The youngest son of Lord Tywin Lannister and brother of Cersei. A dwarf, Tyrion serves as Hand of the King at the behest of his father. He tries to balance loyalty to his family and a desire to bring justice to the Seven Kingdoms.
The youngest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark. Nine-year-old Arya is missing and presumed dead, but she is alive and disguised as a feisty young boy on the way to the Wall. From a young age, she has rejected the trappings of being a lady in favor of learning to be a warrior.
The second son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark. At eight years old, Bran oversees Winterfell while his brother Robb and his mother are gone. Bran was paralyzed in a fall and cannot walk. Like his half-brother Jon Snow, Bran is a warg (skinchanger), capable of inhabiting his direwolf, Summer, during dreams, though Bran's ability is much greater.
The widow of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell. Together, they have five children. Her rash judgment and actions in Game of Thrones in many ways lead to the disorder and despair now engulfing the Seven Kingdoms.
The eldest daughter of Eddard Stark and Lady Catelyn Stark. Betrothed to King Joffrey, she is being held captive by the Lannisters at King’s Landing. She discovers a vast gulf between the actual knights and ladies she meets at court and those depicted in the romantic stories and songs she so loves.
The illegitimate son of Eddard Stark and an unknown woman. Sensitive and thoughtful, he serves in the Night’s Watch. Like his half-brother Bran, Jon is a warg (skinchanger), capable of inhabiting his direwolf, Ghost, during dreams, though only to a limited degree.
Read an in-depth analysis of Jon Snow.
The former ward of Lord Eddard Stark. He abandons his friendship with Robb Stark to seek glory and power. His impetuousness and immaturity cost him his family, friends, and men.
The last living descendant of House Targaryen, which used to rule Westeros. After a lifetime in exile in the lands across the narrow sea, she plots to capture the Iron Throne and to avenge the death of her family.
The widow of Robert Baratheon and mother of King Joffrey. She serves as Queen Regent. Beautiful and ambitious, she vies with Tyrion for power. She has three children with her twin brother, Jaime Lannister.
A former smuggler who now serves Stannis Baratheon. He is dutiful, humble, and extremely loyal to Stannis.
The presumed son of Robert Baratheon and Cersei. In reality, the childish, cruel Joffrey is actually the son of Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister. The thirteen-year-old rules the Seven Kingdoms from the Iron Throne.
The eldest son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark and heir to Winterfell. Proclaimed King of the North at age 15, he commands an army against the Lannisters. His dire wolf is Grey Wind.
A sellsword (mercenary) who works for the Lannisters. Obedient, loyal, and violent, he develops a fondness for Sansa Stark, whom he nevertheless frightens and derides. He was disfigured by his brother, Gregor, who burned his face when both were still children.
The master of coin at King’s Landing. He is crafty and conniving and motivated entirely by self-interest. As a child, he was close to Catelyn Stark and her sister, Lysa.
The spymaster at King’s Landing. Varys is a master of disguises, seems to know everyone’s secrets, and professes loyalty to whomever he happens to be speaking with at that moment.
The maester (healer and advisor) at King’s Landing. He is basically corrupt, and his obedience to the Lannisters distorts his judgement and causes him to lose his position as healer and adviser.
The oldest sibling of Robert Baratheon. After Robert’s death, Stannis proclaims himself Robert’s rightful heir to the Iron Throne and wages war againsts the Lannisters and his brother Renly to claim it.
The youngest sibling of Robert Baratheon. After Robert’s death, Renly proclaims himself Robert’s rightful heir to the Iron Throne and fights his brother Stannis to claim it.
The youngest child of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark. At age four, he is too young to understand why his mother and all of his siblings except Bran are no longer at Winterfell. He is as wild and untamable as his dire wolf, Shaggydog.
The calculating Lord of Dreadfort. Arya Stark serves as his cupbearer after he takes control of Harrenhal.
The bastard son of Roose Bolton. He captures Winterfell from Theon Greyjoy by pretending to be his servant Reek.
Vile servant to Ramsay Bolton.
