A World of Ice and Fire Analysis: Chapter VIa (From the North to the Iron Islands)

Now that we’re through the historical section, we can get into some more focused detail on the various Seven Kingdoms.

reading

Onwards and upwards!

The North:

  • bit of an odd map (I like this one better). I like the Wolf with the Lannister helmet. Definitely can tell that the North has a major timber industry.
  • the North is a third of Westeros. Wow.
  • Mountain clans migrate to the winter town. That’s an interesting culture clash.
  • The Dustins claim to be descended from the First King. The curse of the Barrow Kings is pretty damn cool. Vampiric?
  • The North loves melees! Wow. Robert would have loved that.
  • Justice and Injustice in the North – I’d love to read that. Damn right the North cares more about guest right than the South.
  • So the Rat Cook’s enemy was either a Lannister or an Arryn. Interesting.
  • The Kings of Winter:
    • giants and skinchangers south of the Wall! But driven out by a Winter King.
    • the Barrow Kings seem pretty logical for a southern North power center that the Starks had to overcome. Took a thousand years to get the job done, eh?
    • lots of royal blood in the North. The Flints, Slates, Umbers, Lockes, Fishers, Ryders, etc. Even the Glovers, a mere Masterly House! We’re running out of vassal houses that weren’t kings.
    • The War of the Wolves sounds interesting. Given that Gaven’s name was Greywolf, I wonder if this was a Northern Dance of the Dragons?
    • the Blackwoods were of the North, a reverse Manderly?! That’s confusing as all hell.
    • looks like the Starks’ warging comes from the Warg King of Sea Dragon Point. (however, I’d guess the greenseering was there from the beginning, as per Brandon the Builder) Very interesting that the Children weren’t always buddy-buddy with the Starks.
    • The Red Kings were some gruesome bastards. Although the sacking of Winterfell is a bit odd – I thought Winterfell had never fallen?
    • interesting that the Bolton surrender coincided with the Andal invasion; does help to explain why the Starks were able to fend off invasion if they had managed to centralize power in the North rather than being internally divided.
  • the Marsh Kings seem like rather pragmatic people, willing to work with anyone.
  • So, King Theon Stark, the Hungry Wolf, was the Stark to go toe-to-toe against the Andals, at the Battle of the Weeping Water. And here we have one example of a Stark/Bolton alliance that didn’t end in murder.
  • Holy crap, the Hungry Wolf raided Andalos to get his point across, took the Three Sisters and invaded the Fingers, went to war against the Ironborn and took Cape Kraken, Bear Island, suppressed a rebellion, and fought wildlings. A very Vlad Tepes-like badass. So what happened to his navy?
  • Everyone held the Wolf’s Den – Greystarks, Flints, Slates, Longs, Holts, Lockes, and Ashwoods.
  • The Old Falcon and Oswin the Talon sound interesting.
  • So the Hungry Wolf was a contemporary of Harrag Hoare and Ravos the Raper. Sounds like they left a mess in the North.
  • Erich the Eagle and Loron Greyjoy fought the North a lot – So, Rodrik followed Theon. Starting to put together a lineage here.
  • So the Manderlys were exiled by the Peakes (a family of assholes, seriously), and King Perceon III Gardener.
  • The Mountain Clans:
    • so much for the hill clan/mountain clan division. GRRM really wants two completely separate mountain clans, eh?
    • Huh…the “Black Pines” and “The Wolves in the Hills” sound interesting.
    • So the Wulls are the most powerful, eh?
    • I pity the poor maester who tells them they’re ironborn.
  • The Stoneborn of Skagos:
    • Ibbenese/giant blood, eh?
    • Yikes, cannibal wrecker human sacrificers.
    • Lord Commander Osric Stark, eh? Sixty year rule is a bit odd, giving the numbering issue.
    • The Feast of Skane – eew…
    • Brandon the Ninth crushed them – so many Brandons! Which one was this?
    • Ah…the Skagosi have dragonglass!
    • Skagosi in the Night’s Watch? Huh.
    • I’m sorry, but I’m very skeptical that the Skagosi rebellion could kill thousands and last years.
  • The Crannogmen:
    • interbred with the Children of the Forest?!
    • Rickard the Laughing Wolf conquered the Crannogmen.
    • Marsh Kings touched by the Old Gods (i.e, greenseers…so another infusion of magic into the Stark lineage!)
  • The Lords of Winterfell:
    • Hmmm…Torrhen’s sons were rebellious. No wonder, given that they had to give up a huge territory at Jaehaerys’ behest.
    • Aha! So Torrhen’s daughter married Ronnel Arryn and probably died. Well, Rhaenys still tried.
    • Huge thing I missed: The Pact of Ice and Fire. So Cregan made a marriage agreement as part of his alliance with Rhaenrya…interesting, and as others have pointed out, the fact that this wasn’t carried out probably explains why Cregan fought Aemon the Dragonknight. So who was the Targaryen to be married? Or the Stark?
    • Rickon Stark fought in Dorne! An interesting what if there.
    • Skagos, Dagon, and Raymun all at the same time. No wonder the Starks took heavy casualties.
  • Winterfell:
    • I love the skepticism about Brandon the Builder.
    • King Edrick Snowbear ruled for almost a century! Impressive.
    • Dragons under Winterfell! Is this the stone dragon Melisandre sees?
    • Maester Kennet’s point about the architecture is an interesting question.
  • Not a lot of new information about the Starks, sadly.

The Wall:

  • so there’s stone inside the wall.
  • I’d also love to read Harmune’s Watchers on the Walls.
  • Brandon the Breaker – another badass Stark.
  • Hmmm…the corpse queen might have been a Dustin.
  • Still don’t know how the First Ranger, Builder, and Steward get their jobs.
  • Ah, so Northern lords subsidize the Watch. That’s good to know.
  • The Wildlings:
    • Yeah, definitely getting a “freedom to starve” vibe from the wildlings.
    • Hmmm…dark gods beneath the Frostfangs, gods of snow and ice on the Frozen Shore – the Others?
    • None of the wildlings who have risen up to become King-Beyond-the-Wall have done aught to build a true kingdom or care for their people.” Good point.
    • Hardhome was a port town, once ruled over by a triumvirate of chieftans. Imagine what the wildlings could have accomplished had it stuck around. I wonder what happened to Maester Wyllis? Pulled under by squishers or mermen? Killed by demons? Drowned?
    • more on Gendel & Gorn, the Horned Lord (a sorcerer!), Bael written out of the Winterfell histories.
    • Raymun Redbeard took 12 years to cross the wall
    • now that’s determined, but it likely gave the North time to mobilize against him. I’d like to know more about the Drunken Giant.

