A Game of Thrones Read & Watch S1 E3

Here we go! Episode three! If you want to know more about this, then you can check out my Game of Thrones read-and-watch announcement post.

Let’s get on with the discussion!

This part of the book opens with Ned attending his first small council meeting and we learn that the king does very little with regards to ruling the realm, leaving most, if not all of the responsibility, to the council. We also learn that the kingdom is broke and they’ve been borrowing money – especially from the Lannisters. Given how much Robert already owes them for the throne he is sitting on, it’s pretty clear that the Lannisters essentially are the crown in everything but name. They helped win the rebellion, secured the kingdom, killed the previous king and now they’re paying for at least half of everything.

In the same part, Commander Mormont of the Night’s Watch asks another Lannister, Tyrion, for help trying to man the wall, because winter is coming and their numbers are dwindling, and with only prisoners, they aren’t able to sufficiently man the castles. Really shows you what the state of the kingdom is right now, doesn’t it? The former king might have been a butcher, but it’s clear Robert Baratheon is not much better for the realm.

No one is denying that Game of Thrones is a fantasy novel, but beyond a medieval setting, there aren’t as many of those classic fantasy elements. Or, they’re simply mentioned and not really focused on. This is a story of very real, well-rendered characters, and not so much one full of spells and wizards and terrible creatures.

But that doesn’t mean the magic doesn’t exist, only that it is gone from Westeros – dragons are gone, the children of the forest are gone, the white walkers are only stories. But there are still touches of it – Dany’s dragon eggs for one, and we’re definitely seeing a lot more of the magical nature of the Direwolves. They have an unnatural connection to the Stark children and when Tyrion arrives at Winterfell on his journey south, all three of their direwolves attack him, unprovoked and despite being well-trained. Almost as if they could sense something amiss, either with the Lannister blood or with Tyrion himself. This is definitely something that I’ve noticed plays a much bigger role in the book than it has in the show. Regardless of which Stark child we’re following, their direwolves are not far behind. Or, they are at the very least mentioned, as is the case with Lady and Nymeria.

After Ned learns that Bran’s direwolf, Summer, saved his son’s life and has sat by his side until he recovered makes it clear to him that the direwolves were not an omen. The fact that he had to kill Sansa’s begins to weigh on him – that her wolf is no longer there to protect is probably some of the most heavy-handed foreshadowing I’ve seen thus far.

This has also been the section of dreams – there is no magic, but dreams seem to hold a certain power here, though whether they are warnings or prophetic in nature isn’t something the book has explored yet.

Dany is struggling with life as Khaleesi, but finds herself healed and renewed after having a vivid dream of a black dragon with red eyes that burns her, and the older, weaker version of herself ‘slough[s] away’.

Bran woke up after having a dream that he could fly only to find he cannot walk, a truth that he is struggling with as he watches his brothers and theie direwolves running around and having fun. He dreams again, climbing a tower that never ends only for him to see terrible creatures, gargoyles that were twisted forms of lions, dark with red eyes, far above him on the tower, whispering secretly to themselves. Obviously, the twisted lions represent the Lannister twins, Jaime and Cersei, and Bran is struggling to remember (or not remember) what happened when he was pushed off the broken tower, but I found their description to be really interesting as well, especially after we see Dany’s dream. At first, he mentioned the gargoyles as outlined by the pale moon above them, and in a previous Dany chapter we learn from Doreah, one of her handmaidens, of a story where dragons came from the moon, and that one day it will crack open like an egg and dragons will return. I suppose dark with red eyes could be a more generic representation of some evil entity, but the ‘molten eyes’ was a description that was a little too specific and clearly harkens back to the dragon in Dany’s dreams.

And then we have Jon’s dream – Jon who is dreaming of Winterfell, the home and the family he left behind as he tries to prove himself as a brother of the Night’s Watch. His dream I thought was the most interesting – he dreams that he is back in Winterfell but castle is empty (which, it’s as good as, according to Bran). He descends into the crypts where he feels he doesn’t belong because he is not really a Stark – something he remarks to his new friend Sam that is the thing that scares him most about it, that it is somewhere he doesn’t belong and yet he has to go anyway. We already know how complicated his feelings are as Ned’s bastard, and maybe it was symbolic – he is finally accepting the brothers of the Night’s Watch as his new family. Or maybe there is something more there. We’ll have to wait and see.

We have points of view from different characters in very different places, so it’s really nice to see these really subtle throughlines. Even if these characters are not physically linked, could they be magically connected? They all seem to be having some pretty interesting dreams. It’ll be interesting to see how the show treats the information that is revealed in them – we obviously don’t see the dreams in the show but there is a lot of foreshadowing happening in them. Dany is clearly obsessed with her dragon eggs, and her dreams make that all the more apparent. In the show, we do see a shot of Dany surrounding her eggs with candles, either to keep them warm or because they represent something to her is left unsaid.

