The A to Z Guide to 'Game of Thrones'
A is for AZOR AHAI
Azor Ahai is a mythical figure in the religion that Melisandre follows. Called the Lord of Light in the common language of Westeros, Azor Ahai forged a mythical sword thousands of years ago called Lightbringer that he then used to defeat a creature known as The Great Other. A prophecy foretold that Azor Ahai would be reborn as "The Prince That Was Promised", and would lead all humanity in a final battle against the darkness.
Melisandre believed that Stannis Baratheon was Azor Ahai reborn, but after he was killed in the finale of the fifth season, she then believed that Jon Snow was the figure of the prophecy. However, another priestess in the same religion believes that Daenerys Targaryen is Azor Ahai, as the original prophecy was written in High Valyrian and the language does not distinguish between genders. In other words, the correct translation would be "The Prince/Princess That Was Promised".
B is for BASTARDS
In 'Game of Thrones', the term "bastard" refers to any person born out of wedlock to a noble family. As a bastard, they're unable to hold lordship over their House, and cannot even take the name of their father's House. They can only carry a common name to that region of Westeros. For example, if a bastard was born in the North, their surname would be Snow. If they were born in Dorne, their surname would be Sand. In the Westerlands, it's Hill and on the Iron Islands, it's Pyke.
In Westeros and on the Iron Islands, bastardy carries a severe social stigma and it's extremely rare for bastards to be acknowledged, much less raised by their father's House. Jon Snow, for example, was an exception rather than the norm in the North. In equally rare cases, a bastard could be legitmised by royal decree. This is what happened with Ramsay Bolton, formerly Ramsay Snow.
C is for CASTLE BLACK
Castle Black is the headquarters of the Night's Watch. Located roughly at the centre of the Wall that separates Westeros from the land beyond it, Castle Black is one of only three castles left manned by the Night's Watch, the other two being Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and the Shadow Tower. In total, there are nineteen castles positioned along the Wall to defend against wildling attacks. Castle Black has been the sight of numerous incidents throughout the series, most notably the Battle of Castle Black which took place in the fourth season episode, 'The Watchers on the Wall'.
It was in the aftermath of this battle that Jon Snow was named as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, after Jeor Mormont was murdered in a mutiny. By the end of the fourth season and the beginning of the fifth season, Jon Snow had passed command of the Night's Watch to Eddison Tollett, otherwise known as Dolorous Edd, after his death and subsequent ressurection freed him from his oath.
D is for DOTHRAKI
Commonly referred to as "the horse-lords", the Dothraki are a nomadic race of warriors on Essos. Unlike the kingdoms of Westeros, the Dothraki have no one king, but rather several khals who lead clans of people known in their language as khalasars. These khalasars roam across the Dothraki Sea, which is a misnomer of sorts as there's no water on the Dothraki Sea but rather grass and plains.
The Dothraki have only one inhabited city, Vaes Dothrak, and it is illegal under their law to kill another Dothraki inside the city walls. However, the Dothraki can and do regularly murder and plunder one another's khalasars if the needs arise. The most powerful of the khals was Khal Drogo, but when he died from his wounds in the first season, Daenerys assumed control of what was left of his khalasar and named herself Khaleesi.
E is for ESSOS
A large continent to the east of Westeros, Essos is made up of many city-states. The nearest of these to Westeros are the nine Free Cities - Braavos, Volantis, Lys, Myr, Pentos, Lorath, Tyrosh, Qohor and Norvos. So far, only a few of these cities have been seen in the television series, however almost all of them have featured in the books. Braavos, for example, was the home of the House of Black and White where Arya Stark learned to become one of the Faceless Men. Pentos, meanwhile, appeared in the very first episode where Daenerys and her brother, Viserys, were introduced on screen.
To the south-east lies Slaver's Bay and the cities of Meereen, Yunkai and Astapor. These cities were known for their use of slavery and their brutality to slaves themselves. Most of the fourth and fifth season of 'Game of Thrones' involving Daenerys was set between these three cities as she sought to outlaw slavery and destroy the slave masters.
Further south is Qarth, where much of the second season for Daenerys' story was set. Qarth was previously the home of the Thirteen, a group of fabulously wealthy oligarchs who ruled the city. One of these oligarchs was Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who vouched for Daenerys' entry to the city. Whilst there, Xaro attempted a coup with the help of a warlock known as Pyatt Pree and imprisoned both Daenerys and her three dragons. She escaped, obviously, and set Pyat Pree on fire whilst imprisoning Xaro Xhoan Daxos inside his own vault.
