- "The past is already written. The ink is dry."
- ―The Three-Eyed Raven
As with real-life medieval cultures, the people who inhabit the known world in which the continents of Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos are located do not possess objective knowledge about how their world was created. This is in contrast with J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, in which characters actually did meet their gods or angelic beings and knew the full history of their world. In the fantasy world in which Westeros is set, civilization just gradually coalesced from the hunter-gatherer level, as in real-life. Many different cultures have their own theories about how the world began and how the human race came to be, usually tied to which religion they practice. Different religions offer drastically different theories on how the world was created. Even more simple "cultural traditions" and oral histories have much to say on the subject but no hard evidence. Some of these oral traditions are known to be simply inaccurate: the Dothraki believe that the first man came into being one thousand years ago, when even the written histories of other continuous civilizations stretch back five to six thousand years.
The earliest written histories date back to about 6,000 years ago, when the Andals first introduced writing to Westeros. The First Men had no writing system more advanced than runes for marking graves, thus all history before 6,000 years ago relies on oral tradition. Many of the events before 6,000 years ago in Westeros, during the Age of Heroes, are half-legendary, and some of the more fanciful tales of these times probably have little basis in reality. Still, all legends and oral histories may have some kernel of truth behind them. Written histories in Essos from the great civilizations of Valyria and Ghis also date back roughly five to six thousand years. Even so, this is about twice as long as the continuous written historical record than exist in our real-life world, our equivalent being if written history were extended unbroken back to the construction of the first ziggurat in ancient Sumeria. Oral tradition extends back twice that long.
A major issue, pointed out by author George R.R. Martin himself, is that as the saying goes, history tends to be written by the victors. Just as in real life, the inhabitants of Westeros during the time frame of the TV series do not possess an objective record of history. History tends to be more accurate the closer it is to the present, but largely in the sense that fables and half-myths tend no longer to be included. All history books display the biases of their authors to some degree. The oldest written histories in Westeros were made by the Andal invaders, and they depicted themselves in a positive light as they killed or conquered the First Men of the south. The Northerners, descended from the First Men who were never conquered by the Andals, have a decidedly negative view of the Andal invasions.
The dating system is based on the Targaryen Conquest. Thus all dates are "BC" for "Before Conquest" or "AC" for "After Conquest".
The Dawn Age
- Main article: Dawn Age
- Prehistory: Westeros is inhabited by non-human races: the Children of the Forest, a diminutive species of greenseers and wood-dancers, and the Giants. The giants are primitive, wielding only tree logs as clubs; the Children are somewhat more advanced, aboriginal hunter-gatherers who make villages in the woods. The Children work no metals, but have great skill making daggers and arrowheads from razor-sharp dragonglass (obsidian). The Children of the Forest worshiped the gods of nature, the Old Gods of the Forest, and carved the faces into sacred Weirwood trees. The Children also developed great mastery of magic powers. Here and there the giants quarreled with the Children, but when one group was losing they would simply move to another area: the total combined population of the Children and the giants across all of Westeros wasn't enough to fill even one of the later Seven Kingdoms, and so its vast primeval forests remained sparsely populated for many centuries.
- c. 12,000 Before Conquest: A human ethnic group, the First Men, invades Westeros across the Arm of Dorne from Essos. The Wars of the First Men and the Children of the Forest last for generations: the Children possess strong magic powers, but the First Men are stronger, better armed with bronze weapons, and simply more numerous. The Children of the Forest use their magic to call down the Hammer of the waters, destroying the Arm of Dorne and creating the island chain known as the Stepstones. Destroying the land bridge prevent more humans from crossing to the continent on foot, but there are already far too many in southern Westeros to stop. Eventually the Children of the Forest call down the Hammer of the waters a second time, to try to split Westeros in two (and retreat to the northern half), but this time they only succeed in flooding the Neck, transforming its fields into swamps and bogs.
- c.10,000 BC - Signing of the Pact. After years of warfare, the two sides agree to a truce: the Children could not win, but the First Men feared the massive cost in lives if they continued to fight the Children to extinction. Wiser heads prevailed, and so the Children and First Men made the Pact on the Isle of Faces: the First Men took control of the open lands and the Children took control of the forested interiors. In time, the First Men adopt the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest. The forging of the Pact marked the end of the Dawn Age, and the beginning of the Age of Heroes.
- The First Men who settle in the Iron Islands, separated from the mainland, develop their own unique culture based on seafaring and raiding. They become known as the Ironborn, and unlike their First Men cousins on the mainland, develop their own local religion worshiping a deity known as the Drowned God.
- The First Men who settle in the Neck branch off to form their own unique culture, known as the Crannogmen. They still worship the Old Gods like their neighbors, but their society has adapted to the swampy climate of their territory.
- At some undetermined point, when the Children of the Forest were clearly losing their wars against the First Men, in desperation the Children secretly created the first White Walkers. The Children realized they couldn't hope to overcome the sheer numbers of humans - but came upon an idea to turn those very numbers against them. The Children created the White Walkers from captured First Men in dangerous magical rituals, imbuing them with the power to raise dead humans (and other animals) into reanimated wights. However, the Children ultimately didn't deploy the first White Walkers against the First Men, for reasons not yet explained (possibly because the First Men ultimately sought the peace of the Pact - the White Walkers may have only been meant as a weapon of last resort, and it never came to that).
- Through as-yet unexplained circumstances, the White Walkers later broke free of the control of the Children of the Forest and turned on them - now determined to destroy all life, not just the First Men, leading to the Long Night. Exactly when or how this happened is unknown, given that a full 2,000 years passed between the end of the wars with the First Men, and the White Walkers' full scale assault in the Long Night.
The Age of Heroes
- Main article: Age of Heroes
- c. 8,000 BC - The Long Night: A great winter that lasts a generation descends on the world, followed by a night that goes for years. Under the cover of darkness, the White Walkers invade Westeros from the uttermost north, causing immense suffering and destruction. In the War for the Dawn, the Children and the First Men unite to defeat the Walkers, eventually throwing them back into the north. In the eastern tradition they are led by a great hero of the east, a warrior named Azor Ahai wielding a sword of fire named Lightbringer, but Westerosi accounts do not mention him. A great leader named Brandon Stark raises the Wall with artifice and magic to bar against the Walkers' return. He also founds the castle of Winterfell, founds House Stark and the Night's Watch and, according to some, is named as the first King in the North. Despite their victory, the Children of the Forest suffered heavy losses in the war and begin to disappear from Westeros.
- The Nightfort is the first castle built on the Wall, and remains the headquarters of the Night's Watch for almost six thousand years. Eighteen additional castles are later built along the Wall, sometimes centuries apart.
- Those First Men tribes unlucky enough to be living north of the Wall when it is constructed are trapped in the lands beyond. They become isolated from the developing kingdoms to the south and eventually hostile to them, despite their shared ethnic background. These tribes call themselves the "Free Folk", though the kingdoms south of the Wall consider them to be barbarians, and derisively call them the "wildlings". Despite their differences, the Free Folk continue to follow the same religion of the Old Gods, just like their cousins to the south of the Wall.
- One of the first Lord Commanders of the Night's Watch is, according to legend, seduced by a white-skinned woman from beyond the Wall. He sets himself up as king of the Wall and the Night's Watch, and conducts human sacrifices. The Stark King in the North as well as the wildling King-Beyond-the-Wall, Joramun, unite to defeat him and restore the Night's Watch. Afterwards the evil Lord Commander's name is ordered to be purged from history, so the legends remember him only as the "Night's King" (not the same as the "Night King").
- At some point in these centuries, according to legend, a king from the south visited the Wall but gave some great offense to the Nightfort's cook. In revenge, the cook killed the king's son and served his flesh to him in a pie. The legend says that the gods cursed the cook by turning him into a giant rat who eats his own offspring, and he is remembered as the Rat Cook. Later generations would remember this legend as an infamous example of a violation of Guest right, a crime which the gods cannot forgive.
- c. 8,000 - 6,000 BC: The First Men form a shifting quilt of small kingdoms across Westeros south of the Wall, gradually coalescing into larger kingdoms. Legendary heroes of this time period are held to be the ancestors of the Great Houses that rule the Seven Kingdoms in later centuries.
- Bran the Builder may have ruled the North from Winterfell as some sort of high-king, but this unity falls apart after the threat of the Long Night ends, and the North fragments into various petty kingdoms, like the rest of Westeros. Their great rivals are House Bolton, who according to some legends began fighting them as soon as the Long Night ended and the Wall was finished.
- Garth Gardener builds Highgarden and settles the fertile fields of the Reach. His dynasty continues as House Gardener, though Garth's numerous descendants also found many other vassal houses throughout the Reach.
- Lann the Clever swindles House Casterly out of Casterly Rock and its rich gold mines using nothing but his wits, and becomes the founder of House Lannister.
- Durran Godsgrief builds the impregnable fortress Storm's End, founding House Durrandon (ancestors of House Baratheon).
- The Grey King unites the Iron Islands, and according to legend kills Nagga the sea-dragon. His sons begin the tradition of the Kingsmoot, raising up non-hereditary high kings of the isles by holding an election among their own lords.
- Oldtown grows to become the first and largest city in Westeros, ruled by House Hightower. A guild of scholars and healers forms in the city, who over the generations eventually organize into the Order of Maesters. The Maesters spread to every castle and town in Westeros, sent out from their headquarters in Oldtown, the Citadel, which becomes one of the greatest seats of learning in the world.
- The ironborn enter into their first great age of expansion under House Hoare, conquering much of the western coasts of Westeros (as signified in their heraldry). Their possessions range from Bear Island in the far north to the Arbor in the far south, and many lands along the coasts in between. They penetrate as far as Raventree Hall in the northern Riverlands, but their dominion is mostly concentrated near the coasts. Over time, however, as major kingdoms centralized and grew in power on the mainland, such as the Starks of Winterfell and Gardeners of Highgarden, they gradually expelled the ironborn, until they were pushed back to the Iron Islands themselves (in a long process stretching from c. 8,000 BC to c. 4,000 BC, when the Andals finally reached the isles).
- House Lannister unites much of the Westerlands, through a combination of war, wealth, and marriage-alliance. The Lannisters then skillfully lead the Westerlands to fight off the constant raids from the nearby Iron Islands, and forms the Kingdom of the Rock.
- House Gardener originally ruled the northern portions of the Reach around Highgarden, but over time absorbed surrounding petty kingdoms through peaceful marriage-alliance. Finally it absorbed the last and greatest of its local rivals, the Hightower kingdom around Oldtown, to unite the entire region as the Kingdom of the Reach.
- House Stark of Winterfell gradually establishes more and more control over the rest of The North, so that in time they claim the title King in the North. Some other Northern Houses unite with them voluntarily, such as the warriors of House Umber. Another Stark won Bear Island back from the ironborn in a wrestling match, and gave it to House Mormont to rule. Another Stark king warred with the Marsh King of the Crannogmen to the south, and after their defeat married the last Marsh King's daughter to cement the North's annexation of the Neck. The Starks' great rivals were the second most powerful House in the North, House Bolton. The Stark kings and Bolton kings vied with each other for centuries in bloody wars, and the Boltons were only finally forced into submission to the Starks 6,000 years ago - just as the Andals began to invade Westeros from across the Narrow Sea.
The Andal Invasion
- Main article: Andal Invasion
- c. 6,000 BC: A race of men from Essos, the Andals, crossed the Narrow Sea in numerous ships and made landfall in the Vale of Arryn. Under the banner of the Faith of the Seven, riding horses and wielding weapons made of iron, they overran and conquered all of Westeros south of the Neck. In a migration lasting several centuries, they spread out from the Vale to invade the rest of southern Westeros. The Andals killed the few remaining Children of the Forest as they encountered them, and the survivors disappeared.
- The Andals introduced the first full writing system to Westeros, whereas before the First Men had used only simple runes for tasks such as tomb markings. Thus the first full historical records in Westeros began to be produced after the Andal Invasion: legendary oral traditions about kings who lived for centuries and warred with gods fade away, though of course these later historical accounts can be politically biased and still do not form a totally accurate record.
- The Andals originated in the land of Andalos, near modern Pentos, east across the Narrow Sea. Thus the Andal Invasions were bloodiest along the eastern coasts of Westeros, in the Vale, the Riverlands, and the Stormlands. Their overland migration waves only reached the western side of the continent generations later, and by that point they were clearly inevitable. Therefore, the rulers of the Westerlands and the Reach peacefully intermarried with chosen Andal groups, inviting them in and uniting with them to fight off the other Andal kingdoms in eastern Westeros.
- The Andal family House Arryn came to rule in The Vale, to the point that the region came to be known as "The Vale of Arryn". The First Men living in the Vale were nearly exterminated, except for those pushed back into the Mountains of the Moon, where they lived a hardscrabble life as the Hill tribes.
- In most of southern Westeros, even regions that once bitterly resisted Andal incursions, local elites of the First Men eventually intermarried with Andal invaders as a form of submission, rather than fight them to extinction.
- Thus, most of the later Great Houses considered "Andal" are actually an Andal/First Men mix, including House Lannister, House Gardener (ancestors of House Tyrell), House Tully, and House Durrandon (ancestors of House Baratheon).
- The Andals' attempts to invade the North were frustrated by the North's natural defenses, namely the swamps of the Neck and the formidable fortress of Moat Cailin guarding the strategic chokepoint there. The strong leadership of the Kings in the North from House Stark also enables the northmen to throw back any Andal invasions by sea along their eastern coasts. Wars would continue in later centuries against other kingdoms in Westeros such as the Kingdom of the Vale, but by that point the Andals had intermingled with the local First Men so much that they stopped being seen as distinct groups, and such conflicts just faded into local politics, no longer considered "invasions".
- c. 4,000 BC - The Andals finally conquer the Iron Islands, much later than the mainland of Westeros due to their isolated location. However, the few Andals who invaded the Iron Islands essentially "went native" and acculturated to the distinct ironborn culture, even abandoning the Faith of the Seven to convert to worship of the Drowned God. Ancient ironborn families such as House Hoare and House Greyjoy intermarry with the Andal invaders (just as the Lannisters, Gardeners, and Tullys did on the mainland). The cultural impact of the Andal invasions was therefore relatively minor in the Iron Islands. Thus the ironborn of later centuries are composed of the same First Men/Andal ethnic mix of most of the rest of Westeros, and they took up the language of the Andals, but otherwise, their unique culture was not drastically affected by the Andal Invasions.
