging (taking anything by force is called paying the iron price). And thus the proudest nomads on land and at sea consent to obey her rules. As to the wise masters of Slaver’s Bay, they enter into a protracted conflict with her, which they end up losing. Speaking to Tyrion of her plans for Westeros, she says that she intends to “break the wheel” that makes for a turnover of power between the great families, thus perpetuating violence. She places herself above the noble families, as an empress who will secure peace, by force if need be.
Therefore, a true king or queen is above all a legislator, who before his assembled subjects speaks and exerts the law, sometimes by his own hand.
Jon Snow adopts a white direwolf, named Ghost.
First introduced as Eddard Stark’s illegitimate son, Jon Snow cannot be called like his father and so receives the generic name given to bastards in the North: Snow. Not unlike Daenerys, Jon treads a path to glory, he does not desire power and starts off with no other ambition than to be an honorable ranger, which he believes to be an appropriate fate for a simple bastard. Likewise, he places much emphasis on the traditions and honor of the North, the Starks and the Night’s Watch.
He joins the Night’s Watch of his own accord, and in front of a weirwood, one of the sacred trees honored by the cult of the old gods, he recites the oath that makes him into one of the sworn brothers of the Night’s Watch:
“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”
This oath ties the brothers of the Night’s Watch to the second function (“I am the sword in the darkness”, “the shield that guards the realms of men”) and permanently shuts out the other two (“hold no lands”, “I shall wear no crowns”).
Jon fights a White walker at the battle of Hardhome.
Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, choses Jon as his stewart and eventual successor. This is what happens when Mormont dies and Jon is voted Lord Commander in his stead. Having become aware of the acute danger posed by the White walkers, he receives the support from a highly wise and royal character: Maester Aemon Targaryen (his great-great-uncle). Aemon advises Jon to honor his commitments, even if that means making difficult decisions, and to act as an adult and a leader, as a true king would.
From then on, Jon makes some controversial but needed choices in the face of the growing peril north of the wall. He negotiates a truce with the wildlings (or free-folk) and grants them passage south of the wall in exchange for their help. Those who stay behind perish horribly at the Hardhome battle, joining the ranks of the army of the dead. Back at the wall, Jon falls victim to a conspiracy of brothers who refuse his alliance with the wildlings, and is murdered. As he bleeds out, his last thoughts go to Ghost, his direwolf. And lo and behold, he is brought back to life by the priestess Melisandre, who sees in Jon a prophetic hero. His brothers of the Night’s Watch and the wildlings then consider him as a demigod, but acknowledge that he is still the old Jon. He puts the conspirators to death himself (the law is harsh, it’s the law), then leaves the Night’s Watch since by dying, he has been freed from his oath, hence the importance of words in an oath! Finally, he takes back Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton and is proclaimed King in the North by the assembled vassals of the Starks, who dub him the white wolf.
All the while, Jon remains in the dark as to his true origins, which have been revealed to the viewer through Bran’s visions and Samwell Tarly’s researches: he is in fact the son of crown prince Rhaegar Targaryen (the elder brother of Daenerys, who is therefore her aunt) and Lyanna Stark, sister of Eddard Stark (who is therefore is uncle, not his father). His parents wed in secrecy, though lawfully, so that Jon’s true identity is Aegon Targaryen, named after his ancestor and dynasty founder Aegon the conqueror. He is the direct heir to the royal dynasty, preceding even Daenerys. And so Jon Snow comes from the two great royal families and his resurrection (a supernatural act if there ever was one) confirms his high standing in the sight of the gods.
Like Daenerys, Jon is a lawmaker with a knack for challenging traditions. He dedicates all his strength to get the North ready for the big commotion he saw coming, even though each and every decision he makes meets with resistance from either his vassals or family: peace with the free-folk and their crossing south of the wall, forgiving the noble houses that had pledged allegiance to the Boltons, his instructions to train every able-bodied citizen to use a weapon, even women and young girls, and his alliance with Daenerys against the White walkers. Also, they both decide not to judge the children by the parents acts.
When he first met with Daenerys, he states that « we’re children playing a game » (the famous game of thrones) and before Cersei and Daenerys gathered in council, Jon says that “there is only one war that matters: the Great War” (of the living against the dead). It’s another way to say that the Game of the thrones is over and the time of fire and ice has returned.
Bran attends Jon’s parents’ wedding in one of his visions.
Brandon Stark is linked to the old gods and the cult of the sacred trees: the weirwood. In this he perpetuates the tradition of the North and of his family. There is a certain congruency to this, as the Starks and the North are practically synonyms. It is Bran’s namesake ancestor, Brandon Stark, the Builder of the Wall.