The Riverlands:

  • map: so, the Riverlands produces lots of cattle. Where is Wayfarer’s Rest? Absolutely hilarious that Stone Hedge is there, but not Blacktree Hall.
  • if the Riverlands are so rich and fertile – where’s their armies?
  • I love the reasons for the names of the three Forks.
  • Aha, that’s why no cities in the Riverlands – no charters.
  • Hmmm…the Green King of the Gods Eye, eh? Also, Florian predates the Andals, apparently.
  • So, the Andals just came straight up the Trident via the Bay of Crabs – hard to defend against that.
  • Florian the Brave, the three sons of Lord Darry, the COF sending wolf armies, are all less impressive than the Brackens and Blackwoods uniting against a 7-obsessed army.
  • what the hell happened to Erreg the Kinslayer???
  • So the Mudds came after the Fishers who came after who knows.
  • The first Andal King was a Blackwood, Bracken mix? Awesome! Ser Benedict the Bold becomes King Benedict Justman. Seems like a badass.
  • The murder of the three sons of Bernarr II – yikes. And that explains why the Riverlands are never unified.
  • The Justmans were followed by the Teagues, who seem like an interesting bunch.
  • “enemies surrounded their realms on every side. Ironmen from the isles raided their coasts to the west, while pirates from the Stepstones and Three Sisters did the same to the east. Westermen rode down from the hills across the Red Fork to pillage and conquer, and the wild hill tribes emerged fom the Mountains of the Moon to burn, plunger, and carry off women. From the southwest, the lords of the Reach sent iron columns of knights across the Blackwater whenever it pleased them; to the southeast lay the domains of the Storm Kings, ever eager for gold and glory.” God, the Riverlanders have no damn luck.
  • So the Blackwoods invited in Arlan III, the Storm King, to help fend off the religious militants behind King Humfrey Teague. Interesting.
  • The Battle of Six Kings sounds like a goddamn mess.
  • Hmmm…what if Roderick Blackwood hadn’t died?
  • Lucifer Justman, Marq Mudd the Mad Bard, a Vance, a Mallister, a Nutt, a bastard King, a peasant King, and a Fisher King – the Riverlands get the best rebels.
  • The ironborn portaged their way to victory – thought so!
  • Harwyn Hardhand is not a man I’d want to fuck with. Lady Agnes is a badass, but Lothar Bracken, what a dick!
  • wow, King Arrec got mullered.
  • Well, Lothar Bracken got his.
  • House Tully:
    • So the Tullys are First Men too? Interesting.
    • Black Harren seems a bastard and a half.
    • So, Qoherys was a Valyrian, eh?
    • Huh, Edmyn Tully became Hand.
    • The Tullys seem like classic supporting characters.
    • Grover, Elmo, and Kermit?! HAH!
    • So why did the Tullys decline after Kermit?
  • The Lords of Harrenhal:
    • So the Qoherys died quick, two generations only.
    • House Harroway lasted one generation – so the Town probably came first.
    • House Towers were tough, but only lasted three generations.
    • House Strong lasted two generations – good to see Larys got his.
    • House Lothston lasted 70 years, or  about three and a half generations. Wow, Daenelle Lothston sounds interesting.
    • House Whent seems to have lasted the longest. I wonder what they did to get the bad rep they have now.
  •  Ser Forrest Frey, the only decent Frey, and his wife was a badass.
  • Riverrun has never been taken by storm.

The Vale:

  • map: so, grain and marble, eh? Proportions on this map are a bit…off.
  • Hmmm…I wonder why the Vale was thinly peopled.
  • Dywen Shell and Jon Brightstone – idiots.
  • So the Corbrays are Andals, and well practiced in treachery from the beginning.
  • The Royces vs. the Shetts were the main conflict before the Arryns got there.
  • I’m surprised anyone ever allied with the Andals, since they all seem to betray their allies at the first opportunity.
  • King Gerrold Grafton, a tyrant but good at his job.
  • Yorwick VI and Robar II almost pulled it off, kudos!
  • First Men in the Vale: the Redforts, Belmores, Hunters, Coldwaters, and Royces.
  • Ursula Upcliff, daughter of the Merling King. GRRM is just laughing at us now.
  • So Artys Arryn was born in the Vale? Interesting.
  • Man, the Battle of the Seven Stars is rough.
  • Torgold the Grim Tollett, the laughing axeman! Dolorous Edd comes from a long line of badasses, it seems.
  • Here’s the Valyrian steel mistake.
  • Man, who makes all these convenient goat tracks? Is there a guild somewhere?
  • So where does the Griffin King come into it?
  • Yeah, the Vale is definitely Wales.
  • King Osric V rebuilt the Bloody Gate. Good investment.
  • More Mountain Clan names! Sons of the Tree? Sons of the Mist? The Howlers? The Redsmiths? The Painted Dogs?
    • Aha! Here’s where Nettles and Sheepstealer ended up.
  • King Hugh Arryn the Fat takes Pebble, King Hugo Arryn the Hopeful took the Paps, and King Alester Arryn married into the Upcliffs to take the Witch Isle. Want to know more about that one.
  • The Rape of the Sisters is gnarly if exaggerated. Belthasar Bolton’s Pink Pavilion does sound oddly jolly tho.
  • The Worthless War lasted a thousand years. Arryns invading the Wolf’s Den, Northmen landing on the Fingers, Starks burning the fleet at Gulltown, wow.
  • Who’s Queen Marla Sunderland?
  • House Arryn:
    • Ah, so there are two Artys Arryns.
    • I’d like to know more about the pirate wars. Did the Arryns ever try to invade Essos?
    • Ronnel Arryn, the King who Flew. Ouch. Poor kid.
    • Hmm, so the Arryns are part-Targ and the Targs are part-Arryn.
  • Love the detail about replacing the bronze armor of the Royces.
  • The Eyrie:
    • so the Gates of the Moon were built first.
    • And then King Roland and his wife decide to outdo all the other Kings of Westeros! HAH!
    • a decade just to build the approach road.
    • And then he goes and gets himself killed.
    • And then his great-grandson halts construction. And gets whacked by Trister IV.
    • So forty-three years for total construction. Impressive. And dumb.
    • Yeah, the Eyrie really is impregnable.

II

The Iron Islands:

  • produce iron, duh.
  • Lots of Lovecraftiana here.
  • Ironmen are all Deep One kin! Pass it on!
  • Well, no wonder the Old Gods never did well here.
  • I wonder what happens if a Drowned God priest meets a R’hllorite priest.
  • 31 Iron Islands in the main grouping?! 13 more around the Lonely Light?! Ok, that was definitely not on the map.
  • I love the Farywnds. Crazy selkies that they are.
  • So, lead, tin, and iron.
  • 7/10 are fishermen. And conveniently fishing is ok in the Old Way. So the Ironborn aren’t total idiots.
  • Archmaester Haereg’s point about the wood is a good one.
  • Dagon Drumm the Necromancer? Hrothgar with a kraken-summoning horn? Awesome.
  • Balon Blackskin – did some Summer Islander get really lost?
  • AHA! So the First Men practiced thralldom! Although this sounds a lot more like serfdom than historic thralldom; the Scandinavians sold a lot of Slavic slaves to the Byzantines and the Muslims. So by inference, I’m going to say that mainland smallfolk are definitely free peasants, paying customary rents to their lords, and not serfs.
  • Salt sons can inherit! Interesting. And there’s Rhaenys, Targaryen feminist, at work.
  • Driftwood Crowns:
    • I’m guessing Ygg is a weirwood being sacrificed to. The first longship was out of weirwood. Cool.
    • So Grey King // Garth Greenhand.
    • Rock king and salt king? Interesting.
    • Give them credit, the Kingsmoot is more democratic than most of Westeros.
    • Galon Whitestaff seems like a clever fellow.
    • Well, Erich the Ugly didn’t last long.
    • 111 Kings? Wow, that’s not a very long tenure.
    • Qhored Hoare was a vicious c-word, wasn’t he?
    • So the Gardeners and Hightowers moved first to build themselves some proper navies, smart move.
    • The Sea Lion seems like a pragmatist of the first order.
    • Herrock the Whoreson is awesome!
    • Lots of back and forth here. Joron Blacktyde is another wonderful person.
    • Urrathon Badbrother! Love that name.
    • So the Mallisters rule the Cape of Eagles, eh? More proof that they’re not so tiny after all.
    • Urron Redhand – there’s someone who understood how to count votes. And axes.
  • The Iron Kings:
    • getting rid of the Kingsmoot created internal war. Predictable.
    • Makes sense that the Andals would fare better against the Ironborn.
    • Garth the Goldenhand – seems like an interesting fellow.
    • Why does anyone ever ally with Andals? Seriously, people, there is a dire need for history education in Westeros.
  • The Black Blood:
    • The Andal Taint!
    • Yeah, the Hoares were real…not nice people. Wulfgar the Widowmaker. Horgan Priestkiller. Othgar the Soulless. Othgar Demonlover. Sort of makes Harren look like a piker.
    • The Hoares, with their crazy innovations, like trading for things instead of murdering people. I knew I was right about the Old Way.
    • WHOAH! The Hoares had Lannister blood?
    • The Eight Gods and the Stranger as the Drowned God! I love religious syncretism.
    • Yikes, the Shrike is not someone to be messed with.
    • Wow, Hagon is a tool. Who does that to their own mother?
    • I’m not usually a Lannister fan, but good on them for beating the crap out of the Hoares.
    • Aubrey Crakehall – the man who would be king.
    • The Famine Winter does not sound fun.
    • Qhorwyn the Cunning is a smart fellow.
    • A Faceless Man killed a previous Ironborn Prince?! Interesting, so there’s precedent.
    • Halleck was an idiot. Who attacks the Bloody Gate three times?
  • The Greyjoys of Pyke:
    • Fun times on the Iron Islands. Volmark gets taken out by Aegon, Lodos drowns himself when his krakens don’t show up, and everyone else shows reason.
    • Seriously, why can’t the Ironborn just stick to raiding far away? Seems to cause so much less trouble.
    • Fishing, trading, and mining – how the Ironborn really live. I was right!
  • The Red Kraken:
    • how they wish they lived.
    • Dalton Greyjoy is impressive. In a vicious way.
    • And clever. Waits until everyone’s distracted and then sacks the whole of the Westerlands.
    • Johanna Lannister is awesome.
    • Wow, talk about an anti-climactic death.
  • The Old Way and the New:
    • Dagon Greyjoy, the Last Reaver. Well, now we know how that went.
    • Alton Greyjoy seems interesting.
    • Loron and Desmond – a couple?
    • Quellon Greyjoy, the Tsar Alexander II of the Iron Islands.
    • Huh…didn’t know this about Robert’s Rebellion.
    • You’d think Balon would have learned after that.
    • Five years of preparation for the Rebellion, the first galleys in the Islands, and for nothing.
    • So Tywin fought in the Greyjoy Rebellion! Huh. Interesting.

