FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES
Game of Thrones. Need I say more?
Of course, you saw this – and winter – coming. Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s (unfinished) book series A Song of Ice and Fire, executive producer David Benioff jokingly suggested a tagline of The Sopranos in Middle Earth.
Or perhaps, I’ll make my own Middle Earth – with blackjack and hookers!
It is particularly notable for the number and variety of female characters or protagonists, only some of whom are hookers, although almost all of them appear naked or topless.
So without further introduction…actually, there is some further introduction. I don’t know about the Night King, leader of the White Walkers, but I definitely could get behind a Night Queen – hence my title image. Of course, my primary reason for my title image was because I didn’t want to choose any individual entry from my top ten for it – although the top spot will be no surprise, particularly as she already featured in my Top 10 Girls of Fantasy & SF.
However, it does prompt me to some Game of Thrones lore, albeit more from the books. In the television series, the White Walkers we’ve seen have been male – and not particularly attractive, somewhat like frozen beef jerky zombies in appearance. In the books, however, they are potentially more attractive – inhuman perhaps, but eerily beautiful at times, like dark elves or “Sidhe made of ice” as Martin described to artist Tommy Patterson for a comics adaptation. There have also been female White Walkers, at least in legend – indeed, the Night’s Queen herself. You see, the title of the Night King given to the leader of the White Walkers in the series seems to have been an adaptation of the title given to the legendary figure of the Night’s King from the books, but the latter was a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who was seduced to the dark side by a female White Walker, “with skin as white as the moon” but “cold as ice” and “eyes like blue stars”. He brought her back to the Wall, reigning as the Night’s King with her as the Night’s Queen, while binding the Night’s Watch to him by sorcery and human sacrifice – until House Stark under the King in the North joined forces with the Wildings under the banner of a King-Beyond-the-Wall to defeat them.
Anyway, these are my top 10 girls of Game of Thrones, with or without White Walkers.
Of course, some of you may be asking – who?
Admittedly, she does not have much of a role – just two episodes in the sixth season, albeit including the infamous fifth episode “The Door”. (“Hold the door!”).
She was Sansa Stark.
Not in the series itself of course, but in the play of a street theatre troupe seen by Arya Stark in Braavos (apparently titled The Bloody Hand and apparently also by a filthy Lannister propagandist by the way it got my Stark blood to boil).
So some of you may not have noticed her – but I noticed her! O yes – I noticed.
She didn’t have much of a role as Sansa in the play either – which accounted for Arya’s presence at the play, as the Faceless Men assassins had been hired to kill Lady Crane, who played the much bigger role of Cersei in the play. Or so Arya supposed, as she spied the jealous understudy mouthing all of Cersei’s lines. It’s not exactly hard evidence and doesn’t make much sense that an itinerant theatre troupe actor could afford the most elite assassins in the known world for such a purpose (or alternatively that their fees are so low that anyone can hire them for the most petty purposes).
And she’s not in the book either (although neither was Ros, everyone’s favorite s€xpositional hooker until she ran afoul of Joffrey’s crossbow target practice).
(9) LYANNA STARK
Basically, I’m going to cram as many Stark girls in this list as possible because…because THE KING IN THE NORTH, that’s why! House of Stark forever, baby!
However, Lyanna Stark well deserves her place in the top ten, although her fabled beauty has not been particularly well showcased in the series. Up until season six, all we saw of her was her statue in the Stark family crypt at Winterfell (and which King Robert insisted upon seeing at the outset of his royal visit with which the series commenced).
And when we finally saw her in the flesh in the sixth season (for that long awaited revelatory R + L = J), she was obviously not at her best either, dying from complications in childbirth – and extracting that promise from her brother Eddard or Ned Stark at her deathbed.
However, her fabled northern beauty was such that it had a profound narrative impact on events in the series – by inflaming the passion of Rhaegar Targaryen, prompting him to forsake his wife Elia Martell and “abduct” Lyanna, in turn igniting Robert’s Rebellion (as Robert Baratheon was betrothed to Lyanna), overthrowing the Targaryen dynasty and placing Robert Baratheon on the Iron Throne.
