A Song of Ice and Fire/Characters/House Greyjoy
The rulers of the Ironmen, the warlike seafaring culture of the Iron Islands. The Greyjoys used to make their living by raiding mainland Westeros and are actually proud of raping the women of their victims. As their house words show, they take pride in the fact that they perform no honest labor of their own, preferring to steal from others instead. They do not consider themselves members of the Seven Kingdoms, and will rise up at the first opportunity. House Greyjoy and their people have similarities to both the Vikings and the North Irish, since they are driven by a generational hatred against the mainland oppressors. Their seat is at Pyke and their sigil a golden kraken.
"No man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown".
The head of House Greyjoy at the start of the series, brother of Aeron, Victarion and Euron, father of Asha and Theon. A cold, grimly determined and humorless man who wants to return the Ironmen to the heights of their historical power, before Aegon the Conquerer destroyed their holdings on the mainland. He rebelled once against Robert's regime when it was still new, only to be defeated and have two of his sons killed while Theon, the last, was taken as a hostage for his good behavior. When he hears about the new war breaking out, he knows it is time to strike again...
- Abusive Parent: Towards Theon only, not Asha, who is his favorite and who he wants to inherit the Seastone Chair over Theon.
- Best Served Cold: Spent the last 10 years plotting to get even with Robert and Ned. With them both dead, and despite realizing that their deaths didn't gain him anything, he's still perfectly happy trying to take revenge on the other Starks and The North in general.
- Determinator: You can tell Balon all you want about his past defeats, his dead sons, personal tragedies, or that he can't hold the territory he means to conquer. Balon doesn't care, he's going to do it anyway.
- Divide and Conquer: The key to his plans for The North.
- I Have Many Names: A lot of Westerosi lords like adding on extra titles, but Balon goes way overboard: Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of Salt and Rock, Son of the Sea Wind.
- Killed Off for Real: And off-screen no less, with the perpetrator almost certainly being a Faceless Man sent by his brother Euron.
- Lean and Mean
- Misblamed: An in universe example, as he blames Ned Stark personally for the death of his two sons during his rebellion. One son was killed in a battle that Ned had nothing to do with, the other died in a tower that collapsed when it was hit by a catapult.
- Revenge Before Reason: Passes up a plan to get fabulously wealthy by striking Lannisport to take revenge on the North.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Appears in a grand total of 2 Theon chapters before dying offscreen, but in that time he effectively destroys the chances of the Starks to win the war.
- Too Dumb to Live: This pretty much sums up his strategy for the War of the Five Kings. He basically had two options: side with the North and try to keep the realms divided and too weak to stop him from reviving the old way, or side with the Lannisters against the Starks and hope for some generous concessions when the Starks have been crushed. He tries to Take a Third Option, seceding and taking on the Starks at the same time. So even if he defeats the Starks, it will just allow the Seven Kingdoms to consolidate and crush his tiny rebellion that much faster.
"Only a fool humbles himself when the world is so full of men eager to do that job for him."
Last surviving son of Balon Greyjoy, after his elder brothers were killed in an ill-fated rebellion, and heir to the Iron Islands. Eddard Stark took him hostage after Balon's uprising ended, and Theon is a reluctant member of the Stark household as the story begins. Skilled fighter, ladies' man, and a schemer whose ambition is much bigger than his ability. His constant desperation to prove himself sets him up as the main villain of the second book. By the fifth book he's been driven through insanity and out the other end by Ramsay Bolton's tortures, and now has a few less fingers, toes and teeth. His mind shifts from his new identity of Reek, Ramsay's slave, to his memories of who he once was and back again.
- The Archer
- Becoming the Mask: All right, not so much becoming as being viciously tortured until your mind snaps.
- Also, his discovery that he really wanted to be a Stark, and thus that his affection for them was not merely for show, might count as this.
- Break the Haughty: To the extreme, and in the absolute most sadistic way possible. Compare his chapters in Clash of Kings to his chapters in Dance with Dragons and you'll find there is scarcely anything left of the arrogant snake we once knew.
- Butt Monkey: He becomes this to his family upon his return home.
- Casanova: Not quite up to doing Anything That Moves, but definitely has a prodigious sexual appetite.
- Character Development: As mentioned below, he is too much Greyjoy to be a Stark and too much Stark to be a Greyjoy. He is caught between trying to please his Greyjoy family and wanting to be a respected and loved (rather than feared,) ruler like Ned Stark.
