Footnotes of Ice and Fire: The Backstory on 'Laws of Gods and Men'

A Game of Thrones book reader helps take a closer look at Jorah Mormont's slaving history, Theon's transformation into "Reek," Shae's admissions at trial, and pirate Salladhor Saan.

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Once each Game of Thrones episode ends, the googling of what just happened begins. We're here to provide some context and background on the HBO hit show with the help of the books of A Song of Ice and Fire, but without the risk of big spoilers. This week, we look at Jorah Mormont's slaving history, Theon's transformation into "Reek," Shae's admissions at trial, and pirate Salladhor Saan.

Jorah Mormont as slaver, informant

The leaders of the small council in King's Landing mentioned Jorah when referring to the threat of Daenerys and her army over in the East. "Mormont is spying on her for us?" the Grand Maester asks. "No longer, he appears to be fully devoted to her," Varys responds. Though we now see Jorah as the loyal assistant of Daenerys, the knight was sending Varys regular updates on the Khaleesi in the early days of their travels. Why would Jorah be a spy?

The reason is Jorah's past banishment from Westeros. Jorah used to be a Lord in the North on Bear Island, but was banished when Ned Stark discovered Jorah was selling slaves to make extra money. Thus off he ventured to the east to become a sellsword and survive on his own. But in an attempt to get a pardon and have that punishment overturned, Jorah had been sending missives to Varys tracking Daenerys. "So the slaver has become a spy," Ned Stark tells King Robert in the first book upon learning about Jorah. "I would rather he become a corpse." Daenerys, of course, has no idea about the spying. And as Varys explains, he's no longer of much help to the small council.

Theon becomes "Reek"

Theon's total Stockholm Syndrome-esque transformation into Ramsay's plaything "Reek" was on display in the episode. As his sister Yara tries to take him away, he screams for help. "Not Theon! Reek! Reek! My name is Reek!" He resists in total fear of Ramsay's coming punishment. "I know who I am! Reek! Good Reek! I've always been Reek!" Theon is dead, and Reek is, if not born, then certainly baptized.

That transformation is even more disturbing in the books because you read about it from Theon/Reek's own perspective. "Reek, Reek, it rhymes with meek" he rhymes to himself so that he doesn't forget his new identity. "Reek, Reek, it rhymes with freak," he says at other times. Any time he starts to remember his life as Theon Greyjoy, he stops and says that little ditty to himself. Theon's dismissal of Yara and screams of "Reek!" come from that constant reminder.

Shae's trial testimony

The dialogue in the trial scene where Shae lies about Tyrion goes about the same as in the books (down to Prince Oberyn's question to Shae about those sex acts), but a few descriptors in the book help put the scene in context. For one, why is Shae saying all this?

A Storm of Swords gives some explanation: fear of those in power. "Shae looked half in terror as the gold cloaks formed up around her," Tyrion notes to himself as Shae is taken away after her condemning testimony. "Her eyes met Tyrion's as they marched her from the wall. Was it shame he saw there, or fear? He wondered what Cersei had promised her." Yup, Tyrion believes this all comes back to a threat from Cersei. The show doesn't quite suggest that, although Shae does seem hesitant to speak at first. By the end, though, she openly talks with a similar combination of shame, fear, and hatred of Tyrion as motivation.

Pirate Salladhor Saan

"Once I thought this man loved me," the pirate Salladhor Saan says in the brothel about Davos. "Now I know he despises me." Saan, a buddy of Davos' from their pirating and smuggling days, was last seen in the beginning of the third season, when he saved Davos from Blackwater Bay and returned him to Dragonstone to be with Stannis. Frustrated at the lack of money, Saan ditched Stannis' weak cause and apparently sailed off to Braavos for some brothel loving. The gold from the Iron Bank gets him back on board. In the books, meanwhile, Saan sticks with Stannis the entire time, waiting and waiting for that gold to start rolling in. He's seen as more loyal — to Davos, not necessarily to Stannis — in the books.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.