George R. R. Martin making up ethnography as he goes along

91I3cXu7PxLOne of the most surprising things that I encountered when reading The World of Ice & Fires is how many noble houses outside of the North still claim paternal descent from the First Men. Reading the books I had no idea the extent of it. For example, the Blackwood house of the Riverlands worship the Old Gods of the First Men, so their derivation from this group made sense. But I had no idea that House Dayne, House Royce, or House Westerling, descended from the First Men. And that’s not the least of it. When Aegon I conquered the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, four of these lands were ruled by houses directly descended down the male line from the First Men (the Lannisters descend from the First Men through their maternal line).

Here are the list:

– the Starks, you knew this.

– House Greyjoy, of the Iron Islands and portions of the Riverlands. They descend from the legendary Grey King, rather than a specific semi-historical individual, as the Andal families do. Though culturally diverged it seems likely that the people of the Iron Islands are part of the First Men migration.

– House Gardener. These were the kings of the Reach. After they were exterminated by Aegon I the Tyrells took their place as the preeminent house of this region. They descended from Garth the Greenhand.

– House Durrandon. These were the kings of the Stormlands. Robert Baratheon’s ancestor married the daughter of the last king.

Gardener and Durrandon were both culturally assimilated to Andal folkways obviously (the legendarium even states when the kings converted to the Faith of the Seven). But the fact that these two dynasties persisted after the Andal cultural revolution is rather peculiar to me. The Lannisters were Andal kings of the Westlands, but their name is from the First Men (a male Andal lord who married into the house adopted the name when there wasn’t another male heir). In the Riverlands the Tully house was preeminent, but there were no kings. The Martell princes of Dorne were Andals on the male line, but famously they intermarried with the Rhoyne people and became culturally amalgamated so that it is hard to describe them as prototypical Andals. Finally, the Arryns of the Vale are classical Andal kings, and they are described as “oldest and purest line of Andal nobility.” That would be strange to note if it were not for what I describe above.

George R. R. Martin has admitted that he’s making things up as he goes along to satisfy fans. Though he might have known Hodor’s fate as far back as 1991, I doubt he knew the genealogies of the noble houses, or their ethno-religious backgrounds. Rather, people kept badgering him, and he responded, and when he stated something in print/web it became canon. So here we are.

Posted in Uncategorized

Comments are closed.