RESIZING...

Winter is coming...   0%

RULED BY: House Bolton

PREVIOUSLY RULED BY: House Stark

PRIMARY THREAT: The White Walkers

NOTABLE DEATHS: Ygritte & Jojen Reed

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
Easy: Craster raping his own daughters and then giving the resulting male children to the White Walkers so they can turn them into baby White Walkers.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
The Starks are gone, and now we're just rooting for Jon Snow to save Westeros.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
The North has dominated the show in many ways so far, starting with the Starks' rise and bloody fall at their stronghold, Winterfell. Currently, House Bolton holds the reins to the North (and Winterfell) after helping the Lannisters and the Freys slaughter most of the Starks at the Red Wedding. Now they're busy securing the North from the ironborn and trying to make sure all the Stark children are dead. That second thing isn't going so well for them.

Elsewhere in the North, war is raging. At the end of Season 4, Castle Black fell under attack from the wildlings in a siege led by their "king," Mance Rayder, but with help from Eternal Good Guy Jon Snow, the Night's Watch defended the Wall and were able to overcome the wildlings. After the battle, as Jon Snow was attempting (and failing) to broker peace with Mance Rayder, an unexpected ally arrived in the form of Stannis Baratheon, his army, and the Mother of Smoke Babies, Melisandre. This is a temporary respite however, because the threat of the White Walkers is not going anywhere (and only Samwell Tarly, the comic relief character, has been able to kill one). As we've been told over and over again, "Winter is coming," and Jon, Stannis, and the wildlings may be facing it head on.

RULED BY: House Greyjoy

PRIMARY THREAT: House Bolton

NOTABLE DEATHS: None (yet)

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
Ramsay Snow mailing Balon Greyjoy the castrated penis of his last living son, Theon.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Light (albeit mistaken) incest, betrayal, and castration.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
We first saw the brutal, strong, and twisted character of the ironborn, natives of the Iron Islands, when Theon Greyjoy arrived on the rocky islands in Season 2. Once in the capitol, Pyke, Theon reunited with his father, the heartless Balon Greyjoy, who convinced him to turn on the Starks. After Theon returned to the North to impulsively and shortsightedly take Winterfell, the ironborn turned on him and gave him over to House Bolton, where he was brutally tortured, renamed Reek, and castrated by Ramsay, the demented, bastard son of Roose Bolton. Yara, Theon's commanding sister, later showed up to rescue Theon, but by then her brother was so far gone he didn't even consider coming with her. As Yara left, she declared Theon dead. It's unclear if this will lead to the Greyjoys coming after the Boltons or their allies in Season 5, but a clash between the houses is inevitable because the Boltons need the land of the ironborn to fully control the North.

RULED BY: House Frey

PREVIOUSLY RULED BY: House Tully

PRIMARY THREAT: House Tully (and possibly down the road, House Stark)

NOTABLE DEATHS: Catelyn Stark, Robb Stark, Robb Stark's unborn baby, Robb Stark's pregnant wife

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
Everyone we ever loved and rooted for getting killed in the Red Wedding.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
The Freys are the worst.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
One of the least desirable regions of Westeros, the Riverlands haven't appeared much on the show since Walder Frey made petty power moves in Season 3. The Riverlands were ruled by House Tully from Riverrun until the Red Wedding, where House Frey repaid Robb Stark's broken marriage pact by slaughtering the Stark family, including Catelyn, formerly of House Tully, and captured Edmure Tully, who had just been married to a Frey as a consolation. For their part in the gruesome plot, Tywin Lannister awarded House Frey control of the Riverlands.

Besides Riverrun, House Frey also controls the Twins, a major route to the North that they charge travelers a ridiculously high tax to use. The Twins is also the home of the despicable Walder Frey. He hasn't appeared on the show since Season 3, but it's hard to believe that George R.R. Martin would let such an evil character fade away so easily.

The Riverlands is also home to the haunted castle known as Harrenhal. Arya Stark was held prisoner there, but she eventually escaped with the help of Jaqen H'ghar, one of the Faceless Men from Braavos, a meeting that later set her on her path across the Narrow Sea to Essos at the end of Season 4.

RULED BY: House Arryn (but really Littlefinger)

PRIMARY THREAT: Littlefinger

NOTABLE DEATHS: Lysa Arryn, The Hound, Jon Arryn

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
Lysa still breastfeeding her middle school-aged son, Robin.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Littlefinger pulled off another coup. Sansa is hot and DGAF now.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
Thousands of miles high in the Vale of Arryn sits the Eyrie, a supposedly impregnable castle with a "Moon Door" that slides open in case any sociopaths feel like dropping someone into the abyss. This contraption is how Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, killed the regent ruler of the Eyrie, Lysa Arryn. After marrying and killing off Lysa, and then converting Sansa to his side (we can't wait for evil Sansa), Littlefinger basically holds the reins of the Vale. Season 4 closed with him convincing Robin, Lysa's surviving heir/the kid everyone wants to slap, to go on a tour of his lands, leaving the Eyrie under Littlefinger's control.

