We love HBO's "Game of Thrones." The network has done an incredible job of adapting to the screen what author George R.R. Martin himself thought would be an impossible-to-adapt series of books. But one unavoidable consequence of such an adaption is that so much rich material from the books never makes it to the screen.
If you adore the show as much as we do, then you're greedy for as many details, theories and backstories as you can get your hands on. Not to worry. We're here to slake your thirst.
We've compiled a list of things every "Thrones" superfan should know. Careful though: here be spoilers!
Daenerys's dragons were NOT kidnapped.
One of the biggest changes the show made from the books was having the Warlocks of Qarth kidnap Dany's dragons in order to force her to enter into their House of the Undying at the end of the second season. In the books, Dany enters the House of the Undying of her own volition, taking her dragons with her for protection, to discover what step she should take next in her quest to retake the Iron Throne of Westeros.
"The dragon has three heads" prophecy leaves some unanswered questions.
Several prophecies are revealed during Dany's time wandering the House of the Undying. The show understandably could not fit these in (we strongly suggest you read the whole scene from the second book, A Clash of Kings. It is incredible).
One to definitely take note of is that the "Dragon has three heads." Let's unpack this.
The Targaryen sigil is a three-headed dragon. Aegon the Conqueror is the Targaryen who conquered Westeros three hundred years earlier, along with his two sisters Visenya and Rhaenys. (Extra credit: he married both his sisters.) He united the Seven Kingdoms into one realm and forged the Iron Throne. [CORRECTION: One of the seven kingdoms, Dorne, resisted and retained its autonomy. It joined the Seven Kingdoms around 200 years after that through diplomatic marriages.] The three Targaryens were all dragonriders, and the power of their dragons was integral to their ability to defeat the combined armies of Westeros.
Now to the prophecy: Dany has three dragons. She will ride one (if you thought we wouldn't see her ride a dragon, you're crazy), but that leaves us two dragonriders short. Who will they be?
Jon Snow's parents just might be Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark
One of the biggest mysteries of all is the parentage of Jon Snow. We're led to believe dear departed Ned Stark is the father, but the mother remains unknown. Fortunately, the massive and very involved fandom for Thrones believes it has solved this puzzle, and the answer is very convincing. Jon's mother is Lyanna Stark (Ned's younger sister) and his father is actually Rhaegar Targaryen, the eldest son of the Mad King Aerys. Wait, wait, we'll explain.
One of the events that sparks the overthrow of the Targaryen dynasty by Robert Baratheon is the (alleged) kidnapping of Lyanna by Rhaegar. The Targaryen prince is in love with Lyanna and spirits her away (or she leaves willingly; this is unclear).
The Starks demand her return and are refused. The Mad King kills Ned's father and older brother while Ned goes to rescue Lyanna. The rebellion ends in success when Jaime Lannister kills the Mad King and Robert kills Rhaegar in single combat.
Here's where things get murky. Lyanna dies under foggy circumstances in Dorne. Ned finds her in a "bed of blood" and before she succumbs she calls out to Ned to promise her something.
The consensus is that she died in childbirth, and the child born is Jon (fathered by Rhaegar, either by rape or willingly). Lyanna makes Ned promise that he won't reveal the true parentage of Jon, fearing that Robert will kill the boy since he is a Targaryen. As a result, Ned takes the boy as his own bastard.
None of this is confirmed, but is considered close to gospel among the fandom.
Cersei is wrathful and fearful in part because of a childhood visit to a fortune teller.
Oh, Cersei. How we love your rage. But behind that rage lies intense fear. And with good reason.
During her youth, she visits a fortune teller who accurately predicts her marriage to a king (Robert Baratheon), but also predicts that her children will all die before her, and that eventually she will be supplanted by a younger, more beautiful queen. Cersei fears this is Margaery Tyrell.
The wise woman also foretells that she will die at the hands of the valonqar, which is High Valyrian for "little brother." Cersei assumes this to be Tyrion, one of the reasons she harbors such animosity towards the smallest Lannister. We, however, have a sneaking suspicion that this refers to Jaime. While they're twins, she was born first. Might he strangle her with his new golden hand?
Rickon has been nowhere to be seen for awhile in the books, but he is probably hiding in Skagos.
Rickon has been nowhere to be seen for a while in the books, and is about to vanish in the series as Osha takes him away for safekeeping. He is widely believed to be hiding in Skagos, an island off the northeast coast of Westeros.
The clue to this comes near the end of Book 5, in a Davos chapter. Lord Manderly tells Davos he will swear for Stannis if Davos will smuggle Rickon back to Westeros: "When Davos asks where Rickon is Wex throws his dagger onto a sheepskin map adorning the wall. To Davos's horror it strikes Skagos."
The Lannisters used cunning to take possession of Casterly Rock.
Casterly Rock, the stronghold of the richest family in Westeros, the Lannisters, was not always theirs.
Thousands of years ago it belonged to a family called the Casterlys. During the Age of Heroes, Lann the Clever, from whom the Lannisters claim descent, tricked the Casterlys out of possession of Casterly Rock, and since then it has been the seat of the Lannisters.
Storm's End has an amazing origin story.
The impregnable castle known as Storm's End has an amazing backstory. The A Song of Ice and Fire wiki has a wonderful description of that history:
The mighty fortress called Storm's End has stood for centuries, facing the terrible weather of Shipbreaker Bay with little wear to show for it. Legend claims that it was built by Durran, the first Storm King during the Dawn Age, who declared a war against the gods after they killed his family and guests, ruining his wedding to their daughter Elenei. It was said that he raised six each larger and more formidable until he raised Storm's End. Some believe this was because the children of the forest took a hand in its construction, using their magics in the raising the castle walls allowing it to resist the storms. Others believe that a young boy who grew up to be Bran the Builder advised Durran on its construction. The truth of the matter is unknown.
Tyrion is horrible... looking
Peter Dinklage, who portrays Tyrion on HBO, is a handsome man. Book Tyrion, however, is ugly. Like, REALLY ugly. He's just hideous. He knows it. We know it. Everyone knows it. He also has mismatched eyes, one green and one black. The scar he receives at the end of season 2 of the show is a pale shadow of the scar he receives in the books, which actually cuts off most of his nose.
George R.R. Martin had a major problem while writing book four.
The reason there is such a long gap between the third and fourth book is that originally Martin planned to have a 5-year jump in the timeline between the end of the third book and the beginning of the fourth.
However, he scrapped this as he found himself relaying too much information through flashbacks, causing the narrative to become unwieldy. But then he found that the fourth book was becoming impossibly large, so he made the decision to divide the book into two books, 4 and 5, which take place concurrently, but split the action up geographically, so that the events in the fourth book are concerned with Westeros and Braavos, and the fifth book covers the actions of the characters in Essos, the eastern continent (with one exception: Jon Snow, on the Wall. His story is in book 5).
Two thirds of the way through the fifth book, the narrative joins back together.
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article spelled Jaime Lannister's name "Jaimie"]
'Game of Thrones' returns on HBO when the fourth season premieres on Sunday, April 6th.