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George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series features a massive cast of characters. The series follows three interwoven plotlines: a dynastic war for control of Westeros by several families; the rising threat of the dormant cold supernatural Others dwelling beyond an immense wall of ice on Westeros's northern border; and the ambition of Daenerys Targaryen, the exiled daughter and one of the remaining heirs of a king murdered fifteen years earlier in a rebellion, to return to Westeros with her fire-breathing dragons and take the throne.
Each chapter is narrated in the third person limited point of view through the eyes of a single character. Beginning with nine POV characters in A Game of Thrones, the number grows to thirty-one in A Dance with Dragons. Most characters are nobility and are members of, or are sworn to, Westeros's Great Houses: House Arryn, the ruling House Baratheon, House Greyjoy, House Lannister, House Martell, the exiled House Targaryen, House Tully, House Tyrell, and House Stark. In the royal court, the Kingsguard vow to protect the king and do not ally themselves with one house. The King's council also exists to serve the king, but the loyalties of its members often lie elsewhere. Other characters are sworn brothers of the Night's Watch, who defend Westeros from wildling raiders and the supernatural race of Others beyond the Wall.
House Stark is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the principal house of the North. Its seat is at Winterfell, one of the oldest castles in the Seven Kingdoms. Its coat of arms displays a grey direwolf running on a white field, and its words are Winter is Coming. House Stark ruled as the Kings of the North for centuries until House Targaryen conquered Westeros, and the Starks chose to submit to their authority and were made major lords. Since Aegon's Landing, the Starks have been the Lords of Winterfell, Lords Paramount of the North, and Wardens of the North.
Fifteen years before the events of the series, Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen disappeared. House Stark treated this as an abduction and protested. In response King Aerys II Targaryen executed Lord Stark and his son Brandon. Eddard became Lord of Winterfell and joined his friend Robert Baratheon in rebellion to save Lyanna and avenge his father and brother. Although Robert was crowned king and the Targaryens were killed or exiled, Lyanna died. By A Game of Thrones, Eddard and his wife Catelyn, of House Tully, have had five children: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon. Eddard also acknowledges one illegitimate son, Jon Snow.
Throughout the series, the Starks are scattered by the events of the War of the Five Kings, and the members that are still alive are in very different situations. The fate of the House remains uncertain, as most believe that all the legitimate Stark sons are dead and Winterfell was burned by Ramsey (Snow) Bolton in A Clash of Kings.
Eddard "Ned" Stark was the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, and briefly served as Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon. He was a POV character for fifteen chapters in A Game of Thrones, the first novel of the series (and the only one in which he was present.) While other lords in the Seven Kingdoms often noted that Ned was cold and prickly, he is warm and loving to his family and friends. He is also respected throughout the realm as an admired lord who is dedicated to duty and honor. He possesses the Stark features of black hair and gray eyes. The only two of his children that inherited these features were Jon and Arya.
The second son of Lord Rickard Stark, Ned was sent to the Vale as a young boy to be fostered by Lord Jon Arryn, and admired him as a father figure. Ned forged a lifelong friendship with Robert Baratheon who fell in love with his younger sister Lyanna. When his sister's abduction by Prince Rhaegar resulted in Ned's father and older brother Brandon being executed by Aerys II, Ned became Lord of Winterfell and married his brother's betrothed Catelyn Tully of Riverrun who conceived their first son Robb, on their wedding night. Joining Robert in his revenge-driven rebellion against the Targaryens, Ned battled the Kingsguard before finding a dying Lyanna, whose last words were, "Promise me Ned." She, at that time, was begging him to take her body back to Winterfell, so she could rest with her ancestors in the crypts of Winterfell. Though Ned kept his promise, her words haunted him for the rest of his life. During this time he supposedly fathered Jon Snow with a woman he told Robert was named Wylla. In the war's aftermath, Ned brought Catelyn, Robb, and Jon back to Winterfell. In time, though Catelyn resented him for rearing Jon as a member of their family, Ned had a happy marriage with her as they gained four more children: Sansa, Arya, Brandon, and Rickon. After this war, the Greyjoys started a rebellion. After the rebellion was crushed, Ned fostered the disgraced Lord Greyjoy's only surviving son, Theon, and also raised him at Winterfell. Theon resented this his whole life, and resented Ned for even trying to be a father to him.
At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Ned brings his young son Bran to watch him behead a Night's Watch deserter. He wants to teach him that if you condemn a man, you should do the killing. Ned learns of Jon Arryn's death and that Robert and the court are on their way to Winterfell. Though pleased to see Robert, Ned is reluctant to accept the king's offer to take Arryn's place as the Hand of the King. But after Catelyn presents him a letter from her sister Lysa that claims the Lannisters murdered Arryn, Ned accepts the offer so he can investigate the matter. Young Bran has an assumed accident, a result of Lannister incest, which leaves him paralyzed and in a coma, so he stays with his mother at Winterfell when Ned rides off with his daughters to King's Landing. Ned sees Jon off on his way to join the Night's Watch with the promise to tell him about his birth mother the next time they speak.
In King's Landing, Ned is thrown into the world of courtly intrigue by two of the realms's greatest spies: Lords Petyr Baelish, also called Littlefinger, and Varys. He is spied upon by both of them, as well as Queen Cersei Lannister, as he pursues his inquiry into Arryn's death. Grand Maester Pycelle gives him a book that lists and describes the physical features of noblemen and women throughout the history of the realm. When Catelyn secretly arrives in the capital to meet with him about an assassin the Lannisters supposedly hired to kill Bran, Ned promises to find additional evidence against them for the crime. The two part on happy terms. Ned later receives a lead through Petyr Baelish that leads him to one of Robert's illegitimate children Gendry, and realizes that Arryn's death is part of a larger conspiracy. He briefly resigns his position when Robert insists on having Daenerys Targaryen, the last of the Targaryens, and her unborn child killed.
Ned concludes that Robert's children (Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen) are illegitimate and were actually fathered by Jaime Lannister, Cersei's twin, and Cersei admits her affair with her brother. Ned intends to tell Robert; however, Robert is fatally wounded during a boar hunt. On his deathbed, Robert dictates his will to Ned, saying that Ned would be Regent while his "son" Joffrey is young. Ned actually writes "until his true heir" takes the throne. After Robert's death, Ned writes to Stannis, the eldest of Robert's younger brothers, telling him of Joffrey's illegitimacy and Stannis's own right to sit on the Iron Throne. Ned's correspondence is discovered and he openly declares Joffrey's illegitimacy before being arrested for treason. Though at first he refuses to take back his words (with the offer of exile to the Night's Watch), Varys reminds him that Sansa is held hostage and that Robb has gathered an army to fight the Lannisters. It is agreed that if Ned pleads guilty to all charges and declares Joffrey the rightful heir, Ned's life will be spared and he will be sent to the Wall as punishment. Unfortunately, at the Great Sept of Baelor, Joffrey goes back on his word and has Ned beheaded to make an example of him.
All this effectively triggers the War of the Five Kings. After learning of Ned's execution, Robb is declared King in the North, and Stannis declares himself the lawful heir to the Iron Throne, as does his younger brother, Renly. Cersei and Jamie's younger brother, the dwarf Tyrion, is named the new Hand of the King. When Ned's head is mounted on a spike outside the castle gate, Tyrion orders that Ned's head and body to be sent to Catelyn for a proper burial. While Catelyn is able to see his body in the Riverlands, Ned's bones are not delivered to Winterfell's crypt before the Iron Islanders take Moat Cailin, isolating the North.
In A Dance with Dragons, Lady Barbrey Dustin tells Theon Greyjoy that she is waiting for word that Ned Stark's bones have reached Moat Cailin, now freed from the ironborn, saying she intends to feed Stark's bones to her dogs.
Lady Catelyn Stark, formerly of House Tully, was the wife of Lord Eddard Stark (Ned); mother to Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark; daughter of Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun and sister to Lysa Arryn of the Vale. She is a POV character for twenty-five chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords. Catelyn is proud, strong, kind, and generous. She is seen as honourable and upright by acquaintances, holding duty over desire as a governing principle of behaviour. Catelyn also has a strong grasp of politics and possesses considerable insight into what makes Westeros run. Nevertheless, Catelyn is also a fiercely protective woman and more often than not follows her heart rather than her head, especially when it comes to her family, whom she loves deeply.
Catelyn describes her childhood as a happy one, where she was close to her sister, Lysa, and her father Hoster, a kind and just ruler of his domain in the Seven Kingdoms. Upon her twelfth birthday she was betrothed to Brandon Stark, the heir presumptive of Winterfell. However, despite her betrothal, her childhood friend Petyr Baelish was very attracted to Catelyn and except for Catelyn's intervention, might have been killed in a duel with Brandon. When Brandon's sister Lyanna was apparently kidnapped by Crown Prince Rhaegar, Brandon was murdered alongside his father at King's Landing by Aerys II. Catelyn married Brandon's brother, Eddard, in Brandon's stead in a double wedding ceremony at Riverun where her sister married Lord Jon Arryn. Catelyn became pregnant on her wedding night and birthed Robb while Ned was fighting in Robert's Rebellion. Ned returned a year later with his illegitimate child Jon Snow. Catelyn always resented Snow, and did not interact with him as a mother or step-mother figure.
At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Catelyn tells Ned of Lord Arryn's death and that King Robert's arrival at Winterfell means her husband could be named the new Hand of the King. During the visit of Robert and his court, Catelyn receives a letter from Lysa claiming that the Lannisters were behind Arryn's death. Telling Ned in private, Catelyn urges him to accept the king's offer in order to learn the truth. As Bran clings to life after being shoved by Jaime Lannister off one of Winterfell's towers, an inconsolable Catelyn has second thoughts and begs Ned to stay in Winterfell. But Ned will not back out of his commitment and Catelyn is entrusted with Winterfell and their sons while Ned takes Sansa and Arya to King's Landing. After they leave, Bran is attacked by a would-be assassin and is saved from death by his direwolf, Summer. Catelyn decides to go to King's Landing, in secret and accompanied by the Stark captain of the guard, Ser Rodrik Cassel, to find evidence against the Lannisters. When they arrive, she is brought to one of the brothels owned by Petyr Baelish, now Master of Coin, who offers his aid to her and Ned. On seeing the knife that was used in the attempt on Bran's life, Petyr claims that it belonged to Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of Robert's wife, Queen Cersei Lannister.
Ned promises Catelyn that he will find the truth and Catelyn begins her return to Winterfell. Stopping at an inn, Catelyn sees Tyrion and rallies her father's allies to capture Tyrion and bring him to her sister in the Vale. Though warned by Tyrion that her sister is mentally unstable, Catelyn does not believe him as she has not seen Lysa in nine years. The truth of his statement is seen in the Vale, where Lysa breastfeeds her six year-old child, Robert, who is sickly and desperately spoiled. Lysa imprisons Tyrion in one of the Eyrie's skycells, which are open on one side, with a several hundred-foot drop below. She accuses him of her husbands murder, but reluctantly releases him from prison after he is proved not guilty in a trial by combat. The dwarf leaves the Eyrie with a sellsword named Bronn. After Tyrion's release, Catelyn meets Robb in the Riverlands and learns that after Robert's death, Ned was arrested for treason against the new king, Robert's son, Joffrey. Traveling with Robb and his army in a campaign to free Ned, Catelyn negotiates with Lord Walder Frey, promising a marriage between Robb one of Lord Walder's daughters or granddaughters in return for the safe passage of Robb's army into the Twins. Though victorious in their battles, Catelyn hides her sadness over Ned's death while telling Robb that they must retrieve his sisters and destroy the Lannisters.
In A Clash of Kings, Catelyn does not have a great deal of influence with her newly crowned son's military campaign. She visits with her father, now gravely ill and suffering from hallucinations, and brother Edmure for the first time in many years. The solitude allows her the time to think about her marriage to Ned, and she often hopes he is in a better place than the Seven Kingdoms. She begins to note that there were two people that had kept their marriage slightly strained: Brandon, whom Catelyn was destined to marry before Ned, and the unknown woman who had given birth to Jon Snow. Robb sends Catelyn to Bitterbridge to negotiate with Lord Renly Baratheon,the late King Robert's youngest brother who is now also vying for the Iron Throne. While there, she also meets Renly's elder brother Stannis, who also comes to speak to Renly. Renly refuses to give up his claim to the throne, as does Stannis, who claims to be the true heir to the throne as Joffrey and his siblings are illegitimate offspring of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Later on, Renly is murdered in Catelyn's presence by what appears to be a shadow. Catelyn flees with Brienne of Tarth, the only other witness and a member of Renly's guard, and returns to Riverrun. While there, she meets with Jaime Lannister (twin brother of Queen Cersei), who had been captured during one of the battles. Jaime admits to Catelyn that he threw Bran from the tower window, but she frees him from prison on his oath that he will find Sansa and Arya and return them to her.
In A Storm of Swords, Catelyn is put under house arrest for her role in Jaime's release but Robb eventually forgives her while she attends Hoster's funeral service at Riverun. Robb has returned to Riverrun with a new wife, Lady Jeyne Westerling, and Catelyn is very concerned about the repercussions to come from this marriage. Robb had been sworn to marry one of the Freys and the marriage to Jeyne will nullify their alliance and not sit well with proud Lord Walder. She and Robb believe they repair the Frey alliance by promising that Edmure will marry one of Lord Frey's daughters. Though the wedding goes as planned, during the bedding, Catelyn notices that the Freys' guards are acting strangely and Lord Frey springs his revenge, killing most of those in attendance on the groom's side. Though she held a lackwit grandson of Walder Frey hostage, Catelyn is forced to watch her son die. She kills her hostage in rage filled devastation before her throat is slit. Her body, thrown into the river in mockery of the Tully funeral ritual, is dragged from the river by a direwolf, presumably Arya's direwolf Nymeria, as Arya dreamed of pulling her mother's body from the river. Catelyn is soon found by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Beric Dondarrion gives his life to resurrect her. In A Feast For Crows, Catelyn, now known as Lady Stoneheart, takes on the leadership of the Brotherhood to seek her revenge on those who wronged her family.
Catelyn is a major character in the HBO adaptation of the novels. She is portrayed by Michelle Fairley. The role was played by Jennifer Ehle in the original pilot, but she passed on returning to the role when it went to broadcast.[S 3]
Robb Stark is the eldest child of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. While he does not have any POV chapters of his own, he is mentioned frequently by the Stark POVs in A Game of Thrones and regularly appears in his mother's POV chapters in the second and third books.
As the first born child of Ned and fifteen years in age, he was already being groomed to take his place as Lord of Winterfell upon his father's death. While he is not his mother's favorite, Catelyn often remarks that she sees a great deal of herself in Robb. He is very close to his half-brother Jon Snow, whom he has never treated like an outsider in the family, and his father's ward Theon Greyjoy, who had been living in Winterfell since they were ten. Robb is sometimes prideful and boyish, but he is also very dignified and shares the same views as his father on duty and honor. Like all his siblings except for his sister Arya and half-brother Jon Snow, he has his mother's red hair, blue eyes, and fair skin (he resembles his father in the TV series).
In Game of Thrones, gaining a direwolf that he named Grey Wind, Robb gets into a confrontation with Joffrey with Theon restraining him from attacking the prince. When his father and sisters depart for King's Landing when Ned becomes Hand of the King, Robb stays behind to manage Winterfell with his mother. When she in turn leaves for the capital, Robb manages on his own, becoming an adult figure to his younger brothers Bran and Rickon. Bran notes that while Robb is his normal self around them, he becomes "Robb the Lord" when discussing business with the servants. He hosts Tyrion Lannister when he comes to visit Winterfell to see Bran, and is told by Tyrion to "learn a lord's courtesies" while his father is away, given the cold reception Robb subjects him to, given his suspicions of the Lannisters' part in his brother's attempted murder.
After Robb receives news that his father was arrested for treason after the death of King Robert, Theon encourages him to go to war against the new King Joffrey, claiming that the Lannisters have already started the war by arresting his father. Robb finally agrees and calls his father's bannermen, forming an army and marching into the Riverlands. Catelyn meets him there and negotiates his crossing across The Twins on the condition that Robb marry one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters. Upon learning of his father's public execution by Joffrey's orders, an emotional Robb formally declares war by naming himself King in the North. From there, he captures Jaime Lannister and holds him hostage to exchange him for Sansa and Arya's safe return to Winterfell.
In A Clash of Kings, Robb wins victory after victory and becomes even more of a threat than he previously was to the other claimants of the Iron Throne. Despite Lord Tywin's dismissal of Robb as "a green boy" in war, he proves his strength when he defeats the Lannister armies at Oxcross and other battles in the Riverlands. He sends his mother to negotiate a possible alliance with the late king's brother Renly, now vying for the Iron Throne with the support of House Tyrell. He is dismayed to learn that during Catelyn's visit Renly was murdered by an unknown, though it was commonly believed that one of his guards or even Catelyn herself was the culprit. He is also heartbroken when he learns that Theon, whom he had sent to rally his House to Robb's cause, had betrayed him, burning down Winterfell and presumably killing Bran and Rickon. Unable to reach negotiations with the other claimant, Renly's brother Stannis, Robb orders that Catelyn return to him. When she returns she secretly releases Jaime from prison into the custody of Brienne of Tarth, on the condition that he bring back Robb's sisters in return.
At the start of A Storm of Swords, Robb had been wounded in another major battle. He returns to his base and releases his mother from house arrest. He surprises his mother by telling her he had secretly married Lady Jeyne Westerling, whom he had slept with while he was recovering and grief-stricken about his brothers, marrying her the next morning to preserve her honor. Robb is not concerned with the Freys withdrawing their support as they are able to work out an agreement in which his uncle Edmure marries a Frey daughter instead. Prior to the wedding, Robb shows his father's sense of justice when he executes Rickard Karstark, a distant kinsman to the Lords of Winterfell, for senselessly killing Lannister children who might have served as bargining chips. On their way to the wedding, Robb insists his mother leave the army to be safe, which his mother refuses to do. At the wedding, Robb is polite to the Freys and apologizes for the insult he made to their House. Lord Walder Frey pretends to accept the apology until springing his trap and having Robb's guards slaughtered. Despite his mother's pleas for mercy, Robb is stabbed through the heart by his own bannerman, Roose Bolton. As a final insult, Robb's head is cut off and replaced with that of Grey Wind who was shot to death after being released by Raynald Westerling.
Lady Sansa Stark is the second child and elder daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. She serves as a POV character for twenty-four chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows. She is confirmed to narrate at least one chapter of the upcoming sixth novel, The Winds of Winter.
Sansa is introduced as a sweet, shallow eleven-year-old girl who is very beautiful and ladylike. She inherited her mother's thick auburn hair, blue eyes, and very fair complexion. Proficient in music, singing, dancing, and other feminine pursuits, she was betrothed to the Crown Prince Joffrey Baratheon when her father became Hand of the King. Her direwolf (one of the six found in the first chapter of A Game of Thrones) is named Lady, who takes after Sansa in her polite disposition. In her first POV chapter, she describes her love for her betrothed and her distaste for her younger sister Arya, who has a reputation for being wild and a tomboy. When Joffrey takes her on a walk by the Trident on their way to King's Landing, he hurts one of Arya's friends, a commoner named Mycah, and attempts to attack Arya before her direwolf, Nymeria, intervenes. When she is questioned by King Robert about the situation, Sansa lies and pretends she couldn't remember what happened, to Arya's disgust. Since Arya had sent Nymeria away after the attack, Queen Cersei proposes Sansa's wolf be killed instead. Ned kills Lady quickly to avoid a scene.
After they arrive in King's Landing, Sansa begins to dress and act like a southern lady, to the displeasure of her governess Septa Mordane. She argues frequently with Arya, whom she blames for Lady's death, and also strains her relationship with her father. She attends the jousts to celebrate Ned's new position and there develops an affection for Loras Tyrell, the Knight of the Flowers, who handed her the only red rose he had before he entered the lists. Later on Joffrey reassures her of his love for her and promises never to treat her badly again. (He had ignored her after Lady was killed.) When Ned's investigation of the death of Jon Arryn leads to the revelation that the King's offspring are actually the products of Jaime and Cersei's incest, he decides to send his daughters back to Winterfell. Devastated with the prospect of leaving King's Landing and Joffrey, Sansa (against her father's command to keep their departure a secret) unwittingly reveals to Joffrey and Cersei Ned's plan sparking the Lannisters to consolidate their power against Ned. After the king's death and her father's arrest, Sansa is completely stunned and asks to see her father in his cell, and is rebuked by Cersei and Grand Maester Pycelle. She appeals to the newly crowned King Joffrey for mercy on her father, to send him into exile in Winterfell or make him join the Night's Watch. Joffrey promises her mercy—though at Ned's public confession at the Sept of Baelor, he is beheaded on Joffrey's orders. Sansa is inconsolable afterward (Arya had escaped the castle after Ned was arrested.) and refuses to see anyone, though she is forced to continue on with the advice of Sandor Clegane, Joffrey's head bodyguard who shows Sansa the occasional kindness despite his reputation as a heartless killer. When she is taken to see her father's head mounted on a spike, she tells Joffrey that maybe her brother Robb (who is still in Winterfell and declared the north a separate kingdom) will give her Joffrey's head, Joffrey begins using his Kingsguard to beat and humiliate her.
