House Karstark

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House Karstark of Karhold
House Karstark.PNG
Coat of arms Sable, a sunburst argent
Words The Sun of Winter
Seat Karhold
Current Lord Harrion Karstark
Region The North
Title Lord of Karhold
Heir Alys Karstark
Overlord House Bolton
Founder Karlon Stark
Founded One thousand years ago

House Karstark of Karhold is a noble house from the North and is a cadet branch of their overlords, House Stark. Karstarks are big, fierce men, bearded and long-haired, and favor wearing cloaks made of the pelts of seals, bears, and wolves. Their blazon is a white sunburst on black and their motto is "The Sun of Winter".[1]



The Karstarks are descendants of the First Men and have the blood of the Starks of Winterfell in their veins from a thousand years before. Their founder was Karlon Stark, who put down a rebel lord and was granted lands for his valor.[2] The castle he built was named Karl's Hold, but that soon became Karhold, and over the centuries the Karhold Starks became Karstarks. Karhold lies far to the northeast of Winterfell in the midst of a forest beyond the Last River, overlooking the Shivering Sea.[2]

Lord Rickard Karstark fought alongside Eddard Stark at the Battle of the Trident.

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

The Karstarks answer the call of Robb Stark when he calls the banners of the North. Led by Lord Rickard and his sons, Harrion, Eddard, and Torrhen, they bring three hundred horse and near two thousand foot on the march south with Robb, singing hymns and marching to the rhythm of a big drum. On the march south, the Karhold men quarter in the Drunkard's Tower at Moat Cailin. When the Stark host splits at the Twins, Rickard's heir Harrion leads the Karstark spears with Lord Roose Bolton's infantry, while Rickard and his other sons accompany Robb with their cavalry. Eddard and Torrhen are two of the thirty sons of lords who ride with the Young Wolf during the Battle of the Whispering Wood, where they are killed by Jaime Lannister; meanwhile Harrion is captured during the Battle of the Green Fork and brought to Harrenhal. Rickard desires vengeance, but Jaime is needed as a prisoner. Still, Lord Rickard remains loyal and is the second man to proclaim Robb the King in the North after Lord Greatjon Umber.

A Clash of Kings

Lord Karstark campaigns with Robb through the Westerlands, driving a lance through Ser Stafford Lannister's chest at the Battle of Oxcross and raiding along the coast thereafter along with Galbart Glover.

When Roose Bolton takes Harrenhal, Harrion is released from captivity. Lord Bolton sends him as part of Robett Glover and Ser Helman Tallhart's force to take Duskendale.

A Storm of Swords

In the Battle of Duskendale, Harrion is captured again by Lord Randyll Tarly's army, and is held at Maidenpool. The Karstarks that survive the battle rejoin Roose Bolton's forces.

Lord Karstark returns from the Westerlands with the rest of Robb's army. Finding that Catelyn Stark had freed Jaime Lannister from captivity in an effort to retrieve her daughters, Rickard is driven to desperation for revenge. He and seven of his men murder the captive squires Tion Frey and Willem Lannister, killing two Tully men in the process. Meanwhile, his cavalry scours the Riverlands for Ser Jaime. For his crime, Robb Stark sentences Rickard to death and beheads him. In his speech before his execution, Rickard appeals to his and his family's loyalty to House Stark, and curses Robb with an accusation of kinslaying due to the ancient relation between Karstarks and Starks. After the execution of Lord Rickard, the Karstark cavalry breaks away from the rest of the northmen and returns to Karhold.

The Karstark infantry march with Lord Bolton to the Twins.[3] They are part of the force that he keeps with him after the Battle of the Ruby Ford.

A Dance with Dragons

With the death of Lord Rickard, Harrion Karstark becomes the new Lord of Karhold. With Harrion in Lannister captivity, however, Rickard's uncle Arnolf Karstark, the castellan of Karhold, declares for King Stannis Baratheon. House Karstark is the only major northern house to do so.[4] Secretly, however, Arnolf is in a plot with the Boltons[5] to provoke the Lannisters into executing Harrion and then marry his son Cregan to Rickard's daughter Alys, and then turning against Stannis when his forces reach Winterfell.[6] Alys flees to the Wall seeking Lord Commander Jon Snow's help, and reveals the situation. Arnolf's plot to claim Karhold is foiled when Jon arranges a marriage between Alys and Sigorn, the Magnar of Thenn, and sends a raven to Stannis informing him of Arnolf's treachery. Cregan arrives at Castle Black only to find Alys already wed, and he is thrown into an ice cell. He is given the choice to join the Night's Watch and be cleared of all crimes or wait for the return of King Stannis and be executed for treason.

The Winds of Winter

Stannis learns of Arnolf's plot thanks to a letter sent by Jon Snow. Stannis summons Arnolf, his son Arthor, and his three grandchildren, to his presence under the pretext of breaking fast. Stannis's knights surround and arrest the Karstarks, injuring two of the grandchildren in the process. Stannis offers the Karstarks a choice between cooperation and being granted swift deaths, or being burned alive.

House Karstark at the end of the third century

The known Karstarks during the timespan of the events described in A Song of Ice and Fire are:

Cregan Karstark
Arthor Karstark
of the
Three Sons

References in A Song of Ice and Fire

References and Notes

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