Essential 'Game Of Thrones' Reading Before Season 8

The end is nigh.

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Essential 'Game Of Thrones' Reading Before Season 8
HBO Asia

Only one will remain.

As we pull back the curtain on what is undoubtedly going to be a blockbuster season of battles and intrigue that will finally answer the question, once and for all - who will win the Game of Thrones?


Let’s have a quick look at how we got here, and where everyone is currently at.


The home of the Warden (now King) of the North will be the first line of defence against the Army of the Dead. Clips and photos from HBO’s promotional campaign for Season 8 seem to suggest that everyone’s favourite northern castle might not survive the onslaught of wights & White Walkers (which would make us do a very big sad). What’s brewing within the chambers of House Stark, where our journey began 7 seasons ago?

Reunited & Feels So Good

Sansa & Arya are BACK! After what can only be described as a torturous journey (literally, emotionally AND psychologically), the Stark sisters are jiving once again.

Sansa has gone full schemer-in-chief; she’s holding Winterfell together in Jon’s absence after orchestrating the alliance with the Vale while at the same time managing to find a way to help dispose of Littlefinger (gaining revenge for that horrible night with Ramsay Bolton).

Arya? Arya is badass, having bested Brienne in a sparring duel and finally slitting the throat of Lord Baelish. She’s even managed to let go of Nymeria, whom she encountered while making her way back to Winterfell - leaving us in no doubt that the scared little girl that saw her father’s head separated from his shoulders is dead and gone.

Once on the verge of extinction, House Stark looks like it’s stronger than ever.

Question We Want Answered:

Will Arya and Sansa get their revenge on Cersei? Arya still has her name on the list, and Sansa has plenty of axes to grind, now that she has the means at her disposal (see: Littlefinger).

Brothers (in arms?)

They might not seem like brothers at first, but Sam Tarly and Bran Stark have more in common than they realise.

Aside from the obvious connection to Jon, both have risen up from relative obscurity to become major players in the Game of Thrones. Both have had destiny thrust upon them without their asking, and both have had to deal with personal trauma (Bran losing his legs, Sam losing his family) that has inexorably shaped who they are.

These two men (for that is what they are now, after all of their trials and tribulations) are in possession of the knowledge that Jon is actually the legitimate child of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark- therefore making him the actual heir of the Iron Throne. A testy conversation awaits as Jon and Dany make their way back up to Winterfell to face the impending White Walker threat.

As Bran loses more and more of his humanity (a price for his increasingly nebulous powers), Sam might just become the touchstone of decency that ensures Bran doesn’t go full-greater-good-at-any-cost tyrant.

Question We Want Answered:

Is Bran an outside bet to land on the Iron Throne? He’s got more powers than anyone else, and can see things no one else can. Could Sam Tarly end up as his Hand of the King? This is something awesome we’d love to see.

Littlefinger No More

A moment of silence for the everyone’s favourite / most-hated ladder-climbing enthusiast.

Question We Want Answered:

Could he be a Faceless Man in disguise? Will the real Lord Baelish please stand up?

King’s Landing

The cesspit of humanity that is King’s Landing hosted a wight, zombie, a dragon and two queens during the course of Season 7. The Lannisters have nominal control of the Iron Throne - but for how much longer, as an Undead Army awaits in the North?

The Mad Queen

Say what you like about Cersei (who is equal-parts admirable and despicable) - there’s no denying she’s a survivor. Becoming the first queen in Westerosi history (Sorry Dany!) is no mean feat, although it did involve the death of basically everyone she could possibly care about, save Jaime.

Her revenge on the Martells is now complete, with all of the Sand Sisters disposed of, and Ellaria dying of poison in the catacombs below King’s Landing. Her determination to outlive her enemies has proven to be very effective so far.

There’s more to her than sheer survival instinct of course, as her duplicitous plan to have the Northern lands bear the brunt of the Undead Army assault (while pretending to support them) neatly shows off her smarts. She’s no accidental Queen, with the cunning required to make it work.

Cersei’s continued alliance with Euron Greyjoy also shows that she’s not above mixing it with some truly horrendous folk to achieve her goals. With the delightfully nutty Qyburn at her side as Hand of the Queen cooking up all manner of experiments (dragon-javelin-slayer anyone?), what odds on Cersei remaining in possession of the Iron Throne?

Question We Want Answered:

Hang on a minute… Is Cersei actually pregnant? We’re pretty sure that Dany and Jon are going to produce their own little heir - is another battle of the heirs in the offing?

