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6 March 2019

You know nothing, Jon Snow: Why Samwell Tarly should win the Game of Thrones

Yes, he’s a total bumbling geek; but he is also brave, loyal, intelligent, and self-deprecatingly funny.

By Rebecca Rideal

The first trailer for the last ever series of Game of Thrones was released yesterday and to be honest, aside from a few moody shots of Daenerys, Jon and their pet dragons, it didn’t really tell us much. More compelling have been the publicity images depicting various cast members sat upon the Iron Throne. The range of potential tyrants is far broader than I would have expected – even The Hound gets a chance to chill on the regal chair for a bit.

Setting aside the possibility of a throneless White Walker Republic, let’s play along with the PR game. Who should win Game of Thrones?

Literally every feminist bone in my body is screaming out for one of the women to win. In a series of many flaws, the female leads have been the highlight of almost every episode – from the weirdly endearing malice of wine-guzzling, incest-loving Cersei Lannister and the noble strength and grace of Brienne of Tarth to the freaky dark magic of Lord of Light #1 fangirl Melisandre and the cold-blooded assassin coming of age story of Ayra Stark.

Out of all of the women, if I was pushed, I think I’d probably back Sansa Stark. There are a few reasons for this, but mainly it’s just because she has gone through some properly awful shit and is still relatively sane. Plus, in all honesty, of the real contenders, Ayra would likely do a Joffrey if she won; Cersei is already sitting on the throne and the only place to go from there is down; and Daenerys is just a bit, well, obvious.

Yet, unfortunately, I can’t back any of the women, not even Sansa. To my mind, there is only one bottom fit for the seat of swords, and it belongs to the ultimate underdog: Samwell Tarly.

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Think about it. Sam has been repeatedly bullied, mocked and underestimated – even his own father threatened him with death if he didn’t join the Night’s Watch – but has managed to survive experiences many others would not.

Yes, he’s a total bumbling geek; but he is also brave, loyal, intelligent, self-deprecatingly funny and has done some properly instrumental stuff. It was he who found a stash of dragon glass weapons, which he used to actually kill a White Walker. It was he who went into full fairy tale hero mode in rescuing Gilly and her baby from her evil husband-father. And it was he whose powerful speech and loyalty saw Jon Snow becoming Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.  

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There’s another reason why Sam is my personal favourite: he is basically a historian. His archival research within the forbidden section of the Citadel library led to the discovery of much-needed stores of dragon glass under Dragon Stone. It also led to the inconvenient discovery that Jon Snow is actually the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark and is not only the true heir to the Iron Throne, but also currently shagging his auntie. (Confusingly, there’s even a fan theory that Sam is also a secret son of Rhaegar Targaryen.)

On top of this, Sam is also an accomplished thief – successfully stealing books from the Citadel and the Valryian steel sword, Heartsbane, from his own family (books and Valryian steel will of course come in very handy when fighting the White Walkers).   

But Sam doesn’t just stop with archival research and robbery, he’s also adept at conducting cutting edge medical procedures. Remember how he achieved the impossible and cured everyone’s favourite stalker Jorah Mormont from greyscale? He was able to do this because, unlike many others, he had previously taken the time to talk to Stannis Baratheon’s ill-fated daughter Shireen. See, he’s caring too.  

To strengthen the case, we all know authors like to write themselves into their own books one way or another. When asked at a Comic Con (where else?) which of his characters George R.R. Martin thought he most closely resembled, the author reportedly replied: “I would probably be Samwell Tarly”. So, there it is. The winner of the Game of Thrones should definitely be Sam.