Game of Thrones

HBO's new fantasy series Game of Thrones creates a massive world with its own jargon and a ton of characters—Jace Lacob's glossary and character gallery explain all!

HBO/Helen Sloan

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE STARK: Eddard Stark (Sean Bean)

Also Known As: Ned
Family Relations: Wife: Catelyn; Highborn Children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon; Bastard Son: Jon Snow; Brother: Benjen
Weapon: His sword, “Ice”

Eddard is the gruff but sensible Warden of the North, whose seat of power is at Winterfell. A descendant of the First Men, Ned is a follower of the old ways and believes that whoever sentences a man to die should swing the sword himself. In his case, it’s an ancient Valyrian broadsword called Ice, capable of severing a man’s head from his shoulders with one stroke.

Growing up in the Vale under the guidance of Jon Arryn, Ned was raised alongside Robert Baratheon and played a key role in the rebellion that ended the reign of the Targaryens and put Robert on the throne. He’s still a trusted friend to King Robert, who was once betrothed to Ned’s sister Lyanna, who was killed during the rebellion, along with Ned’s father Rickard and his brother Brandon.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE STARK: Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)

Also Known As: Cat
Family Relations: Husband: Eddard; Highborn Children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon; Sister: Lysa Arryn; Brother: Edmure Tully; Father: Hoster Tully
Dislikes: Bastards

Catelyn is the strong but dutiful wife of Eddard Stark. She has given him three sons and two daughters but cannot forgive his infidelity during the war, which resulted in his bastard son, Jon Snow, whom she cannot bear to look upon.

Raised at Riverrun, her father’s ward Petyr Baelish fell in love with Catelyn and proclaimed his love, dueling with her betrothed, Brandon Stark (Ned’s brother), and losing in the process. When Brandon died during the rebellion at the hands of the Mad King Aerys II, Catelyn married Eddard instead, though their marriage blossomed into true love between the two.

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE STARK: Robb Stark (Richard Madden)

Also Known As: The Heir to Winterfell
Family Relations: Father: Eddard; Mother: Catelyn; Highborn Siblings: Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon; Bastard Brother: Jon Snow
Direwolf: Grey Wind

Robb is the eldest son of Eddard and Catelyn and the heir to Winterfell and its lands. Headstrong and determined, he is his father’s son in every respect and has learned how to rule justly at his father’s feet. However, Robb is a summer child who has never lived through the long, cold winters, nor has he ever fought a man using a real blade.

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE STARK: Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)

Family Relations: Father: Eddard; Mother: Catelyn; Highborn Siblings: Robb, Arya, Bran, Rickon; Bastard Brother: Jon Snow
Direwolf: Lady
Likes: Lemon cakes

The eldest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, Sansa has been groomed her entire childhood to become the lady wife of a wealthy lord. However, unlike the rest of her siblings, true Northerners in spirit and attitude, Sansa has some very romantic notions about knights, believing the stories and songs of chivalry and honor.

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE STARK: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

Also Known As: Arya Underfoot
Family Relations: Father: Eddard; Mother: Catelyn; Highborn Siblings: Robb, Sansa, Bran, Rickon; Bastard Brother: Jon Snow
Direwolf: Nymeria
Dislikes: Needlepoint

Arya is the youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn and the polar opposite of her sister Sansa in every respect. Rambunctious and irrepressible, she is more at home in the tournament yard or the stables than she is at her studies. Quick with a bow and arrow, skilled with a knife, she’s a rough-and-tumble tomboy (with better skills than some of her brothers) who dreams of becoming a warrior rather than a well-groomed lady.

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE STARK: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright)

Family Relations: Father: Eddard; Mother: Catelyn; Highborn Siblings: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Rickon; Bastard Brother: Jon Snow
Direwolf: Summer
Likes: Climbing

Bran is the Starks’ middle son who dreams of becoming a knight when he reaches manhood. A sure-footed lad, he loves to climb the walls and towers of Winterfell and is more at ease scaling a wall than he is with a bow and arrow, much to the amusement of his sister, Arya.

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE STARK: Jon Snow (Kit Harington)

Also Known As: Lord Snow
Family Relations: Father: Eddard; Mother: Unknown; Highborn Siblings: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran; Rickon; Uncle: Benjen Stark
Direwolf: Ghost
Dislikes: Being reminded that he was born on the wrong side of the sheets

Jon Snow is Ned’s bastard, though his father refuses to discuss who Jon’s mother was, a mystery that hangs over the series. He was raised at Winterfell but was never made to feel a member of the Stark family, thanks to Catelyn. His future is uncertain, should he remain at Winterfell.

