A Game of Thrones was written by George R. R. Martin. It is the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire series and published in 1996 by Bantam Spectra. It received the Locus Award in 1997 and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and Nebula Award. In 2011 it climbed to the top position on the New York Times Bestseller list. A Game of Thrones holds the plotlines that form the first season of the HBO show Game of Thrones.
The story begins by following three men of the Night’s Watch. They are searching for a group of wildings. One of the men finds them dead. He summons his other compatriots and leads them to the deathbed. The bodies are gone and the Others (White Walkers) appear. Two of the watchmen perish in a skirmish. One escapes back to the mainland of Winterfell behind the wall. Ned Stark executes the deserter in front of his son Bran. The execution is a turning point for the young lad and an initiation into manhood.
Catelyn Stark visits her husband in the holy forest the Godswood. Ned is cleaning his sword as she tells him that the Hand of the King Jon Arryn is dead. The news saddens the ruler of Winterfell. He learns that the king of Westeros Robert Baratheon is coming to visit them. The news pleases him. They both leave to prepare for their king’s arrival. East of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea in the city of Pentos, Viserys prepares his sister Daenerys to be wed to Khal Drogo in exchange for an army. The siblings are the last members of the Targaryen family and looking to reclaim their lost throne.
King Rob appears and talks with Ned in the crypts. He pays his respect to Ned’s deceased sister Lyanna who was abused by the former and mad king Aerys Targaryen. Big Rob asks Big Ned to be the new Hand of the King and to have his daughter Sansa wed to his son Joffrey. Ned asks for some time to consider the offer. Time passes. A feast is held for Robby Baratheon. Jon Snow talks to his uncle Benjen about joining the Night’s Watch. He is told he is too young. Jon pouts and talks to Tyrion Lannister. The dwarf gives him a pep talk. People eat and mingle. Catelyn receives a message from her sister Lysa that claims that the Lannisters murdered the previous Hand of the King. Ned learns the news and accepts Robert’s offer to protect him. He tells Jon he can join the watch.
Arya Stark practices her needlework and wishes she could rehearse sword fighting instead. The relevant Starks prepare to leave for King’s Landing. Bran climbs the towers of Winterfell with surprising dexterity. He hears Jamie and Cersei Lannister talking and moves closer. He witnesses incestuous intimacy and is spotted. Jamie pushes him off the tower before he can comprehend the alliteration. Bran goes splat. Four days pass. Tyrion reads in the library and confronts his siblings. He tells them that Bran could live. The air turns thick with the proclamation. They ask what side he is on. He tells his photogenic sister and brother that he loves his family.
Catelyn stays by Bran’s bed as two weeks turn. Jon says goodbye to her and she says that he should have been the one to fall. The bastard hugs his brother Robb Stark goodbye and gives Arya her own sword. She names it needle after her hatred of sewing. He tells her to kill her enemies with the pointy end. Jorah Mormont swears his allegiance to Viserys in Pentos. Daenerys marries Drogo. The Dothraki people engage in debauchery during the ceremony. The newly wed is terrified. She receives three dragon eggs and a book from Jorah. Drogo gives her a silver horse and is gentle when he consummates the marriage.
The Last Targaryens
King Robert tells Ned about the marriage. He wants to slay the last Targaryens. Ned advises against it. Big Rob claims they will sail across the Narrow Sea when the time comes. Ned says it will never happen and the Lannisters are the immediate danger. Tyrion and Jon head to the wall and grow closer. They are joined by a few criminals. Jon is in disbelief of the caliber of the Night’s Watch and acquiesces. Tyrion commends him for his honesty. Robb Stark takes command of Winterfell and a fire breaks out. He investigates and someone tries to assassinate Bran in the chaos. His direwolf saves him. An expensive dagger is left behind. Catelyn is convinced it is the Lannisters. She leaves for King’s Landing to investigate and warn Ned in person.