The Mad Guard

From Kingslayer to Queensguard and now, Knight of the Living.

Jaime Lannister makes the argument for having the most complete and compelling character arc of any major player in Game of Thrones - going from dastardly heel to honourable-ish hero (via a lost hand & dead children). His strategic brilliance has shone through - outsmarting Tyrion at every turn in the second Targaryen invasion of Westeros with the use of Robb Stark’s tactics.

Jaime has also seen, up-close, just how unhinged and dispassionate Cersei has become. His spite at her decision to allow the North to fight on its own without her help is palpable, as he rides to join the armies of Winterfell, Dragonstone and the Vale at the conclusion of Season 7.

Question We Want Answered:

Should he survive the White Walker threat, will he become the vanguard of an army that heads south to end Cersei’s reign? The valonqar theory (whereby Cersei is fated to die at the hands of her ‘little brother’) has captured everyone’s imagination. Previously it was assumed that Tyrion would be the one, but Jaime (who is seconds younger than Cersei and also her ‘little brother’) qualifies too.

The Mad Sailor

Euron Greyjoy is a campy B-movie villain with an edge - he holds the Iron Fleet, and is a resource that Cersei cannot afford to ignore as the threat from East and North threaten her grip on the Iron Throne. But what of Euron himself?

It is hinted that Euron is in possession of some form of magical powers (witness his almost clairvoyant ability to figure out what Yara and Theon would be up to and, erm, his ability to build a new fleet from essentially nothing). He also thinks he’s destined to end up on the Iron Throne himself, via Cersei.

In cahoots with the Mad Queen, we last see the Mad Sailor on a quest to recruit the 10,000-strong Golden Company of sellswords for Cersei. Part of their plan to fight whomever is left should they survive the War of the North, the Golden Company  will be a major fighting force come season 8.

Euron also has Yara in captivity. Theon is gunning for him though, with a showdown between the remaining Greyjoy members sure to be one to remember.

Question We Want Answered:

Just what are Euron’s powers? We need more answers! His proclamations of being the actual Drowned God might have just been theatrical fluff to distract Balon when he killed him, yet there was also the unnerving calmness and his lack of a reaction to the storm around him or being slashed on the face.


Dragonstone, tha Targaryen ancestral home off the coast of Westeros, is almost empty right now. With Theon the only major inhabitant, and a vein of dragonglass discovered in the caves below the castle, Dragonstone’s strategic importance is beyond calculable value - yet House Targaryen, Stark and Greyjoy all see fit to leave it unattended. What madness is this?

Of Balls & Chains

Theon Greyjoy has a had a hard life. From ward/hostage and spoilt brat, to eunuch and now disgraced commander, the man formerly known as Reek has made plenty of missteps along the way. What can’t be disputed is that he’s at least recognised his faults and is trying his best to become better. Hey, he’s a work in progress, okay?

After seeking (and receiving) forgiveness from Jon, the next step on Theon’s path to redemption is to make up for abandoning his sister to Euron’s murderous clutches by leading a party to rescue her. Whilst it was understandable at the time for Theon to take the path less-likely-to-be-killed (you can’t rescue your sister if you’re dead, after all), Theon’s bannermen probably didn’t see it that way. Hence the importance of reclaiming his mojo and freeing himself from the sins of his past. You go, Theon!

Question We Want Answered:

So, who’s in charge of Dragonstone, then? No, really. Who’s taking care of the massive pile of dragonglass that can kill the wights and White Walkers?

On A Boat

We had initially planned an entire section on Jon and Dany alone, covering their travels east, west, north and south - but it all boils down to this goddamn boat and what’s happening on it. Have Aegon and Daenerys doomed their alliance and the kingdom? Has Tyrion reached the limits of his cunning and intelligence?

Bending The Knee(s)

Before we get into Aunt and Nephew doing the deed, let’s have a quick recap of some of their strategic blunders throughout season 7. In no particular order :
  • Jon initially refusing to bend the knee
  • Dany toasting everything and everyone that didn’t bow to her immediately
  • Jon leading the Westeros Avengers to the North to capture a wight (he honestly didn’t need to go, but hey… *hero pose*)
  • Dany leading ALL THREE of her dragons past the Wall to rescue Jon and his wight
  • Jon and Dany not discussing beforehand (knowing full well how Cersei operates) should Cersei ask them to bend the knee
  • ...Dragonstone? Defences? Anyone?

Jon has shown a bone-headed earnestness that, while endearing and refreshing in the cynical world of Westeros, would probably get him killed like Ned. He’s survived so far thanks to a combination of luck (AKA Plot Armour) and Uncle Benjen - but for how much longer?

