The third season of HBO's fantasy drama series Game of Thrones is just around the corner and it has been causing a stir on both sides of the Atlantic.
The hype has been immense and the programme had won over the most unlikely of fans from Caitlin Moran to Lily Allen. Even those who are staunchly against long-running fantasy franchises and would quite happily punch Frodo Baggins in the face have been seduced by this show.
However, if a television programme set in a mythical medieval kingdom, featuring sword fights, dragons and an unending cast of characters is not your thing, and you would rather flay yourself than watch 20-odd hours of period politicking, then fear not! You can familiarise yourself with the cultural tropes to blag your way through any conversation with this handy Game of Thrones guide:
Based on the novels of George RR Martin, Game of Thrones tells the story of the struggle between several families to claim the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
The main players:
Daenerys Targaryen - Forced to flee Westeros after her father's throne was usurped when she was a baby, Daenerys is busy making plans to build an army and take back the Seven Kingdoms. She also has three small dragons which plans to use to retake her throne, it's significant because dragons are thought to be extinct in this world.
Cersei Lannister - She's the queen of Westeros and mother to Joffrey who ascended to the throne. She hates her dwarf brother Tyrion and is involved in an incestuous relationship with her twin brother Jaime, in fact Joffrey is the offspring of her union with Jaime.
Jaime Lannister - Also known as the 'Kingslayer' after killing Daenerys' father the 'Mad King' Aerys Targaryen. In the last season he was captured during battle and became a prisoner of war. He was eventually released as part of an unofficial hostage exchange and was being escorted back to the capital of Westeros King's Landing.
Joffrey Lannister - Cruel, sadistic and the character everyone loves to hate the most. He ascended to the Iron Throne after his father Robert Baratheon died. However, he's heard rumours his father might actually be his uncle Jaime. He was also bethrothed to Sansa stark but this was dissolved at the end of the last season.
Tyrion Lannister - A dwarf and sometimes referred to as the 'Imp' depending on who's asking, Tyrion is the best character in Game of Thrones. Not only does he get the best lines but he is a wonderfully complex character and probably the only likeable member of his family. He's also slapped Joffrey which is never a bad thing. At the end of the last season he was left with a hideous scar across his face after marching into battle when King's Landing was attacked.
Robb Stark - After his father Ned Stark was killed under the orders of Joffrey, Robb spent the last season battling against the Lannisters. He's also been dubbed the King in the North and plans to break away from the rest of the realm and form a northern kingdom - think Scottish independence but with fewer swords.
Catelyn Stark - The matriarch of the Stark family and the mother to the five Stark children. After her husband Ned was killed at Joffrey's bidding, she had been aiding her son on the front line. She also ordered for Jaime to be released and taken to Kings Landing in exchange for her daughters Arya and Sansa who she believes are still in the city. While she is away at war her home of Winterfell is invaded and she believes that Robb is her only living son.
Bran Stark - Another one of the five Stark children, he was crippled by Jaime Lannister who threw him out of a tower after Bran accidentally stumbled across one of Cersei and his trysts. At the end of the last season Bran had to flee his home when it was invaded and razed to the ground. His mother does not know he is still alive.
Arya Stark - The younger stark daughter and a complete tomboy who prefers sword fighting to sewing. Unsurprisingly, she is often mistaken for be a boy. She was in King's Landing and saw Joffrey sentence her father to death, luckily during the chaos she managed to escape the city. In the last season she making her way home when her party was captured and she was taken prisoner. However, Arya and her two friends escaped and are on the run. Her mother does not know that she is no longer being held hostage.
Sansa Stark - The complete opposite of her sister Arya and the eldest Stark girl, Sansa is beautiful if naive. She is being held captive in King's Landing by the Lannisters. Her engagement to Joffrey has been broken off much to her delight but she's not safe yet and hopes to escape the city.
Jon Snow - The illegitimate son of Ned, Jon is despised by Catelyn who sees him as a sign of her husband's infidelity. Jon is part of an ancient order known as the Night's Watch who guard the realm from savage people known as wildings and other dangerous creatures that live on the other side of the Wall - a mammoth structure that divides Westeros and the frozen wastes beyond. In the last season Jon was captured by the wildings.
The new series of 'Game of Thrones' will air on 1 April on Sky Atlantic
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