As a child, Bran is the victim of a tragic circumstance: deliberately pushed out of a window by Jamie Lannister, he falls from a high tower and loses the use of his legs. He remains between life and death for several weeks, dreaming that his spirit inhabits the body of his tamed direwolf, Summer. When he wakes up, he understands that he has the power to possess the body of certain animals. He is what in the North is known as a warg, a shape-shifter. Eventually, he sets onto a long journey to meet the Three-eyed raven, who trains him to become a greenseer, with the aim to make him his successor. Bran learns to project himself through time and space, an invisible realm once known by the children of the forest, by means of the weirwood.
Brynden Rivers, the former three-eyed-raven, and his pupil Bran.
In the beginning, I thought of Bran as embodying the figure of the magician, the druid or the mage-king, akin to characters like Merlin or Gandalf. However, that is not entirely the case. Bran’s great peculiarity is the long initiation he has gone through – probably incomplete of flawed – prior to becoming the Three-eyed raven. Miscontrolled time travelling can indeed alter gravely both reality and the flow of time, as well as break the mind of a human being, as poor Hodor experienced firsthand. Bran’s initiation is suddenly interrupted when he makes the mistake of reaching toward the Night King in one of his visions. Bran is branded by the Night King, which unbinds the spell keeping the White walkers from approaching the Three-eyed raven’s cave. His master, his direwolf, the last Children of the forest and Hodor all die to allow Bran’s escape.
In the novel, Bran’s powers are overwhelming, which goes to explain his state of stupor throughout season 7: he is crushed under his inhuman powers and the knowledge of an impending danger. His engrossment with his distant visions is so strong that he has lost the greater part of his personality and barely feels like a living person anymore. Left on his own and without a spiritual guide, Bran might make more tragic mistakes. He will be tasked to observe the White walkers and thwart their projects with his supernatural skills. One might surmise that he is destined to fight the Night King and his army through the dragon Drogon, whom he should be able to control through his wargpowers.
the Night-King rising the deads in Hardhome
Finally, the last representative of the first function is the Night King himself, first among the White walkers. We know precious little about him, only that he was created by the Children of the forest in the course of a magic ritual: a man whose heart was pierced by a dagger made of dragonglass, and so became the first White walker before he became known as the Night King. This happened before the age of the first long night. He was to fight the first men who were at war with the Children of the forest 8,000 years earlier, but ended up following his own agenda. The first long night supposedly ended when a solitary hero killed off the White walkers with a spear made of dragonglass. Following these events, the wall and the Night’s Watch were created to prevent them from returning.
He is a witch-king, versed in the art of necromancy. He leads a small group of his peers, originally young male children, and commands a huge army of undead, scarcely more than empty shells bound to his will. He shoots down one of Daenerys’ dragons (Vyserion) with a single throw of an ice spear, and turns it into his mount. With the ice breath of his undead dragon, he tears down the wall in the last scene of season 7.
He is the figure of death (rather than of evil), the main antagonist of the story, whose return is forestalled as soon as the novel’s introductory chapter. We do not know for certain what his intentions are, except that he appears hostile to all forms of life and that he outwardly seeks to reshape the world in his image. My guess would be that he is trapped without a real goal in his supernatural existence, which comes close to eternal damnation. Season 8 will likely provide a revelation, or at least an explanation, as to the Night King’s origins and motivations and his tutelary god, the Great Other. He seems caught in a rivalry with Bran, whose magic, though by nature deeply different, also involves remote body control.
It is worth noting that the four above-mentioned “royal” characters all faced a symbolic or real death and came back with a royal stature. By their words and deeds, the fate of the Seven kingdoms shall be sealed.
FORCE AND WAR
The second function is related to physical strength: war and destruction, an activity with a strong masculine connotation. Every one of the great houses in Westeros aiming to rise in power (Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Greyjoy) belong to the nobility of the sword and are fit to wage war, though not to rule wisely an actual kingdom. They are often prone to massacre and pillage, and do not really know what to make of power once they have seized it, like we saw with Robert Baratheon. At best, they sit on the Iron throne like they would sit on any chair. But since power also resides in the illusion of might it conveys (“It is a trick, a shadow on a wall”, Varys says), fear and respect remain the attributes of power long after it has ceased to be the emanation of a higher power.
