The Complete Guide to Westeros is a series of 24 special featurettes that appear in the Game of Thrones Season 1 Blu Ray box set. The actual cast, in-character, narrate the major events of the 12,000 year long history of Westeros. They have a combined running time of 60 minutes and functionally constitute a full-length "bonus episode" of sorts. The featurettes were written by series staff writer Bryan Cogman.
The goal is that viewers new to the TV series that are not familiar with author George R.R. Martin's books are given within the space of an hour a thorough crash-course on all of the vital things one needs to know about the backstory of the world of Westeros.
Similar to the theme of the books, each of the characters gives their own perspective on historical events. For example, Robert Baratheon is filled with righteous fury when he describes the Sack of King's Landing, while Viserys Targaryen stresses what a betrayal it was and how the Targaryen children were butchered. The House Stark characters are horrified by the bloodshed in the Sack of King's Landing, while Tywin Lannister considers it to have been a necessary evil.
There are two groups of featurettes. Five "Great Houses" featurettes are in full-color, and explain the specific history of the major factions in Season 1: House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Arryn, and House Targaryen. These featurettes are presented in such a way that the characters themselves are supposed to be narrating them in-universe, while the characters are viewing artwork which stylistically represents these histories. For example, the "House Lannister" featurette consists of the camera panning across a series of stained-glass images in a castle, as Tywin Lannister explains the specific events in the history of House Lannister that they represent.
The remaining 19 featurettes are part of a series called "History and Lore". They consist of black and white sketches of historical events, still narrated by the characters, but presented with more images similar to charcoal sketches.
History and Lore
The Children of the Forest, the First Men, and the coming of the Andals
Narrator: Bran Stark
The continent of Westeros was originally inhabited by a non-human race known as the Children of the Forest. No bigger than human children when grown, this aboriginal race ruled Westeros for unknown ages. Their wise men, known as Greenseers, are said to have wielded powerful magics. The Children of the Forest worshiped the innumerable and nameless spirits of every tree, rock, and stream, the Old Gods of the Forest. It was the Children who carved faces into the trunks of the sacred weirwood trees.
12,000 years ago, the first humans to live in Westeros migrated from the eastern continent, Essos, across a land bridge known as the Arm of Dorne, and they became known as the "First Men" (not the first in the world, but the first in Westeros). The First Men and the Children of the Forest engaged in wars for dominance of Westeros for two thousand years. The First Men were more numerous than the Children, armed with weapons of bronze and riding horses. Eventually, both sides came together on an island in Gods Eye lake in central Westeros, and established a lasting peace known as The Pact: the First Men were granted dominion over the coastlands, mountains, high plains, and the bogs of Westeros, but the deep forests would belong to the Children. The First Men agreed never to cut down a sacred weirwood tree again. To seal The Pact, the Children carved a face into every weirwood tree on the island, known ever since as the Isle of Faces. In time, the First Men adopted the religion of the Children of the Forest.
6,000 years ago, a race of tall fair-haired warriors known as the Andals invaded Westeros from the eastern continent. Armed with iron and wearing heavy armor, the First Men and the Children were overwhelmed. The Andals burned out the weirwood groves, and seeing their magic as an abomination, slaughtered the Children of the Forest wherever they encountered them. The Andals suppressed the religion of the Old Gods, and spread their new religion throughout Westeros, the Faith of the Seven.
In the centuries that followed, the Andals spread throughout Westeros and conquered all of its regions, except for one: the North. Led by the Kings of Winter, the line of House Stark, the First Men living in the North were able to repel the repeated attempts by Andal kingdoms to invade (due to the geographical choke point of the Neck which separates the North from southern Westeros). To this day, the Northerners are direct descendants of the First Men, and continue to worship the Old Gods.
As for the Children of the Forest, the handful that survived the slaughter by the Andals were said to have fled to the far north, beyond the Wall, and have not been seen again. Most think they are long dead, and many think they are merely the stuff of legends and never existed at all. But the carved faces remain in the weirwood trees.
The Long Night, the White Walkers, and the Birth of the Night's Watch
Narrator: Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
Legend tells of a winter 8,000 years ago that lasted a generation, and a darkness which fell on the land, which came to be known as The Long Night. In the midst of this darkness, the demonic non-human race known as the White Walkers emerged from the far north. They killed all they came into contact with, and magically resurrected the dead as Wights to fight the living. After years of horrible conflict and loss, an alliance of the First Men and the Children of the Forest was able to drive back the White Walkers and their armies of the dead, to the furthest north from whence they came.
As a safeguard against another invasion, the First Men built "The Wall", a massive fortification of ice,stone 700 feet high, and stretching across the entire continent at the narrowest point in the north, from the Frostfang mountains in the west to the Bay of Seals in the east. According to legend, the Wall infused with powerful magical spells to prevent the White Walkers from crossing it. Indeed, many say that a structure so massive as the Wall could only have been constructed with the aid of Giants, and the magic of the Children of the Forest.
Men were required to guard and maintain the Wall, so the sworn brotherhood of the Night's Watch was created. The Night's Watch has, according to legend, been actively guarding the Wall and the realms of men south of it for the past eight thousand years unbroken, against the dark forces that lay in the unknown lands beyond it. Life in the Night's Watch is one of hardship and sacrifice: the vows are taken for life, and the penalty for desertion is death.
Mormont then explains some of the internal structure of the Night's Watch. It is divided into three branches: the Rangers, the Builders, and the Stewards. All sworn brothers of the Night's Watch are expected to be able to fight should the need arise, but the Rangers are their true warriors, actively scouting beyond the Wall for threats. Although the White Walkers have not returned in eight thousand years, barbarian tribes of men known as Wildlings live north of the Walll and frequently try to raid the lands south of it. Thus, while ever-vigilant against the return of the White Walkers, the common duty of the Night's Watch and its Rangers came to be to defend the lands to the south against these savage raiders. The Builders are carpenters, masons, miners, and woodsmen. They are tasked with maintaining the Wall, its castles, and various other structures, most of which have fallen into disrepair over the centuries. The Stewards serve as cooks, butchers, and hunters, providing logistical support for the rest of the Night's Watch. They also tend to the horses, and the messenger-ravens, as well as sew clothing, gather firewood, and bring supplies from further south.
