Surely you have at least one friend who is, let's say, a fan of HBO's sprawling fantasy series Game of Thrones. Maybe they read the books, maybe they just watch the show, but either way they are a bit, ahem, evangelical about the program. I'm sure many of you have thus dismissed the show, justifiably annoyed by your friends' loud insistence that you watch. But some of you might have been worn down enough to finally relent and say "OK, OK, I'll watch it." Which is exciting. But the third season premiere is this Sunday, meaning you only have a little time to prepare. To aid you in your epic journey, we've put together a little primer to help you understand what you're watching in the first two seasons without having to read the damn books.
For the most part, we're in a place called Westeros, a medieval-esque, European-type land with a central king ruling the Seven Kingdoms. There is an immense wall in the north of Westeros that separates the "civilized" Seven Kingdoms from the wilds of Beyond the Wall, a wintry realm full of marauding wildlings and, some suspect, menacing, icy magicks. (More on that later.) The seat of power for the Seven Kingdoms is in the Mediterranean-esque capital city of King's Landing (the show shoots some of those scenes in coastal Croatia, for an aesthetic picture), but there are powerful Houses scattered throughout. Of chief importance to our story is House Stark in the north, home to some of our main heroes. They're a rugged bunch, living in the north as they do, but much respected throughout the Seven Kingdoms.