F is for FIRST MEN
The First Men were the very first human inhabitants of Westeros. They came to the continent 12,000 years before the events of the series, by crossing a land-bridge that originally connected Dorne with Essos. The First Men spread across Westeros, but soon encountered the Children of the Forest, a magical race of diminutive people who used magic and commanded the giants. In order to defeat the First Men, the Children of the Forest used magic to create the White Walkers. However, they soon turned against them and became the most dangerous creatures in all of Westeros.
The First Men and the Children of the Forest joined forces and defeated the White Walkers, sealing them in the North and creating a wall of ice to keep them back. The builder of the Wall was known as Bran The Builder, who also built Winterfell. The First Men formed the Night's Watch to guard against future attacks from the White Walkers. Shortly after this, the Children of the Forest began to dwindle in numbers, eventually disappearing from Westeros entirely.
It was at this same time that the Andals appeared on Westeros, who had invaded from Essos and fought the First Men for control of the continent. These battled throughout a time known as the Age of Heroes, but it was not until the Targaryens arrived on Westeros that these two groups eventually submitted to the rule of the Targaryens. This is where one of the titles for the ruler of Westeros -"King of the Andals and the First Men" - comes from.
G is for GREYJOY
House Greyjoy is one of the Great Houses of Westeros. Based on the Iron Islands, the Greyjoys rule over the inhabitants of these islands, themselves known as Ironborn. The Ironborn, and the Greyjoys, worship a deity known as the Drowned God. Because the Iron Islands are small and farming is virtually impossible, the Greyjoys and the Ironborn are known as pirates and raiders.
In fact, the title of ruler of House Greyjoy and the Iron Islands is Lord Reaper. Since before the events of the series, the Greyjoys have been in open rebellion against the Iron Throne, and are known to distrust the other Great Houses of Westeros. Their sigil is a golden octopus across a black field, and their motto, or words are "We Do Not Sow", in reference to their skill as pirates and raiders.
H is for HOUND
The Hound is the nickname for Sandor Clegane. Formerly the personal bodyguard of King Joffrey Baratheon and member of the Kingsguard, Sandor Clegane then deserted during the Battle of Blackwater. Travelling across Westeros as a fugitive with Arya Stark, the Hound eventually met up with the Brotherhood Without Banners, tried to ransom Arya off to House Arryn, and eventually got his ass handed to him by Brienne of Tarth.
After that encounter, many thought him dead - and he effectively was, as he was holed up with a group of refugees led by a Sept. When this group of refugees was brutally attacked by mutineers from the Brotherhood Without Banners. Together with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, they set off to the Lands Of Always Winter and eventually brought back a Wight to help Jon Snow prove his case to Cersei that the threat of the White Walkers and the Night King was serious enough for a ceasefire between them all.
I is for IRON THRONE
Located in the Great Hall of the Red Keep in the city of King's Landing, the Iron Throne is the seat on which the King or Queen of the Andals and the First Men sits. The throne itself is forged from the swords thrown down by the six kingdoms of Westeros after Aegon the Conqueror defeated their armies. The seventh kingdom, Dorne, later came under the influence of the Iron Throne by a marital alliance.
The Hand of the King may sit on the Iron Throne when the King/Queen is away, but no other person may do so. Since the beginning of 'Game of Thrones', four people have sat on the Iron Throne - Robert Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, Tommen Baratheon, and Cersei Lannister. The previous occupant was Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the Mad King. When he was deposed from the Iron Throne and murdered by Jaime Lannister, Robert was crowned King of Westeros and ended nearly 300 years of Targaryen rule.
J is for JAQEN H'GHAR
Jaqen H'ghar is one of the Faceless Men from the House of Black and White in Braavos. In the first season, Jaqen H'ghar is a criminal who is due to be transported to Castle Black to join the ranks of the Night's Watch. His ability to change his face and assume a different identity is one known only to the Faceless Men. When Arya first meets him after being smuggled out King's Landing following Ned Stark's execution, she begs him to train him to become one of the Faceless Men
By the the end of the third season, Jaqen H'ghar returns to Braavos and tells Arya that if she ever finds herself there, she should show a coin to a Braavosi and say the words "Valar Morghulis" - a High Valyrian phrase that means "All men must die." The response is "Valar Dohaeris," which means "All men must serve."
