This post will be talking about Game of Thrones, HBO’s excellent adaptation of the existing books in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (and now a pre-adaptation of the unpublished future books.)
I usually don’t post about Game of Thrones while the show is currently airing. I try to save all my opinions and observations for the off-season when I need to write about the show as a therapeutic exercise, but rules are made to be broken.
Broken, like chains or wheels are to Daenerys Targaryen.
A few years ago, I wrote an article about the different looks of the various military factions in Game of Thrones, a sort of guideline to aid in identifying the groups of armed men that a viewer might be presented with on the show. The key is the distinctive helmets that each group uses. For the most part, that’s all that’s required to tell your Stark from a Stormlander, an Ironborn from a Bolton.
There were a few groups that I omitted in that post. The knights of the Vale just didn’t seem to have anything that jumped out at me as notable, armor-wise. And I was bummed out when we visited Renly’s camp of mixed Stormland/Reach forces in season 2. Very generic-looking men-at-arms.
The only guys wearing helmets were Catelyn Stark’s entourage, and some baby-brother Baratheon dudes in the back with wimpy antlers on their helmets. (I’m sure Robert Baratheon had *enormous* antlers on his helmet. Because, you know.)
I was hoping for some helmets or armor (but really, helmets) that communicated an “I’m from Highgarden!!! Team Tyrell!!!” type of message. But there really wasn’t that much in evidence.
Apparently all the design work along those lines had gone into Ser Loras Tyrell’s super-flowery tournament armor from Season One.
So I was delighted that in the last episode (Season 6, Episode 6, Blood of my Blood) when Mace Tyrell, the Lord of Highgarden, led a host of Tyrell troops into King’s Landing. The Tyrell accoutrements did not disappoint.
Last Year’s Fashion
But let me step back a moment. I shouldn’t overlook that we did see some Tyrell men-at-arms escorting Lady Olenna last season, when the Queen of Thorns came to try and negotiate with the High Sparrow. They kind of looked distinctive, I guess.
Their helmets were similar to the Baratheon Stormlander helmets, with the addition of some serious face-obscuring cheekguards.
So, last season, if I was going to tell someone how to distinguish a Tyrell armsman from anyone else, it would be all about how big their cheekguards were. Which doesn’t seem that thematic to the Tyrells. I mean, I guess I could say “you know that Lady Olenna? She’s so cheeky! Or something.”
But I was kind of disappointed.
Highgarden, High Fashion
This season a Tyrell army marched into the city, to the Sept of Baelor. They were not generic-looking, or near-duplicates of their neighbors from the Stormlands.
The sigil of House Tyrell is a rose (a rose which is Growing Strong) and the new helmets suggest the petals of a rose around the crown of the helm. This makes it much easier to identify a Tyrell soldier. Particularly in King’s Landing with various members of House Lannister, the city watch Goldcloaks, and members of the Kingsguard about.
Fashion? Who Cares?
Yes, yes. I know. Is it really all that important that we can visually identify different fighting men? Maybe, maybe not. Where there’s doubt, the show would probably make things clear in time (or a helpful friend would explain who those guys were that unexpectedly and treacherously killed those other guys – a common occurrence on the show.)
But I think it’s relevant that the show’s art department for this season designed a thematic look for the Highgarden troops.
CGI was no doubt employed to fill out the ranks of the Tyrell army for the longshots, but certainly many pieces of armor (and those rose-crested helmets) were manufactured for the brief showdown between Jaime and the High Sparrow. For the show’s production to justify doing that, it’s likely that we’ll see some near-future action with Tyrell fighting men. A lot of Tyrell fighting men.
There are plenty of candidates for Tyrell soldiers to either fight against or possibly alongside. There’s been a brewing Lannister-Tyrell conflict thanks to Cersei (which might even include participation from the Knights of the Vale, if Baelish decides to not invest anymore in the North.) The Dornish have become a dangerously unpredictable wildcard, and who knows how fast war-mongering Euron Greyjoy can build his fleet of ships?
Regardless of who is killing who, if the flowery chivalry of the Reach are involved, we’ll be able to identify their soldiers on sight. Finally.
(Now, if the show artisans would just give the knights of the Vale some kind of falcon-embellishment on their helmets… I’d be so happy.)
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text.
If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved