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A History of the Top 15 Locations in Westeros

Updated June 14, 2019 34.9k views15 items
A word of warning: If you have not watched HBO’s "Game of Thrones" or read the A Song of Ice and Fire books, there will most likely be spoilers ahead for you. Read at your own risk. George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series ranges over two continents and a staggering amount of cities, roads, castles, inns, farms, and seas. It can be downright intimidating to follow a story with so many places to keep in mind. So, here is a quick primer on the top locations to keep in mind while navigating the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

But first, a very brief history: Long, long ago. Aegon Targaryen I united the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros after winning the War of Conquest. He built the Iron Throne and declared himself King. From there on out, the kings of the Seven Kingdoms were redefined as Wardens of their regions and brought under his rule. This is the system of governance and allegiance in place when Martin begins his epic series in the first book, A Game of Thrones.
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    Pyke is the seat of power for the Iron Islands, the smallest constituent region in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It is ruled over by House Greyjoy, whose sigil is a golden kraken on a field of black, and whose house motto is “We do not sow.” The Greyjoys inherited the Iron Islands after Aegon the Conqueror defeated the original ruling family, House Hoare. Aegon allowed the people to vote on who would replace them. The Greyjoys also used to rule over the Riverlands, but Aegon bequeathed that to House Tully. As such, the Greyjoys and their people stay mainly to themselves on their islands, periodically raiding the Western coastlines.

    There are 8 islands in the Iron Islands archipelago, and Pyke resides on the island of the same name. The castle here is ancient, built on a cliffside that has all but eroded away, leaving giant towers of disconnected jagged rock. The towers on these rocks are all connected by dangerous, swaying rope bridges. Due to this same erosion, there is no port at the castle. To access Pyke, one must dock at Lordsport and then travel to the castle by horse or cart.  

    The Greyjoys rule over a fierce nation of people who refer to themselves as the Ironborn. The people or the Iron Islands worship the harshest of gods, a deity they refer to as The Drowned God, prompting the refrain: “What is dead may never die.” The Ironborn society resembles that of a pirate culture, finding a majority of their own individual wealth from raiding other ships at sea and the towns that dot the coastline. The embrace the old ways of “Paying the Iron Price" - taking whatever they want instead of paying for it. They are sought-after naval experts that rarely choose any side but their own.

    Theon Greyjoy, the ward of Eddard Stark and eventual leader of the sacking of Winterfell, is the youngest son to Balon Greyjoy, the current Warden of the Iron Islands.
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    Riverrun is the seat of power in the Riverlands. It is is ruled over by House Tully, whose sigil is a silver trout leaping on a blue and red striped field, and whose house words are “Family, Duty, Honor.” Riverrun is a three-sided castle that lies where the Tumblestone and Red Fork rivers meet. On its third side is a man-made moat that can be filled during a siege, making it one of the most impregnable castles in Westeros.

    The Riverlands is immediately south of The Neck, making it the most central region in Westeros. It is so-named due to the number of rivers crossing through it, including The Trident, the Tumblestone, the Blackwater Rush, and the Green Fork. The Riverlands have some of the richest, most fertile lands in the Kingdom. This also makes it one of the most populous regions. However, since most of the land is flat and central to most of the other kingdoms, the Riverlands are often used a battlefield.

    When the Conquest of Aegon began, the region was ruled over by House Hoare of the Iron Islands. They had just completed construction of the monstrous castle Harrenhal on the northernmost shores of the Gods Eye, a giant lake in the South of the Riverlands. After The Tullys helped Aegon defeat Lord Harren Hoare, they inherited the Riverlands and Riverrun.

    It’s in the Great Hall of Riverrun that Robb Stark’s Northern Bannermen and those of the Riverlands make him “The King in the North.” It’s also here that they hold Ser Jaime Lannister captive after defeating him at The Battle of the Camps.

    After the Red Wedding at The Twins, the Tullys are stripped of their title as Wardens of the Riverlands - that name falling to House Frey instead.
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    The Eyrie

    The Eyrie is the main seat of power for the region known as The Mountain and the Vale. It is ruled over by House Arryn, one of the purest, most ancient lines of Andal Nobility. It is thought that the Arryns ruled their region for approximately 6,000 years before finally bowing to Aegon the Conqueror. Their sigil is a white falcon and moon on a sky blue field, and their family motto is “As High as Honor.”

    The castle itself lies in the Mountains of the Moon on the peak known as the Giant’s Lance, a few thousand feet above the valley below. It is one of the smaller of the great castles, consisting mostly of white stone towers clustered together. Despite how small it is, however, it is considered impregnable due to its position on the mountain.

    Built into the floor of the High Hall is the Moon Door, which opens to a 600 ft. drop. This is where most executions take place. The Eyrie also features some unusual dungeons known as the Sky Cells, which are left open to the elements and cold. This is where Catelyn Stark imprisoned Tyrion when he was brought here.

    The Region of Mountain and Vale is on the easternmost shores of the Seven Kingdoms, north of King’s Landing, and to the east of the Riverlands. Petyr Baelish comes from The Fingers, which is in this region. This is also where Robert’s Rebellion began - when Jon Arryn refused the Mad King’s order to surrender his wards, Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon. Jon Arryn’s murder is the catalyst for the action in A Song of Ice and Fire. His wife, 
    Lysa Arryn (née Tully), rules over The Eyrie.
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    Storm's End

    Storm’s End is the main seat of power for the region known as The Stormlands. It is ruled by House Baratheon, whose sigil is a black stag with a crown on a field of gold. Their family motto is “Ours is the Fury.” It is one of the oldest, strongest, and most mysterious castles in the Seven Kingdoms, said to be protected by magic woven into the walls. It’s composed mostly of one giant tower that is so large it houses almost everything within it, including the granary and barracks. Storm's End sits on cliffs jutting out into the sea and is surrounded by a gigantic outer wall, 80 feet thick at its widest point, facing the sea. The castle belonged to House Durrandon until the last Storm King left its defenses to face the Baratheon host during the War of Conquest. Aegon gave Storm’s End to House Baratheon when the Storm Kings were defeated.

    Storm’s End has never been broken by invaders. In fact, Mace Tyrell besieged it for a year during Robert’s Rebellion. Once Robert Baratheon was made king, he gave the castle to his youngest brother, Renly Baratheon - which greatly upset his older brother, Stannis, who was sent to Dragonstone (where Ser Davos watches Melisandre give birth to a smokey demon monster that kills Renly).

    The Stormlands are so-called due to the frequency of harsh and terrible storms and is one of the smallest regions in Westeros. King’s Landing is to its north, Highgarden to the west, and Dorne to its south. Its easternmost border is the stony shore of Shipbreaker Bay and the Narrow Sea. Despite the rough weather, the land is fertile, having given birth to the Kingswood, where King Robert met his demise. Brienne of Tarth hails from “Sapphire Isle” in the Narrow Sea.

    The Stormlands rallied behind Renly Baratheon during the War of Five Kings, but they then unanimously switched allegiance to Stannis following Renly's sudden death. Following Stannis's defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, the Stormlands switched their allegiance to King Joffrey.