They're there, of course, on the Queen's orders. She's bent on ridding the realm of the Starks, so her son Joffrey can rule with no interference, safely under her manipulation. Little Finger and the Eunuch still hold the balance of power, though, so no one's power is really safe and secure in this realm.
Meanwhile, Robb Stark's marshaling his father's old allies to fight the Lannisters, in another move reminiscent of Star Wars and the rebels' fight against the overwhelming forces of the Empire. In many ways, Game of Thrones can be considered a science fiction of the past, or fantasy playing by the rules of science fiction, with realms instead of planets.
And though the center-stage is now occupied by the Starks and the Lannisters, who have at last moved from intrigue into open conflict and looming battle, the greatest dangers to our heroes still reside in the awakening north and the horsemen beyond the sea. Good games within games within larger games.
See also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces
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