The Night's Watch is a diverse group composed of volunteers from noble Houses and petty criminals forcibly conscripted from dungeons. But all class distinctions that exist south of the Wall are left behind on joining the Night's Watch. A man gets what he earns in the Night's Watch, and even a lowborn peasant can rise to a position of high rank if he proves himself worthy.
The Night's Watch has diminished with time, but it still maintains its vigil after eight thousand years. Dynasties rose and fell in the south, the Andals invaded, and later House Targaryen conquered Westeros, but the Night's Watch has endured.
The History of the Night's Watch - House Stark
Maester Luwin explains that in current times, many noble Houses in the North such as House Stark still consider "taking the black" (joining the Night's Watch) to be an honor, because their ancestors the First Men established it and their lands are closest to the Wall and potential Wildling attacks that try to cross it. However, the Night's Watch no longer commands the admiration and respect it once did with the powerful Houses from all of the southern kingdoms. Even their subjects in the south think that the Night's Watch is an obsolete order made up of outcasts.
Maester Luwin admits that in the current generation the Night's Watch is a shadow of its former glory. Their numbers have dwindled to less than a thousand. Of the 19 castles built along the Wall, only three are still functional and manned: The Shadow Tower on the west end, their headquarters at Castle Black in the middle, and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea on the eastern end on the Bay of Seals (which serves as their main port to and from cities on the east coast like King's Landing). Any efforts to add to their fortifications and the Wall have long since been abandoned, as they barely have the resources to maintain what they have.
Recruiting officers known as "wandering crows" (such as Yoren) scour the dungeons and slums of the realm to find new recruits. The Night's Watch still gets the occasional noble-born volunteer now and then, even Maester Luwin admits that the newest recruits are almost entirely criminals; thieves, rapists, and murderers sent to the Wall as punishment for their crimes. Others are starving commoners so desperately poor that they join the Night's Watch simply to have something to eat.
The decline of the Night's Watch is troubling, because even if the White Walkers are simply myths, there is a very real danger in the barbarian tribes known as the Wildlings that live north of the Wall. At certain points in history, the disparate Wildling tribes have united behind a single leader, an over-chief known as a "King-Beyond-the-Wall", who has rallied them to make large-scale attacks south of the Wall. In past centuries, every time a new "King-Beyond-the-Wall" led the Wildlings to threaten the realm, they were soundly defeated by the Night's Watch. But today, the Night's Watch has dwindling numbers, lack of widespread support, and winter is coming...
The History of the Night's Watch - House Lannister
Narrator: Lord Tywin Lannister
Tywin Lannister sarcastically recounts the story of the creation of the Night's Watch, the original war against the White Walkers and the creation of the Wall with magic. Tywin then says that these are lies, fairy tales told to children in the North and nothing more. To be sure a giant Wall does exist, but how does anyone know that it was made with magic? It seems to be just a triumph of engineering.
Tywin admits that in previous centuries there may have been prestige and honor in serving in the Night's Watch. But today, Tywin says, the Wall is a glorified penal colony. The membership of the Night's Watch is primarily composed of outcasts, criminals, and assorted ne'er-do-wells. Most are either beggars who could not afford to feed themselves, rapists and murderers who chose joining the Night's Watch instead of their assigned punishment, or village idiots. Bastard children of noble Houses join the Night's Watch because they have nothing to inherit where they are.
Maester Luwin had pointed out that there are still the occasional highborn volunteers from noble Houses. Tywin explains that these few highborn members of the Night's Watch either fought on the wrong side of a war, or were disowned by their parents for one reason or another.
Safe at Casterly Rock in the south, Tywin waves aside claims that the Night's Watch still provides protection against the very real danger of the Wildling tribes north of the Wall. Tywin says that they are a nuisance, primitives that are not sophisticated or powerful enough to be a significant threat to the realm. Meanwhile, Tywin doesn't believe any of the old myths about the White Walkers or the possibility of their return.
Notes: As Tywin explains, noblemen who fought for the losing side in a war are often given the choice between execution or being exiled to serve on the Wall. Thus in the current generation, quite a few Targaryen-loyalists ended up choosing exile to the Wall after the fall of House Targaryen in Robert's Rebellion, such as Ser Alliser Thorne and Ser Jaremy Rykker. Samwell Tarly, meanwhile, is the firstborn son of a powerful noble House, which is quite unusual for the Night's Watch. However, his militaristic father Randyll Tarly disowned him because he is fat and bookish, and a scholar could not follow in his own warlike footsteps. Thus Samwell's father gave him the choice that he could either join the Night's Watch, or be killed by his father. A small handful still join in the manner initially envisioned, in which younger sons of noble Houses with nothing to inherit at home join the Night's Watch, as was the case with Ser Waymar Royce, a third son.
Jeor Mormont himself actually used to be the head of House Mormont, but did not lose a war or become dishonored. As a staunch Northerner well aware of the threats beyond the Wall, after many years he willingly retired from his duties in House Mormont to join the Night's Watch. Such a manner of joining, purely out of voluntarily belief in the goals of the Night's Watch, is extremely rare, indeed.
The Old Gods and The New
Recapping the last segment, Bran Stark explains that the First Men took up the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest from the non-human Children of the Forest. The religion of the Old Gods which worships innumerable and nameless spirits of nature, and devotion is centered around sacred weirwood trees. The castles of the First Men throughout Westeros each came to be built to contain a godswood, with a weirwood tree at its center known as a heart tree, a weirwood that had a face carved in it by the Children of the Forest.
