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In November 2014, it was reported that a number of television programmes, including Game of Thrones, had been banned in military schools belonging to the Turkish army, in order to protect young people from: "sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment and all negative behaviours" (dragons weren’t mentioned). According to a report in the Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, this isn't the first time that Game of Thrones has caused trouble within the country’s army. In 2012, officers were kicked out of a military academy in Istanbul for allowing cadets to watch the show.
Just kidding. It’s called the gold line. Graphic designer Michael Tyznik has made his own TFL style underground maps to reflect geography of George RR Martin’s world. In Westeros you can catch the ocean line from Lannisport to High Garden. Meanwhile in Essos, you can hop on the demon line all the way to Vaes Dothrak. The Wall used to be comprised of many castles, and to reflect the former glory of the Night’s Watch, Tyznik has named a whole row of abandoned tube stations on the wall line including Oakensheild, Woodswatch by the Wall and Greyguard. The Harrentown station is closed for the refurbishment of Harrenhal, which has been a ruin since its destruction by Aegon I the Conqueror 300 years before the action of the books and series began.
On Game of Thrones, the very best blades are forged from a super-strong, but incredibly light substance known as Valyrian steel. But creating the metal itself, which can be recognised by its distinctive rippled surface, is a lost art: Valyrian blades can be passed down through families, but no new items can be made without melting down the originals (most memorably, in the case of Eddard Stark’s greatsword Ice, which was turned into Widow’s Wail and Oathkeeper). Intriguingly, it seems that Game of Thrones author George RR Martin based Valyrian steel on a real life alloy known as Damascus steel. Developed in India and the Middle East, Damascus steel was known for its super-strong, super-sharp qualities, and for its distinctive rippled surface. But the specific temperature and techniques needed to make it were lost at some point in the 18th century. Various attempts have since been made to replicate it, but the exact formula remains an enduring mystery.
Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon look slightly less scary when compared to a blue, supernatural being who can raise the dead. When not being the Night’s King, resident super-baddie of the Game of Thrones world, British-American actor Richard Brake can be seen murdering Bruce Wayne’s parents in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, in which Joffrey actor Jack Gleeson also appeared. Or appearing as a cowboy in the video to Muse’s song Knights of Cydonia.
In episode eight of season five, Hardhome, Game of Thrones viewers were treated to a horrifying Wildling massacre, courtesy of the Night’s King, the White Walker leader (played, as described above, by Brake).
In George RR Martin’s books, the Night’s King is a legendary figure from long ago. Once the commander of the Night’s Watch, he ended up falling in love with a mysterious woman "with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars" (possibly Zooey Deschanel, but more likely some form of White Walker). Under her influence, he then declared himself king and instigated a 13-year long rule of terror, before finally being defeated and, presumably, killed. Intriguingly, it's implied that the Night’s King may have been a member of the Stark family: Old Nan, who tells the legends to Bran, certainly thinks so. As the show version of the character seems to be gearing up to be a key anatagonist (most likely the key antagonist) does this mean that the ultimate Game of Thrones Big Bad is a Stark?
Sadly, this isn’t necessarily the case. In the comments section of his blog, in response to a fan query, Martin recently made it clear that the book and show versions of the Night’s King are two very different entities, writing: "as for the Night's King, in the books he is a legendary figure, akin to Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder, and no more likely to have survived to the present day than they have."
In 2013, a woman put an ad out on Craigslist for "a Stark in the streets but a wildling in the sheets". Having supposedly acquired a replica Iron Throne, she imagined a scenario in which she, playing Daenerys Targaryen who had just conquered Westeros, would "order" a captive Robb Stark to be her lover of dragons on the seat of power itself. Any takers were instructed to bring their own costume, bearing in mind they would have been in a dungeon for a while. "Please only respond to this post if you look like Robb Stark," she said! "I would appreciate pictures, but please, no names." Where did Daenerys get this throne? HBO put a replica on sale for £30,000, but that had yet to be sold. Maybe she made her own…
Bad news for the the Craigslist woman with a life-sized Iron Throne replica – it could have been a whole lot bigger. For his book The World of Ice & Fire, which chronicles the history of Westeros and its waring elite, creator George RR Martin worked closely with artist Marc Simonetti in order to capture the throne as the book described it, and what he originally saw in his "mind’s eye". What they came up with is a far cry from HBO’s envisioning. "This Iron Throne is massive," said Martin on his blog. "Ugly. Asymmetric. It's a throne made by blacksmiths hammering together half-melted, broken, twisted swords, wrenched from the hands of dead men or yielded up by defeated foes. And there are thousands of swords in it, not just a few." Wow. Craigslist woman could have a whole lot more lovin’ on that.
With small farms feeling a downturn in profits, Medieval-looking television shows seem to be keeping them in business. Kenny Gracey who runs Forthill Farm in Tandragee, Co Armagh, near where the series is filmed, has been able to keep his business afloat due to Game of Thrones’s demand for traditional farm animals. The farm, which had been in Gracey’s family for hundreds of years, bred Iron Age Pigs to fit in with the show’s period setting. Perhaps the great and good of Westeros will give the farmer his own sigil.
Ever imagined what it’d be like if Game of Thrones was set in modern day world, and all the warring Westerosi families were big, family-run corporations? If you haven’t, then no worries – the folks over at stock photography company Shutterstock have done it for you. In fact, they’ve taken the idea and run with it, creating "A Game of Brands" (as showcased in the video below). Rather fittingly, the dragon-riding Targaryens have now become an airline; the Lannisters, who always pay their debts, are envisaged as an investment company, and the worthy, resilient (but ever so slightly dull) Starks run an outdoor clothing line. You can check out more "brands" on the Shutterstock website: perhaps best of all is events company "Frey Celebrations" (a tongue-in-cheek nod to season three’s gory Red Wedding).
10. Greyscale is a lot like a real-life disease
In the world of Game of Thrones, Greyscale is the one disease you really, really don’t want to catch. If you’re lucky, it’ll just leave you with permanent grey "scales" on your skin (like the late, very-much-lamented Princess Shireen). If you’re unlucky, it’ll slowly destroy you, transforming your body into a grey stone-like substance, inch by agonising inch, until you end up effectively turning into a sort of living statue (and then, of course, a dead statue).
It’s clear that, when he invented Greyscale, author George RR Martin was partly inspired by leprosy: back in the middle ages, the disease, which causes painful skin lesions, was regarded by most people with a mixture horror, fear and disgust, and sufferers were frequently forced to live as outcasts (echoing the social stigma associated with Greyscale in Game of Thrones). However, there’s also another real-life disease that’s a little like Greyscale: namely, Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive. The condition, which is incurable and extremely rare, causes damaged soft tissues to be regrown as bone throughout a person's life; as the disease progresses, sufferers are, effectively, "turned to stone".
One of the best known recent cases is that of Harry Eastlack, who died in 1973 at the age of 39; at the time of his death, the ossification process had reached a stage where Eastlack was able to move only his lips. His skeleton (which Eastlack donated to science in the hopes that researchers might be able to find a cure for the condition) is currently on display in the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia.
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