The rise and fall of Valyria
- Main article: Valyria
- c. 8,000 BC: On the eastern continent of Essos, the ancient Ghiscari Empire flourishes on the eastern coast of Slaver's Bay, one of the oldest - if not the oldest - great civilizations in the world. The Ghiscari Empire is built on large-scale slavery of conquered peoples, who toil away to build the great pyramids of Old Ghis and its colonies.
- c. 6,000 BC: On the western side of Slaver's Bay, a race of peaceful shepherds find Dragons lairing in the Fourteen Fires, an immense chain of volcanoes extending across the neck of the Valyrian Peninsula. The Valyrians tame the dragons with magic and begin expanding their influence into the rest of Essos.
- c. 6,000 - 5,000 BC: The Ghiscari Wars. Inevitably, the expanding Valyrian Freehold comes into conflict with the Ghiscari Empire over which superpower will dominate the continent. They fight a series of five great wars, ending with the Valyrians throwing down the Ghiscari in defeat. Old Ghis is burned to ashes with dragonfire and never rebuilt. The Valyrian Freehold absorbs all of the Ghiscari's former territories to their east, including all of the Ghiscari colony-cities in Slaver's Bay (such as Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen).
- c. 700 BC: The Rhoynish Wars. The Valyrian Freehold begins settling the region of the modern Free Cities. Their expansion brings them into conflict with the native inhabitants of the region surrounding the River Rhoyne. Nymeria, the warrior-queen of the Rhoynar, realizes that they cannot stand against dragons and they flee to Dorne, in southern Westeros. There Nymeria marries Lord Mors Martell and helps House Martell conquer the rest of Dorne, finally unifying the region as one kingdom.
- c. 500 BC: Revolting slaves take over the Valyrian fleet they were being transported in, and use the ships to flee from the Valyrian-controlled areas of central Essos to the northwestern corner of the continent. There they find a secretive lagoon protected by mountains and narrow access channels, where they found the Secret City of Braavos.
- c. 200 BC: The Valyrians annex Dragonstone, an island in the Narrow Sea just off the eastern coast of Westeros. The Targaryen family takes control of the island, which is used as a trading post with the Seven Kingdoms. According to legend, Aenar Targaryen had a vision of impending catastrophe and arranged to have his family removed from the Freehold.
- c. 100 BC - the Doom of Valyria: The Fourteen Fires erupt in a titanic explosion that obliterates the heartland of the Valyrian Freehold. Most of the Valyrian dragons, who lair in the volcanoes when not needed, are killed outright. The City of Valyria is partially buried under vast amounts of ash. The Valyrian Peninsula fractures and breaks apart. A large part of it is torn away from the mainland, low-lying areas are flooded and many offshore islands are formed. The waters around Valyria remain poisonous until the present day.
- c. 100 BC - c. 2 AC: The Century of Blood. In the aftermath of the Doom, Valyria's outlying colony-cities began breaking away and asserting their independence, becoming the nine Free Cities. The following one hundred years are chaotic free-for-all of almost constant warfare between them, also known as the Bleeding Years. Worse, without the Valyrian dragons to keep them in check anymore, the Dothraki mounted hordes spilled out of the central plains of Essos to sweep across most of the continent, in their first great wave of pillaging. For a time the Dothraki sacked cities at will, until their attacks were finally checked at the Battle of Qohor. Raids would continue afterwards but never on the same scale. Paralleling the Free Cities to the west, east of Valyria the Ghiscari cities of Slaver's Bay also reasserted their independence. Towards the end of this period Volantis grew enough in strength to try to conquer and unite all of the other Free Cities, but Volantis was ultimately defeated. Afterwards the Free Cities settled into somewhat more stable political patterns - just as Aegon Targaryen was uniting the Seven Kingdoms in Westeros.
Westeros: The Age of the Hundred Kingdoms
- Main article: Westeros
- c. 6,000 - 700 BC - Over the centuries following the Andal Invasion, hundreds of petty kingdoms form across Westeros, eventually aggregating into several larger powerful realms, and ultimately, seven large kingdoms. Some of the later Great Houses such as the Starks or Lannisters had previously managed to establish large hegemonies or high-kingships over large regions, but in this time period they turned into large, well-organized, and centrally run "kingdoms".
- c. 2,000 - 700 BC - The final "Seven Kingdoms", as they were later known, coagulated from previous smaller kingdoms during this time period as they absorbed their neighboring rivals. This process is roughly said to have finished anywhere from a thousand years before the Targaryen Conquest to a thousand years before the War of the Five Kings (varying by region). The fortunes of each kingdom rise and fall then rise again over the centuries as they compete with each other for lands and power, fueling constant and petty border wars throughout the continent.
- The Stark Kings expel pirates from the mouth of the White Knife river on the east coast, and to defend against further incursions founded the settlement that will later grow into White Harbor, the North's only major port.
- Around this time the Kingdom of the Reach hit a low point in its power, culminating in the Dornish Sack of Highgarden (apparently prior to the Rhoynar migration, as these were Dornish "kings" and not "princes"). In subsequent generations the Gardener kings of the Reach gradually rebuilt their strength again.
- c. 700 BC - The Rhoynar migrate to Dorne, after being driven from the Rhoyne River network in Essos by the Valyrians. House Martell intermarries with the Rhoynar led by Princess Nymeria and with their extra numbers conquers the rest of Dorne, unifying the entire region for the first time. House Manderly is exiled from the Reach but given safe haven in the North, where House Stark rewards them with rule over White Harbor. House Bolton is finally subdued by House Stark in the North. The Dornish Marches in the Red Mountains remain as they have been for centuries - a contested borderland of endemic warfare between the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne.
- c. 400 BC - House Bolton rises again in rebellion against House Stark, but is subdued once more. Due to his actions in suppressing the Bolton rebellion the younger son of the King in the North, Karlon Stark, is awarded lands confiscated from the north of the Bolton's former possessions, founding a cadet branch of House Stark. Over the generations, "Karl's Hold" becomes known as "Karhold", and the "Karl's Hold Starks" become known as House Karstark.
- c. 360 BC - The Stormlands successfully invades and conquers the Riverlands, under the Storm Kings of House Durrandon. This reduces the number of kingdoms to seven: the Kingdom of the North, the Kingdom of the Vale, the Kingdom of the Isles and Rivers, the Kingdom of the Rock, the Kingdom of the Reach, the Storm Kingdom, and the Principality of Dorne.
- c. 300 BC - The newly-ennobled House Frey begins construction of a massive bridge and castle complex across the Green Fork of the Trident, which when completed is known as The Twins. The Freys rapidly amass great wealth from bridge tolls and rise to became one of the major noble families of the Riverlands, though they are looked down upon by other more ancient families as upstarts.
- c. 200 BC - House Targaryen, one of the aristocratic families of the Valyrian Freehold, settles on Dragonstone island in Blackwater Bay, to establish a Valyrian trading outpost.
- c. 100 BC - The Targaryens relocate their entire family and household to Dragonstone island (just off the east coast of Westeros in Blackwater Bay), convinced by a prophecy that the destruction of Valyria is imminent. This proves true, as the Doom of Valyria follows only a few years later - leaving the Targaryens on Dragonstone with the world's only surviving dragons. The Targaryens and their vassal Houses on other islands in Blackwater Bay remain uninvolved with outside affairs, slowly building up their strength.
- c. 60 BC - Some three generations before Aegon's Landing, the Iron Islands enter into their second great era of expansion, conquering the territory of the Riverlands from the Stormlands. Unlike their first era of expansion, which conquered coastal territories across Westeros, this push focuses on conquering specifically the Riverlands, penetrating deep inland. The ironborn hold everything between the Blackwater to the south and the Neck to the north, and from the west coast to the east coast. The ironborn invasion is led by King Harwyn of House Hoare, and the Iron Islands continue to rule the Riverlands until the time of Harwyn's grandson, Harren Hoare, also called Harren the Black. Wishing to demonstrate his wealth and power, King Harren spends years and vast resources constructing a castle far more massive and formidable than any other in all of Westeros on the north shore of Gods Eye lake: Harrenhal, a fortress impregnable to ground attack. The enslaved local Rivermen are forced to toil on the castle's construction, to build the tool of their own domination. Ironically, the construction of Harrenhal castle finishes the very same day that the Targaryens and their dragons land on the east coast of Westeros to begin their conquest.
The Targaryen Conquest
- Main article: War of Conquest
- 2 BC - 1 AC: Despite pleas to intervene in the Free Cities, Aegon the Conqueror, the ruler of House Targaryen, decides to invade Westeros, along with his sister-wives Rhaenys and Visenya.
- With only a small number of soldiers, his forces make landfall at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. On a tall hill overlooking the bay, he builds a wooden redoubt on the site of what is now the Red Keep. He then begins his military campaign using the only three dragons known to have survived the Doom of Valyria: Balerion (ridden by Aegon), Meraxes (ridden by Rhaenys), and Vhagar (ridden by Visenya).
- As Aegon marches west, the rivermen led by Edmyn Tully of Riverrun rise up in rebellion against their ironborn oppressors and march to join his army against them. King Harren the Black is besieged in Harrenhal, but when he refuses to surrender, Aegon simply flies Balerion over the walls and proceeded to burn the entire castle. Harren and all his sons roasted alive in their own tower, making House Hoare extinct. The remaining ironborn flee back to the Iron Islands. Aegon rewards House Tully by making them overlords of the Riverlands.
- Aegon's bastard half-brother, Orys Baratheon, marches south to invade The Stormlands, along with Rhaenys riding Meraxes. During the battle of the Last Storm Orys faces the last Storm King, Argilac the Arrogant, and kills him in single combat. After his victory Orys seizes Argilac's castle of Storm's End, along with his daughter whom he takes to wife. Aegon rewards Orys by naming him overlord of the Stormlands and allowing him to found House Baratheon.
- The Targaryen army then recombines and marches south to face the allied forces of King Mern IX Gardener of the Reach and King Loren Lannister of the Rock in the climactic battle of the Conquest, which becomes known as the Field of Fire. All three dragons are unleashed in the same battle for the first and only time, and more than 4,000 men are burned alive by the dragons. House Gardener is extinguished, so Aegon names the stewards of Highgarden as overlords of the Reach: House Tyrell, a cadet branch of House Gardener. King Loren surrenders to Aegon, who names him overlord of the Westerlands and allows House Lannister to continue its rule.
- Aegon advances to Oldtown, location of the headquarters of the Faith of the Seven. Ultimately the High Septon decides to welcome Aegon into the city, and formally blesses his reign. Aegon chooses to date the years of his reign starting from this day that the High Septon acknowledged him, forming the basis of the new calendar system used throughout Westeros for the next three centuries.
- After finally gathering up his widely scattered bannermen, King Torrhen Stark of the North arrives in the south - but seeing the power of the dragons after the Field of Fire, and the Targaryens' now massive army of conscripts, he realizes that all hope of victory is lost. Torrhen chooses to surrender without battle, and in return Aegon allows the Starks to to continue to rule the North under the Targaryens.
- After the Field of Fire, House Arryn thought they could hide behind the Vale's mountains - but Visenya simply flew Vhagar over the mountains straight to the Eyrie, and accepted their bloodless surrender.
- Aegon's attempt to conquer Dorne is thwarted by the Dornish refusal to give battle openly, preferring guerrilla warfare. Aegon decides to allow Dorne and House Martell to remain independent for now, to focus on reining in his other recent conquests..
- Aegon returns to the site of his army's first landing at the mouth of the Blackwater River and begins construction of a grand new capital city for his unified realm: King's Landing. He carves out territory from surrounding kingdoms to form the Crownlands, ruled directly by the Targaryens to support the city. Aegon has the swords of his defeated enemies gathered up and uses the fires of his dragon Balerion to forge them into the Iron Throne, seat of the rulers of the new unified realm.
- The naming of the "After Aegon's Landing" dating system is inherently a misnomer, as Aegon I himself counted the years of his reign as starting from the end of his conquest, when he entered Oldtown and was blessed by the High Septon, which occurred two years after Aegon and his army first landed on the mainland at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush.
- Apparently, the inherent discrepancy in the name of the "After Landing" dating system became something of an annoyance in-universe for the maesters of the Citadel. In later books, such as the prequel novella The Princess and the Queen, George R.R. Martin presents several maesters who have switched to the name "After Conquest", abbreviated "AC". This is not a new dating system, simply updating the name of the existing system to more accurately reflect historical events. The date "130 AC" is the exact same year as "130 AL". That being said, the few written documents seen on-screen during the first seasons of the TV series have used the "AL" notation.
- In some ways this reflects modern attempts to update the Anno Domini system of the Gregorian calendar. The AD/BC dating system was only developed by the medieval monk Dionysius Exiguus some five hundred years after Jesus was crucified, retroactively piecing together previous dates based on the individual reign of rulers or who was consul in Rome at the time, which ultimately produced several errors. Modern scholarship generally agrees that Jesus was probably born closer to the year 6 BC rather than at 1 BC (there was no year zero). Rather than go through the administrative chaos of revising all dated records, attempts have been made to introduce an alternative name for the system: "Common Era" (CE) replaces "Anno domini" (AD), and "Before the Common Era" (BCE) replaces "Before Christ" (BC). The alternative names (apart from being religiously neutral) are more accurate, as the "AD" system did not itself provide an accurate count from the date of Jesus's actual birth.
- As with the Anno Domini system, the After Landing (or After Conquest) dating system does not have a year zero. It uses as its starting point the crowning of Aegon by the High Septon in Oldtown. The instant that the High Septon set the crown upon his head, the year "1 BC" changed into "1 AC" (the entire first year After Conquest was "1 AC", and the day after the coronation was thus one day into "1 AC" even though a full year had not elapsed).
- Aegon I has two children: his elder son Aenys with his sister-wife Rhaenys, and his younger son Maegor with his sister-wife Visenya.
- 2 AC - While Aegon I dates the years of his reign from when he was crowned by the High Septon in Oldtown, some of the conquest is still unfinished. House Hoare and its armies were destroyed at the Burning of Harrenhal, but the Iron Islands themselves remained de-powered by unconquered while Aegon focused on his remaining enemies on the mainland. By 2 AC, Aegon had consolidated his position enough to invade them with his fleets and dragons. The priest-king Lodos called upon the Drowned God to send krakens to destroy the Targaryen fleet - but when they failed to appear, he and hundreds of his followers walked into the ocean rather than surrender. Their armies already destroyed, the Iron Islands quickly fall. Recognizing the long ironborn tradition of choosing their own leaders (in a Kingsmoot), he allows their lords to pick one of their own leading families to rule the isles under Targaryen domination: House Greyjoy of Pyke, led by Vickon Greyjoy.