In her new life at King's Landing, Sansa learns to fake her love for Joffrey (who since her father's execution she has completely despised) and continues to be the perfect picture of feminine grace. At a tournament on Joffrey's name day, she earns the loyalty of Ser Dontos Hollard, a knight stripped of his title by Joffrey when he came to fight in a tourney while drunk. She finds an unexpected defender in Tyrion Lannister, the king's uncle, who after his return from the east offered her his condolences. On one occasion when Joffrey had Sansa beaten and stripped before the entire court, Tyrion assisted her by offering to have her live in the Tower of the Hand for a short while—Sansa declines since she cannot bear to remember when her father had lived there. She begins "flowering" just before the Battle of Blackwater, and though she attempts to burn her mattress to hide it, one of her maids sees and tells Cersei. Cersei tells Sansa that since she is now a woman she should learn to love only her children, as she will become weaker with the more people she cares for. Sansa is forced to kiss Joffrey's new sword, Hearteater, before she takes over the queen's role as a comforter to the other noblewomen when they are taking shelter during the battle (as opposed to Cersei, who merely gets drunk and publicly expresses her contempt for the situation). In the midst of the battle, Sansa goes up to her room and finds Sandor Clegane (the Hound) there waiting for her. Although he offers to take her away with him to Winterfell, she refuses, having already made a getaway plan with Ser Dontos. After the battle (which the Lannisters won with help from House Tyrell's army, who joined the Lannister cause after Renly was killed) Sansa's betrothal to Joffrey is set aside in favor of Margaery Tyrell, Loras's sister. Sansa pretends to be upset about it while she is secretly overjoyed.
Sansa, now a teenager, quickly learns that she is still not out of the court's attention when Margaery and the other women in the Tyrell family invite her to tea, shortly after they arrive at court. Sansa takes a liking to Margaery and becomes friends with her in a sisterly way. It is the Tyrells' intention to let Sansa take a journey to the Highgarden, the seat of their House, when in fact they plan to marry her to the eldest Tyrell son, Willas. Sansa is informed of their intentions by Margaery's grandmother, Olenna, and is pleased with the idea of leaving King's Landing; however, she tells Dontos about the plan, who in turn tells Lord Petyr Baelish, who informs Lord Tywin Lannister and Cersei. Tywin immediately plans to marry Sansa to his youngest son, Tyrion Lannister. Cersei has Sansa fitted for a new gown, which is later revealed to be her wedding dress, and when it is finally finished, Cersei informs Sansa that she will marry Tyrion in a matter of minutes. Horrified, Sansa initially tries to run, but composes herself in time to arrive at the sept. In a private moment with Tyrion, he tells her she is free to marry someone else in his family, but Sansa promises to do her duty (and thinks that she doesn't want to marry any Lannister), and in tears recites her vows and kisses Tyrion at the wedding ceremony. Later that night, when they are finally alone, Tyrion promises not to consummate their marriage until she wants to, though to his annoyance, she suggests she may never want to.
Married life proves unsettling for Sansa—she quickly learns of her new husband's habits and every now and then tries to make polite conversation with him, but nothing more. She is secretly disgusted by his appearance, and it is no secret within the court that their marriage is not consummated. Tyrion brings her the news that her mother and brother Robb were killed by House Frey, and she grieves in private (Arya and her other brothers, Bran and Rickon, were also thought to be dead at the time). On their way to Joffrey and Margaery's wedding, Tyrion asks her about her family, and the two have their first real personal conversation together. At the wedding Joffrey is fatally poisoned, and Cersei orders both Tyrion and Sansa to be arrested, as she believes it was their doing. (It is later revealed to be Olenna Tyrell who poisoned him, under the influence of Petyr Baelish, who had had this plan for some time, and both Tyrion and Sansa were innocent.) While Tyrion is arrested, Sansa manages to escape the castle and is smuggled out of the city by Lord Baelish, who murders ser Dontos, and is revealed to be behind her rescue plot as well. He takes her to his homeland, the Fingers, where he marries her maternal aunt Lysa Arryn. Lysa is skeptical of Sansa's arrival and keeps her only because of her relationship with her mother Catelyn, and promises Sansa that she will marry Lysa's son Robert when he comes of age (noting that Tyrion will likely be dead by the time that happens). Sansa is displeased with this suggestion, but she replies courteously that she will think upon the matter.
Sansa begins to despise her life in the Eyrie as well as her young cousin, who is sickly, spoiled, immature, and has a shaking sickness. One day, Sansa makes a snow sculpture of Winterfell, where Lord Baelish helps her and later kisses her. Robert later destroys one of the towers, and Sansa, enraged, rips his doll and sends him into a fit. Later, an enraged and jealous Lysa, who witnessed the kiss between Sansa and Lord Baelish, attempts to murder Sansa by shoving her through the Moon Door. Petyr manages to stop her and professes his love for Catelyn before he pushes her through the door instead, killing her. Lysa's singer, Marillion, is framed for the murder, and Petyr Baelish becomes the ruling Lord of the Vale. After Lysa's death, Sansa becomes mistress of the Eyrie and pretends to be Petyr's illegitimate daughter, Alayne Stone. She becomes knowledgeable about Petyr's business affairs and learns that he intends to marry her to Harold Hardyng, "Harry the Heir" of the Eyrie, and have her reclaim Winterfell after the wedding.
As a character, Sansa is disliked by many fans,[S 4] owing to her naïveté and her seeming helplessness. In contrast with her sister Arya, who is wild and independent, Sansa seems to believe that if she is pretty and well behaved, a prince will ride up and marry her and she will live happily ever after.[S 5] After her father's death, and under constant scrutiny in King's Landing, she uses her lady's courtesies as a defense mechanism.[S 4]
Lady Arya Stark (also known by a wide variety of nicknames) is the third child and younger daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. She serves as a POV character for thirty-three chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons, and is confirmed to narrate at least one chapter in the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter.[S 6] She is the only character in the entire series to have POV chapters in all the published novels. In the HBO series Game of Thrones she is played by Maisie Williams.
Bran Stark is the second son and fourth child of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark. He serves as the third-person narrator of twenty-one chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. He is an adventurous and tough-minded boy who believes himself almost an adult at seven-years-old. To his mother's distress, he enjoys exploring Winterfell and scaling the external walls of its towers. He dreams of becoming a great knight. In A Game of Thrones, he sees Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime Lannister having sex. Jaime pushes Bran from the window to keep the relationship secret. However, Bran survives. He suffers a broken back and falls into a coma. An assassin tries to kill him, but his then direwolf companion, Summer, kills the assassin. While comatose, Bran has many visions, including a dream that he is following and a three-eyed crow tells him that it can teach him to fly. Bran eventually wakes from his coma and immediately names his direwolf Summer. He finds that he is crippled from the waist down, forced to be carried everywhere by Hodor, and he cannot remember the events immediately before his fall. Slowly, he realizes that he has gained the ability to assume Summer's consciousness, making him a warg or a skinchanger. After his older brother Robb is crowned King in the North, Bran becomes Robb's heir and the Lord of Winterfell. In A Clash of Kings, Jojen Reed recognizes Bran's ability as a warg and teaches him how to use his skills properly. Jojen also claims that if Bran travels north beyond the Wall, he can find the three-eyed crow. After Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell, Bran goes into hiding. To cement his claim on Winterfell, Theon kills a common-born boy and tells Westeros that Bran is dead. Bran, Jojen, and Meera Reed eventually head north in A Storm of Swords. During his travels with the Reeds, he finds himself increasingly attracted to Meera. He eventually finds the three-eyed crow in A Dance with Dragons, who is revealed to be Brynden Rivers, a bastard of House Targaryen, former King's Hand, and once Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. From him, Bran learns how to be a greenseer—one who has magical powers over nature, has prophetic visions, and has skinchanging abilities. He is able to see into the past through weirwoods trees, though he cannot change the past. Bran Stark is portrayed by Isaac Hempstead-Wright in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Rickon Stark is Eddard Stark's youngest child and is three years old in A Game of Thrones. His age makes it difficult for him to cope with the terrible changes brought by war. He is naturally aggressive, strong-willed, and has a violent temper, traits reflected in his direwolf companion Shaggydog. He has not trained Shaggydog, and the direwolf has become savage as a result. When Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell in A Clash of Kings, Rickon hides in the crypts. After Winterfell is sacked and burned in A Clash of Kings, he and the wildling woman Osha travel through the North. In A Dance with Dragons, he is said to be on the island of cannibals, called Skagos. Rickon Stark is portrayed by Art Parkinson in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 7]
Jon Snow is Eddard Stark's bastard and serves as the third-person narrator of forty-two chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. He shares his father's devotion to honor and tries to stay morally correct and upright, even when forced to make horrible decisions. He is the same age as Eddard's oldest son Robb Stark. After Lyanna Stark's death, Eddard brings Jon to Winterfell. Despite the objections of his wife Catelyn, Eddard insisted on raising Jon alongside the legitimate Stark children. Jon's childhood is difficult because of his illegitimacy and Catelyn's antipathy. He has a warm relationship with his half-siblings, especially Arya, Bran and Robb but he still feels that he is an outsider. He idolizes his father but is wounded by Eddard's refusal to discuss or even name his mother. Jon adopts the albino runt of the direwolf litter and names him Ghost because he has white fur and never makes a sound. He later displays the ability to assume Ghost's consciousness, making him a warg or skinchanger. Kit Harrington portrays Jon Snow in the HBO adaptation
Lyanna Stark was Eddard Stark's younger and only sister, and the betrothed of Robert Baratheon, who adored her, though it is mentioned that Lyanna was not quite so enthusiastic about the betrothal. She was known for being headstrong, spirited, and beautiful; Eddard's daughter Arya Stark is often compared to Lyanna for their similar personality and appearance. The novels present Lyanna as a trigger for Robert's Rebellion fifteen years before the series; however, the characters remember details differently. According to Daenerys Targaryen, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen crowned Lyanna Stark as his queen of love and beauty at a tournament, passing over his wife Elia Martell, and he "later stole [Lyanna] away from her betrothed". Rhaegar had kidnapped Lyanna with the help of Arthur Dayne and Oswell Whent. Robert Baratheon and Bran Stark note within the text that Rhaegar repeatedly raped Lyanna. Barristan Selmy and Daenerys believe Rhaegar was in love with Lyanna. When House Stark protested Lyanna's kidnapping, King Aerys II Targaryen horrifically executed Lyanna's father and brother Brandon. A civil war named Robert's Rebellion ensued that eventually ended at the Trident where Robert killed Rhaegar, who according to Daenerys died for the woman he loved. Shortly afterwards, Eddard went to rescue Lyanna from the Tower of Joy in Dorne. He found her dying "in a bed of blood" and her last words were "Promise me, Ned." She was buried in the crypts of Winterfell, though the crypts are usually reserved for the Kings and Lords of Winterfell. A theory exists that Jon Snow is actually the child of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen, and that Ned took him as his own supposed bastard after his sister died.[S 8]
Lord Roose Bolton is Lord of the Dreadfort in the North and a retainer of Lord Eddard Stark. He is nicknamed the Leech Lord because he receives regular leechings in an attempt to improve his health. He is mild-mannered and courteous, but he is cold and capable of great cruelty. Some characters state that he is incapable of emotion. He marries his third wife during A Clash of Kings (mainly because her weight in silver was the dowry) and states that he is fond of her. When she is pregnant, he comments that his illegitimate son Ramsay Snow will probably kill the child after his own death; he prefers this as Roose refuses to have a child rule the Dreadfort when he is dead. He appears to have been fond of his first son Domeric, who was accomplished. He believes that Domeric was killed by Ramsay. When Robb Stark summons his banners in A Game of Thrones, Bolton answers the call. His intelligence and calculating caution earn him the command of the northern infantry. In A Storm of Swords, he decides that the Stark cause is lost. He makes decisions that kill a large portion of Robb's army and helps Tywin Lannister plan Robb's death. Roose's men help the Freys massacre the Stark army at Edmure Tully's wedding, and Roose himself kills Robb. For this service, he is named Warden of the North and House Bolton is made the principal house in the North. Roose Bolton is portrayed by Michael McElhatton in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 9]
Ramsay Snow is the acknowledged bastard son of Lord Roose Bolton and is known as the Bastard of Bolton or the Bastard of the Dreadfort. In contrast to his father, Ramsay is vicious, unpredictable, uncouth, and fearless. He enjoys torturing others and is fond of the Bolton custom of flaying enemies. His father disapproves of his behavior and believes that Ramsay has become too infamous throughout the North. Roose also believes that Ramsay murdered Roose's heir and expects that Ramsay will kill all of Roose's future children. Like his father, Ramsay's most striking feature is his small, colorless eyes, "like two chips of dirty ice." He is bluntly described as ugly, with blotchy skin, dry dark hair, and a large fleshy frame that suggests he will grow fat with age.
While his father is away at war in A Clash of Kings, Ramsay gathers troops at the Dreadfort, the seat of House Bolton. When he hears that the neighboring House Hornwood lost both its lord and heir, he abducts Lady Hornwood and forcibly marries her to claim her lands. He then rapes her and locks her in a tower where she starves to death. When he is to be brought to justice, he switches clothes with his servant Reek and Reek is killed instead. Under his guise of Reek, he is brought to Winterfell as a captive. Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell shortly after, and Ramsay is released in exchange for a vow of service. When Stark men move to take back Winterfell, Ramsay goes to the Dreadfort and gathers an army of Bolton men. Upon returning to Winterfell, he defeats a Northern army led by Ser Rodrick Cassel, reveals his identity, burns Winterfell, and takes Theon captive. After Robb Stark's death in A Storm of Swords, Ramsay is allowed to marry an Arya Stark impostor, allowing him to claim the title Lord of Winterfell as all male Starks are dead. King Tommen Baratheon also presents House Bolton with a decree of legitimization for Ramsay, making him Ramsay Bolton. Should any character refer to Ramsay as a bastard or as Ramsay Snow after this, Ramsay violently reminds them of his legitimization. At Winterfell in A Dance with Dragons, Ramsay marries "Arya", whom he knows is actually a disguised Jeyne Poole, and physically and sexually abuses her. After Jeyne and Theon escape with the help of Mance Rayder, Ramsay sends Jon Snow a letter stating that he has captured Mance and killed Stannis Baratheon, who was attacking Winterfell. In the letter, he demands Theon and Jeyne back and wants several other members of Stannis's court as captives. If he is denied, he will kill Jon and annihilate the Night's Watch. In the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter, parts of the letter are revealed to have been a lie, as Stannis is still alive and preparing for battle against the Boltons and their allies. Ramsay and his men have left Winterfell to find Theon and Jeyne; Stannis is confident that his superior military experience will grant him victory over Ramsay.[S 10] Ramsay is played by Iwan Rheon in the third season of the HBO adaptation. His identity is confirmed only at the very end of the season, as is his castration of Theon. Conversely, the novels make no secret of the identity of Theon's captor, though Theon is believed dead until A Dance With Dragons, where his gelded state is only implied.[S 11]
Hodor is a simple-minded stableboy at Winterfell and the great-grandson of Old Nan, an elderly servant of Winterfell. He is over seven feet tall, and a wildling supposes that he has giant's blood. His true name is Walder; he is called Hodor because he only ever says "Hodor," though no one can say what it means or why he says it. He is described as having a friendly, childish disposition; and, although well endowed, and possessing great size and strength, he is easily frightened. After Bran Stark is crippled in A Game of Thrones, Hodor carries him around in a sling on his back. He sometimes has difficulty taking Bran's directions. When Winterfell is destroyed by Theon Greyjoy in A Storm of Swords, Hodor escapes north with Bran. Bran is able to use his skinchanging powers to take control of Hodor, though Hodor is frightened by the experience. Hodor is portrayed by Kristian Nairn in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Osha is a wildling woman who travels south of the Wall to escape the Others. She is captured by House Stark in A Game of Thrones and taken back to Winterfell. She is eventually employed as a scullery maid and is given limited freedom. She becomes close to Bran Stark and often gives him advice. When Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell in A Clash of Kings, she pledges allegiance to him. Shortly after, Ramsay Bolton captures the castle, and she helps Bran and his brother Rickon escape. She travels with Rickon through the North, and by A Dance of Dragons, they have landed on an island supposedly inhabited by cannibals. Osha is portrayed in the HBO adaptation by Natalia Tena, who was chosen for the role despite being many years younger than the middle-aged Osha of the novels.[S 1]
Jeyne Poole is the daughter of Vayon Poole, the steward of Winterfell, and Sansa Stark's best friend. She has brown eyes and dark hair and is described as being very pretty. Following the arrest of Eddard Stark in A Game of Thrones, the members and servants of his household are killed. She survives and is confined in a room with Sansa. She is later separated from Sansa and put into Petyr Baelish's care. It is later revealed that she is sent to work in a brothel.[S 10] She next appears in A Dance with Dragons where the Lannisters use her as a stand-in for Sansa's younger sister Arya and send her north to marry Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell. However, Theon Greyjoy notices her eyes are not gray like Arya's, and the Boltons are aware of the ruse. After the wedding, Ramsay locks her in a tower and horrifically abuses her both physically and sexually. Jon Snow, Arya's half-brother, believes Jeyne to be the real Arya and sends Mance Rayder and his six spearwives to rescue her. The group enlists Theon's help, and Theon and Jeyne barely escape while the castle prepares to defend itself against Stannis Baratheon. The pair are found by a Baratheon bannerman and are brought before Stannis. An excerpt from the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter reveals that Theon and Jeyne continue to tell others that she is Arya because they fear Stannis will send her back to Winterfell if he learns the truth.[S 10] In the HBO adaptation, Jeyne's only appearance so far has been in "Winter is Coming", where she was played by an unidentified extra. She is seen sitting beside Sansa at a feast and is not named in the episode, but it is stated in the DVD commentary that she is Jeyne Poole.
Jojen and Meera are the children of Stark bannerman Howland Reed, Lord of Greywater Watch and leader of the crannogmen of the Neck. Howland Reed is commonly regarded as one of Ned Stark's closest friends, despite having not left Greywater Watch since the war. They first appear in A Clash of Kings, where they are sent to renew House Reed's pledge to the Starks in place of their father and are asked to befriend and support the late Eddard Stark's children. Meera is a skilled huntress, preferring to use a small net and a trident. Jojen is thirteen when he first appears, but his seriousness and maturity make him seem older. He is described as having unusually green eyes and is always wearing green. When he nearly died of greyscale fever, he was visited by a three-eyed crow and gifted with the greensight, prophetic but abstract dreams. While in Winterfell, Jojen recognizes that Bran Stark is a skinchanger, someone able to enter the mind of an animal and control its actions, and helps him gain control over his ability. When he learns about Bran's vision of the three-eyed crow, he urges Bran to look for it north of the Wall. When Theon Greyjoy takes control of Winterfell, Jojen and Meera hide in the crypts under the castle before they flee north with Bran. Meera primarily hunts for their food. At the end of A Storm of Swords, they travel beyond the Wall and Jojen becomes very weak on the journey. In A Dance with Dragons, Jojen falls into a depression and wants to return to Greywater Watch. Meera struggles to keep the group's spirits up, but implies that Jojen has had a greendream about his fate when he reaches home and his future is bleak. Jojen and Meera Reed are portrayed by Thomas Sangster and Ellie Kendrick in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 12][S 13]
Jeyne Westerling is the daughter of Lord Gawen and Lady Sybell Westerling, a family sworn to House Lannister. In "A Clash of Kings", she meets rebel Robb Stark when he captures her father's castle. He is wounded in the fighting, and Jeyne nurses him back to health. While at the castle, he receives word that Theon Greyjoy has captured Winterfell and killed his brothers. She comforts him in his grief and has sex with him. Robb marries her the next day in an attempt to preserve her honor and breaks a marriage contract with House Frey. The couple spend much time and effort to conceive an heir but to no apparent result; she again tries to comfort Robb after he executes Rickard Karstark for treason. After Robb's departure for the Twins Jeyne remains in Riverrun and subsequently does not witness her husband's murder. After the Red Wedding, she is granted a royal pardon. In A Feast for Crows, she is openly mourning and defies her mother. House Lannister promises Sybell that Jeyne will be married to a lord or an heir, but she must remain unmarried for two years to prevent rumors that her children are also Robb's. Sybell insists that Jeyne unwittingly drank potions that prevented her from conceiving. She last appears riding to Casterly Rock under heavy guard. In 2011, it was announced that Oona Chaplin would play Jeyne in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 14] However, when the series was released, Jeyne's character had been replaced by Talisa Maegyr (played by Chaplin), a healer from Volantis, whose story, apart from her marriage to Robb, was completely different.