(8) TALISA STARK
Yes, it’s another Stark girl (bring our total to two so far, three if you count Bianca as Sansa Stark) – this time by marriage, to Robb Stark, THE KING IN THE NORTH and the Young Wolf.
She was adapted from Jayne Westerling, Robb’s bride in the book and a girl from a minor noble house. The latter actually made more oath-breaking sense, since Robb was effectively placed between dishonoring his oath to Walder Frey and dishonoring the girl’s house (as she was pregnant).
In the series, Talisa was not native to Westeros but a former resident of Volantis who had seemingly taken up her vocation as the Florence Nightingale of Westeros (and being Westeros, had her work cut out for her).
Of course, all that came to an end at the Red Wedding – particularly graphically for Talisa (and their unborn child)
The North remembers. O yes, the Freys may have paid, but the North remembers…
(7) YGRITTE (GILLY)
And now it’s time for some girls gone Wilding!
Ygritte gets some grief from fans – particularly, I suspect, from fangirls for touching their precious, pretty Jon Snow. Of course, Ygritte herself was a fangirl for Jon – although they were star-crossed lovers from the outset.
However, I found her to be an intriguing character and she’d probably earn her place in this top ten for her catchphrase alone, so often quoted as to evolve into an internet meme – “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.
And I dare even the most hardened fangirl not to be moved by the inevitable conclusion of their doomed relationship, lamenting that they should have never left that cave…
While on girls gone Wilding, it would be remiss of me not to give honorable mention to Gilly. I have a soft spot for Gilly, because she has one of the few good hearts in the series and because she has helped Sam Tarly to be something better – with the narrative impact of learning the effect of dragonglass on White Walkers. And as a born survivor, she might just see the series out unscathed.
Missandei came very close to being ranked higher. For one thing, she’s fetchingly played by Nathalie Emmanuel (thankfully adapted up in age from the young girl in the books).
For another, she’s another of those few good hearts in the series – possibly one of its gentlest and most decent characters, particularly in her touching platonic relationship with Grey Worm.
Of course, viewers know her as Daenerys’ right hand(maiden), with her gift for languages and social etiquette – akin to a much s€xier and less useless C3PO.
However, sadly she lacks the narrative importance of the top five…
“For the night is dark and full of terrors”.
Well especially after you give birth to your demon shadow baby. And…just don’t take off that necklace.
Melisandre of Asshai hails from that locale in the eastern continent of Essos, having come to Westeros as a priestess of the Lord of Light or fire god Rh’llor (typically known in Westeros as the Red God). Rh’llor is a somewhat enigmatic deity – while his followers cast him as a benevolent deity (or as benevolent as one gets in Game of Thrones), indeed the only benevolent deity as opposed to the Other, he also seems to take delight in human sacrifice by immolation. However, it is not entirely clear whether that may be through misplaced zeal of his followers (with Thoros of Myr being a mellow exception), such as Melisandre (who is equally as enigmatic herself).
And Melisandre is particularly zealous, with a disposition to burning people that have some connection to being royal by blood or even title – crossing the line for most fans, as well as Davos of Seaworth, with Shireen.
The Red God also seems to take delight in having attractive women as his priestesses, from those that we’ve seen in the series. Melisandre herself is often titled as the Red Woman, from her red clothing (although this appears to be standard clerical garb for the Red God) to her red hair – and in the book, red eyes.
As the Red Woman or Red Priestess, Melisandre has some major mojo. She is sometimes referred to as a shadowbinder, an evocative term for a wielder of (dark) magic – hence that demon shadow baby. Her powers also extend to immunity from poison and cold, glamors or illusions and of course most recently resurrection, even if she wasn’t entirely confident in that last one, as well as what appears to be longevity or possibly immortality (but clearly not eternal youth). She also has powers of prophetic visions, particularly through the medium of fire, which she can share with others (although this also appears to be fairly standard amongst priests or priestesses of the Red God).
Except…she just doesn’t appear to be too good at that whole prophecy thing. Essentially, Melisandre is a messianic groupie, going from one person to the next as candidate for the Red God’s messiah, variously styled as The Prince (or Princess) That Was Promised or Azor Ahai. (The former is often invoked as the reincarnation of the latter).