- 4 AC - 13 AC: The First Dornish War. The Targaryens had bypassed Dorne during the initial conquest due to its isolation and harsh desert climate, but were now determined to complete their unification of the entire continent south of The Wall. The Dornishmen, however, learned from the Field of Fire and Harrenhal that there was no resisting the Targaryen dragons in open battle or by hiding in their castles. Therefore, the Dornish resorted to guerrilla warfare, fleeing when the dragons approached and then launching ambushes as soon as they flew away. The parched deserts were conducive to an insurgency harassing the supply lines of large occupation armies. The Targaryen armies were badly bled, and even one of the dragons died: Meraxes was killed when a lucky shot from a scorpion-bolt struck her through the eye in mid-flight, killing her rider Queen Rhaenys in her fall. Enraged, Aegon and Visenya used their dragons to burn out every settlement in Dorne, but still the Martells would not surrender. Eventually both sides tired of the unending bloodshed, and the Targaryens agreed to withdraw from Dorne.
- 13 AC - 37 AC - Aegon I lives out the rest of his reign in peace, knitting the Seven Kingdoms together into one realm. Construction continues on King's Landing. Work also begins on the great new royal castle known as the Red Keep, but Aegon I only lives to see its foundations set.
The Reign of the Targaryen Dynasty
The Sons of the Dragon & the Faith Militant uprising
- 37-42 AC: Upon Aegon I's death, his son Aenys, born of incest, takes the throne. Aenys is weak and indecisive and cannot adequately deal with many localized rebellions that pop up (such as the Vulture Hunt along the border with Dorne), leading to him naming his half-brother Maegor as Hand of the King and giving him authority to deal with the crises.
- 42 AC: The Faith of the Seven, long disgusted with the Targaryen's incestuous practices, rejects Aenys's legitimacy to rule after he foolishly announces the marriage of his son and daughter to each other. The Faith Militant, armed order of the religion, leads a popular uprising against the Targaryens. Aenys's health fails from the stress and he dies on Dragonstone, having reigned only five years.
- Maegor usurps the throne ahead of Aenys's children, and leads a bloody and ferocious counter-attack against the Faith Militant, resulting in the deaths of thousands in battle and by dragonfire. The slaughter of the Faith Militant uprising lasts throughout Maegor's reign.
- Maegor proves to be the exact opposite of his weakling older brother - effectively smashing the Faith Militant and restoring Targaryen domination - but so much so that he becomes a brutal tyrant, instituting a reign of terror. He quickly earns the nickname, "Maegor the Cruel".
- Maegor finishes construction of the Red Keep, and orders construction of the Dragonpit.
- 48 AC: Eventually Maegor's brutal tactics alienate all of his allies, leading to a final popular revolt against him. Maegor is found dead on the Iron Throne, of an apparent suicide so he wouldn't have to face the victorious rebels.
The Targaryen golden age
- 48 AC: Aenys's son, Jaehaerys I, becomes king. Jaehaerys declares a truce and agrees to end the slaughter in return for the Faith Militant disbanding and accepting (but not approving) the Targaryen practices of incestuous marriage. They agree, and the Faith and the Throne are reconciled. Jaehaerys I becomes known as the Conciliator for his ability to solve crises without the need for violence. Jaehaerys goes on to rule for more than 50 years.
- During the reign of Jaehaerys I, the Night's Watch had declined to the point that it could no longer fully man a castle as large as the Nightfort, which had fallen into disrepair. The Watch officially abandons the Nightfort, and moves its headquarters to further east along the Wall at Deep lake, then later further east to Castle Black.
- 103-129 AC: Upon Jaehaerys I's death, after an unmatched 55 year reign, he is succeeded by his grandson, who becomes King Viserys I Targaryen. Viserys I himself rules for almost another three decades - combined with his grandfather's rule, the result was an 80 year golden age of peace and prosperity for the Targaryen dynasty and Westeros (barring occasional flareups with pirates in the Stepstones, etc.) Relations with independent Dorne are peaceful, and under Jaehaerys I's guidance even amicable.
The Dance of the Dragons
- 129-131 AC: The Dance of the Dragons, the first full-scale civil war in the history of the unified Seven Kingdoms. The Faith Militant uprising was an insurgency, but this was the first time that different Great Houses joined rival sides in a war, each faction openly holding rival territories - which wouldn't happen again until Robert's Rebellion around 150 years later. Unlike Robert's Rebellion, however, this was the first and only major civil war in which both sides had dragons:
- King Viserys I Targaryen produced only one child with his first wife before she died, his daughter and designated heir Rhaenyra Targaryen. Viserys later remarried to Alicent Hightower, however, producing his son Aegon II Targaryen. While Viserys had intended Rhaenyra to succeed him, upon his death Aegon II claimed the throne ahead of his half-sister, citing that traditional inheritance law put daughters after sons (even though this directly contradicted his father's public orders). The resulting war pitted brother against sister and dragon against dragon.
- Aegon II's branch of House Targaryen were known as the Greens, and their main supporters were House Hightower, his mother's family who ruled Oldtown. The Greens were concentrated in southern Westeros, including the Lannisters in the Westerlands, the Baratheons in the Stormlands, the Hightowers and the southern half of the Reach, and the mainland parts of the Crownlands including King's Landing itself. They controlled all the large cities, most of the wealth, and larger land armies.
- Rhaenyra's branch of House Targaryen were known as the Blacks, and their main supporters were House Velaryon, also through inter-marriage. The Blacks were concentrated in northern Westeros: the Starks of the North, the Arryns of the Vale, the Tullys and the Riverlands, the Greyjoys of the Iron Islands, the northern half of the Reach, and the island portions of the Crownlands centered around Dragonstone (Rhaenyra's stronghold). Rhaenyra did not hold the wealthy and populous regions like Aegon II did, so her land armies were smaller, but she controlled most of the fleets giving her dominance at sea, and more dragons.
- The Dance of the Dragons was a grueling war with many surprise twists and betrayals. By the end, tens of thousands of soldiers and commoners were dead, both King's Landing and Lannisport had been sacked, and the Riverlands were totally burned out by dragon-fire.
- Near the end of the war, Aegon II captured Rhaenyra and fed her to his dragon, but the war continued in the name of her son, Aegon III. After Aegon II died the war ended in exhaustion, and in the negotiated peace, Rhaenyra's son Aegon III married Aegon II's last surviving child, Jaehaera.
- The Seven Kingdoms were left devastated by the civil war, and it takes a full generation for Westeros to recover. Aegon III came to the throne as an underage boy but ruled for another two decades, and was succeeded by his son Daeron I.
- Most of the Targaryen dragons were killed in the civil war, with so few surviving that they could not maintain a stable breeding population. The last surviving Targaryen dragon, a sickly green runt, dies during Aegon III's reign, earning him the nickname "Dragonbane".
The Conquest of Dorne
- 157-161 AC: The Conquest of Dorne. King Daeron I, the Young Dragon, takes the throne at the age of fourteen and almost immediately launches an invasion of Dorne, which had remained defiantly independent since Aegon's landing. Daeron's military genius is notable and he eventually forces the submission of Sunspear. Unfortunately, while the conquest of Dorne is a success, holding Dorne proves more difficult, leading to a protracted Dornish insurgency. Daeron I leaves a Tyrell of Highgarden, who have warred with the Martells for a thousand years, as his steward to rule over occupied Dorne. Lyonel Tyrell's tyranny triggers an uprising against the Iron Throne. When Daeron I returns with a fresh army, he is killed, his cousin Prince Aemon the Dragonknight is captured and his army defeated. Daeron I died childless so the throne passed to his brother Baelor, who forged a peace treaty with Dorne (including the marriage of Viserys II's grandson, Daeron II, to Princess Myriah Martell).
- 161-171 AC: The reign of King Baelor the Blessed, the Septon King. Baelor is pious and holy, keeping the realm at peace. Baelor negotiates an end to hostilities with Dorne after his brother's death. Baelor commissions the construction of a huge new sept in King's Landing, which (after his death is named the Great Sept of Baelor in his honor. Baelor is so religiously zealous that he remains celibate: instead of marrying one of his sisters in Targaryen custom, he has all three locked away in a tower of the Red Keep known as the Maidenvault, so that they would not tempt him with carnal thoughts.
- Baelor also dies childless, and because Aegon III had no other male heirs, the succession passes over his surviving daughters so that his younger brother Viserys II Targaryen takes the throne - youngest son of Rhaenyra. Viserys II had been Hand of the King for years under both Daeron and Baelor, but his actual time on the Iron Throne was short, before dying and being succeeded in turn by his son Aegon IV.
- 172-184 AC: The reign of King Aegon IV, Aegon the Unworthy, held to be the worst king in the history of Westeros. A glutton and a cruel, petty man, Aegon has a total of nine mistresses in succession that he keeps at court, to the dismay of his sister-wife Naerys. He holds his son and heir, Daeron II, in disfavor due to his Dornish wife (Princess Myriah Martell) and peaceful ways - so he decides to give the ancestral Valyrian steel sword of Aegon the Conqueror, Blackfyre, to his bastard son Daemon, whom he thinks is more martial and worthy of it. His bastard son takes the new name Daemon Blackfyre, after the sword, and founds the cadet branch of House Targaryen known as House Blackfyre. Upon Aegon IV's death, Daeron II succeeds to the Iron Throne.
The Blackfyre Rebellions
- 195-196 AC: Claiming that Daeron II is actually the product of an illegitimate relationship between Queen Naerys and her other brother, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, Daemon Blackfyre claims the Iron Throne. Half the realm declares for him and the resulting civil war is known as the First Blackfyre Rebellion. This is a brutal and bitter conflict that kills many tens of thousands. Eventually, Daemon amasses enough strength to march on King's Landing, allied to the forces of his bastard half-brother Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers. Daeron II's sons, Baelor and Maekar, lead an army to stop him, assisted by another of Aegon IV's bastards, Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers. The resulting engagement, the Battle of Redgrass Field, is one of the largest battles fought in Westerosi history. Bloodraven slays Daemon Blackfyre with arrows and then fights Bittersteel in single combat. The arrival of a Dornish army in support of the King routs the Blackfyre forces. Bittersteel flees the field with Daemon's surviving sons, taking them to safety in the Free Cities.
- 197 AC: In thanks for the Dornish assistance on the Redgrass Field, Daeron II marries his younger sister Daenerys to Prince Maron Martell, formally bringing Dorne into the Seven Kingdoms. Due to the peaceable union, Dorne is allowed to maintain a number of its own customs, including allowing women equal inheritance rights and that the ruler of Dorne is allowed to retain the title "Prince".
- 209 AC: During a tournament at Ashford, the Trial by seven of Duncan the Tall takes place when Ser Duncan the Tall runs afoul of Prince Aerion "Brightflame" Targaryen, eldest son of Prince Maekar, himself the younger son of Daeron II. During the trial by combat Crown Prince Baelor "Breakspear" Targaryen is accidentally killed by his younger brother Prince Maekar. Ser Duncan begins his great friendship with Prince Aegon "Egg" Targaryen, fourth and youngest son of Maekar. Disgusted with his eldest son Aerion, Maekar agrees to let Aegon follow Ser Duncan as his squire as he seeks his fortune across Westeros, hoping it will give the boy some real-life experience. "Dunk and Egg", as they are known, embark on numerous adventures across Westeros in the following years.
- The adventures of Ser Duncan and Prince Aegon are told in the Tales of Dunk and Egg, a prequel series to the main Game of Thrones storyline.
- 209 AC: The Great Spring Sickness tears through Westeros, a few months after the confrontation between Ser Duncan and Prince Aerion at Ashford. Among those killed are King Daeron II himself, as well as the heirs of Prince Baelor. Aerys I Targaryen, next eldest son of Daeron II, succeeds him as king. He names Bloodraven as his Hand.
- 211 AC: Blackfyre loyalists attempt to launch a Second Blackfyre Rebellion, but - in part due to the activities of Dunk & Egg - Bloodraven exposes the plan, captures one of Daemon Blackfyre's sons and executes many of the conspirators before a battle needs to be fought.
- 212 AC: Daemon Blackfyre's half-brother Bittersteel forms the Golden Company in the Free Cities, a sellsword company which over time will grow into the best and largest in Essos. Its core membership are Blackfyre loyalists who fled into exile across the Narrow Sea. Bittersteel created the Golden Company so that Daemon's younger sons could still maintain some sort of cohesive fighting force between attempted invasions.
- 219 AC: The Third Blackfyre Rebellion. Sensing the weakness of Aerys I's reign, Blackfyre loyalists rise up again, aided by Bittersteel and the Golden Company. Due to the actions of Bloodraven, Maekar - and Dunk & Egg - the rebellion is put down. Bittersteel escapes once again to the Free Cities.
- 221 AC: After Aerys I dies childless his younger brother Maekar I, fourth son of Daeron II, becomes King of the Seven Kingdoms. Third son Rhaegel had previously died, was insane anyway, and his heirs also predeceased Aerys I.
- Maekar is a strong enough ruler that the Blackfyre pretenders in exile don't dare try to launch another rebellion during his reign, though he faces various localized uprisings and intrigues. A disciplined soldier but not a courtier, Maekar is a capable and effective king, although not a particularly loved one. His reign does much to restore the power and respect the throne lost during his older brother's weak reign.
- 233 AC: Maekar I dies during the siege of a rebel lord's castle. With his eldest two sons dead (one from a pox, and Aerion from drinking wildfire in a fit of madness), the council offers the crown to Maekar's third son, a maester of the Citadel named Aemon, but citing his vows he refuses the throne. Therefore Maekar's fourth son (also known as "Egg") takes the throne, becoming King Aegon V Targaryen. He is called Aegon the Unlikely, because as the fourth son of a fourth son he was initially far behind in the line of succession. Ser Duncan joins Aegon V's Kingsguard, and eventually rises to become its Lord Commander. At the beginning of Aegon V's reign Bloodraven is exiled to the Wall for killing a Blackfyre under a flag of truce. Ser Duncan is part of the "honor guard" that escorts him there, along with Aegon V's older brother Maester Aemon - who voluntarily joined the Night's Watch, despite Aegon V's pleas, because he wanted to remove himself as far as possible from court intrigues against his brother.
- ~234 AC: Tywin Lannister, eldest son of Tytos Lannister, is born.