House Targaryen has been the ruling house of the Seven Kingdoms for nearly 300 years. Its seat is in King's Landing, the royal capital of Westeros, and the Prince of the Seven Kingdoms resides in Dragonstone, an island fortress. It was the principal house in the Crownlands. Its coat of arms shows a red, three-headed dragon breathing fire on a black field, and its words are Fire and Blood.
The Targaryens originally came from Valyria on the continent of Essos. Before Valyria was destroyed in an event known as the Doom, the Targaryens left for Dragonstone, which was then the westernmost outpost in the Valyrian empire. A century after the Doom, Aegon I Targaryen began a conquest of mainland Westeros and landed at what would later become King's Landing. Aegon conquered six of the Seven Kingdoms with his dragons; and his descendants won the seventh through a political marriage. The Targaryen dragons were the last known to exist and died out long before the events of A Game of Thrones. Unlike the other Westerosi noble houses, the Targaryens marry brother to sister, often with three people to a marriage, to keep the bloodline pure. People of Targaryen ancestry, referred to as "blood of the dragon", tend to have silvery-gold or platinum hair and purple eyes ranging from lilac to violet.
Fifteen years before the events of the series, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen disappeared with Lyanna Stark. When House Stark and Lyanna's betrothed Robert Baratheon protested, King Aerys II executed Lyanna's father and one of her brothers and demanded the heads of Robert and another of her brothers. In response, Robert and many of the noble houses rebelled. Aerys, Rhaegar, and most of the Targaryens were killed in the rebellion. Aerys's remaining children, Viserys and Daenerys, and Rhaegar's son Aegon VI were smuggled to safety in Essos.
Daenerys Targaryen, the 'Mother of Dragons', is the daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen and is one of the last surviving members of House Targaryen. She serves as the third-person narrator for thirty-one chapters throughout A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. Thirteen years before the events of the series, she was born on Dragonstone in the midst of a storm, earning her the nickname Daenerys Stormborn. Shortly after, Dragonstone fell to the forces of rebel Robert Baratheon, and Daenerys and her brother Viserys were smuggled away to Braavos. They spent the following years wandering the Free Cities looking for help to retake the Iron Throne of Westeros. In the HBO series she is portrayed by Emilia Clarke.
Viserys Targaryen, styling himself Viserys III, is the second born son of Aerys II Targaryen. Thirteen years before the events of the series, he and his sister Daenerys fled Westeros to escape death at the hands of rebel Robert Baratheon. He is a cruel, ambitious, and blunt man who is prone to violent mood swings, maddened by poverty and exile. He spent the past thirteen years wandering through the Free Cities, running from supposed assassins and plotting to return to reclaim his father's throne. He is often mocked as the Beggar King because he must rely on the generosity of those sympathetic to his cause. In A Game of Thrones, he marries his sister to Khal Drogo, hoping that the marriage will buy Drogo's Dothraki warriors. He often states that he is the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and demands respect, in turning disrespecting Dothraki customs and verbally abusing his sister, but he is blind to the fact that Daenerys, his sworn knight Jorah Mormont, and nearly everyone else scorn his petty and vindictive nature. Eventually, Viserys starts seeing that Daenerys is being genuinely loved and it further infuriates him. When Viserys threatens to kill Daenerys and her unborn child and draws a sword in Vaes Dothrak, where it is forbidden to spill blood, Drogo kills him by giving him the golden crown that part of the agreement: with Viserys held down as molten gold is poured onto his head. Despite his abuse, knowing that he did keep her safe, Daenerys tries to remember her brother as a good person before his madness and named her cream-colored dragon Viserion after him. Viserys Targaryen is portrayed by Harry Lloyd in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Rhaegar Targaryen was the oldest son of Aerys II, the Prince of Dragonstone, and the heir apparent to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. He is described as an intelligent, brooding man who was initially very bookish. It was in one of those mysterious books that he found something that seemed to force him to reconsider his path. Thereafter he trained to become a skilled fighter but remained heavily introverted. He married Elia Martell and had two children, a girl named Rhaenys and an infant son named Aegon Targaryen. After winning a tourney, he crowned Lyanna Stark Queen of Love and Beauty, passing over Elia. He and Lyanna later disappeared, which House Stark and Lyanna's betrothed Robert Baratheon saw as Lyanna's abduction. There is a lot of controversy over what happened, as though many reports indicate it was an abduction, it is uncertain whether Lyanna Stark voluntarily ran away with him. Seeing Rhaegar through the eyes of Jon Connington and Barristan Selmy provides a different light to the hatred Robert Baratheon (and to a certain degree Eddard Stark) hold for him. Robert started a rebellion to rescue her. This eventually led to a battle on the river Trident, ending in the death of Rhaegar who was killed by a blow from Robert's hammer. Elia and Rhaenys were killed at King's Landing and along with the supposed death of his son Aegon. Though Robert vilifies Rhaegar throughout A Game of Thrones, many characters express admiration for him and it is stated that most of Westeros remembers him with love. It is also regularly implied that he would have been a great king. He was the namesake of Daenerys's late son, Rhaego, and of her green-colored dragon Rhaegal.
Aegon Targaryen, nicknamed Egg in his youth, was the fourth son of a fourth son. He was called Aegon the Unlikely because he was unlikely to inherit the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. He is named king when a council bypasses those before him in the line of succession. Upon taking the throne, he became Aegon V. He ruled the Seven Kingdoms well, and his reign lasted more than twenty-five years. He perished in a fire at Summerhall, the Targaryen summer home. A young Aegon is one of the main characters in the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. In the HBO adaptation, Aegon is the father of Aerys the Mad King, rather than his grandfather. This change was made to simplify Maester Aemon's relationship to the Targaryens.
Aerys Targaryen, also called The Mad King, ruled the Seven Kingdoms as Aerys II shortly before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and was the last Targaryen king. When he first took the throne, he was said to have been generous and charming, though short-tempered and prone to fits of madness. With the help of his many Hands of the King, the kingdom enjoyed many years of peace and the treasury was well-stocked with gold. In accordance with ancient Targaryen practice, he married his sister Rhaella, but their marriage was not a happy one and became abusive towards the end. They had three children, Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys. As his reign continued, Aerys's behavior became increasingly erratic and his fits of madness becoming more frequent. A defining moment occurred when, while trying to arrest Lord Denys Darklyn of Duskendale for openly defying him, Aerys was taken prisoner and held captive for six months before being rescued by Ser Barristan Selmy. Shaken by this experience, Aerys's descent into madness worsened, and he eventually became a cruel and sadistic man driven by paranoia and capriciousness. He was also obsessed with fire and burned many people alive, to the point of being sexually aroused by the sight of seeing people burning alive.
His paranoia led to him developing phobias of poisoning and sharp implements, the latter from many cuts on the Iron Throne, becoming gaunt and frail with long hair and nails while allowing only his Kingsguard to have swords in his presence. After Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark disappeared, House Stark and Lyanna's betrothed Robert Baratheon believed her to have been abducted and Aerys responded to the allegation with the horrific execution of Lyanna's brother and father. Shortly after, several houses rebelled and Aerys planned to have King's Landing be burned to the ground with all its inhabitants rather that allow the rebels to take the city. Before this could be done, Aerys is fatally stabbed from behind by his Kingsguard Jaime Lannister, uttering his intent to burn them all in his dying breath. Liam Burke was cast as the Mad King for a flashback scene in the HBO adaptation, but it was cut for timing and pacing.[S 15]
Aegon Targaryen claimed to be the only son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell. If Aegon had been crowned, he would have ruled as Aegon VI. Fifteen years before the events of the series, the infant Aegon was reported to have been killed by Gregor Clegane. In A Dance with Dragons, it is claimed that Varys switched Aegon with another infant and smuggled Aegon out of King's Landing. He spent his life in exile and was raised by Jon Connington, a close friend of Rhaegar's. To hide his identity, he dyes his silver hair blue, which also makes his violet eyes appear blue. He also pretends to be the son of Jon, who takes the name Griff, and becomes known as Young Griff. He and Jon plan to conquer Westeros and crown Aegon the King of the Seven Kingdoms. They begin travelling to Volantis to join their strength with his aunt Daenerys Targaryen. When it becomes apparent that Daenerys has no intention of immediately conquering Westeros, the Golden Company abandons their idea of joining her and swear allegiance to Aegon. Aegon decides to attack Westeros while it is embroiled in civil war, partially because it will allow him to meet Daenerys as an equal instead of begging her for aid. The decision was made based on advice given to Aegon by Tyrion Lannister, but it is as yet unknown if Tyrion gave the advice in good faith. The group lands in the Stormlands and capture several castles. Their next target is Storm's End, the ancestral home of House Baratheon. Aegon plans to lead the charge himself and raise the banner of House Targaryen above the battlements.
Lord Jon Connington is the former Lord of Griffin's Roost and was a close friend of Rhaegar Targaryen. Jon serves as a third-person narrator for two chapters in A Dance with Dragons. Fifteen years before the events of the series, King Aerys II made Jon his Hand of the King, the top adviser, after the previous Hand failed to contain a rebellion led by Robert Baratheon. However, Jon later failed to capture or slay Robert at Stoney Sept before a rebel army led by Ned Stark and Hoster Tully arrived to rescue him; Aerys blamed Connington for the disaster and he was stripped of his lands and titles and exiled. He reportedly served with the Golden Company, a mercenary group under Myles Toyne, but was reportedly discharged after stealing from the payroll. He was said to have drunk himself to death a year later. In A Dance with Dragons, it is revealed that his disgrace and death was a fabrication created by Varys. Because he is thought dead, Jon is able to raise and protect Aegon VI, who was also thought to be dead but was in fact safely smuggled out of King's Landing. He takes the name Griff and pretends that Aegon is his son. The pair plan to conquer Westeros and crown Aegon the King of the Seven Kingdoms. They begin travelling to Volantis to join their strength with Daenerys Targaryen. On the journey, Jon becomes infected with greyscale, a disease that slowly turns flesh stiff and dead and is eventually fatal. However, he keeps this a secret and hopes that he can crown Aegon before dying. When it becomes apparent that Daenerys has no intention of immediately conquering Westeros, the Golden Company abandons their idea of joining her and swear allegiance to Aegon. Jon and Aegon decide to attack Westeros while it is embroiled in civil war. The group lands in the Stormlands and have captured several castles, including Griffin's Roost. Aegon plans to leads the attack on Storm's End, the next target.
Ser Jorah Mormont is the former Lord of Bear Island in the North, which he inherited after his father Jeor Mormont joined the Night's Watch to pass on the title. After winning a tourney joust, Jorah was allowed to take Lady Lynesse Hightower as his second wife. He went into debt trying to support her lavish lifestyle, and he was sentenced to death after selling poachers to slavers. Rather than join the Night's Watch or die, he and his wife fled to Lys, where she left him to become a concubine of a rich merchant. Jorah became a mercenary and proved himself to be a capable warrior despite his age. He later becomes well-known among the Dothraki people. Though he is not descended from the Andals, the Dothraki dub him Jorah the Andal in reference to his Westerosi origin. Jorah wants nothing more than to return to Bear Island. In A Game of Thrones, he enters into the service of Viserys Targaryen and reports the movements of the exiled prince and his sister Daenerys to Varys, King Robert Baratheon's spymaster. He hopes that he will win a royal pardon and be allowed to return home. He eventually chooses to serve Daenerys over Viserys and becomes one of her most trusted companions. Jorah falls in love with Daenerys and stops assassination attempts caused by his reports. He eventually ends all communication with Varys. After she is widowed, he remains with her and becomes the first knight of her Queensguard.
He serves Daenerys as an adviser throughout A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords and tries to help her claim her birthright as queen of the Seven Kingdoms. He proclaims his love to her and suggests that they marry, claiming that she needs two husbands to be her dragonriders and that she will never find a more loyal man. His past deceit is eventually revealed by Barristan Selmy, and he is sent through the sewers of Meereen on a near-suicidal mission to capture the city. When he survives, he is offered a chance for forgiveness, but he defends his actions as he believes he committed no wrong. Daenerys believes him to be the betrayal for love, one of three she is foretold to experience, and reluctantly banishes him from her service. In A Dance with Dragons, Jorah captures Tyrion Lannister, planning to deliver him to Daenerys in the hopes of a pardon. However, the ship to Meereen is taken by slavers and the pair are enslaved. Jorah is beaten beyond recognition for his constant defiance and his cheek is branded with a demon to mark him as a dangerous and unruly slave; he stops physically fighting back when he learns that Daenerys is to be wed again, choosing instead to withdraw into himself and quietly ignore orders. He is bought as part of Tyrion's mummers act, but the pair escape when their master dies in a plague. They join the mercenary company the Second Sons, who have betrayed Daenerys and are fighting against her. Jorah and Tyrion realize that the company is on the losing side and plot to convince the Sons to change sides again. Jorah Mormont is played by Iain Glen in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
House Arryn is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the principal house in the Vale. It is descended from the Kings of Mountain and Vale, one of the oldest and purest lines of nobility in Westeros. Its main seat is at the Eyrie, a small castle located at the top of a mountain. Its coat of arms displays a white moon-and-falcon on a sky blue field, and its words are As High as Honor.
Jon Arryn was the head of the Arryn family until he was poisoned shortly before A Game of Thrones. His only child, Robert Arryn, becomes Lord of the Eyrie, and Jon's wife, Lady Lysa of House Tully, sister to Catelyn Stark, rules as regent. Throughout A Clash of Kings, she maintains strict neutrality in the ongoing civil war, despite the fact that House Tully is active in the fighting and has called on her for aid. In A Storm of Swords, she marries Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger the whoremaster and fixer, who pushes Lysa to her death. Baelish assumes guardianship of her son and rules the Vale in his stead.
Jon Arryn was the Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, Warden of the East, and Hand to King Robert Baratheon before the events of A Game of Thrones. He took Robert and Eddard Stark as wards and became a father figure to both. When King Aerys II Targaryen commanded him to hand over his wards, Jon, knowing that doing so would be sending the boys to their deaths, instead rose up in rebellion. To earn the support of House Tully in the rebellion, Jon married the much younger Lysa Tully. Throughout Robert's reign, Jon was left with most of the responsibility of running the Seven Kingdoms. When Stannis suspected the parentage of Queen Cersei Lannister's children, he brought his suspicions to Jon. Jon confirmed that Cersei's children were fathered not by Robert but by her brother Jaime. Before he could reveal this, Lysa poisoned him to stop him from sending their son Robert Arryn away as a ward. Jon Arryn is portrayed by John Standing in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 2]
Lysa Arryn is the second child and youngest daughter of Lord Hoster Tully. Before the events of the series, she fell in love with her father's ward Petyr Baelish. However, Baelish loved Lysa's sister Catelyn Tully, causing Lysa to resent her sister. When Catelyn spurned Baelish, he impregnated Lysa. When Lord Hoster learned about this, he sent Baelish home and tricked Lysa into drinking an abortifacient potion. Lord Tully later used the unborn child as proof of Lysa's fertility and wed her to the much older Jon Arryn, who desperately needed an heir and Hoster's support in rebellion. However, she suffered five miscarriages and two stillborn children before giving birth to her only child, Robert Arryn. After her second stillborn child, she became paranoid and saw enemies everywhere. She is over-protective of her son and continues to breastfeed him though he is six at the start of the series. She is described as an unstable, mercurial woman. Shortly before A Game of Thrones, Baelish convinces Lysa to poison her husband and write a letter to Catelyn naming House Lannister responsible. She returns to the Eyrie and becomes Lady Regent of the Vale and quickly isolates the Vale. Fearing for her safety and the safety of her son, she maintains strict neutrality in the war, an action that enrages a great many of her bannermen. She refuses to visit her dying father, to aid her nephew Robb Stark, and to send her bannermen against the hostile tribes of the mountains (who have been armed with better weapons and emboldened by the Lannisters). In A Storm of Swords, Baelish proposes marriage. Lysa believes that he has come to love her and ecstatically accepts. She later witnesses Baelish kissing Sansa Stark and believes that Sansa is trying to woo him. In a drunken hysteria, she tries to push Sansa through a door leading off the mountain, but Baelish pushes Lysa through instead. Her murder is pinned on a singer. Lysa Arryn is portrayed by Kate Dickie in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 16]
Robert Arryn, sometimes called Sweetrobin, is the only child of Jon Arryn and Lysa Tully. He is a sickly, whiny child who suffers from frequent seizure-like episodes called a shaking illness. He is depicted as being intellectually and physically stunted. Although he is six, his mother continues to breastfeed him. At the start of the series, he is Lord of the Eyrie and Defender of the Vale and his mother rules as regent in his name. After Lysa's marriage to Petyr Baelish and her subsequent death in a Storm of Swords, Baelish assumes the title Lord Protector of the Vale and claims the rule of the Vale and guardianship of Robert. Robert becomes increasingly emotional and unstable throughout A Feast for Crows and his shaking episodes become more frequent. In the absence of his mother, he becomes highly attached to his cousin Sansa Stark in her disguise of Alayne Stone. In the television adaptation of the novels, the character is renamed Robin Arryn to prevent confusion with Robert Baratheon. He is portrayed by Lino Facioli.[S 1][S 16]
House Lannister is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and the principal house of the Westerlands. Its seat is at Casterly Rock. Its coat of arms displays a golden lion rampant on a crimson field, and its words are Hear Me Roar! More famous than its official motto is the House's unofficial one: A Lannister always pays his debts. The Lannisters ruled as Kings of the Rock until House Targaryen invaded Westeros. They are the richest family in the Seven Kingdoms because of the gold mines located on their lands. They are the main antagonist of the series.
Before the events of the series, Tywin Lannister was robbed of his heir when King Aerys II Targaryen appointed Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard. In protest, he resigned from his position as Hand of the King. When Robert Baratheon rebelled, Tywin remained neutral until Robert's victory was certain. He then moved to capture King's Landing. As the city was invaded, Jaime murdered Aerys, allowing Robert to claim the throne. Robert then married Jaime's twin sister Cersei.
Mainline of House Lannister:
|Unnamed brother||Unnamed brother||Tytos|
Cadets of House Lannister:
|Tywin (main line)|
Tywin Lannister is Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West. He is a calculating, ruthless, and controlling man. He married his cousin Joanna, and their marriage was a happy one. She was his beloved companion and most trusted counselor. When she died giving birth to their dwarf son Tyrion, he was devastated and it is said that "the best part of Tywin died with her." He never remarried. Tywin loves his children Cersei and Jaime, but he despises Tyrion for being deformed and for causing Joanna's death. In his youth, he single-handedly restored the honor and fortune of the Lannisters and dedicated himself to maintaining his family's prestige. He was appointed the Hand of the King to Aerys II Targaryen at a young age and held the position for twenty years. He proved himself a capable leader and his tenure was marked by peace and prosperity. Others joked that Tywin, not Aerys, ruled the kingdom. Aerys's increasing paranoia and jealousy drove the two into bitter disagreements. When Aerys named Jaime to the Kingsguard and robbed Tywin of his heir, he resigned from his position. During Robert Baratheon's rebellion fifteen years before the events of the series, Tywin remained neutral until Robert won a decisive victory. He then captured King's Landing and ordered the murder of Rhaegar Targaryen's young children. In A Game of Thrones, he views the kidnapping of Tyrion as a slight against his family and sends Gregor Clegane to raid the Riverlands. He then spends much of his time fighting House Stark in the following war. After King Robert Baratheon dies, he is named Hand of the King to his grandson Joffrey Baratheon. He sends Tyrion to serve in his stead. Tywin continues the war through A Clash of Kings. Upon hearing that rebel Stannis Baratheon is attacking King's Landing, he arrives in time to drive Stannis away. He assumes his position of Hand in A Storm of Swords. He arranges for Joffrey to marry Margaery Tyrell to secure an alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells; and he orders Tyrion to marry Sansa Stark to claim Winterfell. He also plots the treacherous massacre at Edmure Tully's wedding, which kills rebel Robb Stark and most of his army. This effectively ends the ongoing war. When Joffrey is poisoned and Tyrion is blamed, Tywin presides at his son's trial. Tyrion is determined guilty in a trial by combat and is sentenced to death. However, he escapes and makes his way to Tywin's bedchamber. Tyrion finds him in the privy and kills him with a crossbow bolt. Tywin Lannister is portrayed by Charles Dance in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 17]
Cersei Lannister of House Lannister is the older twin sister of Jaime and is the only daughter of Tywin Lannister. She serves as the third-person narrator for twelve chapters throughout A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. She is physically beautiful and intelligent, but she is also greedy, cruel, manipulative, and amoral; she is also short tempered and quick to hold grudges, as well as often rushing into situations without pausing to consider the consequences of her actions. She shares her father's belief that to be feared is better than to be loved; however, unlike her father, Cersei has never learnt to temper ruthlessness with pragmatism and good judgement. She often feels that she should have been born male and given a sword, and she resents the restrictions put on her because she is female. Several characters state that she wants power but does not wield it well.
