By Oliver Gettell
March 31, 2016 at 09:31 PM EDT
Macall B. Polay/HBO

Ever since a certain character lost his head in King’s Landing, it’s been difficult to pin down just who the real protagonist of Game of Thrones is. Now some number-crunchers at Macalester College have performed statistical analysis of George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy to do just that.

For their research paper “Network of Thrones,” math professor Andrew J. Beveridge and undergraduate Jie Shan mapped out the complex relationships between characters in A Storm of Swords, which is the third book in Martin’s series and the inspiration for the third and fourth seasons of the HBO adaptation.

Using principles of network science, they examined such factors as how many people each character is connected to, how often they interact with others, and how important the people they’re connected to are.

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“In our network, three characters stand out consistently: Tyrion, Jon, and Sansa,” the paper reads. And the 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, the Game of Thrones saga is far from over, so time will tell how their findings hold up. For more insights, read the full “Network of Thrones” research paper in Math Horizons.

HBO’s epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin’s novel series "A Song of Fire and Ice."
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