- 233-259 AC: The rule of Aegon V. This is generally a period of prosperity for the Seven Kingdoms, but also of conflict: Aegon V tried to enact many populist reforms throughout his reign to improve the lives of the commoners, lowing taxes on the poor and raising taxes on the rich. Politically this was unwise, as it turned many of the great lords of the realm against him - encouraging the worst of these to outright join rebellions against the throne. Aegon V proves an intelligent and capable king, but the reforms he attempted to make were too idealistic and impractical.
- 236 AC - The Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion occurs when the Golden Company launches an invasion at Massey's Hook in the Stormlands, led by Daemon Blackfyre's grandson Daemon III, along with the now-elderly Bittersteel. The fourth rebellion is even less successful than the third: Daemon III had hoped to spark a general uprising after winning a few victories in Westeros itself, but so many of the original Blackfyre supporters were gone by that point - his grandfather Daemon had been dead for forty years - the most lords just saw them as foreign exiles with tattered banners, and this support never materialized. Due to the actions of Dunk & Egg, the fourth rebellion was defeated as well. Bittersteel died a few years later in the Disputed Lands, but making Daemon's surviving grandchildren swear to keep the Blackfyre cause alive.
- The heir to House Lannister dies in the fourth rebellion, leaving his younger brother as next in line: inexperienced third son Tytos Lannister, who succeeds their father upon his death in 244 AL. For the next 13 years, Tytos's weak rule greatly diminishes Lannister power and reduces them to a laughingstock. The Westerlands fall into chaos as a result, even meriting several military interventions from King Aegon V, but to no avail. House Reyne comes to rival House Lannister as the real power in the Westerlands.
- 259 AC: During the last year of Aegon V's reign, Pycelle is named as Grand Maester.
- c. 259 AC: The War of the Ninepenny Kings (also known as the Fifth Blackfyre Rebellion) erupts, late in the reign of King Aegon V. A group of mercenaries, fortune-seekers, and ne'er do-wells known as the Band of Nine combines their strength to carve out their own territories: among them is Maelys the Monstrous, the last of the Blackfyre Pretenders. After taking over the Disputed Lands and Tyrosh, they conquer the Stepstones as the opening move of an invasion meant to claim the Seven Kingdoms in the name of House Blackfyre. At the conclusion of the war, Maelys Blackfyre is killed by the promising young knight Ser Barristan Selmy. Both Ser Barristan and Ser Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully win great fame and glory during the war, and return home as celebrated heroes. In gratitude, King Aegon V appoints Ser Barristan to the Kingsguard, in which he will serve for the next forty years. The teenaged Tywin Lannister and his brothers also first blood themselves in combat during the war, serving with distinction. During the war Brynden's older brother Hoster Tully of Riverrun makes the acquaintance of a Lord Baelish of the Fingers, later accepting his son Petyr as a ward at Riverrun.
- Note: In the book continuity, the War of the Ninepenny Kings was actually fought during the reign of King Jaehaerys II, son of King Aegon V and father of King Aerys II who only ruled for three years. The TV continuity has officially eliminated Jaehaerys II, making Aerys II the son of Aegon V - see "Removing Jaehaerys II" in the Notes section below. The Season 5 Histories & Lore featurette "Robert's Rebellion (Histories & Lore): Barristan Selmy's perspective" confirmed that in the TV continuity, the War of the Ninepenny Kings occurred in the last years of Aegon V's reign and Aerys II explicitly only became king after that war ended.
- c.236-259 AC - King Aegon V plans a series of arranged marriages between his children and several of the Great Houses to strengthen the royal family's political bonds within the realm. All of his children ultimately defy their father and marry for love instead, and because he married for love himself, he feels he cannot refuse them - causing all of his carefully planned political alliances to fall through. The young and beautiful Olenna Redwyne was arranged to marry one of Aegon V's sons but due to neither she nor her intended desiring the match, she got out of it and married Lord Luthor Tyrell.
- Note: As with the War of the Ninepenny Kings, removing Jaehaerys II to make Aerys II the direct son of Aegon V eliminates an entire generation of House Targaryen, leading to several after-effects, and questions of who exactly his children married in the TV continuity. See "Removing Jaehaerys II" in the Notes section below.
- 259 AC: King Aegon and his son Prince Duncan are killed in a great fire at Summerhall, the Targaryen summer palace, apparently during an attempt to hatch the last three dragon eggs left in the west. Aegon's son, Aerys II Targaryen, becomes king. The eggs are assumed destroyed in the fire.
The Reign of the Mad King
- Main article: Aerys II Targaryen
- 259 AC: King Aerys's reign begins with great promise. He sweeps aside the old men of his father and grandfather's courts and replaces them with young, vigorous replacements.
- 259 AC: King Aerys' wife Queen Rhaella gives birth to their first son, Rhaegar Targaryen.
- 260 AC: Emboldened by his recent military experience in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, young Tywin Lannister puts down the Reyne Rebellion to restore Lannister dominance over the Westerlands, and has any surviving Reynes - man, woman, and child - put to the sword, as an example to any vassal who would dare challenge Casterly Rock again. The eradication of House Reyne is the first major step in the return to glory of House Lannister, in which Tywin almost singlehandedly rebuilt the fortunes and strength of his House. Impressed with Tywin's ruthlessness, Aerys II Targaryen appoints him as his new Hand of the King. Tywin continues to ably serve in this position for nearly twenty years, during which the Seven Kingdoms and the Lannisters in particular enjoy peace and prosperity.
- 262 AC: Tywin Lannister's wife Joanna Lannister gives birth to twins, Cersei and Jaime.
- 266 AC: Tywin Lannister's wife Joanna dies giving birth to their third and final child, a stunted dwarf named Tyrion.
- c.266 - c.290 AC: According to Tyrion Lannister, Westeros has experienced nine winters during his lifetime, the last ending around 290 AL. Tyrion states that the winter during which he was born was the longest of these, lasting three years.
- c. 275 AC - Young Cersei Lannister and her companion Melara Hetherspoon visit a woods-witch called Maggy in the forests around Casterly Rock, whom Cersei asks to foretell her future at the royal court (seen during the opening flashback scene of the Season 5 premiere, "The Wars to Come").
- 276 AC: King Aerys II Targaryen's wife Queen Rhaella give birth to their second son, Viserys III Targaryen.
- 270s AC: Cracks begin to appear in Aerys's demeanor. He refuses to marry his son Rhaegar to Tywin's daughter Cersei, instead having Rhaegar marry Princess Elia Martell of Dorne. Aerys becomes paranoid over talk in the castle that Tywin is the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. When Lord Darklyn of Duskendale refuses to pay his taxes, Aerys resolves to crush the problem himself without Tywin's aid. Unfortunately, the situation gets out of control and Aerys is imprisoned for several months in Duskendale before Tywin and Barristan Selmy assault the castle and rescue him. The Darklyns are burned alive for their treachery. Later historians claim that the Defiance of Duskendale marked the beginning of the end for Aerys's sanity. Aerys refuses to allow blades in his presence anymore (except those of his Kingsguard), developing a deranged appearance with uncut and filthy hair hanging to his waist, and uncut fingernails growing several inches long. His behavior becomes even more unstable, such as having Ser Ilyn Payne's tongue ripped out with hot pincers when he was overheard whispering (accurately) that Tywin was the real man holding the realm together at this point.
- c. 279 AC: In a year of false spring, a great tournament is held by Lord Whent at Harrenhal. King Aerys and Prince Rhaegar attend, as do many lords from across the Seven Kingdoms. Prince Rhaegar wins the tournament, but names Lyanna Stark of Winterfell as the Queen of Love and Beauty rather than his own wife Elia. Lord Tywin Lannister is enraged when Aerys names his son Jaime to the Kingsguard, disinheriting him as Tywin's heir in favor of his ugly, misshapen younger brother Tyrion. Furious, Tywin resigns the Handship and returns to Casterly Rock.
- c. 280 AC: Rhaegar allegedly kidnaps Lyanna against her will and disappears with her. Lyanna's eldest brother Brandon impulsively rides to King's Landing and demands justice but instead King Aerys has both him and his father Lord Rickard arrested and brutally executed.
- Main article: Robert's Rebellion
- 280-281 AC: In response to the king's murder of Rickard and Brandon Stark, the new Lord of Winterfell, Eddard Stark, raises the banners of the North. Robert Baratheon, Lord of Storm's End and betrothed to Lyanna, joins the rebellion, raising the banners of the Stormlands. Lord Jon Arryn of the Vale, a mentor to both Robert and Eddard, does the same. The Stark, Tully, and Arryn armies begin gathering north of the Trident, but Robert's forces are cut off far to the south. Leaving his brother Stannis to hold Storm's End, Robert marches his army northwest through enemy territory. Lord Mace Tyrell continues to besiege Storm's End for a full year. Robert is defeated at the Battle of Ashford by Tyrell forces loyal to the king, but later joins up with the Northern and Vale armies at the Battle of the Bells. The combined rebel army crosses to the north side of the Trident. Both sides consolidate for a major showdown. Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun, who had planned to marry his daughter Catelyn to Brandon Stark, instead agrees to marry her to Eddard in exchange for his support in war. In addition, Hoster marries his second daughter Lysa to Jon Arryn to shore up the alliance. All four are wed in a double marriage ceremony at Riverrun before the rebel armies depart once again.
- Prince Rhaegar leads a royalist army to directly engage the rebels, but is defeated at the climactic Battle of the Trident, in which he is killed in personal combat by Robert himself.
- Realizing that rebel victory is imminent, King Aerys sends his remaining young son Viserys and his pregnant wife Queen Rhaella to the safety of the ancestral Targaryen fortress, Dragonstone island.
- With Rhaegar dead, lords who had been undecided about which side to join now abandon the Mad King. Lord Tywin's army arrives at King's Landing allegedly to defend the city, but once the gates are opened the Lannisters brutally sack the city. Aerys II is killed by Jaime Lannister, his own Kingsguard, for which Jaime becomes known as "the Kingslayer".
- On Dragonstone, Queen Rhaella dies giving birth to her daughter, Daenerys, several months after her father died in the fall of King's Landing. During her birth a great storm wrecks what is left of the Targaryen fleet anchored at Dragonstone, for which she is named "Daenerys Stormborn". The rebels lack their own fleet so it takes some time to assemble one to assault the island. Eventually, when they realize the rebels will arrive soon, Targaryen loyalists smuggle the Targaryen heirs Viserys and Daenerys to safety in the Free Cities, where they remain in exile.
- Robert Baratheon, due to a blood relationship with House Targaryen, is proclaimed King of the Seven Kingdoms. With Lyanna dead, Robert instead marries Cersei Lannister to shore up the alliance that brought down the Targaryens.
- The TV series adaptation wanted to increase the age of several of the younger characters for censorship reasons: Daenerys's aged was directly linked to the war, because her father died at the very end of it and she was born after his death. Thus Robert's Rebellion occurred 15 years before the beginning of the first novel, but is repeatedly stated to have occurred 17 years before Season 1 of the TV series. It was never definitively stated if this meant that the rebellion started two years earlier, or if the events of Season 1 occur two calendar years later than their book counterparts. Based on the fact that prop letters in Season 1 continued to be dated as "298 AL" - the same year that the first novel begins - Game of Thrones Wiki has taken this as indication that Robert's Rebellion must have begun two years earlier in the TV continuity, in 280 AL instead of 282 AL.
- 281 AC - Theon Greyjoy is born, third son of Balon Greyjoy.
- 281 AC: Robb Stark is born, first son of Eddard Stark.
- 281 AC: Jon Snow is born.
King Robert's Reign
- Main article: Robert Baratheon
- 282 AL - Catelyn gives birth to Eddard's son Robb Stark (Robb is about 16 years old, going on 17, during the events of Season 1, said to occur 17 years after the war ended).
- 282 AL - When Eddard returns back north from the war, he reunites with Catelyn and sees his newborn son Robb for the first time. Along with him, however, Eddard brings from the south an infant boy. He explains that the child is a bastard that he fathered while on campaign - making him only a few months younger than Robb. Eddard gives no explanation about who the boy's mother is. Eddard names the boy Jon, and as an acknowledged noble bastard he uses the surname Snow. Unusually, Eddard announces that his bastard son Jon Snow will be raised in his home castle Winterfell, alongside his lawfully born children with Catelyn. Little did everybody know that Jon Snow was actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Ned raised Jon as his son to hide his true parentage and to keep him safe from Robert, who had developed a murderous hatred for all Targaryens.
- Late 282 AC: Queen Cersei Lannister gives birth to Prince Joffrey Baratheon. Secretly, the boy is not actually Robert's son, but a bastard of incest fathered by Cersei's own twin brother Jaime. Her next two children will also secretly be fathered by Jaime.
- While Joffrey was 12 years old in the first novel, the TV series established that he was 16 years old in Season 1, thus he was born roughly a year or so after the war ended 17 years ago. See discussion at the end of this article.
- 283 AC: Myrcella Baratheon is born.
- 285 AC: Sansa Stark is born.
- Tommen Baratheon is born.
- The TV continuity retconned Tommen's age when the role was recast in Season 4 (despite stating on-screen in Season 1 that he was only 8 years old), strongly implying that he was 18 years old in Season 5 - and thus retroactively 14 in Season 1. This is entirely plausible given that Joffrey's age was also changed to be 16 in Season 1 - meaning that middle child Myrcella had to have been 15 years old in Season 1 (retroactively, though her role was also recast in Season 5). See discussion below.
- 288 AC: Bran Stark is born.
- 289 AC: The Greyjoy Rebellion - Lord Balon Greyjoy leads a rebellion against King Robert's reign, attempting to secede the Iron Islands from the rest of the realm. After several months of furious fighting in the Westerlands and Riverlands, King Robert's forces push the ironborn back to Pyke and storm the castle. Balon capitulates and surrenders his only surviving son, Theon, as hostage and ward for his good behavior. Robert instructs Eddard Stark to take Theon under his wing.
- Following spring, a long summer officially begins, which will last for another ten years, only ending in 299 AL. It is the longest summer in living memory.
- Robin Arryn, called Sweetrobin, is born, the only living child of Jon Arryn and Lysa Tully.
- 292 AC: Rickon Stark is born.
- 297 AC: Magister Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos invites Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen to stay in his manse and offers to help them reclaim their throne.
