Really Understanding A Game of Thrones

If you’re here, and you’re like I want to know about this book, settle in, my friend, this is going to take a good minute.

I am generally a fast reader, but the first book took me about a week and a half, and A Clash of Kings took me a little over 2 weeks to finish.  This is a SLOW SERIES, and not because there’s not action and intrigue- oh, there is PLENTY of that (more of the latter), but because everything and everyone has 50 names, and the descriptions are thorough and can sometimes be pages long.  You are also flipping between multiple storylines, and there is so much happening that you find yourself forgetting things from earlier.  At the beginning of book 2, each chapter starts with a different person’s interpretation of the comet at the end of book 1, so after about 10 chapters, you start to wonder, how much time has actually passed?  I completely get why people read this multiple times and still find stuff that they missed before.  You will WORK to read this book, but, honestly, it is worth it… I am also told that the 1st season of the show is very similar to the book, but by the end of Book 3/Season 3, they go their separate ways… I haven’t started Book 3 (A Storm of Swords), yet, because I’m not ready to work that hard… not in the summer… catch me in August when my spirits have been recharged…

Disclaimer- My husband and I are huge fans of “The Office“, so this summary will be sprinkled with everyone’s favorite Dunder Mifflin employees… you know… just to spruce it up a bit…

Second disclaimer- In the spirit of the brash nature of the book, my summary will also be brash.  Apologies if language offends you…

Final disclaimer- Spoiler Alerts- This summary would make no sense without certain key details, so you’ve been warned, there are spoilers!  I’ll try and warn you before they happen. 


Alright, so here is as short a summary as I can get on George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.

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Set in Westeros, A Game of Thrones begins in a number of places with a number of people:

  • First, you have the Starks of Winterfell- Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn and their children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon.  Plus, Eddard’s bastard son, Jon Snow, who is right about Robb’s age and lives with them despite this being some sort of taboo when it comes to the High Lords and Ladies of Westeros.  Robb is the heir to Winterfell as the oldest son.  Sansa and Arya Stark could not be more different; Arya, the youngest, is a likable tomboy, and Sansa, the oldest, is an uptight ‘High Lady’ whom you hate.  Bran is 2nd in line to Winterfell after Robb and kind of important to the story.  You don’t really hear much about Rickon- he’s 2.
  • The current King is Robert Baratheon who is related to the Targaryen (the rightful rulers) bloodline (he is Viserys and Daenerys’ 2nd cousin- I looked it up I swear!).  He is married to Cersei Lannister and is the father of their 3 children: Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen.  He also has MANY bastard children; this is important.
  • For now, you have a couple of other important Lannisters of Casterly Rock, besides Cersei.  First up is Jaime Lannister- he is Cersei’s twin brother who killed the ‘Mad King’ (Viserys and Daenerys’ dad) which eventually led to Robert being able to take the throne.  He is referred to as the Kingslayer and is generally an ass.  Let it be known, he will do ‘anything for love’ (see first spoiler alert). Tyrion is their dwarf brother and probably the only character with a brain.  Tywin is their father and is not really seen or heard from much until the end of the book.
  • The last of the Targaryens- Viserys and Daenerys.  Technically, Viserys is the rightful heir to Westeros and the Iron Throne.  Their family ruled for like 300 years, and it was their father who Jaime Lannister killed.  The mother, pregnant with Daenerys, escaped to Dragonstone and died giving birth to her.  They are currently in exile and being hunted by King Robert’s men.  Viserys has grand dreams of being King, and Daenerys really just wants to go home…

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And then the story goes…

Upon coming back to their home/castle/lordship/whatever, the Starks come across a dead mother direwolf (just a really really large wolf) and enough baby direwolves for each of the Stark children to have one which they see as symbolic because the direwolf is the symbol of their house.  This is important- the wolves are your favorite characters… except maybe Shaggydog… and Lady, but that is more her owner than her.

Jon Snow decides to join the Night Watch (guard the wall against the savage things north of it) like his uncle Benjen Stark and proceeds to prepare to travel there and train to become a sworn Brother of the Night Watch.

Eddard Stark is asked to be the new King’s Hand (basically his right-hand man) after Jon Arryn dies.  He, reluctantly, agrees and takes his daughters to King’s Landing to live with the King.  As part of him accepting his new position as Hand of the King, Sansa has been betrothed to the future King Joffrey.  Eddard would have taken his son, Bran, to King’s Landing but…

(Spoiler Alert)

Bran Stark is thrown from a tower window by Jaime Lannister after discovering Queen Cersei (his twin sister) and him engaging in what I will now refer to as “twincest”.

