Wild Side: A Creature Feature on the Animals in Game of Thrones

(Warning: contains spoilers!)

In the battle for the Iron Throne, politics and blood are constantly thrashed out in a bid for power. In Game of Thrones, deceit and deception lie around every corner, and in a world where the future is as uncertain as in Westeros, there is seemingly no one and nothing to be trusted.

As the spirits of the men and women remain untamed, it is the beasts of the wild that the noble houses turn to as their only reliable force. From Daenerys and her dragons to the Starks and their direwolves, we take a look at the animals in Game of Thrones.

Direwolves

Emblazoned on the Starks’ banner is the sigil of a grey direwolf. Introduced at the beginning of the first season when the Stark children stumbled upon six orphaned cubs, they have remained loyal companions to the family throughout the seasons.

Summer, Bran’s direwolf, protected his young sire from an assassination attempt; and Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, attacked Joffrey Baratheon when he threatened her with a sword. At the Battle of Oxcross, Robb’s direwolf Grey Wind killed several Lannister sentries, yet again proving these animals to be loyal to a fault.

Dragons

The dragon is the sigil of House Targaryen, who possessed the world’s last remaining dragons and used them to conquer the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Now believed to be extinct, all this changed when Illyrio Mopatis gave Daenerys Targaryen a precious wedding gift: three dragons’ eggs.

After Khal Drogo’s death, Daenerys stepped into the flames of his funeral pyre with the eggs and three dragons were born: Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. They have become central to Daenerys’ attainment of power; however, in Season 4 she started to realise they may be too much for even the Mother of Dragons to handle. She had Rhaegal and Viserion locked in the catacombs of Mereen, before going in search of the escaped Drogon.

Horses

For all the awe that dragons and direwolves inspire, the horses in Game of Thrones are quite underrated. The knights of Westeros ride them into battle, and many have sacrificed their lives in the ensuing fray. Horses are particularly valued by the Dothraki. As they lead a nomadic lifestyle, they rely greatly on their horses as a means of transportation. A khal who cannot master a horse loses esteem in the minds and hearts of the Dothraki, which is just what happened to Khal Drogo after he was wounded and could no longer ride his horse.

Ravens

Dragons may be creatures of myth, but horses are real and even dire wolves once roamed the Earth. Ravens are also real but, in Game of Thrones, the raven in question has three eyes and appears in Bran’s prophetic dreams, lacing the series with an aura of mysterious intrigue. At the end of Season 4 the raven transformed into a wise old man, who claimed he would teach the crippled Bran to fly.

Manticores

Every list has an exception, and the manticores are not creatures any human in Westeros would want by their side. Imagine a fast, vicious and oversized scorpion and you’ll get an idea of what the venomous manticores are like. Their venom is so powerful that it even floored the hulk of a man that is The Mountain during Tyrion Lannister’s trial by combat.

Game of Thrones may be the stuff of legends and myth, but when it comes to the animal relations we can draw many comparisons to the creatures we find in our own lives, and especially our affinity (or aversion) towards them.

Make sure you tune in to Game of Thrones Season 5 to find out if Daenerys finds Drogon, whether The Mountain survives his venomous attack and if the three-eyed raven can fulfill his promise to Bran.

Originally published on M-Net.

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