Balon Greyjoy is the head of House Greyjoy of Pyke and is the Lord of the Iron Islands. The captain of the Great Kraken, he is a follower of the Old Way of the ironborn and desires to bring them back to prominence. In 289 AC he proclaimed their independence from the Iron Throne, but Greyjoy's Rebellion was defeated by King Robert I Baratheon's forces. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, Balon is played by Patrick Malahide.
Appearance and Character
Balon has a personality to match his people: stubborn, fearless, and quarrelsome. He is uncompromising even when it comes to his own family, and his faith in the Drowned God and the Old Way is absolute.
Balon learned to sail when still young and was a very skilled captain. Balon scaled the Flint Cliffs to the Blind Lord's haunted tower when he was ten. By his thirteenth year, he had become an expert oarsman. At fifteen he sailed with Dagmer Cleftjaw to the Stepstones on a reaving, killing his first man and taking his first two salt wives there. By seventeen he captained his own longship. Later he often went raiding and was known for his fierceness and fearlessness.
Balon and two of his brothers, Euron and Victarion, wanted their father Quellon to join Robert's Rebellion. Quellon was peaceful and cautious, however, and desired neutrality. After Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was slain in the Battle of the Trident, Quellon was convinced by his sons to join the rebellion or else gain nothing from the war. The ironmen's contribution to the war turned out to be minimal. Quellon was slain fighting the longships of the Shield Islands in a battle at the Mander, after which Balon brought the Greyjoy ships back to Pyke so he could claim the Seastone Chair.
When Balon returned to Pyke he found out his younger brother, Urrigon, had died of gangrene after being injured in the finger dance. The maester at Pyke had tried to save the hand of the boy, but his potions had failed and the fourteen-year-old Urrigon lost his life instead. Balon commanded the same treatment be used on the maester, who died along with Balon's stepmother.
Lord Quellon Greyjoy had desired stronger ties with the green lands, forbade most reaving, brought maesters to the Iron Islands, and outlawed the taking of thralls. His son Balon, however, wished to return to the Old Way, which he considered a better way for the ironborn. After becoming Lord of the Iron Islands, Balon reversed most of his father's reforms. Over five years he oversaw the construction of the Iron Fleet to serve the Seastone Chair.
Balon was quick to seize the chance to revert to the ways of old when he thought that King Robert I Baratheon's recently-gained rule, through conquest, was unstable. Believing Robert would not have the support, the men, or the will to resist, Balon launched his own rebellion and declared himself King of the Iron Islands.
The ironborn won early success when they burned the Lannister fleet at Lannisport, but Balon's triumph was short lived. His eldest son, Rodrik, died during the storming of Seagard and his fleet and forces were defeated, while his second son, Maron, died while defending Pyke.
Balon was forced to accept defeat and bent the knee, re-swearing fealty to the Baratheons, allowing his sole surviving son, ten-year-old Theon, to be taken hostage by Lord Eddard Stark to Winterfell. Balon and his wife, Alannys, grew apart after the deaths of Rodrik and Maron and the taking of Theon.
In 297 AC one of Balon's brothers, Euron, seduced the third wife of another brother, Victarion. To prevent bloodshed between the brothers Balon sent Euron into exile and swore he would be killed if he returned. To keep his honor Victarion killed his wife.
A Clash of Kings
Though defeated, Balon never gave up on his desire to become King of the Iron Islands, and at the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings an opportunity presents itself. Balon assembles his fleet and orders all ships which visit the Iron Islands to remain so he will have the element of surprise.
Robb Stark, the King in the North, sends Balon's surviving son, Theon, to Pyke as an envoy with an offer to ally with Balon against the Lannisters. Insulted, Balon spurns the offer and instead declares himself King of the Iron Islands. Balon sends his brother Victarion, the Lord Captain of the Iron Fleet, to capture Moat Cailin. The ironborn's taking of the Neck cuts off Robb's army, which has been campaigning in the riverlands and the westerlands, from the north. Balon sends his daughter and preferred heir, Asha, to capture Deepwood Motte. Theon, Dagmer Cleftjaw, and Balon's brother Aeron Damphair are to harry the Stony Shore. The ironborn forces are able to conquer a number of northern castles because most of their soldiers had left with Robb to fight in the south, and Balon styles himself King of the Isles and the North.
