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 Karhold in the North. They are a cadet branch of their overlords, the Starks, and are among their principal bannermen[1]. Karstarks are big, fierce men, bearded and long-haired, with brown hair and blue-grey eyes, 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".[2]

Contents

History

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.[3] 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.[3] East of Karhold are the Grey Cliffs.

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 to Winterfell, singing hymns and marching to the rhythm of a big drum. The Karstark family enters the castle to pay their respects to the Starks, wearing black iron halfhelms and black woolen cloaks patterned with the white sunburst. Bran Stark overhears Eddard Karstark muttering to his brother Torrhen that he would sooner die than live crippled as Bran. Torrhen replies that Bran is likely broken inside, but is too craven to take his own life.

On the march south, the Karhold men quarter in the Drunkard's Tower at Moat Cailin. Catelyn Tully warns her son Robb that he cannot seem indecisive in front of men like Roose Bolton and Rickard Karstark. When the Stark host splits at the Twins, Rickard's heir Harrion leads the Karstark spears with Lord 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.

Among others, Tyrion Lannister sees the Karstark sunburst among the enemy banners at the Green Fork. He follows Ser Gregor Clegane's charge against a double crescent of Karstark spearmen waiting behind tall oaken shields with the sigil of Karhold. Harrion is captured during the Battle of the Green Fork and brought to Harrenhal.

Rickard desires vengeance for his sons, but Jaime is needed as a prisoner. After the Battle of the Camps, Rickard Karstark is seen by Catelyn praying at Riverrun's godswood with Robb and other followers of the old gods. He is perceived by Catelyn as a man in a nightmare, gaunt and hollow-eyed in his grief. 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

The Karstarks are one of the families with ties to House Hornwood through the female line, and thus one of the houses interested on the inheritance of the Hornwood lands after the deaths of Lord Halys Hornwood and his heir, Daryn.

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.

Tyrion Lannister, the acting Hand of the King, plans to exchange Harrion Karstark and Ser Wylis Manderly for Willem Lannister, but the negotiations fail. 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.

Arnolf Karstark, the castellan of Karhold, sent regrets to Winterfell that they cannot send help to Ser Rodrik Cassel against the ironborn because all the men had gone south with Robb. Theon Greyjoy notices few Karstark banners among the army commanded by Rodrik that gathers at Winterfell to expel the ironmen.

A Storm of Swords

After the Sack of Winterfell, Bran Stark considers going to the Umbers or the Karstarks, whom he considers loyal. He remembers that his father Eddard Starkalways said Karhold was a strong castle.

In the Battle of Duskendale, Harrion is captured 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 Tully had freed Jaime Lannister from captivity in an effort to retrieve her daughters, Rickard feels she has robbed him of his vengeance. Driven to desperation, 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, as Rickard has promised the hand of his daughter Alys to whomever brings him Jaime's head.[4]

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 are part of the force that Lord Bolton keeps with him after the Battle of the Ruby Ford. They march with Lord Bolton to the Twins for the wedding between Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey.[5]

Maester Aemon sends a raven to Karhold in a plea for help to defend Castle Black from wildlings.

A Feast for Crows

Brienne of Tarth spots the badge of House Karstark among those that have been collected from the dead around Duskendale.[6]

Ser Roger Hogg, the Knight of Sow's Horn in the Crownlands, tells Ser Jaime Lannister that he had been attacked by men wearing the white sunburst. Ser Daven Lannister confesses to Jaime that he had sworn not to cut his hair until avenging his father, Ser Stafford Lannister, but he could not accomplish his goal once Rickard Karstark was executed by Robb.

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.[7] Secretly, however, Arnolf is in a plot with the Boltons[8] 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.[9]

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. Should Harrion die, lordship of Karhold would pass to Alys and the newly-founded House Thenn.[10] Jon 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.[11]

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:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unknown Karstark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Arnolf
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rickard
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cregan
 
 
 
Arthor
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Harrion
 
Torrhen
 
Eddard
 
Alys
 
Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn
 
Three Sons
 
 
 


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