When Arya reaches Braavos and the House of Black and White, she is then taken into be trained by the man she knew as Jaqen H'ghar. The training regime is brutal and uncompromising, but after Arya prevails, Jaqen H'Ghar sends her on her way.
K is for KING'S LANDING
The capital of Westeros and the largest city in the Seven Kingdoms, King's Landing is situated on the east coast of the continent and overlooks Blackwater Bay. There are many notable locations in the city, including the Red Keep where the Iron Throne is kept, the Great Sept of Baelor (which Cersei blew up at the end of the sixth season), Flea Bottom (where Ser Davos hails from), and the Street of Steel (where Gendry was hiding out while working as a blacksmith).
L is for LANNISTER
House Lannister is one of the Great Houses of Westeros, and is considered to be one of the richest and most powerful. This wealth and power flows from the rich gold mines situated underneath Casterly Rock, but also extends to their influence over the Iron Throne since the time of the Mad King and into Robert's Rebellion.
Tywin Lannister served as the King's Hand in the time of the Mad King and left his service when he named his only son, Jaime, to the Kingsguard - thus rendering him unable to inherit Casterly Rock and ending Tywin's plans for him. When Robert Baratheon gathered an uprising and defeated the Mad King, it was the Lannisters who funded and supported Robert Baratheon.
By marrying his daughter Cersei to Robert, Tywin continued his hold over the Iron Throne. This continued right up until his death, with both Tyrion and Tywin Lannister serving as Hand to King Joffrey respectively.
Known for their distinctive blonde hair, the Lannisters' words are "Hear Me Roar!", but the phrase, "A Lannister always their debts" is also associated with them.
M is for MELISANDRE
A priestess of the faith of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, Melisandre of Asshai has several names. Some called her the Red Woman, while others call her the Red Witch. Born in Essos centuries ago, Melisandre has kept her youthful appearance with the help of a magical necklace worn around her neck.
As well as this, she wields the gift of prophecy and came to Westeros to find the Prince Who Was Promised, the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, believing it initially to be Stannis Baratheon. However, when he died in battle, she then believed it to be Jon Snow and brought him back to life after he was murdered by members of the Night's Watch.
A religious fanatic, Melisandre routinely had people who did not follow her faith set on fire and in doing so, earned her a fearsome reputation. This becomes apparent when, in the seventh season, Varys is initially distrustful of her and her magic when she meets Daenerys Targaryen for the first time. With Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen now in alliance, Melisandre believes her work to be done - but admits that her ultimate destiny is to die in Westeros.
N is for NORTH BEYOND THE WALL
Also known as the Lands of Always Winter, the North beyond the Wall has been the hiding place of the Night King and the White Walkers for thousands of years.
Made up of snowy tundras and endless cold, the Land of Always Winter was not always so. In the sixth season, Bran Stark sees a vision of the North beyond the Wall and it's shown as a green and bountiful place.
As well as this, it is also shown to be the place in which the Night King was created by the Children of the Forest after they plunged a dragonglass dagger into his chest. Since then, the Night King has been on a quest to destroy all in his path and adds those he kills in battle to his cause by raising them from the dead.
O is for ONION KNIGHT
Ser Davos Seaworth, otherwise known as the Onion Knight, got his name when he saved Stannis Baratheon from a siege at Storm's End by bringing a shipment of food - including onions - in under the cover of night.
A practical man, Ser Davos was formerly a smuggler and a pirate, and served as King's Hand to Stannis Baratheon. However, when Stannis died in battle, he found himself advising Jon Snow and Sansa Stark on the assault of Winterfell.
After Jon reclaimed Winterfell and was crowned as King in the North, Davos stayed on as his adviser and travelled with him to Dragonstone to meet Daenerys. After the meeting with Cersei at King's Landing where Jon and Daenerys showed her one of the Night King's reanimated dead, he sailed with the combined forces to White Harbour.
P is for PETYR BAELISH
If any one person was responsible for most of the problems in 'Game of Thrones', Petyr Baelish is it. Named Littlefinger, in reference to his small height and the islands he claims lordship over, Petyr Baelish initially served as the Master of Coin for King Robert Baratheon.
Baelish had King Robert's Hand, Jon Arryn, poisoned by Lysa Arryn - the sister of Catelyn Stark - at his request, tricking her into believing that he was in love with her and would marry once Jon Arryn was dead. Lysa Arryn then sent a letter to Catelyn Stark on Baelish's instructions, telling her sister that she believed the Lannisters had Jon Arryn poisoned.
