Yes, there’s fantastically twisting plot lines and breathtaking action sequences, but it’s the superb characters that makes George R.R. Martin’s epic take over your life...
10) Robert Baratheon
King of the Andals and the First Men, Robert Baraetheon starts the Game Of Thrones as the most powerful man south of The Wall. Once a great warrior, now a pot-bellied gluttonous womaniser, Robert Baratheon’s greatest strength as a character is his biggest flaw: perpetually drunk, his actions are completely unpredictable. One minute he’ll be merrily cracking jokes, the next he’ll be shaking with rage, demanding the heads of his enemies on a plate. And don’t be surprised if he eats them, too. Deceptively deep and conflicted, and incredibly generous to his friends, Robert Baratheon’s death has a huge impact on the characters and the world he leaves behind.
Bronn is a dangerous sellsword who spends most of his time chasing money and speaking his brilliant mind. His not so shrewd observation that “There’s no cure for being a cunt”, directed at King Joffrey himself, is one of the best of the series. He wins fights at any costs, going into battle armour-less against better equipped knights such as Ser Vardis Egen, instead relying on a combination of speed and dirty tricks to come out on top. What is so appealing about Bronn is that he isn’t interested in the Game of Thrones. He doesn’t care for rank or reputation, he just wants to get paid and run his dirty mouth off whilst plunging a dagger into your back, and the way he and Tyrion Lannister bounce off of each other provide many of the show’s most entertaining moments.
8) Lord Varys
The Master of Whisperers on the King’s inner council, Lord Varys is slimy, slippery, and has eyes and ears everywhere. Nothing happens that he and his “little birds” don’t catch wind of, meaning that he – nearly without fail – holds the best hand in any negotiation. As a master manipulator, you get the impression that everything he does, every new addition to his web of information, feeds into a master plan that will eventually come to fruition. He epitomises the political struggles that lie at the heart of the Game of Thrones, and you can’t help but think there’s more on the horizon for the one they call “The Spider”.
7) Cersei Lannister
Arrogant and evil, Cercei is a heartless, ruthless bitch. Her willingness to betray anyone and everyone to protect herself and her family make her extremely dangerous, but also deeply flawed. Her quick temper and arrogance often scupper her best laid plans, and her inability to control her own son, Joffrey, continues to throw up fascinating scenarios. Like her son, you can’t help but loathe her very existence and hope against hope that one day she will be given a taste of her own, foul-tasting medicine.
6) Eddard Stark
The Lord Paramount of the North is a magnificent man. His proclamation that “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword” will remain long in the memory, and his loyalty to his family, friends, and King is admirable. Which is why his death, 9 episodes into the first series, felt like a spear through the heart: shocking, cruel, and painfully premature (although it is Sean Bean, so what did we expect?). The sheer audacity involved in killing off the man that was arguably, up to that point, the ‘main character’ should be applauded, and although Ned has left our screens, his head, displayed above the Traitor’s Walk in King’s Landing, remains a chilling reminder of just how fantastically fragile Martin’s characters are.
5) Jon Snow
In a world dominated by backstabbers, deceivers and dirty politicians, Jon Snow’s story remains constant, like a refreshing current of cold northern air blowing against the back of your neck. Loyal, kind, brave, and the bastard child of Lord Eddard Stark – a burden that initially weighs heavy on his shoulders – Jon really comes alive when he journeys north of The Wall, into the land of the wildlings. Jon’s mercy and kindness eventually come back to haunt him. He can’t bring himself to execute Ygritte, a female wildling, and is taken captive North of The Wall. Deep in the heart of wildling territory and dangerous close to the newly emerged, legendary White Walkers, his tale sits perfectly poised.
4) Arya Stark
With a fiery temper and ever blazing spirit, Arya tears down Westeros’s gender barriers, proving a match for knights and nobles alike. Small and unassuming, but smart beyond her young years, you can’t help but root for her. Hiding right under the enemy’s nose as Tywin Lannister’s cupbearer, Arya displays unmatched courage, stealing a letter detailing Tywin’s troops movements before out-smarting the mysterious assassin Jaqen H’ghar to secure a safe passage out of Harrenhal with companions Gendry and Hot Pie, determined to track down and reunite her splintered family.
3) Joffrey Baratheon
Joffrey is the slimiest, cockiest bastard you ever saw. You want nothing better than to see that trademark smirk wiped off his smug face in the most gruesome way possible, as he plots the downfall of every character you care about. Every bit his mother’s son, Joffrey’s cruelty is made worse by his inexperience in life. Young and reckless, he knows no restraint, and enjoys inflicting unimaginable pain on others and wallowing in his own power. We all hope he dies a slow death. The fact that he can elicit such strong emotions in Game Of Throne’s audience is testament to how carefully his personality has been crafted, and I can’t wait to see what unpleasant fate awaits the bugger.
2) Daenerys Targaryen
“I am Daenerys Stormborn and I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” Beautiful and terrible, the transformation of Dany, Mother of Dragons, is remarkable. Starting out as nothing but a fragile princess and bargaining tool for her brother, Viserys, she is traded to Khal Drogo and forced to marry into the Dothraki. It’s the start of a titanic rise to power that sees Daenerys placed right at the centre of some of the show’s defining moments, and now everything is falling into place for Dany. Oozing with confidence and armed with fire breathing beasts and an overwhelming sense of entitlment, you can be sure that her assault on the throne will come hard and fast.
1) Tyrion Lannister
Underdog, dwarf, intellectual: Tyrion Lannister is a lot of things, all of them perfectly suited for playing the Game Of Thrones. The reason we love him is that, despite all the obstacles that stand in his path, he can bring the biggest and baddest of Westeros to their knees. “Bad people are what I’m good at”, says Tyrion, and he’s not wrong: using a combination of wit and intellect he outfoxes, outsmarts and embarrasses his enemies and allies alike, even slapping down King Joffrey in one memorable moment. The only Lannister to show any empathy or sympathy for others, Tyrion Lannister is a diamond sitting on a pile of dog turd.
Want more Game of Thrones? Check out this interview with Gendry over at Topman Generation…