Catelyn Stark explains that according to legend, 6,000 years ago in a region of the eastern continent of Essos known as Andalos (on the north-west coast), the "God of Seven" revealed itself to the Andals. Spurred on with the zeal of their new faith, the Andals soon sailed west across the Narrow Sea to conquer Westeros. Many Andal warriors carved a Seven Pointed Star into their flesh as a symbol of their new faith. The Andals were armed with weapons of steel and wore heavy armor, swept across Westeros.
Bran continues, reiterating that the Andals conquered all of the kingdoms of the First Men, except for the Stark-held North, where the worship of the Old Gods continued. The Andals cut down most of the weirwood trees in southern Westeros, and slaughtered the Children of the Forest wherever they encountered them, and they have not been seen since. The religion of the Andals, the Faith of the Seven, spread with their armies and became the dominant religion of all of Westeros except the North.
Catelyn and Bran then give a more detailed explanation of the beliefs and structure of the Faith of the Seven. The Seven is "a single deity with seven aspects". Each of the "aspects" symbolizes, and is responsible for, a different area of life. The "God of Seven" is a single deity, though most people casually refer to them as separate "gods". The aspects are the the Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith, and the Stranger (which represents death). The Faith of the Seven is a highly organized and hierarchical institution, and is deeply influential in the politics and culture of Westeros. It was already the dominant religion for thousands of years when House Targaryen conquered and united the Seven Kingdoms three hundred years ago. To gain support for their new rule, the Targaryen dynasty made the Faith of the Seven the official religion of the monarchy, giving the Faith even more power and influence. Worshipers gather at temples of the Faith known as "Septs", and the headquarters of the Faith of the Seven is the Great Sept of Baelor located in the capital city, King's Landing.
Nonetheless, the Faith of the Seven wasn't able to entirely stamp out worship of the Old Gods. In particular, because the Andals were not able to invade the North, the worship of the Old Gods centered around the weirwood trees remains strong there.
The Age Of Heroes and The Seven Kingdoms
Narrator: Bran Stark
When Aegon Targaryen conquered Westeros (three centuries before the events of the TV series), he had seven independent kingdoms to contend with. The Kingdom of the North, the Kingdom of the Mountain and the Vale (the Vale of Arryn), the Iron Islands, the Kingdom of the Rock (the Westerlands), the Kingdom of the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne. Bran says that "these regions had been established by the First Men, thousands of years before, in the Age of Heroes".
Other legends tell of the Grey King in the Iron Islands, who defeated Nagga, the first of the Sea Dragons. The Grey King also took a mermaid to wife. House Greyjoy, the current rulers of the Iron Islands, claim descent from this legendary hero.
House Casterly once ruled the gold-rich Westerlands from their seat at Casterly Rock. However, the legendary trickster-hero Lann the Clever swindled House Casterly out of their castle and their power using only his wits. House Lannister claims descent from Lann, through the female line.
The fertile lands of the Reach were first ruled by House Gardener. Garth Gardener, popularly known as Garth Greenhand, was the first King of the Reach. He ruled from the castle of Highgarden. He wore a crown of vines and flowers, and was said to have made the land bloom. Many noble Houses from the Reach, including its current rulers House Tyrell, claim descent from him.
According to legends from the Stormlands, a warrior named Durran fell in love with Elenei, daughter of the sea god and the wind goddess. She gave her maidenhead to him, and committed herself to a mortal life. Enraged, her parents called upon the winds and waters of Shipbreaker Bay, destroying his coastal keep, and also killing his family and wedding guests. Furious, Durran declared war on the gods and rebuilt his keep. The second castle was also smashed down by the storms of the gods. Durran built four more castles, and they all fell to the storms. But the seventh castle stood tall, the strongest castle in Westeros: Storm's End. Legend says that Durran built Storm's End with the aid of Bran the Builder, who also built Winterfell. For his efforts, Durran earned the nickname "Durran Godsgrief", and he became the first of the Storm Kings (from whom House Baratheon descends, through the female line).
There are countless other stories from the Age of Heroes. These legends were not recorded in a book, put passed down through oral tradition in story and song. While some of them may be dismissed as fairy tales or half-mythical, the character of each of the Seven Kingdoms is defined by them.
Notes: Bran says that the Seven Kingdoms were created by the First Men. The HBO Viewer's Guide website also says that the "seven kingdoms" existed before the Andal Invasion, and had already been created by the First Men. However, in the books, the Seven Kingdoms only coalesced many centuries after the Andal Invasion. One of the reasons the Andal Invasion was so successful is that the First Men were divided into literally hundreds of small kingdoms. Each individual castle-lord was the "king" of the day's ride around their stockade. After several centuries these coalesced into several dozen larger regional groupings. At some point in the six thousand years between the Andal Invasion and the Targaryen Conquest, these coalesced into even larger polities known as the "Seven Kingdoms". Nor were these divisions set in stone: there were six thousand years of shifting borders, marriage alliances uniting realms, and civil wars breaking them up again. There just happened to be seven large independent kingdoms when Aegon Targaryen arrived. The actual dates when each of the Seven Kingdoms unified varies from region to region. Dorne, for example, only unified seven hundred years before the Targaryen Conquest.
In fact, the Riverlands were independent many thousands of years ago, but as the borderlands between the other seven kingdoms that conquering armies moved across, they endured centuries of domination by first the Stormlands, then the Iron Islands. The Crownlands, of course, didn't exist before the Targaryen Conquest.
The Order of the Maesters
Narrator: Maester Luwin
Maester Luwin gives a brief explanation of the role and function of the Order of Maesters in Westeros. The maesters serve as scholars, healers, and advisers to the nobility of the Seven Kingdoms. This order of learned men are dedicated to serving the realm, not a particular noble House, and are sworn to remain neutral in politics. New maesters are assigned to castles and keeps as counselors and healers, and duty bound to serve there even if control of the castle changes hands.
The headquarters of the Order of Maesters is located in the Citadel, located in the great city of Oldtown in the Reach, the far southwest of Westeros. Men and boys from across the continent come to train there, but no women are accepted into the all-male order. Upon completion of his training, a new maester renounces his family name, and takes a vow of celibacy.