Whilst Bran Stark lay crippled and in a coma in Winterfell, Baelish arranged for an assassin to murder Bran in his sleep with a dagger that Baelish then told the Starks belonged to Tyrion Lannister.
This attempted assassination galvanised the Starks against the Lannisters, which Baelish set into motion in order to ensure his rise to power at the expense of peace in Westeros. All of his crimes were brought to light in the final episode of the seventh season when he was put on trial in Winterfell by Arya and Sansa Stark.
Q is for QUEEN
Currently, Westeros is ruled by Queen Cersei, First of her Name, and should Daenerys prevail by the end of the series, she will be the second woman in Westerosi history to rule. Up until this point, only men have sat on the Iron Throne. From Aegon the Conqueror through to the Mad King and right up to Tommen, no woman had ever sat on the Iron Throne as Queen Regnant until now.
R is for ROBERT'S REBELLION
Taking place 17 years before the events of 'Game of Thrones', Robert's Rebellion was directly responsible for ending the rule of the Targaryens in Westeros after 300 years. It began when Prince Rhaegar, the son of the Mad King, eloped in secret with Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark's sister.
Robert Baratheon, who was bethrothed to Lyanna, believed that Rhaegar had gone mad like his father and kidnapped Lyanna. Rickard and Brandon Stark, Lyanna's father and brother, both demanded justice from the Mad King for what they believed was Lyanna's kidnapping. Instead, the Mad King had both of them publicly executed for treason - which helped to galvanise the other Great Houses of Westeros against the Iron Throne.
While all this was happening, Lyanna Stark was hidden in the Tower of Joy while she was pregnant as Prince Rhaegar went out to lead his father's army against the houses aligned against them.
At the Battle of the Trident, Robert Baratheon personally killed Prince Rhaegar just as Lyanna Stark gave birth to her son, Aegon. Ned Stark arrived at the Tower of Joy just as she died in childbirth, and made Ned promise to raise Aegon as his own. Aegon was then named Jon Snow, and his true heritage was kept hidden from the world and the secret died with Ned Stark.
Following the Tower of Joy and the Battle of the Trident, Tywin Lannister led a substantial force to King's Landing and joined the side of Robert Baratheon, helping to secure the capital and ordered the death of Elia Martell and her children by Prince Rhaegar. The Mad King attempted to blow up the city with stockpiles of wildfire hidden underneath the Red Keep but just before he could give the order, Jaime Lannister stabbed him to death.
With the Targaryens thought to be dead - Viserys and Daenerys were smuggled out of the city by Varys - Robert Baratheon ascended to the Iron Throne, by virtue of his thin connection to the Targayens on his mother's side and by his being the first nobleman to stand up to the Mad King.
S is for STARK
Since the Age of Heroes, the Starks of Winterfell have been the Wardens of the North. The Wall itself was built by one of their descendants, Bran the Builder, and a Stark has always served in the Night's Watch since its formation.
Before the conquest of the Targaryens, the Starks ruled the North as kings, hence why Robb Stark was crowned the King in the North by the bannermen of House Stark. This title then passed to Jon Snow after he defeated House Bolton and reclaimed Winterfell from them.
Known for their dark features and brusque manners, the words of the Starks also serve as a warning - "Winter Is Coming".
T is for TARGARYEN
For 300 years, House Targaryen ruled over Westeros with the help of its mighty dragons and its use of violence and fear to keep a hold over the formerly independent kingdoms. The Targaryens - Aegon, Visenya and Rhaenys - launched their assault on Westeros from Dragonstone with their three dragons, Balerion, Vhagar and Meraxes, and quickly dominated the continent.
After the six independent kingdoms threw down their swords and bent the knee to Aegon, he became known as Aegon the Conqueror and was crowned King of the Andals and the First Men.
Since then, the Targaryens ruled Westeros and interbred with one another to ensure a Targaryen always sat on the Iron Throne. This process of incest meant that Targaryens were often prone to madness, with the saying being that when the Targaryens had a child, the gods flip a coin to see if they're mad or not.
Currently, one Targaryen is known to have survived Robert's Rebellion - Daenerys Targaryen. However, Daenerys' brother, Prince Rhaegar, had his marriage to Elia Martell annulled and remarried, and fathered a son with, Lyanna Stark. That child was Aegon Targaryen, now known as Jon Snow.
