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A guide to the big names, places and things in the 'Game of Thrones' universe



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When season eight kicks off, there will be two main plots: in the north, where most characters have converged to try to defeat the White Walkers and the army of the dead, and in the south, where current queen Cersei Lannister is trying to keep a grip on the throne. To understand what happens in this final season, here is the briefest possible explanation of the important people, places and things in the series to this point.

Key terms

Westeros: Westeros is the Europe-like continent most of "Game of Thrones" happens on. It contains the Seven Kingdoms, which are actually nine separate dominions ruled by whoever sits on the Iron Throne.

Robert’s Rebellion: Robert’s Rebellion occurred about 15 years prior to the events of season one of the show. At the time, the realm rebelled against the Targaryen King Aerys because he was burning people alive — including a few Starks — and because his son and heir, Rhaegar, allegedly kidnapped and raped Lyanna Stark, the sister of the late beloved lord in the North NedStark.

Targaryen: The Targaryens are an ancient family of dragon lords originally from the other main continent in the world of "Game of Thrones" — Essos — who conquered the Seven Kingdoms a few hundred years before the events of the show. They ruled Westeros until the Mad King Aerys was killed by his own guard, Jaime Lannister, during Robert’s Rebellion. Their dragons had been extinct for more than 100 years until season one of the show, when Daenerys Targaryen brings them back.

Stark: The Starks are the longtime rulers of the northernmost dominion in Westeros. Once they were kings of the North until the continent was conquered by the Targaryens. They then became lords subservient to the Iron Throne. Now, the North has rebelled and declared itself independent once more, naming Jon Snow its king.

Lannister: The Lannisters are a powerful, cunning family in Westeros who have controlled the Iron Throne for at least three or so decades, though no Lannister actually sat on the throne until season six — kinda.

But for the purposes of season eight, it’s important to know that Cersei Lannister is the first Lannister, at least in name, to sit on the throne. At this point, the Lannisters are enemies with just about every other family on the show, including the Starks and Targaryens.

In actuality, Rahegar and Lyanna ran away together and got married, but no one knew that. So Robert Baratheon, Ned’s best friend and Lyanna's betrothed, killed Rhaegar during the rebellion and took the throne for himself. Lyanna died at the end of the war giving birth to Jon Snow, who doesn’t know his parentage yet.

White Walkers: A majority of the series has focused on the political strife of Westeros as different people betray each other and try to gain power, but heading into season eight, much attention has shifted to the fight against the White Walkers and their army of the dead.

The White Walkers are magical beings who can raise the dead into zombie-like creatures called wights. The White Walkers, led by the Night King, are coming for Westeros this season, so most characters have banded together to try to defeat this threat not just to the realm but all of humanity.

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