Being Smart and Reading is Better than Dragons on 'Game of Thrones'

Here's how to survive.

Bran and Sam are powerful, just not in the traditional sense.

Since the very beginning of Game of Thrones, people who actually know what is going on are way more important than anyone else. Information and those who dole it out are way more powerful than dragons or swords.

Warriors in Game of Thrones often die — even Jon Snow — but movers and shakers like Littlefinger and Varys with their spies and “little birds” have consistently been the best at surviving. These days, as Season 7 continues towards the all-too-soon conclusion of the epic story, characters like Samwell Tarly and Bran Stark — and their pursuit of information to help in the Wars to Come — are proving even more useful than dragons.

Admittedly, Dany’s dragons have been a total game-changer, especially since she actually started using them in Season 6 and 7. But the real assets for the good guys have been good old-fashioned information. Facts rule in Westeros and beyond. Sam and Bran both seek answers, and the information they find aids in all sorts of ways

To be fair, Bran and Sam’s plots have been a bit dull at times. In an earlier episode in Season 7, Sam literally spent an entire montage cleaning poop. But while at the Citadel, Sam discovered that Dragonstone had great stores of Dragonglass; He passed this information on to Jon, which led to Jon and Daenerys getting involved with one another. Who knows, maybe that’ll even end in marriage.

Sometimes scholarly research pays off.
Reading is good.

Also while at the Citadel, Sam is somehow able to find information about a risky procedure that went on to cure Jorah Mormont of his Greyscale. This, of course, gets a valuable ally back in the fight on Dany’s side, just in time to join Jon’s squad venturing north of the Wall.

Further back in the history of Game of Thrones, it was Sam who first saw the army of the dead just near the Fist of the First Men. It was also Sam who first killed a White Walker, proving that it was possible with Dragonglass; in all the information Sam uncovers in early seasons, this is perhaps the most important.

Whereas Sam trudges through the realm of scholarly research, reading book after book, Bran explores the deeper mysteries of the world through warging and encounters with the Three-Eyed Raven.

This really was a meeting of the minds between the only two people that wield knowledge instead of swords.
This really was a meeting of the minds between the only two people that wield knowledge instead of swords.

As the current Three-Eyed Raven, Bran knows everything in the past and present, including the bombshell of Jon’s true parents that he’s been weirdly keeping a secret throughout all of Season 7 thus far.

When Bran does finally drop the truth, it’s going to change the landscape of power in Westeros. Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen, and when you factor in what Sam (or rather, Gilly) recently learned in Oldtown, then Jon is the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. He isn’t even a bastard, so his claim to the Throne would be stronger than Daenerys’ and far stronger than Cersei’s. Fundamentally, it changes everything on the more political side of the show.

Who knows what other information Bran might be keeping from his family at Winterfell.

Bran wargs into a bunch of ravens to spy on the Night King.
Bran wargs into a bunch of ravens to spy on the Night King.

Bran using his Three-Eyed Raven powers to spy on the Night King is only the latest indication of just how valuable he’s become. Jon wouldn’t have even known where he needed to go if it weren’t for this information about enemy troop movements.

And think about it: In the very first episode of Game of Thrones ever, what happened to Bran? He was pushed from the Winterfell tower because of what he knew about Jaime and Cersei Lannister’s affair.

For both Sam and Bran, their entire journeys throughout Game of Thrones have involved the acquisition and pursuit of knowledge. Arguably, nobody else in the entire series has had more significance to the story — especially as it related to the upcoming war against he Night King.


Game of Thrones Season 7 continues Sundays on HBO at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

Media via HBO (1, 2, 3, 4)