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Question spawned from this chat discussion.


When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground. - Cersei Lannister

Why does Cersei call it Game of Thrones (and why did G.R.R. Martin name it that way)?

In my understanding of the books and the TV show, multiple characters, families and houses play multiple games (mustering, battling, intrigues etc.) to be seated on the Iron Throne.

This question about the titles of the book also noted that

A Game of Thrones refers to the eponymous "game" of politics and treason characters play to claim the iron throne and the power that comes with it.

But then, the throne should be singular because it refers to the game to claim the Iron Throne, and not multiple Thrones.

Therefore, wouldn't it make more sense to call it Games of Throne?

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    It's all one big, interconnected game (with multiple threads), and we do have 5 kings (=thrones) at one point. Plus one queen in exile. – Annatar Sep 4 '17 at 10:58
  • Related: movies.stackexchange.com/q/36349/44293 – Edlothiad Sep 4 '17 at 11:03
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    No, because the first book is named A Game of Thrones. – Edlothiad Sep 4 '17 at 11:05
  • @Edlothiad But why was the first book called a game of thrones and not Games of the Throne? That's essentially my question – Narusan Sep 4 '17 at 11:54
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    Game of Houses was already a term in use by a competing Fantasy brand at the time the first book was written. In-universe speculation, but given Westeros still calls itself the Seven Kingdoms despite having been unified so long, it's possible the term originated from when there really were multiple kingdoms and multiple thrones. Much like how my wife still says "did we tape that show" in spite of us not having an actual VCR for years. – Paul Sep 4 '17 at 12:31
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TL;DR: It is meant in the metaphorical sense to gain more power.

Not all thrones are the physical one, the Iron Throne. It is meant in a metaphorical sense i.e. "The way you act to gain more power" but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Think of it like Lord Baelish would:

The Ladder

Each rung is more power and another metaphorical throne you've won in the game to get more power.

Take another example, The Warden of the North isn't technically a throne but it is a position of major power in the Game of Thrones world. The position is thought over by the Stark's and Bolton's and lately Littlefinger though we eventually see the Stark's prevail, for now.


I did find this English SE answer that appears to have the same theory as me on the language behind the name. (Emphasis mine):

I think part of the confusion is: if there is only one Iron Throne (as there is in the series), why is "thrones" plural in A Game of Thrones. The answer is that "A Game of Throne", "A Game of a Throne", and "A Game of the Throne" all sound really terrible to native English speakers.

Here you should interpret "thrones" as a generic noun, meaning thrones as an abstract concept rather than referring to any particular one. In English, if you have a countable noun, the generic must be expressed as plural (with no article). Possibly, the translation into Czech should have been a game in which one might win the (only) throne, if that phrase can be expressed reasonably succinctly in Czech.

Though a competing answer states it is just an ambiguity.

  • Although a good answer, it's very speculative. Any sources you can provide? Anything that either the show-runners or D&D have said to confirm it was meant to be metaphorical? – Edlothiad Sep 4 '17 at 11:05
  • @Edlothiad No all my own theory, I can add a disclaimer if you want? – TheLethalCarrot Sep 4 '17 at 11:06
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    I was just curious if this was spawned by something you'd read. It's likely the show-runners have said something (or GRRM, himself) in an interview or blog post. – Edlothiad Sep 4 '17 at 11:06
  • @Edlothiad I've never seen anything though I'd be interested to see if they have. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 4 '17 at 11:09
  • Interesting theory. Someone official must have said something about the title at some point though, right? – Narusan Sep 4 '17 at 12:00

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