A maester's badge of office is a great chain forged of links from different metals which he wears around his neck. The chain symbolizes a maester's status as a servant off the realm, and must never be removed. Each different link represents mastery of a different area of study. Ravenry is a central area of skill for maesters, because it is they who breed, train, and maintain carrier-ravens at each castle, which are used in a communications network that links the entire realm. Only one maester in a hundred attempts to study magic, but this research results in no practical results. The organization frowns upon the study of magic, only allowing token attempts at its study to convince novices that it is a futile endeavor.
Service as a maester is considered a noble calling, and it is of vital importance to the prosperity of the realm. Luwin does not find it surprising that there are some who call maesters "the knights of the mind".
Valyria and the Dragons
Narrator: Viserys Targaryen
Far to the East, is a dangerous stretch of water called the Smoking Sea. Sailors fear it and say demons haunt this place of death and destruction. Here millennia ago a mighty civilization met its end in a great cataclysm.
The origin of the people of Valyria is unknown. However, it is believed that the Varylians began as simple shepherds, minding their flocks of sheep. Their peninsula was in the central southern area of the great eastern continent of Essos. In a volcanically active area called the Fourteen Fires, an astonishing discovery lead to their future destiny. Dragons. These monstrous scaled beasts had massive wings, razor claws, and breath of flame, as well as a deep rooted connection to magic. Eventually, the Valyrians came to tame these fantastic creatures. Using their power, they created a marvelous city the likes of which the world has never known. Then, with their skill of sorcery and metallurgy, they began making extraordinary weapons of spell forged steel.
Armed with these weapons and with their dragons as mounts, the Valyrians could not be resisted. After conquering the nearby lands, they set their sights to the west and the Empire of Ghis, which ruled much of Essos. The Ghiscari tried and failed to stop the growing territories of Valyria. Their legions attacked them five times, but they could never win a single victory. Inevitably the Valyrians marched on the Ghiscari capital of Old Ghis, and its destruction was total. The fiery breath of the dragons of Valyria reduced the city to ash, and the Ghiscari Empire, its citizens, and their culture were wiped off the face of the earth.
The Freehold of Valyria having its own language, gods, and culture, grew into the greatest civilization in history, and its influence stretched over nearly all of Essos. Extensive roads were built to connect its impressive cities to the capital of Valyria. For five millenia, the Freehold knew prosperity, under Valyrian rule. And then disaster struck. Nobody knows the true nature of the event known only as the Doom of Valyria. Whether it was the eruption of a volcano, another kind of natural disaster, or even the Valyrians losing control of their sorcery. But whatever it was, it completely destroyed the peninsula of Valyria, the people, their cities, and their surrounding lands. The Smoking Sea is all that remains. Lost with this mighty civilization was its emense collected knowledge of magic and history. Every dragon was also thought to have been killed.
However, the Doom's devestation of the Valyrian people and dragons was not total. There was an exception. A small rocky island in the Narrow Sea, called Dragonstone. This was the home of the Targaryens, the last surviving House of old Valyria. Another century would pass, before the Targaryen's of Dragonstone and their dragons would rise again to rebuild their power and empire, but now it was the continent of Westeros they would conquer.
The Field of Fire - House Targaryen
The Field of Fire - House Stark
Narrator: Robb Stark
The defining battle in the conquest of Westeros by Aegon Targaryen was the Field of Fire. Robb Stark describes this battle and it's impact on the war for the north. King Mern Gardener of the Reach and King Loren Lannister of Casterly Rock met the invading forces of Aegon Targaryen with far superior numbers. Together Gardener and Lannister forces numbered 600 banners, 5,000 mounted knights, and 50,000 men-at-arms. At first the invaders were overwhelmed by the charge of the two kings armies, but success was short lived. When Aegon's three dragons were released on the battlefield, 4000 men were burned alive. King Mern Gardener (the last of his line died) and King Loren Lannister, seeing it was hopeless, surrendered. Aegon then planned to attack the North. Robb describes Torrhen's role and his determination to not let the Targaryens succeed. Torrhen Stark of Winterfell, King of the North descended from a line that went back to the First men and had ruled for thousands of years. Not even the Andals had conquered them, and they expected the same results this time. The armies met east of Riverrun at the Red Fork. When confronted with Aegon's mighty host ( now even larger having been swollen by the numbers of the vanquished) and three monstrous dragons, King Torrhen realized thnat it would be a replay of the carnage of the "Field of Fire", and he could not subject his people to this horror. He wisely-selflessly-surrendered. By swearing fealty to Aegon, Torrhen Stark and those in his line were named Lord Paramount and Warden of the North. Thousands of lives were saved, but for giving up his crown Torrhen Stark was ever after known by the title-The King that Knelt.
Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King - House Baratheon
Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King - House Lannister
Narrator: Tywin Lannister
Under the reign of Aerys Targaryen, the actual role of leadership fell increasing to the Hand of the King as time went on. During the 20 years that Tywin Lannister served as Hand, it was a time of peace and prosperity. However, "Mad King" Aerys grew more irrational, and his violent rages more frequent. Tywin Lannister talks of how Aerys' insecurity caused him to have the captain of Tywin's own personal guard, Ser Ilyn Payne, to have his tongue cut out for saying that Tywin was the true ruler of Westeros.
Having been so loyal and done so much for the kingdom, and being so noble a house and so powerful an ally, Tywin Lannister was insulted when his purposal of a marriage alliance between his daughter Cersei and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was rudely refused (Aerys called Tywin his loyal servant, and you don't marry your heir to the daughter of your servant). Aerys chose to marry Rhaegar Targaryen to Elia Martell of Dorne (an inferior house as far as Tywin is concerned). Also, Aerys appointed Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard, which is a lifetime appointment and would deny Tywin Lannister his heir (being in the Kingsguard would be an honor only to a lesser house).