Daenerys Targaryen has shown the strength, resolve and ruthlessness to be a proper Queen. Her strategic sense, political maneuvering, diplomacy and timing? Not so much. Roasting potential allies (if they had been given sufficient time to change their minds) is not conducive to nation-building. Nor is risking your weapons of mass destruction at every turn.

And so we end up with our two heroes coming off as idiots with vast resources and questionable judgement, possibly jeopardising all life in Westeros for the sake of nookie.

Question We Want Answered:

Will there be another incest baby? Will that incest baby be facing off against Cersei’s incest baby?

Mistakes Maketh The Man

Tyrion Lannister is a smart man. He drinks and he knows things. Yet, Season 7 showed Tyrion making mistakes nearly every episode. This ranges from the lack of insight he offered to Dany and Jon before they met Cersei, to strategic blunders (Casterly Rock vs Highgarden), and not being firmer in his decisions.

The final parting shot of Season 7 (of Tyrion seeing Jon enter Dany’s chambers) encapsulates Tyrion’s emasculation throughout, with his mistakes culminating in a tryst that could destroy the realm.We desperately want Tyrion to survive, and to be on the winning side - he needs to step it up a gear to prove that he’s more than one-liners and barely disguised alcoholism.

Question We Want Answered:

Is Tyrion actually in love with Dany? We know that he’s smart enough to not say it out loud since it would jeopardise his working relationship with her - but we low-key want the smallest of characters to find the biggest of loves as Game of Thrones draws to a close.

The Wall

Right...There isn’t one. After a truly terrible decision by Dany to bring all three dragons up North, and losing one in the process (goodbye, Viserion, we hardly knew you), the White Walkers and the Night King now have their own weapon of mass destruction.

Tormund and Beric Dondarion, survivors of the Westeros Avengers suicide mission,  also find themselves hemmed in by the Army of the Undead. Could there be another suicide mission in the works?

We know that any wights raised by the White Walkers will die once the White Walker that raised it is killed. This naturally paints a big giant target on the Night King’s forehead - amplified ever more so by the Ice Dragon that he now rides. Simple enough then, isn’t it?

Question We Want Answered:

How many lives does Beric have left?

Honourable Mentions

This is going to happen, folks. Sandor already had the knives out for Gregor during the conference at the Dragon’s Pit. We wonder what he’ll make of his zombified brother before their swords finally meet.

We didn’t see much of Varys beyond the odd quote and one-liner in season 7, although part of us thinks that he’ll have to step up to save the realm as Tyrion continues to buckle under the pressure. Could he bring the Second Sons and Daario Naaharis to Westeros as reinforcements?

Jorah Mormont
Cured of greyscale and ready to once again serve his queen, Jorah Mormont’s long arc of redemption is coming to a close. We predict a self-sacrifice to save Dany from certain death.

Missandei & Greyworm
This is not going to end happily ever after, we’re sure of it - especially if that rushed kiss in the trailer is anything to go by.

On her way to Volantis. We doubt she’s truly out of the picture yet - so we’re going to assume that she’s scheming something with Varys to ensure that the 7 kingdoms are not lost to the Army of the Undead.

Brienne & Podrick
Finally, Brienne catches a break and survives an entire season without her chosen master dying! Having represented Sansa at the Dragon’s Pit summit and adopted Podrick as her squire, this buddy-cop duo are now making their way back to Winterfell - hopefully surviving the war to end all wars.

Olenna Tyrell
“Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.” Mic. Drop.

Roll Call Of Death - Season 7

1: Dragonstone
  • All the Freys!
2: Stormborn
  • Obara Sand
  • Nymeria Sand
3:The Queen’s Justice
  • Tyene Sand
  • Olenna Tyrell
4: The Spoils Of War
  • Surprisingly, no one major
5: Eastwatch
  • Randyll Tarly
  • Dickon Tarly
6: Beyond The Wall
  • Thoros Of Myr
  • Uncle Benjen Stark
  • Viserion
7: The Dragon & The Wolf
  • Littlefinger
  • Ellaria Sand

The highly-anticipated final season of 'Game Of Thrones' will be invading your TV screen starting 15 April and you get to watch it the same time as the United States on HBO (Astro Ch 411, 431).

Here's the best part: the episodes will be uncensored! 

If you're not a fan of the series but you're afraid of being left out when your friends discuss how awesome that week's episode is, you can actually catch past seasons of the series on Astro On Demand and Astro Go. 


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