She is inseparable from Jaime, and the pair have maintained an incestuous relationship since they were young. On the other hand she despises her younger brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, as she holds him responsible for their mother's demise and has never forgiven him since then. Fifteen years before the events of the series, Cersei married King Robert Baratheon and became Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but did not take on the Baratheon name after becoming Robert's queen. She neither loved nor respected Robert because he called her Lyanna while consummating the marriage. She had three children, but all three are fathered by Jaime rather than Robert. She is greatly concerned for the safety of her children, but she does not care about the rest of their well-being, provides them with little in the way of sound guidance or consistent discipline, and can react abusively when they defy or disappoint her.
In A Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark discovers the truth of her children's parentage and offers her a chance to flee in exile before he informs Robert. However, Cersei refuses to leave and arranged Robert's death so that she can crown her son Joffrey while naming herself regent. When Eddard tries to publicly reveal the truth, she has him arrested for treason but ends up powerless to stop Joffrey from ordering Eddard's execution. Throughout A Clash of Kings, as her younger brother Tyrion becomes a substitute Hand of the King to curtail her policy, Cersei begins taking other lovers while Jaime was captured by Rob Stark. When Tyrion is injured defending King's Landing, having plotted to committed suicide, Cersei lied to Tywin of Tyrion's actions to have the title stripped from him. However, when Tywin becomes Hand of the King in A Storm of Swords and expressing a distrust towards House Tyrell, Cersei is livid to learn that she is to be married off to Loras Tyrell. After Joffrey's death, though he has no role in the deed, Cersei immediately accused Tyrion of poisoning her son. Upon Tywin's murder by Tyrion, manipulating Tommen, Cersei reclaims her position as regent while naming herself Lady of Casterly Rock. With nothing restricting her authority, feeling that she can be a better ruler than her father, Cersei began becoming paranoid and unstable to the point that Jaime abandoned his sister. In time, from stripping the Tyrells from positions of influence and authority to refusing to honor the Crown's debts, Cersei made enemies of the Iron Bank of Braavos and the Faith of the Seven. When Cersei tried to win back the Faith, she made matters worst in by allowing the religion to revive its military order, the Faith Militant, in hindsight. Cersei is eventually able to frame Margaery Tyrell, Tommen's wife, for adultery and high treason and has her arrested. However, one of Cersei's lovers admits to having sex with Cersei and to killing on her command, and she is arrested by the Faith. She pins her hopes on a Kingsguard champion in a trial by combat, but finds Jaime refusing to aid her. In A Dance with Dragons, she confesses to adultery with her cousin Lancel and three others, knowing that she will not be executed for those crimes. Before her trial, the Faith requires that she submit to a penance walk across King's Landing. All of her hair is shaved and she is forced to walk naked before the crowds. She breaks down in tears just before the end of the ordeal. She is carried into the Red Keep by Ser Robert Strong, the newest member of the Kingsguard and her champion in the trial by combat. After her penance walk, her uncle believes that she appears meeker. Cersei Lannister is portrayed by Lena Headey in the HBO adaptation of the books.[S 1][S 2]
Jaime Lannister is the younger twin brother of Cersei and is the first son of Tywin Lannister. He serves as the third-person narrator of seventeen chapters throughout A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. Like Cersei, he is arrogant, amoral, and impulsive, although unlike the rest of his family, he has no desire for power. He is inseparable from Cersei, and the pair have maintained an incestuous relationship since they were young. He treats his dwarf brother Tyrion with respect and kindness, though Cersei and Tywin do not. An immensely skilled warrior, he was knighted at a young age and has little interest in anything other than battle. To be close to Cersei, he renounced his claim to Casterly Rock and became the youngest knight to ever join the Kingsguard, a group of knights sworn to protect the King. However, he was raised to the position because King Aerys II Targaryen wanted to rob Tywin of his heir. In protest, Tywin resigned his position as Hand of the King and took Cersei from King's Landing, leaving Jaime alone at court, guarding a king who was becoming ever more mad and cruel. Jaime became disenchanted with his position as he was forced to watch the cruelties of Aerys in silence. When the King planned to burn the city instead of surrendering to rebels, Jaime murdered both the king and the agent sent to arrange the act. Despite the fact Jamie killed a dangerous and insane king, as well as saved the capital from being burnt to the ground, it gave him a reputation as an evil and dishonorable man, who violated Westeros 's most sacred taboo. By A Game of Thrones, he and Cersei have three children, though the children believe that King Robert Baratheon is their father. Jaime cares little for his children. He accompanies King Robert Baratheon and Cersei to Winterfell. Bran Stark discovers Jaime and Cersei having sex, and Jaime throws the boy out a window to keep the relationship secret. When Tyrion is captured by Catelyn Stark, Jaime breaks Kingsguard conduct and attacks Catelyn's husband Eddard Stark to retaliate. He then leaves King's Landing and joins his father, who is marching against Catelyn's home in the Riverlands. He is given command of half of Tywin's army. He is eventually captured by Robb Stark. Despite his capture, Cersei names him Lord Commander of the Kingsguard after Barristan Selmy is dismissed.
At the end of A Clash of Kings, Catelyn releases Jaime after he swears to return her daughters to her and to never take arms against the Starks or Tullys again. He and Brienne of Tarth journey to King's Landing, but they are captured by Stark bannermen. Jaime's right hand is cut off in an attempt to drive a wedge between Roose Bolton and Tywin. Without his hand, Jaime can no longer fight. He falls into a depression and loses the will to live. With Brienne's help, he realizes that he can still live for his family and for revenge. He agrees to not blame Roose for the loss of his hand and is released, without Brienne. However, he returns to rescue her, and they return safely to King's Landing. Jaime is changed by his experience and decides to become a just and honorable man. His actions upon his return cause Jaime to become alienated from his immediate family; Jaime refuses to resign from the Kingsguard and argues with his father, whose gift of a sword is taken as an insult. Jaime gives the blade, which he names Oathkeeper, to Brienne and orders her to keep Sansa Stark safe. When Tyrion is accused for the murder of Joffrey Baratheon, Jaime and Cersei's son, Jaime refuses to believe the claims and helps Tyrion escape. He confesses that Tyrion's first wife was not a prostitute as Jaime told him, but she truly loved Tyrion. In response, Tyrion tells Jaime that he killed Joffrey, a lie, and reveals that Cersei has been unfaithful. Tyrion then goes to kill their father Tywin. In A Feast for Crows, he is furious at Tyrion for killing their father, and feels partially responsible himself, and believes that Tyrion lied about Cersei. Twice, Cersei asks him to become Hand of the King. He refuses both times, and Cersei angrily ends their relationship. He goes to lift the siege on Riverrun, punishing Lannister bannermen for atrocities on the journey and growing fond of dispensing true justice. He begins sparring with Ilyn Payne to learn how to fight with his left hand, but progress has been slow. He learns from his cousin Lancel that Cersei has taken other lovers and becomes upset as he has been faithful to her. Jaime successfully defeats the Tully forces without taking up arms, in keeping with his oath to Catelyn. When Cersei is imprisoned for adultery and high treason, she begs Jaime to return to Kings Landing, stating that she loves him. He burns the letter and abandons her to her fate. In A Dance with Dragons, he is approached by Brienne. She tells him that Sansa is being held captive by Sandor Clegane, a lie, and claims that Sansa will die unless he comes alone. Jaime leaves with Brienne, and his fate is unknown. Jaime Lannister is portrayed by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the HBO adaptation of the books.[S 1][S 2]
Joffrey is the eldest of Queen Cersei Lannister's children and Robert's heir to the Iron Throne. Though a Baratheon in name, Joffrey is actually a product of incest between Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Joffrey is unaware of his true parentage until he hears it through rumours around King's Landing. Robert Baratheon never questions Joffrey's lineage though is not fond of the youth and often ignores him. He is described as a strong-willed child with a vicious temper and an unchecked sadistic streak, a behavior often attributed to Cersei's and Robert's parenting. He takes as his personal coat of arms the Baratheon black-and-gold crowned stag and the Lannister red-and-gold lion combatant.
During the events of A Game of Thrones, Joffrey is betrothed to Sansa Stark. However, it is revealed in A Storm of Swords that Joffrey sent an assassin to kill the crippled Bran Stark on a whim; it is later further revealed that he did so to try to impress his father after overhearing a drunken Robert say that Bran should be put out of his misery. After Robert's death, Joffrey is crowned king, then arrests Eddard Stark for refusing to acknowledge his right. Though he forces Ned to recant and declare him king in order to save his daughters, Joffrey takes back his promise to Sansa to exile her father and instead orders Ned's execution, which touches off the conflict that follows, and leads to the War of the Five Kings. Throughout A Clash of Kings, his reign marks by the start of the War of the Five Kings, Joffrey rules King's Landing with cruelty and caprice, often ignoring his mother and advisors.
He commits various atrocities, from frequently ordering his King's Guard to beat Sansa. In the TV series, he orders all of Robert's illegitimate children slaughtered, upon hearing of what he believed to be ugly rumors, to ensure no usurpers (whereas Cersei committed this act in the novels). He even shoots several refugees with a crossbow when they beg for bread at the castle gates. Eventually, Joffrey comes to be viewed as a tyrant and is nearly killed during a riot. When Stannis Baratheon arrives at King's Landing, Joffrey serves only as a figurehead and avoids the heavy fighting after Cersei calls him back to the safety of the castle to protect him. Though that act damages his army's morale, Joffrey only maintains the city thanks to his Uncle Tyrion, his grandfather Tywin, and the support of House Tyrell. Joffrey ends his betrothal to Sansa in order to wed Margaery Tyrell, to cement their alliance and join their houses (though he continues to menace Sansa and makes crass, public declarations of his intentions to take her as a mistress). However, during the wedding feast, Joffrey is poisoned and chokes to death in a scheme orchestrated by Olenna Redwyne and Petyr Baelish. With the exception of his mother, Joffrey is not particularly mourned by anyone; even his real father Jaime believes Joffrey deserved to die. Joffrey Baratheon is portrayed by Jack Gleeson in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2] Author Martin described Joffrey as similar to "five or six people that I went to school with ... a classic bully ... incredibly spoiled".[S 18]
Tyrion Lannister (also The Imp) He is a prominent point of view character in Martin's award-winning Song of Ice and Fire series, and also a main character in HBO's adaptation of the series, Game of Thrones, where he is portrayed by Peter Dinklage.
Ser Kevan Lannister is Tywin Lannister's younger brother and most trusted captain, known for his reliability and loyalty. He serves as the third-person narrator for the epilogue of A Dance with Dragons. At an early age, he realized his brother was superior. He became comfortable with carrying out Tywin's wishes and resigned himself to perpetually living in his brother's shadow. Though he is intelligent, it is said that Kevan never had a thought Tywin did not have first. In A Storm of Swords, he is appointed Master of Laws to his great-nephew King Joffrey Baratheon, and after Tywin's death, he is offered the position Hand of the King in A Feast for Crows. However, he does not trust the leadership of his niece Cersei and will only take the appointment if she returns to Casterly Rock and gives him the regency. She refuses to do so, and he refuses the position. He accuses Cersei of being as unfit a mother as she is a ruler. Enraged, she withdraws the offer. He is quickly alienated from his immediate family; he is angry at his son's sudden piety, comes to believe his nephew Tyrion killed Tywin, suspects that Cersei is having an incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime, and questions the true parentage of Cersei's children. He returns to the west and Cersei gives several positions, to which Kevan would have been better suited, to lesser members of House Lannister in retaliation. After Cersei's imprisonment, the council appoints him Lord Regent to King Tommen Baratheon. Kevan accepts the position in A Dance with Dragons and tries to solve the problems Cersei created, mostly by repairing relations between House Tyrell and House Lannister. Because his efforts to stabilize the Lannister-Tyrell regime threaten Aegon Targaryen's plans to take the throne, Varys shoots Kevan in the chest with a crossbow, which Varys hopes will suggest Tyrion is responsible, further destabilizing Cersei. Though it may seem easy to guess that it probably wasn't Tyrion, the ruse only had to fool Cersei. Varys expresses regret that this is necessary; he views the regime Kevan could have saved as evil, but knows Kevan to be a good man. The dying Kevan is then surrounded by dagger-wielding children, whom Varys orders to finish him off. Kevan Lannister is portrayed by Ian Gelder in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 19]
Lancel Lannister is the oldest son of Kevan Lannister and serves as squire to King Robert Baratheon at King's Landing in A Game of Thrones. He idolizes his cousin Jaime to the point that he helps Jaime's sister Queen Cersei kill Robert so he could also be a Kingslayer. In A Clash of Kings, Cersei knights him for his part in Robert's death. When Jaime goes to war, Cersei takes Lancel as a lover because he resembles her brother. Tyrion eventually discovers the affair and blackmails Lancel into spying for him. During an attack on King's Landing, Lancel guards Cersei's son King Joffrey Baratheon and takes a serious wound in the fighting. During recovery in A Storm of Swords, he experiences a spiritual awakening and spends much of his time atoning for his sins. He marries the recently widowed Amerei Frey, nicknamed Gatehouse Ami for her promiscuity, as part of a pact between Houses Lannister and Frey. Lancel becomes Lord of the Darry shortly after in A Feast for Crows. Rumors of his wife's promiscuity circulate, but he is apathetic as he does not care about what his wife does. When the Faith Militant, the military order of the Faith, is reinstated, he renounces his wife and lands and is seen as a member of the Warrior Sons order in A Dance with Dragons. Lancel Lannister is portrayed by Eugene Simon in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Bronn is a skilled sellsword of low birth. He is described as having a sardonic sense of humor and a pragmatic, amoral philosophy. He is introduced in A Game of Thrones as one of the men who responds to Catelyn Stark's call to capture Tyrion Lannister, but he only does so in the hopes of a reward. He helps Catelyn take Tyrion to the Eyrie, and to Catelyn's annoyance, he quickly befriends Tyrion. When Tyrion needs a man to champion him in a trial by combat, Bronn steps forward as he believes he will earn more for his services from Tyrion than from Catelyn. He wins the duel and enters into Tyrion's service. He accompanies Tyrion to King's Landing, and in A Clash of Kings he becomes the captain of Tyrion's guards. He is tasked with hiring mercenaries to deal with the hostile common-folk and leads the efforts to extinguish fires started by rioters. When Stannis Baratheon attacks the city by sailing up the Blackwater River, Bronn is in charge of raising the massive chain boom across the river to cut off the fleet's escape. The operation is successful, he is knighted for his contributions, and he begins calling himself Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. In A Storm of Swords, Tyrion is accused of murdering King Joffrey Baratheon and asks Bronn to champion him in a trial by combat against the monstrous Gregor Clegane. However, Bronn refuses and instead takes Cersei's offer to marry Lollys of the wealthy House Stokeworth. In A Feast for Crows, Lollys gives birth to the son she conceived while she was raped during a riot. Bronn names the boy Tyrion in honor of his former employer, leading Cersei to fear he still supports Tyrion. Lollys's older sister Falyse and Falyse's husband Balman are ordered to kill Bronn in an "accident." However, Balman foolishly challenges him to a duel. Bronn defeats and kills Balman with underhand tactics, after extracting a confession that Cersei put him up to it, and expels Falyse from the castle. To hide the plot, Cersei has Falyse killed. After Falyse's death, Lollys is named Lady Stokeworth, and Balman's death leaves Bronn unopposed as Lord Protector of Stokeworth, a claim derived from his wife's new title. Bronn is played by Jerome Flynn in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Ser Gregor Clegane, known as the Mountain That Rides or simply the Mountain, is the older brother of Sandor Clegane and is a retainer to Tywin Lannister. He is "close to eight feet tall" and nearly 30 stone (420 lb; 190 kg) of muscle. His size and strength make him a fearsome warrior, and he has earned a reputation for cruelty and brutality. He is able to wield a two-handed sword one handed. When they were children, Gregor shoved Sandor's face into a brazier, gruesomely scarring him. He is also rumored to have killed their father and their sister and his first two wives; and his servants inexplicably disappear. He has committed hundreds of rapes and murders, but he is most infamous for killing the infant Aegon VI Targaryen by bashing the babe's skull against a wall. With the baby's blood and brains still on his hands, he raped and killed Aegon's mother Elia Martell. In A Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister sends him to raid the Riverlands in retaliation for Catelyn Stark's abduction of Tyrion. Beric Dondarrion is sent to arrest Gregor, but Gregor ambushes and kills him. When war breaks out, Gregor is given command of Tywin's vanguard and left flank and leads his men through intimidation. He and his men continue raiding the Riverlands throughout A Clash of Kings. When Tyrion Lannister demands a trial by combat to prove that he did not poison King Joffrey Baratheon, the accuser Queen Mother Cersei Lannister chooses Gregor as her champion. Elia's brother Oberyn Martell sees this as a chance to claim vengeance and champions Tyrion, evading Gregor before wounding him with a poisoned spear. Gregor admits that he killed Elia and Aegon before crushing Oberyn's skull, but dies a long and agonizing death throughout A Feast for Crows. After being brought to the dungeons for Qyburn's medical experiments, Gregor is stated to be dead with his skull presented to House Martell in A Dance with Dragons as compensation for the deaths of Elia, Rhaenys, Aegon, and Oberyn. It is later heavily implied that Ser Robert Strong, newest member of the Kingsguard and Cersei's champion in her upcoming trial by combat, is in fact Gregor's reanimated (and possibly headless) corpse. In Season 1 of the television adaptation, he is portrayed by Conan Stevens and, in Season 2, by Ian Whyte. Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is to portray Gregor in Season 4.[S 2][S 17]
Sandor Clegane—known as the Hound for his unquestioning loyalty, obedience, and readiness to kill on command, as well as for his banner and helm—is a retainer to House Lannister and the younger brother of Gregor Clegane. He is regarded as one of the most dangerous and skilled fighters in Westeros, and many believe he fears nothing. His face is distinguished by gruesome burn scars, which he received as a child when his brother pushed his head into a brazier. Consequently, he fears fire and hates his brother. When his brother is knighted and becomes even more brutal, Sandor comes to hate knights and views knighthood as hypocrisy. He vows to never become a knight and quickly corrects those who refer to him as Sir, a knight's title. He is described as a tormented man driven by anger and hate, aspiring only to kill his brother. In A Game of Thrones, he acts as bodyguard and servant to Prince Joffrey Baratheon, who calls him Dog. He becomes enamored with Joffrey's intended bride Sansa Stark, though he mocks her for her naïveté and polished manners. Despite his refusal to become a knight, he is named a knight of Joffrey's Kingsguard in A Clash of Kings and is often assigned to guard Sansa. Although he is still faithful to Joffrey, he frequently defends Sansa from Joffrey's attempts to shame and physically abuse her; of the six Kingsguard in King's Landing, he is the only one who never strikes her. During an attack on King's Landing, the widespread use of the Greek fire-like wildfire forces Sandor to abandon the fighting. Before fleeing the city, he seeks out Sansa and offers to take her along. In her panic, she refuses; but she recognizes that he had been afraid in the battle. He demands that she sing for him before he leaves, and after she does, she sees that he is crying. In A Storm of Swords, he wanders the Riverlands until he is captured by outlaws calling themselves the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have also captured Arya Stark. The Brotherhood puts him on trial for Lannister atrocities, and he chooses trial by combat. Although Beric Dondarrion fights with a flaming sword, Sandor defeats him. He is stripped of his gold and set free. He returns to reclaim his gold but, instead, kidnaps Arya to ransom her to her brother Robb Stark and hopes to earn a place in Robb's service. He takes her to the Twins, where Robb is attending a wedding. However, just as they arrive, the Freys are slaughtering the Starks. Sandor and Arya escape and head eastward. They encounter three of Gregor's men at an inn, and Sandor is seriously injured in the ensuing fight. His wounds become infected, and Arya abandons him. In A Feast for Crows, the head of a nearby monastery states that the Hound is dead, but when asked if Sandor is dead, he replies that Sandor is at rest. He claims that the Hound had been buried and his famous helm, shaped as a snarling dog head, left atop a cairn marking the grave. The helm is afterward stolen by criminals and used to blame the Hound for brutal sprees of banditry. It is later obtained by the Brotherhood Without Banners. In the TV adaptation, Sandor Clegane is played by Rory McCann.[S 1][S 2]
Podrick Payne, Pod for short, is a distant cousin of Ser Ilyn Payne and becomes the squire to Tyrion Lannister toward the end of A Game of Thrones. He is a very shy and nervous boy and is always stuttering, but he is a loyal and capable squire. In A Clash of Kings, he rides by Tyrion's side at the Battle of the Blackwater, during which he rescues Tyrion from an assassination attempt made by Ser Mandon Moore, a knight of the Kingsguard. He continues his duties through A Storm of Swords until Tyrion vanishes in A Feast for Crows. He then secretly follows Brienne of Tarth, knowing that she was looking for Tyrion's wife Sansa Stark. When he is discovered, Podrick admits that he is upset Tyrion abandoned him and hopes that Sansa will lead him to Tyrion. He becomes Brienne's squire and serves her as faithfully as he did Tyrion. He and Brienne are captured by outlaws known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, and the leader Lady Stoneheart orders Podrick to be hanged for serving Tyrion as squire. In his last appearance, he quietly accepts his fate and is being hanged alongside Brienne, who later appears alive. His ultimate fate is unknown. Podrick Payne is played by Daniel Portman in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 20]
House Baratheon is the youngest of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the principal house in the Stormlands, which it won after slaying the last of the Storm Kings. It is said to be founded by an illegitimate son of House Targaryen. Its seat is at Storm's End, a formidable castle that has never fallen to siege or storm. Its coat of arms displays a black stag on a field of gold; a crown was added after Robert Baratheon took the Iron Throne. Its words are Ours is the Fury.
