[UPDATE: We posted a version of this Guide earlier, but now have many new additions to share. Enjoy!]
Finally,Game of Thrones season 2 is upon us, and love for HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novel series is at an all-time high. Fans of the Song of Fire & Ice book series already know what’s in store for the show, but for those who entered the world of Westeros through a television screen, be warned: this world is about to get much bigger.
There are many new faces and places that will be introduced in Game of Thrones season 2, and today we have a rundown of some the characters we’ll be seeing – including both new faces and familiar faces like Tyrion Lannister and House Stark’s surviving members (Arya, Sansa, Catelyn, Robb, Bran and Jon Snow). We’ve also included a brief synopsis about each character’s role in the upcoming season – and it’s all SPOILER-FREE.
Joffrey Baratheon now sits the Iron Throne of Westeros. Though he thinks himself the son of the late king Robert, Joffrey was actually born of the incest between his mother Cersei Lannister and his uncle/father, Jaime Lannister. By killing Ned Stark, Joffrey has sparked war with the North, and his questionable lineage has made Robert’s brothers Renly and Stannis take up arms in dispute of the boy king’s claim.
While Joffrey might be fancying his throne right now, the swords are slowly but surely gathering at his gates. And with his cruel nature, Joffrey could end up making enemies out of his subjects, as well.
When last we saw Tyrion Lannister, he had been dispatched to King’s Landing by his father, Tywin, in order to rule as Hand of the King. Though Tywin does not favor his dwarf son, he does recognize Tyrion’s shrewd intelligence, and hopes to put it to good use at court.
But as Ned Stark found out the hard way, the royal court is a different and deadlier battlefield than most expect. Tyrion will need all his wits in order if he truly wants to play the game of thrones… A game where no one is to be trusted.
Shae is a prostitute that Tyrion met in his father Lord Twyin Lannister’s war camp after being held captive by Catelyn Stark. When Jaime was captured by Robb Stark, Lord Twyin sent Tyrion to King’s Landing – with one very specific mandate: Tyrion could not bring his whore to court with him.
Ever one to defy his father, Tyrion heads for King’s Landing with Shae in tow. However, as Tyrion enters the political dogfight of court life, and tries to keep himself well armored against his opponents, his affection for Shae could be the one weakness that leaves him most vulnerable.
With Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark dead, and her son seated on the Iron Throne, Cersei Lannister now has a ruling hand in the Seven Kingdoms. Though Catelyn Stark has her twin/lover Jaime as a hostage, Cersei has the scale balanced by claiming Sansa and Arya Stark as hostages (though she doesn’t actually have Ayra).
With her power consolidated, Cersei will soon learn – as Robert did – that there is a big difference between winning a throne and keeping it. And when Tyrion arrives to manage the kingdom in her stead, Cersei will not take the insult lightly.
Grand Maester Pycelle is the highest-ranking member of the “maesters” – the order of scholars/doctors/scientists/mailmen that are spread throughout Westeros. The Grand Maester answers only to the king – and Pycelle has served five of them (including Joffrey) in both the Targaryen and Baratheon eras. Although appearing feeble and old, Pycelle is actually quite cunning – and as we saw last season, nimble as well.
The Grand Maester is used to watching the game of thrones play out, but his allegiance to Queen Cersei will have unforeseen consequence when Tyrion Lannister enters the king’s court.
Lord Peter Baelish (a.k.a. Littlefinger) is the king’s Master of Coin (treasurer) and much, much more. Baelish is a self-made man who runs brothels and many other businesses around King’s Landing. As a young man he fell madly in love with Catelyn Tully, but never got her, as she was given to Brandon Stark, and later, his brother Ned.
Having helped betray Ned Stark, one can only assume the conniving Littlefinger will continue on his stated mission to beat the other players at their own game…
Renly Baratheon is the youngest of the Baratheon brothers. Where Stannis is rigid and morose, Renly is lively and vibrant and generally well-liked.