Game of Thrones
Season 1 - 298 AC
- Jon Arryn is poisoned. Eddard Stark is appointed to replace him as Hand of the King. At King's Landing, Stark discovers the secret Jon Arryn learned: none of Queen Cersei Lannister's three children are Robert's, but are all bastard products of incest with her own twin brother, Ser Jaime Lannister. King Robert Baratheon is killed in a boar hunt, secretly assassinated at the order of Queen Cersei Lannister by slipping him overly strong wine during the hunt, so he would not live to learn of Cersei's betrayal from Stark. Cersei's eldest son Joffrey Baratheon is crowned king as Robert's alleged heir. Eddard Stark attempts a counter-coup in support of Robert's lawful heir Stannis Baratheon, but he is betrayed to the Lannisters by Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish and Janos Slynt. Lannister plans to manipulate Lord Stark into declaring support for Joffrey in exchange for being allowed to leave with his life by joining the Night's Watch go horribly awry when, on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor, the crazed King Joffrey instead orders Eddard Stark to be immediately beheaded.
- The Seven Kingdoms become engulfed in the massive civil war known as the War of the Five Kings. Robb Stark is declared King in the North by his bannermen, seeking vengeance for his father's murder. He is joined by the lords of Riverlands, sworn to his mother's family, House Tully, and attempts to secede from the Iron Throne. Both of the younger Baratheon brothers, Stannis and Renly declare themselves king, challenging Joffrey's legitimacy. Stannis initially only controls the islands of Blackwater Bay ruled from Dragonstone, as well as much of the Royal Fleet. Renly enters into a marriage-alliance with House Tyrell, and is supported by the combined might of the Stormlands and the Reach. House Arryn of the Vale and House Martell of Dorne declare their neutrality.
- Daenerys Targaryen marries Khal Drogo in Pentos, securing the Targaryen exiles their first real chance of gaining an army with which to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. Viserys Targaryen is executed by Khal Drogo in Vaes Dothrak. Drogo succumbs to an infected wound along with betrayal by Mirri Maz Duur. At the edge of the Dothraki Sea and Lhazar, at Drogo's funeral pyre, Daenerys uses "fire and blood" to successfully hatch three live dragons.
- Rumors begin to reach the Night's Watch that demonic forces are stirring beyond the Wall, with wildlings and even some of their own Rangers giving crazed reports of seeing the White Walkers. Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly join the Night's Watch. A wight attacks Lord Commander Jeor Mormont at Castle Black, prompting him to decide to lead an expedition of three hundred men north of the Wall.
Season 2 - 299 AC
299 AC: The events of Game of Thrones Season 2:
- The Conclave of the Order of Maesters, based on reports and observations, officially declares that the ten year long summer has finally ended, and autumn has begun. There are fears that a long summer will be followed by an equally long winter, but instead of stockpiling food, the Seven Kingdoms are gripped by civil war, devastating the countryside.
- The War of the Five Kings drags on. King Robb Stark invades the Westerlands to further bleed the Lannisters. The Baratheon brothers parley in the Stormlands but refuse to combine their strength. Heavily outnumbered, Stannis has his ally the Red Priestess Melisandre summon a magical shadow-creature to assassinate Renly in his tent the night before their armies would have clashed. The lords of the Stormlands rally to Stannis as the sole remaining Baratheon heir, but the Tyrells and their vassals withdraw back to the Reach. Balon Greyjoy decides to opportunistically use the war as a chance to secede the Iron Islands from the Iron Throne, but instead of allying against the Lannisters, House Greyjoy goes for the low-hanging fruit by attacking the North while Robb's army is in the south (in the hope that the Lannisters will reward them by confirming their independence). Winterfell is sacked and later burned. Stannis uses his newfound army from the Stormlands to mount a massive direct assault on King's Landing in the Battle of Blackwater Bay; ultimately due to Tyrion's wildfire trap and the arrival of reinforcements under Lord Tywin Lannister, Stannis' fleet is crushed and his army all but destroyed, yet he barely manages to escape back to Dragonstone with his life. Baelish brokers an alliance between House Tyrell and House Lannister, sealed by the betrothal of Margaery Tyrell to King Joffrey. Further marriage alliances are made of Myrcella Baratheon with Trystane Martell, and Baelish with Lysa Arryn, which also bring Dorne and the Vale back into the Lannister fold (though they do not send troops to march in battle). Robb Stark breaks his promised marriage-alliance with House Frey by marrying Talisa Maegyr.
- By the time of the death of King Renly Baratheon, it has been eighteen years since Robert's Rebellion, indicating a year or more has passed since the events of the series began.
- Daenerys Targaryen crosses the Red Waste and arrives in Qarth. She later flees the Warlocks of Qarth who desire control of her dragons, and takes a ship bound west.
- Lord Commander Mormont's Great Ranging north of the Wall reaches the Fist of the First Men. Jon Snow joins Qhorin Halfhand in scouting out the main wildling camp of King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder in the Frostfang Mountains. Jon encounters the wildling spearwife Ygritte, but he and Qhorin are later captured. Qhorin convinces Jon to kill him to convince the wildlings that he intends to defect, so Jon can infiltrate Mance Rayder's army from within.
Season 3 - 300 AC
300 AC: The events of Game of Thrones Season 3:
- Talisa states in Robb Stark's army camp as he leaves Riverrun for the Twins that the War of the Five Kings has lasted two years now (reinforcing the general principle that one TV season equals one year within the story continuity).
- King Robb Stark withdraws from the Westerlands and returns to the Riverlands, his strategic objectives having failed. Robb's grandfather Lord Hoster Tully dies after a long illness, and Robb returns with much of his army to Riverrun. Having secured the south through their victory at the Battle of the Blackwater and through various marriage alliances, for a time the Lannisters focus on consolidating their now very strong position in the war. This leads to a lull in major operations in the war, as Robb's strategic plans have failed and Tywin is content to patiently strengthen his position. The Lannisters switch to a new strategy of offering no battle to Robb's army, as they can afford to wait him out, and it would be a pointless waste to give Robb another opportunity for a disproportionate tactical victory like at Whispering Wood and Oxcross.
- Lord Rickard Karstark kills two unarmed Lannister squires held at Riverrun, Tywin's own nephews Martyn and Willem Lannister, as petty vengeance for the loss of his own sons in the war. In response Robb Stark personally beheads Lord Karstark for treason, against the advice of his counselors, resulting in the forces of House Karstark abandoning his already dwindling and outnumbered army. King Robb decides that his only remaining option is to make an all-or-nothing assault against Casterly Rock in the west, as the bulk of Lannister-Tyrell forces are deployed in the east to defend King's Landing. However, this will require winning back the support of House Frey after breaking his promise to enter into a marriage-alliance with one of Walder Frey's daughters. As a replacement, the Freys insist that Robb's uncle Edmure Tully marry Lord Walder's daughter Roslin Frey.
- Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, and almost the entire Northern army are massacred at the Twins at the wedding feast of Edmure and Roslin, which becomes known as the Red Wedding. Robb and his army are betrayed by his own bannermen, House Frey and House Bolton. Lord Walder Frey directly violates guest right in the betrayal, killing men who were officially guests in his home and ate at his own table, breaking the most sacred laws of gods and men. Lord Roose Bolton personally kills the wounded Robb Stark, driving a sword through his heart. As a final insult, the Freys and Boltons horrifically desecrate Robb Stark's corpse by decapitating it and then sewing the head of his direwolf Grey Wind onto his body in its place. Lord Tywin Lannister was a secret accomplice in the massacre, as Walder Frey and Roose Bolton would never have dared to violate guest right unless they were promised protection and rewards. The Lannisters install House Bolton as the new rulers of the North to replace House Stark, while the Freys will displace the Tullys in the Riverlands.
- Daenerys Targaryen arrives at Astapor in Slaver's Bay in search of an army with which to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms. She tricks the slavers and with the aid of her growing dragons, seizes control of an army of 8,000 Unsullied warrior-eunuchs. Daenerys frees the elite slave-soldiers but they all agree to fight for her. After sacking Astapor, the new Targaryen army advances on Yunkai.
- The Night's Watch faces the White Walkers in combat for the first time in 8,000 years at the disastrous Battle of the Fist of the First Men, where their main base camp is ambushed by White Walkers leading their hordes of undead wights. Out of three hundred men, consisting of most of the Watch's high-ranking officers and best fighters, only a few dozen men led by Lord Commander Mormont are able to fight their way out, and retreat back to Craster's Keep. Deteriorating conditions there lead to the Mutiny at Craster's Keep in which Mormont himself is killed by his own men, while loyalists and betrayers turn on each other in the confusion. Samwell Tarly escapes the carnage with Craster's daughter-wife Gilly, and attempts to flee with her back to Castle Black. On the way Sam is confronted by a White Walker, but becomes the first man in thousands of years to kill one of the demonic beings when he stabs it with a dragonglass dagger he found at the Fist of the First Men, in the process discovering their vital weakness to the substance. Jon Snow meets Mance Rayder and gains his trust, and is sent with a scouting party led by Tormund to scale the Wall. They successfully pass over to the south side, and intend to attack Castle Black from its undefended rear to distract its small garrison while Mance's main army assaults the Wall directly.
Season 4 - 301 AC
- King Joffrey Baratheon is assassinated with poisoned wine at his own wedding. Tyrion Lannister is arrested on the false accusation of involvement in the plot to poison Joffrey. Sansa Stark finally escapes King's Landing, carried away on a ship by Petyr Baelish.
- Joffrey is succeeded as king by his younger brother Tommen I Baratheon, a very young boy. Much more mild-mannered and easily controlled than the crazed Joffrey, young Tommen becomes a pliable puppet king for his grandfather Tywin, who as Hand effectively becomes King in all but name.
- House Bolton begins to consolidate Lannister rule over the North, while House Frey dominates the Riverlands - though much of this major breadbasket region has been reduced to a burned out devastation, roamed by brigands.
- House Greyjoy and the Iron Islands continue to reject Lannister control, as does Stannis Baratheon on Dragonstone.
- Lysa Arryn is killed by Petyr Baelish soon after marrying him, making Littlefinger the new Regent for her young son and ruler of the Vale. He is joined by a young black-haired girl named "Alayne" - secretly, a disguised Sansa Stark. It turns out that Littlefinger is the secret architect of the entire War of the Five Kings - tricking the Starks and Lannisters into fighting each other to exhaust them both (and helping Olenna poison Joffrey), while keeping the Vale's armies out of the war and at full strength, to finish off the survivors
- After Sandor Clegane is badly injured in a fight with Brienne of Tarth, Arya Stark leaves him for dead by the highway. She then arrives at the eastern coast, and uses the special coin that Jaqen H'ghar gave her to obtain passage on a ship to the Free City of Braavos, across the Narrow Sea.
- Despite the Lannisters' apparent victory, substantial spending on the war has only exacerbated the crown's already massive debts, leading to tensions with the Iron Bank of Braavos.
- Oberyn Martell is killed in a trial by combat with Ser Gregor Clegane, but not before stabbing Gregor multiple times with a blade coated in deadly manticore venom.
- Tywin Lannister is killed by his own son Tyrion Lannister, shot with a crossbow while he sat on the privy. Tyrion and Varys flee to the Free Cities. Cersei becomes the new head of House Lannister.
- Daenerys Targaryen's growing army arrives at the last and greatest of the three major cities in Slaver's Bay, Meereen. Her forces capture the city and she sets herself up as its new ruling Queen. After hearing of Joffrey's assassination, Daenerys and her advisors briefly consider if the time is right to mount an invasion of the Seven Kingdoms. However, after Daenerys's army leaves, the slave-masters retake Yunkai, while a tyrant named Clean overthrows the council she left behind in Astapor to make himself its new emperor. With the population of Slaver's Bay thrown into chaos, and with an invasion of Westeros still a daunting task (given that her dragons are not yet big enough to ride), Daenerys decides to remain in Meereen and consolidate her position. Daenerys exiles Jorah Mormont when she discovers that he had previously been spying on her for Robert Baratheon (though his loyalty later became genuine).
- Advanced wildling raiding parties scale over the Wall to pillage the Gift, to distract the Night's Watch as preparation for the attack by Mance Rayder's main wildling army on Castle Black itself.
- Beyond the Wall, Bran Stark and his remaining companions finally reach the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, who actually used to be a man and is the Last Greenseer, attended by the remaining Children of the Forest.
- The wildling horde numbering in the tens of thousands assaults the Wall in the Battle of Castle Black. After a desperate defense, the tide is turned by the surprise appearance of Stannis Baratheon, along with most of his remaining forces, leading to a decisive victory. Many wildlings are killed or flee, and thousands are captured, including Mance Rayder. Stannis's relocation to the Wall begins a new phase in the War of the Five Kings.
Season 5 - 302 AC
302 AC: The events of Game of Thrones Season 5:
- After her father's death and her brother's flight, Queen Mother Cersei Lannister rules through her young son King Tommen Baratheon, essentially becoming Ruling Queen in all but name. She stacks the Small Council with sycophants who will not stand against her. The debt crisis comes to a head, as the Iron Bank of Braavos starts calling in its massive loans to the crown - of which the Lannisters only physically possess about one twentieth of what they owe.
- King Tommen marries Margaery Tyrell (and consummates the marriage), securing the Lannisters' badly-needed alliance with House Tyrell - their only major remaining source of soldiers, food, and above all money to deal with the debt crisis, now that their own armies and resources are half-exhausted from years of fighting. Queen Margaery and Queen Mother Cersei quickly enter into a bitter rivalry for control over Tommen.
- The Sparrows arrive in King's Landing, a popular disgust religious movement reacting against the corruption of Westeros's wealthy leaders during the war. They started up in the shattered countryside over the course of the devastating conflict, but were afraid to enter the capital city directly until after Tywin died. They start by directing their anger against the corrupt leadership of the Faith of the Seven, who have grown rich and comfortable while remaining pliant puppets for the Lannisters. Cersei decides to build up a new alliance between the Crown and the Faith as a counterweight to the growing influence of the Tyrells at court. The High Septon is deposed and due to Cersei's influence the leader of the Sparrows, known as "the High Sparrow", is elected the new High Septon. Cersei subsequently attempts to bribe the High Sparrow and form a new ally against the Tyrells by granting him permission to revive the Faith Militant, the armed order of the Faith which had been abolished by the Targaryens nearly two centuries before.
