Game of Thrones Season 3 Primer: New Characters
This article contains major spoilers from Seasons 1 of 2 of HBO’s acclaimed fantasy TV series Game of Thrones and minor ones from Season 3 (only what’s necessary to provide a basic background for the new characters).
With the largest cast on TV, it can be difficult to keep track of Game of Thrones’ numerous characters. Season 3, based on roughly the first half of A Storm of Swords, the third installment in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, will not make things any easier. Fortunately, Flatiron Hot! News is available to help you help you distinguish your Tyrells from your Dondarrions.
It would take dozens of pages to introduce every new character. However, what follows will acquaint you with several of the key players, with only minor spoilers that you would also get from reading official sources. Without further ado, it’s time to meet Jojen and Meera Reed, Lady Olenna, Lord Beric Dondarrion and Mance Rayder.
The son and daughter of Howland Reed – a Stark Bannerman and an old friend of Lord Eddard (aka “poor old headless Ned”) – the Reed children hail from a swampy marshland known as the Crag. The Reeds and their subjects are known collectively as the Crannogmen. Like their fellow Northmen, the Reeds worship the Old Gods, embodied in Westeros by the heart trees.
Like Bran, Jojen Reed experiences prophetic visions and shares an uncanny connection with nature. Unlike Bran, however, he has some inkling of where these abilities come from. His older sister Meera is fiercely loyal to and protective of her brother. The Reeds, particularly Jojen, have much they can teach Bran about his abilities.
Interestingly, Jojen and Meera were actually introduced in A Clash of Kings (roughly composing Season 2 of Game of Thrones), but their debut appearance was pushed back to Season 3 of the show due to the overwhelming number of characters already introduced in the prior season.
Lord Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer)
Those with impeccable memories or a tendency to re-watch Game of Thrones episodes an unhealthy number of times may remember Lord Beric Dondarrion from way back in Season 1. Thus, Dondarrion is not strictly speaking a “new character,” but seeing as he appeared for a few seconds and only had a couple of lines, we figure you can use a refresher.
Upon discovering that Lannister servant Sir Gregor Clegane (not to be confused with his brother, King Joffrey’s former servant Sandor Clegane) has attacked the Riverlands, under the protection of Catelyn Stark’s (nee Tully) family, then-Hand of the King Eddard Stark dispatched a man by the name of Lord Beric Dondarion to bring “The Mountain” and his men to justice.
Meanwhile, in Season 2, Arya Stark witnessed several prisoners at Harrenhal being “questioned” about the whereabouts of Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners. As it turns out, Dondarrion and his assistant, the mysterious Red Priest Thoros of Myr (another new character, portrayed by Paul Kaye), have made it their long-term goal to defend innocents caught in the crossfire between the warring Stark and Lannister armies.
Bear in mind that he is portrayed by a different actor than in his brief Season 1 appearance, so you might not recognize him.
Lady Olenna (Dame Diana Rigg)
Viewers got a taste of the ambitious and wealthy House Tyrell in Seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones in the form of siblings Loras and Margaery. The former served as the bodyguard and gay lover of Renly Baratheon, while the latter served as his short-lived queen.
However, following Renly’s untimely death at the hands of his brother Stannis, the Tyrells allied with the Lannisters in time to rescue King’s Landing from the elder Baratheon’s invasion. In return, King Joffrey, formerly betrothed to Sansa Stark, agreed to repay the Tyrell’s debt by marrying the recently widowed Margaery.
At the start of Season 3, her grandmother, Lady Olenna Tyrell has taken residence in King’s Landing to oversee the proceedings on behalf of her son, Lord Mace Tyrell. While seemingly a harmless old woman, Lady Olenna is also a savvy political operator unafraid of getting her hands dirty playing the game of thrones, hence her nickname “The Queen of Thorns.”
Possessing great intelligence and a notoriously sharp tongue, Lady Olenna is above all devoted to furthering the ambitions of her house by whatever means necessary.
Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds)
Leader of the wildlings (a scraggly lot including Bran Stark’s guardian Osha and Jon Snow’s love interest, the feisty Ygritte) and known as the “King Beyond the Wall,” Mance Rayder has been a constant off-screen presence in Game of Thrones since Season 1. Now, fans of the show will finally have a chance to meet him in person. For a bit of history: Rayder was once a member of Night’s Watch, but forsook his oath and united the wildlings with his charisma and grand ambitions.
Rayder prizes freedom over the strict hierarchical system in place throughout most of Westeros, a philosophy in line with that of his new people. For reasons not yet entirely clear, he seeks to lead an invasion south. As a high-value captive of the wildlings who killed his own Night’s Watch brother Qorin Halfhand, it is not surprising that Ygritte is intent on introducing Jon Snow to the King beyond the wall.
With yet another potential mentor figure filling his head with ostensible words of wisdom, it remains to be seen whether Jon Snow will follow in Mance’s footsteps and join the Wildlings.