As Westeros has always been a patriarchal monarchy and the marriage between Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna was legitimate, making their offspring was also legitimate, Jon Snow is by right the true ruler of Westeros - not Daenerys Targaryen.
Their sigil is a three-headed dragon and their words are "Fire and Blood".
U is for UNSULLIED
The Unsullied are considered to be the finest fighting force in all of Essos and Westeros, owed in part to their complete discipline and their complete lack of fear. Trained from birth, the Unsullied originate from Astapor and were brought and sold as slave-soldiers by the rich.
When Daenerys Targaryen arrived at Astapor, she offered one of her dragons in exchange for 8,000 Unsullied and 5,000 more still in training. Once the deal was complete, Daenerys was handed a ceremonial scourge, which she then threw down and ordered the Unsullied to kill their former masters.
After this, the Unsullied joined Daenerys' ranks as free men and were led by Grey Worm. From their first appearance in the fourth season right through to the seventh season, the Unsullied have made up most of Daenerys' army.
V is for VALYRIAN STEEL
One of the few substances that's able to kill White Walkers, Valyrian steel is an extremely rare form of metal that is known for its incredible toughness, light weight and keen edges when forged into swords. All of the Great Houses of Westeros have an heirloom made of Valyrian steel.
The Starks' heirloom was known as Ice, but when Robb Stark was murdered at the Red Wedding, Tywin Lannister had it melted down and reforged into two swords and gave one to Jamie Lannister and the other to his grandson, King Joffrey.
Jon Snow's sword, Longclaw, is made of Valyrian steel and was previously the heirloom of House Mormont. However, Jeor Mormont - the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch - gave it to Jon Snow as his own son, Jorah Mormont, disgraced their family by trading in slaves.
W is for WHITE WALKERS
With their distinctive blue eyes and their pale white skin, the White Walkers are a long-lived race of warriors that were initially created by the Children of the Forest to help protect them against the First Men invading Westeros.
The first White Walker created by the Children of the Forest is now known as the Night King, and has the ability to turn anyone into a White Walker with a touch of his hand. However, the White Walkers are also able to reanimate dead bodies by magic. These creatures are known as Wights, and are distinct from White Walkers.
White Walkers have only two known weaknesses - dragonglass and Valyrian steel. Fire does not harm them, nor do conventional weapons or arrows. At the end of the seventh season, the White Walkers, led by the Night King, destroyed the Wall with the help of the reanimated dragon Viserion and entered Westeros after thousands of years.
X is for XARO XHOAN DAXOS
The only X we could find in 'Game of Thrones'.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos was one of the members of the Thirteen of Qarth, and believed himself to be the richest man in the world. When Daenerys led her khalasar to Qarth in the second season, it was Xaro Xhoan Daxos who ordered the gates to be opened in order to let her in.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos then offered Daenerys half his wealth from his secret vault if she would marry him. Eager to return to Westeros and claim her throne, she refused his offer on the advice of Jorah Mormont as it would mean she would have to be beholden to him for what is rightfully hers.
After this, Xaro Xhoan Daxos arranged to have her dragons stolen and hidden in the House of the Undying whilst he attempted a coup against the other members of the Thirteen on Qarth. This, of course, failed and Daenerys sentenced Xaro Xhoan Daxos to eternity in his vault - which it turns out was completely empty.
Y is for YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW
A phrase uttered by Ygritte and then Melisandre to denote the fact that Jon Snow, in fact, knows nothing. But what does Jon Snow actually not know?
Well, for one, he doesn't know who his true parents are (yet). When Jon Snow is first introduced, he believes that Ned Stark is his father, when in fact his real father is Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Not only that, his mother is Lyanna Stark, Ned Stark's sister.
This also means that Jon Snow did not know that Daenerys Targayen was his aunt when they had sex aboard their ship in the final episode of the seventh season.
Conclusion? Jon Snows knows nothing.
Z is for ZOMBIE DRAGON
Technically a Wight dragon, the Zombie Dragon refers to Viserion. When Daenerys came to the rescue of Jon Snow and his ranging party on their expedition beyond the wall, the dragon Viserion was taken down with a spear from the Night King.
After they fled, the Night King had Viserion dragged up from the ice lake where he fell and resurrected him. Viserion then became a zombie dragon and when the Night King destroys the Wall, he does so by riding Viserion over it and blasting it with blue fire.
This allows the White Walkers and the army of the dead to cross over into Westeros, which is where the seventh season ends and the eight and final season picks up.