People Reveal Easter Eggs Hidden In The Game Of Thrones Books

Game of Thrones is easily one of the most popular franchises around today. Although most people are familiar with it through the show, the books that inspired it are worth a read (Or a listen to, Audiobooks are great).

Prolific author George R. R. Martin has become somewhat notorious for hiding sneaky references to some of his favourite pieces of culture in the massive novels. From Comic Books to Rock Bands, it's time to unpack some of the elusive references hidden between the saga's 4228 pages.

Beware, this article is dark and full of spoilers.


The most recent book in the Song of Ice and Fire saga has a character named Ser Patrek of King's Mountain.

This character, based on blogger Patrick St. Denis, was placed in the book after George R. R. Martin lost a bet to St. Denis about the year's Football season.

King's Mountain is named after St. Denis' hometown of Montreal, Quebec which translates to 'Royal Mountain' in English.


When Brienne was accompanying Renly Baratheon, many of his knights continually mocked her. The knights jokingly wagered that they could each marry her and she challenged them by saying that whomever bested her in combat would wed her.

Two of the knights that she fought were Harry Sawyer and Robin Potter. She beat both of them and left Harry with a conspicuous scar on his forehead.

Sound familiar?


Being the Godfather of modern fantasy writing, a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien is inevitable. But, unlike most of these references, the Lord of the Rings references are hardly subtle.

For example: Samwell Tarly is basically the same character as Samwise Gamgee. The loveable, rotund sidekick to our main hero that emotionally grounds them and helps them on their quest.


The Greyjoy Motto: "What is Dead May Never Die", as well as the Drowned God are both references to H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos

The Greyjoy sigil of a Kraken could also be a reference.


Other Sigils have referenced popular culture as well, including that of House Wyl of the Boneway. This northern Dorne house's sigil features a Black Adder biting a human heel.

This is a clear reference to the English show Blackadder, one of the breakout roles for Rowan Atkinson.


In the first novel, Catelyn Stark employs three men-at-arms from House Bracken to help her escort Tyrion to the Veil. Those men-at-arms were named Kurleket, Lharys and Mohar. A not so subtle reference to the Three Stooges Curly Larry and Moe.



Three Lords of House Tully in Dance of Dragons are named Grover, Elmo and Kermit.

Need we say more?


Belchio of Volantis was revered for his undefeated victories until he was torn limb from limb by giants.

While his real life counterpart isn't as gruesome, this is a reference to Bill Belichick who was the coach of the New England Patriots. His team was undefeated for the majority of a season before being defeated by the New York Giants, Martin's favourite team.


While The Song of Ice and Fire may seem like a very serious adult epic, it's clear that Martin is a big fan of comic books from his childhood.

Throughout the series, a number of unnamed houses have their sigils described eerily similar to Comic characters. Blue Beetle, Black Hood and The Green Arrow all make appearances as House Sigils.


Howland Reed's castle, Greywater Watch, is allegedly able to move throughout the swamps. This is a pretty obvious reference to Howl's Moving Castle which, although more famous as the 2004 movie, is a 1986 fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones.


"As useless as nipples on a breastplate" is a common phrase uttered throughout the books. As an established Comic Book fan, Martin clearly uses this as a way to make jabs at the much maligned costume design in 1997's Batman and Robin.


Tormund Giantsbane's origin is an obvious reference to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, with an important part of his story coming from that time that he cut open a Giant and slept inside it. Similar to how Luke survived the cold on Hoth. His remark "the stink near did for me." is similar to Han's "I thought they smelled bad on the outside".


More Tolkien! Kahl Drogo's name is a reference to Frodo's father, Drogo Baggins. (This was very confusing when I thought Bilbo was his father.)

Also, Tyrion is often armed with an axe. Similar to Gimli from Game of Thrones Lord of the Rings.


Freyr is the Norse God of fertility, who is seemingly referenced in the name of notorious house of Walder Frey. House Frey is famous for its sheer size in comparison to other houses which is mostly made up of Walder Frey's own descendants. The parallel is hard to miss.



After Daenerys frees the Unsullied from Astapor, the city employs a replacement force. This new army is much less formidable and is said to 'Run when you fart in their general direction.'

This is a pretty obvious reference to the iconic French Taunter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


The singer Marillion, whose tongue was removed on the King's orders, could be a reference to the British Prog Rock band of the same name.


Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper who died at the hands of The Mountain, seems to bear a very close resemblance to Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. Oberyn's final words even echo Montoya's iconic line: "My Name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."


Rugen the undergaoler is another apparent reference to The Princess Bride, which features the villain Count Rugen.


