Game of Thrones has come a long way down the path. Instead of moving parallelly to the A Song of Ice and Fire books like the first five seasons, the sixth one will feature the part that continues in the Winds of Winter which isn’t released yet.
We have come a long way from the castles and knights from the first season to the Stone Men, Wargs and the Children of the Forest of the later seasons. The sixth season will feature (hopefully) the Night’s King in action against Westeros. To understand him and various other points in the world, a know-how is necessary. I’ll start right from the beginning upto the death of Jon Arryn which marks the start of Season 1. This post will be updated when the next book comes out.
There are four continents in the world. All the action however,takes place in Westeros which is in the west and Essos which lies to the east beyond the Narrow Sea.Around 12,000-13,000 years before the series stars,Westeros was inhabited by creatures like giants and the Children of the Forest,(like the one Bran meets beyond the Wall.) A group of invaders from Essos known as the First Men attacked Westeros. Thus began the battle between the Children and the Men. The larger numbers and technological superiority of the humans gradually overcame the magic of the Children and they pushed them back deeper into the Northern forest. 2000 years later both parties stopped the war and signed the Pact which allowed the humans access to the entire Westeros. In exchange, the Children were granted the areas of the forest.
Then came the Long Night which lasted for a century. (the Winter that everyone dreads). the Others;the White Walkers cam from the Land of Always Winter and brought Westeros on the verge of extinction. They were however,eventually defeated when the Long Night came to an end.It is said that a legendary hero called Azor Ahai drove back the Others while wielding a sword made of fire. (This is what Melisandre thinks Stannis is.However, I believe Jon Snow to be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai. More on that later) Bran the Builder built the monumental Wall presumably with the help of giants and the Children to keep the Others at bay.He was the first Stark in the North. It was around this time that the sworn brotherhood of the Night’s Watch was established. Some humans chose to be free from the ‘caged’ land. They lived beyond the Wall and were what came to be known as the Wildlings. 2,000 years later, the Andals from Essos invaded Westeros from the east which would later be known as the Vale of Arryn. The eastern Andals attempted to drive away the First Men from Westeros. They managed to capture almost all of the southern kingdoms which followed their religion of the Seven Gods. The North however, remained untouched. The First Men managed to defend it against the Andals. They followed their gods of the Forest and the Weirwood trees.
Meanwhile in Essos,
Approximately 5,000 years before the series, the shepherds in Valyria discovered dragons in a chain of volcanoes called as the Fourteen Fires. They tamed them with magic and began a long war for the dominance of the continent. The warrior princess of Rhoyne, Nymeria (Arya named her direwolf after her) set for Westeros with the survivors of the war. At the south of Westeros,she met Lord Mars Martell and entered into a marriage alliance with him. Thus the House Martell was formed. (Go Oberyn!)
In Essos, Valyria became the most advanced and powerful civilization ever. Aenar Targaryen’s daughter Daenys had a prophecy 12 years before the Doom that the entire Valyria would be annihilated. She convinced her dad to migrate away from the land. Hence, the Targaryen family moved to Dragonstone. (Stannis’ backyard now) As predicted, the Doom of Valyria wiped out all the dragon families. This supposedly occurred due to the eruption of the Fourteen Fires.
The Kingdoms of Westeros
The North. It is the largest by area. Larger than all the other southern kingdoms combined.It is filled with snowy mountains and frozen rivers. It is the seat of House Stark. The capital is Winterfell. The bastards here are given the surname Snow.
The small group of islands to the left of the North are the Iron Islands,the land of the Greyjoys. Their capital is Pyke. The bastards here are also named Pyke.
To the right we have the Vale. It is the seat of House Arryn. It is a part of dangerously high hills. The Arryns rule from their castle the Eyrie which is located high up the mountains. The bastards here are named Stone.
The land to the west is the Reach. it is the seat of House Tyrell. It is the most fertile region of Westeros. They rule from the castle Highgarden. The bastards here are called Flowers. House Tyrell is one of the richest families in Westeros.
The land at the very bottom is Dorne. It is the seat of House Martell. It is a desert region and is seperated from other families by the Red Hills. Due to the isolation, Dorne is culturally different from the rest of Westeros. The bastards here are called Sand.
Just above Dorne, the rocky region is the Stormlands. It is the seat of House Baratheon. The rule from Storm’s End. The bastards here are called Storm.
In the bottom west, the land is called the Westerlands. It is the seat of House Lannister. They rule from the castle called Casterly Rock. The bastards here are called Hill. House Lannister is the richest family in Westeros due to its mines and the presence of Lannisport.
Now moving on to the action that happened before the series began….
The Targaryens had made their seat at Dragonstone. However, Aegon the First had higher ambitions. He invaded Westeros with the help of his sisters, dragons, and a sizable army. He defeated every single kingdom in the south except Dorne. Upon hearing this news, Torrhen Stark, the King in the North amassed an army of 30,000 soldiers to face Aegon. He had planned to kill the dragons in the middle of the night with weirwood arrows. However,he saw the 45,000 strong Targaryen army and its dragons and knelt before Aegon. Thus,he became the King Who Knelt and was made the Lord of Winterfell. Aegon created a new capital city King’s Landing and thus the Targaryen dynasty came into power.