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Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen are in exile across the sea in Pentos, living among the Dothraki people.  Daenerys is sold to Khal Drogo in marriage because Viserys really wants his crown.  Viserys is a psychopath and often bullies and threatens Daenerys so she will do what he wants.  You often hear him threatening Daenerys to not, “wake the dragon”.  Daenerys is 13 and confused at first, mainly at the fact that she is marrying someone other than her brother (it’s a Targaryen, and I guess Lannister, thing), but she plays along with it all because she definitely does not want to ‘wake the dragon’.

And if it wasn’t already thick enough, the plot continues to thicken…

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If we’re being honest, it’s basically all Spoiler Alerts from here, but I’ll keep trying to warn you about the big ones…

In King’s Landing, Eddard, or Ned as he is called, begins investigating Jon Arryn’s death murder and comes to discover the reason he was killed- he found out the truth of King Robert’s children (if you’re confused, see first spoiler alert).  Ned, tells Cersei he knows about her twincest and gives her a chance to flee before he reveals the secret to the King who is on a hunting trip, but Cersei is all like business as usual.

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Sansa and Arya are adjusting to the royal life differently, and one day in the woods with Joffrey, Arya’s wolf, Nymeria, attacks him for being the general dickbag that he is (you go, Nymeria!).  Joffrey, being the spoiled little tyrant he is, convinces his mom and dad to have the wolves killed.  Arya, not being an idiot, knows this is going to happen and scares Nymeria off to save her life (I’m still waiting on her to come back, and I need that to happen NOW).  Sansa, thinking she’s untouchable, does nothing to save her wolf, Lady.  Ned is forced by the King, even though the King knows his son is a lying piece of shit, to kill Sansa’s wolf.

And while I HATE Sansa, RIP Lady…

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Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Robb Stark is currently ruling Winterfell while everyone is off doing other things.  While Bran is recovering from his ‘accident’, an assassin is sent to kill him, so he doesn’t wake and spill secrets, but it is thwarted by his super protective and kickass direwolf, Summer, who serves to remind everyone that the Stark children, except Sansa, have wolves, so tread carefully.  Catelyn Stark makes it her mission to find out who tried to kill her son, and takes off for answers in King’s Landing.  She eventually comes to discover it must have been Tyrion Lannister (yes… the dwarf…).  She ends up running into him on the King’s Road and takes him to the Vale to her sister, Lysa Arryn (dead Jon Arryn’s wife) because she is also now convinced that he killed Jon Arryn.  All of this part, with Lysa and Catelyn in the Vale, is kind of boring… I won’t lie… Lysa Arryn and her son are crazy, and Catelyn is blinded by her emotions, so, let’s skip forward…

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Jon has gone to the Wall to learn to be a Brother of the Night Watch.  He, of course, has taken his wolf, Ghost, with him also.  Upon completion of his training, he goes to the wyldwood north of the Wall to take his oath to the Night Watch, and Ghost discovers a hand which then leads them to the missing, and dead, Night Watch brothers.  Currently, his uncle is missing, and the dead found were his men, but his uncle wasn’t one of them.  The men of the Night Watch take the bodies back to the Wall with them to give them a proper burial.  However, the bodies come to life at night and begin attacking people.  They only die after Jon lights one, and the tower, completely on fire.

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Viserys and Daenerys continue their journey with Khal Drogo and his army of Dothraki.  At first, Daenerys is scared of her husband but then comes to love him and embrace being his queen.  Although she is still hesitant about her future because should Drogo perish, she would be sent to live in the sanctuary of all the Khaleesis (Queens) of the dead Khals (Kings).  She becomes pregnant and her baby is prophesized to rule the world.  Towards the end of her pregnancy, there is a large feast in her and Drogo’s honor, but Viserys is still enraged at being treated less than his sister and still not “getting his crown” as was promised when he sold her to the Dothraki.  In yet another “dragon waking” fit of rage, Viserys openly threatens Daenerys and her unborn son in front of Drogo and the entire Dothraki people, so Drogo proceeds to give Viserys the golden crown he’s been barking about the entire book.

