By Steve Marzolf
1. Ned Stark
A veteran soldier who helped the king win his throne, Ned headed north to his hometown to raise a family after the war. But the peace he fought so hard for is about to get a lot less idyllic.
2. Jon Snow
Jon is Ned's illegitimate son (so he's not exactly the favorite of Lady Catelyn Stark) and like most teens with complicated home lives, he's looking to move out as quickly as possible.
3. Tyrion Lannister
One of the sharpest minds around, Tyrion's stature makes him an object of shame and disgust for his family. He does his best to make sure his behavior lines up with their expectations.
4. Cersei Baratheon
A terror familiar to kind-hearted women everywhere, Queen Cersei brings the spirit of social warfare and backhanded compliments to an office that gives her the power to lobby for death sentences. Not that her own life is particularly tidy...
5. Daenerys Targaryen
Dany would have been born a princess - but most of her family was killed off in the civil war that brought the new king to power. Instead she grew up exiled across the ocean with a vindictive brother who makes being homeless feel like a welcome distraction.
Find out more about the characters and locations of the show at the official Game of Thrones Viewer's Guide.