And we’re done. Tune in next time for the second half of the Seven Kingdoms!

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103 thoughts on “A World of Ice and Fire Analysis: Chapter VIa (From the North to the Iron Islands)

  1. Mr Fixit says:

    RAVENtree Hall is right there, across the river from Stone Hedge. Those sneaky BLACKwoods… they can confuse even a maester, it seems. Off with their pagan heads 😉

    “if the Riverlands are so rich and fertile – where’s their armies?”

    This one used to confound me, but, if we hypothesise a bit, I think we can come up with a reasonable explanation.

    Compared to other regions’ power, let’s say Riverlanders can rally some 40,000 men tops in ideal conditions.
    *15,000 are already accounted for. Edmure has 11,000 with him when he throws Tywin back and there are 4,000 Freys with Robb and Roose.
    *A whole lot were KIA, WIA, MIA, and POW at Golden Tooth, Riverrun, and all over southern Riverlands during Tywin’s opening blitzkrieg. We don’t know how many, but for the sake of argument let’s say 10,000
    *Riverlands seem like a pretty divided region, with no grand unifying history, frequently under foreign rule, split right down the middle during Robert’s Rebellion. Maybe certain cautious or disloyal lords (especially those on the wrong side of the Rebellion, with some like Darry excepted) committed no or few forces and waited things out, especially if they weren’t on the Tywin’s invasion path. So. let’s say 7-8,000 there?
    *I hypothesise than an additonal 7-8,000 were never in a position to be rallied at all due to Tywin’s speedy advance. The southern Riverlands were either a disputed war zone that frequently changed hands or were under Lannister control from the start. It stands to reasons that many of the lords in that area (lords of Harrenhal, for example) never had a chance to form a cohesive fighting force at all.

    Voila. We have are 40,000 men! Yeah, it’s pretty much a fanwank, but I think it’s reasonable enough, given what we know.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I think that problems of the Lords Paramount of the Trident and the River-lands themselves can be traced back to the same basic problem; In the lands watered by the River Trident the Age of the Hundred Kings passed by but has never really left.

      Even more so than most regions of highly-feudal Westeros I suspect that the Lords of the Trident still consider themselves to be Kings in their own Castles, crown or no crown, and therefore comport themselves accordingly (with the inevitable consequences to their relative cohesion).

      I also suspect that while House Tully holds the title of Lord Paramount, the actual holdings of Riverrun – as opposed to lands held in fief by Houses sworn to the Lords of that stronghold – simply aren’t extensive enough or rich enough for them to raise a host able to enforce their authority without recourse to help from their more powerful subordinates.

      Basically its hard not to see the River-lands as the Home of over-mighty vassals.

    • Ah, some good old-fashioned army counting.

      – the tricky thing is that we don’t know how many men Edmure had at First Riverrun, when his host was smashed. Both in terms of overall troop size and casualties, that’s rather important.

      – after the Camps, Robb’s up to ~40,000 men, which he then goes way down from when the Riverlords are released. Given that the number of Northmen is known precisely, we can say that after First Riverrun and Tywin’s march there were 22,000 Riverlanders under arms.

      – but…Edmure has only 11,000 men under arms at the Fords. So are we to believe that 900 reavers under Clegane, Hoat, and Lorch managed to kill 11,000 men? This seems like a plot-hole to me, unless we assume that 11,000 men decided that their fighting was done and were slow to answer Edmure’s call. Which is possible.

      – nevertheless, as a top number, we’re looking at 22k. So somewhere there’s 18,000 men missing. Well, at most 4,000 could have been lost at the Golden Tooth. So between Riverrun and Tywin’s march, 14,000 men died? That’s certainly possible, but even with some crushing damn victories, you’d expect Jaime and Tywin’s armies to take substantial losses.

      – I like your hypothesis about the never-mobilized, since it matches what’s going on in the North. It’s still surprising that these forces were never tapped, or seen engaged in local bushwhacking and defense of hearth and home, especially in the immediate aftermath of the Camps when most of the Riverlands is no longer under Tywin’s control.

      • Mr Fixit says:

        Well, I am of the opinion that there are a lot of holes in Martin’s depiction of the war in Riverlands.
        – Guderian himself would’ve been astounded at the speed of Tywin’s advance across the land. We’re led to believe that he defeated a bunch of Riverlords, took countless castles and fortresses from principal Tully bannermen, apparently inflicting heavy casualties along the way, and managed to do all that in under one month without taking practically any losses (he’s at 20,000 all the time). Yeah, but no.

        – After Tywin retreated to Harrenhal, he sent out, what, a thousand raiders? And those thousand raiders apparently ravaged and devastated southern Riverlands with Robb and Edmure barely doing a thing. The forces Robb let go either disappeared or were slaughtered by the Mountain and Co in their thousands, which I find very unlikely.

        Somewhat off-topic, but I can’t wait to see your take on Robb’s invasion of the Westerlands further down the road in ACoK. I am actually quite critical of his general plan and the way he deployed his forces, as opposed to Tywin who made sure he always used his numbers to maximum effect. My key objection to Robb’s plan of action is that he only used his 6,000-strong cavalry in a proactive manner, while leaving his other 25,000+ rallied troops doing nothing and waiting for Tywin to take the bait. My idea? Have Roose rejoin you after GF and Camps. While Edmure is left behind to protect northern Riverlands beyond the safety of the fords, attack the West with your full Northern army (after cavalry clears the way with its surprise attack, just like in the books). With some 15,000-20,000 Northerners in the West, it’s game over for Tywin.