- Cersei receives a threatening message from Dorne: her daughter Myrcella's Lannister lion pendant stuffed in a wooden model of a viper's mouth. Fearing House Martell wants to take revenge over Oberyn's death, Jaime volunteers to go to Sunspear and attempt to steal her back to the capital before it is too late. Meanwhile, Ellaria Sand begs Prince Doran Martell to raise Dorne's armies in war against the Lannisters to avenge Oberyn's death, but he refuses, and forbids her to harm Myrcella. Nonetheless, Ellaria joins with three of Oberyn's daughters (the Sand Snakes) in a plot to kill Myrcella to provoke a war with the Lannisters. Both Jaime and the Sand Snakes are caught as they attempt to reach Myrcella. Doran allows Jaime to leave with Myrcella asking only that he take his son Trystane (Myrcella's betrothed) along as well, to fill the seat on the Small Council vacated by Oberyn's death.
- The Faith Militant arrests Loras Tyrell and then Margaery Tyrell at Cersei's urging. However this soon backfires when the Faith Militant turns against Cersei herself, accurately accusing her of extramarital affairs, incest, and causing the entire war which has led to incalculable suffering among the commoners. The High Sparrow eventually releases her back to the custody of her family pending trial, but first forces her to perform a humiliating walk of atonement, walking naked through the streets of King's Landing from the Great Sept to the Red Keep.
- Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish plots a new intrigue by offering Sansa Stark in marriage to Ramsay Bolton, to help secure their hold over the North during Stannis's oncoming attack. Littlefinger hopes this will allow her to undermine the Boltons from within. Later, he tricks Cersei by informing her of the marriage as if it was the Boltons' idea and he never knew where Sansa was - thus gaining permission to lead the Vale's fresh armies to invade the North, and finish off either Stannis or the Boltons, whichever survives the upcoming assault. This will allow Littlefinger to functionally control both the Vale and the North, without provoking a reaction from the Lannisters.
- Stannis's army becomes snowbound as a late autumn blizzard sets in. Bolton raids destroy his supply train, leaving his army without enough food to slowly march to Winterfell or retreat back to Castle Black. Their only hope is if the blizzard suddenly lets up, but there appears to be no end in sight. Feeling he is out of options, Stannis reluctantly allows Melisandre to sacrifice his daughter and only child Shireen to the Lord of Light by burning her alive.
- In Meereen, Daenerys Targaryen's already precarious hold over the recently liberated city is beset by a protracted insurgency from the ex-slaver masters, called the Sons of the Harpy. When ex-slaves kill a captured Harpy she had promised a trial, Daenerys tries to uphold the rule of law by executing the ex-slave - but this only loses her the support of many of the former slaves who once hailed her as a liberator. The insurgency by the Sons of the Harpy escalates and in a large-scale ambush in the alleys of the city, Barristan Selmy is killed defending Grey Worm, who is severely wounded but survives. Daenerys decides that she must marry the head of one of the old slaver families, Hizdahr zo Loraq, to strengthen her political ties in the city, and agrees to lift her ban and reopen the fighting pits of Meereen.
- Tyrion Lannister flees with Varys across the Narrow Sea to the Free City of Pentos. Varys explains to Tyrion that he is secretly a Targaryen loyalist and has been working to restore them to the throne, urging Tyrion to travel east with him to Meereen to become an advisor to Daenerys Targaryen. In Volantis, Tyrion is kidnapped by Jorah Mormont, who hopes to win back Daenerys's favor by presenting her with Tyrion as a gift - ironically, as Tyrion was already heading to Meereen to meet Daenerys. After passing through the Smoking Sea they are left shipwrecked after fighting off Stone Men, and then captured by slavers, but Tyrion talks them into selling the pair at Meereen's newly re-opened fighting pits. During an early local match Jorah and Tyrion manage to get Daenerys's attention. Daenerys agrees to take Tyrion as an advisor, but remains angered at Jorah; Tyrion talks her down from killing him and urges her to simply exile him again.
- Arya Stark arrives in the Free City of Braavos and begins training with the Faceless Men, a mysterious guild of shape-shifting assassins.
- At the Wall, the victory in the Battle of Castle Black allows the Night's Watch enough breathing room to hold an election for a new Lord Commander. Alliser Thorne and Denys Mallister run, but last-minute candidate Jon Snow manages to edge out both of them, to become the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Jon struggles with choices about how to handle the remnants of the wildlings, the growing threat of the White Walkers, and the depredations of House Bolton, the new rulers of The North under the Lannisters. Soon before being elected Lord Commander, Stannis offered to legitimize Jon and make him the new Lord of Winterfell if he will rally the North against the Boltons, but Jon declined. Mance Rayder is sentenced to death for breaking his vows to the Night's Watch years ago - which Stannis carries out by having Melisandre burn Mance alive as an offering to the Lord of Light. This fails to frighten the surviving wildlings into submission, so eventually Stannis departs the Wall to begin an advance on Winterfell with his remaining forces.
- After Tormund reveals that most of the surviving wildlings have retreated back to Hardhome on the east coast, Jon ventures there with Tormund and a few black brothers by ship (Stannis's sellsail fleet, on loan to the Watch). Jon realizes that every wildling that remains beyond the Wall will become one more wight for the White Walker's growing army of the undead. Several of the wildling elders gathered at Hardhome accept Jon's offer to evacuate them, while the rest will take time to come around, but before that can happen the White Walkers launch a massive attack on the village. The resulting Massacre at Hardhome is a disaster, and Jon only manages to evacuate about 5,000 wildlings back to Castle Black.
- In the Mutiny at Castle Black, as a sign of their lack of confidence in the Lord Commander to protect the Night's Watch, the officers murder Jon Snow.
Season 6 - 303 AC
303 AC: The events of Game of Thrones Season 6:
- Jon Snow is resurrected. The leaders of the Mutiny at Castle Black are executed. The few remaining men of the Night's Watch now work closely with the surviving wildlings, who are personally following Jon Snow.
- Sansa Stark reaches Castle Black just as Jon Snow decides to leave the Night's Watch. Together they set out to rally the surviving forces of the Northern vassal Houses in a new rebellion against Bolton rule. Jon and Tormund's initial force is composed of the surviving wildlings of fighting age, numbering about 2,000.
- Roose Bolton becomes angered at son Ramsay Bolton for allowing valuable hostages to escape, and has grown increasingly disgusted with Ramsay's lack of long-term planning. The instant that news is brought to them that Roose's new wife Walda Frey has given birth to a fully legitimate male son, Ramsay kills all three of them, realizing his father was on the verge of disinheriting him for his failures.
- Brynden "the Blackfish" Tully, who escaped from the Red Wedding, rallies the remaining forces of House Tully in the Riverlands - who scattered after the massacre but were still relatively intact. Brynden leads his forces in a quick ambush which retakes Riverrun from the light Frey garrison that held it. House Frey's hold over the rest of the Riverlands is increasingly tenuous - given that their local armies surrendered after the Red Wedding instead of being totally destroyed. House Blackwood at Raventree Hall and House Mallister at Seagard also rebel against Frey rule. The main Frey army soon surrounds Brynden at the Second Siege of Riverrun, but cannot take the castle itself, and its defiance makes them look weak. Jaime Lannister is sent into the Riverlands again with a Lannister army to aid the Freys' siege.
- Euron Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands, and murders his own brother Balon Greyjoy.
- Euron Greyjoy wins the Kingsmoot and is named the new King of the Iron Islands. Instead of Balon's pointless raids on the coast or his niece Yara's plans for diplomacy and consolidation, Euron announces his intention to conquer all of the Seven Kingdoms, by allying with Daenerys Targaryen. Fleeing the Kingsmoot, Yara and Theon Greyjoy steal much of the Iron Fleet with the captains that remained loyal to them, and set out east hoping to reach Daenerys in Meereen before Euron can.
- Ellaria Sand's coup in Dorne: Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes kill Prince Doran Martell and his son Trystane Martell, and seize power in Dorne.
- Arya Stark continues her training with the Faceless Men in Braavos. After extensive training to rely on her other senses while blind, she is given an antidote which restores her eyesight. Eventually her refusal to kill an assigned target who she felt didn't deserve it (as it was against her sense of honor as a Stark) leads to a fatal confrontation between Arya and the Waif, but Arya triumphs. Jaqen H'ghar is pleased with Arya's success, but she says that she will now return to Westeros to avenge her family.
- In the aftermath of the Second Siege of Riverrun, the Lannisters and the Freys celebrate their victory at the Twins, the ancestral seat of House Frey. Jaime Lannister wonders aloud why they need the Freys, noting that the people of the Riverlands fear the Lannisters, not the Freys. Later, Walder Frey is served pie by a servant girl who is actually Arya Stark. After realizing that his two dead sons, Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers, have been carved and cooked into the pies, Arya reveals herself and slits Walder Frey's throat in retaliation for the Red Wedding.
- The Battle at the Cave of the Three-Eyed Raven occurs. This event kills the last of the Children of the Forest. Bran Stark flees back south to the Wall with the help of Meera Reed and his uncle, Benjen Stark, who has been missing beyond the Wall for many years. Bran makes contact with a Weirwood tree, where he discovers a shocking secret kept long hidden by his late lord father, Eddard Stark: Jon Snow is not Ned Stark's bastard son, but is the son of Ned's late sister, Lyanna Stark, and the late Prince of Dragonstone, Rhaegar Targaryen. Both died during Robert's Rebellion.
- Daenerys Targaryen is captured by the Dothraki and brought back to Vaes Dothrak to dwell with the Dosh khaleen as per their laws, but instead she starts a fire which burns all of the Dothraki khals alive in their assembly tent. She emerging from the flames unharmed, and combined with now riding the adult dragon Drogon, Daenerys awes all of the Dothraki into following her alone.
- Daenerys's remaining advisors in Meereen continue to try to ward off attacks from both within and outside of the city. Varys discovers that the Sons of the Harpy are being funded by an alliance of great slaver powers: Yunkai, the renewed slave-masters at Astapor, and Volantis. Tyrion Lannister negotiates a shaky truce with the slaver alliance which manages to buy some time as they wait for Daenerys to return.
- The slaver alliance took advantage of the truce as well to gather its strength, then finally launches a full scale attack on the city, leading to the Second Siege of Meereen. Daenerys returns to the city with her dragon and a horde of 100,000 Dothraki at her command. The slaver alliance is decisively defeated, and Daenerys captures much of their surviving fleet. The Iron Fleet arrives at Meereen led by Theon and Yara Greyjoy, agreeing to ally with Daenerys and transport her army in their ships if she agrees to help them overthrown their uncle Euron when they return to Westeros. Daario and the Second Sons remain behind to keep the peace in the newly-christened Bay of Dragons.
- Cersei Lannister engineers the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor with a wildfire explosion, killing the High Sparrow, Margaery Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, her uncle Kevan Lannister, and her cousin Lancel Lannister. She also has Grand Maester Pycelle assassinated at the same time. King Tommen is so stunned at the death of his wife Margaery and so many innocents at his mother's hands that he commits suicide by walking out of a tower window. Cersei responds by directly declaring herself the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, even though she has absolutely no legal right to the Iron Throne (as even the pretense that she was the mother of Robert's children died with them). The Small Council is now destroyed or dissolved, and Cersei appoints Qyburn as her new Hand of the Queen.
- The destruction of the Great Sept also destroys the Lannister-Tyrell alliance, despite all of the direct warnings to Cersei that the Tyrells were badly needed allies she could not afford to lose. Lady Olenna Tyrell assumes functional control over House Tyrell, and travels to Dorne to confer with Ellaria Sand about fighting Cersei and the remaining Lannister forces. There they meet with Varys, an emissary from Daenerys Targaryen. The Tyrells and Martells switch their support to Daenerys as her invasion approaches.
- Daenerys's combined dragon/Unsullied/Dothraki/Greyjoy fleet departs from Meereen, and as it approaches Westeros is joined by the large fleets of the Tyrells and Martells as well. Daenerys's invasion of Westeros is imminent.
- The maesters at the Citadel send out white ravens to officially announce that autumn has ended, and winter has finally come. Given that it followed a ten year summer, it is feared that the coming winter will last at least that long as well.
- Jon Snow is hailed as the new King in the North by the lords of both the North and the Vale, reviving Robb Stark's independent kingdom. With the north of Westeros declaring for Jon Snow, the southern kingdoms for Daenerys, and the Iron Islands for Euron, Cersei Lannister is surrounded by foes on all sides, and barely controls more than one or two of the kingdoms in the middle.
Season 7 - 304 AC
304 AC: The events of Game of Thrones Season 7:
- Winter officially descends upon Westeros after the maesters of the Citadel send out white ravens to the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms.
- Daenerys Targaryen at last begins her invasion of Westeros as she lands on Dragonstone with her combined forces. Her Hand, Tyrion Lannister, develops her war strategy in hopes of winning over the people of Westeros, who already despise Cersei Lannister: the combined arms of the Reach and Dorne will lay siege to King's Landing and blockade its harbors while the Unsullied will have the objective of capturing Casterly Rock.
- Euron Greyjoy is invited to King's Landing by Cersei, who proposes an alliance to secure his Iron Fleet. Euron pushes it further by pressuring for a marriage to unite the Great Houses of Lannister and Greyjoy. When Cersei declines, Euron promises to return with a gift, and assaults his niece, Yara's, fleet, which was ferrying the Dornish leaders back to Sunspear in Dorne from Dragonstone. Euron captures his niece, Ellaria Sand, and her daughter Tyene Sand, though his nephew Theon escapes with his and his niece's few surviving loyalists led by Harrag. Ellaria is imprisoned in a dungeon while she is forced to watch her daughter succumb to the long farewell, thus leading to chaos in Dorne. Euron is named commander of the Lannister fleet (though in truth, the royal fleet is nothing more than the Iron Fleet).
- Jaime Lannister, now commanding the Lannister armies, wins over the support of Randyll Tarly and, with the backing of House Tarly, sacks Highgarden, tricking the Unsullied into believing he would commit the bulk of the Lannister forces to their Siege of Casterly Rock. Euron destroys the Targaryen ships at Casterly Rock, trapping the Unsullied there, while Jaime and Randyll plunder Highgarden of its gold, in order to pay back the Lannister debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos which is called in by Tycho Nestoris, and the Reach of its grain, in order to feed the Lannister armies now that winter has come. Olenna Tyrell commits suicide through poison, though not before confessing to Jaime her role in the assassination of his son Joffrey. Though the gold makes it through the gates of King's Landing, Daenerys attacks the Lannister-Tarly host atop her dragon mount Drogon and with her united Dothraki khalasar at the Battle of the Goldroad. The loot train is destroyed and Randyll and his son Dickon Tarly are executed for treason.