The Eyrie may seem like a less interesting plotline than what's going on in King's Landing, but remember that the Arryns and Littlefinger are responsible for all of the initial momentum of Season 1. The whole reason Ned Stark became Hand of the King in the first place is because the previous Hand, Jon Arryn, Lysa's husband, had died. And Littlefinger was the one who convinced Lysa to poison him. Don't mess with this whispery dude. He's hell-bent on total domination, so it's only a matter of time before his desires for conquest bring him back to King's Landing.

RULED BY: House Lannister

PRIMARY THREAT: Tyrion Lannister

NOTABLE DEATHS: None (yet)

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
This happens offscreen, but when Cersei tries to suffocate Tyrion as an infant.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Who will be the heir to the Lannister kingdom?

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
Even though the Lannisters are (were?) dominating everyone on the show, their original home has not yet been seen. Casterly Rock is the Lannisters' ancestral kingdom in the Westerlands, the richest region in Westeros, and last season, Jaime Lannister promised his father, Tywin, that he would return to Casterly Rock and take his place as the rightful heir in return for sparing his brother Tyrion's life. Two episodes later, Tyrion killed Tywin and escaped, so it's safe to say things have changed. Who knows if Jaime will make good on his promise or just stick around King's Landing to keep boning his disgruntled sister, Cersei. Tyrion may have his eyes set on the Lannister throne even after the way his family treated him—but taking it would be difficult since he killed one regent and is accused of killing King Joffrey. Either way, that Lannister enclave is bound to be baller, so hopefully we actually get to see what it looks like in Season 5.

RULED BY: House Baratheon (but really House Lannister)

PREVIOUSLY RULED BY: House Baratheon, House Targaryen

PRIMARY THREAT: This is where the Iron Throne is located, so everyone.

NOTABLE DEATHS: Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, Prince Oberyn Martell, Tywin Lannister

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
The Mountain juicing Oberyn's head with his bare hands (if only Oberyn Martell had stopped grandstanding!!!). Either that, or the time King Joffrey made Sansa look at the severed head of her father.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Tommen is king now. We pray for you, Tommen.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
The Crownlands region is home to King's Landing, where the Iron Throne sits and the king of Westeros rules. Logically, every house has its eye on this region. Currently the Lannister clan holds the power via deceased King Robert Baratheon's offspring (JK, Tommen's hair is blond, and we all know what that means). Gentle Tommen Baratheon is currently king, which means that the true ruler is his mother, Cersei Lannister, and her family. However, Tommen's new wife, Margaery Tyrell, poses a threat to the Lannisters' influence on the young king. Both Cersei and Margaery know that whoever owns Tommen's favor owns the crown.

King's Landing is almost in complete upheaval right now, though. The man who was really running the kingdom, Tywin Lannister, was killed by his son Tyrion, the crown is poor as hell and losing the faith of its biggest funder, the Iron Bank of Braavos, and as a cherry on top, Oberyn Martell's family is thirsty for vengeance after his head was crushed by the Mountainduring Tyrion's regicide trial.

The last time King's Landing came under attack was when Stannis Baratheon tried to take the throne at the end of Season 2. Stannis is now busy in the North, but with King's Landing looking more vulnerable than ever, another attack may be on the horizon, from Daenerys and her dragons or someone else.

RULED BY: House Tyrell

PRIMARY THREAT: It's still unclear, but who wouldn't want the Eden of Westeros?

NOTABLE DEATHS: None (yet)

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
Olenna Tyrell recounts a story of sneaking into her sister's boyfriend's room the night before he planned to propose. She left him "unable to walk downstairs." Imagine your grandma telling you this.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Bad bitches come from here.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
The most fertile region in Westeros, the Reach supplies resources for many other areas, the most important of which is King's Landing. It makes sense then that the Lannisters would want an alliance with House Tyrell, the rulers of the Reach. Margaery Tyrell has stepped up to act as the sexy olive branch between the two Houses, first marrying Joffrey and then, once he was poisoned (praise the Old Gods/New Gods/Lord of Light), marrying his younger brother Tommen. (Ser Loras Tyrell was also betrothed to Cersei to further the alliance, but now that Tywin is dead it's hard to imagine the latter going through with the marriage.) Margaery seems to have been thrown into the lion's pit, but it's clear that she's not afraid of going head-to-head with Cersei. Margaery's badass attitude obviously runs in the family—just look at her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell, who once called Tywin Lannister a "fathead" and co-conspired with Littlefinger to send Joffrey to the grave. Although the show has yet to travel to the Reach, any land that raises delicious food and strong women is noteworthy.