The enormous brother of Sandor Clegane. He uses the civil war as an excuse to rape, pillage, and destroy.
A skilled sellsword who works for Tyrion. Though he seems primarily motivated by money, he appears to actually like and trust Tyrion.
The master of arms at Winterfell.
The maester (healer and advisor) at Winterfell. He is wise and kind to the Stark boys, to whom he is very devoted.
A member of the Kingsguard, sworn to protect King Joffrey. He betrays Tyrion at the battle of King’s Landing.
Tyrion’s squire. Tongue-tied and awkward, Podrick nevertheless demonstrates bravery and devotion during the battle at King’s Landing.
Brother to Catelyn Stark and heir to Riverrun. He leads the Tully faction in alliance with the Starks.
The dying father of Edmure Tully and Catelyn Stark and Lord of Riverrun.
A female knight. When Catelyn Stark protects Brienne after Renly’s mysterious death, Brienne swears allegiance to her.
Sister of Theon and possible heir to the Iron Islands. An astute sea commander, she makes fun of Theon and his presumptions.
Brother to Tyrion and the twin of Cersei Lannister. An excellent swordsman, he nevertheless loses a battle to Robb Stark and is being held prisoner at Riverrun. Together, he and Cersei have three children.
Father of Tyrion, Cersei, and Jaime, Lord of Casterly Rock, and Warden of the West. Shrewd and hard-hearted, he is a respected military commander.
A red priestess from Asshai who advises Stannis. She is a master of dark magic, and many fear her and her power, especially Davos.
Son of Jeor Mormont and loyal liege to Daenerys. Exiled from Westeros for slave trading, Ser Jorah serves as Daenerys’s trusted advisor, helping her navigate the unknown peoples in the lands across the narrow sea.
A man of the Night’s Watch charged with finding new recruits, mostly prisoners and homeless orphans, in King’s Landing and bringing them back to the Wall. His friendship with Eddard Stark leads him to help Arya Stark escape.
A mysterious man from Braavos who is traveling to the Wall along with Arya Stark. They form an unlikely alliance.
Prostitute and lover of Tyrion. The eighteen-year-old Shae has captivated Tyrion, and Tyrion always wonders if Shae truly loves him or just his money.
A teenage apprentice smith traveling with Yoren and Arya Stark to the Wall to become a man of the Night’s Watch. He does not know it, but he is actually a bastard son of Robert Baratheon.
Brother of Meera Reed and son of Lord Howland, a close friend of Eddard Stark. A “greenseer,” Jojen has powerful, prophetic dreams. He teaches Bran Stark to develop his abilities as a warg (skinchanger).
Sister of Jojen Reed and daughter of Lord Howland, a close friend of Eddard Stark.
Younger sibilings to Joffrey and presumed children of Robert Baratheon and Cersei. They are actually the offspring of Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime.
Young boys traveling with Yoren and Arya Stark to the Wall to become men of the Night’s Watch.
A vicious group of ragtag sellswords. Jaqen H’ghar, Rorge, and Biter join the group after Arya Stark saves their lives. Vargo Hoat leads them.
A stablehand at Winterfell. Simple-minded, kind, and very strong, Hodor is devoted to Bran Stark. The only word he can say is “Hodor.”
A former wildling who now works in the kitchen of Winterfell. She is mysterious and mystical, and she proves loyal and devoted to Bran, whom she encourages to develop his second sight.
A fat, cowardly man of the Night’s Watch and Jon Snow’s best friend. Sam is intelligent and fully aware of his shortcomings, earning him Jon Snow's respect.
Father of Ser Jorah Mormont and commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon Snow serves as his squire.
A ranger of the Night’s Watch.
The maester (healer and advisor) of Dragonstone.
The leader of the wildlings.
A wildling woman who vouches for Jon Snow after he spares her life.
A wildling who serves as an informant to the Night’s Watch.
Undead beings that most people believe no longer exist.
Dothraki bloodriders sworn to protect Daenerys.
A rich merchant in Qarth who tries to woo Daenerys.
A warlock in Qarth whom Daenerys can't decide whether to trust.