        • I was always of the belief that Robb planned to have Edmure and Roose present for the final battle.

          • Jaime'slefthand says:

            This certainly would make sense, but how could he possibly have managed it? He would have had to loop round the army and come back through the goat track to fight in the Riverlands, which makes what he said to Edmure post-Blackwater total lies.

          • I disagree.

            Looping around isn’t difficult; Robb’s army is all cavalry and he’s the only one who knows about the goat track. In fact, Robb specifically mentioned that he planned to “slip behind him to take up a strong defensive position athwart the gold road.”

            Moreover, what stops Robb from sending riders and/or ravens to tell Edmure and/or Roose to bring their armies up the goat track (or for that matter, storming or just bypassing Golden Tooth, since they’d outnumber the defenders better than 6:1) to meet up with him rather than the other way around?

  2. Ivan T.W. says:

    If GRRM uses all his Lovecraft references for the Iron Islands, he won’t have any left for Yi-Ti and Leng.

  3. Sean C. says:

    “So what happened to his navy?”

    Brandon the Burner, presumably.

    • But Brandon the Burner burned the navy of Brandon the Shipwright. These are different navies.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        It’s quite arguable that this is the same navy, but in different eras of its history; it seems as likely that Brandon the Shipwright was building upon the creation of another, but building it to unsurpassed heights.

        It’s rather like the question of just which King we should credit with the foundation of the Royal Navy!

        • Maybe, but I doubt it. They seem from quite different periods.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            That is indeed possible; may I please ask what makes you think this?

          • One thing to keep in mind is that wooden ships have a limited shelf life – around 10-15 for an active warship around 1800, and we’re talking about much more limited technology.

            Second, the Hungry Wolf comes later than we had thought – he was a contemporary of the Andal invasion, which means Starks were kings anywhere from 2 to 6 thousand years before he came along, making it more likely that he wasn’t a contemporary.

            Third, Brandon the Shipwright must have existed in more peaceful times, to be able to sail off into the west. But the period around the Hungry Wolf was one of near-constant warfare with the Andals, the ironborn, the Arryns, etc. and these were wars that lasted for a long time.

  4. Abbey Battle says:

    An excellent analysis Maester Steven – I must admit that part of the fun in reading through THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE is playing join-the-dots to try and work out which Great Kings were coevals and try to get a picture of what was happening across Westeros at any given point in it’s History.

    Before I say anything more, I’d just like to say that Other-in-Law and his Masterpiece remain particular favourites of mine; I am very sorry that this most excellent artist does not seem to post on deviantART anymore and I would to find out whatever happened to Other-in-Law for some small part of me fears we shall not see more from this source and a much larger part of me hopes that I am very, very wrong.

    THE NORTH
    -Having the Mountain Clans spend their winters in Winterfell helps to explain the loyalty they display to The Starks, not to mention how Lord Eddard wound up with more than a little mountain in his make-up; perhaps that would be why he did so well in the Vale?

    -I would guess that the Dustins were more barrow-wight than Vampire; this MAY be due to memories of reading Lord of the Rings and more specifically the chapter where Frodo and the lads find themselves in DEEP TROUBLE in a burial mound.

    -For obvious reasons I tend to believe that the Rat Cooks victim is more likely to have been an Arryn, given the traditional antipathy between the North and the Vale; the Vassals of Mountain and Vale would clearly be looking for un-cramped living-room, but why would a Westerman want to look for trouble in the North when they can cut off a nice juicy slice of Reach or River-lands?

    -It’s possible that the Northern Blackwoods were a separate branch of the House (pardon the pun!). On the other hand it’s perfectly easy to understand why they went South; the weather is so much NICER (although it’s a pity about those neighbours across the burn …).

    -Given how large it is, it’s quite easy to understand why those who came to power in the North felt confident enough to call themselves Kings rather than Lords, given that there was plenty of room for all … although as it turned out still not quite enough.

    -Given his lust for blood and battle, one has to wonder if Theon Stark wasn’t part-Bolton himself; I do wonder just how much of an influence events proceeding apace in the Vale of Arryn played in the Bolton-Stark Entente?

    At a guess Theon Starks fleet was consumed by the grief of Brandon the Burner; I would be surprised if Brandon the Shipwright were not son or grandson to Theon Stark – one would be ASTONISHED if the first assaults from the Vale did not coincide with the destruction of the Northern fleet.

    -To be fair, given the Skagosi Rebellion seems to have coincided with assaults from the Ironborn and also from across the Wall, not to mention the fact that it helped trigger a succession crisis for House Stark it’s not hard to imagine how a relatively minor headache turned into something of a bleeding sore on the substance of the North.

    -It seems that while King Edrick Snowbeard reigned for almost a century, a good many problems arose from the fact that he RULED for somewhat less than a century (especially once old age took it’s toll on his mind and energies).

    THE RIVERLANDS
    -Where are the armies of the River-lands? Doubtless being kept close to home for the convenience of over-mighty vassals in their pursuit of old feuds and individual advantage!

    -It was probably even harder to stop the Andals once House Arryn assumed control over the northern side of the Bay; also while the Houses on Crabclaw Point seem to have held out to the last, they could hardly present a unified front agains the Invaders and are unlikely to have had much strength at sea.

    -Smart money says that a King named ‘The Kinslayer’ is likely to have come to a sticky end (after all he wouldn’t be known by such an unflattering nickname if he’d lived to ensure the History Monks stuck to HIS script, eh?).

    -The problem with the River-lands seems to be less with unifying them than with KEEPING them United; rather like the difficulties facing a King of Poland or Holy Roman Emperor back in the day.

    -Don’t forget to list Harren the Red and the Brotherhood Without Banners amongst the Rebels in the Riverlands!

    -It strikes me that the Ironborn seized the Riverlands in much the way the Vikings began to turn themselves into the Rus!

    -I would be very surprised if Black Harren didn’t conceive his ambition of building the biggest, baddest castle in the Seven Kingdoms because his Father’s failures left him keenly aware that not only were a great many hostile eyes on the outside of his domains and looking in with a view to doing him in, but his own subjects were more than happy to try sticking one in him as well!

    Let’s just say that when they really ARE out to get you, Harrenhal is less the product of paranoia and more the fruit of megalomania!

    More later, but please let me leave you with this:

    Q: What happens when a Red Priest meets a Drowned Priest?

    A: Theological discussions get VERY steamy!

    • The North:

      – agreed. It also provides another explanation for the winter town: cattle drives.

      – yeah, barrow-wights work too.

      – Good argument re the Arryns. Which also explains why Rickard sent his son to Jon Arryn – need to end the antipathy somehow.

      – As previously stated, I don’t think Brandon the Burner and Theon Stark were anywhere close to contemporaries.

      – fair enough, I just don’t think the Skagosi have the population.

  5. Ummm…updated, because I just realized I had missed some big details in the North section. Let me know if I missed anything in the other sections, please.

  6. somethinglikealawyer says:

    -The North

    Thanks for this analysis. These sections were honestly what I picked up the ‘World’ for. Truth be told, I’m a massive Stark fan, and the North’s personal touch of politics and their curious sense of forthrightness meant that the North’s chapter was the one I cracked open first. (Of course, the thing I wrote on Northern culture was another reason, I wanted to see how wrong I was).

    I like the mountain clansmen in winter towns. Given that Eddard always seemed the type of man who met with people personally, I think this helps cement how he became “The Ned” in the eyes of the mountain clansmen.

    Guest right definitely stems from winter, and I like the visual image for warring mountain clansmen sitting under the same roof in winter towns, bound by guest right.