Among the living, many characters are great warriors: Arya Stark, Jamie Lannister, Euron, Theon et Asha Greyjoy, Jorah Mormont, Daario Naharis, Greyworm, Thormund Giantsbane, Bronn, Brienne of Tarth, Sandor and Gregor Clegane. Bronn in fact earns his lordship through his fighting deeds, even though he comes to regret being paid with honor instead of coin, like before.
There is a long list of characters in this warrior caste, both good and bad, who died a violent death: Robert “the Usurper” Baratheon, Renly, Stannis, Joffrey and Tommen Baratheon, Tywin, Kevan and Lancel Lannister, Khal Drogo, Loras and Mace Tyrell, Oberyn Martell and his family, his natural daughters the “Sand Snakes”, Balon Greyjoy, Jeor Mormont, Meryn Trant, Mance Rayder, Jon Arryn, Brynden “the Blackfish” Tully, Allister Thorn, Janos Slynt, Roose and Ramsay Bolton, Rickard Karstark, the Umbers (father and son), Barristan Selmy, the Freys, Randall and Dickon Tarly… In brief, the better part of Westerosi nobility, and I’m forgetting quite a few. All of these “consumable”, yet no less illustrious characters served the plot well.
The vilest among them meet tragic ends that ostensibly recall mythological patterns. So the fall of house Bolton, that can be interpreted as an example of the three symbolic sins that infuriate the gods: the initial treason of the father (Rob Stark’s regicide at the hands of Roose Bolton), then the son murdering the father (the parricide), and finally the horrible slaughter of his younger brother (the fratricide), devoured by Ramsay’s hounds, along with his stepmother for good measure. Even though these are “just” three sins on Ramsay’s sizeable list, they are the main milestones on his road to infamy. And through them his just punishment proceeds of divine justice, of which Jon and Sansa are the vengeful instruments. He dies the same ignominious death he used to inflict on his victims, to the viewers’ greater satisfaction.
PRODUCTION AND FERTILITY
The third function is the domain of producers and owners, whose power derives from wealth or knowledge, or from the pursuit of productive work in the case of craftsmen and farmers. These characters are often females.
There is no shortage of schemers and prominent characters among this category, such as Cersei Lannister, Littlefinger, Sansa Stark, Olenna and Margaery Tyrell, Samwell Tarly, as well as numerous support characters, often acting as advisors: Davos Seaworth, maester Aemon, maester Pycelle, the false maester Qyburn, the master spy Varys, the smith Gendry (King Robert’s bastard), the envoy from the Iron Bank. The wise masters of Slaver’s Bay and the traders of Essos are also related to this category of characters.
Petyr Baelish, otherwise known as Littlefinger, has betrayed pretty much everyone throughout the series – unless, arguably, he has never betrayed anyone, since he told the truth when saying he could not be trusted. This character can be depicted as the series’ trickster in chief, the deceiver, eternal sower of misfortune. He is after all behind the murder of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the king, and thus triggers the whole chain of events. As he so aptly put it himself: “Chaos is a ladder”. Littlefinger climbed as high as he could with this approach. His fall at the end of season 7 marks the end of one of the most brilliant players in the game of thrones.
Bronn and Tyrion, the sellsword and the diplomat.
Finally, Tyrion Lannister is the pivotal character of the whole series. He is at the heart of everything, since he knows every key character of the plot. Along with Jon and Daenerys, whose alliance he helped shape up, he forms the trinity upon which the story leans (which does not mean that everything will be going smoothly between the three of them). Tyrion is a skilled, diplomat and manager. As Varys and Daenerys both observed, he is the most brilliant political mind of his time from Essos to Westeros. However, he has no ambition of his own and thus serves his family, that is until his own kin wrongfully trials him for the assassination of Joffrey, in which he had no part. From then on, after going through a rough patch involving considerable amounts of alcohol (maybe his personal version of a hero’s underground journey), Tyrion seeks a noble cause he might serve and finds it in Daenerys. His only true rival in cunning is his sister. Both he and Cersei are the de facto spiritual heirs of their father Tywin, who has ruled the seven kingdoms from the shadows for decades and seek to establish a dynasty to rival the greatest. Tywin’s teachings were not lost on either of them, but each has embraced its own version: Tyrion for the best (power as responsibility), Cersei for the worst (power as an end in itself).
SO, WHO WILL WIN THE GAME OF THRONES?
In fact, the game of thrones is already over, as Cersei won for lack of other players. Through a mix of patience, ruse, maneuvering and blind violence, she has eliminated her close rivals, as well as a big part of the nobility of the Seven kingdoms when she blew up the Sept of Baelor. As a true machiavellian queen, she washes in blood the disgrace she was submitted to. Finally, by conceding a truce she does not intend to honor, Cersei neutralizes her two last remaining adversaries, Daenerys and Jon.