Renly is convinced that thrones are meant to be won – the way Robert won his from the Targaryens – rather than passed down through lineage. Through his secret gay lover, Sir Loras Tyrell The Knight of Flowers, Renly has secured the allegiance of Highgarden and the southern lords (via an engagement to Sir Loras’ sister, Margaery) in his quest to claim the throne.
Stannis Baratheon is the eldest younger brother of Robert Baratheon, and was away at the drab command post of Dragonstone during the events of season 1. He is a hard man, rigid about principle and law. He is loved by few – including his own brothers – but Stannis knows the truth of Joffrey’s tainted blood, and by “right and birth and blood” will stake his claim to the throne.
Through his wife, Stannis came into the company of Lady Melisandre of Asshai, a priestess of the Red Temple, which celebrates “the one true god,” R’hllor, Lord of the Light. With her strange magic and strange god, Melisandre is hated and feared by many of Stannis’ followers. Nonetheless, slowly but surely Stannis succumbs to the red woman’s influence…
Davos Seaworth is one of Stannis Baratheon’s most trusted supporters. Davos was once a smuggler, but during Robert’s Rebellion and the siege of Storm’s End, it was that same smuggler who snuck past the Tyrell blockade and delivered much-needed food to Stannis Baratheon and his starving men. Stannis made Davos a landed knight (at a steep price) and thereafter appointed him as an admiral of his fleet and a trusted advisor.
Davos is stalwart and loyal to his lord, but he does not trust the mysterious red priestess.
After finding his place on The Wall as a brother of the Night’s Watch, Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow headed North beyond the wall in the company of Watch commander Lord Mormont and a team of rangers. Their mission is to locate the missing villages of wildlings, track down the missing Benjen Stark and his rangers, and investigate the mystery of the White Walkers’ return.
But the night is dark and full of terrors, as Jon Snow may soon find out…
Sam Tarly hails from the southern land of Horn Hill and is the son of Randyll Tarly, one of the greatest military commanders in the Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately for Lord Randyll, his eldest son Sam is a self-confessed coward. Rather than risk shame being brought on his house by Sam’s eventual rule, Lord Randyll gave his boy an ultimatum: take the black, or die. Sam made quick tracks for the wall.
Having befriended Jon Snow, Sam found his place in the Watch as a steward. But how long can a coward last in the lands beyond the wall is a question that remains to be answered.
Commander Jeor Mormont is the father of Jorah Mormont (Daenerys Targaryen’s bodyguard) and the latest in a long line of Night’s Watch commanders. Known as “the Old Bear,” Commander Mormont has grown wary of the continuing string of strange and foreboding occurrences taking place in the lands beyond the wall, and has put together a team of rangers to venture into the wild lands and settle the unrest.
Having taken Jon Snow under wing, Commander Mormont will put the bastard boy and his fellow recruits to the test, as they venture into the cold, dark, north to confront all the terrors waiting there…
Ygritte is a wildling (or “the free folk,” as they tend to refer to themselves) living in the lands beyond the wall. Ygritte is used to a life and worldview based on old ways, old mysticisms, and the old gods of the north. She and her brethren do not understand the minds of those who kneel to a king – nor does she have any love for “crows,” the black brothers of the Night’s Watch who guard the wall.
Jon Snow and his brothers will find in Ygritte a level of beauty, passion, fierceness and cunning they didn’t expect in the so-called “wildlings” beyond the wall.
Bran Stark was crippled when Jaime Lannister threw him from a tower window for catching the Lannister twins at their incest. With his dreams of knighthood now dashed, and his family scattered, Bran sits as the lord of Winterfell in his brother Robb’s absence, studying his books and riding on the back of his monosyllabic protector, Hodor.
Bran must now deal with his handicap, as well as the peril facing his family – even as his strange dreams of a three-eyed crow begin to turn into something much more real, and mysterious…
Thanks to her own girlish naivete, Sansa Stark revealed information to the Lannisters that ultimately got her father captured and killed, and her house pushed to war against the throne. Sansa is now getting a harsh reality check, as the hostage fiance of Joffrey Baratheon.