This is also the part where we get the name drop, at least in the books. Ser Jorah tells Dany that the common people do not wait for Viserys, their ‘true king’ to return. The truth is that it’s ‘no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace.’ That’s what this series is about – kings and nobles and princes and lords and their games of war to see who gets to control the realm. The closest we see from the perspective of the commonfolk is actually at the Wall with the Night’s Watch. A place where your past, ironically enough, doesn’t matter anymore. Or at least, it shouldn’t.

Compared to the first two episodes, this is where we are starting to see some differences between the show and the books. There are a lot of scenes in the show that were not present. such as:

  • Cersei speaking with her son Joffrey about when he becomes King
  • Ned and Jaime discussing the rebellion and Jaime’s betrayal of the former king
  • Robert and members of his Kingsguard discussing their first kills
  • Cersei and Jaime talking about Bran and what will happen if he remembers what he saw
  • Benjen and Jon having a talk on the top of the Wall

We have an all-star cast of amazing actors, so I can definitely see their desire to use them in more scenes and expand their characters – we hear a lot about Robert from other characters in the book, but there are no scenes from his perspective. It’s also really interesting to see where Joffrey came from – you can understand why he is the way he is in the show after listening to how Cersei speaks to him and how she regards everyone outside of her family as an enemy.

I also think it’s really interesting that despite the target on the Lannisters’ back regarding the attempted assassination of Bran, none of the Lannister siblings have mentioned it all. We’re getting so much more of the Lannister side of the story in the show compared to the book – the book makes it really clear that you are supposed to be suspicious of the Lannisters, and while they don’t come across as heroes in the show, it is definitely taking strides to make them seem more ambiguous, and at the very least, morally grey rather than outright antagonistic.

They removed the scene of Tyrion making fun of Ser Alliser from the show, which is honestly a little upsetting, but this portion had a lot of story at the Wall to get through, so some things would have to be cut.

But there were also things that were added that I enjoyed. I like getting to see Benjen interact with Jon. I liked that Ned tried to give Sansa a doll to help mend the damage after he was forced to kill her direwolf, lady. I like that as he watches his Arya train in the use of swords that it throws him back to his own time on the battlefield. He is a man who has been through war and lost much because of it. Or maybe it was a grim portent of things to come. Either way, I thought it was an interesting, forebodding way to end the episode.

If there is one thing I am enjoying, it is the fact that as a reader, we can see the distrust, the manipulation and the control of information that is essentially forcing these characters down these paths.

So far the story is framing Tyrion as, at worst, a child murderer, and at least a pawn for his family and possibly the king, and yet we get all of these chapters from Tyrion’s perspective that paint a very different picture. He has formed a kinship with Jon Snow – both being men that enjoy a certain amount of privilege because of who their fathers are, but are still looked down upon by society, and he tries to give him a chance to see his family again when he is speaking with Mormont and discussing who will go with him when he rides south. He openly and sometimes subtly criticises people, but he is blunt and honest to a fault and he doesn’t seem at all the type to be coerced by his family.

We know from the last episode how much Robert dislikes the Targaryens, so much so that he threatened to kill the siblings across the Narrow Sea. We learn more about the Mad King from Jaime this time around, and we know the Targaryens were not always good monarchs. Something that we can clearly see in Viserys, but his sister is another story. Daenerys is slowly becoming more authoritative, but she lacks the cruelty of her brother. She is growing to love her husband and her new home. She’s isn’t the threat that Robert makes her out to be.

It’s interesting to watch the history of this place and these peoples affect who they trust and how they think and how they choose to act, in sometimes opposing ways. It’s also a little heartbreaking, but I think that’s part of the appeal of the series, too.

I’m really enjoying this book and I’m really enjoying this rewatch of the show. It’s been several years, so it’s fun to see all the things I missed the first time around.

On that note, I’m also considering changing up the format of these posts- maybe something more like a podcast or a one-sided audio discussion. Sometimes writing out my thoughts like this feels a little weird, and I’m wondering if a chatty podcast sort of thing will better suit these posts.

Let me know if that sounds like something you’d be interested in listening to!

Chat with Me!

What did you think of episode 3 – Lord Snow? What do you think of the changes from the book? What were some of your favourite scenes from this installment? Let me know in the comments!

Author: Alyssa Flynn

Alyssa is a writer of fantasy and sci-fi, a certified geek, and a blogger over at Alyssa Lost in Space. She is currently writing her first novel which she plans to self-publish in Fall 2020.

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