Fifteen years before the events of the series, Robert Baratheon rebelled against the ruling House Targaryen in protest of Lyanna Stark's disappearance. With the support of House Stark, House Arryn, House Tully, and later House Lannister, Robert won the throne and his line became known as House Baratheon of King's Landing, the new royal family. Robert's brother Renly Baratheon was awarded Storm's End, which should have been Stannis Baratheon's by rights. Instead, Stannis was given the poorer and less powerful Dragonstone, the Targaryen seat. This became a source of tension between Robert and Stannis. Robert married Cersei Lannister, and the royal children are Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. However, the children are not fathered by Robert but by Cersei's twin brother, Jaime Lannister. After Robert's death in A Game of Thrones, Joffrey is crowned king.
Because of Joffrey's parentage, Stannis and Renly rebel and claim the throne for themselves. Renly becomes head of the main Baratheon branch, House Baratheon of Storm's End, and Stannis forms a cadet branch known as House Baratheon of Dragonstone. After Joffrey's coronation, the royal branch displays Joffrey's personal sigil, the Baratheon black-and-gold stag and the Lannister red-and-gold lion combatant, on its coat of arms. Renly's branch continues to use the black stag on gold, and Stannis displays a red flaming heart with the crowned stag within on a field of yellow.
Robert Baratheon is King of the Seven Kingdoms and at the beginning of A Game of Thrones, he has reigned for fifteen years. He is described as a fat, bearded man who is fond of hunting, whoring, and drinking. However, he was a formidable warrior in his youth. He was the ward of Jon Arryn and was raised at the Eyrie alongside Eddard Stark, another of Jon's wards, whom he considers a brother; in fact, Robert is not very fond of his own brothers Renly and Stannis, a feeling that is mutual. Robert and Eddard grew closer than brothers and became devoted to Jon. Fifteen years before the series, Robert was betrothed to Ned's sister Lyanna, whom he adored from afar. When Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen disappeared, Robert was outraged. King Aerys II Targaryen ordered Jon to execute Robert and Eddard. Instead, Jon Arryn raised the Vale in rebellion, beginning the conflict known as Robert's Rebellion or the War of the Usurper. Robert eventually killed Rhaegar on the river Trident and seized the throne after marching into King's Landing, using his bloodline as pretext (his paternal grandmother being a Targaryen). In the last days of the war, Lyanna died due to circumstances that remain unconfirmed. Robert is forever haunted by her memory and subsequently bears a deep hatred against House Targaryen, denouncing Rhaegar's murdered children Aegon and Rhaenys as "dragonspawn" and dispatching his assassins to track down Aerys's remaining two children, Daenerys and Viserys. After winning the crown, he married Cersei Lannister to ensure House Lannister's loyalty to his rule. Robert and Cersei share three children, all actually fathered by Cersei's brother Jaime. Although Robert believes he is the father, he prefers to ignore the children rather than raise them, leaving the responsibility of running the Seven Kingdoms to his Hand, Lord Arryn. Robert squanders the vast treasury left by Aerys on tourneys and feasts, leaving the crown heavily in debt. In spite of his squandering, he is not an unpopular king, and his lifespan brought a renewed sense of peace to the kingdom following the near-extinction of its (until then) only ruling dynasty. Believing the Seven Kingdoms ready to crumble, Lord Balon Greyjoy tried to take advantage as he raised his own rebellion against the crown, which was suppressed nine years before the events of A Game of Thrones. Robert's careless ways create a political and fiscal bubble that bursts at the moment of his death, setting the stage for the War of the Five Kings, in which his heir Joffrey and brothers Stannis and Renly all contend for the Iron Throne. In A Game of Thrones, he goes hunting severely drunk and is gutted by a boar. He dies a few days later. Robert Baratheon was portrayed by Mark Addy in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Princess Myrcella Baratheon is second oldest child and only daughter of Queen Cersei Lannister. Like her brothers, she is also the daughter of Cersei's brother Jaime Lannister, but she is unaware of this and believes she is the daughter of King Robert Baratheon. She is described as delicate, beautiful and courteous and is said to have all her mother's beauty but none of her cruel nature. Myrcella is known for displaying tremendous courage, a strong will and great intelligence, despite being only eight at the beginning of the series. To ensure that House Martell will support Joffrey, who is now king and fighting a civil war, Myrcella is betrothed to marry Prince Trystane Martell when they come of age and is sent to Dorne in A Clash of Kings. According to other characters, they get along well and have become friends. After Joffrey's death in A Storm of Swords, Princess Arianne Martell schemes to make Myrcella queen of Westeros, as under the laws of Dorne the eldest child, whether son or daughter, succeeds to the throne. The plan goes awry, however, and in the ensuing chaos, Ser Gerold Dayne, one of Arianne's co-conspirators, attempts to kill Myrcella. She survives, but she loses an ear and is hideously scarred. Myrcella Baratheon is portrayed by Aimee Richardson in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1]
Prince Tommen Baratheon is the younger brother of Prince Joffrey and Princess Myrcella and is second in line for the throne. Tommen is Queen Cersei Lannister's youngest child and, like his siblings, he is also the son of Cersei's brother Jaime Lannister; but he is unaware of this and believes he is the son of King Robert Baratheon. Tommen is described as plump, sweet, and weak-willed but tries hard and is kind hearted, in contrast to his cruel, headstrong older brother. It is believed by many characters that Tommen will make a far better king than Joffrey.
After King Joffrey's death in A Storm of Swords, Tommen is crowned and marries Joffrey's young widow, Margaery Tyrell. However, he is more interested in his kittens and games than in the realm and believes kingship only involves signing and sealing decrees. Tommen is also a submissive child and, as a result, does everything that is asked of him. Thus, Cersei uses him to rule as she likes, and Margaery manipulates him into resisting his mother. Tommen Baratheon is portrayed by Callum Wharry in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1]
Lord Stannis Baratheon is the younger brother of King Robert and older brother of Lord Renly. He is portrayed as a brooding and humorless man with a harsh sense of justice and an obsession with slights both real and imagined. Stannis is known for his stubbornness and determination and is described by Donal Noye as cold iron: "He's cold and brittle and will break before it bends." Nevertheless, he is regarded by many as a capable and skilled naval and military commander.
Stannis is married to Lady Selyse of House Florent, a house sworn to House Tyrell, and has a daughter named Shireen. Fifteen years before the events of the series, Stannis fought alongside his brother when Robert rebelled against House Targaryen, though he was torn between his duty to his family and to the realm and only sided with Robert after much soul searching, and took the Targaryen-controlled fortress Dragonstone after withstanding a lengthy siege of the Baratheon seat, Storm's End, by the armies of House Tyrell. Stannis and his army survived because Davos Seaworth smuggled them enough food to last until the siege was lifted. However, despite Stannis's efforts to win Robert the kingship, Robert didn't thank him for it, instead giving credit elsewhere and blaming Stannis for others' mistakes. To slight Stannis, Robert named Stannis the Lord of Dragonstone while naming Renly the Lord of the wealthier and more powerful Storm's End, which was Stannis's seat by right (though admittedly Stannis was better suited to the task of ruling Dragonstone and the lords sworn to it, who had been staunch Targaryen loyalists). All this occurred before the events of A Game of Thrones. Stannis was also named Master of Ships and later served on Robert's small council after Robert ascended the throne in King's Landing.
Shortly before A Game of Thrones, Stannis had suspected that Queen Cersei Lannister's children were not fathered by Robert. Suspecting that Robert would dismiss Stannis's accusations as a self-serving attempt to put himself higher in the line of succession, Stannis brought his suspicions to Robert's Hand, Jon Arryn. Upon Jon's death, Stannis resigned from his position and returned to Dragonstone to gather his strength. By the time A Clash of Kings opens, Stannis, at his wife's urging, begins to consider Melisandre of Asshai, priestess of the god R'hllor, as a trusted adviser. Melisandre tells Stannis that he is Azor Ahai, a messianic figure who will be born again and will end the war between R'hllor and the dark Other. After hearing of Robert's death, Stannis claims to be the true heir to the Iron Throne as Cersei's children are illegitimate. He then changes his personal coat of arms from the gold-and-black stag to the burning red heart of R'hllor with the crowned stag in its center. However, most of the Baratheon bannermen support the claim of the more charismatic Renly. When Renly is mysteriously slain by Melisandre's dark ghost-demon, many of Renly's bannermen immediately swear allegiance to Stannis, who then attacks King's Landing by sailing up the Blackwater river from Blackwater Bay. However, the Lannisters are prepared, thanks to Tyrion (who has stockpiled and prepared wildfire, which is used to set the entire river on fire), and Stannis loses most of his ships and men.
In A Storm of Swords, Stannis retreats to Dragonstone with what is left of his army; many of his bannerman having been either slain, captured or defected to Joffrey. Davos, his Hand, convinces him to save the Night's Watch from the wildling army. Stannis leads his army north and arrives in time to crush the wildling assault. He stays at the Wall to negotiate with the wildlings, giving them refuge from the Others and allowing them to settle the northern regions of Westeros. In A Dance with Dragons, Stannis wins the clans of the northern mountains to his cause and captures Asha Greyjoy, earning him the support of two northern houses. He then marches on Winterfell to take it from Ramsay Snow, but his army is stopped three days from the castle by heavy snows. Ramsay later writes a letter to Jon stating that Stannis is dead. However, an excerpt from the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter shows Stannis alive and aware of House Karstark's intentions to betray him to Roose Bolton; consequently, Stannis has the Karstarks arrested and plans to execute them, though whether they are burned or beheaded depends on their willingness to confess.
Meanwhile, Stannis has brokered a loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos during A Dance With Dragons and will use the money to hire mercenaries from the Free Cities of Essos, which in turn will place Shireen on the throne if Stannis dies. He also plans to execute Theon Greyjoy, another captive of his, to appease his northern allies who want Theon dead for the murders of Bran and Rickon Stark.[S 10] Stannis is portrayed by Stephen Dillane in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 21][S 1]
Melisandre of Asshai is a priestess of R'hllor in service to Stannis Baratheon. She is introduced in A Clash of Kings and serves as the third-person narrator for one chapter of A Dance with Dragons. She is described as a beautiful woman with red eyes, and like all the clergy of her faith, she is always dressed in red; vague recollections of her own past imply that Melisandre was once a slave called Melony, and that she was sold to the temple of R'hllor when she was a child. Because of her devotion to R'hllor, she possesses magical abilities, has prophetic visions, and does not need to eat or sleep. A great heat emanates from her body. She is often friendly, though many characters feel intimidated or threatened by her presence. Melisandre takes a militant stance against the other religions of Westeros, believing the other gods to be demons who need to be destroyed. By A Clash of Kings, Melisandre has converted Stannis's wife Queen Selyse into a follower of R'hllor and has convinced Stannis that he is the Azor Ahai, the messianic figure prophesied to return and end the perpetual war between R'hllor and his opponent, the Great Other. She becomes his most trusted adviser and counsels him on how to prepare for the battle against the enemy Great Other. She is also able to win over many of Stannis's men, but alienates the rest because of her aggressive counsel, her attitude toward their religion, and her strange faith and abilities. Many, most notably Stannis's trusted adviser Davos Seaworth, believe she is leading their king astray. Attempts on her life are made at least twice, once by Dragonstone's aged Maester Cressen after Stannis's coronation, and once by Davos following the Battle of the Blackwater; her powers allow her to survive one and foresee the other. Despite the fact that Davos planned to kill her, she trusts him as he is steadfast in his loyalty to Stannis. She takes credit for the deaths of Stannis's enemies and competitors for the throne, killing Renly Baratheon and Ser Cortnay Penrose, castellan at Storm's End, with shadow assassins conjured from her womb (although Renly's death is portrayed without her part, it is implied when she births the shadow which kills Ser Cortnay). In A Storm of Swords, she goes north with Stannis and remains at the wall throughout A Dance With Dragons, claiming she has important work to do there. Melisandre is played by Carice van Houten in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 21]
Ser Davos Seaworth, called the Onion Knight and sometimes Shorthand, is the common-born head of the newly founded House Seaworth and was formerly known as the most notorious and most elusive smuggler in the Seven Kingdoms. He is introduced in A Clash of Kings and is the third-person narrator for a total of thirteen chapters throughout A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Dance with Dragons. In his smuggling days, he was said to handle a ship at night better than anyone. Before the events of the series, he earned his knighthood by smuggling fish and onions to the besieged Stannis Baratheon and his army during Robert Baratheon's rebellion. Before knighting him, Stannis removed the last joints from four fingers on Davos's left hand as punishment for years of smuggling; believing these joints bought his wife and seven sons a better future, Davos keeps them in a pouch around his neck for luck until they are lost in the Battle of the Blackwater. In A Clash of Kings, he loyally supports Stannis's claim to the throne and his honesty and willingness to voice his unaltered opinion make him Stannis's most trusted adviser, though Stannis often dislikes what he hears. However, Davos is a follower of the Faith of the Seven and cannot bring himself to accept or trust the priestess Melisandre and her god R'hllor. He does not object to her because Stannis is also a follower of R'hllor. He fights in the Battle of the Blackwater, an attack on King's Landing that ends in the slaughter of Stannis's troops; Davos's four eldest sons are killed and Davos himself seemingly perishes. In A Storm of Swords, he is revealed to have barely survived. He blames Melisandre for the deaths of his sons and plans to kill her, but she foresees the attempt and has him jailed. Stannis pardons Davos and raises him to Lord of the Rainwood and names him Hand of the King, a position Davos reluctantly accepts. Feeling that a Hand cannot be illiterate, he learns to read and write and inadvertently reads the Night's Watch's letter calling for aid. Davos convinces Stannis to help the Watch defend against the wildling army. While Stannis sails to the Wall, Davos goes to White Harbor in the North to negotiate an alliance with Lord Manderly, who takes him captive. In A Feast for Crows, Manderly is ordered to execute Davos in exchange for Manderly's son. Soon after, Davos's head and hands are said to be displayed on the city walls. A Dance with Dragons reveals that Manderly executed a similar-looking criminal instead. Davos is secretly and comfortably held in a cell and is released upon the return of Manderly's son. Manderly will pledge White Harbor's support, and promises most of the North will follow suit, if Davos uses his smuggling skills to recover Manderly's liege lord Rickon Stark, who was previously thought dead. Upon learning the boy's whereabouts, implied to be the northern island of Skagos, Davos considers returning to his cell better than sailing through dangerous waters to where cannibals live. Davos Seaworth is played by Liam Cunningham in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 22][S 1] Because Cunningham is left-handed, the writers decided to shorten the fingers on the character's right hand instead of his left.[S 23]
Lord Renly Baratheon is the younger brother of Robert Baratheon and Stannis Baratheon. He is described as handsome and charismatic, winning friends easily, but many characters view him as frivolous and believe he sees everything, including the war for the kingship, as a game. By the beginning of A Game of Thrones, he is made Lord of Storm's End, the seat of House Baratheon. This greatly upsets Stannis as Storm's End is supposed to go to the older brother; the castle is also much larger and richer and therefore gives Renly more power. Eventually, Renly is called to King's Landing to serve on Robert's council as master of laws, his lawmaker. As Robert is dying, Renly approaches Eddard Stark suggesting they seize control of the Iron Throne before Queen Cersei Lannister could take it for herself. When Eddard refuses as Stannis is rightful heir, Renly leaves the city. After Robert dies, Renly declares himself King of the Seven Kingdoms in A Clash of Kings and wins the support of the Baratheon bannermen and the support of other houses, despite Stannis's better claim. He also seals an alliance with House Tyrell by marrying Margaery Tyrell. In the television series, he changes his coat of arms to a golden crowned stag on Tyrell green to reflect this. He leads his army slowly through southern Westeros, biding his time. He lets his enemies House Lannister and House Stark wear each other out and hosts tournaments while waiting. He is forced to change tactics when Stannis marches against him. While preparing for battle, Renly is killed by a mysterious shadow. Renly Baratheon is portrayed by Gethin Anthony in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1] The adaptation openly depicts Renly and Ser Loras Tyrell as lovers, an interaction obliquely addressed in the novels.[S 24][S 25] Martin has pointed out that due to the fact that neither Renly or (as of A Dance With Dragons) Loras are viewpoint characters, a sexual relationship could only be confirmed if the characters were caught in flagrante delicto, which - due to the strong repercussions against such relationships - would have affected their plotlines substantially.
Brienne Tarth, called Brienne of Tarth, is the only surviving child and daughter of Lord Selwyn of Evenfall and heiress to Tarth, an island in the Stormlands. She serves as the third-person narrator for eight chapters of A Feast for Crows. She is a highly trained and skilled warrior made dangerous by the fact that men underestimate her. From an early age, she knew she would rather be a knight than a wife. She is considered ugly because she is abnormally large in height and build, androgynous, and stronger than most men. She is often called a freak and is mockingly nicknamed Brienne the Beauty. She is described as honest, loyal, stubborn, and awkward but confident in battle. She holds a naïve and idealized notion of knighthood and the world despite the fact that Westeros does not live up to her high-minded views. She wishes to prove her valor in a worthy cause to win respect and acceptance. She becomes infatuated with Renly Baratheon after he shows her kindness and courtesy, and she wins a place in his Rainbow Guard after winning a tournament melee in A Clash of Kings. Renly states in private that he thinks she is foolish but gave her the position anyway because she wanted to die for him, as opposed to other followers who wanted advantage or position. She is present at Renly's death and is falsely accused of his murder. She flees with Catelyn Stark and enters her service. Later in A Storm of Swords, Catelyn decides to release Jaime Lannister in exchange for her daughters Sansa and Arya; Brienne is sent to protect Jaime on the journey and to escort the Stark girls back. However, Brienne and Jaime are captured by the Brave Companions, a mercenary company in service to Roose Bolton. While in captivity, the two develop a grudging respect for one another, and Jaime eventually risks his life to save her from death in a bear pit. The pair eventually arrive in King's Landing. After Catelyn's death, Jaime entrusts Brienne with a sword forged for him from Eddard Stark's own sword. He names it Oathkeeper as it will allow her to keep her promise to Catelyn and sends her to find and protect Sansa. Brienne wanders the Riverlands in search of Sansa throughout A Feast for Crows. She is eventually captured by the outlaws known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, now led by the resurrected Catelyn. Catelyn claims that she does not believe Brienne is searching for Sansa and orders her to kill Jaime or face execution. Brienne refuses to make a choice and is sentenced to hang. She shouts a single word as her noose tightens in her last appearance of the novel. In A Dance with Dragons, she appears alive, but she is wounded and appears much older. She asks Jaime to help her rescue Sansa from Sandor Clegane, but he must come alone or Sandor will kill Sansa. However, as of A Dance with Dragons, Sansa is hiding in the Vale and Sandor has been reported dead. Brienne of Tarth is played by Gwendoline Christie in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 26]
Beric Dondarrion is the Lord of Blackhaven. He is described as a gallant young lord with great fighting skill. In A Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark sends him to arrest Gregor Clegane and bring peace to the Riverlands. He is ambushed and killed by Lannister forces. His companion Thoros of Myr accidentally revives him with magic during the funeral service. By A Storm of Swords, he and his men have formed an outlaw band called the Brotherhood Without Banners. The Brotherhood starts a guerrilla war against raiders in the Riverlands. The success of these ambushes earns him the nickname the Lightning Lord, also reference to his coat of arms. He is killed and resurrected six times. With each revival, he loses more of his memories and his appearance becomes more corpse-like. In the third book, he and his men find the corpse of Catelyn Stark several days after the Red Wedding. He resurrects her with the last of his life force and dies for the seventh and final time. In the television adaptation of the novels, Beric Dondarrion was portrayed by David Michael Scott in "A Golden Crown" and was portrayed by Richard Dormer for the third season.[S 12][S 13]
House Greyjoy is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the principal noble house on the Iron Islands, home to the Ironborn. Its seat is on Pyke. Its coat of arms displays a golden kraken on a black field, and its words are We Do Not Sow. The Greyjoys became Lords Paramount of the Iron Islands after House Targaryen took the throne of the Seven Kingdoms and allowed the Ironborn to choose who would have primacy over them.
Balon Greyjoy is the current Lord of the Iron Islands. He has two surviving children, his only daughter Asha and a son named Theon. Ten years before the events of the series, Balon led a failed rebellion against the ruling House Baratheon. Theon was taken hostage by House Stark and was to be executed if Balon displeased the king. As the only remaining child, Asha was raised as heir, despite the fact that Ironborn custom dictates a woman cannot lead. In A Clash of Kings, Balon declares himself King of the Iron Islands and the North and joins the ongoing civil war.