Arya is against their new relationships with the royal family. Sansa rides off with her future husband Prince Joffrey. Arya is practicing her swordplay with the local butcher’s son. The two friends clash sticks when the couple arrives. Joff draws a real blade and threatens the boy. Arya intervenes and her direwolf attacks the Prince. She tosses the royal blade into the river and everyone splits. Time passes and Joffrey accuses Arya and the boy of attacking him unprovoked. Sansa is indifferent and Cersei demands punishment. The verdict is the death of Arya’s direwolf. The animal is missing. Sana’s direwolf is killed instead. The butcher’s boy is executed too.
Bran dreams about a three-eyed crow. The bird teaches him to fly. The hallucinogenic vision brings all of the role-players into his purview. He sees the end of the world past the Wall. He is told he must live and that winter is coming. The boy will learn to fly or everyone will perish. Bran is awakened from his coma in the present. He cannot feel his legs and names his wolf Summer.
Catelyn reaches King’s Landing with Rodrik. Hot Rod departs to find the owner of the unique dragonbone dagger. The Queen of Winterfell is summoned to the Master of Coin, Petyr Baelish’s tower. His nickname is Littlefinger and he says the dagger is his, but he lost it to Tyrion while betting on a jousting match. Jon is at the Wall and dispatches the other recruits with ease. The defeated confront him and Commander Mormont of Castle Black summons him to his chambers. He says that Jon should make amends with his comrades and that Bran is alive. Throne, the Master at Arms, overhears the exchange and is displeased with the royal arrival.
Ned holds his first royal council as the new Hand of the King. Renly, Varys, Pycelle and Littlefinger are in attendance. Robert is missing. The Hand learns that the kingdom is six million in debt and that half of the gold is owed to House Lannister. He is irritated that the King plans to hold an expensive tournament in honor of his arrival. Littlefinger takes him to one of his brothels afterwards. They meet with Catelyn. Ned learns about the attempt on his son’s life. Petyr warns him that any action would be considered treason. Ned sends his wife back to Winterfell and escalates his concerns to Robert.
Tyrion talks to Mormont at the wall. He asks him to have the King send more men. The dwarf says he will and visits the top of the Wall one last time. Jon is on duty and the friends share words. They shake hands. Ned has dinner with his daughters. Arya refuses to say and runs away. Papa Ned follows her to her room. He finds her playing with her sword and says she needs to make up with her sister. The Stark family needs to protect each other from their enemies in King’s Landing. He allows her to keep Needle and arranges sword lessons with the master Syrio Forel. Arya says for real? Ned says forel.
Khal Drogo and Daenerys ride to Vaes Dothrak. Daenerys commands everyone to stop so she can absorb the scenery. Viserys is livid that his sister gave him an order. She shoves him away. He retaliates and is stopped by a Dothraki rider. The older brother talks to Jorah and asks him to hurt his sister. Jorah refuses. Drogo realizes his wife is pregnant. Tyrion stops at Winterfell on his way home. He designs a saddle that will let Bran ride again. The boy and his aid Hordor thank him.
Inspector Ned asks Pycelle about the death of the previous Hand. He tells him that he was reading a book about the lineage of noble families before his demise. The inspector lights his pipe and mutters that he believes that Jon Arryn was poisoned. Pycelle becomes uncomfortable and Sherlock Ned is unsure what side he is on. He returns to his chambers and Littlefinger gives him a list of people to investigate. He says he was wrong to distrust him. Petyr claims it’s the smartest thing he has done since his arrival and that spies are everywhere. A game of thrones.
Hefty Sam Tarly reaches the Wall. Throne makes him challenge another recruit and he is beat to a pulp. Jon defends him. Sam cowers and confides in Jon. He says his father gave him two choices, the wall…or death. Sammy boy chose the Wall. Jon is sad. He tells the other lads to go easy on the new recruit. Inspector Ned reads The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and realizes that King Robert might have other sons. He visits a blacksmith that the previous Hand was interested in and discovers that an apprentice named Gendry is Robert’s bastard. The inspector cracks the case and retires his pipe and deerstalker hat.