One more Tolkien reference! This time it's not a reference to Lord of the Rings.

It's a reference to the Hobbit! HA!

The island and castle Oakenshield are clearly a reference to Thorin Oakenshield from Hobbit fame.


Durran Durrandon was a King near Storm's End who appears in the History Books of Westeros. His name sounds similar to a certain 80s band...

It would be so much cooler if that house's sigil was a wolf.


George R. R. Martin is a MASSIVE fan of the Grateful Dead and like any good fan, his writing is packed with references to their songs.

Just a few examples of songs that have appeared in the Song of Ice and Fire series are: Darkstar, Mountains of the Moon, and the Cassidy.



Martin is also not above referencing his own works. While most people may only be familiar with Game of Thrones, his earlier novels pop up now and then throughout the series.

Bakkalon, the Pale Child is mentioned as a God to some far-off people in Essos, but the name was a main character in Martin's And Seven Times Never Kill Man.


The Fever River is a reference to his own novel Fevre Dream.

Lord Baelor Blacktyde also captures a ship by the name of Nightflyer, which was an award-winning novella by Martin.


Finally, a reference to Moby Dick to send us home. No, we haven't encountered any White Wales (I don't think) in the books. The reference regards the character Patchface, Stannis Baratheon's fool and friend of his daughter Shireen (RIP).

Patchface behaves similarly to Pyp, a boy from Moby Dick who is left at sea and driven mad. Little pearls of wisdom can be heard in his incoherent ramblings, much like the fool of Dragonstone.

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Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Hulu

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's searing novel, was written at the height of the Reagan administration and satirized political, social, and religious trends of the 1980s. It's also a hit television series on Hulu that returns on June 5.

While we still have a long way to go before we can find out what's next for June/Offred in the Republic of Gilead, we can, at the very least, regale you with some cool facts about one of the most enduring stories of the last three decades.

The Trailer for Season 3 Plays Off a Slogan from the Reagan Era

Perhaps the best thing that came out of the Super Bowl––aside from the memes haggling Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, that is––was the trailer for the third season of the Hulu series.

The trailer lampoons former President Ronald Regan's 1984 "Morning in America" political campaign television commercial.

"It's morning again in America," you hear over a soundtrack and images that resound with boundless optimism. Things turn dark from there. Soon the camera freezes on Elisabeth Moss's face: "Wake up, America," she says.

Margaret Atwood's Follow-Up Will Be Released Later This Year

Margaret Atwood will release a sequel to The Handmaid's Tale titled The Testaments in September 2019. The Testaments is unconnected to Hulu's adaptation and will feature the testimonials of three female narrators from Gilead.

This literary device keeps with the metafictional epilogue that follows Offred's story in the original novel. The novel ends much in the way Season 1 ends: with Offred entering the van at Nick's insistence. The epilogue explains how the events of the novel were recorded onto cassette tapes after the beginning of what scholars have come to describe as "The Gilead Period." An interview with a noted academic implies that a more equitable society, one with full rights for women and freedom of religion restored, emerged following the collapse of the Republic of Gilead.

Serena Joy Waterford Is Likely Based On A Noted Conservative Activist

As the series goes on, we learn more about Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski) and her beginnings.

Serena was a conservative activist who, along with her husband Fred, spearheaded the Puritan movement that ultimately gave rise to Gilead. Inspired by women whom she perceives to have "abandoned" their families in the name of female autonomy, Serena Joy delivers impassioned speeches at venues around the nation calling for policies that would place women back in the home. She even wrote a bestselling book, A Woman's Place, that served as the vessel for much of her conservative dogma and inspired many of the Commander's Wives who become her friends and neighbors.

Serena was likely based on conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who established herself over many years as one of the fiercest antifeminist and anti-abortion advocates in the United States. Schlafly was also a vociferous opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, which she considered an attack against traditional gender roles.

The 1990 Film Adaptation Had a Messy Production

A film version of The Handmaid's Tale was released in 1990. It starred Natasha Richardson as Offred, Faye Dunaway as Serena Joy, Robert Duvall as Commander Waterford, Aidan Quinn as Nick, Victoria Tennant as Aunt Lydia, and Elizabeth McGovern as Moira.

The film was not well received and had a messy production. Director Volker Schlöndorff replaced original director Karel Reisz amid internal bickering over a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Schlöndorff asked for rewrites, and Pinter, who was reluctant to do them, directed him to author Margaret Atwood, who was one of several who ended up making changes to Pinter's screenplay.

