I have to thank my daughter, Sam, for introducing me to “Game of Thrones”. The TV series was on its third season when she told me about it. I got so hooked on it that, between the third and fourth seasons, I got copies of all all five published books in the “A Song of Fire and Ice” series. The TV show outpaced the publication of the books and, after the fifth season, there were no more books to give a peek into what would come next.
Despite its immense popularity, “Game of Thrones” is not for everyone. And, despite its success, it was met with numerous criticisms. Among the early criticisms was the treatment of women in the story. If they weren’t whores (too many to mention), they were pawns (Daenerys Targaryen and Myrcella Baratheon). If they were powerful, they were perverts (Cersei Baratheon) or insane (Lysa Arryn). If they were beautiful, they were stupid (Sansa Stark when she was younger) or greedy (Margaery Tyrell).
The men, on the other hand, ruled The Seven Kingdoms. And it didn’t matter if they were naive and too idealistic (Ned Stark), delusional (Joffrey Baratheon), scheming (Varys and Petyr Baelish) or downright clueless (Robert Baratheon). The only man with both brains and guts was Cersei’s brother, Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf whom his family looked at with disgust for the most part.
But it’s been six years and things have changed a lot. If season six were an indicator, it looks like the last (two?) seasons will be about the fight for the throne, and the fight will be fought by women.
After King Tommen’s suicide, his mother had herself proclaimed Queen Cersei. I seriously did not see that coming. Despite being a fantasy where mortal rules did not apply, succession in “Game of Thrones” has consistently followed the rules of most European monarchies — the crown passes to the oldest male descendant (son or grandson) and, in the absence of a male descendant, then, to a male sibling.
But Cersei is Tommen’s mother and never in the history of “Game of Thrones” has the crown — any crown — placed on the head of an ascendant in the course of succession. So, there’s no other way to interpret Cersei’s ascension to the throne but as a forcible taking although “force” in the case of Cersei is more of who wielded the most political power in court at the time of Tommen’s death. To be even more accurate, it was a swift forcible taking because Cersei had herself crowned even before any legitimate claimant to the throne could come forward.
Daenerys, Mother of Dragons
While no male has enough brains nor guts to challenge Cersei directly, Daenerys Targaryen will. House Targaryen ruled Westeros for close to three centuries before King Aerys II, the “Mad King” and father of Daenerys, was killed in an uprising and Robert Baratheon, Cersei’s deceased husband, was crowned king.
Daenerys and her older brother, Viserys, were smuggled by Targaryen loyalists to the Free Cities across the Narrow Sea and away from Westeros. Viserys was the claimant to the throne but he was a creep and an asshole so he was killed early on. Daenerys, the meek younger sister, turned out to be the real ruler material. From being a khaleesi, she went on to free slaves, acquire an impressive army and, finally, a fleet to sail back to Westeros. And, by her side, Tyrion Lannister whom she had named Queen’s Hand.
We all anticipate war between Cersei and Daenerys. While Cersei’s claim to the Iron Throne is both shady and shoddy, neither can Daenerys claim it by way of succession since House Targaryen had been overthrown by House Baratheon.
Of course, “Game of Thrones” followers who expect “good” to win over “bad” are rooting for Daenerys. But there’s the matter of Jon Snow. After five books and six years of the TV adaptation, we finally get clarity on the parentage of Jon Snow. At least, half of it.
Raised in the Stark household as a bastard son of Ned Stark (mother unknown), we learn in the final episode of season six that Jon Snow is indeed a Stark but not Ned’s son. In a vision of the past, Bran Stark, the only surviving legitimate heir of House Stark, Lyanna was shown dying after giving birth. She entrusted her child to Ned making him promise to protect the boy.
The scene might seem anti-climactic to most since it’s been believed from Day One that Jon Snow is indeed Lyanna’s child — the result of having been kidnapped and raped by Rhaegar Targaryen, deceased son of the “Mad King” and brother of Daenerys. If Lyanna had whispered the name of the child’s father to Ned, we viewers were still not made privy to his identity at the end of season six.
So, we’re still kept wondering… If Rhaegar Targaryen is Jon Snow’s father, then, he has a better claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys. But Bran Stark who is a long way from home is the only one that knows the truth and that truth he learned in a vision. If he makes his way home, will people accept the truth about Jon Snow’s parentage based on Bran’s vision alone?
And so, we wait another year to find more answers.