The tournament begins and Sansa enjoys her new position. Gregor kills the previous Hand’s squire. His name was Hugh. Rest in peace Hugh. Sansa is unaffected. The Hound escorts her to her chambers and reveals that his brother killed Hugh on purpose and was the one who scarred his face. Evil lurks. Ned is upset that he lost the chance to question Hugh. Varys visits him in disguise and claims that most nobles are loyal to themselves. His allegiance is to the kingdom and he trusts Ned. He tells him that the deceased Hand was poisoned for asking questions about Robert’s bastards. The plot thickens. Tarly is thicker.
Catelyn captures Tyrion. He professes his innocence and claims that Littlefinger is lying. The party is ambushed. Tyrion is set free to help fight the bandits. He saves Catelyn’s life in the skirmish. Arya begins her training and has to capture some adorable cats to strengthen her senses. The felines lead her underneath the castle. She overhears a conversation about Daenerys and a delayed attack. One of the strangers says killing Ned will buy them time. Arya tells her Pops, but Ned doesn’t believe the tale.
Time passes and everyone begins to argue during a council meeting. Varys says that Daenerys is pregnant. Robert wants her dead. Ned and Barristan disagree and the shouting continues. It is decided that they will have Jorah poison her. Ned resigns as the Hand and rushes out. Littlefinger consoles him and offers to show him the brothel that Jon Arryn frequented as consolation. Catelyn and Tyrion arrive at the Eyrie and ascend to the castle. Her sister Lysa is furious that she came unannounced with a Lannister.
Big Baelish and Nasty Ned visit the brothel and witness one of Robert’s bastard children. Petyr claims he has numerous. The Hand departs and Jamie Lannister surrounds him. Ned warns that Tyrion will die if he is harmed. Jamie slays his men instead. Ned falls from his horse and breaks his leg. Daenerys is presented in front of the Dothraki elders in a far away land.
Bran hops in his new saddle and gallops about. Robb tells his little brother how their father was attacked. Theon wants to go to war. Bran is left alone and looks for their pet direwolves. Six wildings corner him. Robb returns and kills several of them. Osha holds a knife to the young cripple’s throat. Theon subdues her with an arrow. Handsome Robb spares her life. Tyrion is imprisoned in the Eyrie and bribes the jailer Mord to release him so he can confess his crimes. He makes some hilarious jokes that the reader adores and Lysa abhors. He demands a trial by combat. Bronn volunteers to fight on his behalf.
Ned recovers and Jaime is gone. He asks the King to let him pursue. The request is rejected and he brings up his bastards. Cersei insults her husband and is greeted with a slap to the face. The Queen storms out and Ned is reinstated as the Hand. Bronn defeats his opponent and Tyrion is set free. Catelyn is bummed and learns that Tywin Lannister is forming an army at Casterly Rock. New recruits arrive at the wall. Jon and the boys are promoted to full members as black brothers of the Night’s Watch. Sam is not. Jon convinces Aemon to promote him to steward. Sam is elevated to steward.
Bronn and Tyrion head home on the treacherous mountain path. They share stories of their past. Tyrion had a rough childhood. The mountain clans surround them. The dwarf enlists their services and states that a Lannister always pays his debts. Their wolfpack grows. The King is gone hunting. Ned is in charge and listens to the commoner’s complaints. He sentences Gregor and the Lannister perpetrators to death. The Starks in King’s Landing argue. Ned sends his daughters home for their safety. Sansa is upset.
Ned confronts Cersei about Joffrey. She admits that Jamie is the prince’s true father. He tells her to leave before Robert returns to the news. The Queen scoffs and says “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” Viserys steals one of Daenerys’ dragon eggs. Jorah makes him return it. Viserys is livid and interrupts the Dothraki’s feast. He draws his sword and moves towards his sister and demands his crown. Drogo obliges and pours molten gold on his head. V dies and Daenerys claims he was not a real dragon.