Nevertheless, Cersei’s power is illegitimate and rests solely on the terror she inspires and the violence she uses. We can notice she has been crowned not by the High septon (a member of the first function), but by former maester Qyburn, who has not legitimate power to do so. It is nothing more than a tyranny established at the cost of her own family’s destruction and the loss of everyone dear to her, the last to leave is her twin brother Jamie. Consequently, her titles of “Lady of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm” are empty of meaning, as nobody recognizes her as such in good faith. In this sense she has failed to fulfill the ambition of her father Tywin, who wanted to create a dynasty equaling the Targaryen. At the very end, Cersei will eventually also lose her grip on power, the last thing she has left, because the game of thrones is only a cog in a greater game that exceeds her intelligence and determination. Besides, she has also offended the gods by her many crimes and so will meet the punishment foretold to her as a child, even though she has never ceased to try and escape from it. The prophecies of Maggy the Frog will come true one after the other.
THEN, WHO WILL SIT ON THE IRON THRONE?
When all is said and done, I’m tempted to answer: probably no one. Jon (or Aegon Targaryen) is the legitimate heir to the Iron throne, but he does not have a taste for power as much as a taste for duty, an old shortcoming of the Starks. Will he live to see the spring or will he only be a king of winter? Will he be a kingmaker by bestowing legitimacy on someone else?
In season 2, Daenerys saw in a vision the hall of the Iron throne burned. The rooftop had collapsed, letting ash and snow fall entwined in somber silence. After the long night, the Iron throne, the last symbol of a conqueror who died 300 years earlier, shall remain but a piece of rusted metal in a decaying palace. By the end of season 7, war has already left the Seven Kingdoms deeply scarred. Half of the great noble houses have been wiped out, the wall has been breached, the children of the forest and the giants are extinct… The ancient world is vanishing even before the beginning of the long night. Picturing the Seven Kingdoms united again seems like a long shot, which invites the idea of a new age, where everything will have to be rebuilt.
Then we have two hypotheses: either the mythological cycle of fire and ice is not resolved, and the great confrontation will resume in a distant future, or it ends for good. I lean towards the end of an era and the cycle. In this eventuallity the story’s conclusion dragons and White walkers will have mutually annihilated each other. This would herald a new age, not unlike what happens at the end of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Heroes will return home, and ordinary life would resume. The world would gradually shift away from the marvelous and would transition from shared history to legend, from legend to myth.
In this respect, i think that survivors of the third function, which is also the function of fertility and renewal, shall be the ones giving birth to a new spring: Tyrion, perhaps with Sansa (will they save their marriage after all?), Samwell and Gilly… As to the others, heroes and noble warriors alike, it is well possible that most of them will not survive the great battles ahead, or they’ll have to get back to less thrilling lives.
Either way, the “game of thrones” will have been an excellent pretext for some sweeping initiatory narratives, carrying the main characters from childhood to the adult stages: Jon, Daenerys, Sansa, Arya and Bran are as many characters who have now reached maturity and are waiting to meet their destiny. Other characters recount tales of damnation (Cersei, Ramsay Bolton, Littlefinger) or redemption (Tyrion the parricide and Jamie the kingslayer, Jorah Mormont, Sandor Clegane, Theon Greyjoy). This ensemble forms a grand chronicle revisiting the great myths of classical western culture as well as fantasy literature. This makes it all the more familiar and accessible, and therefore popular.
Note: I have based myself on the TV show up to and including season 7, but I have not delved very deep into G.R.R. Martin’s world, having read the books only partially – they tell a slightly different story and they contain a much greater number of narrative threads and of course characters. However, the author was closely involved in the making of the series, which is for the most part truthful to his work, with no major contradictions as of yet. Ultimately though, G.R.R.M.’s books remain the “official” canon. I mainly resorted to French fansite “La Garde de nuit” to verify and flesh out my info.
Note 2: The Arya, the “noble fathers” mentioned in the Rig Veda, served as the basis for a great number of politically motivated interpretations and racialist theories in the 19th and 20th centuries. Those assumed that Aryans were a superior people of fair-haired, bright-eyed individuals, even though they resembled in all likelihood the contemporary people of Iran or North India. Be that as it may, in the world of Westeros, the Targaryens are indeed fair-haired or white-haired, with blue or purple eyes, and they sometimes suffer from dementia and from the consequences of inbreeding. I can assume that this name Arya is mostly intended by G.R.R. Martin as a synonym of ancient and true nobility.