Balon Greyjoy is the Lord of the Iron Islands, King of Salt and Rock, Son of the Sea Wind, and Lord Reaper of Pyke. He is a harsh and fierce man devoted, in most respects, to Ironborn custom, though he sees his daughter Asha as his successor when custom dictates a woman cannot lead. Ten years before A Song of Ice and Fire, he led a rebellion against King Robert Baratheon. The rebellion failed and his youngest son Theon Greyjoy was taken as a political hostage and raised in Winterfell by Lord Eddard Stark. After Robert's death, Balon spurns Robb Stark's offer of an alliance in a Clash of Kings and declares himself King of the Iron Islands and the North. He captures the Neck and ravages the coastline of the Stark-held North. He dies in A Storm of Swords after falling off a bridge during a storm. The timely return of Balon's banished brother Euron leads many characters to believe that Euron played a part in Balon's death. Balon Greyjoy is played by Patrick Malahide in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 27]
Asha Greyjoy is Balon Greyjoy's only daughter and oldest living child. She serves as the third-person narrator for four total chapters throughout A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. As her brother Theon became a political hostage and was taken from the Iron Islands, Asha was raised as Balon's heir despite the fact that custom dictates women cannot rule the Iron Islands. She is fierce, bold and proud, and she has defied her people's traditional gender roles by captaining her own ship and leading men into battle. When Balon orders an invasion of the North in A Clash of Kings, she captures Deepwood Motte. She returns to the Islands in A Storm of Swords after her father's death and claims her father's throne. However, the next king is to be determined through a meeting called Kingsmoot, which she refers to as her Queensmoot. She promises peace with mainland Westeros in exchange for land, and she gains more support than expected. However, her uncle Euron is named king. She refuses to accept the decision and flees the Islands. In A Dance with Dragons, she returns to Deepwood Motte and learns that Euron has married her off using a seal as a stand-in. She is eventually captured by Stannis Baratheon and travels with his army toward Winterfell. The army is halted by heavy snows and begins to starve, causing Stannis's men to demand Asha be burned and sacrificed to the god R'hllor in an attempt to stop the snow. Asha is later reunited with her brother Theon, though she does not recognize him at first. In an excerpt from the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter, Asha goes before Stannis and tries to offer a ransom for Theon, but Stannis insists that Theon must die for killing Eddard Stark's sons or all of the northmen will abandon Stannis. She convinces Stannis to execute Theon as Eddard would have: personally beheading him before a Weirwood tree and giving him to the Old Gods.[S 10] In the television adaptation of the novels, the character is renamed Yara Greyjoy to avoid confusion with a character named Osha. Yara is played by Gemma Whelan.[S 28][S 29]
Theon Greyjoy is the only living son, youngest child, and heir apparent of Balon Greyjoy. He is the third-person narrator for thirteen chapters throughout A Clash of Kings and A Dance with Dragons, and he is confirmed to narrate at least one chapter in the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter.[S 10] He is arrogant, cocky, and proud, and he is known to be always smiling. Ten years before the events of the series, at the end of the failed Greyjoy rebellion, he was taken hostage by Eddard Stark to be executed if Balon displeased the king. Theon was raised at Winterfell with the Stark children and became a close friend of and almost a brother to Robb Stark. He wants to be a Stark, but he realizes that the Starks will never accept him. However, he receives only mockery and scorn from his own family. In A Game of Thrones, he fights at Robb's side when Robb rebels. He is sent to the Iron Islands in A Clash of Kings to seek a Stark alliance with the Greyjoys. However, the Greyjoys criticize Theon's northern ways and reject Robb's proposal. Theon then joins Balon's side in the war. He ignores his orders to raid the shores and captures Winterfell to prove his worth to his father. However, Bran Stark and Rickon Stark disappear, and he fails to find them. To cement his hold on Winterfell, Theon kills two common-born boys and tells Westeros that the Stark boys are dead. Because of this, the northmen dub him Theon Turncloak. His requests for aid are ignored by his family, and he is captured by Ramsay Snow shortly after. Throughout A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows, many characters receive pieces of his skin, as proof he is alive when he was previously thought to be dead. By A Dance of Dragons he has been tortured, flayed, and mutilated; it is strongly implied that he has been castrated. Traumatized, Theon is forced to assume the identity of Reek, Ramsay's serving man known for his stench. Though he fears Ramsay, he tries to reaffirm his Reek identity to please Ramsay and attempts to forget that he is Theon Greyjoy. When reminded of his true identity, he breaks down and insists Theon died. When Ramsay is betrothed to Arya Stark, Theon recognizes her as Jeyne Poole and is sympathetic to her plight, though he is unable to help her. In the days before the wedding he spends most of his time wandering around Winterfell, regretting his decision to betray Robb and hoping for a quick death. After the wedding, he begins praying to the Old Gods and is happy when he hears his name whispered, believing that the Old Gods know his name. He later helps Jeyne escape, and the pair are brought before Stannis Baratheon. In an excerpt of The Winds of Winter, he is Stannis's captive. Stannis refuses to ransom Theon to his sister Asha Greyjoy and insists that Theon must die to avenge Bran and Rickon lest he be abandoned by his northmen allies. Asha urges Stannis to kill Theon as Eddard Stark would have: by personally beheading him before a Weirwood tree and giving him to the Old Gods, instead of having him burned alive.
Euron Greyjoy is the younger brother of Balon and captain of a ship which is entirely crewed by men whose tongues Euron ripped out. He is described as an unpredictable man who plays vicious mind games. Because of this, he is hated by all his brothers. He wears a patch over his left eye, for which he is nicknamed Crow's Eye. Before the events of the series, he was banished from the Iron Islands and was warned to never return while Balon lives. During his exile, he sailed throughout the world, raping and plundering, and became extremely wealthy. In A Feast for Crows, Euron returns to the islands the day after Balon's death though he is supposed to be months away. Because of his timely return, many characters believe he played a part in Balon's death. To decide the next king of the Iron Islands, a Kingsmoot is called, and Euron is chosen as king. He begins wildly successful raids along the Reach and weakens possible rivals by giving land and titles to their key supporters. However, he fails to move past raiding. He sends his brother Victarion to court Daenerys Targaryen in his name and bring her and her dragons to Westeros.
Victarion Greyjoy is the second youngest of Balon's brothers and is Lord Commander of the Iron Fleet. He first appears in "A Clash of Kings" and is present as his brother, King Balon Greyjoy, tells his plans to invade the north. Victarion is given the most important task in the invasion. He is ordered to take Moat Cailin and defend it from any attacks from the south. He appears next in A Feast for Crows and serves as the third-person narrator for four chapters throughout A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. He is confirmed to narrate at least one chapter in the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter.[S 30][S 31] Victarion loves battle and the open sea. He is a skilled commander and is a fierce warrior. Outside of battle, he is described as calm. He is initially respectful of his enemies and deplores his brother Euron's tendency to humiliate captives. Victarion is a devotee of the Drowned God and wears full plate armor while sailing because he does not fear drowning. Years before the events of the series, he killed his wife after he learned of her affair with Euron. He has not remarried. In A Storm of Swords, Victarion claims the throne of the Iron Islands after the death of the previous king, his brother Balon. Although he is a strong contender, he is passed over in favor of Euron. Despite his hatred for Euron, Victarion's dutiful nature forces him to follow Euron's orders. He is sent to court Daenerys Targaryen in Euron's name, but he plans to marry her himself to spite Euron for earlier betrayals. In A Dance with Dragons, he loses nearly half his fleet. He also rescues a red priest of R'hllor, who was clinging to wreckage at sea. The priest heals an infected wound on Victarion's hand, though the process leaves his arm charred. The crew wants the priest drowned, but Victarion makes offerings to both the Drowned God and R'hllor. He subsequently rebuilds his Iron Fleet with vessels captured during a sweep through the seas between the Isle of Cedars and Meereen. During this expedition he executes captured captains and their crews, though he frees chained rowers to row his own galleys. Freed slave-girls are distributed amongst his own officers though seven are burned to death by his orders as a sacrifice to the Drowned God. By the end of A Dance with Dragons Victarion seems increasingly obsessed with Daenerys Targaryen.
Aeron Greyjoy is the youngest of Balon's surviving brothers. He is introduced in A Clash of Kings and serves as a third-person narrator for two chapters of A Feast for Crows. He is also confirmed to narrate at least one chapter in the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter.[S 32] In his youth, he was a ribald drunk and was scorned by Balon. After nearly drowning, he dedicated himself to the Drowned God, the god of his people, and became a high priest. He became a hard, humorless ascetic and lives as a hermit on the beach. He weaves seaweed into his uncut hair, earning him the nickname Damphair. Fellow holy men do his bidding without question, and the people of the Iron Islands greatly respect him. After Balon's death in A Storm of Swords, Euron Greyjoy, Balon and Aeron's brother, returns to claim the throne. However, Euron is not a devout follower of the Drowned God and tradition dictates that the Iron Islands cannot have a godless king. Aeron calls a Kingsmoot in A Feast for Crows to choose Balon's successor. He hoped to crown his brother Victarion, who shares Balon's traditional and conservative ways. However, Euron is crowned. Aeron announces that he will rouse the people against Euron and disappears the next day.
House Martell is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the ruling house of the kingdom of Dorne. Its seat is at Sunspear castle. Its coat of arms displays a gold spear piercing a red sun on an orange field, and its words are Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. Like the rest of Dorne, the House follows different laws from those followed by the other Houses of Westeros. It uses equal primogeniture to determine inheritance, meaning that the oldest child regardless of gender inherits. The rulers of Dorne are styled Prince or Princess instead of Lord or Lady. House Martell resisted rule under House Targaryen and only submitted after Daeron II married Myriah Martell. Fifteen years before the events of the series, the Martells supported the Targaryens and fought against the rebel forces. Elia and her children were killed in the rebellion, and her brothers Doran and Oberyn vowed revenge.
Doran Martell is the Prince of Dorne and the Lord of Sunspear. He is the father of Arianne, Quentyn, and Trystane. By A Game of Thrones, he is in his fifties; and his gout leaves him barely able to walk and dependent on a wheeled chair. He spends most of his time at the Water Gardens, the Martells' summer home, watching children play. To hide his weakness from his enemies, he avoids the common people and holds audiences only with trusted courtiers and advisers. Unlike the other Martells and the general population of Dorne, he is a cautious, pensive man who does not display his emotions. Because of this, his family sees him as weak; but the other lords of Westeros consider him dangerous. In A Clash of Kings, he refuses to swear allegiance to King Joffrey Baratheon and considers supporting the rebel Renly Baratheon. He swears loyalty to Joffrey after Tyrion Lannister sends Myrcella Baratheon to Dorne and engages her to Trystane; offers justice for his murdered sister Elia; and gives him a position on Joffrey's council. In A Storm of Swords, Doran sends his brother Oberyn to claim the justice and the position. After Oberyn's death, Doran refuses to start a war and returns to Sunspear in A Feast for Crows to show the people he still holds the power. He imprisons Oberyn's warlike daughters, called the Sand Snakes, to maintain peace. After foiling his daughter Arianne's attempt to crown Myrcella the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, he reveals that he has long been planning the downfall of Tywin Lannister to avenge Elia and intends to ally with House Targaryen. In A Dance with Dragons, he is again offered a seat on the King's council; and Trystane is invited to King's Landing. However, Doran knows that this is a ploy to ambush the pair on the journey and kill Trystane. Instead, he sends one of Oberyn's daughters to take the position. Later, he hears a fleet of ships is sailing to Westeros and prepares the armies of Dorne to strike.
Arianne Martell is the oldest child and only daughter of Prince Doran Martell of Dorne. She serves as the third-person narrator for two chapters in A Feast for Crows, and she is confirmed to narrate at least two chapters in the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter.[S 6] By Dornish custom, she is the heiress to Sunspear and will inherit the rule of Dorne. Despite her beauty and high birth, she is still unmarried, partially because she found all of the matches her father made insulting. She is calculating, adventurous, and fierce. She is also close with her cousins, the Sand Snakes. By A Storm of Swords, she has been long dissatisfied with her father and his style of rule, believing him to be weak. As Doran's heir, she is allowed to hold titular governance of Dorne while he is away. She plans to name Myrcella Baratheon the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, as by Dornish law Myrcella inherits the title over her brother. Arianne seduces Arys Oakheart to win his support of Myrcella's claim and tells him that Myrcella will allow them to marry although he took a vow renouncing marriage. She knew that crowning Myrcella would start a war and then she could earn vengeance for the death of her uncle Oberyn. The plot is foiled. She confronts her father and tells him that she believes he intended to deny her inheritance. However, he reveals that he secretly betrothed her to Viserys Targaryen as part of a plan to exact vengeance on Tywin Lannister. He made her insulting matches for marriage so that she would not accept them and ruin the plan.
Ser Quentyn Martell is the second child and oldest son of Doran Martell. He serves as the third-person narrator for four chapters in A Dance with Dragons. He is described as intelligent, serious, and dutiful,  though not particularly handsome. Throughout A Feast for Crows, his sister Arianne believes that he is conspiring to claim Dorne, her birthright, and knows that he is in Essos. Their father, Prince Doran lies and constantly insists that Quentyn is still in Dorne. Eventually, Prince Doran reveals that Quentyn is going to bring home justice for Elia Martell, Aegon Targaryen, and Oberyn Martell. In A Dance with Dragons it is revealed that Quentyn is to marry Daenerys Targaryen and bring her to Dorne. He and his companions are unable to find a ship to Meereen, the city Daenerys rules. They are forced to adopt false names and join the Tattered Prince's mercenary company hired to attack the city. The Tattered Prince asks his Westerosi men, including Quentyn, to fight for Daenerys so that regardless of the outcome, the company is on the winning side. Quentyn reveals himself to Daenerys, but she is already betrothed. He tells her of a secret pact promising marriage between Viserys Targaryen and Arianne Martell. As Viserys is dead, Quentyn offers himself as her husband. Daenerys politely refuses the offer and urges him to return home, but she also reassures him that Dorne still has hope as she may need two husbands. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, Quentyn tries to steal one of Daenerys's dragons. He is severely burned and dies three days later.
Elia Martell was the younger sister of Prince Doran Martell of Dorne and was very close to her younger brother Oberyn. She was said to have a sharp wit and frail health. She married Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and bore him two children: a daughter Rhaenys and a son Aegon. Fifteen years before the events of the series, Rhaegar was killed in battle during Robert's rebellion and King Aerys, in his paranoia, suspected Elia's family had betrayed him. To ensure the continued support of Dorne, she and her children were confined to the royal castle in King's Landing. When the city was captured, she was raped and murdered by Gregor Clegane. Rhaenys was stabbed over fifty times, and the infant Aegon was replaced by another child and smuggled to safety. The children were supposedly murdered on Tywin Lannister's instructions to secure the throne for Robert and prove House Lannister's loyalty to the new king, but he had forgotten about Elia and did not intend for her to die. Elia's brother Oberyn, however, believed Tywin had Elia murdered to avenge the slight to his honour when Aerys had his son and heir married to Elia instead of Tywin's daughter, Cersei.
Oberyn Martell is the youngest brother of Doran Martell. He is a hot-headed, forceful, and lusty man with a quick wit and a barbed tongue. He is a formidable fighter and is called the Red Viper because it is rumored he poisons his weapons. He has traveled the world, founded a mercenary company, and briefly studied at the Citadel, which trains Maesters. He has eight illegitimate daughters, collectively known as the Sand Snakes; four of them he fathered with his paramour Ellaria Sand. He was very close to his older sister Elia, who was married to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. When Elia was murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane, a bannerman of House Lannister, he vowed revenge. In A Storm of Swords, he goes to King's Landing to take his brother's seat on the King's council and to obtain the justice for Elia that Tyrion Lannister promised. The justice is denied, as Tyrion is arrested and accused of murdering King Joffrey Baratheon. Oberyn volunteers to champion Tyrion in the trial by combat because he knows that Gregor would be his opponent. In the battle, he wears Gregor down and forces the knight to confess to the murder of Elia and her children. After confessing, Gregor grabs him and smashes his skull, killing him. Oberyn posthumously wins vengeance, as his spear actually was poisoned with manticore venom refined to draw out the victim's suffering; Gregor dies a slow, agonizing death as a result.
The Sand Snakes are Oberyn Martell's eight illegitimate daughters: Obara, Nymeria, Tyene, Sarella, Elia, Obella, Dorea, and Loreza. They are called the Sand Snakes in reference to their father's nickname of the Red Viper. The youngest four are the daughters of Oberyn's paramour Ellaria Sand. The oldest three, especially Tyene, are the companions and confidants of their cousin Arianne. Obara is well-trained in martial pursuits and considers herself a warrior. Nymeria is elegant, refined, and is said to have all the beauty Obara lacks. However, she is considered no less deadly. Tyene is well-versed in herbcraft and poison, and though she maintains a sweet and pious disposition, she is regarded as treacherous. Sarella is said to have captained her own ship at nineteen and is known for her curiosity. In A Feast for Crows, Obara, Nymeria and Tyene wish revenge for their father's death and pressure their uncle Doran to declare war. When he is slow to decide, they are involved in various plots to agitate the Dornish populace. Prince Doran imprisons the three in Sunspear castle, the seat of House Martell. Sarella is elsewhere playing a "game", and he hopes that she is more sensible than her half-sisters. The youngest four Sand Snakes are isolated with their mother in the Water Gardens, the Martell summer home, to prevent them from being used in plots to draw Dorne into war.
Areo Hotah is the captain of Prince Doran Martell's guards. He serves as the third-person narrator for two chapters throughout A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. He was born as the youngest of a large family in Norvos. He was given to the Bearded Priests, renowned for training elite axemen as protectors. He completed his training at sixteen and was assigned to protect Mellario of Norvos. When Mellario married Doran, he traveled with her to protect her and her new husband. He has remained in Dorne since. Areo is steadfastly loyal to Doran. He helps foil Arianne Martell's plot to name Myrcella Baratheon the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, killing Arys Oakheart in the process. When Areo has misgivings about his commands, he reminds himself the simple oath he took, "Serve, Obey, Protect. "
House Tully is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the principal house in the Riverlands. Its seat is at Riverrun. Its coat of arms displays a leaping silver trout on a field of rippling blue and red stripes, and its words are Family, Duty, Honor. When House Targaryen invaded Westeros, House Tully was the first to welcome the invaders. In return, the Targaryens named House Tully the Lords Paramount of the Trident, alternately titled Lords Paramount of the Riverlands.
At the start of the series, Lord Hoster Tully is head of the family. His two daughters married into other Great Houses; Catelyn into House Stark, and Lysa into House Arryn. As Hoster has recently fallen ill, his only son, Edmure, commands in his stead. Hoster's brother, Brynden, accompanied Lysa to the Vale after her wedding.
Hoster Tully is the Lord of Riverrun and Lord Paramount of the Trident. He is the father of Catelyn Stark, Lysa Arryn, and Edmure Tully. He often quarrels with his brother Brynden because Brynden refuses to be married. Years before the events of the series, he agreed to foster Petyr Baelish at Riverrun as a ward. When he discovered that Lysa was pregnant with Petyr's child, he sent Petyr away and tricked Lysa into drinking an abortifacient potion. Hoster supported Robert Baratheon, House Stark, and House Arryn in rebellion against House Targaryen on the condition that Catelyn and Lysa be wed into the Stark and Arryn families, respectively. At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, he is dying and is bedridden. Because House Lannister threatens the Riverlands, he keeps his illness secret. After Robb Stark rebels and comes to the aid of the Riverlands, Hoster supports him. His condition deteriorates in A Clash of Kings; he has trouble keeping track of time and events. He becomes delirious in A Storm of Swords and can no longer recognize his children. Because of this, Edmure commands Riverrun. In his delirium, he expresses regret over tricking Lysa into aborting her child. He finally passes away and is laid to rest on the river.
