Holland further proposes that other historical antecedents of series elements include Hadrian’s Wall (which becomes Martin’s Wall), the legend of Atlantis (ancient Valyria), Byzantine Greek fire (“wildfire”), Icelandic sagas of the Viking Age (the Ironborn), the Mongol hordes (the Dothraki), the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453) and the Italian Renaissance (c. 1400–1500). The series’ popularity has been attributed, in part, to Martin’s skill at fusing these elements into a seamless, credible version of alternate history. Martin acknowledges, “I take [history] and I file off the serial numbers and I turn it up to 11.”
Cast and characters
Main article: List of Game of Thrones characters
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) has led the principal cast since season two.
Game of Thrones has an ensemble cast estimated as the largest on television; during its third season, 257 cast names were recorded. In 2014, several actor contracts were renegotiated to include a seventh-season option, with raises which reportedly made them among the highest-paid performers on cable TV. In 2016, it was reported that several actor contracts were again renegotiated, with five of the main cast members having increased their salary to £2 million per episode for the last two seasons, which would make them the highest paid actors on television. The main cast is listed below.
Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) is the head of House Stark, whose members are involved in plot lines throughout most of the series. He and his wife, Catelyn Tully (Michelle Fairley), have five children: Robb (Richard Madden), the eldest, followed by Sansa (Sophie Turner), Arya (Maisie Williams), Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Rickon (Art Parkinson), the youngest. Ned’s illegitimate son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his friend, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), serve in the Night’s Watch under Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo). The Wildlings living north of the Wall include young Gilly (Hannah Murray), and warriors Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and Ygritte (Rose Leslie).
Others associated with House Stark include Ned’s ward Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), his vassal Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), and Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon). Robb falls in love with the healer Talisa Maegyr (Oona Chaplin), and Arya befriends blacksmith’s apprentice Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and assassin Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha). The tall warrior Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) serves Catelyn and, later, Sansa.
In King’s Landing, the capital, Ned’s friend King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) shares a loveless marriage with Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) – who has taken her twin, the Kingslayer Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), as her lover. She loathes her younger brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), who is attended by his mistress Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and the sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn). Cersei’s father is Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). Cersei also has two young sons: Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). Joffrey is guarded by the scar-faced warrior, Sandor “the Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann).