Crows, mummers, bastards — who can keep up with everything (and everyone) in the fantastical land of Westeros? It's hard to imagine that when Game of Thronesreturns for its third season Sunday at 9/8c on HBO, viewers will be introduced to even more mythology, characters and betrayals.
And though the Westerosi often say "words are wind," those words can also be freaking confusing when you don't speak the language! That's why we've broken down some of the most important aspects of the series from A to Z.
A: Aerys II Targaryen Known as the Mad King, Aerys was the last of the Targaryen line to sit on the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms. When the Starks, Arryns and Baratheons rebelled, most of Aerys' house was wiped out, though his daughter Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) escaped across the Narrow Sea to the east. One of his Kingsgaurd (and the son of the former Hand of the King) Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) slayed Aerys, thus earning the nickname "Kingslayer."
B: Bastard In the Seven Kingdoms, there's still a considerable stigma attached to being born out of wedlock. If an illegitimate child is lucky enough to be acknowledged by his father, like Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) was by Eddard Stark, then he is allowed to take on a special bastard surname, representative of the region he's from (Snow in the North, Stone in the Vale, Sand in Dorne, etc.).
C: Crow A nickname, most often used by the wildlings in the north, given to the Night's Watch because of their all-black dress code. The sworn brothers of the watch dedicate their lives to protecting the Seven Kingdoms from threats beyond the Wall and are forbidden from marriage, family and land ownership.
D: Direwolf A large, near-mythic species of wolf that was thought to have been purged from south of the Wall until the Stark family came across six puppies, one for each of their children (including bastard Jon Snow!). The direwolves and Starks share a special bond, especially Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), who is discovered to be a warg (someone with the ability to enter an animal's mind and control its actions).
E: Everyone Dies When it comes to Game of Thrones, don't get too attached to anyone. This is the show that killed off its central hero in Season 1 (and they aren't nearly finished with the slaughter yet!).
F: Frey A very fertile house (to say the least) currently run by the proud Walder Frey. To secure his allegiance, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) agreed to marry one of Frey's daughters, but instead followed his heart and married a battlefield healer Talisa. Robb's mother Cateylyn (Michelle Fairly) greatly fears Frey's reaction when he discovers Robb's betrayal.
G: Guest Right An ancient and sacred tradition in Westeros that declares that after hospitality has been offered and accepted, the guest is protected for the length of the stay. It is typically signified by sharing bread and salt.
H: Harrenhal A large and cursed castle that changes ownership quite often. Arya (Maisie Williams), Gendry and Hot Pie were taken prisoner there, but were able to escape with help from Jaqen H'ghar. After the Battle of the Blackwater, Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen) was offered the land, thus raising him to the status of a lord.
I: Iron Price A harsh concept of the men of the Iron Islands, meaning to take something from a person you have defeated in battle (usually with blood shed) rather than paying or trading for it.
J: Joffrey Baratheon The current ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) was originally engaged to Sansa Stark, but traded her in for (the more influential) Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). He is a spoiled, sadistic coward, no thanks to his overprotective mother Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey).
K: Khaleesi A title given to the wife of a khal, the leader of a nomadic horde of Dothraki known as a khalasar on the eastern continent. Typically, when a khal dies before a khaleesi, she is taken to the Dothraki holy city to serve as a counselor. Daenerys defied this tradition and took over her late husband Khal Drogo's khalasar with the intent of returning to Westeros and reclaiming the Iron Throne.
L: Lightning Lord A nickname for Beric Dondarrion, who was charged by Eddard Stark with apprehending and executing Ser Gregor Clegane (aka The Mountain) for his many crimes, but hasn't been seen by our heroes since. He has become almost an urban legend, with many different tales of his death spreading throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
M: Mummer's Farce A common phrase in Westeros used to describe situations where people have been forced into a role purely for appearances when the outcome of events have been predetermined. If you were to complain about such a ploy, most likely you'd be met with such a response as, "I don't give a mummer's fart," meaning: "Hush your mouth because no one cares."
N: NSFW Game of Thrones might be a major water cooler show, but in no way is it safe for work. Sex! Violence! Sex! Nudity! Sex! This show is definitely not office appropriate. (And may we also warn you against watching with your parents.)
O: Old Gods The original religion of Westeros in which Weirwood trees are considered sacred. Though the Old Gods are still popular in the North, the majority of Westeros has adopted the Faith of the Seven, a religion of a deity with seven aspects. A new religion, based around R'hllor the Lord of Light, is also gaining followers in Westeros thanks to Stannis' (Stephen Dillane) favorite counselor, "the red woman" Melisandre (Carice van Houten).
P: Prostitutes Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is arguably the most honorable of the Lannisters, but he does have one weakness: hookers. When he was 16 he married a prostitute (though her career was unbeknownst to him at the time), but his father has since forbid him from having relations with whores. That hasn't stopped Tyrion from secretly dating Shae (Sibel Kekilli), a former prostitute who he's hired as Sansa's (Sophie Turner) handmaiden.
Q: Qhorin Halfhand A Night's Watch ranger who forced Jon Snow to kill him in order to prove allegiance to the wildlings and spy for the Night's Watch.
R: Rains of Castamere A song written about Tywin Lannister's (Charles Dance) destruction of the rebellious House Reyne of Castamere. It is a threatening reminder of what happens when you cross the Lannisters who, as we know, always pay their debts. Keep an ear peeled for it!
S: Seasons In Westeros, seasons don't last a matter of months, they last years! Also, they're irregular, so there's no telling how long a "season" will last. While the Seven Kingdoms were enjoying summer when the series began, as the Stark's motto warns, "winter is coming."
T: Twincest Ever since childhood, Jamie and Cersei Lannister have been taking their twin bond to the extreme, if you know what we mean. (Just to clarify if you didn't: they're doing it). While they do their best to keep their romantic relationship under wraps, the appearance of Cersei's three children (that the late, dark-haired King Robert Baratheon supposedly fathered with her) are a clear giveaway of their real father, thanks to their blonde Lannister hair. Robert's brother Stannis uses this information to discredit Joffrey's claim to the Iron Throne so that he can rule instead.
U: Unsullied A group of elite eunuch-slaves from Astapor, famous for their dedication and fearlessness on the battlefield.
V: Valar Morgulis A saying meaning "all men must die" in High Valyrian. Jaqen H'ghar teaches Arya these words before they separate, instructing her to repeat the phrase to any Braavosi if she wants to find him again.
W: White Walkers Creepy supernatural creatures who hadn't been seen in over 8,000 years, leading most to doubt their existence beyond children's stories. Unfortunately, as the Night's Watch discovered, they're very much still around — and heading south for The Wall!
X: Xaro Xhoan Daxos A spice merchant who turned against Daenerys and stole her dragons when she rejected his proposal. While the betrayal resulted in many deaths, Daenerys did gain two important things from the experience: a good life lesson (be careful who you trust) and an enemy, Pyat Pree, a vindictive warlock and Xaro's accomplice.
Y: Yara Greyjoy Balon Greyjoy's only daughter, who is fiercer, smarter, stronger and generally better than her brother Theon in every way (and would make a much better heir to Pyke, if you ask us!).
Z: Zorse These horse-zebra hybrids are mentioned multiple times in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series upon which Game of Thrones is based. While zorses have yet to be featured on Game of Thrones, we're starting a petition for a cameo right now!
What would you include in you're A-to-Z list? Game of Thrones premieres Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.
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