House Greyjoy: The Iron Born
It is easy to distinguish the profile of House Greyjoy from the other great Houses of Westeros. While the rest of Westeros live off their lands and boast of soldiers and knights, the people of the Iron Islands live like Vikings. They are a seafaring lot who make their living by raiding the neighboring coastlines.
Since the Targaryen invasion, House Greyjoy has been ruling over the Iron Islands from their primary seat in Pyke. They are a fierce and independent House who refer to their people as the “Iron Born”. They isolate themselves from the mainland (or “green lands”) and have long since aspired to regain the former strength and autonomy of the Iron Islands. Following a failed rebellion against King Robert Baratheon, however, House Greyjoy has found itself cowed into submission, with their only heir held hostage within the Stark household.
House Greyjoy is said to be descended from the Grey King, a legendary hero who slew a sea dragon with the help of the Drowned God. Still, the House only gained prominence after Aegon Targaryen invaded Westeros. Aegon and his dragons defeated the tyrannical Harren the Black, who ruled over both the Riverlands and Iron Islands. The Riverlands were given to House Tully, while the Iron Born were allowed to select their dominant house. The Iron Born chose Lord Vickon of House Greyjoy and his House has ruled over the Iron Islands ever since.
Balon, the current head of House Greyjoy, raised his arms shortly after the events of Robert’s Rebellion, believing that his fleet could easily crush the young king. Balon was sorely mistaken. He faced a crushing defeat at the hands of Robert and his allies. Balon’s fleet was burned and his eldest sons were slain. His remaining son and heir, Theon, was taken hostage by Eddard “Ned” Stark. Theon has since been living at Winterfell, being raised by Ned along with the rest of the Stark children.
The sudden death of Robert Baratheon, coupled by Ned Stark’s investigations and his own demise at King’s Landing, has left all of Westeros in uproar. Ned’s eldest son, Robb Stark, has styled himself as the King of the North, while the remaining Baratheons declare war among themselves for control of the Iron Throne.
Aware of the imminent war among the great Houses, Robb sends Theon back to his home to gain the support of the Iron Born. The prodigal son eagerly makes his way back to the Iron Islands. However, he finds his homecoming less than welcoming as he discovers that his sister, Asha, has been raised as Balon’s heir in his stead.
Staying true to the profile of House Greyjoy, Balon has no intention of allying himself with the Starks. Instead, Balon seizes the opportunity to proclaim himself King of the Iron Islands and the North. As his father schemes to take over the Stark lands, will Theon stay loyal to Robb, whom he once considered his close friend and brother, or will he join the fight in order to lay claim to his destiny as the heir of House Greyjoy?
The Greyjoy siblings are two of the most intriguing and well-rounded characters in the series. Theon is raised in awkward circumstances as someone who is well-respected, but never really treated as a member of House Stark. He returns to the Iron Islands, eager to reclaim his birthright, only to find that his sister has taken his rightful place next to Balon. Still, it is difficult to sympathize with Theon, who appears to have inherited his father’s arrogance and brashness. His cocky nature may prove to be his downfall. On the other side of the coin, Asha comes into her own as a strong warrior who can command her own ship. Despite her accomplishments, however, she soon learns that she is still at a disadvantage in a world where not all men are keen to see a woman fight, much less lead in battle.
Other characters of note from House Greyjoy are Balon and his brothers, who are not yet ready to cede control to the younger Greyjoys.
Sigil & Motto
Their banner depicts a golden Kraken on a field of black. Their motto, “We Do Not Sow”, likewise represents the profile of House of Grejoy as seafarers who do not farm their land and prefer to raid their neighbors.