    Just once, I’d actually like to see the Lannisters and Starks on the same side. Maybe I’m being odd, but it seems these families are at blows every single time..

    Is it possible that an outer area of Winterfell had fallen but the central keep/citadel remained intact?

    Could the Skagosi rebellion been a Dorne-Against-The-Dragons sort of issue? Or is the number dichotomy between the North and Skagosi simply too great?

    I like Rhaenys’s idea of uniting the former kings through marriage, but forced alliances never seem to work out too well, even without traitorous kin-slaying uncles. As you said though, props for trying. In a land of bloodlines and prohibitions against kinslaying, tying them together seems to be a smart way to keep the kingdom together until the years pass.

    The Pact of Ice and Fire. Part of me wants to say that was an early attempt at fulfilling this mythical ‘song of ice and fire,’ but I think that too far-fetched, even by Reddit tinfoil standards.

    • If it had been someone other than Jace Velaryon, who doesn’t seem like the brightest bulb in the family, I’d say maybe.

      But it does seem strange that neither Egg nor Rhaegar attempted to use the pact to advance their plans.

      • somethinglikealawyer says:

        Maybe Egg will reference it in one of the next D&E tales. He was supposed to see the Starks at some point.

      • Sean C. says:

        Jacaerys was supposed to be a rising star (another of the outstanding Princes of Dragonstone who never lived to inherit the throne, thanks to GRRM’s machinations). He certainly didn’t strike me as dim.

        The thing that most interests me about the “pact of ice and fire” is that Jacaerys evidently promised Cregan a Targaryen princess (it just says to wed into his family, which I’m not sure if that means a bride for Cregan himself or an unborn one at some unspecified future date; if Cregan took the latter, he’s kind of a sucker). If he was promising Cregan himself a bride, there really weren’t that many options at that time; the Blacks just had Daemon’s daughters, Baela and Rhaena. There were also Helaena and little Jaehara on the Green side, but I can’t imagine Cregan would accept a promise for either of them, and Jaehara appears to have been mentally disabled besides.

        If that’s the case, that raises a potential irony, as of the two Targaryen ladies available, Baela was betrothed to Jacaerys himself, and I can’t imagine Jacaerys would have traded her away, as that would jeopardize the support of House Velaryon. That leaves Rhaena, betrothed to Lucerys. Lucerys was sent to Storm’s End and, when asked to marry one of Lord Borros’ daughters, he declined on the basis of already being betrothed, leading to his death. Which would totally fruitless if Jacaerys had already, on his own initiative, promised Rhaena to Lord Stark instead.

        We don’t know exactly when and under what circumstances Rhaena married Ser Corwyn Corbray instead; she may have done that on her own initiative to try and rally Vale support after the execution of Rhaenyra and the capture of Aegon III. By the time Cregan came south, he could have insisted on Baela, but given that she was probably scarred/burned from her battle with Sunfyre, he may have decided to forego that in favour of Black Aly.

        • Ok, that’s a bit unfair of me. What I should say instead is that Jace didn’t seem like a Targ interested in sorcery or prophecy, so I doubt he had anything in mind when he made the pact other than soldiers.

          You raise an excellent point about the timing and the availability of Targaryens.

  7. Grant says:

    Depending on the timing of the rebellion and the organization of the Skagos, they might have been able to conceivably cause serious damage for an extended period of time even if they were outnumbered, especially if they had places to move through that Stark bannermen would struggle with. And poor leadership is also a possibility, just being a Stark doesn’t mean you’re good at warfare or willing to listen to those who are.

    As for the Skagos and obsidian, I wonder if the North used to have much greater volcanic activity. Something like that would be fitting with the stone dragon idea. The entire place might have been very warm at some point.

    • But thousands of lives? Seems too much.

      • Mr Fixit says:

        Unlikely, true, but it’s possible. Look at Chechnyan War. A tiny, not too populated, and poorly armed breakaway republic defeated the, admittedly abysmally led, Russian army, inflicting thousands of casualties.

        If the opponent is fanatical and motivated enough, and holed up in difficult terrain, it’s not that far-fetched to see them inflict heavy casualties to a better trained and more numerous enemy, especially if said enemy is poorly led.

      • Grant says:

        I’d say it’s more possible, the text does mention that the Skagos were a headache for the Starks even after Brandon IX, which indicates that they were populous and militant enough to be dangerous for many generations. Besides that, this would take place during Daeron II’s time, and might have even taken place just before, during, or after Daemon’s rebellion. Lastly, the text isn’t clear who these thousands were. It might possibly refer to the Stark bannermen, or to the peasantry and townspeople who would be presumably slaughtered by Skagos invaders.

  8. Amestria says:

    “7/10 are fishermen. And conveniently fishing is ok in the Old Way. So the Ironborn aren’t total idiots.”

    Well, fishing is in a sense robbing and plundering and reeving in the sea and taking things by the iron price and all that. I’ve always had the sense that their reeving is really just a different sort of fishing. Like, peasants fish the sea, warriors fish foreign lands.

    “Halleck was an idiot. Who attacks the Bloody Gate three times?”

    Someone whose already attacked it twice and figures “Might as well give it another go.”

    • somethinglikealawyer says:

      Halleck the Sunk-Cost Fallacy strikes me as a hilarious title.

    • Andrew says:

      Historically speaking, fishing in Scandanavia in the Viking and Middle Ages wasn’t a single profession, but rather practiced by farmers and even tradesmen to supplement their income. It seems the Iron Isles have reached the point where it has become a separate profession.

    • Right, but by that same logic, farming is just reaving the dirt.

      My guess is just that a. food comes before ideology, and b. the skillsets carry over from fishing to reaving a decent amount.

      I wonder if the name was chosen as an homage to the Civil War general?

      • Amestria says:

        I don’t think it works with farming because you have to make it grow first before you take it. That’s labor! Labor’s bad! Your producing it yourself. With fishing (and hunting and reeving) what you take has been produced independent of you and you take it by your own skill, as is your due.

  9. Amestria says:

    So, in your opinion, who were the best Kings, the nicest kings, and the absolute worst?

  10. Andrew says:

    1. The only source for the Skagosi is from a maester at the NW who had never been there.

    2. The Skagosi originally had much more contact with the rest of the North and outside world being described as accustomed to crossing the Bay of Seals to trade and raid. It was the latter that led King Brandon Stark IX to deny them the sea, or forbid them from keeping a fleet or ships. I think one of the reasons for the Skagosi rebellion could have been to regain the right to build and sail ships, likely breaking their isolation.

    3. The Braavosi fought for Aegon I, interesting.

    4. So it is safe to say in Ironborn culture, to work the land (farming and mining) is looked down upon while to work the sea (fishing and reaving) is considered worthy work.

    5. The state of the Iron Isles after Harren and his line ended may likely be the case if Victarion, Euron and Asha are killed, leaving a power vacuum with the Ironborn lords fighting each other for supremacy. Damphair may likely crown himself like Lodos did.

    6. I wonder how House Harlaw got Dalton’s sword, Nightfall?

    7. “Beneath the castle walls, the waves still smash against the rock stacks day and night, and one day those too will doubtless crash into the sea.”
    I can see that, especially is a certain greenseer sends the Hammer of the Waters.
    .

    • 3. More with than for.

      4. Yeah.

      5. Pretty much. Ironborn like to kill one another.

      6. An interesting question.

      7. That would be hilarious.

      • Andrew says:

        7. Especially if Damphair is in Pyke claiming to be the rightful Lord of Pyke/King of the Iron Isles when it reaches Pyke. How ironic, the Drowned Man dies by drowning.

