Game of Thrones season five is almost upon us and if you're a fan you should be excited, very excited because it's the best TV show ever. That opening line makes me sound like a typical 'fanboy', but the reality is GoT has evolved into a seasonal event, an annual pilgrimage into George R.R. Martin's world of politics, myths and debauchery. A fictional land rich in a medieval steeped history mixed with fantasy on a dramatic scale which results in a show that truly captures the modern audience like no other.
If the shooting of JR Ewing shocked the world in 1980 it is now nothing compared to the shocking carnage of the 'Red Wedding' or Tyrion's 'trial by combat' of the Mountain and the Viper, that we see today. GoT never fails in its ability to reach the same levels of shock and leaving you in anticipation, every episode we are left wanting to see more, to explore that world and enjoy more of the characters and to share it with friends, because if they aren't watching already, to coin a phrase from the Hound they "bloody well should be".
Step 1 - The Land of Westeros
So in preparing for that launch-night house party, there are a few things you should consider. Despite the popularity of the show it's taken time for the merchandise offering to catch up, this time last year the range was a tad limited, however that didn't stop me scouring the net and discovering the official 4D puzzle of Westeros, which not only looks amazing but it's also a really great tool for getting your friends up to speed on where everyone comes from and if you enjoy stuff like this, check out the official store at hboshopeu.com as they have added lots of limited items for season five.
It should be noted that the base of the puzzle is deceptively difficult so if you're looking for a challenge it's one to look out for, but once complete you're left with a glorious view of the Westeros landscape and a greater insight of the scale of terrain as out hero's and villains traverse its many challenges.
Step 2 - The Characters
So the map gives an idea on scale and its accompanying book helps in terms of understanding the history of any given region but it's the characters that make GoT and the intimacy with which we get to know them, this despite the epic scale of the overriding story. Its testament to the editors and producers that we get to know and understand so many of these characters, we live their lives with them, understand and empathise with them and yet there are so many we can't list them all here.
So in simpler terms we get to know the houses, sigils and mottos that describe each house and the standards they live by. So which house are you? From the Starks to the Lannisters, the Targaryens to the Baratheons, as someone who's useless at remembering people's names in day to day life I find myself with a veritable wealth of knowledge regarding these Westeros inhabitants and so couldn't resist the cushions because they look cool, yes that's the fan in me again.
Step 3 - Preparing the Drinking Game and Drinking Elements
Game of Thrones features lots of sex, violence and intrigue but it does all make for some essential elements and that works perfectly in any given drinking game, and GoT characters tend to drink, lots. So it's time to consider what quote and situations work best, many of the old drinking list are out of date now, so I've given you a starter list below featuring ideas for season five, you can add to these for more drinking and nibbling goodness.
Drink when mentioned:
'Your Grace/My Lord/The King'
When Brienne of Tarth mentions 'honour'
When Theon Greyjoy says 'Reek'
The Iron Throne
Seeing a flashback sequence
Whenever dragons appear
Whenever swords are drawn
Main character dies.
Step 4 - Party like a Robert Baratheon and make sure you've got lots of chicken
So apart from the obvious dressing up, make sure you've prepared a feast fit for a king, lots of gnawing on big greasy food and no knives and forks allowed its fingers only, people.
So now you're all ready for GoT season five, the box sets are all available on Sky on-demand so there's no excuse. The '12 Days of Thrones' over Christmas was particularly enjoyable and another great opportunity for catching up with the story line to date. Check out the trailer on repeat for those final hours and raise your drink, I'm going to fill my stein and say, ' I think I'll take two chickens!'
Image Credits: Alan Boiston