- The Dandy: And it's not appreciated when he returns to the Iron Islands.
- It would be fine if he had "paid the iron price" for his finery (read: taken it by force), rather than paying with gold.
- Death Seeker: In A Dance with Dragons, he prays to the weirwood tree in Winterfell to "Let me die as Theon, not as Reek."
- Face Heel Turn: In A Clash of Kings.
- A Dance With Dragons sees him trying to drag himself back the other way, despite having fewer fingers to do the dragging with now.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Ramsay Bolton held Theon prisoner in the Dreadfort, torturing him into insanity by peeling off his skin inch by inch and apparently castrating him. The result of this is that Ramsay now has another slave called Reek...most of the time...
- Foil: To Jon Snow. Both are outsiders raised at Winterfell who are suffering from identity issues that have left them bitter and with the desire to prove themselves. While Jon Snow has been scorned all his life for being a bastard who does not even know the identity of his mother, he has risen to Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and might possibly be the heir to the Iron Throne. Theon is the heir of the Iron Islands, failed at keeping Winterfell after he captured it in an effort to gain affection from his father, and was later tortured into thinking he was a commoner named Reek.
- Groin Attack: It is heavily implied that Ramsay Bolton either castrated Theon or at best mutilated his genitals.
- Heel Face Turn: In his final chapter in A Dance with Dragons, he breaks free of Ramsay's psychological domination over him long enough to rescue Jeyne Poole and escape from Winterfell. His final words in ADWD suggest that he might have broken free for good, as he now positively identifies himself as Theon, despite being so mutilated that his sister doesn't recognise him anymore.
- Humiliation Conga: From the time he returns to the Iron Islands to the time he loses Winterfell to Ramsay Bolton is one long string of humiliations for him. Even capturing the mighty fortress of Winterfell with only a handful of fighters is a humiliation rather than a Crowning Moment of Awesome, because it is blindingly obvious to everyone except him that he has no chance of holding the place.
- The humilation conga ends when the Trauma Conga Line begins, (see below).
- It's All About Me
- Jerkass: Like father, like son.
- Jerk Jock: Theon is definitely this, especially with his treatment of women.
- Line in the Sand
- Madness Mantra: "Reek, Reek, it rhymes with leek/sneak/weak/peek..." and "You have to know your name!"
- Mind Rape As Redemption: Theon is a Smug Snake Jerkass, but he's so broken by Ramsay Bolton's physical, mental, and sexual abuse that it's impossible not to pity him.
- Moral Event Horizon: During his takeover of Winterfell, Bran and Rickon escape, so Theon (thinking it's better to be hated than laughed at) mounts their heads on the wall. It's not really Bran and Rickon, just a miller's children, but the fact remains that he beheaded two innocent children in a desperate attempt to maintain his authority. He then threatens to do it again later to Ser Rodrick's daughter, who he had grown up with in Winterfell. It's really hard to feel sorry for him after this.
- It is testament to just how terrible his torture at the hands of Ramsay Bolton was that most readers do actually feel sorry for him.
- Never My Fault: Though in A Dance with Dragons he finally does admit responsibility for his crimes, it takes him being reduced to a broken shell of a man for him to do so.
- Raised by Natives: The first 10 years with the Greyjoys and the later 10 with the Starks. The result? He is too much of a Stark to be a Greyjoy, and too much of a Greyjoy to be a Stark.
- In a Dance with Dragons, he comes to the realization that all he ever wanted was to be a Stark, which he never could be.
- Rape by Proxy: Ramsay Bolton orders "Reek" to assist him in the bedding of his new wife "Arya " On the wedding night.
- Slave to PR: Desperately wants the approval of his family, and bitterly resents it that even his efforts to Pet the Dog after taking Winterfell are met with contempt.
- Smug Snake: Theon's combination of smugness and self-pitying angst is extremely annoying.
- Smug Smiler: Lampshaded quite a bit, his tendency to keep up a smile in even the most inappropriate situations is perhaps his most memorable feature. Other characters describe it as if the situation is some kind of joke that only he's clever enough to understand. It's one of the main reasons why several characters can't bring themselves to like him.
- Ramsay Bolton took note of this, too. And didn't like it. Which is why, as of Dance of Dragons, Theon is missing teeth and never smiles anymore.
- And, again, it's a testament to Martin's writing that when he finally *does* break into an obnoxious smirk after realizing that no matter how much he pisses off the spearwives, they can't kill him without endangering their plan, you actually want to cheer for him.