        I wouldn’t put it past BR to tell the Greyjoys after he subdued them that if they got into their shenanigans again he would tear down Pyke like he did Whitewalls.

        8. Vickon Greyjoy was smart. He was quite the pragmatist, telling the Ironborn to do their reaving outside Westeros, knowing it was suicide to fight against Aegon and his dragons (something Balon should have taken note of even without the dragons) and his attitude towards Drowned priests and Ironborn lords protesting letting the Faith come to the Iron Isles being summed up in this line: Let them preach. We have need of winds to fill our sails.”

        9. Balon was a bigger idiot for failing to pay attention to history of what happened when Ironborn tried to revive the Old Way. Dalton Greyjoy’s attempt resulted in the Iron Isles being sacked with thousands of Ironborn slain, and scores of villages and ships destroyed while Dagon’s ended when the Targaryens assaulted the Iron Isles. It never ended well.

        • 7. I don’t think Damphair would try to take the throne himself.

          8. Yeah, he was one of the few smart Greyjoys.

          9. Yeah…definitely an embittered idealist rather than a realist.

          • Andrew says:

            I think the Damphair would if he knew he was the last greyjoy left besides a gelded Theon, and the alternative was a power vacuum in the Iron Isles with the Ironborn killing each other.

            Desperate times call for desperate measures as they say.

  11. Great stuff as usual Steve.
    -Well, it explains why the mountain clans are willing to fight for “Ned’s little girl”, probably out of both gratitude and loyalty.
    -The Night’s Queen possibly a Dustin? Huh, I always thought it would be a Bolton.
    -Poor Ronnel and his family, all of them.
    -The Pact of Ice and Fire, crazy idea here, but think that could be another reason why Rhaegar made off with Lyanna?
    -Also on the pact, maybe Cregan wasn’t expecting a bride for himself, but for a son. Rhaenyra was pregnant at the start of the Dance and had that girl survived, it would have been a good match.

    • Sean C. says:

      Rhaenyra’s daughter was dead before Jacaerys was even dispatched.

    • Quite possible, but you’d think that if the Starks were still pursuing it/aware of it, he could have just approached them and used the pact to trump the offer made to the Baratheons.

      • True, perhaps they weren’t aware of it? Or Cregan felt the pact was fulfilled with the marriage that took place. And later on wasn’t willing to pursue a daughter of Aegon III for one of his sons out of not wanting to look like a greedy man.

        And please correct me, dear Maester Steve, but wasn’t Robert who made the request for Lyanna’s hand?

        I think I read it somewhere (the app perhaps) that Robert sent the request with Ned on one of his visits to WF.

        • I don’t recall who made the suggestion – I always thought that it would have been some combo of Rickard, Eddard, Jon Arryn, and Robert, as per Southron Ambitions.

          • I think I saw it on the App, unfortunately, I was on a friend’s phone and couldn’t download the info. But I do think it was Robert himself, after all, he wanted to join the lines and I think this was confirmed by George when asked something among the lines that if Ned ever went North the answer was yes, same with Robert to the Stormlands. So, there’s a strong chance that the idea had actually been Robert’s and Ned just carried the request on a visit to his family.

            I don’t pay much stock to Barbrey’s Southron Ambitions, because I’ve seen the partial Stark family tree and there are southron ladies marrying in. Cat was the highest (daughter of a Paramount), but there are others. I want to see the complete one to see if there are more tho.

  12. Kuruharan says:

    “the Blackwoods were of the North, a reverse Manderly?!”

    I suppose this means that the start of the legendary feud is the Blackwoods moved south and settled on Bracken land without permission.

  13. Abbey Battle says:

    THE VALE OF ARRYN
    -it’s interesting to note that so far as I can tell from the map Saltpans actually sits within the domains of House Arryn, which makes one suspect that the indignation of the Lords Declarant might well predate Lord Petyr’s assumption of the role of regent; one can only suspect that such depredations and the looming threat of the Mountain Clans will give Baelish a great deal to worry about even if Lady Sansa finds no good opportunity to see if this Mockingbird can fly …

    -As a note, some of the most fertile areas under the aegis of the Vale actually seem to lie on the wrong side of the Bloody Gate, which implies that while it has historically been possible for House Arryn to retreat behind it’s most potent natural defences, then thumb their nose at the attackers, doing so has to have hit them pretty hard in the bread-basket (which might explain why they’ve tended to prefer stirring up trouble in the North, rather than picking fights with whomsoever happens to be ruling in the Riverlands at any given point of time).

    -It’s not impossible that before the Andals came most of the residents of the Vale lived as the Mountain Clans do today, hence a somewhat smaller population more widely distributed (Hunter-Gatherers need a lot of territory to work over and the relatively thin pickings must have meant that they’d have to range that much wider … or kill off a few of the neighbours).

    One wonders if agriculture had crossed through the bloody gate before the arrival of the Andals, given that the locals appear to have been quite belligerent and the prospect of the High Road might have persuaded settlers from the South to head North into the Neck, rather than East into the Mountains.

    -To be fair it seems quite possible that those Andals who held true to their oaths would have been absent from the Historical Chronicles, given that on the whole they would have been mere sell-swords and sworn swords making a living, rather than men who trod the jewelled thrones of the Seven Kingdoms beneath their sandalled feet.

    – I’d prefer to imagine that Mr GRR Martin is laughing WITH us, but if the rascal is laughing AT us then we are practically obliged to compose every variety of strange, stomach-turning Fan Fiction in REVENGE!

    -As a note seeing Ser Artys Arryn share a name with the Winged Knight, the local ‘Ancestor-Hero/Demigod’ of the Vale tends to hint that at least some Andals were more interested in assimilation than in outright conquest; it’s also one of those little signs that even characters and cultures which we would regard as having stepped right out of the pages of history can be just as keenly aware of their own place in the Historical Record as we ourselves are!

    -From what we can tell the Guild of Goatherds is the most prominent, powerful and ancient craft-mans collective in the Seven Kingdoms; doubtless their rivals feel distinctly sheepish by comparison!

    -Given that the Vale gets enough sunshine to be called ‘Golden’ and has access to significant reserves of Marble, one suspects that comparison with Italy (in terms of physical landscape at least) are also fairly valid – I do however agree that medieval Wales (and more particularly the Marches of Wales) makes a perfect point of comparison.

    Must be all those sheep and the neighbouring population of homicidal former-tenants bearing a grudge against the incumbents!

    -‘Queen Marla’ Sunderland is a lady of the Three Sisters who took advantage of the destruction of the Vales fleet at Gulltown during the Conquest and proclaimed herself Independent of little King Ronnel (although her ambitions in the Petty Queen do not seem to have outlived the arrival of Great Queen Visenya, for obvious reasons).

    Apparently it’s not just the Grejoys who nourish delusions of grandeur!

    -So far as I can tell House Targaryen is indeed part-Arryn, although I believe the draconic strain died out of House Arryn fairly quickly (The Curse of the Child-bearer apparently goes much deeper than the late Lord Jon in the History of House Arryn).

    -While I do agree that the Aerie is more of a cherry on top of the stony sundae of the Vale’s defences, I find it hard to think of it as a complete and total white elephant after considering Lady Catlyns recollection of her journey up the Giant’s Lance; consider that every vassal of House Arryn has had to make that journey more than once in their lives (The Vale is far too compact for them to take refuge in far-flung fiefs), consider how exhausted they must be upon arrival before their overlord and consider effect of knowing that one is in the power of House Arryn and a very, very, very long walk (or a slightly shorter drop) removed from the heart of one’s own power, as well as any hope of rescue.