With her brother Robb declaring himself King of the North, Sansa has suddenly become an import piece on the game board, as her highborn lineage could be instrumental in one day controlling the North. If only she can survive Joffrey’s “love” long enough…
Arya Stark managed to evade Lannister capture during Ned Stark’s fall at King’s Landing, and was smuggled out of the city by Yoren of the Night’s Watch – a loyal friend of Benjen and Ned Stark.
Disguised as a boy, Arya now finds herself on the harsh road North in the midst of wartime. Compared to her sister Sansa, Arya could very well have escaped the pan, only to be lost to the fire…
Little is known about Gendry, other than the fact that he is one of many black-haired bastards fathered by the late king Robert Baratheon. A blacksmith, Gendry worked in King’s Landing until his existence was discovered by Jon Arryn, and then, Ned Stark. When the Lannisters seized control, Ned tasked Yoren of the Night’s Watch to get Gendry out of the city in order to assure the boy’s safety.
Now Gendry finds himself on the king’s road headed north and in the companionship of “Arry” a strange little boy who is not really a little boy at all…
Daenerys Targaryen proved that she was the true dragon when she went into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and emerged unharmed with three baby dragons on her shoulder. That miraculous act has earned the last Targaryen a small band of followers, including Sir Jorah Mormont and her three bloodriders.
However, with a host that mostly consists of the elderly and the feeble, Daenerys faces a hard road home to Westeros – but to win the throne, she’ll have to first head further into the strange Eastern lands – confronting all the wonders and horrors that wait there…
Theon Greyjoy was last seen going to war with Robb Stark and the Northern lords. As indicated by the picture above, Theon will be traveling home to Iron Islands in season 2, sent to recruit his people to Robb’s cause.
However, the iron way is not easily forgotten, and though Theon has been away a long time, Robb’s decision to send him home may prove to be folly if the son of the Seastone chair doesn’t return.
Balon Greyjoy is lord of the Iron Islands and father to Theon Greyjoy. Balon rebelled against the Iron Throne when Robert Baratheon took it, trying to proclaim the Iron Islands as its own kingdom, and he its king. That rebellion was put down by Robert, Stannis and Ned Stark – who took Balon’s son Theon as a hostage to ensure The Kraken’s allegiance to the throne.
Now, with a new man declaring himself king every day, the time for Balon to stake his own independence could come soon.
Robb Stark was proclaimed the King of the North, and now leads the lords of the North against the Lannisters and King Joffrey.
However, when Stannis and Renly both state their claims to the throne, Robb suddenly finds himself being labeled as a rebel by three would-be kings, instead of just one. With the whole south against him, and an oath of vengeance sworn against the Lannisters, Robb quickly finds the weight of his new crown to be a heavy one…
With Ned dead, her daughters seemingly captured, and her son leading a war, Catelyn Stark is suddenly understanding that Stark family motto, “Winter is coming.”
Catelyn will do whatever she can to hold what remains of her family together, all while trying to bring the lords of the Riverlands – including her own crumbling house of Tully – over to the North’s side.
Ser Rodrik Cassel is Master-at-Arms of Winterfell and a trusted and loyal friend of the Starks. Ser Rodrik accompanied Catelyn Stark on the road to King’s Landing, and then to the Eyrie when she captured Tyrion Lannister, and was still accompanying his Lady lord as she rejoined with her son Robb and his army.
With Ned Stark dead, Ser Rodrik will go forth in season 2 to help hold Winterfell against its growing number of enemies.
Jaime Lannister is Cersei’s twin brother and secretly the father of her three children, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. Known as “The Kingslayer,” it was Jamie who betrayed his oath as a Kingsguard when he slew “the Mad King” Aerys Targaryen, by order of his father, Tywin Lannister. Jaime served King Robert with seething hatred as he watched the drunken man constantly shame his sister; after Tyrion was captured by the Starks, Jaime once gain heeded his father’s wish and rode to war for his family…only to be captured by young Robb Stark.