Anyway, Melisandre was introduced having latched on to Stannis Baratheon (or Stannis the Mannis, as fans styled him) as the prophesied Prince, notwithstanding that he seemed to lack any of the prophetic qualities, other than that he resided in Dragonstone. Having bailed on Stannis as he fell on his snowbound fate, she became a Jon Snow fangirl like so many others that watch the series. After he and Davos showed her the door (no, not that door) because of her pointless sacrifice of Shireen, she has since taken up with admittedly the best match to the words of the prophecy itself, while still gushing as a Jon Snow fangirl.
Played by Dutch actress Carice van Houten, she has inspired a surprising amount of fantasy art and cosplay, often with the red eyes from her appearance in the books.
(4) MARGAERY TYRELL
“Do you want to be a Queen?”
“No, I want to be THE Queen”
And our fourth place entry, Margaery Tyrell, achieved just that – although she had to marry three Kings to do it.
The first was Renly Baratheon, one of the titular kings in The War of Five Kings – until he was done in by Melisandre’s shadow demon baby on behalf of his brother and rival Stannis Baratheon. House Tyrell in general and Margaery in particular then threw in their lot with the Lannisters – with Margaery marrying Joffrey, until his o so delicious assassination by poison at their wedding feast (orchestrated by Margaery’s grandmother Olenna and the man who so desperately needs to be stabbed repeatedly, Littlefinger). Margaery finally succeeded in fulfilling her queenly ambitions with her seduction of and marriage to Joffrey’s brother Tommen.
That effectively sums up the character of Margaery, whose role in the series is somewhat elevated from that in the books – using her beauty and cleverness to adroitly maneuver herself and her family through court politics. Indeed, Margaery is a major part of the political influence of House Tyrell, although in this she’s the protégé of her grandmother Olenna – albeit more rose than thorn. In the position of Queen Consort or Queen, she also proved to be quite the People’s Princess – and was even able to feign faith for the Faith Militant and the High Sparrow.
Her most dangerous and ultimately deadly opponent was the Queen Mother, Cersei Lannister – who in turn saw the new queen as the fulfilment of a prophecy that she would be displaced by a younger and more beautiful queen (while ignoring the obvious candidate for that prophecy across the sea). Cersei even fueled the rise of the Faith Militant to strike at Margaery and more generally the Tyrells, although of course that didn’t work out too well for Cersei. Unlike Margaery, finesse was never Cersei’s forte so she resorted to fire – wildfire to be exact, resulting in her victory as the Mad Queen and Margaery being scraped from the Sept (along with other notables killed by the wildfire explosion).
It is apt that her best epitaph came from Olenna Tyrell (shortly before giving her own epic epitaph) that Margaery was the most admired Queen in the history of the Seven Kingdoms – but also had no power and was now ash.
Actress Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of the character in the series has so thoroughly cemented her appearance as that of Margaery that fantasy art or cosplay is predominated by the resemblance – some uncannily so in the case of cosplay.
(3) CERSEI LANNISTER
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
Of course, Cersei Lannister is not as nice as her rival Margaery, but outranks her in narrative importance – indeed, as the above quote demonstrates, she name-drops the title of the entire series. And upon ascending the Iron Throne itself (through marriage and the untimely deaths of others), she turns that game of thrones into a game of queens, bitches! Literally, as her most dangerous rival is another queen – and indeed our top three entries are all queens in the endgame of thrones.
She was introduced in the first episode as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms through her unhappy marriage to King Robert Baratheon. That marriage reflects her status as a Lannister, one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Westeros, not to mention the only daughter and eldest child of Tywin Lannister, uber-patriarch (and absolute prick) of House Lannister. Her true love and passion is for her twin brother Jaime Lannister (eww!), although in fairness she did become infatuated with Rhaegar Targaryen, to whom her father sought to betroth her, but that didn’t turn out too well – for anyone, given that Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna Stark and effectively set the events of Game of Thrones in motion. Jaime is the father of her three royal children – Joffrey (the poster boy for why siblings should not sleep together as well as Cersei’s complete lack of maternal skills), Myrcella and Tommen.
