Game of Thrones is a brilliant show, but it can be very confusing. With seemingly hundreds of characters and subplots stretching back over both the TV series and George RR Martin’s source novels, it’s often hard to keep track of all the comings and goings. Seven hells, since the death of Ned Stark (played by Sean Bean in the TV series) at the end of the first book the saga hasn’t even had a main character, right?
Well, actually that may be wrong – because according to two mathematicians, there is a clear successor to Ned, and they’ve got the calculations to prove it.
Taking the third book in the novel series (A Storm of Swords, roughly series 3 of the TV show) as their model, mathematicians Andrew Beveridge and Jie Shan decided to work out who came out on top by using a new and evolving branch of applied graph theory called network science, beginning by turning the book saga into a social network of characters.
Here’s one of the graphs from that network, just in case you wanted to feel bad about your own grasp of mathematics and/or how much you paid attention in school.
According to their paper in Math Horizons, the pair went on to crunch different factors within that network (including how many people each character is connected to, how important those people are and how often they see them) to work out who stands out as the main character – and they got an answer.
“In our network, three characters stand out consistently: Tyrion, Jon, and Sansa,” the paper reads. But there can be only one winner…
“Acting as the Hand of the King, Tyrion is thrust into the center of the political machinations of the capitol city,” Beveridge and Shan write. “Our analysis suggests that he is the true protagonist of the book.”
Of course this was only for Storm of Swords and not the series as a whole, but it’s a start in unraveling the great big ball of confusion that is Game of Thrones – and might just be the sliver of hope we need that Tyrion is too important to be killed off next.
Well we can dream, right?
Game of Thrones returns to TV on 24th April