- Trauma Conga Line: Everything that happened to him while Ramsay Bolton's prisoner. Anything that can turn a child-murderer into a Woobie is pretty horrific.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: His whole motivation is to get Balon's approval.
- The discovery that his real desire has always been to be a Stark implies that he might have had some of this towards Ned Stark.
Balon's only daughter and an accomplished raider. A strong-willed and independent lady, Asha is very ambitious and often enjoys teasing her weaker brother, Theon. Popular with the crew of the ship she captains but resents the unwillingness of the ironmen to accept a female leader.
- Action Girl
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: When she is captured by Stannis in A Dance With Dragons, she wasted no time in submitting to him, without a hint of defiance. Apparently, this was taught by her father: as long as you bend the knee, you can rise up again, sword in hand. If you're dead, well, you have no choice but to stay down.
- All Love Is Unrequited: She shuns her Childhood Friend Romance Tristifer, even though He's All Grown Up--and quite handsome by her own admission--because she's convinced he's too kindhearted for her.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Averted. She acts seductive with Theon only to embarrass him.
- Daddy's Girl: The otherwise staunchly traditional Balon wanted her to be his heir.
- Daddy's Little Villain: She certainly fits the letter of this trope, if not the name.
- Hot Amazon
- "It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It": A Dance With Dragons reveals that Qarl the Maid is her long-time lover. This is shown by a lengthy description of him raping her; halfway through it becomes clear that it's roleplay, and that Qarl is, in fact, her lover. Apparently she considers this par for the course.
- The Ladette
- Lighter and Softer: Though many of the characters got a little of this between the adaptation between books and series, Asha's probably the most prominent example. Besides a name change, she went from being power hungry, self-serving, and cruel to being borderline heroic (for an Iron Islander) and actually caring about Theon.
- Only Sane Woman: To a degree. She's the only one who sees that this uprising is as doomed as the last one and that there's no way the Ironborn can hold the North or gain anything from their conquests. Furthermore she attempts to talk Theon out of his idiocy of trying to rule Winterfell, and in ADWD she becomes one of the few POV characters to think about just how much damage the war has done to the realm.
- Pirate Girl
- Rebellious Princess: Subverted.
- She's All Grown Up: Theon, not recognizing her after first coming home in ten years, immediately tries to seduce her. Victarion has a moment of this too, when he thinks Asha is suggesting that she be his queen.
- Stepford Smiler: She is implied to be this, in order to fit in as a female leader in the violent, male-dominated Iron Islands society. The first time we see her use the quote about the ax and the dagger, it's awesome. When she starts repeating it, it comes across as a rehearsed defense mechanism.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Feels this way a lot among her fellow Ironborn.
"The Drowned God helps bold men, not those who cower below their decks when the storm is rising."
Once a laid-back fellow who partied too hard, Aeron suffered a Near-Death Experience that left him a changed man. As a fervent priest of the Drowned God, he is fiercely dedicated to his faith and seeks to hold the Iron Islands to the old traditions. Needless to say, having Theon (whom he sees as weak), Asha (who seeks to disrupt the patriarchal order of House Greyjoy), and Euron (self-explanatory) in his family complicates this.
- The Fundamentalist
- Heel Faith Turn: He abandons his vices after surviving a ship wreck.
- Holier Than Thou
- Instant Oracle, Just Add Water: He receives his prophetic visions by immersing himself in seawater; justified as he worships a god of the sea.
- Knight Templar
- Large Ham: "NO GODLESS MAN MAY SIT THE SEASTONE CHAIR!"
- Near-Death Experience
- Rape as Drama: It's strongly implied that Euron sexually abused him as a child. This is the source of the bedroom door's screaming hinge, and the reason he hates Euron so much.
- Red Baron: He is much more commonly called Damphair or The Damphair than his real name due to his habit of bathing in the ocean. Similarly, his followers are called The Drowned Men.
- Status Quo Is God: His primary motivation.
- Wild Hair: In addition to only bathing in salt water, he weaves seaweed into his beard.
"Wizards may be well and good, but blood and steel win wars. Bring me wine."
Younger brother of Balon and heir-apparent to the Seastone Chair, Victarion is everything a Greyjoy should be: strong, duty-bound and honorable. He is a powerful fighter, but has no great ambition beyond engaging in great battles. Though he prefers reaving and war to the complex world of politics, having only Asha and Euron as the alternatives to the throne forces him to throw his lot in at the Kingsmoot.