Cersei is haunted by the prophecy of witch Maggy the Frog, given to her as a teenager – or more precisely, three prophecies, particularly as they all seem to be coming true. Firstly, that she would marry the king (Robert Baratheon) not the prince (Rhaegar Targaryen). Secondly, that a younger and more beautiful queen would take all that she held dear (a prophecy Cersei identified with Margaery, missing the more obvious candidate for that position). Thirdly, that her children would all die during her lifetime – and, so far missing from the TV series, that the ‘valonqar’ (High Valyrian for ‘little brother’) would come to end her life. In the books, so far the sole province of that prophecy, it is the primary reason for her hatred of her younger brother Tyrion, although it does jostle with other reasons for her hatred of him (not least blaming him for their mother’s death from his birth). However, she may be overlooking that Jaime, as the younger twin, is also her little brother – or that prophecies can be incredibly vague or metaphorical when it suits them.
And so all three of her children die – Joffrey and Myrcella by assassination, Tommen by suicide (in the wake of Cersei’s destruction of the Great Sept) – and Cersei ascends the Iron Throne under the name of Cersei of the House Lannister, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. Although they should have added all round narcissistic sociopath to those titles – and she has already earned expectations for the Mad Queen, echoing the Mad King Aerys Targaryen and his threatened use of wildfire to destroy King’s Landing (as opposed to Cersei’s actual use of it to destroy some of its prime real estate).
“Cersei has been continuously praised as one of the most complex and multi-faceted characters in either version of the story”, ranked high both as a character and as a villain, arguably its ultimate (human) villain. (Rolling Stone ranked her as their top villain – the “most dangerous human being in Westeros” as well as “one of the most complex and fascinating characters on television”). “Cersei is ruthless, willful, cold, ambitious, and cunning in the sense that she is utterly willing to betray anyone who trusts her, or do anything to protect her own. However, she is also arrogant and self-centered to a fault. While she certainly believes herself to be a master strategist, she is extremely impatient, short-sighted, and prone to displays of poor judgment and poor leadership, resulting in her being both unskilled at manipulating enemies who openly distrust her and incapable of thinking about the long-term consequences of her actions”. (Hmm…sounds familiar. As one of my favorite quotes goes, if luck was a woman, she’d be my ex-wife – but Cersei may be a better comparison).
Indeed, Cersei resembles not so much a queen or even an adult, but a petulant child inhabiting an adult’s body – dangerously so when that body was widely hailed as that of one of the most beautiful women of Westeros, especially in her youth. Actress Lena Headey has stated that she plays Cersei as having the mind of a wayward fifteen year old who never had any real parenting.
Speaking of Lena Headey, she has made the role her own, with just the perfect resting bitch face for it, and as such, is the inspiration for cosplay as well as fantasy art – although the latter also frequently portrays the character as her younger self.
One thing’s for certain – when she goes down, Westeros’ queen bee will go down stinging. The gods save us from the Queen!
(2) SANSA STARK
“I did what I had to do to survive, my lady. But I’m a Stark – I will always be a Stark!”
You go, girl!
Sansa Stark takes her rightful place as Lady of Winterfell and Queen of the North, not to mention my second place entry in my Top 10 Girls of Games of Thrones.
Some people dismiss Sansa, particularly in the earlier seasons, but those people are fools. Yes, Sansa started as naïve, but what else did one expect of a teenage girl raised to be a noble lady? She may have been naïve but she was never stupid – and she rode a very steep learning curve indeed. There is a tendency to overlook her for her admittedly badass killer sister Arya – now the Westerosi version of the Terminator and the mighty morphing T-1000 from Terminator 2 at that. Don’t worry – the House of Stark loves you too, Arya. But let’s face it – there is no way Arya, or any other Stark for that matter, would have survived as Sansa did as a hostage of the Lannisters. Sansa learnt to play the long game. In the words of Rolling Stone, “if a Disney princess had night terrors, the story of Sansa Stark might be what woke her up screaming”. Indeed, Sansa survived the direct abuse of the two greatest psychopaths in the series, Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton, not to mention the manipulation of narcissistic sociopaths such as Cersei Lannister and Littlefinger. No character has grown quite like Sansa. In the words of Buzzfeed, her skin has gone from porcelain to ivory to steel.