This double provocation was too much for Tywin Lannister, and he resigned his post. He took his large personal forces and left for Casterly Rock. Tywin Lannister dwells on the irony of it all. If Aerys had united their houses, then he would not have had to worry when Robert's Rebellion occurred. Instead Aerys, who was now very delusional, paranoid, and obsessed with wildfire, was so worried that Tywin would rise against him that he kept Jaime Lannister close to him as a hostage for Tywin's fealty. A close and armed Jaime Lannister, as only the Kingsguard could have weapons near a paranoid Aerys, turned out to be a disastrous mistake.
Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King - House Stark
Narrator: Maester Luwin
King Aerys Targaryen was becoming more paranoid and less rational, but despite talk of this, the north was, after hundreds of years of featly, still loyal to him. Lord Rickard Stark, Warden of the North engaged his daughter Lyanna, one of his four children, to Robert Baratheon, the young Lord of Storm's End. Rhaegar Targaryen kidnapped Lyanna. Brandon Stark (on his way to Riverrun to marry Catelyn Tully) furiously rode to King's Landing, demanding Lyanna's return and justice. When he said Rhaegar should die, Aerys called it treason and had him arrested.
The King demanded that Lord Rickard come to King's Landing to ransom him back. But Aerys saw all persons involved as enemies of the throne. He had Lord Rickard arrested for treason as well. He asked for a trial by combat, but Aerys declared that the crown's champion was wildfire. Lord Rickard was tied over the pyromancer's blaze to roast in his armor. Brandon Stark was attached to a machine that tightened a leather cord around his neck if you moved. He was told that if he could reach a sword he could save his father. They each watched the other die.
The court and Kingsguard watched an utterly mad Aerys laughing hysterically as these two noble men died horribly. Aerys then sent word to Jon Arryn of the Eyrie telling him to arrest his two wards, Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, so they could be beheaded. The Eyrie of House Arryn, Winterfell of House Stark, and Storm's End of House Baratheon rose in rebellion against the Mad King. Robert took a vow to foremost rescue his love and betrothed Lyanna, and kill Rhaegar.
Robert's Rebellion - House Baratheon
Narrator: King Robert Baratheon
Rebellion was the response to the heinous crimes of House Targaryen. Houses Baratheon, Stark and Arryn united to overthrow the "cursed dragon kings". While Ned Stark and Jon Arryn arranged an alliance House Tully of Riverrun, Robert Baratheon called the banners of Storm's End to ride in force against the Mad King and his followers. Robert revels in the memories of the battles.
Their first victory ocurred in Summerhall, where Robert faced the loyalist forces and won three victories in a single day. Robert curses as he looks back at that a glorious day. Afterward, they tried to take Ashford Castle in the Reach, but the Tyrells beat them back. Robert's force had to regroup and was pursued north by Aerys' army. They took refuge in Stoney Sept in the Riverlands. When the Targaryen army entered the town, the local sept's bells tolled, signaling the townsfolk of the coming battle. As the Targaryen soldiers searched house by house for Robert, the combined armies of Ned Stark and the Tullys swept into Stoney Sept. Robert again looks back with excited nostalgia to that day. Then he adds that the battle is now known as the Battle of the Bells and that they overwhelmed the Mad King's forces and sent them scampering back to King's Landing
Aerys' son, Rhaegar, whom Robert blames for starting the war, finally emerged and assembled his own army. Robert considers that the Mad King must have been pissing himself at that moment. The battle that would decide the fate of the Seven Kingdoms took place at the crossing of the Green Fork of the Trident. Rhaegar commanded a royal host of some forty thousand men. Robert's forces where outnumbered by nearly five thousand men but it didn't matter: the loyalists were fresh but the rebels where battle-hardened and had, according to Robert, justice on their side. As the battle raged around them Robert faced Rhaegar in the ford of the river. Robert remembers fighting with the fury of ten men, raining blow after blow upon the vile Prince before burying his warhammer in Rhaegar's chest. The hit was so hard the rubies' of Rhaegar's armor broke free and were flung into the stream. The ford is now called the Ruby Ford.
With the "scum" Rhaegar dead and the royal army shattered, the rebels' next move was to make for King's Landing, but Robert had sustained wounds in battle and was unable to ride. He sent Ned Stark to the capital to face the Mad King and make him pay for his crimes.
Robert's Rebellion - House Targaryen
Narrator: Viserys Targaryen
Viserys Targaryen tells his version of the events of Robert's Rebellion. Of the noble line of dragon kings descended from ancient Valyria, and how they were beloved by their subjects. Not only were they the greatest dynasty in the history of Westeros, but the object of admiration to the world. For three hundred years the Seven Kingdoms had known peace and prosperity under Targaryen rule until it was shattered by "the usurper Robert Baratheon and his band of traitors". Viserys remarks that, when Aegon the Conqueror had taken Westeros, these same houses (Stark, Lannister, and Arryn) which were now rebelling could have been crushed, but were allowed to swear fealty and keep lordship over their lands. But the worst betrayal was of House Baratheon which only existed in the first place because Aegon had conveyed the title to Orys Baratheon, the bastard, making him Lord of Storm's End. Viserys is disgusted that "the usurper and his lackeys repaid Aegon's benevolence with treachery".
Then he goes on to discuss the accusations that people have charged against the royal house, to justify the rebellion: the abduction of Lyanna Stark by Rhaegar, and Aerys murder of Rickard and Brandon Stark. Viserys says that it is utterly irrelevant whether there is any truth to these charges, "The dragon answers to no one." Since Robert Baratheon won the war, there has been a campaign to blacken the name of Aerys Targaryen, spreading stories that he was a vicious monster and an insane tyrant, that brought about his own downfall. "LIES!", cries Viserys. The blame for the fall of House Targaryen can only be laid at the feet of his incompetent councilers. These "lackwits" failed to appreciate the danger of the rebellion in time, and then their efforts to stop it were dismal. Aerys depended on them, and they failed him.