- An Axe to Grind
- Animal Motifs: The kraken of his house is displayed prominently on his armour.
- Badass: He's perhaps the greatest warrior in the recent history of the Ironborn, and pretty much the physically strongest character in the canon after he gets his augmentation.
- Badass Abnormal: After Moqorro heals his arm with magic, causing it to appear burned while also massively increasing his already prodigious strength.
- Took a Level in Badass: Not that he particularly need it, but in A Dance with Dragons, he gets a super-strong new arm and is poised to claim the dragon horn Euron gave him.
- Four-Star Badass: He's pretty much the Commander-in-Chief of the Ironborn armies.
- Blood Knight: He likes battle, especially when the enemy puts up a good fight.
- The Berserker: "Come!" he roared, "Come and kill me if you can."
- The Brute/The Dragon: Although he acted in the role of The Dragon for Balon and later for Euron after the Kingsmoot, he really prefers acting as The Brute; he doesn't want to have to bother dealing with the complicated worlds of politics and religion, he just wants to be set loose on the battlefield.
- Cool Helmet: Forged in the visage of a kraken.
- The Captain: not just of his own ship, but of the entire Iron Fleet.
- Divided We Fall: Asha warns him that they have to work together to keep Euron from being selected King. He laughs it off, refusing to make her his Number Two because it goes against tradition. Too bad, because the support of Asha and her followers might have been enough to win the throne.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Whatever Moqorro did to heal his hand had some impact on his personality, making him even more violent and brutal.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He does a lot of bad things, (believing all the while that what he's doing is right, of course) but the cruelty and excesses of Euron disgust him.
- Evil Laugh: Victarion does not like laughter; he was the butt of too many cruel japes from Balon, Euron and Aeron as a boy. But then Moqorro heals his rotting hand...
- The Fettered: Victarion is rigidly loyal to Ironmen traditions, even when it forces him to do things he doesn't want to do. His chains might be coming off, though, because when Euron, now his rightful king after the kingsmoot, sends him east to bring back Daenerys Targaryen so that Euron can wed her, he decides to take her for himself instead.
- The Gwen Stacy: Victarion loved his wife; this was good. Euron seduced (or possibly raped) his wife; that was not. Victarion was angry; that's understandable. Victarion beat his wife to death, because that's what a real ironborn has to do when his wife cheats on him.
- Horny Vikings: Arguably, he's one of the few who truly has this trope amongst the Ironborn. Great warrior and Blood Knight? Check. Axe armed? Check. Sea-born adventuring? Check. The only think he's missing is a Badass Beard. And his description in the book is bare-bones, so that hasn't stopped more than a few fan artists from giving him one.
- Obliviously Evil: Victarion does many monstrously evil actions, but doesn't see them that way because he's so devoted to Ironborn morals and traditions to be consciously evil. 'Evil' is also such a relative thing in this setting...
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Given that the Ironborn are basically Vikings, this was to be expected.
- Double Standard Rape (Male on Male): Doesn't quite have this attitude, but certainly does not see it as a big deal. When a maester on his ship comes to him to tell him that three men dragged him into the hold and "used him as a woman", Victarion treats it as a tiresome complaint, and simply tells him to man up and gives him a dagger to stop it happening again (despite being well aware the man will probably not be able to use it.) Later, when his arm is hurt, he tells the same maester "I'll make the crew a gift of your arse" if he can't heal him.
- Real Men Love The Drowned God: Victarion is a very, very religious man. So much so that he has no fear of drowning and wears extremely heavy (and protective) armour even while sailing. In the Ironborn's faith, if a man dies by drowning the Drowned God take his souls to his watery halls (think Valhalla with a slight underwater theme) to drink and fight and feast and fuck mermaids (don't think too hard about the last part) for eternity. After Moqorro heals his arm he starts worshiping R'hilor a bit on the side too.
- Right Hand of Doom: The "volcanic arm" he gets after being healed by Moqorro in ADWD.
- The Starscream: To Euron
- Sergeant Rock
- Super Strength: He's about as strong as a normal human can get, and after his infected hand/arm is healed by Moqorro, it's indicated that he becomes significantly stronger than he was before.
- Villain Protagonist: Not so much in A Feast For Crows, in which he comes across as an honorable warrior (albeit a rather bloodthirsty one), but his chapters in A Dance With Dragons are basically one long strong of Obliviously Evil dog-kicking.
