If you are wondering where the major characters are, we ranked them here.
1. Robb Stark
As a fantasy fan first, I believe Robb Stark’s storyline is the most intriguing one in the book and was fresh and new in fantasy epics. He was the main character we observe from afar, the boy that became a man out of necessity, the man who never lost a battle but lost the war, son of his father, both killed for the same reason- honor. I especially love the book’s arc when he goes to war as a boy and returns a man, told from the vantage point of his mother watching him leave and not seeing him again until he returns, without anyone narration while he was gone. He is also the reason the Red Wedding is the most heartbreaking shit in books or television. We rooted for Robb to win the game of thrones, and it was only in the wake of his death that we realized that there was no plan B in Westeros, so we turned our eyes to a white-haired Targaryen girl across the Narrow Seas.
Also, interesting and noteworthy- Rob Stark had zero POV chapters in the books. What a cool way to develop him- always a legend from afar even in death.
2. Sandor Clegane (The Hound)
The Hound had the most consistent portrayal from books to TV (it was so well done they had to bring him back to life- so much for the show that kills people). The character makes perfect sense, and he adds so much turmoil to any scene. He was such a badass and yet he had moments of crippling fear. He was so scarred but also tender (taking care of those Stark girls like he’s a babysitter). Viewers are equally excited to see him chop off heads and protect people’s necks. He also embodies a key theme in the book- the irony and farce of knighthood. The Hound got it before anyone else. There is no honor in being a knight. There never was and never will be. And as he marched through Westeros, doing what he felt needed doing, we at first disliked him for it, then we respected him for it, and eventually I loved him for it.
3. Tywin Lannister
Cold, ruthless, remorseless, he was the inverse of the Starks and became their ultimate undoing. In the game of thrones morality and empathy have no returns on investment, and Tywin understood this better than anyone else. He was also such a cool parent (not a good parent but a cool one). He contained and provided all of the attributes of Cersei and Tyrion and Jaime (although I am guessing Jaime had a lot of traits from his mother- ironic). His death was a great pop in the book, provided huge catharsis for Tyrion, and kept the game of thrones alive, because Tywin was about to hold things down and end the story.
4. Joffrey Baratheon
Jesus. This kid was so easy to hate and then they got that piss-ant to play him on screen and my Lord… His ranking suffers from an early exit in the series (by the end, his reign felt like a footnote), but Joffrey was so good he made two worlds loathe him.
5. Barristan Selmy
One of the great parts of Game of Thrones is its rich history. The most interesting stories are the ones never told, and we watch as the one that is told fades into legend and lore (often with a large twisting of the truth). Barristan was a bridge between those two worlds- equal parts myth and reality. He also bridged the reality-based Westeros and the mythic world of the Free Cities where Daenarys and dragons await. More like Barristan “The Bridge” am-I-right?
6. Robert Baratheon
Robert was the perfect king to create this whole mess. He loved the hunt, hated the feast, it was fitting that it would be the hunt that eventually killed him. The saying goes, “never meet your heroes,” and this was one of those heroes. How interesting to hear all the legends surrounding this ‘great’ man and all of the stories of his ‘terrible’ enemies, only to have them flipped on their heads as the book goes on. A nice touch that forces a unique mindset on the reader/watcher as the assess everything they hear secondhand about a character.
7. Gregor Clegane (The Mountain that Rides)
The Mountain is interesting because in a world of dynamic characters he was as flat as Brienne’s chest. No discernible motivation, no conflict, no foil. He is intriguing in his lack of any motivation or development. He was a killing machine and felt all the more dangerous because there was no way to understand him. Dude just dipped his brother’s face in fire and killed babies because he was told to.
8. Strong Belwas
You all died inside when the final season of Game of Thrones wasn’t a five-star masterpiece. I had died long before when they wrote Strong Belwas out of the series. Maybe I already knew of the writer’s capacity for bad decision making or maybe I was so hollowed out from the lack of Belwas’ fight scenes actualized (I spent two seasons looking forward to his entrance into the show) that I didn’t take the last season’s failures has hard as everyone else. I knew what bad decision making felt like.
Read the books. Belwas fucks.
9. Jorah Mormount
Jorah added a clarity and connection to the strangeness of Dany’s world in the Free Cities that helped us understand and compare that world to Westeros. That comparison was important as the two areas grew to be at odds with each other. He also had a strong story of his own as the disillusioned and exiled knight who became a believer in something greater. In many ways Jorah’s development mirrored our own as we became disillusioned with the glorious knights, lords, and castles of Westeros and sought something purer to save us.
10. Margaery Tyrell
The TV show did wonders for this character. She was conniving and manipulative in both the books and the shows, but Margaery of the series shifts into another gear (she was well acted by Natalie Dormer). With her newfound savvy at playing the game of thrones she became a legitimate contender for the throne for about a half a season and became infinitely more interesting.
11. Lord Varys
12. Petyr Baelish
13. Khal Drogo
14. Oberyn Martell
15. Grey Worm
16. Renly Baratheon
17. Stannis Baratheon
18. Syrio Forel
19. Ramsay Bolton
23. Daario Naharis
24. Tommen Baratheon
25. Jaqen H’ghar
26. Tormund Giantsbane
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