(Then there is a break in the stream of the dialog, I think something was edited out) It continues that the forces of the royal army were insufficient, and they were defeated at the Battle of the Trident, where valiant Rhaegar was betrayed by the gods and perished in single combat to Robert the Usurper. Once the Field of Fire had brought to a close the days of the Andals, but the Battle of the Trident was the event that heralded the end of the rule of the dragon kings. When news of the fate of Rhaegar reached Aerys, his foremost thought was the protection of Viserys the new heir. Viserys was sent to the safety of the island fortress of Dragonstone along with his pregnant mother, Queen Rhaella. As for Aerys Targaryen himself, he stayed behind to defend the throne, he had no idea of the treachery and nightmare that fate held in store for those of dragon blood.
The Sack Of King's Landing - House Baratheon
Narrator : Robert Baratheon
For the rebellion to succeed, King's Landing had to be taken forcefully. Robert sarcastically comments that nobody was foolish enough to believe Aerys would hand over his crown peacefully. He adds that the Mad King's reign needed to end and that what Tywin Lannister's forces did was neccesary to secure the Iron Throne and bring peace and justice to the Seven Kingdoms.
Robert's glorious victory at the Trident had left him wounded, but instead he sent his personal maester to treat Ser Barristan Selmy as his wounds were more severe. Despite Ser Barristan was a member of Aerys' Kingsguard, his bravery and loyalty had earned him Robert's respect.
As Robert couldn't ride to King's Landing himself, he sent the man he trusted over anyone else in the world, Ned Stark. Robert believes that if he had reached King's Landing earlier he might have been able to prevent some of the violence that occurred when the Lannisters entered the city. Nevertheless, he insists that what Tywin did was for the greater good, even what happened to Princess Elia and her children. Babies or no, theirs was the same cursed blood of the Mad King and, as "dragonspawn", couldn't be allowed to survive. He sarcastically wonders if they would've grown to be loyal subjects had they been spared.
Robert then curses Ned's "northern honor". The two had their first major fight over the deaths of the Targaryen children. Ned called it murder. Robert insists it was war. Ned had demanded that the Lannisters be held responsible for their crimes. Robert asks rhetorically if it was a crime to eliminate a family of lunatics born of incest. Robert wouldn't and still won't blame Tywin. Instead, Robert sent Ned south to finish off the remaining Targaryen loyalists.
It was only Lyanna Stark's death that reconciled Robert and Ned. The latter had lost his sister, and the former, his betrothed, his beloved. The two shared that "sad bond" together, and through it their friendship was made strong again.
As for the Mad King's surviving heirs, those who were able to scurry away from Robert's fury now live somewhere across the Narrow Sea. They best stay there. Robert finishes by saying that if they ever set foot in Westeros again, they will face the King's justice.
The Sack Of King's Landing - House Lannister
Narrator: Tywin Lannister
Rhaegar Targaryen laid dead at the banks of the Trident, the royal army shattered and in retreat. The days of the dragon kings, Tywin Lannister muses, were numbered. He considers that, until that point, it would've been foolish to commit the might of Casterly Rock to either the crown or the rebellion. He rethorically asks what did House Lannister had to gain by supporting a raving madman or enter a crusade to put Robert Baratheon, whose name he mentions with contempt, on the Iron Throne. But chaos benefits no-one and Tywin considers that, after the Trident, it was time for House Lannister to do what it could to ensure a return to peace and prosperity to the land.
Lord Tywin brought ten thousand troops to the gates of King's Landing in order to bring the bloodshed to a quick and decisive conclusion. King Aerys had been sending ravens for months, begging for Tywin's support to end the uprising. In a way, his pleas had been answered. As Tywin expected, Aerys opened the city gates and welcomed his men.
Their plan was clear: crush Aerys' remaining bannermen and "remove" the remnants of the royal family as quickly and efficiently as possible. Any alternative meant years of further war and a fragmented Seven Kingdoms. Their means, Tywin considers, were bloody, but the results speak for themselves.
As for Aerys: it is true he met his end at the hands of Tywin's son. Aerys had kept Ser Jaime close during the rebellion, thinking himself clever in having him as a hostage should Tywin had decided to join the rebel cause. This proved to be his greatest mistake, for when the time came, Jaime did his duty as a Lannister and drove his sword into the Mad King's back. With that, Rober Baratheon's crown was secure.
The new king recognized the Lannister role in his ascension to the throne, just as he recognized how useful the might and wealth of Casterly Rock would be, if he wanted to keep it. To that end, Tywin offered his daughter as Robert's Queen. Tywin considers that, had Aerys not spurned the same offer years earlier, perhaps events might have happened differently.
With Robert and Cersei crowned as King and Queen, it was a new day. The "dragon" was vanquished, and the Seven Kingdoms thereafter belonged to "the stag". And "the lion", he adds.
The Sack Of King's Landing - House Stark
Narrator: Maester Luwin
Robert Baratheon's victory at the Battle of the Trident was a turning point in the war for the Iron Throne. While the gods smiled on the rebels, Aerys Targaryen still held the Red Keep in King's Landing.
As Robert was wounded and unable to ride, it was up to Eddard Stark to head south and force the Mad King to surrender. Ned, however, arrived to the city gates to discover that Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, had already sacked the city in Robert's name. House Lannister had remained neutral until that point, ignoring the requests from both the crown and the rebels. Luwin muses that, with Robert's victory assured, Lord Tywin had finally chosen a side.
Lord Eddard was horrified by the destruction, rape, and murder of civilians carried out by the Lannister host. Disgusted, he led his force up Visenya's Hill and to the Red Keep. Upon entering the throne room, he found Aerys lying in a pool of blood, having being killed by his own Kingsguard, Ser Jaime Lannister, who brazenly sat upon the Iron Throne. Demanding to know the whereabouts of Queen Rhaella, Ned was informed that she and Prince Viserys had been spirited away to Dragonstone before arrival of the Lannister army. Other members of the royal family, however, were not as fortunate: Elia Martell of Dorne, Prince Rhaegar's wife, had been raped and murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane on Lord Tywin's orders, while his men had butchered Rhaegar's young children.
