Warning: This list contains SPOILERS.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones is over, but fans still hope to glimpse Howland Reed on the HBO show. Fans who have read the books still eagerly anticipate the first non-flashback appearance of the Lord of Greywater Watch, while more casual viewers are probably wondering, “Who is Howland Reed?” Either way, even experts on GoT universe don't know much about this character. For this reason, he's the subject of several Reed fan theories as one mysterious characters in the world of Westeros.
Howland Reed is the head of House Reed, a northern family sworn to the Starks. He was once one of Ned Stark’s closest friends and allies. He has not been publicly seen since the end of Robert’s Rebellion, but his influence has been felt in A Song of Ice and Fire, thanks to the appearance of his two children, Meera and Jojen. Still, many fans believe the senior Reed has a further role to play in the story, and they’ll be howlin’ for Howland until he shows up. Read on to learn about Reed family history and how the patriarch may yet influence Westeros.
Howland Reed is the head of House Reed, the most prominent family among the unique Westerosi people known as the Crannogmen. In fact, Crannogmen are so unique, they’re practically their own race. They are a swamp-based people who occupy the marshy area known as the Neck, and they often have swamp-based surnames like Fenn, Peat, and Boggs.
Crannogmen, disparagingly referred to as “mud-men” and “bog devils,” are notably smaller than other humans, but they make up for it with their advanced skills in stealth and poisoning. This supposedly “cowardly” form of defense has earned the Crannogmen the scorn of outsiders, but it has also prevented this civilization of swamp-ninjas from being conquered.
Most of the northern families are loyal to the Starks and their patriarch, Ned, but Howland and the Reeds are the cream of the crop when it comes to feudal dedication. The Reeds have ruled the Crannogmen for countless generations, and they’ve been sworn to House Stark for most of that time.
Howland was one of Ned’s closest friends and one of his most trusted allies during Robert’s Rebellion. Howland accompanied Ned for the entirety of the war and was one of the few companions who survived long enough to return home.
House Reed rules the Crannogmen out of Greywater Watch, perhaps the strangest building in the entirety of Westeros. Nobody can pin down Greywater Watch on a map, and not just because of the swampy terrain that surrounds it. Greywater Watch is said to move around; it's supposedly built on a man-made island that floats on the vast swamps that dominate the area.
Even ravens cannot find their way to the castle, making the Reeds extremely tough to stay in contact with. Few outsiders have ever visited Greywater Watch, and nobody finds it unless the Crannogmen want them to.
Howland Reed’s impact on the story of Game of Thrones is mostly felt through the actions of his two children, Meera and Jojen. When things start heading south for House Stark, the Reed siblings show up at Winterfell and assert their family’s loyalty, swearing an oath to serve the Starks “by ice and fire.” The Reeds soon become Bran Stark’s closest companions and accompany him on his journey of self-discovery north of The Wall. Meera and Jojen are emblematic of Howland's undying loyalty to Ned Stark and his children.