- Specifically, his fleet encounters a large number of slavers. He kills the slavers (good), but he also kills and mistreats a lot of the slaves too (not good).
- Warrior Prince: One of the best examples in the series.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Averted, because to the other Ironmen he was doing what's proper and right when a man's wife strays. The closest anyone comes to calling him on it is Asha's sad reaction when she finally learns the truth. "I feel sorry for you... and sorrier for her."
- World's Strongest Man: He contested this position with Gregor Clegane, even before his enhancement. Now that Gregor's dead (seemingly) and with his new super-strong arm, he's likely the strongest man period.
"One presumed to threaten me, so I killed him and fed him to the other three. They refused to eat of their friend's flesh at first, but when they grew hungry enough they had a change of heart. Men are meat."
Also known as "Crow's Eye," Euron is a cunning pirate who was banished from his home by his family after he seduced Victarion's wife, forbidden to return for as long as his brother Balon lived. The day after Balon died, Euron returned. He wears an eyepatch and is feared by those around him for his reputation for cruelty and mind games. His longship is called the Silence, because all its crewmembers have had their tongues ripped out.
- Batman Gambit: He relies on it in many cases. He sometimes has a tendency to misjudge people and their values, however.
- Black Sheep: And in this family that means something.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Has his moments; his recollection of a dream in which he could fly (see below) has him mention that when he woke up he was told by everyone that it was just a dream and that (obviously) he can't really fly. He then says something to the effect of: "But how can I know for certain that I can't fly unless I try by jumping out of the window?", and he implies that he would be willing to risk almost certain death to find out.
- Dead Baby Comedy: Most of his evil deeds involve this.
- The Dreaded: More like the hated. Victarion would have killed him if not for his rigid adherence to Ironborn law.
- The Evil Genius: Appears to have been his role in the Greyjoy family before Balon banished him.
- Eyepatch of Power: Adds to his sinister reputation; It has yet to be explained what lurks beneath it.
- His visible eye is frequently called his "smiling eye", so presumably whatever is underneath the patch got him the nickname "Crow's Eye".
- Horny Vikings
- Manipulative Bastard
- Pirate: Euron takes the reaving culture of the Ironmen Up to Eleven. After getting ostracized, he spent his time looting and pillaging his way through distant lands.
- Post-Rape Taunt: Euron seduced his brother Victarion's wife, and by Ironmen custom Victarion had to kill her to keep his honor. We only have Euron's word on whether or not it was consensual.
Euron: She came to me wet and willing. It seems Victarion is big everywhere but where it matters.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone: ... maybe. In one scene he describes a dream that sounds similar to Bran's coma visions. Whether it's the same thing or not has planted some trees.
- Shrouded in Myth/Memetic Badass: He's a living legend among the other ironmen.
Asha: (to Victarion) Walk amongst the campfires if you dare, and listen. They are not telling tales of your strength, nor of my famous beauty. They talk only of the Crow's Eye; the far places he has seen, the women he has raped and the men he's killed, the cities he has sacked, the way he burnt Lord Tywin's fleet at Lannisport...
- Rousing Speech: He delivers one of these to the Ironborn to get himself chosen King.
- Smug Snake: Euron fancies himself a Chessmaster when he returns to the Iron Islands and wins the throne, but he's not all that good at manipulating the Ironmen. When they start to resist his grand ambitions, he has no answer but to walk away in a huff. He also seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that Victarion hates his guts.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Euron may be sinister, but he was propelled fairly to the Seastone Chair, through his rallying of the Ironmen and compelling speeches.
Theon's illegitimate cousin and squire who was born mute. Wex accompanies Theon on his travels/turn to villainy in the second book. It is revealed in A Dance With Dragons to have survived the sack of the Winterfell, and now serves as a secret source of information to the Stark-loyalist Northern lords.
- Put on a Bus / The Bus Came Back
- Sole Survivor: Aside from Bran's party, he's the only person who witnessed Ramsay's sack of Winterfell who wasn't killed and/or captured. This makes him a valuable source of information to the Northern lords, since Wex knows that the Boltons torched Winterfell, not Theon, and that Bran and Rickon are alive. He even knows where to find Rickon.
- Silent Snarker: Despite being unable to talk, it's clear he inherited the family jerkassery.
- Smug Smiler: It runs in the family.