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New to the ‘Game’: The Best and Worst New Characters from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Two

Game of Thrones

Helen Sloan/HBO; Oliver Upton/HBO; Helen Sloan/HBO

The Game is over. The season finale of Game of Thrones aired Sunday night, and the seven gods finally revealed who will survive to play next season. That makes it the perfect time to rank the Game's rookies as they continue (or don't) into their sophomore phase. Many new faces appeared in Season Two – some stayed in the background while others drove the action and became fan favorites. We're counting down the top 15 new characters from worst to first. Who'll be the Game's rookie of the year?

By Sean T. Collins

Brienne of Tarth

Helen Sloan/HBO

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Brienne of Tarth

Discriminated against for her gender, mocked for her appearance, in love with someone who could never love her back, cursed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, quite possibly doomed for swearing allegiance to people whose fortunes are falling rapidly: The warrior woman Brienne embodies nearly every misfortune that can befall the people of Game of Thrones, all in a single character. And towering actress Gwendoline Christie embodies Brienne in turn: If it weren't for "Blackwater"'s wildfire explosion, her very real height would be the season's best "special effect."

Stannis Baratheon

Helen Sloan/HBO

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Stannis Baratheon

Villains become antiheroes by being more charismatic and charming than the heroes themselves. So how do you explain the magnetism exerted by Stannis, the least charming man in Westeros? Despite being almost deliberately humorless and unlikeable, the man who would be king attracts followers and audience members alike through sheer stubborn relentlessness. When steely-eyed, jaw-clenching actor Stephen Dillane growls "The Iron Throne is mine by right," or when he gazes wild-eyed into the flames that allegedly foretell his victory, he leaves no doubt that his Stannis will fight until his dying breath, making him a worthy foil for all the Game's more sympathetic or scintillating players – and marking him as Season Two's rookie of the year.

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