Reporting on the storylines in a given Game of Thrones episode doesn’t require much creativity.
Littlefinger overplays his hand and gets his due
Daenerys Targaryen impersonates Abe Lincoln and frees the slaves
The White Walkers were this close to taking over when the Night King makes a tactical error.
Instead, the real storytelling comes through when publications venture away from the core Game of Thrones narratives — the further, the better — to reveal backstories we didn’t know before.
In this spirit, we sought to find the best GoT backstories through Throne Madness patterned after the March Madness competition.
Nine worthy Game of Thrones backstories came to our attention.
A few words on each —
What’s the next Game of Thrones? All the contenders for fantasy TV’s crown (The Guardian)
Thanks to the popularity of Game of Thrones, we can expect to see the fantasy genre dominate entertainment in the coming months. As TV critic Maureen Ryan put it, “It didn’t just open the door to more fantasy commissions. It opened the floodgates.”
A Game of Thrones Fan Traveled To The Arctic As Part Of A Worldwide Scavenger Hunt (NPR)
HBO challenged people to a worldwide scavenger hunt, but not just any scavenger hunt. The network placed six Iron Thrones in different locations around the world and tweeted the hashtag #ForTheThrone, along with a cryptic 12-second video. Fans could also view hour-long, 360-degree videos of the thrones in various terrains.
The Battle of Winterfell: A Tactical Analysis (Wired)
Keeping with the Wired ethos, this essay revisits the battle against the Night King army through a military lens:
“At the outset, Daenerys Targaryen maintains two dragons for direct support to the ground defense and for air interdiction against the Night King’s single zombie-ice-dragon. While enjoying a two-to-one superiority in air assets, Daenerys attempts to use her dragons as multirole platforms, a risky move that means her forces cannot maximize their firepower on one single mission. This will eventually translate to ground commanders being denied close air support when they need it most.”
The UC Grad Who Created Game of Thrones’ Languages (ABC)
New languages such as Valrian and Dothraki — i before k except after a — surface in GoT. It turns out that a Berkeley grad conjured them pulling from her classes in Arabic, Russian, Esperanto, French and Egyptian hieroglyphs (naturally).
Game of Thrones’ Creator George RR Martin Almost Quit Writing for Real Estate (CNBC)
The commercial backlash from Martin’s failed fourth novel was so bad, people stopped buying his books which forced him to find other ways to make a buck. Thinking he might need to sell his house, he took a course in buying real estate with no money down.
How Much Do the Game of Thrones’ Dragons Actually Need to Eat? (Eater)
My personal favorite, to understand dragon hunger and how it could impact the impending war with the Night King, Eater got in touch with a bona fide expert on large reptiles and flying animals. That’s right. They interviewed the zoological manager at the Oakland Zoo.
Game of Thrones’ Writers Don’t Know What To Do with Prophets and Geniuses (The Verge)
The premise of the Verge essay —
That over and over again the showrunners keep their prophets and geniuses dull and unaware to make it easier to spring surprises on the audience.
George Lucas Helped Direct a Scene of The Game of Thrones (Gizmodo)
OK, George Lucas — right, the George Lucas of Star Wars fame — just happened to show up on set and ended up giving some notes on a scene to Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington.
Are Game of Thrones’ Dragons the Equivalent of Nuclear Weapons? We Don’t Think So (Washington Post)
This one has similarities to the Wired piece in taking a clinical approach to analyzing the dragons as the nuclear weapon of their day. The story goes on to remind readers that the idea behind nuclear deterrence is that nuclear weapons are so destructive that simply threatening to use them, implicitly or explicitly, prevents others from attacking you — so they never actually have to be used. It turns out that’s not how things go with dragons. And the paper has the data on the political-military use of dragons in GoT to back up its conclusion.
The nine entries called for a play-off match, randomly pitting The Guardian’s “What’s the Next Game of Thrones?” against the contenders for fantasy TV’s crown against NPR’s “A Game of Thrones Fan Traveled to the Arctic as Part of a Worldwide Scavenger Hunt.”
The will of the people — voting by the U.S. staff — advanced the NPR scavenger hunt to the final eight.
Here’s how the rest of the competition played out.