And even in the belly of the beast, she remained defiant. When Joffrey taunted her about giving her Robb Stark’s head, she calmly gave it back to him – “Or maybe he’ll give me yours”. She even manipulated him into the Battle of the Blackwater, by noting that her brother Robb was always in the thick of the battle “and he’s only a pretender”.
You go, girl!
She even called Ramsay Bolton a bastard to his face, something virtually no one else has done and survived. And when Ramsay, uniquely taken aback, weakly replied that he had been naturalized by royal decree, she calmly fires back “Tommen Baratheon? Another bastard”.
And of course who can forget her words as a true Lady of War on the eve of the Battle of the Bastards – “You’re going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well.”
You go, girl!
Or her classic putdown of that slime, Littlefinger – “Did you know about Ramsay? If you didn’t, you’re an idiot. If you did, you’re my enemy.”
YOU GO, GIRL!
In fairness, Littlefinger did give us Dark Sansa. Mmm…Dark Sansa.
I just can’t help quoting some Sansa fans:
Blogger Rhiannon Thomas of Feminist Fiction wrote “in an abusive situation that would break so many people, Sansa survives” – with a courage “keeps her alive and in the game where characters like Arya would not last five minutes”.
In an article published on MTV.com (Sansa Stark is the only Game of Thrones Hero Worth Rooting For”), Crystal Bell wrote “Sansa’s greatest strength as a character has been her unwavering resilience. She was tortured and humiliated for seasons by the unhinged man-boys around her. She’s been the subject of everyday sexism and misogyny since day one. And yet, she survives, even as armor-clad heroes fall before her.”
Bennett Madison of Vanity Fair wrote “As far back as King’s Landing, Sansa’s between quietly protecting herself, working on her stitchery while taking cool measure of everything going on around her, learning how to game the system, and slithering through situations that would have gotten the best of the show’s more flashy or impulsive characters. In ‘Battle of the Bastards’, she got to show a little flash of her own; by being defiantly, gloriously correct in her convictions, by saving the day with her foresight and savvy, and by feeding Ramsay to the dogs.” O yes – feeding Ramsay, o so deliciously, to the dogs…
It might be noted that her abuse at the hands of Ramsay Bolton never happened in the books – and it is a little puzzling exactly what Littlefinger’s plan is when handing Sansa over in the series, except defaulting to what he’s always done best, being a pimp. That’s particularly so given what he confesses to her to be his ultimate ambition – himself on the Iron Throne with her by his side. Actually, that could work, with just some slight modification…
THE QUEEN IN THE NORTH!
(1) DAENERYS TARGARYEN
Daenerys Stormborn. Daenerys of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name. The Queen Across the Sea, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt and above all, Mother of Dragons.
Or in one of my favorite quotes from the girl herself, as she is born again in blood and fire with her dragons:
“The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of dragons, mother of dragons, don’t you see? Don’t you SEE?”
Surely you were expecting this entry? Could there have been any doubt? There could be no other in the top spot.
Apologies to her actress in the series, Emilia Clarke, who as portrayed her admirably, but ultimately I just can’t resist the silver hair and violet eyes of Daenerys Targaryen from the book.
She is frequently hailed as the most beautiful woman in the world – and is the stuff of fantasy even there. (In the television series, a harlot cosplays as her, to a hearty cheer of “Mother of Dragons”).
Of course, it is not simply her appearance, but her character as one of the most badass and kickass females in fantasy. Initially a meek and timid girl abused by her creepy older brother Viserys, she is married off to Khan Khal Drogo for the promise of his Mongol Dothraki army in the reconquest of the Seven Kingdoms. However, she takes her position of Khaleesi thrust upon her (literally in the person of Khal Drogo) and makes it her own – eating a raw stallion heart, foretelling that her son will be the Stallion That Mounts the World. Unfortunately, things don’t quite work out that well as she loses both husband and son through dark magic, but she emerges as the closest thing the series has to a superhero – mother to three dragons and conquering queen at the head of her army. (Unfortunately, she then spends an interminable amount of time sitting around the conquered city Meeren, while we’re all waiting for her to return to Westeros and kick ass there).
