"Game of Thrones" is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.I wish the Times had assigned someone who had read the books to review the show. The first book is in part about Eddard (Ned) Stark (played by Sean Bean in HBO's 10 episode series) who took part in a successful rebellion against a King Aerys (called the "Mad King"). His childhood friend Robert Baratheon led the revolt and became the new king. Baratheon is the loutish type of man all right-thinking women hate: a man's man with little introspection and large appetites. In the war which deposed the mad king Aerys, Baratheon cut a heroic and dashing figure but after years of power he has become fat and complacent. He's was better at leading a revolt than being the king.
Ned Stark suffers from being pure at heart. He is loyal and honorable to a fault. He has a code and sticks to it, come what may. The Stark clan rules from a castle far in the north and the saga begins with Baratheon asking Stark to take over as his "Hand" or right-hand man / chief-of-staff. The previous Hand of the King had been poisoned. Stark has no desire to be Hand, which means court politics (i.e. dishonesty and backstabbing) and ruling in effect for a King who has little interest in the more mundane matters of being a King. His wise wife advises against it.
Stark believes one can't be pure at heart and also be successful at ruling and playing the political game, but he agrees anyway to become Hand out of loyalty to his old friend Robert Baratheon.