Robert returns from his hunting escapades with a mortal wound. He was wasted and gored by a wild boar. On his deathbed he pens his last will and testament that states Ned will rule until his heir is of age. He doesn’t specify Joffrey by name. Ned is too devastated to tell his friend the truth. He leaves and learns that a Lannister squire was the one responsible for his intoxication on the hunting trip. He decides to name Stannis Baratheon as the new King.
Death of the King
Jon and the boys take their vows. The King dies. Ned summons the council. Selmy reads the will. Joffrey claims he is king and demands their presence in the throne room. Ned gives Cersei the will. She rips it to shreds. Ned orders the City Watch to remove the Queen and her son. They kill his men instead. Littlefinger, big attitude, has betrayed him. Arya and Syrio practice their sweet, sweet sword moves. Knights appear and her master defends her. Arya grabs needle and stabs a stable boy who tries to stop her. Blood soaks into the concrete and Arya is gone.
Ned is imprisoned. Sansa is locked in her room. Cersei forces her to write letters to her family stating that her father is a traitor. The Night’s Watch go past the wall to explore. They find some dead bodies and bring them back. Jon learns of his father’s alleged treason. One of the corpses reanimates and Jon kills it with fire. Robb Stark builds an army at Winterfell. Osha tutors Bran and tells him the real threat is north of the wall. Drogo refuses to go to Westeros. Daenerys is almost poisoned and saved by Jorah. Drogo agrees to sail to Westeros.
Momma Stark meets Robb’s army at Moat Cailin and interjects herself in the battle plans. Tyrion and Bronn group with Tywin and the Lannister army. The patriarch blames his son for the inevitable carnage and sends him into battle. The dwarf rallies the mountain clans and they decide to follow him one last time with the promise of unimaginable riches. Joffrey calls the royal families of Westeros to the throne room and demands their loyalty. Cersei relieves Barristan from his position as Commander of the Kingsguard. The Hound is promoted in his place. Varys visits Ned in his cell and asks why the innocents suffer when lords play at the game of thrones. He leaves after giving him two choices. Confess and live or die.
Robb and his army cross the river through the Twins after he promises to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters. Commander Mormont thanks Jon for saving his life and gives him a sword named Longclaw. Aemon reminds him of his duties with the Watch as he struggles with his father’s plight in King’s Landing. The Dothraki defeat a rival khalasar. Daenerys stops the men from defiling the vanquished. This angers her tribe. Drogo is wounded and his wife enlists a witch to treat him. Tyrion wins his battle. Robb and his main forces deceived the Lannisters and crush Jaime’s forces. The cost is great, but Jaime is captured. Robbie decides to keep him alive.
Drogo’s treatment fails and Daenerys has the witch use bloodmagic. Evil sprouts. Arya appears from hiding in King’s Landing. Ned is brought before the people and confesses. Joffrey orders his execution anyways and he is beheaded with his own greatsword. Arya is rushed away by an ally and uses Needle to cut her hair. Bran has some more wild dreams about the crow. Sansa is despondent. The Hound consoles her. Drogo is lifeless and Daenerys loses her baby. She euthanizes her listless lover.
Tywin learns of his son’s capture and defeat at Riverrun. He sends Tyrion to rule for him in King’s Landing. Jon leaves to meet Robb. The boys convince him to return. Catelyn and Robb discuss their next move. Renly Baratheon names himself king. Robb is declared the King in the North. Dothraki servants build a funeral pyre for Drogo. A select few followers remain by Daenerys’ side. Jorah takes an oath to protect her and serve on her Queensguard. She places the dragon eggs in the pyre and lights it and walks within the raging flames. The fire ends and three dragons cling to her chest. The rebirth of the dragons and birth of the Dragon Queen. A Game of Thrones ends.