Theon deviates from Balon's plan by sending Dagmer against Torrhen's Square. With Ser Rodrik Cassel drawn away from Winterfell by Dagmer, Theon captures the seat of House Stark. Asha encourages Theon to abandon Winterfell because it is too far inland, but the youth insists upon remaining. Theon and Rodrik are both betrayed by Ramsay Snow, who orders the sack of Winterfell.
A Storm of Swords
In King's Landing, the small council discusses Balon's terms of alliance instead of a pledge of fealty. Lords Mace Tyrell and Paxter Redwyne urge that these terms be accepted in order to free up new resources for dealing with Stannis Baratheon. However, Tywin Lannister rejects them since Balon is already at war with House Stark.
Balon dies in a fall while crossing a bridge during a storm in 299 AC. Some portents and the timely return of his exiled eldest brother, Euron, lead to speculation that Balon may have been murdered by an assassin at Euron's command.
A Feast for Crows
When Aeron Greyjoy is informed of his older brother's death, he thinks back to the last time he saw Balon upon returning from the Stony Shore. Aeron Damphair recalls while Balon's grey hair had turned half-white and the stoop in his shoulder more pronounced, his king had not seemed ill.
After Balon's death, his daughter, Asha, and his brothers, Victarion and Euron, are among the candidates to succeed him. His surviving son, Theon, had been taken prisoner by the Boltons and is not able to press his claim. Euron Crow's Eye returns to the Iron Islands the day after Balon's death, but his claim is vehemently opposed by Aeron. Balon's favored successor was Asha, but Aeron does not believe a woman can rule the ironborn. Aeron instead supports Victarion.
The matter is decided during a kingsmoot at Nagga's Hill organized by the Damphair. Despite the efforts of Asha and Victarion, Euron is chosen as Balon's successor after he promises to conquer the whole of Westeros with the power of dragons.
A Dance with Dragons
The Winds of Winter
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This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.
Euron admits to the captive Aeron that he was responsible for Balon's death, although he did not personally slay the king.
Quotes by Balon
Balon: The pup says nothing about a reward. Only that you speak for him, and I am to listen, and give him my sails and swords, and in return he will give me a crown. He will give me a crown...
Theon: A poor choice of words, what is meant is–Balon: What is meant is what is said. The boy will give me a crown. And what is given can be taken away.
I am the Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of Salt and Rock, Son of the Sea Wind, and no man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown, as Urron Redhand did five thousand years ago.—Balon, to Theon Greyjoy
—Balon, to Theon Greyjoy
No man has ever died from bending his knee. He who kneels may rise again, blade in hand. He who will not kneel stays dead, stiff legs and all.—Balon, to Asha Greyjoy
Quotes about Balon
Captain: The way I heard it in Lordsport, there was a blow coming in from the west, rain and thunder, and old King Balon was crossing one of them bridges when the wind got hold of it and just tore the thing to pieces. He washed up two days later, all bloated and broken. Crabs ate his eyes, I hear.
Greatjon: King crabs, I hope, to sup upon such royal jelly, eh?
My brother Balon made us great again, which earned the Storm God's wrath. He feasts now in the Drowned God's watery halls, with mermaids to attend his every want. It shall be for us who remain behind in this dry and dismal vale to finish his great work.
A brave man but a bad lord.—Asha Greyjoy's thoughts
|Lady Stonetree||Quellon||Lady Piper|
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 19, The Drowned Man.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
- See the Balon Greyjoy calculation
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- HBO: Game of Thrones: cast and crew
- A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Old Way and the New.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 46, Bran VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 24, Theon II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 37, Theon III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 56, Theon V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 66, Theon VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 48, Daenerys IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 22, Arya IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 49, Catelyn VI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
- The Winds of Winter, The Forsaken
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 42, The King's Prize.