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The Iron Islands is one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms, and it was formerly a sovereign nation under the same name, until the War of Conquest. The Iron Islands are home to a fierce seafaring people who call themselves the ironborn and are ruled by House Greyjoy from the castle of Pyke. It is often said that every captain is a king aboard his own ship, so the islands are also called the land of ten thousand kings.
The Iron Islands is an archipelago in Ironman's Bay, located in the Sunset Sea off the western coast of Westeros. They are roughly west of the Riverlands, northwest of the Westerlands, and south of the North. The seven major islands are Pyke, Great Wyk, Old Wyk, Harlaw, Saltcliffe, Blacktyde, and Orkmont. The Lonely Light, located eight days sail northwest of Great Wyk, is the most distant of the islands. The Iron Islands is the smallest of the regions of the Seven Kingdoms, but Dorne is the least populous.
The Iron Islands are small, barely-fertile rocks with few safe harbours. The seas around the islands are stormy, frequently wreaking havoc with their considerable force.
The islands are ruled from the island of Pyke, the seat of House Greyjoy. Pyke bears an ancient fortress of the same name built atop several natural rocky towers jutting out of the sea. Connected by treacherous rope bridges, it would be a major challenge for any invading army. Pyke once extended as a spur of land like a sword out of the sea, but that outcropping has long since shattered, and it is now in essence three separate isles.
- Main article: Ironborn
The inhabitants of these harsh isles are known as ironmen, especially by the rest of Westeros, but they also call themselves the ironborn. They are men of the sea, and their naval supremacy was once unmatched. They are considered independent, fierce and sometimes cruel. They live in a harsh land and they hold no love for the peoples of the mainland and their soft green ways. The Faith of the Seven of the Andals and the old gods find small favor with the ironborn, as their allegiance is given to their native Drowned God. Many ironborn believe in returning to the Old Way of reaving and paying the iron price.
According to a semi-canon source from 2005, the isles can raise approximately twenty thousand men and five hundred longships. The Iron Fleet alone consists of one hundred ships which are three times larger than the standard longship, however, and George R. R. Martin has indicated that the major lords of the ironborn can each float around a hundred ships. A longship such as Sea Bitch has fifty oars, while Great Kraken and Iron Victory are larger. The only fleets comparable to those of the Iron Islands are the royal fleet in the Crownlands and the Redwyne fleet at the Arbor.
The islands are sparse and rocky with a thin, stony soil that makes it hard for the smallfolk to farm, often having to do without the animals that might make their job easier, such as oxen or horses. Their mines do not produce the precious metals of the Westerlands; iron, lead and tin can be obtained, but only through backbreaking labour. With so little wealth on the islands themselves, it is not difficult to understand why the ironborn of old turned to raiding.
The Iron Islands were settled by the First Men many thousands of years ago. Legends claim that the First Men discovered what would be called the Seastone Chair upon the shores of Old Wyk. For much of their history, each island was its own kingdom and had its own two kings: a rock king (who ruled the land) and a salt king (who commanded at sea), with a High King chosen at kingsmoot by these petty kings. This changed 5,000 years prior to Greyjoy's Rebellion, when King Urron Redhand slaughtered the assembled kings and established a hereditary throne. His dynasty, House Greyiron, lasted a thousand years, until the Andals swept over the Iron Islands.
Under the rule of House Hoare, the ironborn managed to bring much of the western coast of Westeros under the rule of the Iron Island, including lands as far as Bear Island, the Arbor, and Oldtown. Although those lands were eventually lost, Harwyn Hardhand conquered the Trident from the Storm King Arrec. Harwyn's grandson, King Harren the Black, ordered the construction of Harrenhal, an enormous castle on the northern shore of the Gods Eye in the Riverlands. The building of Harrenhal over forty years beggared both the Iron Islands and the Riverlands.
The Hoare line ended with the deaths of Harren and his sons during the Targaryens' War of Conquest. Inspired by Aegon Targaryen, Lord Edmyn Tully led the river lords in rebellion against the Hoares at Harrenhal. Harren refused to yield to Aegon and the castle was too strong to storm, so Aegon rode his dragon Balerion over the walls and roasted King Harren and his sons in their tower. With Harren's death the river lords threw the ironborn back to their islands. Submitting to Aegon and the Iron Throne, the ironborn chose House Greyjoy of Pyke to rule as Aegon's vassal.
In 289AC Lord Balon Greyjoy led an uprising of the Iron Islands against the Iron Throne in a bid for independence. The Greyjoy Rebellion was crushed by King Robert Baratheon, however. Balon's only surviving son, Theon Greyjoy, was taken to the North as a ward of Lord Eddard Stark.
A Clash of Kings
When warfare erupts in Westeros after the death of King Robert Baratheon, Lord Balon Greyjoy takes advantage of the instability and declares independence for the Iron Islands. Rather than ally with King Robb Stark against House Lannister, Balon sends the ironborn to occupy key positions in the North and declares himself King of the Iron Islands and the North.
A Feast for Crows
Aeron Greyjoy declares a kingsmoot as the proper way to raise the next King of the Iron Islands after the death of King Balon. This move is made by Aeron to end a potential civil war between the ironborn and to prevent Euron Greyjoy from taking the Seastone Chair. However, Euron is chosen king despite the efforts of Aeron, Victarion Greyjoy, and Asha Greyjoy.
Euron promises to conquer all of Westeros for the ironborn and expands their war. The castellan, Erik Ironmaker, rules the Iron Islands in Euron's absence while he is on campaign.
A Dance with Dragons
House Blacktyde of Blacktyde.
House Botley of Lordsport.
House Drumm of Old Wyk.
House Farwynd of the Lonely Light.
House Farwynd of Sealskin Point.
House Goodbrother of Corpse Lake.
House Goodbrother of Crow Spike Keep.
House Goodbrother of Downdelving.
House Goodbrother of the Hammerhorn.
House Goodbrother of Orkmont.
House Goodbrother of Shatterstone.
House Greyiron of Orkmont.
House Greyjoy of Pyke.
House Harlaw of Grey Garden.
House Harlaw of Harlaw Hall.
House Harlaw of Harridan Hill.
House Harlaw of the Ten Towers.
House Harlaw of the Tower of Glimmering.
House Hoare of Orkmont.
House Kenning of Harlaw.
House Merlyn of Pebbleton.
House Myre of Harlaw.
House Orkwood of Orkmont.
House Saltcliffe of Saltcliffe.
House Sparr of Great Wyk.
House Stonehouse of Old Wyk.
House Stonetree of Harlaw.
House Sunderly of Saltcliffe.
House Tawney of Orkmont.
House Volmark of Volmark.
House Wynch of Iron Holt.
|“||The islands are stern and stony places, scant of comfort and bleak of prospect. Death is never far here, and life is mean and meagre. Men spend their nights drinking ale and arguing over whose lot is worse, the fisherfolk who fight the sea or the farmers who and scratch a crop from the poor thin soil. If truth be told, the miners have it worse than either, breaking their backs down in the dark, and for what? Iron, lead, tin, those are our treasures. Small wonder the ironmen of old turned to raiding.||”|
References and Sources
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- ↑ A Game of Thrones RPG and Resource Book, Guardians of Order
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor (Victarion 0).
- ↑ So Spake Martin: Re: Greyjoy Fleet
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 24, Theon.
- ↑ So Spake Martin: The Lannister Fleet
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon, p 168.
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn.
- ↑ So Spake Martin: Chicon 7 Reading
- ↑ A Clash of Kings, Chapter 26, Arya.
- ↑ The Sworn Sword.
- ↑ The Mystery Knight.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
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