When Robert recovered and reached the capital, Lord Eddard demanded the Lannisters answered for their heinous crimes. Robert refused and sent him south the relieve Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon, which was still under siege by loyalists. Whatever words passed between them were known only to the two, but Ned was said to have left King's Landing in anger.
After Robert was crowned, he appointed Jon Arryn as Hand of the King. Lord Arryn's first act was to broker a truce with the Martells, who were outraged by the brutal murder of Princess Elia and her children. Following the death of Lyanna Stark, Robert's betrothed, Houses Baratheon and Lannister were joined in marriage when the new King took Lord Tywin's daughter, Cersei, as his Queen. As for Lord Eddard: he returned to Winterfell, forever haunted by his sister's death and the shameful way Robert had secured his throne.
The Sack Of King's Landing - House Targaryen
Viserys Targaryen considers that while the Battle of the Trident was a major victory for the Usurper, the fate of the Targaryen dynasty was sealed by Tywin Lannister's treachery. King Aerys II had brought Tywin to court and made him his Hand, the youngest to ever hold this post. By giving Tywin power and respect, Aerys made possible for the young Lord to restore House Lannister to glory. Aerys and Tywin ruled the Seven Kingdoms for twenty prosperous years. However, while Robert gathered supporters for his rebellion, Tywin ignored his King's summons and remained in Casterly Rock. In time, Prince Rhaegar was dead, the realm in turmoil, and the Usurper's forces said to be riding to King's Landing.
Tywin Lannister, however, arrived at the city leading a host of ten thousand men pledging their support to the King. Aerys opened the gates to "his old friend". However, Tywin and his host forces proceeded to plunder and destroy the city that he had called his for decades. As King's Landing was ravaged and its people terrorized, Ser Jaime Lannister, son of Tywin, proved to be as treacherous as his father, killing him at the foot of the Iron Throne. The Lannisters penetrated the Red Keep and Tywin ordered the deaths of the royal family. It is said Princess Rhaenys, only a child, was hiding under her father's bed and put to the sword. Rhaegar's widow, Princess Elia, saw her baby's head smashed into a wall before being raped and murdered.
As his father's heir, Viserys had been spirited away to Dragonstone with his pregnant mother. As a raging summer storm battered the island fortress and destroyed the Targaryen fleet as it lay anchored, Viserys' sister, Daenerys, was born. Queen Rhaella died in the process. Now, seventeen years later, the rightful King still lives in exile, but the day of reckoning approaches. Viserys plans to sail west as Aegon the Dragon did centuries before, take back his father's throne with blood and fire, and punish the treacherous dogs that sought to destroy his family. And the people shall rejoice.
The Great Houses
Bran describes how the Starks of Winterfell trace their descent to the First Men in the Age of Heroes. The family's founder was Brandon the Builder who, in the aftermath of the Long Night helped establish the Night's Watch. According to legend, Bran the Builder enlisted the aid of giants and the magic of the Children of the Forest to raise the Wall, which has protected the realm for generations. Then, he went on to build Winterfell and reign as the first King in the North.
Robb narrates how the Starks reigned as Kings for thousands of years, resisting even the invasion of the Andals as the southron kingdoms fell and the Children of the Forest driven north. Under the rule of the Starks, the North kept its religion and its way of life.
However, the reign of the Kings of Winter came to an end with the coming of Aegon the Conqueror. After Aegon and his dragons destroyed the armies of the Reach and the Rock in the Field of Fire, King Torrhen Stark bent the knee and swore loyalty to House Targaryen in order to spare his people. He was forever after known as "the King Who Knelt". As a reward for his submission, Torrhen was declared Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.
Bran tells of how the Starks take great pride in their history and traditions, being one of the few noble houses that still keeps to the Old Gods, and mentions the large weirwood tree growing in the godswood of Winterfell. Bran also mentions the Starks' ancestral greatsword, Ice, forged in ancient Valyria and passed down through generations. Then, he goes on to mention the Starks' constant support of the Night's Watch, even as the ancient order has fallen on hard times.
Bran then compares the legendary status of the Stark sigil, the grey direwolf, to that of the family itself in the North and throughout the Seven Kingdoms. Bran and Robb intone the Stark family words, "Winter is Coming", which serve as a reminder of their begginings, in the wake of the Long Night and - Robb finishes the narration - the grim moments to come.
Narrator: Tywin Lannister
On the far western coast of Westeros, atop a rocky promontory overlooking the Sunset Sea sits Casterly Rock, ancestral seat of House Lannister; below Casterly Rock lies Lannisport, one of the great cities of Westeros, a center of trade, culture and the Lannister fleet.
A number of gold and silver mines are located in the Westerlands, making it the richest region in the whole continent. One of the most productive gold mines lies beneath Casterly Rock itself, making House Lannister the wealthiest of all the noble houses and allowing it to fund many endeavors of other noble houses. Even the King himself has sought credit from Casterly Rock from time to time.
The Lannisters claim descent from the Andal invaders and, through the female bloodline, to Lann the Clever. According to legend, Lann, using only his wits, swindled Casterly Rock from its previous owners, House Casterly, during the Age of Heroes.
The Lannisters ruled as Kings of the Rock for thousands of years. Their time as Kings ended with the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror. The last King of the Rock, Loren Lannister, joined forces with Mern Gardener, King of the Reach, and, commanding sixty thousand men, met the Targaryen army in open battle. According to history, Aegon unleashed his three dragons, slaughtering four thousand men, in a battle that came to be known as the Field of Fire. King Mern perished and, with him, House Gardener became extinct. Seeing both opportunity and threat in the Targaryens, Loren surrendered and aided Aegon in his further conquest of Westeros. The Lannisters were thus appointed Lords Paramount of the Westerlands, and Wardens of the West.
