3:30 pm EDT, April 29, 2013

The ‘Game of Thrones’ guide to elusive supporting characters

Remember that one guy you saw that one time back in season 1 of Game of Thrones, who you’re now expected to know is extremely relevant to the impending plot lines in season 3? Yeah – we’re here to help you out with that via our Game of Thrones guide to elusive supporting characters. (Minor season 2 spoilers)

Game of Thrones season 3, episode 5 “Kissed by Fire” aired last night, and we thought we’d take a look at some supporting characters involved in the show that are almost impossible to keep up with. Check out our official Game of Thrones guide to elusive support characters.

Ser Barristan Selmy

Barristan Selmy

He was a painter…a painter who only used red.—Jaime Lannister

Barristan Selmy is a boss. He’s a living legend, and the most respected knight in the realm. You might remember him from season one when Joffrey tried to fire him from the Kingsguard, and he responded by throwing his sword at the teenage tyrant and telling the rest of the knights that despite being twice their age, he could still slice through the lot of them as easily as ‘carving a cake.’ Such a bamf.

Barristan Selmy was a member of the Kingsguard under the rule of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen—otherwise known as Dany’s daddy. He upheld his vows and fought alongside Prince Rhaegar against Robert’s Rebellion. When Robert won the crown though, he appreciated Selmy’s honor and bravery, and made him Lord Commandor of his own Kingsguard.

After Selmy is fired from the Kingsguard, he vows that he is going to go serve the true king of Westeros. This declaration sends most of the declared Westerosian kings into a tizzy, as they spend half of A Clash of Kings wondering where the heck Selmy’s gone off to. Everyone from Tywin to Renly realizes Barristan Selmy’s worth, and how as a living legend his allegiance has the potential to do a great deal in supporting a King’s claim with the smallfolk.

Lord Roose Bolton

Roose Bolton

In my family we say: A naked man has few secrets; a flayed man, none.—Roose Bolton

Roose Bolton pretty much scares the bowels clean of anyone he encounters with his terrifyingly intense crazy-eyes. The guy refuses to speak above a whisper, forcing everyone around him to listen intently to everything he says. He’s like the Clint Eastwood of Westeros. Except not really, because Clint Eastwood isn’t a sadist.

You see, despite his deceptively mild-mannered nature, Roose Bolton is known for his cunning strategy and incredible capacity for cruelty. Also, it’s worth noting that he’s obsessed with putting leeches all over his naked body to try and preserve his health. Like, really, he does it all the time. Even in council meetings. He just lies there, naked, with leeches on his body, and nobody says anything about it because they value their lives.

As the Lord of the Dreadfort, Roose Bolton’s family sigil is the flayed man. He recently married Lord Frey’s fattest granddaughter, because Walder Frey promised to give him his new wife’s weight in gold. He also has a bastard son named Ramsay Snow who’s known for being a bit of loose canon, to put it mildly.

Lord Rickard Karstark

Rickard Karstark

I don’t want your grief. I want my vengeance.—Rickard Karstark

Rickard Karstark is pretty much obsessed with the Starks. It’s hard to blame him, because the Starks are kind of the most legit family in the Seven Kingdoms, being the blood of the First Men and all. Also, if we were related to Sean Bean, we’d be pretty stoked too.

Rickard Karstark was named after Ned’s father, Lord Rickard Stark, and his son Eddard is named after Ned. He’s the Lord of Karhold and the head of House Karstark, an ancient family in the North who considers itself distant cousins to the Starks. When Robb called the Northern banners to Winterfell after Ned’s imprisonment, Karstark, along with his three sons, were some of the most vocal and loyal of the Northern bannermen.

By season three, Jaime Lannister has killed two of Karstark’s sons, including Ned’s namesake, Eddard. Karstark’s completely fixated on seeking vengeance for his sons’ deaths, and pretty understandably pissed at Catelyn for setting Jaime free. His growing discontent with King Robb’s leadership skills echo the growing restlessness in the North over the war.

Ser Gregor Clegane ‘The Mountain’

Gregor Clegane

I always thought you had a talent for violence.—Tywin Lannister

Remember how this guy stuck his little brother’s face in a fire for playing with his toys without asking? Yeah. He’s a dick. Ser Gregor is the head of House Clegane, a minor vassal house of House Lannister. He’s notorious for a) being a fearless and fearsome warrior b) being the tallest man in Westeros at close to eight feet and c) being able to commit horrific atrocities without so much as blinking an eye. It’s for the last reason that he’s become such a valuable asset to Tywin Lannister.

During Robert’s Rebellion, The Mountain infamously participated in the Sack of King’s Landing by bashing Prince Rhaegar’s infant son Aegon’s head against a wall, then raping and murdering his wife Princess Elia of House Martell while her son’s brains were still on his hands. Classy guy.

At the Hand of the King’s tournament in season one, Ser Gregor was that guy who lost to Loras Tyrell and became so livid he decapitated his own horse with a single blow. He would have killed Loras too if his own little brother, The Hound, hadn’t interfered and stopped him.

The Mountain doesn’t just save his torture for armored knights though. No, this asshat’s favorite pastime is torturing innocent people who have no hope of fighting back. After Catelyn took Tyrion hostage, Tywin sent Gregor to rape, murder and burn out the Riverlands. While Arya is trapped in Harrenhal, Gregor’s bloodlust is on full display as he revels in selecting the village prisoners he will torture for information on the Brotherhood Without Banners before killing them.

Maester Aemon

Maester Aemon

We’re all human. Oh, we all do our duty when there’s no cost to it. Honor comes easy then. Yet sooner or later in every man’s life there comes a day when it’s not easy. A day when he must choose.—Maester Aemon

He could’ve been king! And honestly, that probably would’ve solved a lot of problems. Instead, he kept his vow to the maesters and joined the Night’s Watch so his little brother, Aegon Targaryen, could become king. And then his nephew became the Mad King who decided it would be cool to burn Rickard Stark alive. And then, well, you know the rest…

At around one hundred years old he’s one of the oldest living men in Westeros, and though he’s been blind for years, his mind is still sharp as a whip. He’s the maester at Castle Black and one of Lord Commander Mormont’s closest advisers. When he hears about Ned Stark’s imprisonment, he sends for Jon to talk to him about the struggle between duty and love. In a heartbreaking story, he reveals how he remained at the Wall while his family was being butchered during Robert’s Rebellion, and did nothing because his duty was to his brothers in the Watch. He tells Jon that whatever choice he makes, he must live with the consequences for the rest of his life, just as he has had to.

Maester Aemon is in charge of the ravens at Castle Black, and his steward, Sam, is sent on Commander Mormont’s ranging to care for the ravens that will be sent back to give word to the men on the Wall. So yes, Maester Aemon is that guy that Sam was supposed to send the ravens too. You had one job, Tarly!

Thoros of Myr

Thoros of Myr

Do you remember Thoros of Myr charging through the breach?—Jaime Lannister
With his burning sword? I’ll remember that ’til the day I die…—Jory Cassel

Thoros is a red priest of the Lord of Light, though you might not realize that given that he’s way more fun than the stuffy Melisandre. He came over to Westeros to try and convert King Aerys, and ended up staying to drink with King Robert. In season one, he’s spoken of but never seen; though we do find out that like a true badass, he lights his swords on fire before charging into battle.

After reports of Gregor Clegane’s raiding of the Riverlands make their way to King’s Landing, Ned Stark ordered Thoros to accompany Lord Beric Dondarrion along with one hundred men to arrest The Mountain. After King Robert’s death and Ned’s beheading make The Mountain’s arrest moot, Thoros became an influential member of the Brotherhood without Banners.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO.

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