Apart from her dragons, she is one of the few characters with a genuine superpower – invulnerability to heat and fire (although that is a quality more in the TV series than the books). Her superhero status is also demonstrated as one of the few characters with a strong moral compass – particularly as that feature usually marks one out for an early (and typically grisly) death in the series. And she just may be the Prince(ss) Who Was Promised, the legendary hero Azor Ahai reborn – indeed, she fits the prophecy to a tee. (She would also seem to be the younger and more beautiful queen prophesied by a backwoods witch to take everything from Cersei Lannister – although we book fans are still hanging out for the ‘valonqar’ or little brother to choke the life out of Cersei. Come on, valonqar – really get your hands round there and squeeze!)
As Tyrion Lannister summed her up with his usual eloquence:
“I know that she spent her childhood in exile, impoverished, living on dreams and schemes, running from one city to the next, always fearful, never safe, friendless but for a brother who was by all accounts half-mad…a brother who sold her maidenhead to the Dothraki for the promise of an army. I know that somewhere upon the grass, her dragons hatched and so did she. I know she is proud. How not? What else was left to her but pride? I know she is strong. How not? The Dothraki despise weakness. If she had been weak, she would have perished with Viserys. I know she is fierce. Astapor, Yunkai and Meeren are proof enough of that. She has survived assassins and conspiracies and fell sorceries, grieved for a brother and a husband and a son, trod the cities of slavers to dust beneath her dainty sandalled feet.”
And of course, she is going to “break the wheel”, the spokes of which are the great Houses of Westeros, crushing those beneath them as they rise and fall:
“I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and I will”.
Mark her words – “I am no ordinary woman. My dreams come true”
TOP 10 GIRLS OF GAME OF THRONES (SPECIAL MENTION)
My Top 10 Girls of Game of Thrones saw some notable omissions, including one Stark girl – omissions that were intentional as I have included them in my special mentions instead.
In my top tens, I reserve special mention for a category of entries that are typically iconic or noteworthy but have some special quality that sets them apart from the top ten. Obviously.
What is that special quality? Well it varies, although it tends to be thematic or idiosyncratic (but I make my own rules and break them anyway).
(1) ARYA STARK
“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home”.
And that quote effectively sums up Arya throughout the series. Arya is the fiercest lone wolf of the Starks – and a Faceless Man, or rather Faceless Girl, a graduate of the deadliest school of assassins throughout Westeros or Essos. Although…I don’t really understand the methodology of their training or their assessment criteria for graduation. I’m not sure that they understand it either, as Arya seemed to reject every part of their mindscrew training and still pass. A girl has no name – unless she’s Arya Stark.
Arya doesn’t need to be on any top ten list – she has her own list. Of course, it’s a list of people to kill, but who doesn’t have one of those?
The North remembers – and Arya is its vengeance.
(2) LYANNA MORMONT
“Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark”
It doesn’t get much more badass than the North – and the North doesn’t get much more badass than Bear Island and its young head of House Mormont, Lyanna Mormont.
Lyanna Mormont has been a fan favorite from her first appearance (or even before if you count the above reply by raven) and deservedly so – we all love that no-nonsense trash-talking enfant terrible of Bear Island.
As the meme goes, if she had three dragons, the series would have ended with her on the Iron Throne at least two seasons previously, if not within the week.
Or as Arya invoked her to Sansa, “What would Lyanna Mormont say?” – a query that should be adopted by us all as our own personal motto for any situation.
(3) SHIREEN BARATHEON
“The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry”
Yeah, that’s not Game of Thrones (it’s Ernest Hemingway), but it might as well be.
And you crossed a line when you killed Shireen Baratheon – you crossed a damn line! In the words of Davos Seaworth, echoing Hemingway – “She was good, she was kind and you killed her!”
Of course, that line could be directed as much at the series as at Stannis and Melisandre – she’s still alive and well in the books. For now. Indeed, for all George R. R. Martin’s reputation as fantasy’s greatest serial killer, the TV showrunners are much more murderous – with a large number of characters killed in the series that are still alive in the books.