Edmure Tully is the third child, only son, and heir of Lord Hoster Tully. He is dutiful and wishes to earn his father's respect and protect the common people of the Riverlands. However, he is also said to have a large heart and his decisions are often rash and emotional. He takes command of the Riverlands in A Game of Thrones because of his father's illness and is taken captive by Jaime Lannister. He is rescued by his nephew Robb Stark, and upon hearing of Eddard Stark's death he leads the Riverland lords in proclaiming Robb the King in the North. In A Clash of Kings, he shelters the common people in Riverrun to protect them from Tywin Lannister's forces, despite the fact that he does not have sufficient supplies to do so. Against Robb's orders, he defeats Tywin in battle and unwittingly ruins Robb's plan to permanently defeat House Lannister. Edmure becomes Lord of Riverrun after his father's death in A Storm of Swords. As amends for thwarting Robb's plan, he agrees to marry Roslin Frey and repair the alliance with the militarily critical House Frey. However, the wedding is a trap. While Edmure retires to the bridal chamber with his new wife, men sworn to Houses Bolton and Frey slaughter the Stark men, breaching ancient guest right customs. Edmure is captured and imprisoned by the Freys. Despite these events, Edmure and Roslin have become fond of one another. In A Feast for Crows, the Freys try to force his uncle Brynden out of the Riverrun by besieging the castle and threatening to hang Edmure. Every day, Edmure stands at the gallows with a noose around his neck, only to step down when his uncle does not surrender. Jaime spares him from eventual execution but threatens to kill Roslin, then pregnant, if he does not force Brynden to yield. Edmure surrenders the castle but lets Brynden escape. Edmure is en route to Casterly Rock, where he and the remaining members of House Tully are to spend their lives in service to House Lannister. Roslin is to remain at the Twins, and the pair will be reunited after the birth of their child. Edmure Tully is portrayed by Tobias Menzies in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 12][S 13]
Ser Brynden Tully, called the Blackfish, is the younger brother of Hoster Tully and the uncle of Catelyn Stark, Lysa Arryn, and Edmure Tully. He constantly quarreled with his brother, usually over Brynden's refusal to be married. During one encounter Hoster called him the black goat of House Tully. Brynden mused that since their sigil was fish, he was the "Blackfish" of the family. He accompanied Lysa to the Vale and was named Knight of the Gate by Jon Arryn. In A Game of Thrones, he is upset over the Vale's neutrality in the ongoing war. He resigns from his position and joins Robb Stark and his bannermen. He is appointed head of Robb's outriders and is a crucial member of the war council. His efforts win Robb several battles throughout A Clash of Kings. He is named Warden of the Southern Marches in A Storm of Swords and remains at Riverrun while Robb goes to the Twins to attend Edmure's wedding. After Robb's death, Brynden holds Riverrun in Robb's name. He is besieged by House Lannister and House Frey in A Feast for Crows. Edmure, the Lord of Riverrun, surrenders the castle, but he helps Brynden escape. His whereabouts are unknown. Brynden Tully is portrayed by Clive Russell in the third season of the television adaptation of the novels.[S 34]
Walder Frey is Lord of the Twins, a castle straddling the Trident River. Called the Lord of the Crossing as the placement of his castle allows him to control who crosses the river, Frey is considered an important ally of strategic importance despite being a vain, ambitious, and untrustworthy man capable of holding grudges. Although he is elderly and suffering from gout, he maintains an active hand in running his House of which he is known for having over a hundred descendants and also equally famous having lived longer than his wives. By the start of the series, he has married his eighth wife. He emphasizes family loyalty and believes in taking care of relations, including those who disappoint him. However, his numerous heirs do not share the sentiment and viciously battle for his favor, some believing that they would turn on each other the moment Walder dies. In addition to his role in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, his four-year-old self makes a short appearance in the Tales of Dunk and Egg novella The Mystery Knight. Although he is a bannerman of House Tully, he does not immediately go to Riverrun when Edmure Tully summons his bannermen to support Robb Stark in A Game of Thrones.
When the Twins became a strategic necessity for Robb, Walder is able to negotiate marriage contracts between his children and grandchildren and Robb and Arya Stark. But Robb married Jeyne Westerling in A Clash of Kings, Frey is outraged and withdraws his support from Robb to conspire with Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton to enact his revenge. In A Storm of Swords, Walder pretends to make amends with Robb and agrees to marry his daughter Roslin to Edmure. From there, as the wedding dies down, Walder springs the trap and had Robb and his key supporters massacred during the feast, a direct violation of ancient guest right customs. He then openly swears loyalty to House Lannister and his family receives Riverrun, the seat of House Tully, as a reward.
However, as revealed in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, House Frey paid for its patriarch's treachery as members of the family were slaughtered by outlaws or Northmen. Furthermore, with their family name now synonymous with treachery and dishonor, many of House Frey's former allies view them with open contempt. The Lannisters even consider punishing the Freys to draw attention away from their part in the slaughter. Walder Frey is portrayed by David Bradley in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 35]
House Tyrell is one of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and is the principal noble house in the Reach. Its seat is at Highgarden. Its coat of arms displays a golden rose on a green field, and its words are Growing Strong. The Tyrells became liege lords of the Reach after the king of the Reach was killed and the ruling House Targaryen raised the Tyrells from stewards of Highgarden to Lords of Highgarden. Because House Florent had a better claim to Highgarden, the Tyrells are often seen as "upjumped stewards" by the lords of the Reach and other Great Houses; however, the women of the Tyrell household are noted for being shrewd and clever leaders.
Lord Mace Tyrell is the Lord of Highgarden, Defender of the Marches, High Marshal of the Reach, and Warden of the South. He has three sons—Willas, Garlan, and Loras—and one daughter, Margaery. He is described as a prematurely old and tedious man who lacks in political savvy. His sole military accomplishment is the siege of Storm's End (which was technically a failure; Stannis Baratheon held out against Tyrell long enough for Eddard Stark to relieve the castle), and he serves only as the figurehead of a powerful house filled with more intelligent members. He dreams of his daughter becoming queen. In A Clash of Kings, he fully supports the marriage between Margaery and rebel Renly Baratheon, who plans to take the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. When Renly dies, Mace accepts an offer to marry Margaery to Joffrey Baratheon, the current king. After dealing rebel Stannis Baratheon a major defeat, Mace is named Master of Ships, the naval commander, in A Storm of Swords. He comes to covet the position of Hand of the King, the King's top adviser. After the current Hand's death, he is sent to recapture Storm's End instead. He returns to King's Landing in A Dance with Dragons when Margaery is accused of high treason and adultery. Kevan Lannister, Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, names Mace his hand, mostly to repair the relationship between their houses. Kevan comments that Mace is ill-suited to the position. Mace is played by Roger Ashton-Griffiths on Game of Thrones.
Willas Tyrell is the eldest son of Mace Tyrell, and the heir to Highgarden. During his first tourney, he was competing against Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne and was crippled when his horse fell on top of his leg. Despite this he feels no animosity toward Oberyn and the two long remained in correspondence. Ever since his accident, Willas has occupied himself with scholarly studies and breeding animals. He also was the one who gave his brother Garlan the nickname “The Gallant”. In A Storm of Swords his grandmother, Olenna Redwyne, plots to have Sansa Stark married to Willas. However this plan is foiled when Petyr Baelish learns of it and Sansa is married to Tyrion Lannister. He is often noted as studious, educated, kind, and a much more capable leader than his father.
Garlan Tyrell is the second son of Lord Mace Tyrell. He is described as a taller, bearded version of his brother Ser Loras Tyrell. Loras, who is an exceptional knight, has stated that Garlan is the better swordsman of the two. When he was a plump child, his elder brother Willas gave him the nickname “The Gallant” in order to protect him. In A Clash of Kings he takes part in the Battle of the Blackwater, playing the part of Renly Baratheon by dressing in his armor to scare the ignorant men-at-arms among Stannis Baratheon’s army. For his part in the battle he was raised to Lord of Brightwater Keep.
Ser Loras Tyrell, nicknamed the Knight of Flowers, is the third and favorite son of Mace Tyrell. He is a young but highly skilled tourney knight and jouster. He is beloved by the crowds, and many young girls are infatuated with him. When Renly Baratheon claims himself king of the Seven Kingdoms in A Clash of Kings, Loras supports him and is made head of Renly's personal guard. After Renly's assassination, Loras is enraged with grief and kills three of the guards present at Renly's death. He erroneously blames Brienne of Tarth and Catelyn Stark for Renly's death and would have killed them too if they did not flee. In A Storm of Swords, he questions Brienne and finally decides that she is not the killer. When his sister Margaery is married to Joffrey Baratheon, he joins the Kingsguard. He volunteers to join the siege of Dragonstone in A Feast for Crows so Cersei Lannister will send military assistance to defend his native Highgarden from the Greyjoys. His decisive actions cause an unnecessary bloodbath but successfully capture Dragonstone. However, Loras is horrifically burned when he is doused with boiling oil during the attack, and the maesters send word to King's Landing that he is dying. Cersei tactlessly gloats about this news to Margaery, which causes the Lannister-Tyrell alliance to crumble. While Loras's death was believed to be imminent, to the surprise of the maesters he managed to cling to life day after day and has not succumbed to his wounds by the end of A Dance with Dragons. Loras Tyrell is portrayed by Finn Jones in the television adaptation of the novels. The character is a composite of the three Tyrell sons, e.g. Loras wears Renly's armor during the Battle of Blackwater Bay, while his family plots to marry him to Sansa Stark. The adaptation openly depicts Loras and Renly Baratheon as lovers, an interaction obliquely addressed within the novels. Martin has pointed out that due to the fact that neither Renly nor (as of A Dance With Dragons) Loras are viewpoint characters, a sexual relationship could only be confirmed if the characters were caught in flagrante delicto which - due to the strong repercussions against such relationships - would have affected their plotlines substantially.[S 24][S 25]
Margaery Tyrell / / is the youngest child and only daughter of Mace Tyrell. She is an intelligent and shrewd young woman, and despite being only sixteen, she is manipulative and adept at political intrigue. In A Clash of Kings, she is married to rebel Renly Baratheon as a pledge of loyalty from House Tyrell. When Renly is killed, the Tyrells ally with House Lannister and she is married to King Joffrey Baratheon in A Storm of Swords. After Joffrey is poisoned at their wedding feast, she marries King Tommen Baratheon in A Feast for Crows. As Queen, Margaery tries to win the love of the people and is largely successful. She visits local markets, orders numerous dresses from local seamstresses, and makes public displays of charity. She tries to shape Tommen into a successful ruler by suggesting he ride in the sight of his subjects and sit in on his council's meetings. She also manipulates Tommen to resist the control of his mother, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. Cersei tries to remove Margaery and the Tyrells from power by taking advantage of Margaery's claim that she is still a virgin. Cersei accuses Margaery of adultery and high treason and gathers an array of conspirators and false evidence to frame her. Margaery is arrested and imprisoned to await trial. She confronts Cersei and reveals that she knows Cersei is behind the false accusations. She also wants to remove Cersei from a position of influence, possibly by arranging for her death. Because the evidence against her is weak, she is released to the custody of a Tyrell retainer in A Dance with Dragons until the day of her trial. She chooses a trial by the judges of the Faith over a trial by combat. Margaery Tyrell is portrayed by Natalie Dormer in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 36]
Olenna Redwyne, also known as the Queen of Thorns, is the mother of Mace Tyrell. She is described as a wizened and cunning old woman with a wicked wit and a sharp tongue, and she is known for openly stating her opinion. In A Storm of Swords, she plans to have Sansa taken to Highgarden to marry her grandson Willas. This plan is foiled when the Lannisters force Sansa to marry Tyrion Lannister. She and Petyr Baelish later poison Joffrey Baratheon at his wedding. Olenna Redwyne is portrayed by Dame Diana Rigg in the third season of the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 37]
The Night's Watch is a sworn brotherhood of men who patrol the Wall, a massive wall of ice in the North, and defend the Seven Kingdoms against threats from beyond the Wall, usually wildling raiders. As the series progresses, the true enemies are established to be a mysterious and supernatural race called the Others and wights, the reanimated bodies of their victims. The Brothers of the Watch vow to never hold land and titles, never take a wife, never father children, cut ties to their families, take no part in the quarrels of the kingdom, and "live and die at [their] post." Breaking these vows or desertion is punishable by death. They wear only black, so joining the Watch is known as "taking the black." The type of men who join the Watch has been shown to vary. Even the first scene of Game of Thrones shows a team of rangers led by a younger son of a noble family and two men of common birth. Many of the men in the Night's Watch are criminals, and serving in the Night's Watch is seen as a way of allowing them to redeem themselves. For example, rapists are allowed to choose between castration and joining the Watch, Jorah Mormont was exiled from Westeros for selling his poachers to slavers rather than sending them to the Wall, and when Eddard Stark is convinced to confess to treason, he is told that he will be allowed to join the Night's Watch. Joining the Watch is still considered an honor in some circles because any man can rise through the ranks regardless of illegitimacy or criminal past, but by the events of A Game of Thrones, it is a shadow of its former self. It has become a pitiful force. There are not enough men to staff all of the nineteen castles along the Wall, so sixteen are abandoned and in ruins at the start of the series. Only Castle Black, Shadow Tower, and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea remain in use. In A Dance with Dragons, Lord Commander Jon Snow has resolved to repair and staff every castle by any means necessary before the year is out. The Watch is based out of Castle Black, where the Lord Commander of the Watch resides and new recruits are trained. At the end of training, new recruits are assigned jobs: builders are craftsmen who repair the castles and smith weapons, stewards take care of administration, housekeeping and other day-to-day tasks, and rangers are the primary fighting force and are sent on patrols.
Wildlings, or the Free Folk, are people who live beyond the Wall. They live in independent villages and have no lords or kings.  Bands of wildlings often cross over the Wall to raid the Northernmen, causing the Westerosi to see them as savages. Before the events of A Dance with Dragons, they are only considered enemies. In A Storm of Swords, the wildlings unite under the leadership of Mance Rayder, the self-styled King-beyond-the-Wall, and try to invade the Seven Kingdoms to escape the Others. With the help of Jon and Stannis Baratheon, they are allowed to settle in the North. Many move into the abandoned castles to help the Watch defend the Wall. 
Jeor Mormont, called the Old Bear, is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He was the Lord of Bear Island in the North, but he joined the Watch to pass the title to his son Jorah Mormont. He is considered a strong, resolute leader and commands a great deal of respect. He keeps a large raven capable of speaking simple phrases as a pet. In A Game of Thrones, he chooses Jon Snow as his personal steward, intending to groom him for command. Soon after, a wight, a dead body reanimated by the Others, attempts to kill him, but Jon kills the wight. As thanks, he gives Jon the Mormont ancestral sword, Longclaw, although the hilt is changed from a bear head to a wolf head to reflect Jon's Stark heritage. To investigate the return of wights, the disappearance of several Rangers, and rumors of a wildling army, Jeor leads an expeditionary force beyond the Wall in A Clash of Kings. His force is assaulted by Others and an army of wights in A Storm of Swords, and he leads the survivors to a wildling keep. There, the men mutiny and kill him. As he dies, he tells Samwell Tarly to ask Jorah to join the Watch and asks Samwell to forgive Jorah in his place. Jeor Mormont is portrayed by James Cosmo in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1]
Aemon Targaryen is the older brother of Aegon V Targaryen and brother of the Night's Watch. Decades before the start of the series, he was sent to the Citadel in Oldtown according to the wishes of his grandfather and became a Maester, a member of an order of scholars and healers. He was later offered the throne of the Seven Kingdoms, but he ceded the rule to Aegon. Fearing that he would be used in a plot to usurp his brother, he joined the Watch. By A Game of Thrones, he is elderly and blind. He is well aware of what goes on around him, despite his blindness, and he provides guidance to the men of the Watch. In A Feast for Crows, Lord Commander Jon Snow fears that because Aemon has king's blood, Melisandre will burn him for her rituals. He sends him to the Citadel to live the rest of his life comfortably, but the sea voyage is difficult for Aemon. He is bedridden, and he often believes that he is young and with his brother Aegon. Upon hearing about Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, he is convinced that she is Azor Ahai, the hero prophesied to return and save Westeros, and asks Samwell Tarly to get a Maester to her. He dies on the voyage between Braavos and Oldtown. Maester Aemon is portrayed by Peter Vaughan in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Yoren is a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch. He is a recruiter, or “wandering crow” and he travels across the Seven Kingdoms collecting recruits and prisoners to take back to Castle Black for training and to "take the black" (join the Night's Watch). In A Game of Thrones Yoren travels with Tyrion Lannister on the journey from the Wall to King's Landing, and is present when he is arrested by Catelyn Stark. He then races to King's Landing to inform Eddard Stark what has happened. He is in the crowd during Lord Eddard's execution, where he finds Arya Stark and shields her from seeing her father’s death. In A Clash of Kings he disguises Arya as a boy recruit so that he can smuggle her out of the city; he plans to drop her off at Winterfell on his way to the Wall. He is killed when his convoy is attacked by Lannister soldiers. He is portrayed by Francis Magee in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 2][S 38]
Samwell Tarly, Sam for short, is the elder son of Lord Randyll Tarly of Horn Hill. Ten chapters throughout A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows are told from his point of view. Although he is intelligent and thoughtful, he is timid, fat, and unsure of himself. His father considers him a grave disappointment and forces him to join the Night's Watch to allow Sam's younger brother to inherit Horn Hill. He arrives at Castle Black in A Game of Thrones and is initially bullied by the other recruits and is taunted by the trainer for his cowardice. He is defended and befriended by Jon Snow, who ensures that the bullying stops. After taking his vows, Sam is made Maester Aemon's steward and is tasked with taking care of the ravens. He travels beyond the Wall in place of Aemon. Jon gives him a horn and some dragonglass he finds buried with a man of the watch's cloak. In A Storm of Swords, he slays an Other, discovering their vulnerability to obsidian, and is nicknamed Sam the Slayer. When the Watch has to choose a new commander, Sam manipulates the candidates into selecting Jon Snow. At Jon's command in A Feast for Crows, Sam travels to the Citadel with Maester Aemon and Gilly, a wildling girl. He is ordered to become a maester, who serve as healers and advisers. During the journey, he begins a short-lived relationship with Gilly, but he is ashamed because it goes against his vows as a brother of the Watch. He plans to take Gilly to Horn Hill where she and her baby will be safe. At Aemon's command, he tries to get a Maester sent to Daenerys Targaryen, and an Archmaester goes in search of her after hearing his tale. Sam remains at the Citadel to become a Maester, after which he will return to the Wall. Samwell Tarly is portrayed by John Bradley in the HBO adaptation of the novels, while Gilly is portrayed by Hannah Murray.[S 1][S 2]
Janos Slynt was a former Commander of the City Watch in King's Landing and eventually a brother in the Night's Watch. He has three children, two sons and a daughter, and is described as being 'frog-faced' and 'built like a keg'. He first appears in A Game of Thrones, initially to request Lord Eddard Stark's assistance in recruiting more men to police the crowds coming to King's Landing for the Tourney of the Hand. Later, when Eddard intends to depose Joffrey due to his illegitimate status and attempts to wrest control of the crown from Queen Cersei, Littlefinger assures him the loyalty of the City Watch by promising to pay off Slynt and the Watch's officers. However, Ned learns too late that Slynt and Littlefinger's real allegiance lies with the Lannisters; the City Watchmen present in the throne room assist the Lannister soldiers present in massacring the Stark men-at-arms and arresting Eddard. For his assistance, Janos Slynt is raised to the small council, made a lord and given Harrenhal for his seat; this decision outrages many amongst the nobility, including Tywin Lannister, given that Slynt was a lowborn commoner and Harrenhal an ancient and significantly important castle.
In A Clash of Kings, one of Tyrion Lannister's first actions as acting Hand of the King is to dismiss Slynt to the Night's Watch, as Tyrion distrusts Slynt's propensity for corruption and treacherous nature, his father specified that the lowborn Slynt be removed from the small council and lordship of Harrenhal, and Tyrion is disgusted by his willingness to murder an infant girl on Cersei's orders (the girl was murdered because she was a bastard of Robert's, and could be used as a claimant to the throne against Joffrey). Slynt and a number of his chief cronies in the City Watch are exiled to the Wall by Tyrion and his position as Commander given to Ser Jacelyn Bywater, a knight loyal to Tyrion (though Tyrion believes that in getting rid of Slynt for Bywater, he has merely replaced a man loyal to Littlefinger with one loyal to Varys and is still angered that Cersei, the one behind Slynt, remains untouchable).
Slynt reappears in A Storm of Swords, arriving at Castle Black after Jon Snow has fended off several wildling assaults. Allying with Alliser Thorne, both of whom hold either a grudge against Jon or a dislike for House Stark, both men tried to brand Jon a traitor and oathbreaker, based on his sexual relationship with Ygritte, his killing of Qhorin Halfhand, and his time spent with the wildlings. They imprison Jon and, after their attempts to execute him are thwarted by Maester Aemon, send him to parley with Mance Rayder, ordering Jon to try to assassinate the King-Beyond-the-Wall, hoping Jon would be killed in the process. However, the arrival of Stannis Baratheon's army thwarted this. Slynt tried to get himself elected as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch in the aftermath (based on a veiled threat from Tywin Lannister that the Night's Watch would receive no more support from the crown unless Slynt was elected) but political maneuvering by Sam Tarly and Maester Aemon saw Jon Snow elected instead. Slynt initially tried to get Stannis to support him, but Stannis, who despised Slynt, humiliated him by revealing some uncomfortable truths; that Slynt had a reputation for bribe taking and corruption when he commanded the gold cloaks, that Jon Arryn tried to have Slynt dismissed, only to be thwarted by Littlefinger (who had ensured the Crown was making a profit from Slynt's corruption and convinced Robert to retain him) and Slynt (who was implied to have had two witnesses willing to testify against him murdered). Stannis concluded his tirade by stating that were he King, Slynt would have been executed for such corruption.