- Jon Snow, the King in the North, travels to Dragonstone to enter into negotiations with Daenerys Targaryen after learning of her three fire breathing dragons, which can be used against the wights, and the mountains of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone as informed by Samwell Tarly, who studies at the Citadel to become a maester, which can be used to kill both wights and White Walkers. Though Daenerys and her advisors do not believe Jon over the White Walkers, Tyrion trusts Jon through their time spent at the Wall and Daenerys grows to trust and believe in him, allowing him to mine the dragonglass.
- After the Battle of the Goldroad, the war for Westeros enters into a cold state. Per Tyrion's counsel, Jon travels beyond the Wall on a Wight Hunt to capture a wight to use as proof for the high lords of Westeros while Tyrion travels to King's Landing, where he proposes an armistice and truce to his brother Jaime to relay back to their sister Cersei. Cersei reveals to Jaime that she is pregnant with their fourth child. Davos Seaworth recruits Gendry at King's Landing, and with Jorah Mormont, who was cured of his greyscale by Samwell Tarly, and a group of Stark guards, they travel to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where Jon recruits Tormund and some wildlings to help him, as well as the Brotherhood Without Banners, who has been traveling north to help in the war against the army of the dead. Though a wight is captured, Thoros and several wildlings die and Jon and his party are nearly ambushed atop a frozen lake when Daenerys arrives, who previously received a raven from Eastwatch sent by Gendry and Davos. Though the group escapes, Jon is left behind when he sinks into the frozen lake while the Night King kills Viserion. Jon, freezing, is rescued by his uncle Benjen Stark, who sacrifices himself fighting the wights to buy time for Jon to ride back to Eastwatch. Jon secretly bends the knee to Daenerys on their ship en route to King's Landing to attend the parley.
- The Parley in King's Landing is held at the Dragonpit. After confronting his brother Gregor Clegane, Sandor Clegane, Jon, and Daenerys present the captured wight to Cersei, Euron and their advisors. Euron flees out of terror, but Cersei agrees to the truce so long as Jon remains neutral afterwards. Jon, bound to the code of honor shared by all Northmen, admits he has already pledged to Daenerys, and Cersei leaves. However, Tyrion walks into the lion's den at the Red Keep, where he is able to persuade his sister to return to the Dragonpit and agree to commit her remaining Lannister forces against the coming darkness. Cersei later admits to her brother Jaime in private that she and Euron plot to dishonor the truce, and that Euron is ferrying the Golden Company from Essos to Westeros thanks to the financial support of the Iron Bank, prompting Jaime to abandon his sister at last, under the threat of death, and ride north alone to honor the promise he made at the Dragonpit.
- Brandon Stark at last returns to Winterfell while Meera Reed returns to her family in the Neck. Arya Stark later returns as well after finishing off the Frey men. Bran trains himself in his powers of greensight while Arya and Sansa are divided by a letter planted by Petyr Baelish, who seeks to create a wedge between the Stark girls to advance his plan in taking the Iron Throne for himself. However, Arya, Sansa, and Bran uncover all of Petyr's lies and treacheries in a manner outside of Petyr's manipulative capacity: the magic wielded by Bran. A trial is held for Littlefinger in the Winterfell's great hall, witnessed by Yohn Royce on behalf of the Vale, where Arya slits Littlefinger's throat, justice for the Stark, Arryn, and Tully families and for the mass death caused by the War of the Five Kings.
- Samwell Tarly, with Gilly and Little Sam, abandons the Citadel in Oldtown as the maesters either disbelieve the return of the White Walkers or doubt the threat that they pose, though not before taking with him several books locked away in the forbidden section of the Citadel's great library, including the diary of the High Septon who served during Robert's Rebellion. At Winterfell, Bran reveals to Samwell that he has discovered that Jon Snow is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and his aunt Lyanna Stark, though believes him to still be a bastard. Sam then reveals to Bran the annulment issued by the High Septon for Rhaegar's marriage to Elia Martell so that he could remarry someone in a secret ceremony in Dorne, prompting Bran to return to the Tower of Joy, where he witnesses the High Septon's marriage of Rhaegar to Lyanna and hears the name of their son Lyanna gives to her brother and Bran's father Ned: Aegon Targaryen. Bran realizes that Robert's Rebellion was built on a lie and that Rhaegar did not abduct Lyanna but that the two loved each other and ran away together. Bran notes to Sam that Jon is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, not his aunt Daenerys. On their ship en route to White Harbor, Jon and Daenerys give in to their emotions and make love, unaware of their familial ties.
- After the passing of 8,000 years, the White Walkers emerge from the Haunted Forest with their massive army of the dead, at least 100,000 wights strong. The Night King rides the ice dragon Viserion towards the Wall where Eastwatch stands, burning it away and creating a breach that nullifies the magic of the Wall and allows the White Walkers and the wights to cross into Westeros once again, heading straight for the North. Many wildlings and black brothers die as Tormund and Beric Dondarrion flee. The Long Night has returned, and the Great War has begun.
Season 8 - 305 AC
305 AC: The events of Game of Thrones Season 8:
- The Night King, atop the ice dragon Viserion, leads the White Walkers and army of the dead through the North after breaching the Wall.
Differences from the books
At the time of the novels, Westeros has been using a calendar system based on the year of Aegon's Landing, which occurred three centuries before. As explained above, calling it "Aegon's Landing" (AL) is somewhat anachronistic given that the "landing" happened at the beginning of the conquest but the calendar system only begins two years later, at the end of the conquest - more recent in-universe historical texts have been shifting to the alternate name "After Conquest" (AC). The difference is purely one of nomenclature: "the year 298 AL" and "the year 298 AC" are exactly the same.
The known world that Westeros and Essos are set in has variable seasons that can last for years, sometimes a decade each (though such long seasons only come once every century or two). On the average, it seems that one season can last for about two to three years or so (the full four season cycle therefore taking about a decade). There are hints that the seasons may not always have been this way: characters still define "a year" as a twelve month period, not a full cycle of summer to winter. Months are the same as in real-life, roughly a thirty day period. The term "moon-turn" is commonly used for "month".
Apparently Westeros doesn't actually have specific names for each month/moon-turn - given that even after five novels a month name has never been mentioned, and the actual month names stem from real-life history (i.e., July and August were named after Roman Emperors). When the in-universe history text from the novellas about the Dance of the Dragons give specific dates, they are usually just in the format "on the fifth day of the third moon of the year 131 AL" etc. While they seem to just refer to each month by number, keep in mind that this is essentially what the real-life Gregorian calendar does, inherited from the Romans, and their names often just stem from Latin numbers: "Sept-ember" is the seventh month, "Oct-ober" is the eighth month, etc.
Westeros also doesn't use an "o'clock" system of measuring hours in a day (they also don't have mechanical clocks). Not every culture throughout real life history has measured the first hour of a given day starting at midnight (the exact opposite of noon); some start at sunrise, others at sunset. It isn't clear at what hour one day officially becomes the next in Westeros (though given that they are an agrarian society, they probably measure by each sunrise). Each "day" apparently consists of a 24 hour period - simply so that Martin would not confuse readers when he referred to a certain amount of hours in the narrative. People in Westeros apparently just apply colloquial names to each hour of the day, i.e., the "hour of the wolf" is the darkest time in the middle of the night. A few other hour names have been mentioned in passing:
- The hour of the bat - apparently fairly late after sunset, if not the deep night
- The hour of the eel - immediately follows the hour of the bat
- The hour of ghosts - immediately follows the hour of the eel
- The hour of the owl - comes several hours after the hour of the bat, but still before dawn; its exact position is unclear
- The hour of the wolf - the darkest part of night, coming after the hour of the owl (in real life, "the hour of the wolf" is typically considered to be loosely some point between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.).
- The hour of the nightingale - comes after the hour of the wolf
Aging up the cast by adding two years between Robert's Rebellion and Season 1
The timeline of the books is broadly similar to that of the TV series, with several minor differences. Several younger characters - most notably Jon Snow, all of the Stark children and Daenerys Targaryen - are two to three years older than their book equivalents, which has required the date of Robert's Rebellion to be pushed back from fifteen to seventeen years before the events of the series begin.
Other characters are older (Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon are ten years older than their book counterparts) or younger (Ser Vardis Egen is decades younger than in the book, while Theon is two years younger), though for the most part this has no bearing on the timeline.
In the book chronology, roughly two years pass between the beginning of A Game of Thrones and the end of the third novel, A Storm of Swords. Less than a full year actually passes in each novel. The child actors in the TV series, however, still age at a normal rate during production, so in order to keep consistent, the TV series generally follows the rule that one TV season equals one year in the storyline. This made them gain a full year by the end of Season 3, as the Red Wedding occurred only two years after Jon Arryn died.
Moreover, the third novel is so long that the TV series producers have announced that they will split it into two separate seasons of ten episodes each, for a total of twenty episodes to adapt the story. Due to practical considerations, the cast & crew of the HBO TV series physically cannot film more than one ten episode season in a single year. Writers Benioff & Weiss have repeatedly insisted that they are adapting Martin's books as a whole, and don't think of each season as a specific unit adapting each book one at a time. Nonetheless, due to using the child actors and the one TV season equals one story year rule, this means that another extra year was added as a result of splitting the third novel into two TV seasons.
Arya Stark is 9 years old in the first novel, but due to aging up all of the characters by two years in the TV continuity, she directly states that she is 11 years old in Season 1. In the books, Arya was 11 years old at the time of the Red Wedding, and remained 11 years old for the rest of the third novel (which will correspond to the end of Season 4). In the TV continuity, however, Arya was closer to 13 at the time of the Red Wedding. Ultimately, Arya will be 15 years old in the TV continuity by the end of Season 4: one year gained from expanding a two year storyline into three years, and another gained from splitting the third novel in half. In contrast, book-Arya was only 11 years old at the end of the third novel (corresponding to the end of Season 4).
Ideas abandoned by George R.R. Martin during the writing of the novels were including longer, multi-month gaps between chapters in A Game of Thrones and also jumping forwards five years after the events of A Storm of Swords. In both cases, the need to continue addressing in-progress storylines meant that these time jumps could not be carried out. Whether the TV series employs such devices in the future remains to be seen.
A key point is that it isn't actually certain what calendar year it is supposed to be in the TV continuity. Two extra years were added between Robert's Rebellion and the death of Jon Arryn, but it isn't certain exactly how this was achieved: either that Robert's Rebellion occurred two years earlier than it did in the books, or that Jon Arryn died two years later than his book counterpart. There has been no on-screen statement about what the exact date is. In the books, the Red Wedding occurred slightly before the calendar year changed over into 300 AL (Joffrey and the Lannisters gloated that the defeat of the Starks would usher in a glorious new Lannister century). However, prop letters written in Season 1 (such as the royal pardon for Jorah Mormont) are dated as being written in 298 AL - which is the same year that the first novel begins. Game of Thrones Wiki has taken this as indicating that Robert's Rebellion must have occurred two years earlier in the TV continuity.
The major datable event from King Robert's reign in the TV continuity is that the Greyjoy Rebellion is still consistently stated to have occurred 9 years before the beginning of the story, i.e. Balon remarks that it has been nine years since he saw Theon when he returns to Pyke in early Season 2 (not quite 10 years yet because it is still early in Season 2 and this is spillover dating from Season 1; other references also give it as 9 years). In the books, the Greyjoy Rebellion also occurred 9 years before the story begins - to necessitate just how long Theon was functionally raised in the Stark household as Ned's ward. In the book continuity, with a 15 year gap since Robert's Rebellion, the Greyjoy Rebellion occurred 6 years after Robert was crowned. In the TV series, the 17 year gap since Robert's Rebellion means that the Greyjoy Rebellion occurred 8 years into Robert's reign (and in both continuities, it was 9 years before Jon Arryn died). Even so, the Greyjoy Rebellion isn't a useful dating point, because we only know of its date relative to Robert's Rebellion. It doesn't necessarily mean that the extra two years were inserted earlier in Robert's reign or that Robert's Rebellion started two years earlier - the Greyjoy Rebellion is not a fixed point, and Balon might simply have decided to wait an extra two years before attempting his rebellion in the TV continuity.
The combined result of all of this is two major principles:
- Both Season 1 and the first novel begin in 298 AL, but Robert's Rebellion occurred two years earlier in the TV continuity, from 280 to 281 AL, instead of 282 to 283 AL as in the novels.
- Time moves more slowly in the TV adaptation, roughly at the speed that one TV season equals one year of story-time, which was not always the case in the novels. Only about two years pass between the beginning of the first novel, and the point when Joffrey dies in the third novel (his marriage occurred on new year's day of the year 300 AL). The TV series, however, had to acknowledge pragmatic concerns, particularly the use of child actors who age at a normal rate.
In the novels, Robert's Rebellion occurred 15 years before the first novel, then two years later Joffrey died, meaning that about 17 years passed between the death of the Mad King and the death of Tywin Lannister. In the TV series, the rebellion began two years earlier, and another year was gained due to time moving more slowly across three seasons of the TV series, so in the TV continuity, closer to 20 years passed between the death of the Mad King and the death of Tywin Lannister. Indeed, in Season 4 episode 8 "The Mountain and the Viper", Littlefinger mentions to the other Vale lords that it has been "twenty years" since Robert's Rebellion: apparently he was not rounding up, as this number matches the "one TV season equals one year" principle.
Removing King Jaehaerys II
Other notable changes include the removal of King Jaehaerys II from the Targaryen dynasty for the TV series. This change makes King Aegon V - Maester Aemon's brother - the direct father of the Mad King and grandfather of Daenerys and Viserys. This was presumably done to make Aemon's explanation of his genealogy to Jon Snow more concise and less convoluted.
When directly asked about this, writer Bryan Cogman confirmed that Jaehaerys II has been officially removed from the TV continuity: "Yes, he’s officially out of show canon. In the Game of Thrones (TV series) canon, Egg is the Mad King’s father." "Egg" is the nickname of King Aegon V Targaryen in the "Tales of Dunk and Egg" prequel novellas. This has wider implications for the potential live-action adaptation of the prequels that HBO has been discussing with George R.R. Martin.
Sansa Stark's age
Sansa Stark prominently states in the first episode of Season 1 that she is thirteen years old - following the rule that younger characters have been aged-up by two years as she was only eleven at this point in the books. Generally the TV series has followed a rule that "one TV season = one year", which the first three books also loosely followed. Yet on her wedding night in Season 3's "Second Sons", Sansa tells Tyrion that she is fourteen, not fifteen as expected. This is not quite as big of an inconsistency, as Sansa might just be "on the verge" of turning fifteen but her exact nameday hasn't passed yet (plus she is so afraid of having sex with Tyrion that she might just be emphasizing how young she is to deter him).