(4) BRIENNE OF TARTH
“Have you seen the way my Wilding looks at your bodyguard?” Jon Snow to Sansa Stark.
Yeah, that’s not actually Game of Thrones either, but a quip in caption by the Mother of Kittens, gonzo girl reviewer of Game of Thrones.
Brienne may not be a beauty in appearance, as opposed to her cruel nickname Brienne the Beauty, but she is a beauty in spirit – one of the noblest characters in the entire series, as well as one of the best fighters, capable of outfighting the Hound himself. (So naturally she gravitated to the service of that noblest house of all, House Stark).
We’ll let man of the world and wild, Tormund Giantsbane, sing the praises of her finer qualities:
“I have a beauty waiting for me back at Winterfell, if ever I get back there. Yellow hair, blue eyes, tallest woman you’ve ever seen, almost as tall as you.”
“Brienne of Tarth?”
“You know her?”
“You’re with Brienne of f*cking Tarth?”
“Well, not with her yet, but I’ve seen the way she looks at me”.
“How does she look at you? Likes she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?”
“You DO know her!”
(5) OLENNA TYRELL
She might not be a badass with a sword, but the matriarch of House Tyrell had the most badass tongue in the series, as well as playing an adept hand in the Game of Thrones – even if she was ultimately let down by her House’s military incompetence (and arguably also that of Tyrion as the Hand of Daenerys Targaryen).
And in the end, she still managed to flip the bird to Cersei Lannister – and there are few finer ways to go than that.
Doreah had quite the fan following for her small part as one of the Dothraki handmaidens of Daenerys in the first two seasons (which…could have had something to do with the above scene). Well, she was not actually one of the Dothraki handmaidens (those were Irri and Jhiqui – and yes, I had to look them up).
Doreah originated in the Free City of Lys, a city ironically named as it raised her to be a ‘bedslave’ and trained in the arts of seduction. Bought by Illyrio Mopatis, the Pentos patron of the exiled Targaryen family, she was given by Viserys as a wedding gift to Daenerys to be her handmaid. Unfortunately, Doreah betrayed Daenerys in Qarth, that desert city of rich weirdos – and ended up as a long term deposit by Daenerys in the treasure vault of the treacherous Xaro Xhoan Daxos (along with Daxos himself). And by long term, I mean dead.
“Remember who you are, Daenerys? The dragons know. Do you?”
Speaking of Qarth , there’s the mysterious masked magical Quaithe of the Shadow – a shadowbinder from Assai, much like Melisandre, albeit with fewer demon shadow babies on screen so far. Indeed, her role in the series is limited – disappointingly, as she was such an intriguing figure, of which one would like to see more. Fortunately, she does recur in the books – or at least a vision of her – as some sort of mysterious spirit guide to Daenerys, including the above quote.
Ros earns special mention as a character who was completely absent from the books and created for the TV series, seemingly for that combination of s€x and exposition that has since been immortalized as ‘s€xposition’. Ros was a member of that standard female profession of Westeros – indeed, I’m convinced that the Westerosi economy is based on prostitution, since I don’t see much evidence of any other economic activity.
Sadly, that profession did not help her too much as she ended up on the pointy end of a quarrel or two from the psychopathic Joffrey Baratheon – and by quarrel I’m referring to crossbow bolt rather than verbal argument.
(9) THE SAND SNAKES
And I just can’t resist special mention, or rather, dishonorable mention, for Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes, because Dorne sucked once Oberyn Martell died.
Did anyone like the Dorne storyline in the series? Anyone? The Sand Snakes (and Dorne in general) was somewhat intriguing in the books, but in the TV series, they chose…poorly.
And on the subject of dishonorable mention, I suppose I should also mention Shae, prostitute and Lannister camp follower (in more ways than one). She’s too substantial for omission, but earns dishonorable mention as I just found her annoying. Nobody puts Tyrion in a corner! Do you want to end up strangled by your vengeful ex-lover in his father’s bed? Because that’s how you end up strangled by your vengeful ex-lover in his father’s bed!