'Game of Thrones' newbies: What you need to know before watching season 2

With the traditional HBO longer length of episodes (no commercial breaks) and the dense nature of the plots in the books by George R.R. Martin, "Game of Thrones" has more happen in one episode than many TV shows' plots for half a season. And, because of the sprawling nature of Martin's series, there are a lot of characters all involved in very different storylines of their own. Can't tell a Lannister from a Baratheon but want to see what all the pop culture fuss has been about? Here's what you need to know from season 1 of "Game of Thrones" to be able to dive in now that season 2 has started.

Helen Sloan/HBO/AP

1. Daenerys Targaryen

Courtesy of HBO

Daenerys, who is 17 at the start of the TV series, is a daughter of the former royal house Targaryen, who were deposed by the current king Robert Baratheon. Daenerys and her brother Viserys escaped when the new king took power and have been living in exile, but Viserys is determined to reclaim what he sees as his throne. In order to gain a sizable fighting force, Viserys married Daenerys to Khal Drogo, the leader of a tribe of the people known as the Dothraki, who are nomadic and survive through their horsemanship. (Khal is a formal title for the leader of a Dothraki tribe.) Daenerys and Khal Drogo grew to love one another and Daenerys becomes pregnant, but Viserys threatened Daenerys' life and that of her child when he comes to believe that his sister will take the throne, not him, so Khal Drogo killed Viserys by pouring molten gold on his head. However, Khal Drogo later became wounded in battle, and Daenerys desperately made a deal with a tribe wisewoman to try to save his life. The wisewoman warned her that such magic could have a heavy cost, but Daenerys agreed anyway. Khal Drogo was revived, but he lay in a coma, and the cost of the magic is revealed when Daenerys' baby is born, but dies. Unable to stand seeing Khal Drogo in such a state, Daenerys smothers him, and after a funeral pyre is built for the fallen leader, with dragon eggs Daenerys received as a wedding gift on the flames, she walks into the burning pyre. The Dothraki tribe is amazed to find her unharmed, with three hatched dragon eggs, the next morning. Daenerys is now determined to take the royal throne that she has also come to see as hers.

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