From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
The ironborn, also known as the ironmen by those they raid, 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 men from the green lands also call the ironmen squids.
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 Way.
The Old Way
- Main article: Old Way
The Old Way is 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 suited for the task. Their swift shallow wooden longships allow them to mount raids on the coasts of Westeros and further inland via river and streams. They are still remembered for this over three hundred years since their last major raiding and pillaging streak.
The ironborn are daring masters of the sea, fearless of drowning and thus tend to wear heavier armor than other sailors. In battle they will try to board enemy ships and slaughter the crew. On land they strike fast and move on before local forces can muster.
The mighty Iron Fleet commanded by Lord Captain 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.
Similar to the northern mountain clans, some heads of noble houses in the Iron Islands do not use the title "lord", but are referred to only by their house name, such as "the Sparr" and "the Stonehouse". Amongst his many titles, Balon Greyjoy includes "the Greyjoy". Aeron Greyjoy refers to Meldred Merlyn as "the Merlyn", while Meldred styles himself "Lord" in the manner of the green lands of mainland Westeros.
|“||Cruel places breed cruel peoples, Bran, remember that as you deal with these ironmen.||”|
|“||I do not propose to climb in bed with that sorry pack of squids. Their turn will come, once we have dealt with Stannis.||”|