With the Lannisters holding Sansa Stark hostage in King’s Landing, Jaime is still of value alive. But even without his sword, The Kingslayer is considered one of the deadliest men in the Seven Kingdoms…with good reason.
Often mistaken for a man, Brienne is a proud knight of Renly Baratheon’s Rainbow Guard, and a staunch admirer of Renly himself.
However, like Renly and her fellow guardsman Sir Loras Tyrell, Brienne is but a babe of summer, who has no idea of the horrors of wartime. For her and her companions, the game of thrones is just that – a game.
But winter, as they say, is coming…
Margery Tyrell is a daughter of House Tyrell, a family of the southern lands whose wealth rivals that of the Lannisters. Margery is also the sister of Sir Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, who happens to be Renly Baratheon’s secret gay lover.
A newcomer to the game, Margery and her family are backing Renly’s claim to the throne. Even though Margery is fully aware of her brother and Renly’s relationship, she is nonetheless committed to the idea of seizing this opportunity to advance her family.
Myrcella Baratheon is Joffrey’s sister and is the second of the three children born of the incest between Jaime and Cersei Lannister (Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen, in that order). Myrcella has Cersei’s beauty, but is described as being a much brighter soul than her mother. Until now, she’s pretty much been in the background of all that has occurred in King’s Landing, leading to Joffrey’s claim of the throne.
However, with her brother’s claim being challenged left and right, Myrcella has suddenly become a useful piece in the game: through the right marriage arrangement, the Lannisters can conceivably build strategic alliances with other noble houses. It’s just a question of who should get Myrcella’s hand…
Bronn took the prudent step of helping out Tyrion Lannister in his hour of need. That loyalty rewarded the mercenary (called “sellswords” in GoT terms) the opportunity to greatly advance his position in life, thanks to Lannister gold in his hand.
Like any thirsty man who happens upon a well, Bronn knows to stick close to his diminutive new employer. But Tyrion will have many foes waiting for him in King’s Landing, and as The Imp knows, the danger with sellswords is that they are only loyal to whomever is putting the most gold in their hand at the present time.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos is one of “The Thirteen” merchant lords of Qarth, a city in the eastern lands of the Free Cities. Upon hearing tales of “the mother of dragons” (a.k.a. Daenerys Targaryen), Xaro seeks her out in the capacity of a guide and adviser, who may have his own agenda for courting the dragon queen and helping her win the “pureborn” nobles of Qarth to her cause.
Known for their dramatic flair, the merchants of Qarth delight in passion and emotion, but are deceptively cunning and clever. They are also beholden to “the Undying,” a harem of witches and sorcerers hidden away in an ancient house.
Jaqen H’ghar is one of three men imprisoned in a cage that Night’s Watch member Yoren (the man who saved Arya Stark during Ned’s execution) took with him from King’s Landing’s worst dungeon, bound for the wall. While Jaqen’s companions in the cage – the vile Rorge and razor-toothed Biter – are pure scum, Arya senses something different from the man who hails from the eastern free city of Lorathi.
Lord Varys the Spider is probably the most enigmatic and mysterious figure in the game of thrones. The “Master of Whisperers” seems to have a thread stretching to every corner of Westeros and beyond, with little spiders all feeding him the secrets that others would, and do, die for.
While Varys may be a plump and powdered eunuch, he is nonetheless one of the most dangerous men in the world. One never knows which side (if any) he’s on, what his agenda is, and what secrets he may know. Secrets that could very well change the game entirely…
If you haven’t seen them yet, check out the following:
- Game of Thrones season 1 Recap and Season 2 preview
- Game of Thrones Hi-Res Photo Gallery.
- Game of Thrones season 2 Full trailer
- Game of Thrones season 2 ‘Power and Grace’ trailer
- Game of Thrones season 2 ‘Shadow’ trailer
- Game of Thrones season 2 ‘Cold Winds Rising’ teaser trailer.
Game of Thrones season 2 premieres on Aril 1, 2012 on HBO.