Game of Thrones Season 5 Primer
It’s almost here!!! The start of a new season of Game of Thrones is two days away and I have all the new info you will need to be ready for the premiere on Sunday plus a few special predictions I am making entirely on my own. Let’s start with a description of the new locations we’ll be visiting in Season 5.
- New Lands
Dorne– The land farthest south in Westeros, Dorne is an entirely different world and culture separated by both its distinct customs and geography from the rest of Westeros. Unlike the rest of Westeros, the Dornish view women and bastards as equal to all others in their culture, allowing them equal rights in inheritance and lines of succession (everywhere else in Westeros skip females in their lines of succession entirely). The Dornish are also very free sexually (see Oberyn from last season and that should be all I need to say about that). Dorne also has the distinction of being the only land that never bent the knee to the Targaryens (hence their words “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken). They only joined the rest of the Kingdom through marriage.
Setting for a number of scenes in Dorne
Hardhomme–Only mentioned in the books, we will actually see Hardhomme in the show. It is an island north of the Wall where many Wildlings have gone to take refuge from the White Walkers.
Who is rowing to Hardhomme?
Braavos– Though we’ve visited Braavos before (Stannis and Davos went there last season to borrow money), the free city will be more significant this year. The city is recognizable by the giant statue (the Titan of Braavos) that greets new arrivals to the city. As a city created by escaped slaves, slavery is banned in Braavos. It is also one of the wealthiest cities in the GoT Universe. The Iron Bank of Braavos (which has loaned money to the crown of Westeros many times) will continue to grow in significance as the war debt in Westeros comes due. Arya’s sword teacher, Syrio Forel, was from Braavos.
The Titan of Braavos from last season
Volantis– The oldest of the free cities, Volantis is very close to Slaver’s Bay and is believed to have more slaves than free men. Two of the more well-known landmarks of Volantis are the Long Bridge and the Temple of the Lord of Light.
The Long Bridge of Volantis, filmed using this bridge in Cordoba, Spain
2. New Characters
Doran Martell– The brother of the late Oberyn, Doran is the prince of Dorne (leader of Dorne), who is nothing like the fiery Red Viper. Where Oberyn sought bloody revenge, Doran seeks more pragmatic, diplomatic solutions. This will be a major point of contention between Doran and Oberyn’s offspring.
The Sand Snakes– The nickname given to Oberyn’s eight bastard daughters, the show will feature the three oldest, Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene. And while each one possesses a unique skillset (Obara is a fighter, Nymeria is very elegant in speech, Tyene is an expert in herbs and poisons) all three are considered equally dangerous and deadly.
Areo Hotah– The captain of Doran’s guards, Areo is quiet and reserved, but loyal to a fault The prince relies heavily on Hotah’s loyalty since Doran’s gout makes it impossible for him to fight his own physical battles.
Hotah with the late Oberyn’s paramour, Ellaria Sand
Trystane Martell– Rounding out the Dorne crew is Doran’s son, Trystane. Back in season two, Tyrion arranged a marriage between Cersei’s daughter, Myrcella, and Tyrstane. Now, Trystane is a teenager whose continuing courtship figures to be a significant piece for both sides’ use in the battle brewing between House Lannister and House Martell.
The High Sparrow– Senseless war has been waged all across Westeros throughout the last three seasons with rape, pillaging, and murder a common occurrence for the peasants caught in the middle of all the fighting amongst noble houses. Within this context, a new high septon (who calls himself the High Sparrow and leads the worship of the Seven) appears this season in no mood to rub shoulders with any of the houses responsible for the carnage.
Yezzan– A slave trader from Yunkai, Yezzan is wealthy, powerful, and one of the more respectful traders in regards to how he treats his slaves. Of course, Dany didn’t seem very discerning of one’s treatment of their slaves when she hanged all those slave traders last season.
- Returning Characters
(Rumored) The Other Lannisters– Kevan Lannister has returned!!! What? You’re not excited about that? You may not even remember Tywin’s brother and his scrawny son (the wimpy guy Cersei slept with, Robert toyed with, and Tyrion used to inform on his sister) from back in Season 2. But Tywin’s death is expected to bring these characters back (it is rumored, not confirmed) and I expect them to be significantly changed from when we last saw them.
Did you forget about me?
The Lord of Bones– We last saw this distrustful wildling wearing a mask in Season 3, when Jon Snow first saw the wildling camp. Based on the previews, it would appear Rattleshirt (his other name) did not concede with the rest of the Wildlings and is still at large.
Myrcella Baratheon– Another character we last saw in Season 2, she was last seen crying in a boat as she was shipped off to Dorne to be married to Trystane Martell. A new actress will play the teen version of Myrcella as she has grown up and will have more significance this season with Trystane and Myrcella’s courtship.
Jaqen H’ghar– If I were a character, I think I would try and get out of the action after Season 2 only to return for this season like so many have. They sure did avoid a lot of carnage. You might remember this guy killing three men at Arya’s request (well actually two since the third death was traded for Ayra and her friend’s escape). Unlike the other returning characters, I don’t expect this faceless man’s demeanor to be much different from what it was previously.
- Bold Predictions
New Character Interactions– With all the reshuffling that happened at the close of Season 4, several characters are now in position to meet people they have yet to interact with before. You already know about Team Wall (Jon, Sam, Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Mance, Thormund!!!), but they won’t be the only ones who will have to deal with new acquaintances this season.
The show will produce better drama that Martin’s books did– Many book readers complain when the producers take a different direction than Martin’s novels do. And this season figures to offer more of that than any other season previously. But if previous seasons are an indication, I expect the non-book material to be fantastic. Much of Arya’s journey with the Hound (including the fight with Brienne) did not strictly adhere to the book. But I think the best part of Season 4 was their storyline. Much of last year’s Wall battle veered from the source material, but it was one of the best episodes the show has produced. And Theon’s storyline from arrogant douche to Ramsey’s frail bitch (which the book was silent about until we see the end result), did an excellent job of filling in that silence. I expect no less when this season makes changes from Martin’s books and I look forward to arguing with book readers about how much better it is.
Major Twists are coming– I am calling for two major, jaw-dropping twists at the end of this season. It hasn’t been confirmed that these are coming, but I firmly believe the direction of Season 5 sets itself up perfectly for these twists, one of which the producers chose not to use at the end of Season 4.
I will have a review of the first episode up early next week. See you then.