In A Dance with Dragons, Janos continues to pose a problem to Jon's plans for the Watch. Despite hating the man for his part in Eddard Stark, his father's death, Jon tries to make use of Slynt, appointing him Commander of the castle of Greyguard, based on Slynt's experience of commanding men (but also to separate Slynt from Alliser Thorne and keep them from plotting to undermine him), but Slynt, still under the misapprehension that Jon's youth and inexperience gave him licence to do as he pleased, refused to follow Jon's orders. Sick of Slynt's insubordination, Jon ordered that Slynt be taken to the top of the Wall and hanged, though Slynt remained arrogantly confident Jon wouldn't go through with the execution, thinking that his connections at court would protect him from harm (unaware that all his 'connections at court' were either dead, stripped of power or had no further use for, and thus no reason to save him). At the last moment, Jon chose to follow his father's moral code, and ordered he would behead Slynt personally. Slynt begged for mercy with his head on the block, swearing to obey Jon's orders but Jon told him it was too late and gave Slynt a quick death. Janos Slynt is portrayed by Dominic Carter in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Mance Rayder was a wildling child who was raised by the Night's Watch and later joined their ranks. However, he broke his vows and abandoned his post. Since then, he gained influence among the wildlings and has become known as "King-beyond-the-Wall." In A Storm of Swords, he unites all the wildlings under his command and leads them to attack the Wall from the south. Although the Watch is hopelessly outnumbered, Jon Snow is able to lead the Watch and defeat Mance's advance force. When the main army arrives at the Wall, Jon is sent to kill Mance, under the guise of making peace. Mance claims that he has found a magical horn that can topple the Wall (a claim later proven false) and will use it if the wildlings cannot pass. However, he aims to put the Wall between the wildlings and the Others, and he would prefer not to destroy it. He offers the horn in exchange for permission to settle the northernmost lands of Westeros. The meeting is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Stannis Baratheon and his army, who defeats the disorganized wildling army. Stannis orders Mance to be burned alive in A Dance with Dragons. In an act of mercy, Jon has the Watch kill him with arrows. However, Jon later discovers that the priestess Melisandre used magic to disguise Rayder as a wildling named Rattleshirt and vice versa. Under Jon's orders, Mance takes his six spearwives to Winterfell to rescue Arya Stark, not knowing the girl is actually Jeyne Poole. Mance and his spearwives disguise themselves as a singer and his washerwomen. They secretly kill off several of Roose Bolton's men, creating tension in Winterfell, and enlist the help of Theon Greyjoy to smuggle Jeyne out of the castle. To ensure Jeyne's safety, Mance and his women stay behind. According to a letter Ramsay Bolton writes to Jon, the wildlings have been captured; Mance is caged outside in the snow and is forced to use the skins of his spearwives as a cloak. However, the letter makes a few false claims and the truth of Mance's fate is unconfirmed.[S 10] Mance Rayder is played by Irish actor Ciarán Hinds in the third season of the HBO adaptation of the novels. Dominic West was offered the part, but turned it down.[S 39]
Ygritte is a wildling woman. She is fierce and headstrong. In wildling culture she is known as a spearwife, a woman who is also a warrior. Because her hair is red, the wildlings believe her to be "kissed by fire" and consider her lucky. Wildlings practice marriage by capture, so she is considered Jon's wife because he takes her captive upon their first meeting in A Clash of Kings. Jon initially refuses her advances throughout A Storm of Swords, but the two soon begin a sexual relationship. Jon is torn between his love for her and his duty to the Night's Watch and the realm, but ultimately, he chooses to honour his vows and abandons the wildlings to report back on their movements; Ygritte nearly kills him when he flees. Ygritte joins the wildling attack on Castle Black and is killed in the battle's closing moments, taking an arrow in the heart. Jon finds her among the dead and the dying, and Ygritte dies in his arms. Her death continues to haunt Jon. Ygritte was fond of saying "You know nothing, Jon Snow." She is portrayed by Rose Leslie in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 40]
Val is the sister of Mance Rayder's wife, Dalla. After the failed Wildling incursion, she is kept prisoner at the wall. Stannis and his men refer to her as the "wildling princess," and there is talk of having her make a political marriage, despite Jon's attempts to explain that Wildlings do not have the same hereditary nobility customs as other inhabitants of Westeros. She is described as exceptionally attractive by Jon. In A Dance with Dragons, Jon Snow sends her alone on a mission to bring a Wildling warlord named Tormund Giantsbane and his people to the Wall. She rides alone into the wilderness and returns weeks later with Tormund, the mission successful.
The Royal Court at King's Landings is mostly composed of the King's small Council and his Kingsguard, the seven knights sworn to protect the king and his family. The small council is made up several officers: Hand of the King, the top adviser; Lord Commander of the Kingsguard; Master of Coin, the treasurer; Master of Laws, the law enforcer; Master of Whisperers, the spymaster; Master of Ships, the naval commander; and Grand Maester, the senior member of the maesters, an order of scholars and healers. All members of the small council, except for the Grand Maester, are appointed and dismissed by the king. The Grand Maester is appointed by the governing body of the maesters. The council is headed by the king, and only he can make the council's decisions law. The role falls to the regent if the king is too young or to the Hand if the king is absent.
Lord Petyr Baelish, called Littlefinger, is the Master of Coin, the Treasurer of the Seven Kingdoms. He is an ambitious man with skills in finance and Court intrigue. While initially portrayed as a minor but somewhat powerful figure, by A Feast for Crows it is revealed that many significant plot points have hinged on Baelish's schemes and intrigues. He aggravates the alliance between House Stark and House Lannister by lying to Catelyn about the ownership of the dagger used in an attempt to kill her son, betrays Eddard and helps arrest him, brokers an alliance between House Lannister and House Tyrell, reveals Olenna Redwyne's plan to marry Sansa Stark to Willas Tyrell and plots with the Tyrells to poison King Joffrey Baratheon at his wedding feast. He was also instrumental in the death of Jon Arryn, for which the Lannisters were blamed. When Lysa tries to kill Sansa in a jealous rage, Littlefinger murders her and appoints himself Lord Protector of the Vale. Petyr Baelish is portrayed by Aidan Gillen in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Varys, called the Spider, is a eunuch who serves as Master of Whisperers, the spymaster for the king of the Seven Kingdoms. He is feared by nobles and common people alike. He is described as bald and fat, and he usually affects a fawning, effeminate manner. However, he is also a master of disguise and is able to change everything about his personality and physical appearance. He knows all of the secret passages in the royal castle, and his spies, which he refers to as his little birds, are found everywhere. He claims that as a child, he was an actor in a travelling show. He says that he was castrated by a wizard who needed his genitals for a spell. Because of this, he hates magic and those who practice it. After his castration, he became known as the King of Thieves in Pentos and befriended Illyrio Mopatis. Varys's skill in spying and gathering information earned him the position of Master of Whisperers on King Aerys II Targaryen's council. From then on, he claims to work for the good of the realm. Throughout the series, he works to create a period of weakness in the Seven Kingdoms so that it is easy for the exiled House Targaryen to invade and claim the throne. However, his plans become more complicated as other characters do not do as he asks or expects. He disappears in A Feast for Crows after helping Tyrion Lannister escape and does not reappear until the end of A Dance with Dragons. He kills Kevan Lannister and Grand Maester Pycelle as their competent leadership threatens the success of Aegon Targaryen's invasion of Westeros. Varys is portrayed by Conleth Hill in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Pycelle is an elderly Maester, and for decades he has served many kings as Grand Maester, the personal healer and scholar of the king. Although he is intelligent and highly educated, his effectiveness as an officer of the court has been dulled by his age. He often falls asleep during meetings. In A Clash of Kings, it is revealed that he constantly betrays the king to aid House Lannister: he convinced King Aerys II Targaryen to open the gates for Tywin Lannister during a rebellion, he allowed Jon Arryn to die to keep the true parentage of Cersei Lannister's children secret, and would have killed King Robert Baratheon upon Cersei's command. Upon learning this, Tyrion Lannister has Pycelle removed from office and imprisoned. In A Storm of Swords, he is restored to his position. His imprisonment shakes his self-confidence and he is perceived as a broken man. He objects to Queen Regent Cersei's decisions throughout A Feast for Crows, and she considers replacing him. When Cersei is arrested, Pycelle seizes control of the king's council and offers Kevan Lannister the regency. Together, they begin restoring order to the Seven Kingdoms. In A Dance with Dragons, he begins to fear for his safety and requests guards. Despite this, he is killed in his chambers by Varys, who believes that Pycelle's and Kevan's competent leadership threatens Aegon VI Targaryen's chance at the throne. Pycelle is portrayed by Julian Glover in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1]
Ser Barristan Selmy, called Barristan the Bold, is hailed as a hero throughout Westeros and is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. He serves as the third-person narrator for four chapters in A Dance with Dragons. Although he is over sixty at the start of the series, he remains a remarkable fighter and is the most celebrated and respected living knight. He has been a member of the Kingsguard for most of his life and served three kings. He remained loyal to House Targaryen during Robert Baratheon's rebellion, but he later accepted Robert's pardon and held his position as commander. He was the only member of the small council, beside Ned Stark, to protest against the decision to assassinate Daenerys Targaryen. He remains Lord Commander until after Robert's death in A Game of Thrones. King Joffrey dismisses him on the grounds of his age, though the true reason is to offer the empty spot to Sandor Clegane and let Jaime Lannister take his place as Lord Commander. Selmy refused the offer of land and a castle the Lannisters make to placate him, considering it an insult and storms out of court. An angry remark he makes in the heat of the moment is taken by Joffrey as treasonous, but Selmy kills the gold cloaks sent to arrest him and flees. Selling his armour and growing his hair and beard, Selmy hides in King's Landing as a beggar for a time, during which he witnesses Ned Stark's execution. Afterwards, Selmy reevaluates his years of service and comes to the conclusion that he must find the true king and die in his service. In A Clash of Kings, he begins serving the exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen under the name Astan Whitebeard, hiding his identity to determine if she is of sound mind. He reveals his true identity in A Storm of Swords and exposes Ser Jorah Mormont, Daenerys's most trusted adviser, as a former spy for Robert. Selmy is sent through the sewers on a near-suicidal mission to capture Meereen. After Ser Barristan survives, he asks Daenerys to forgive him for betraying her family. He is pardoned and is named Lord Commander of her Queensguard. When Daenerys disappears in A Dance with Dragons and is thought dead, her husband disbands the Queensguard. Selmy believes she is still alive and removes her husband from power. He then reluctantly rules Meereen in her stead under the title the Queen's Hand, and he desperately tries to save the city from a plague, the wrath of Daenerys's uncontrollable dragons and impending war until she returns. Barristan Selmy is played by Ian McElhinney in the television adaptation of the novels.[S 1][S 2]
Ser Arys Oakheart is a knight of King Robert Baratheon's Kingsguard, and for Robert's subsequent heirs. He serves as the third-person narrator for one chapter in A Feast for Crows. In A Clash of Kings, he serves King Joffrey Baratheon. When ordered to strike Sansa Stark, he does so as lightly as possible and only after objecting to the command. Because of this, Sansa regards him as one of the kinder members of the Kingsguard. Arys later accompanies Myrcella Baratheon to Dorne. Arianne Martell seduces him in A Feast for Crows to win his support for Myrcella's claim on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. She promises that Myrcella will allow Arys to marry Arianne, although Kingsguard renounce marriage. When the plot is foiled, Arys refuses to surrender and is killed by Areo Hotah.
Ser Ilyn Payne is the King's Justice, the royal executioner. Before the events of the series, King Aerys II Targaryen ordered his tongue cut out because he remarked that Tywin Lannister, Hand of the King at the time, was the true ruler. His muteness, added to his pockmarked face and overall grim appearance, is said to terrify many characters and make him much more effective as an executioner. He is a skilled headsman, seldom requiring a second stroke to finish his charges, and has been said to have no life apart from killing. When King Joffrey Baratheon sentences Lord Eddard Stark to death at the end of A Game of Thrones, Ilyn executes Eddard with the Lord's own greatsword, Ice. Ilyn takes the sword as his own until it is melted down to create two new swords for the House Lannister. In A Feast for Crows, Ilyn starts traveling with Jaime Lannister and spars with him nightly to help Jaime learn to fight with his left hand as the right was cut off. Jaime chooses Ilyn because he can neither talk nor write and cannot reveal how poor a swordsman Jaime has become. This also leads Jaime to tell the headsman about his past sins and about the incestuous relationship between him and his sister Cersei Lannister. Ilyn Payne is played by Wilko Johnson in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 41]
Qyburn is a former Maester who lost his chain for the unethical experiments he performed on living humans. He is also rumored to dabble in necromancy. In A Clash of Kings, he is a member of the Brave Companions mercenary company. He later leaves the company in A Feast for Crows and joins the court at King's Landing. He convinces Queen Cersei Lannister to allow him to experiment on the dying Gregor Clegane. He also uses his knowledge to torture her prisoners. After Varys disappears, he is appointed the Master of Whisperers, the royal spymaster. He creates Cersei an unbeatable champion dubbed Ser Robert Strong, who is made a knight of the Kingsguard. Anton Lesser portrays Qyburn in the HBO adaptation.[S 12][S 13]
Balon Swann is a knight and the second son of the lord of House Swann. He is a member of the court in King's Landing and is noted to be a capable warrior. He participates in the Tourney of the Hand in A Game of Thrones but is defeated by Gregor Clegane in the jousting and comes second in the archery tournament. In A Clash of Kings he is promoted to the Kingsguard after the death of Preston Greenfield during the riot in King's Landing. Tyrion Lannister sees him as a capable knight and thinks that Balon will make a good Kingsguard. During the battle of the Blackwater, he proves to be worthy of his place in the Kingsguard and fights alongside Tyrion Lannister. He survives the battle; Jaime Lannister thinks Balon is well suited to the white cloak and regards him as a good and valiant knight, and perhaps the only honorable member among them. In A Feast for Crows, he is sent to Dorne with Gregor Clegane's skull as part of an arrangement to pacify Dorne, and presents it to Prince Doran Martell in A Dance with Dragons. Doran later reveals to the Sand Snakes that Balon is part of a plot organised by Cersei to kill Trystane Martell and blame it on Tyrion; according to a Martell informant in King's Landing, the party will be attacked on route by outlaws crying "Halfman" and Ser Balon will falsely claim to catch a glimpse of Tyrion. Doran also claims that while Balon does not approve of his orders, he is compelled to obey them as a knight of the Kingsguard, regardless of his personal feelings. To gain time Doran has Myrcella Baratheon compel Balon to hunt for Ser Gerold Dayne, who wounded Myrcella. Balon is guided by the Sand Snake Obara Sand to High Hermitage, the castle of House Dayne where Ser Gerold had fled.
Drogo is a powerful khal, or warlord, of the Dothraki people, a tribal nation of expert riders and raiders in the steppes beyond the Free Cities. He is an accomplished warrior and has never been defeated in battle. In A Game of Thrones, Viserys Targaryen and Illyrio Mopatis conspire to marry Daenerys Targaryen to Khal Drogo to get his support and warriors for the invasion of Westeros. Drogo approves of her and takes her as his wife. Despite his fearsome attitude toward his warriors, he proves to be a kind, sensitive and loving husband. After a failed attempt on the pregnant Daenerys's life, he vows to invade Westeros to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms for the Targaryens and his son. However, Viserys's impertinence ultimately causes Drogo to kill him. He raids several villages and attacks other Dothraki hordes to gather supplies for the invasion and is wounded by an enemy khal. The wound festers and Drogo falls from his horse, causing most of his warriors to abandon him. Daenerys unwittingly sacrifices their unborn son to revive him, and he becomes an unresponsive shell of his former self. She smothers him out of pity, and the flames of his funeral pyre hatch her dragon eggs. He is the namesake of her favorite dragon, the powerful, black Drogon. Khal Drogo is played by Jason Momoa in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 2] In Valar Morghulis, Daenerys is briefly reunited with Drogo and Rhaego in the House of the Undying, which does not happen in the books.
Syrio Forel is the former First Sword of Braavos and a master of the Braavosi fighting style known as Water Dancing. He is described as an old man, but he still possesses remarkable speed and skill. After Eddard Stark discovers Arya Stark's secret sword Needle, he hires Syrio to teach her, believing the Braavosi style best suits Needle. Syrio uses unorthodox means, such as having her perform gymnastics and chase cats through the city, to train her to move and think like a warrior. He teaches her to be perceptive, graceful, and fearless, often telling Arya "fear cuts deeper than swords." When Cersei Lannister orders all the Starks to be captured or killed, Syrio buys Arya time to escape by fighting off five guardsmen and a knight of the Kingsguard with only a wooden practice sword. Though outnumbered, he refuses to run. He successfully defeats or kills the guardsmen, but the knight destroys the wooden sword and leaves the Braavosi weaponless. As of A Dance with Dragons, his ultimate fate is unknown. When asked if Syrio is dead, author George R. R. Martin replies "draw your own conclusions" and points out that Syrio is defenseless.[S 42] Syrio Forel is portrayed by Miltos Yerolemou.
Jaqen H'ghar is a name used by a member of the Faceless Men, assassins who follow a personification of death known as the Many-Faced god, so named because they can change appearances at will. In A Clash of Kings, he is taken from the dungeons at the Red Keep and is sent in chains with other criminals to join the Night's Watch. On the journey, he meets Arya Stark. When the group is attacked by Lannister bannermen, Arya frees him and two other prisoners, saving them from a fire. He finds Arya again at Harrenhal, where he serves the Lannisters as a mercenary. He asks her to name three people for him to kill to repay the three deaths she stole, but he refuses to help her in any other way. She chooses two of her enemies, later regretting she did not choose people crucial to the war, and chooses Jaqen himself as the third. He attempts to dissuade her by saying that he is her friend, but Arya states that he is only interested in repaying a debt where a friend would help her free the Northmen imprisoned at Harrenhal. He agrees to help her if she would "unsay" his name. After the Northmen are freed, Jaqen tells Arya that the debt has been repaid with more lives than were promised as he had to kill the jailers and tells her that he must leave. He gives Arya an iron coin, instructing her to give it to any Braavosi and say "valar morghulis" should she need more help. He then magically changes his appearance, assumes a new identity, and departs. A character matching his new appearance later appears at the Citadel, where he kills a novice to acquire an archmaester's key. Jaqen H'ghar is played by Tom Wlaschiha.[S 43]
Illyrio Mopatis is a wealthy and powerful Magister in Pentos. He is morbidly obese, though in his youth he was a strong mercenary. He is a close friend of Varys, and the pair engineer a plot to place House Targaryen back on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. Before the events of the series, he welcomed the exiled Viserys Targaryen and his sister Daenerys into his home as guests. In A Game of Thrones, Illyrio brokers a marriage between Daenerys and Khal Drogo to buy Drogo's army of warriors. His plan to create an army to invade Westeros is ruined upon the deaths of Drogo and Viserys. He aids Daenerys in A Clash of Kings by sending her three ships and a disguised Barristan Selmy. He also smuggles Tyrion Lannister out of Westeros in A Dance with Dragons and sends him to accompany Aegon on his journey to aid Daenerys. Illyrio Mopatis is portrayed by Roger Allam in the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 1]
Thoros is a red priest of R'hllor from the city of Myr. Before the events of the series, he was sent to King's Landing to convert the fire-obsessed King Aerys II Targaryen into a follower of R'hllor. He was unsuccessful and began to question his faith. When Robert Baratheon became king, Thoros became a frequent companion of Robert's. He is a formidable fighter known for using a flaming sword. In A Game of Thrones, he is sent with Beric Dondarrion to arrest Gregor Clegane. When Dondarrion is killed, Thoros inadvertently resurrects him during the funeral service. By A Storm of Swords, the two founded a band of outlaws called the Brotherhood Without Banners to stop the raiders ravaging the Riverlands. He experiences a spiritual awakening and is able to accomplish what he previously failed to achieve, such as seeing prophetic visions in flames and lighting swords on fire through blood and fire. Although the means is beyond his understanding, Thoros is continually able to resurrect Dondarrion. When Lady Stoneheart takes leadership of the Brotherhood in A Feast for Crows, he does not dispute her although he disapproves of her motives and methods. The changes she makes in the Brotherhood lower his spirits and self-confidence. Thoros of Myr is portrayed by Paul Kaye in the third season of the HBO adaptation of the novels.[S 12][S 13]
Ser Duncan the Tall is a legendary knight and the subject of several popular songs and stories. He is one of the main characters of the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. Originally a hedge knight from Flea Bottom named Dunk, he formed an unusual friendship with a young boy called Egg, who he later discovered was Prince Maekar Targaryen's son Aegon. The two had many adventures together before Egg ascended to the Iron Throne as King Aegon V Targaryen. Duncan was appointed to his Kingsguard, and eventually became its Lord Commander. He perished alongside his king in a fire at Summerhall, the Targaryen summer home.
Raywas invoked but never defined (see the help page).