Pinter told his biographer years later [as quoted in Harold Printer, p. 304] that:

It became … a hotchpotch. The whole thing fell between several shoots. I worked with Karel Reisz on it for about a year. There are big public scenes in the story and Karel wanted to do them with thousands of people. The film company wouldn't sanction that so he withdrew. At which point Volker Schlondorff came into it as director. He wanted to work with me on the script, but I said I was absolutely exhausted. I more or less said, 'Do what you like. There's the script. Why not go back to the original author if you want to fiddle about?' He did go to the original author. And then the actors came into it. I left my name on the film because there was enough there to warrant it—just about. But it's not mine'.

Star Natasha Richardson reportedly felt "cast adrift" when much of Offred's interior monologue was sacrificed as a result of cuts made to the screenplay.

The Film and TV Series Aren't The Only Adaptations of This Seminal Work

There are several different adaptations of Atwood's seminal work, including, but not limited to:

  • an audiobook read by Homeland actress Claire Danes that won the 2013 Audie Award for Fiction
  • a concept album by Canadian band Lakes of Canada
  • a radio adaptation produced in 2000 for BBC Radio 4
  • an operatic adaptation that premiered in 2000 and was the opening production of the 2004–2005 season of the Canadian Opera Company.

Elisabeth Moss, the Star of the Hulu Series, is a Scientologist

Between The West Wing, Mad Men, Top of the Lake, and The Handmaid's Tale, Elisabeth Moss has a reputation for starring in critically acclaimed television shows.

Much has been made, however, of her casting as Offred. Moss was born into the Scientologist belief system, which the German government has classified as an "anti-constitutional sect," the French government has classified as a cult, and the American government has allowed individuals to practice freely though not without considerable contention. Moss also identifies as a feminist.

Asked by a fan about the parallels between Gilead and Scientology (namely the belief that "outside forces" are inherently "evil") Moss responded:

"That's actually not true at all about Scientology. Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me. The most important things to me probably. And so Gilead and THT hit me on a very personal level."

An Episode During Season 2 Highlighted President Donald Trump's Border Crisis

Last summer, President Donald Trump and his administration created a crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border when he and Jeff Sessions, his former attorney general, announced their "zero tolerance" family separations policy. The president blamed Democrats for the policy, imploring them to "start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration."

As images and stories of children ripped away from their parents at the border began to circulate, the Season 2 episode "The Last Ceremony" showed just how timely the show really is: After Offred is raped by the Waterfords, Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) allows June/Offred (Elisabeth Moss) to visit her daughter, Hannah, in an undisclosed location. June is given 10 minutes with her daughter before a guard forcibly separates them again.

The episode, written well before the crisis was initiated, premiered just as Homeland Security admitted that more than 2,300 children had been separated from their parents.

Another Episode During Season 2 Appeared to Predict Canada-U.S. Relations

The fallout between the United States and Canada during the G7 summit appeared to have reached its peak once President Donald Trump refused to sign a joint statement with America's allies and threatened to escalate a trade war between America's neighbors. He also referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "weak."

The Season 2 episode "Smart Power"––in which Canadian diplomats ban Gilead's representatives from the country and choose to stand with the women imprisoned in the totalitarian nation in a nod to the #MeToo movement––was written and premiered before the G7 blowup, but is no less prophetic.

In Season 2, Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" Becomes an Ode to Female Resilience

"This Woman's Work," a ballad written by singer Kate Bush that is also one of the tracks on her 1989 album The Sensual World, serves as an ode to female power and resistance in the horrifying Season 2 opener, where June and the other handmaids realize they're about to be executed. The women are forced to summon strength at a moment of debilitating weakness. As the camera pans over the bleak environs of Fenway Stadium, Bush starts to sing:

Pray God you can cope
I'll stand outside
This woman's work
This woman's world
Ooooh it's hard on a man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the FatherI
know you've got a little life in you left
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I know you've got a little life in you yet
I know you've got a lot of strength left
I should be crying but I just can't let it show
I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking
All the things we should've said that I never said
All the things we should have done that we never did
All the things we should have given but I didn't
Oh darling make it go
Make it go away

"It was shattering and perfect," said Bruce Miller, who created the Hulu Handmaid's Tale adaptation. "One of the things I really like about the song is that on its face, there's a bit of very interesting lyrical play. It's nice that that's going on while you're watching."

"The Handmaid's Tale" Was the First Streamed Series to Win the Best Drama Series Emmy

Hulu beat out Netflix and Amazon to become the first streaming service to win an Emmy for Best Drama. Unfortunately, because the third season doesn't premiere until June 5, it's ineligible for the 2019 Emmys. Guess we'll see the show back onstage in 2020!

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