“Jon is a tortured young man,” said Kit Harington. “He has been raised as a rich son of a lord but has no title and will inherit nothing… He will always be an outsider… Because of this, he has a constant struggle between his ambition to be more than a bastard and his loyalty to his family… He is an honest, loyal, and strong man with a huge weight around his neck.”

Favorite moment: “Walking onto the Castle Black set for the first time,” said Harington. “There was also a moment when I was riding through the woods on horseback and I found myself alone, at night, with a sword, in a cloak… and I thought, ‘This is cool.’”

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE BARATHEON: King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy)

Also Known As: The Usurper
Family Relations: Wife: Cersei Lannister; Children: Joffrey, Myrcella, Tommen; Brothers: Stannis, Renly
Bastard Offspring: Too numerous to count
Likes: Women and wine, in either order

Robert was raised alongside Eddard Stark and the two are as close as brothers. Betrothed to Ned’s sister Lyanna, he was distraught when she was kidnapped by the Mad King’s son Rhaegar and launched a rebellion to retrieve her and end the reign of the Targaryen clan.

When Lyanna was murdered at the hands of his enemies, Robert instead agreed to marry Cersei Lannister, a political marriage that was the result of her father Tywin—then the Hand of the King—helping Robert and the rebellion take the Iron Throne at King’s Landing. Robert crowned himself the rightful king of the Seven Kingdoms. His coronation ushered in an era of peace for Westeros.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE BARATHEON: Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)

Family Relations: Husband: Robert; Children: Joffrey, Myrcella, Tommen; Brothers: Jaime, Tyrion; Father: Twyin Lannister
Likes: Secrets, power games
Dislikes: Anyone who isn’t a Lannister

The only daughter of Machiavellian power broker Tywin Lannister, the beautiful Cersei sees herself as being cursed for not being born a man like her brothers. Following Ned and Robert’s rebellion against the Mad King, she entered into a loveless marriage with Robert in order to gain further power, though she may have once had a sliver of affection for her kingly husband.

The queen of the Seven Kingdoms, she is a fiercely protective lioness when it comes to her three children and shares a special bond with her brother Jaime.

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HOUSE BARATHEON: Prince Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson)

Also Known As: Joff
Family Relations: Father: Robert; Mother: Cersei; Siblings: Myrcella, Tommen; Uncles: Jaime, Tyrion; Grandfather: Tywin Lannister
Dislikes: Being shown to be a coward

The oldest of Robert and Cersei’s sons, Prince Joffrey is the heir to the Iron Throne and will succeed his father Robert to become king of the Seven Kingdoms. Arrogant and malicious, he is rarely not in the presence of his trusted “dog,” Sandor Clegane, also known as “The Hound.”

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE BARATHEON: Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony)

Also Known As: Lord of Storm’s End
Family Relations: Brothers: Robert, Stannis
Likes: Roses
Dislikes: Littlefinger’s jokes

The youngest of the Baratheon brothers, Renly serves on the king’s council, which often makes the major decisions about the rule of the land without the king’s input. Charismatic and ambitious, he shares many of the same qualities with his oldest brother Robert. He is extremely close with the dazzling knight and court favorite Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE LANNISTER: Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)

Also Known As: The Kingslayer, Oathbreaker
Family Relations: Sister: Cersei; Brother: Tyrion; Father: Tywin
Likes: Himself

Ser Jamie is the twin brother of Queen Cersei, with whom he shares a “complicated relationship,” and a member of the Kingsguard, despite the fact that he was personally responsible for the murder of King Aerys, breaking his sacred vow to dispose of the Mad King.

“I don’t think he sees himself as a hero, but I don’t see him as a villain at all,” said Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. “His nickname, ‘The Kingslayer,’ he hates that nickname. The whole idea that what he did was wrong doesn’t sit well with Jaime. The Mad King made Hitler look like Mother Teresa; he was beyond cruel and mad [but] the fact that Jaime broke his oath is what they see and how they brand him. That’s unfair.”

Sibling rivalry: “Even though they’re twins, they’re so different,” he said of Cersei. “Jaime does not want to be part of this whole political world, which doesn’t hold his interest. She is all about gaining power and maneuvering in that world.”