RULED BY: House Martell

PRIMARY THREAT: We don't know yet, but even if the desert isn't too desirable, it is the closest region to Essos, so maybe Daenerys will come through.

NOTABLE DEATHS: None (yet)

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
At least right now, it seems like all the bad shit that happens to those from Dorne happens away from Dorne.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Everyone from here is sexy, but many of them have been savagely killed. Now those who remain want revenge.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
The show has not yet visited Dorne, Westeros' southernmost region, which has a desert climate and no lack of free love, but we've already met and bade farewell to one of its rulers. Last season culminated in the gory death of House Martell's Prince Oberyn at the hands of the Mountain. Oberyn arrived in King's Landing with his main chick, Ellaria Sand, to settle his score with the Mountain, who'd killed and raped his sister. After valiantly volunteering to be Tyrion Lannister's trial-by-combat champion to get a shot at the behemoth, the Mountain squashed Oberyn's head with his hands. We can expect that the Martells won't let this one slide, and neither will Ellaria or Oberyn's hoard of bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes. As always, revenge is the lifeblood of Westeros.

RULED BY: House Baratheon

PRIMARY THREAT: No one seems particularly interested in this region, but with Stannis busy elsewhere, it may be vulnerable.

NOTABLE DEATHS: Renly Baratheon

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
Melisandre giving birth to a fucking smoke monster.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Stannis is a sadboy.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
Although they've technically occupied the Iron Throne in King's Landing for the whole show (if you count Joffrey and Tommen), the Baratheons' main stronghold is Storm's End in the Stormlands. The series has visited the coast of the Stormlands on and off since Season 2, witnessing the horrific birth of a smoke demon from the sexy/crazy witch Melisandre and watching Stannis struggle with his inferiority complex. With the Red Woman by his side, Stannis has seen three possible usurpers die—his younger brother Renly at the hands (hands?) of the smoke monster, and Robb Stark and King Joffrey at the Red and Purple Weddings, respectively—all while he stews in his harsh castle at Dragonstone. Stannis has once again left the Stormlands, though, to attend to the threats in the North, first helping the Night's Watch fend off the wildlings and then turning his focus toward the White Walkers. Currently, there doesn't seem to be much interest in the Stormlands, but Renly's allies were once the Tyrells, so they could potentially square off with Stannis in the future.

RULED BY: Essos is made up of Free Cities, where there are no rulers. In Slaver's Bay, House Targaryen has taken power.

PREVIOUSLY RULED BY: The Great Masters

PRIMARY THREAT: The Great Masters

NOTABLE DEATHS: Khal Drogo

THE REGION'S MOST GAME OF THRONES MOMENT:
All those slave girls getting nailed to stakes. And then Daenerys doing the same thing to The Great Masters. Eye for an eye.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, SHORT VERSION:
Daenerys rules everything, and all of her (much older) councilmen want to sleep with her.

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, NERD VERSION:
Essos is the Wild West of Game of Thrones geography, with much of it still undiscovered and the Narrow Sea dividing it from the more civilized Westeros. On the west coast of Essos are nine free cities, including Braavos to the north, where the Iron Bank is located. The Iron Bank has been funding the Lannisters' rule, but ironically the House known for repaying its debts hasn't been paying the bank back. As a result, the Iron Bank's allegiance to the Lannisters is fading, as seen when it extended a loan to Stannis Baratheon so he could pay for an army to take to the North. Braavos is also where Arya Stark was heading at the end of Season 4, possibly to learn how to be an even deadlier killer.

Although Essos is an untamed territory, it's appeared on the show more than many of the civilized areas in Westeros. That's because everyone's favorite Mother of Dragons is traveling across the continent, freeing slaves and building an army. In Season 4, Daenerys Targaryen ended up in Meereen, a city in Slaver's Bay on the south of Essos, where she set the city's slaves free and crucified their owners, the Great Masters. Although she planned to head to King's Landing to take the Iron Throne, when she learned that one of her conquered cities had reverted to enslaving people, she decided to stay the course in Meereen to see the abolition of slavery through. She'll be doing it minus advisor and friend Ser Jorah Mormont, whom she banished from Meereen after learning that he once acted as a spy against her for King Robert Baratheon. Don't expect Jorah to just disappear, though.

Finally, two of the biggest players in Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister and Varys the Spider, were headed to Pentos as Season 4 ended. Varys had aided Tyrion's escape from prison and pending execution, and when Tyrion took a detour to put a couple arrows into his father Tywin's chest, Varys decided he'd be better off fleeing with him. Now the two are intertwined allies, and may be looking to make new friends—[cough] Daenerys Targaryen [cough]—in Essos before heading back to Westeros.