From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
The ironborn, also known as the ironmen, are the natives of the Iron Islands off the west coast of Westeros. The ironmen are fierce men of the sea, and their naval supremacy was once unmatched, their dark legacy of raids and pillage of the hinterlands of the western and southern regions granting them, to this day, a fearsome reputation as the "terror of the seas". Ironborn women may fight as well as a man, and may crew a longship or even captain their own ships. It is said that the sea gives them the appetites of a man. Bastards born in the Iron Islands are given the surname Pyke.
The Iron Islands were settled by the First Men many thousands of years ago. Somewhat isolated from the rest of Westeros, they did not take up the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest, instead creating their own religion based around the Drowned God and the Seastone Chair, which they allegedly found already standing on the shores of Old Wyk when they arrived. When the Andals overran Westeros and conquered the Iron Islands, they intermingled with the natives. Whilst a few locals converted to the Faith of the Seven, it did not fully take hold and worship of the Drowned God continued.
Under the rule of House Hoare, the ironborn reached the zenith of their power approximately four centuries ago. They ruled over the Riverlands and much of the western coast of Westeros. After the War of Conquest the ironborn were thrown back to their islands with Harren the Black and all his line extinguished. The ironborn were subjects of the Seven Kingdoms and the king's peace for almost three hundred years, until nine years after the War of the Usurper, when they revolted in an attempt to restore the Old Ways.
The Old Ways
- Main article: Old Way
The Old Ways are still highly regarded on the Iron Islands. The Old Way embodies the remembered values of a culture based on raiding. A man's worth was judged primarily on his skill as a raider, as evidenced in the disdain jewelry and ornament bought with coin. Men on the Iron Islands wear no tokens unless they have "paid the iron price," i.e. won by combat and taken from the corpses of they have slain.
During raids, the ironborn also took captives. Many of their captives would work as thralls, slaving away on the farms and mines of the Iron Islands since the true sons of the Iron Islands are meant for more than such drudgery. Women were also taken captive to act as bed warmers; a man could have several "salt wives" but only one true ironborn wife, his "rock wife".
- Main article: Drowned God
The ironborn follow the Drowned God, a harsh deity said to dwell beneath the oceans. They believe the Drowned God made them to take what they wanted by right of strength, to rape, reave and carve out kingdoms and to make their names known in fire, blood, steel, and song. From birth they commit their bodies to the sea and join their god when they die. The clergy of the Drowned God are the Drowned Men, who are drowned and then resuscitated.
The ironborn ways and legacy of raiding has left them particularly toned for the task. Their swift shallow wooden longships, allow them to mount raids on the coasts of Westeros and far inland by river and stream, for which they are still remembered over three hundred years since their last major raiding and pillaging streak. Almost every house has at least one longship.
The ironborn are daring masters of the sea, fearless of drowning and thus more heavily armored at sea than is typical. In battle, they will try to board enemy ships and slaughter the crews and on land they keep to the lands, striking fast and moving on before local forces could muster.
The mighty Iron Fleet commanded by Victarion Greyjoy consists of galleys which can stand against the largest warships produced elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms. However, the ability of the ironborn to build larger ships is compromised by a lack of natural resources.
- Ironborn shall not spill the blood of ironborn.
- The finger dance is a common and dangerous game played between the ironborn.