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE LANNISTER: Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)

Also Known As: The Imp
Family Relations: Sister: Cersei; Brother: Jaime; Father: Tywin
Likes: Whores, gold, and good food
Weapon: His wits

Tyrion is the youngest child of Tywin Lannister and responsible for the death of his mother, who died during childbirth. A dwarf, Tyrion implicitly feels the hatred that his family members feel for him. Withdrawing into a world of books, he’s a keenly intelligent and viciously cunning gamesman who feels a kinship with bastards and broken people, yet he’s also charming, quick-witted, and a true bon vivant.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE TARGARYEN: Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd)

Family Relations: Sister: Daenerys
Likes: Power
Dislikes: People waking the dragon

Viserys is the last remaining heir to the Targaryen dynasty. Growing up in exile in the Free Cities of Essos, he has spent his entire life obsessed with the idea of reclaiming the Iron Throne as the rightful king of Westeros… and those who would profit from such a move have been whispering in his ear for years.

Cruel and quite possibly as insane as his father, King Aerys, Viserys sees everyone and everything as a stepping stone for his future coronation, including his sister Daenerys, who he views as another pawn to be used in the game he’s playing.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE TARGARYEN: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)

Also Known As: Daenerys Stormborn
Family Relations: Brother: Viserys
Likes: Dragon eggs
Dislikes: Being used

Daenerys is the younger sister of Viserys and the last surviving daughter of the Targaryen clan. A teenager, she’s lived her entire live in exile and has never known Westeros, though she reluctantly follows the lead of her mercenary brother.

“The beautiful thing about Daenerys… is her journey,” said Emilia Clarke, talking to The Daily Beast last month. “On a basic level, a lot of women can relate it to because it’s the growth of a girl into a woman... The strength that you see by the end of the [season], she has always had that because of her heritage. She comes from an incredibly strong family. Her brother is the only family that she knows and all of her knowledge about her family and about what’s right and wrong comes from him. She hasn’t really had an opportunity to experience the power that she will come to terms with later on.”

Favorite scene: “For fans, the only thing I will say is the final scene,” said Clarke. “The final scene of the book.”

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE GREYJOY: Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen)

Family Relations: Theon has been a ward to Eddard Stark for ten years. Father: Balon Greyjoy; Sister: Asha Greyjoy

The son of Lord Balon Greyjoy, Theon is the heir to the Iron Islands but has grown up as a ward (or hostage) of the Starks at Winterfell after his father rose up against King Robert and threatened to overthrow the king. Despite this situation, Theon has been treated well by the Starks and is a trusted member of their household. Arrogant and sly, Theon is a noted marksman and a proud warrior and has grown close to Robb Stark.

HBO/Nick Briggs

HOUSE BAELISH: Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen)

Also Known As: Littlefinger
Family Relations: Unknown, though he was raised by Hoster Tully and grew up alongside Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn at Riverrun
Likes: Money, brewing mistrust, and intrigues

Fostered at Riverrun, Petyr grew up alongside Catelyn and Lysa and fell in love with the former, challenging her betrothed Brandon (Ned’s brother) to a duel for her love. He lost, but his life was spared when Catelyn begged Brandon for mercy. Now the king’s master of coin (treasurer) in King’s Landing, he’s responsible for overseeing the finances of the realm and has an almost magical knack for producing gold. Manipulative and cunning, he’s all smiles and charm, but his exterior belies a most dangerous heart.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE CLEGANE: Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann)

Also Known As: The Hound
Family Relations: Brother: Ser Gregor (a.k.a. The Mountain Who Rides)

The personal bodyguard to Prince Joffrey, Clegane is better known as “The Hound,” both for the sigil of House Clegane (three dogs) and for the snarling canine helm he wears and is often referred to as “dog” by Joffrey himself. Horrifically scarred on the right side of his face, Clegane was badly burned as a child by his monstrous brother, Ser Gregor, known as “The Mountain Who Rides,” a seven-foot tall killing machine with no conscience or mercy.

HBO/Helen Sloan

DOTHRAKI: Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa)

Weapon: Arakh, whip, or anything at hand

Khal Drogo is the warlord leader of a vast tribe of Dothraki bloodriders on the continent of Essos. Savage and brutal, he has never been defeated in battle, his long braid a symbol of unyielding pride among his people. Not much is known about his past, though he has enlisted the services of Pentoshi merchant-lord Illyrio Mopatis to find him a beautiful wife.

HBO/Helen Sloan

HOUSE MORMONT: Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)

Also Known As: The former Lord of Bear Island
Family Relations: Father: Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch

Ser Jorah is an exiled knight from Westeros who has fled to the Free Cities after being sentenced to death by Eddard Stark for the crime of attempting to sell poachers into slavery after being financially ruined by his second wife.

Now in Essos, he has pledged his fealty to the remaining members of the Targaryen clan, Daenerys and Viserys.