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Who’s Who In A Game Of Thrones
A guide to the clans of HBO’s fantasy epic

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It’s Deadwood meets Lord of the Rings! It’s a fantasy TV show that you might be able to admit to watching! In public! You’ve almost certainly come across the publicity blitz for HBO’s new must-see TV show, A Game Of Thrones, which debuts tonight. But what’s it all about, when you get right down to it? Is it going to be another Xena? Or The Wire with broadswords? Here’s a quick guide to who’s who and what’s what, since you should on no account expect this series to hold you by the hand and lay it all out for you. Well, the basics, at any rate: to call this plot "labyrinthine" would be an understatement.

WORDS HELEN O'HARA
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Who’s Who In A Game Of Thrones | The World
The World

Westeros is the place, and it’s a fairly typical fantasy environment in that it’s roughly analogous to the Middle Ages in terms of technology, but not based on any recognisable Earth geography. Here, summers can last years – but so can winters and, as we will often hear in this show, “Winter is coming”. Most of the story takes place in the Seven Kingdoms, a vaguely medieval European parallel that is, despite the name, one state rather than several. Well, we say one state: there are clear tensions between the North and the South (where the capital, King’s Landing, is), and uneasily conquered parts around the edges following a civil war some 16 years before. Oh, and across the northern end of the continent is a gigantic ice wall, blocking something beyond. Only a handful of men are left to guard it – which might turn out to be a bad idea if whatever’s on the other side starts acting up.

Across the Narrow Sea lies Essos, another continent wherein lie the nine Free Cities and the vast plains controlled by the Dothraki horse lords, a semi-barbaric tribe that are a bit like Genghis Khan’s Mongols. It’s a fair guess that these different cultures are going to clash at some point – but then, in George RR Martin’s world, everyone clashes sooner or later. Speaking of which, let’s move on to the major Houses (aka clans, families, whatever) of Westeros…

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