The TV series also introduced some inconsistencies with the ages of Cersei Lannister, and her son Joffrey. The TV series has Cersei state in "Blackwater" that she was four years old when her mother died (giving birth to her younger brother Tyrion), but in the books she was roughly eight years old at the time. Moreover, in "Second Sons" Cersei tells Margaery Tyrell that she remembers the Reyne Rebellion: in the books, Cersei was born in roughly 266 AL, after the Reyne-Tarbeck rebellion which occurred in roughly 260 AL. The numbers simply don't match up: Tywin was made Hand of the King to Aerys II Targaryen because Aerys was impressed with how he ruthlessly crushed House Reyne, Tywin then served as Hand of the King for twenty years, resigned soon before Robert's Rebellion, then another 17 years passed (in the TV continuity). Thus in order for Cersei to be able to remember the Reyne Rebellion she would have to be in at least her mid-forties, but both Cersei the character and actress Lena Headey were in their mid-thirties in Season 3.
In the TV series, Tyrion says that he was sixteen when he married Tysha, while in the books he was thirteen. This may be part of the TV series overall attempt to avoid even mentioning thirteen year-olds having sex (such as Daenerys at the beginning of book 1).
In Season 2's "The Prince of Winterfell", Tyrion makes an off-hand remark that Joffrey is seventeen years old, contrasting this with how his "uncle" Jaime was already a highly skilled warrior at seventeen but Joffrey is not. In the books, Jaime was fifteen years old when he was knighted following the destruction of the Kingswood Brotherhood, and was named to the Kingsguard only a few months later. It would seem that the TV series's principle of raising the age of adulthood in Westeros by two years was also extended retroactively (as otherwise it would seem strange to a modern audience that Jaime was barely fifteen when appointed to such a prestigious position).
Joffrey is actually only thirteen years old in the second novel: his nameday tournament in the Season 2 premiere was explicitly stated to be for his thirteenth nameday in the books, but the TV series avoided giving a number at the time. While many of the younger characters have been aged-up by about two years (generally), this would make Joffrey four years older than his book counterpart. It is possible that this was simply a stray line in "The Prince of Winterfell" meant by the writers to contrast Joffrey with Jaime, but which didn't take the timeline into account. Yet this strains the limits of the timeline: if Joffrey is seventeen in Season 2, that makes him sixteen in Season 1 - which in the TV continuity takes place seventeen years after Robert's Rebellion. Robert and Cersei married at the end of the rebellion, so Cersei would have to have become immediately pregnant with Joffrey (well, pregnant by Jaime, but enough time had to transpire that she could plausibly pass off Joffrey as Robert's son, i.e. if she gave birth to Joffrey only four months into their marriage even Robert may have become suspicious). Even so, the TV series has not kept good track of this relative to other changes they introduced: possibly to make Cersei more sympathetic, the TV continuity introduced that Cersei actually did have a child by Robert in the first year of their marriage, when she held out false hope that she might be able to make it work out. She states that the boy died of a fever in infancy - which means it was not stillborn but carried for a full nine month term. Because Joffrey's age was already pushed back too far they end up overlapping: if Joffrey was 17 in Season 2, eighteen years after Robert's Rebellion, Cersei would have had to gone through two separate nine month pregnancies within only a twelve month period after she married Robert at the end of the war.
Tyrion also states in "The Prince of Winterfell" that Cersei was nineteen years old when she became queen, by marrying Robert Baratheon at the end of the War of the Usurper. In the books, she was born in 266 AL, Jaime killed the Mad King in 283 AL, and Joffrey was born in 285 AL. The TV series figure of nineteen does loosely match the books, given that it isn't clear exactly when Cersei married Robert from 283 to 285 AL - given that a major royal wedding to herald in the rise of the new Baratheon dynasty would take some time to prepare. Jaime is the same age as Cersei because they are twins; in the books Jaime was named to the Kingsguard at 15, Robert's Rebellion broke out a year later then lasted one year, and he killed Aerys II when he was 17, the same year Cersei married Robert. The TV series kept the idea that two years passed between when Jaime joined the Kingsguard and when he killed the Mad King, but if he (and Cersei) were 17 at the time, then two years later Cersei would indeed be 19 when she married Robert.
Joffrey was born in 285 AL, but this could still fit if Joffrey was simply born late in the calendar year - though with great difficulty.
Nonetheless, this confirmation that Cersei was nineteen when she married Robert means that the other statements about her age are even more contradictory. In "Two Swords", Joffrey make's an off hand remark that Jaime, meaning Cersei as well, are 40 years old even though they were 19 when she married and has been 20 years since. This can easily be explained as Joffrey really meaning that Jaime was nearly 40 and that the twins are actually 39 in Season 4. However, Aerys II made Tywin Hand of the King as a result of the Reyne Rebellion, and the TV series consistently confirms that he was Hand of the King for about twenty years...meaning that Cersei (and Jaime) would have to have been born around the same time that the Reyne Rebellion happened, and could not possibly remember it.
The TV series's statement that Cersei was four years old when her mother Joanna died (and Tyrion was born) instead of eight years old would mean that Tyrion was fifteen when she married Robert (either at the very end of the rebellion or within the next two years). Adding another seventeen years would mean that TV-Tyrion is 32 years old in Season 1, compared to 23 years old in the first novel (two years added after Robert's Rebellion, two years added to Cersei's age when she was married, and then made four years older because his birth is a fixed point relatively to how old Cersei had to be when Joanna died giving birth to him). eight when mother died, says she was four.
In summary, the books' statements about Lannister ages are:
- ~260-261 AL - Tywin Lannister puts down the Reyne-Tarbeck Rebellion. King Aerys II Targaryen subsequently notices his skill and appoints him Hand of the King, at which he serves for "twenty years" (possibly rounded).
- 266 AL - Twins Cersei and Jaime are born to Tywin and his wife Joanna Lannister.
- 274 AL - Joanna Lannister dies giving birth to Tyrion; Cersei is eight years old at the time.
- 280-281 AL - Jaime is knighted and then a matter of months later raised to the Kingsguard, all at the age of fifteen.
- 281 AL - Robert's Rebellion breaks out a matter of months later (Jaime was formally raised to the Kingsguard at the same Tourney at Harrenhal where Rhaegar Targaryen named Lyanna Stark the Queen of Love and Beauty, then kidnapped her not long afterwards).
- 283 AL - Robert's Rebellion ends with the Battle of the Trident, then Sack of King's Landing. Cersei married Robert Baratheon "at the end of the war", though how much time elapsed while making elaborate preparations for a royal wedding is unclear.
- 286 AL - Joffrey is born to Cersei.
- ~287 AL - Tyrion, at thirteen years of age, marries Tysha but the union is annulled by his father, who forces him to watch as his guards gang-rape her. This happens four years after the rebellion ended.
- 298 AL - Jon Arryn dies and the narrative of book 1, A Game of Thrones begins. Joffrey is stated to be twelve years old - thus meaning that there is a three year gap between when Aerys II died and Joffrey's birth, though exactly when Cersei married Robert is unclear (obviously Robert wasn't his father, but Cersei was able to plausibly pass him off as Robert's son, meaning he couldn't have been born say six months after the wedding).
- 299 AL - The Battle of the Blackwater and events of A Clash of Kings.
- 300 AL - The Red Wedding occurs.
The TV series's statements about Lannister ages:
- Tywin served as Hand of the King for twenty years.
- Tywin was appointed Hand of the King after King Aerys was impressed with how he crushed the Reyne Rebellion.
- Cersei was nineteen years old when she married Robert after he won the crown...slightly over twenty years after her father was made Hand of the King and thus twenty years after the Reyne Rebellion.
- Cersei states to Margaery Tyrell that she was old enough to remember the Reyne Rebellion...despite at most being a baby at the time.
- The simplest answer might be for the writers to later retroactively establish that Cersei was simply lying because she wanted to intimidate Margaery Tyrell, and she actually doesn't remember the Reyne Rebellion.
- Jaime was named to the Kingsguard at seventeen instead of fifteen, meaning that Cersei was also seventeen (or slightly older) when the war began...which then lasted two years, meaning she had to marry Robert immediately afterwards when she was nineteen and not seventeen as in the books...and indeed the TV series has confirmed that she was nineteen when she became queen.
- The practical result is that TV-Cersei was indeed born two years earlier, relative to Robert's Rebellion, than her book counterpart. Yet she would still have to be four to five years older to plausibly remember the Reyne Rebellion.
- Instead of being born eight years after Cersei as in the books, Tyrion was only born four years after her. Book-Cersei was seventeen when Robert's Rebellion ended and Tyrion (who was born when she was eight years old) was thus nine years old at the time the war ended. Cersei's birth date and age during the rebellion are fixed points, thus making Tyrion's birth occur four years earlier in Cersei's life would in turn make Tyrion four years older - combined with the fact that TV-Cersei is herself two years older than her book counterpart. The result is that TV-Tyrion was six years older than book-Tyrion when Robert's Rebellion ended, being fifteen instead of nine.
- TV-Tyrion marries Tysha but Tywin annuls it when he is sixteen years old, one year after the rebellion ends, instead of four years afterwards as in the books, when Tyrion was thirteen.
- The only practical result of making Joanna's death and Tyrion's birth occur four years earlier is therefore to make Tyrion older when he married Tysha (possibly due to censorship issues), though in both versions he married her at some time after Robert's Rebellion, so the sequence of events is not particularly altered.
- Robert's reign was two years longer in the TV series, increasing from fifteen to seventeen years (in order to increase Daenerys's age for censorship reasons).
- Book-Cersei and Jaime were seventeen when the war ended, which plus fifteen means that they are both 32 years old at the beginning of the narrative, and Book-Tyrion who is eight years younger than them is 24 years old. In contrast, TV-Cersei and Jaime were nineteen when the war ended, which plus seventeen years means that they are both 36 years old, while Tyrion (stated to be four years younger than them) is 32 years old.
- The TV series also states that Cersei had a full term pregnancy fathered by Robert who died not long after birth from a fever (days or weeks is unclear). Cersei then became pregnant again with Joffrey, secretly fathered by Jaime. Joffrey cannot be more than fifteen and a half years old in Season 1.
- The books give some leeway in this, as Cersei did not immediately become pregnant with Joffrey after marrying Robert: she married him fifteen years before the start of the narrative and Joffrey is twelve at this time, meaning there was a three year gap between when they married and when she gave birth to Joffrey. It is still plausible that she may have had a stillbirth during this three year gap.
- Tyrion then states in Season 2, one year later, that Joffrey is seventeen years old...which is stretching the timeline but still vaguely possible, if Cersei became pregnant with her black-haired child with Robert in the very first few weeks of their marriage, then it died of a fever not long after birth, and then she became pregnant by Jaime with Joffrey. Even so, Joffrey physically could not have been born earlier than 18 months into her marriage to Robert, making him about fifteen and a half in Season 1, and sixteen and a half in Season 2. Ultimately Tyrion could, vaguely have rounded up from sixteen and a half to seventeen, but speaking very loosely.
- Thus the basic sequence of events remains the same and there are no outright contradictions (or at least, ones that can't be solved by simply rounding up) - save for that it is simply impossible for Cersei to be able to remember the Reyne Rebellion. Tywin was Hand of the King for "twenty years" (which might be rounded up), but resigned when Jaime was named to the Kingsguard at age seventeen - and because Jaime and Cersei are the same age, the Reyne Rebellion had to have occurred three years before she was born.
- There is one other possible way to justify Cersei's statement, without resorting to the explanation that she was simply lying to intimidate Margaery. Cersei does not specifically say that she remembers the Reyne Rebellion, but remembers seeing the corpses of the Reynes which Tywin left hanging above the gates of Casterly Rock "all summer". Keeping in mind that seasons last for several years in Westeros, this may help solve the contradiction. First, Tywin would actually have to have been Hand for at most nineteen years, and everyone just rounds up to "twenty years", in order for Cersei to be born at least two years in. Second, Cersei could remember seeing the corpses...as a very small girl of three to four years old, and the Reyne corpses had rotted to skeletons by that point. Even so this is still quite a stretch, and Cersei speaks of Lord Reyne giving his wife diamonds bigger than Cersei's mother ever wore as if she witnessed this herself. Although she could have learned this from her father.
- In Season 4's "First of His Name", Cersei says that she has been a queen for 19 years. Robert had been king for 17 years in Season 1, and presumably 3 years have passed since then, which would make 20, not 19. The exact date of Cersei's marriage anniversary may simply not have passed yet, or she was married some months after the war, so she is rounding, etc.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 HBO Viewer's Guide, Season 2 appendices Westeros Through the Ages
- ↑ The Children of the Forest, the First Men, and the Andals
- ↑ "House Reed (Histories & Lore)"
- ↑ House Bolton (Histories & Lore)
- ↑ Casterly Rock (Histories & Lore)
- ↑ Highgarden (Histories & Lore)
- ↑ Tywin is stated in dialogue to be 67 years old in Season 4's "The Laws of Gods and Men"
- ↑ Robert's Rebelion (Histories & Lore): Barristan Selmy's perspective)
- ↑ House Baelish (Histories & Lore)
- ↑ Robert's Rebelion (Histories & Lore): Barristan Selmy's perspective)
- ↑ Cersei and Jaime are the same age. Jaime was named to the Kingsguard at the age of 17 right before Robert's Rebellion, and Cersei said she was 19 when she married Robert at the end of the war).
- ↑ Cersei stated in "Blackwater" that she was four years old when her mother died giving birth to Tyrion, which is younger than she was in the books when this happened.
- ↑ "Lord Snow"
- ↑ "The Wolf and the Lion" - Theon: "I've been Lord Stark's ward since I was eight years old". The Greyjoy Rebellion was 9 years before Jon Arryn's death, as in the novels.
- ↑ Sansa states that she is 13 years old in Season 1 "Winter is Coming"
- ↑ Arya states that she is 11 years old in Season 1.
- ↑ Bran states that he is 10 years old in Season 1 "Winter is Coming"
- ↑ Sweetrobin is stated to be 13 years old in Season 5 "The Wars to Come".
- ↑ Rickon is stated to be six in Season 1.
- ↑ In the novels, by the reckoning of the maesters, the summer lasted exactly 10 years, 2 months, and 16 days.
- ↑ "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "The Bear and the Maiden Fair (episode)"
- ↑ Bryan Cogman Q&A, April 24, 2013.