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You- when Viserys gets his crown

Up until this point in the book, you do have a sense of dread of what is to come, but you are generally pretty pleased with how things have gone… until…


Before Ned can tell his friend about Cersei’s betrayal and twincest, King Robert is mortally wounded in a boar hunting “accident”, but he is still able to name Ned Lord Regent until his oldest “son”, Joffrey, can take the throne.  But, Ned, knowing Joffrey isn’t his real son, begins a campaign to have Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s brother, and I guess rightful heir (don’t forget about Viserys and Daenerys!), take the throne.  Ned’s attempt to have Stannis take the throne backfires when the Council sides with Cersei and crazy Joffrey.  Part of the reason it backfires is that Ned’s stupid daughter, Sansa, just cannot give up the idea of marrying Joffrey, so she rats out his plans to leave King’s Landing giving Cersei the advantage over him.  The council and Joffrey accuse and arrest Ned for treason, and Joffrey officially becomes King, at like age of 12, with his mom, Cersei, being his Regent.  Cersei and Joffrey agree that Sansa can remain betrothed to Joffrey if she convinces her dad to admit being a traitor and promise to “take the Black” (join the Night Watch).  She agrees, and then he agrees, and in a public display, he does exactly what he is supposed to and Joffrey ignores LITERALLY EVERYONES ADVICE and decides to have him beheaded.

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You- when Joffrey doesn't do what he is told to do

It’s okay.  We’re all still feeling this one.

Meanwhile, Joffrey, the Bastard Boy King, is walking around like…

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After Ned’s unnecessary death, literally everyone “calls their banners” (including myself) and an all-out shitstorm breaks out.  The Lannisters (Cersei and Joffrey’s family) are destroying everything and everyone on their way to King’s Landing.  Robb Stark and all their people move in towards the Lannister’s army to defend their lands and actually end up capturing Jaime Lannister (yes!) and winning… mainly due to Robb’s wolf, Grey Wind, tearing it up on the battlefield.  As a result of this battle, Robb is named King in the North.  Renly Baratheon, the youngest brother of dead King Robert, has declared himself king in the south and begins moving towards King’s Landing to overthrow Joffrey.  Stannis Baratheon has also laid claim to the throne from his place in Dragonstone, but he doesn’t exactly have the manpower or support to do anything about it right now.  Yes, by the end of the book, we are operating with 4 separate Kings of Westeros.

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Jon, still at the Night Watch, tries to desert to join his brother Robb in the war and to avenge his father, but his Night Watch brothers convince him otherwise.  Instead, he agrees to go on a mission with his other Night Watch Brothers to find his missing uncle.

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Tyrion escapes Catelyn, Lysa and her crazy son, and the whole ‘flying’ from the Vale nonsense (they literally just throw people out the windows), and rallies his own army of savages and whatnots to join his father on the battlefield.  His father sends him into battle despite being ill-equipped, and he almost dies.  At this point, Tyrion is beginning to think his family is using him as a pawn, and he starts to tread a little more carefully around them.  All he wants to do is drink, know things, and have his whores, but no one will just let him be, and since he’s arguably the smartest of all the characters, they probably should have just let him be.  Eventually, his father sends him to King’s Landing to be the Hand of the King in his stead which pisses Cersei off to no end.  However, her father and Tyrion both recognize that Joffrey’s stupid actions have caused them a lot of problems, and someone needs to get both him and Cersei under control before everything is destroyed, and Cersei, reluctantly, agrees to the situation… but not before slapping Tyrion around some- she enjoys doing this, and Tyrion and I are getting sick of it.

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Meanwhile, across the sea, someone, sent by King Robert before his death, tries to kill Daenerys, so Drogo agrees to help his wife take over Westeros.  Before any of this can happen, Drogo is fatally injured and falls off his horse.  This signals the end of him leading his Khal and his and Daenerys’ dreams of taking over Westeros and the Iron Throne.  In a desperate attempt, Daenerys begs a healer to save his life, and in the whole convoluted process, her unborn son is sacrificed to bring Drogo back.  But, Drogo does not come back complete, and the healer begins mocking Daenerys saying she’s an idiot, and she never wanted to help her which sets Daenerys off.  But, you see, when Daenerys gets pissed off, she does not act irrationally; she is cold and calculating and far smarter than her 14ish years should allow her to be.  So, she ends up suffocating Drogo with a pillow to end his misery and builds him a funeral pyre.  She places Drogo in his pyre with their dead son, the healer who did all of this (still alive- who’s laughing now!?), and the 3 dragon eggs she received as a wedding gift and sets it all on fire.  In a moment of clarity, she realizes that she is the Mother of Dragons and enters the fire as well.  When the fire dies down, she is untouched, and the dragons are nursing on her (yes, nursing- this is different from the show and makes you feel slightly icky).  She names the 3 dragons after her family, her Khal swears their allegiance to her as Khaleesi, and a giant blood-red comet streaks across the sky.

And it’s at the moment that we’re all just like….

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And that, my friends, is as short a summary as you can get with A Game of Thrones.

And, trust me, I am well aware that I have left TONS out…

After all, I have only read it once…

-The MF


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