    Now consider just how SECURE this must make House Arryn (at least how secure this must make them feel); the Aerie isn’t just a showcase palace, it’s also a very potent political tool if not an outright weapon of psychological warfare – a regular turnover of guests drawn from amongst their vassals must remind them of their place in the world and also how much they rely upon House Arryns good graces to maintain their place in that world!

    THE IRON ISLANDS
    -They also have a shipload of rock! (unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be very sellable rock or very useful for anything except making life difficult, but at least they have it all for their very own …).

    -It’s somewhat humbling to realise that even the Ironborn can have the occasional good idea … well, except Theon Greyjoy of course! (on an even less serious not one has to wonder the early Kingsmoots worked so well because the Driftwood Crown was something of a White Elephant – “You take it!” “NO! I am perfectly happy as a murdering, pillaging, ravaging overgrown adolescent Cthulu-Viking! I REFUSE to take responsibility, so YOU take it” “… and be denied the chance to pick on the Green-landers? NUTS!”).

    -Old Galon Whitestaff (and did ever a man inflict more suffering on the Seven Kingdoms than the man who persuaded the Ironborn to target their neighbours and not their NEAR neighbours?) rather reminds me of the Prophet Samuel or the Prophet Elijah; a venerated old man whose Sacred Purpose in life seems to have been to slap mere KINGS right in the pretensions…

    -It’s not that the folk of Westeros forget History, it’s just that like all us other Moderns we like to imagine that we must be MUCH smarter than the Ancestors (especially when they’re someone else’s ancestors) and are thus doomed to repeat it.

    Oh, also castles, steel and all that chivalry stuff that the dames seem to dig!

    -I get the feeling that zealots like Balon Greyjoy believe that the Iron Islanders only survive on fishing, trading and mining but that they are only truly alive when they’re stealing someone else’s living rather than being obliged to put in the hard work in order to make one for themselves.

    It must be said that historically-speaking Piracy is probably a much healthier way to make a living than mining and probably slightly safer besides!

    -I’d argue that getting killed by one of the far too many women he’d been victimising for his entire career is beautifully-appropriate pay-back for Dalton Greyjoy’s sins (especially given that the inevitable outcomes of his career of rapine turned to working over their own homeland shortly afterwards); I’m only sorry that the poor lass didn’t live long enough to make an escape during the Uprising of the Fair Islanders.

    I don’t tend to play ‘Conspiracy Theory’ but this is one of the few times when I hope that there’s a Faceless Man involved …

    -Amusingly if Quellon Greyjoy is Tsar Alexander the Second, then that would make Victarion Greyjoy Alexander the Third (since Alexander Alexandrovich was the second son of his father, rather than the firstborn) … I wonder if this makes Theon Nicholas the Second, given that Victarion has no issue and Balon Greyjoy practically DEFINES reaction in his own right!

    • Sean C. says:

      The map would be in error regarding Saltpans. It’s clearly established in the books as being part of the Riverlands, but right on the border with the Vale. Hence, why the younger men of House Cox were away at war.

      The Vale does appear to have outlying settlements beyond the Bloody Gate, though.

      Actually, it’s a rather odd historical anomaly that the haven’t seized at least the eastern bank of the Green Fork. Put castles at the various fords and it’s quite easily defended. It seems like the land between the Green Fork and the Blue Fork would be a fairly easy addition to, going up to Seagard, though perhaps they felt that obtaining a coastline on the western side of the continent was more trouble than it was worth given proximity to the Ironborn.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I believe that a King of House Arryn tried something very like that in the days of Tristifer the Fourth, The Hammer of Justice and that the Vale suffered a great deal as a result of his failure – hence perhaps the reluctance of House Arryn to commit to enemies they could not hit from the sea and sail away from at need.

        Put another way it’s easier to build an empire across a gulf of water than it is to carry it across a range of mountains – I suspect that the Bloody Gate is something of a choke-point for Armies marching out of the Vale of Arryn, as well as those marching into it.

        • Sean C. says:

          Yeah, I recall that story, but it really doesn’t make sense that the River Kings would be able to hold that land long-term. The geography doesn’t favour them at all.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            While geography plays a mighty part in warfare, don’t forget the Human dimension.

            It’s possible that House Arryn didn’t fancy having to assume a burden similar to that which broke the back of House Durrandon when the latter reached for The Trident and did a little TOO well.

            I suspect that the more long-sighted Kings of Mountain and Vale simply decided that the burden to holding those lands against The River Kings AND their likely-to-be-rebellious new subjects simply wasn’t worth the return (especially with the Mountain Clans and Seaborne reavers added to the picture) given that it lacks any particularly juicy resources and would offer The King in the North just enough of an opening to take a serious bite at any field force sent in to protect the interests of Mountain and Vale.

            Remember, The North HATES The Vale most of the time so it’s probably best not to offer them a tempting target (stretch out a hand to take the Green Fork and House Stark would gladly help tear it off).

            You may ask “Then why struggle for the Sisters?” and I think the most likely reply would be that the Vale is far more vulnerable from the Sea than from the land (consider how The Andals conquered Mountain and Vale in the first place), so it’s not surprising that when House Arryn wants to flex it’s muscles it would tend to do so by Sea, rather than by Land.

            I must admit though that even as I conclude my argument I must admit that we cannot say that House Arryn NEVER tried to take the Green Fork, only that if they did then they did not enjoy long-term success holding it. The rule of thumb seems to be that it’s easy enough to conquer the River-lands (given their internal divisions) but almost impossible to hold them (since those divisions are frequently set aside for long enough to gang up on an opponent).

          • But the numbers counter-balance the geography, and I’d be cautious about the geography as well. Consider that trying to take that land means you’re extending your supply lines considerably, and if you get attacked and have to pull back, you have your back to the mountains and can’t run.

            Moreover, your enemy can easily regroup, reinforce, and resupply by using the rivers as interior lines of communication.

          • John says:

            I don’t understand this idea. The Vale Lords would have a bunch of unfriendly mountain clans between themselves and their base of operation. How is that a defensible position?

      • Here’s why I think not:

        1. In general, that territory was fought over by larger empires. The Vale has 35,000 men – substantial, but the Stormlands Plus or the Iron Islands Plus would be a tough fight, against multiple opponents. Likewise, in situations where the Riverlands are unified, they outnumber the men of the Vale.

        2. The Arryns were clearly distracted by a persistent conflict with the Starks, and probably couldn’t afford the additional costs.

        3. The land between the Green Fork and the Blue Fork would not be an easy addition – the rivers are a good defensive barrier, unless you’re going to sail all the way around the Bay of Crabs, and even then it’s not clear whether an ocean-going ship would have a shallow enough draft.

        4. It seems to me like it would be fairly easy to monitor the Bloody Gate and mobilize defenses against a land-based invasion, and potentially bottleneck them. Tywin anticipates the same thing in AGOT.

    • The Vale:
      – This map is rubbish. In addition to the Saltpans thing, the main Northwest to Southeast line of the Mountains of the Moon is not shown. And more important, THE BLOODY VALE itself doesn’t appear. (See here for the mapbook map – http://www.fantasticmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Westeros-682×1024.jpg)
      – the hunting-gathering thing doesn’t make sense, given that the FM had agriculture on the go since they passed through Dorne. My hypothesis: the mountains looked a lot more forboding when entered west-to-east, so most FM stuck around in the Reach, Riverlands, etc.
      – Wouldn’t the Andal historians have presented themselves in their best light?
      -To be fair it seems quite possible that those Andals who held true to their oaths would have been absent from the Historical Chronicles, given that on the whole they would have been mere sell-swords and sworn swords making a living, rather than men who trod the jewelled thrones of the Seven Kingdoms beneath their sandalled feet.
      – yeah, the two Artys’ are the only thing that makes sense.
      – Oh, that’s right.
      – Ah, she’s a Sisterwoman! That explains why I don’t know her.
      – We don’t have a family tree for the Arryns, but it’s more likely than not that they do have Targ blood, barring a mention of Lord Rodrik not siring an heir.

