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With the second season premier of Game of Thrones arriving this Sunday, anticipation floats seamlessly through the air like so many swords through the neck of a Stark. It’s a world of dragons, a world of fun; a world of joy for everyone (unless you’re a Stark). If this is your first time hearing about Game of Thrones, it’s best if you leave your classic heroic assumptions at the double-bolted iron door, don your armor and take a pike to the eyeball. Warning: Here thar be spoilers.

For characters like Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark or Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister, life can be a hazard. It would be best to become a George R.R. Martin character pre-dead, that way your death won’t seem so tragic. But if you do plan on staying alive (for some reason) here are some quick pointers on how to survive the Game of Thrones.

1. Lose all hope. The land of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros is as eclectic as a renaissance festival cum Anime convention. Horrors lie behind every hill, inside of every whore. There is no reason to believe that anything good can ever happen to anyone, let alone you. Fighting this is like suddenly finding yourself in the fourth dimension: everything looks great for a few moments until you realize you’re fisting yourself. Unless you are already dead, the best possible means of survival after your twentieth birthday is to lose all hope and kneel in piety to your King or Queen, whomever that poor soul may be.

2. Be a bastard. Being a bastard means that no matter what you do, you’ll be sure to carry on to the next episode. Tyrion Lannister or Jon Snow, for instance. The dwarf Tyrion is a bastard in the traditional sense: a womanizing, lying one-percenter for whom honor is found being snarky and sarcastic. For Jon Snow, being a bastard means living life apart from a family cursed with sudden death syndrome. Who knew being the result of a one night stand would come with benefits? Jon Snow, when he isn’t practicing the art of being dumbfounded in the most mundane of situations, is a character for whom mortality lasts as long as the half-blood lingers under his pasty skin.

3. Keep it in the family. Cersei and Jaime Lanister have a unique relationship in that they are adults yet continue their Doctor/Patient role-play from childhood, exploring every nook and cranny as if searching for lost socks. As a result, the half boy, half Arnold Palmer look-alike champion Joffrey Lannister was born and became king a mere fourteen years after his parents shamed themselves and God. But by doing so, the Lannisters have made for themselves a (not vagina) nook from which their power can never be diminished. Why settle for a man or woman you hardly know, and who has time to get to know them? Your best friend, lover and sibling is ready to produce the next King. It only takes one night of drinking and a lot of tears.

Royalty.

4. Never go to Winterfell. It’s a joyless, hopeless place from which giants and cripples are birthed. Even the forests outside of the homestead of the Starks run rampant with homeless vagrants from North of the Wall. Ever tried getting service at the Winterfell restaurant? Good luck, there are no restaurants. The Starks and their servants subsist on snow and eagle feathers and calling Jon Snow a bastard. You would be best off submitting your resume as Chief Invalid under Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen and baking under the sun for all eternity than to suffer a night at the Winterfell Inn, home of the free breakfast buffet of snow, eagle feathers and shame.

5. Join the Night’s Watch. Unless you run away, life is pretty easy. Taking care of old men in libraries, dragging in pieces of Rangers from North of the Wall, getting a bit of Sally on the side; these are the benefits of becoming a member of the Night’s Watch. Sure it’s dreadfully cold and you live in fear of being buggered by the many rapists and pedophiles at your side, but it beats being in Winterfell and you get to have a fat guy as your best friend. In Game of Thrones, there’s nothing closer to paradise.

So you’ve decided to move to one of the many kingdoms of Westeros! Your best bet is to pick the kingdom not yet mentioned in the television series. Maybe one of the less desirable kingdoms, one too far to the South to be of any importance. Pick the Mexico of Westeros and you’re good, at least until April 1st when the drug war becomes a dragon war or something. Who the hell knows. I’m so depressed, this show is just one big bummer, but you’ve got to love it! Right? It hates you.

Visit the home page for other things to take your mind off of the horrors that are sure to come, like this guide to The Walking Dead or these horoscopes.