Many(many,many,many) years went by. Aerys Targaryen II came into power. His initial reign was peaceful. In his later years, he gave in to craziness. Lord Tywin Lannister was the Hand of the King. His daughter Cersei was promised to Rhaegar Targaryen (the Prince) He was as kind as he was ferocious in battle. But when Tywin proposed this to the King, Aerys insulted him by saying, “You are my servant, I am your master.We are no equals” Cersei was madly in love with Rhaegar. She felt insulted when Rhaegar married Elia Martell of Dorne (Oberyn’s sister) Ten years went by. During this time. Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon were foster brothers are were wards under Jon Arryn of the Vale. Eddard’s sister Lyanna Stark was Lbetrothed to Robert. During a tourney organised by Lord Whent at Harrenhal, a mysterious ‘Knight of the Laughing Tree’ fought on behalf of a crannogman who was refused entry because, well, he was a crannogman. That knight is believed to be Lyanna herself. At the end, the Prince was supposed to crown the new queen of beauty. He, however, passed by his wife Elia and crowned Lyanna to be the most beautiful woman. After that, he seemingly kidnapped Lyanna and brought her to King’s Landing. Upon hearing this news, Ned’s brother Brandon Stark (who was going to wed Catelyn Tully) and his father went to King’s Landing and demanded Lyanna’s release. the Mad King,horrifically, had Lord Rickard cooked in his own armor and Brandon Stark was strangled by a Tyroshi strangling instrument as he attempted to reach his sword. The King then demanded the heads of Robert and Ned,who were students under Jon Arryn. Jon called the banners instead. Ned married Catelyn Tully and became the Lord of Winterfell. He joined forces with Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn and soon the other houses. A great war began. Lord Randall Tarly (Sam’s father) defeated the forces of Mace Tyrell who led the rebel army at the Battle of Ashford.
The Battle of the Trident
After endless battles, both the armies met each other for a decisive fight at the Trident. Robert Baratheon met Prince Rhaegar Targaryen face to face in single combat.The most graceful fighter ever was slain by Robert’s warhammer. Jaime Lannister who was a member of the Kingsguard slew the Mad King himself and thus gained the moniker Kingslayer. The Lannister forces comprising of The Mountain attacked the royal family where the Mountain smashed baby Aegon’s head in front of Elia. He proceded to rape and murder her with Aegon’s blood still on his hands. A few Targaryen supporters smuggled Rhaegar’s infant sister Daenerys (AWESOME!) and brother Viserys out of Westeros to Essos. At the end of the war, Lord Eddard Stark reached the Tower of Joy where Lyanna was allegedly imprisoned. He was accompanied by Howland Reed, Lord Dustin, Ser Ryswell , Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, and Theo Wull. There were three knights of the Kingsguard guarding the tower. Lord Whent, Lord Commander Hightower and Ser Arthur Dayne. Dayne was the deadliest member of the Kingsguard as well as a true knight. His sword Dawn was known as Sword of the Morning. People would surrender at the sight of him. After the fight, Ned Stark managed to defeat this unbeatable warrior with the help of Howland Reed (father of Meera and Jojen Reed) At the end, Ned and Howland were the only survivors of the carnage. They found Lyanna dying in a pool of blood. Her last words were “Promise me Ned, promise me” Ned returned Ser Arthur’s sword to House Dayne. and returned to Winterfell with the bastard baby Jon Snow. Robert Baratheon became the new King and Cersei Lannister the Queen. Jon Arryn was named the Hand of the King. Balon Greyjoy attempted a rebellion too.But he got his butt handed out by Robert and Ned. Ned then took Balon Greyjoy’s son Theon Greyjoy as his personal ward. At the capital,Jon Arryn discovered that Cersei’s children were fathered by Jaime and was about to reveal it when he was poisoned. His death was the reason Robert came to Winterfell, to make Eddard Stark the new Hand. And so the series begins…..
THE R + L = J THEORY
According to me this is the truth, Rhaegar didn’t kidnap Lyanna. He LOVED her and she willingly came to King’s Landing. She became pregnant with Rhaegar’s child. When the war began, Rhaegar left Lyanna (who was about to give birth to a child) in the Tower of Joy guarded by the most powerful and deadly members of the Kingsguard. The pool of blood that Ned found was infact from the baby’s delivery. JON was the baby! With her last breath, Lyanna entrusted Ned with the safety of her child. So Ned brought the boy to Winterfell and raised him as his bastard. Now think about it. Ned was the most honorable man in Westeros. It wasn’t his way to lay with prostitutes and father bastards. No! He constantly tells Jon Snow that there is Stark blood in him. he never says ‘You are my son.’ He is referring to Jon’s maternal side. I also believe that Jon Snow is Azor Ahai. The warrior with a flaming sword who wlll defeat the Others. He literally pulled his sword out of the fire when he saved Lord Commander Mormont from a Wight attack. Jon Snow also received the ultimate ‘come at me bro’ from the Night’s King. His blade the Nightclaw can slay the Others.It all fits! Or it could mean that Jon as the Lord Commander is Azor Ahai and the Watch itself is the symbolic sword . “….I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men.”
Oh, and I guess the famous “You know nothing, Jon Snow” simply means he knows more than he realized. Conversely. with Daenerys, every conversation goes with “I know” where she knows less than she thinks she knows. This symmetry is intentional and not accidental, in my opinion. Now we wait till the Winds of Winter is released or the sixth season comes out. VALAR MORGHULIS! (This is the High Valyrian way of saying YOLO)
All the map photographs are my own, taken of my personal printed map. Copyright police stay away.