      Iron islands:
      – it’s probably all shale and slate. Not valuable enough to export.
      – Galon Whitestaff – possible Gandalf pastiche?
      – only by comparison. Pirates didn’t last that long, and the fact that they primarily stole food suggests they spent a lot of time starving.
      – Damphair is a good Rasputin…

      • Sean C. says:

        Lord Rodrik was only married to Princess Daella for about 2 years, from 80-82 AC, when she died giving birth to Aemma.

        You could theoretically have another pregnancy in there, 80-81 AC, but it’s fairly tight timing.

        The other time reference we have is that in 101 AC, Lord Rodrik is dead, and Lady Jeyne, called Rhaenyra’s “cousin”, is in her minority, with Lord Yorbert Royce running things as regent. Since Aemma was alive at that point and had not inherited the Eyrie, the most obvious inference is that Lady Jeyne is Lord Rodrik’s granddaughter by the child of another marriage, either before Daella or after.

    • John says:

      If you’re going to make dubious Romanov analogies, I think you can leave out Alexander II’s eldest son, who died in adolescence. If you’re going strictly by age of surviving sons, Balon is Alexander III, Euron is Vladimir, Victarion is Sergei, and Aeron is Paul. Young, pre-religious awakening Aeron does seem a bit like fun-loving Grand Duke Paul. Not sure Euron and Victarion make that much sense. I guess Sergei was the loyal brother who tried to keep to his brother’s ideas, while Vladimir was the one who set himself up as a rival. So I guess that kind of works? Also, Theon would be rather more Grand Duke Michael than Nicholas II, in this scheme – he’s the youngest of three, no? That’d make Asha Grand Duchess Xenia. So, incredibly dubious analogies, hurray!

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I invoke the right of the amateur historian to evoke dubious analogies for our own vicarious amusement! (especially when it leads into the mental image of the young Tom Baker as Aeron Damphair – just watch ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’ then see if you still think I’m wrong-headed).

  14. Chris says:

    I like the images Steven. Where’d you get those?

  15. Amestria says:

    “enemies surrounded their realms on every side. Ironmen from the isles raided their coasts to the west, while pirates from the Stepstones and Three Sisters did the same to the east. Westermen rode down from the hills across the Red Fork to pillage and conquer, and the wild hill tribes emerged fom the Mountains of the Moon to burn, plunger, and carry off women. From the southwest, the lords of the Reach sent iron columns of knights across the Blackwater whenever it pleased them; to the southeast lay the domains of the Storm Kings, ever eager for gold and glory.” God, the Riverlanders have no damn luck.

    ***

    That does explain why the castles in the Riverlands are so compact and practical, compared to the imposing showpiece ones common elsewhere. Well, except for Harrenhall.

    I’ve thought of an explanation for Harrenhall that makes its design somewhat less insane. Perhaps Harren designed it to be a future fortress city. That way the Ironborn could move inland and remain apart from their new subjects.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I must admit that I have sometimes wondered if Harrenhal might not have been intended as a Capital City, rather than a Stronghold – I’ve never been quite certain if Black Harren built his Magnum Opus because he feared being dog piled by every Kingdom of the Green-Land or if he planned to CONQUER the Seven Kingdoms.

      I also tend to think of the Riverlands as the Poland of Westeros; they’ve frequently taken a beating in War, they have occasionally been conquered but they have NEVER been happy about it (one might also compare Medieval Germany, with it’s shared identity as a distinct people and their deeply-divided political composition).

      • It kind of works either way – I think the idea was that with Harrenhal in place, he could ensure that the Ironborn could never be thrown out of the Riverlands completely, that they would always have a castle to retreat to that was too big to successfully besiege.

        Thus, in any eventuality – Stormlander resurgence, invasions from the West or the Reach or the Vale or the North, Riverlander rebellion, or conversely, Ironborn invasion of the weakening Stormlands or down the Mander to plunder the Reach – Harrenhal would come in handy.

        And I agree. Riverlands = Poland. Especially the untapped strength thing.

  16. Just wanted to mention this after realizing what dicks the Peakes are, but given the feud between the Peakes and Manderlys, and that the Peakes won that feud and boast of three castles, could it be that one of those castles is the former Manderly home seat? In which case they are even bigger dicks for boasting of it when they seem to betray everyone at first sight.

    • Possibly. Being massive assholes seems to be a genetic trait with them. I’m going to say it, Peakes = Freys of the Reach.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        From what I can make out, it might be more accurate to say that the Manderlys and the Peakes were the Blackwoods and the Brackens of the Reach; one wonders though if the exile of House Manderly did not enrich House Peake in the short term but prove detrimental to their chances of long term domination (given that it would be easier for a clever king to rally his lesser lords against just ONE over mighty subject than two, especially with the rallying cry “What has been done to House Manderly can be done to YOU!”).

        Oh and for the record it does indeed seem that one of the Three Castles which House Peake was in possession of once belonged to House Manderly – at least according to Lord Unwin Peake’s title ‘Lord of Starpike, Dunstonbury and Whitegrove’ (page 138 TWOIF explicitly mentions “the castle of Dunstonbury, which the Manderlys had lost in their exile”).

        It doesn’t take a genius to work out the Manderly’s reaction to hearing that House Peake had been stripped of two-thirds of their holdings in the wake of the First Blackfyre Rebellion …

        • Andrew says:

          Good catch. The Peakes drove them out at the request of the Gardener kings who felt the Manderlys’ growing power was a threat to their dominion over the Reach. Peake got Perceon III to reward him with the Manderly’s lands, clearly.

          The Peakes now only retain Starpike. I wonder how many Peakes will remain by the time the series ends? Will they show themselves to be dicks in the second Dance?

        • Granted, we don’t have much in the way of evidence about this, but given that every single Peake we’ve ever met is an asshole and the Manderlys are generally decent folks, it does seem like the Peakes are the aggressors here.

  17. David N says:

    I haven’t read the comments so I apologize if someone else mentioned this…I just read the Riverlands section this afternoon and it mentions that they touch every other kingdom but Dorne. But they don’t touch Stormlands right?

  18. Mr Fixit says:

    An inconsistency in the book: in the Riverlands chapter, it is said that House Justman ruled the Riverlands centuries after the Andal conquest, and that the Justman reign lasted some three hundred years after that. Yet in the Iron Islands chapter, Justmans ruled the First Men before the Andal arrival.

    • You’re right, that is a problem. And after a quick check on the westeros.org forums, apparently it’s due for a fix in the next printing.

      • Mr Fixit says:

        Yeah, I hope they issue online errata for those of us who already have the book.

        There’s also a chronological issue with Theon the Hungry Wolf. In the North chapter, he’s contemporaneous with early Andal invaders of the Vale, sailing to Andalos and sacking villages as a warning to Andals. He warred with Arryn kings as well. Yet he is also said to have defeated Ravos the Raper of House Hoare, which came to power long after Andal arrival on the shores of Westeros (a thousand years, it is said).

        Oh well. I’m curious to see how next editions deal with it.

  19. […] a Stark man or an Umber or a Glover, and those rivalries are bloody. But it is in the North where guest right is taken more seriously than anywhere else, where Ned Stark sits his servants and his smallfolk next to him at table to learn their lives (one […]

  20. […] a different note, one of the disappointments of the World of Ice and Fire is how little of this history has been uncovered. We know a great deal about Theon the Hungry Wolf […]

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