Tywin then makes clear that it is neither luck nor royal favor that makes House Lannister so prosperous. There have been times when they have been considered weak, lazy or opulent. Tywin's own father, Tytos Lannister, nearly bankrupted the House with his poor investments and allowed himself to be openly mocked at court. However, when their vassals, the Reynes of Castamere, rose in rebellion, they learned the price of defiance. Tywin personally led the assault on Castamere to put down the upstart vassals, and made an example of them to anyone who would doubt the Lannister might. Even a "quaint song" about the fate of the Reynes was made, but there are no Reyne's left to hear it.
Tywin continues, stating that the golden Lion of Lannister is rightly admired and feared throughout the Seven Kingdoms. The Lannister words are "Hear me Roar"; but Tywin reminds his audience of other words that should be remebered when crossing a "Lion" of Casterly Rock: "A Lannister always pays his debts".
Narrator: Viserys Targaryen
Viserys explains that Targaryens are "blood of the dragon", descended from the nobility of ancient Valyria, a once mighty empire in Essos. When the Doom destroyed Valyria and its people, House Targaryen survived, having settled in the island fortress of Dragonstone years before. They remained there for a century, until the rise of Aegon the Conqueror.
Instead of attempting to take the lands of his ancestors, Aegon sailed west for the Seven Kingdoms along with his sister Rhaenys and Visenya. To keep their bloodline pure, Aegon took both of his sisters as wives, following the custom of their Valyrian ancestors. Together, they landed on the eastern coast of Westeros with their blazon: a three-headed dragon, representing Aegon and his sister-wives; their words: "Fire and Blood". While their host was small when compared to the armies of the Seven Kingdoms, Aegon and his sisters had a secret weapon: the last of the dragons.
Aegon conquered every kingdom except for Dorne, which bowed to Targaryen rule a century later, and had the swords of his enemies melted down by the fire of his dragon, Balerion the Black Dread, and forged into the Iron Throne. The capital city of King's Landing was built where Aegon and his sisters first came ashore. Aegon also ordered the construction of a royal castle, the Red Keep, on the city's highest hill.
For three hundred years the dynasty stood strong in the face of rebellion, civil war and plague. But the line of the "dragon kings" was broken when Viserys' father, Aerys Targaryen, the Second of His Name, was overthrown in rebellion. Aerys was betrayed and slaughtered by Ser Jaime Lannister, a member of his own Kingsguard. Aerys' son and heir, Rhaegar, perished on the field of battle, at the hands of Robert Baratheon, who claimed the Iron Throne for himself.
And so today, the sole survivors of the storied Targaryen dynasty are Viserys, rightful King of the Andals and ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, and his sister, Daenerys. They were spirited to the Free Cities of the east by loyalists. There, they have lived in exile ever since, dreaming of the day they will cross the Narrow Sea and take back their father's throne.
Narrator: Robert Baratheon
"Ours is the Fury", are the words of the black stag of Baratheon. Robert I calls it a battle cry that echoed throughout the land in rebellion when he seized the Iron Throne from the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, ending a dynasty nearly three hundred years old.
House Baratheon was born in the Wars of Conquest, when Aegon the Dragon invaded Westeros. Aegon sent his commander, Orys Baratheon to take Storm's End. Argilac the Arrogant, the last of the Storm Kings, foolishly left the safety of his stronghold and met the Baratheon warlord in open battle. Argilac was soundly defeated, and Orys took his lands, holdings and daughter. Orys was said to be a half-brother of Aegon's, so Robert muses that if that were to be true a little of the "blood of the dragon" mingled with that of the stag in those days.
The seat of House Baratheon is Storm's End, a legendary keep raised in the Age of Heroes. Storm's End overlooks Shipbreaker Bay, where legend tells that Durran, the first Storm King, raised the keep with the aid of Bran the Builder of House Stark, thus forging a centuries-long connection between the Stormlands and the North.
After Aegon's conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, Baratheons remained loyal enough to the crown while Targaryen kings came and went. Robert reminds that, however, loyalty has its limits. When Aerys' vile son and heir, Prince Rhaegar, abducted Lyanna Stark, Robert's betrothed and beloved, it was time to act.
Baratheon, Stark, Jon Arryn and the Tullys raised their banners and united in rebellion against Rhaegar and his father, the Mad King. They were victorious and took the Iron Throne. Robert muses that the bit of dragon blood in his veins came in well as it made him a distant relation to the Targaryen dynasty through his distant ancestor, Orys. The truth however is that Robert took power. He sits in the Iron Throne. He rules the Seven Kingdoms from the Red Keep.
Narrator: Catelyn Tully
In the Mountains of the Moon, atop the rich lands of the Vale, stands the Eyrie, a storied and impregnable fortress said to have built by the Mountain Kings in the Age of Heroes. It is the seat of House Arryn, one of the oldest noble houses of Westeros. Their sigil is a soaring white falcon over a cresent moon upon a field of blue, and their words are "As High As Honor".
The Arryns descend from the Andal invaders who sailed across the Narrow Sea and came ashore at the Fingers. According to legend, Ser Artys Arryn, known as "the Winged Knight", flew atop a giant falcon and landed atop the highest mountain, where he defeated the Griffin King, winning the first victory of the Andals over the First Men. Ser Artys was declared King of the Mountain and the Vale, and the region renamed "the Vale of Arryn".
Thousands of years later, Aegon the Conqueror arrived in Westeros. The Arryns bent the knee to the Targaryen warlord and were allowed to mantain their hold over the region as Lords Paramount of the Vale and Wardens of the East. The Arryns remained loyal to the Targaryen dynasty until Lord Jon Arryn joined Houses Baratheon and Stark in rebellion against the Mad King Aerys. After the rebellion's victory, the new king, Robert Baratheon, named Jon Hand of the King, a title he held until his mysterious death.
- Charles Dance as Lord Tywin Lannister
- Michelle Fairley as Lady Catelyn Stark
- Richard Madden as Robb Stark
- Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark
- Donald Sumpter as Maester Luwin
- James Cosmo as Lord Commander Jeor Mormont
- Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon
- Harry Lloyd as Prince Viserys Targaryen