Send the Ravens: Bran’s Role in the War and the History of the Greyjoys

In the latest Send the Ravens column, we answer your Game of Thrones questions about Bran’s role for the future and what is the history of the Greyjoy family?

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Every episode during Game of Thrones season 6 has felt so incredibly packed that it’s been hard to keep up with all the various storylines that continue to weave through the fabric of this show from week to week.

It seems so distant now that Ramsay Bolton stabbed his father to death when he then fed his stepmother and baby brother to a pack of dogs before killing our favorite Wildling Osha this past week. Jon Snow was resurrected but who can think about that when you finally saw a reunion with his sister Sansa. Was anybody else teary eyed during that moment or was it just dusty in here?

As Game of Thrones continues to move past the books, these stories are going to look more and more different from the source material while still maintaining many of the same intricacies that George R.R. Martin always intended.

For instance — this past week we saw the infamous “bastard letter” or “pink letter” delivered to Jon Snow from Ramsay Bolton. Both nicknames were given by fans — the bastard letter for obvious reasons and the pink letter was because the wax that the Bolton’s used to seal their parchments was pink.

In the show, Ramsay taunts Jon Snow about having his brother Rickon in the dungeons beneath Winterfell, but in the books, the youngest Stark brother is still in hiding to stay away from the Boltons.

The letter that’s delivered to Jon in the books is actually Ramsay boasting how he’s captured Mance Rayder — who is still believed to be alive in the original version of the story — and he’s being tortured by the new Lord of Winterfell, who sent him there as a spy to help retrieve his sister Arya. In the books, Ramsay marries Arya not Sansa (except Arya isn’t really Arya, it’s a decoy put in her place) but the decoy does manage to escape with Theon so there are some similarities.

Also when Jon Snow decides to raise his army to head south to conquer the Boltons, that’s when his brothers of the Night’s Watch decide to stab him to death. As of the last book, there’s still no word whether or not Jon lived or died but most believe he was coming back just like he did on the show. So again, subtle differences but still enough to understand that if you read the books, you’ll get a completely different set of circumstances than what you’re seeing on the show even though much of the outcome is still the same.

With that said, let’s get to your Game of Thrones questions for this week

For several seasons (and books), I was one of the people who couldn’t stand the Bran storylines. They were boring and tedious because Bran was constantly just walking forever. If I wanted to see a stupid story about people walking in the woods for hours upon hours, I’d just watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy again.

That being said, Bran’s story is finally starting to pay off because he has several abilities that could be very useful in the war to come. First off, Bran is a greenseer, which is extremely rare and almost extinct by most historical standards in Westeros history. A greenseer is a person who is able to see into the past, travel places in their mind in the present and also see into the future. It’s how Bran was able to go back and see his father sparring his uncle as a child and how he visited the Tower of Joy a week ago and saw the battle between Ned and Ser Arthur Dayne.

That Tower of Joy sequence could ultimately pay huge dividends if Bran can witness a moment fans have talked about for years — that Lyanna Stark is actually giving birth to Jon Snow, who is really Rhaegar Targaryen’s son. So that piece of information could be huge for Jon’s future.

Also Bran’s ability to see into the future could give him a look at some very scary things that are about to happen to the Seven Kingdoms — most notably the growing army of the dead that’s sitting north of the Wall just waiting to invade the south. A teaser for this week showed Bran coming face to face with the Night’s King, who is the leader of the White Walker army.

And finally, Bran is also a very powerful warg, which means he can control animals by taking over their minds. We’ve already seen Bran also take over Hodor’s mind so he could hypothetically control another person as well. The most popular theory is that Bran could eventually take control of one of Daenerys’ three dragons to use them to help defeat the White Walkers or any other threat to the realm.

So as you can see, it took nearly six seasons for it to pay off, but it looks like Bran will actually have a role to play now!

Possibly but you have to remember, Tyrion is a master negotiator and one of the few people who understands that to rule a city or a kingdom, you can’t simply smash your enemies without expecting a few more to pop up in their place. Making peace is much better than making war. Obviously, Daenerys returning to Meereen with a garrison of somewhere around 130,000 Dothraki blood riders might convince Yunkai and Astapor to just give up on slavery right away, but the fact is Tyrion had to make a tough choice and he made it.

How long his choice last remains to be seen, but Tyrion is a brilliant strategist and his insight definitely shouldn’t be discounted whether Daenerys returns next week or not until the end of the season.

There’s a lot to say about the Greyjoy’s but it’s easily summed up in this — they are a family on top of the Iron Islands for many years, some of the fiercest captains on the sea and they always seem to believe they can rule their own kingdom without bending the knee to whatever king is sitting on the Iron Throne.

Throughout history, the Iron Islands have nearly been a separatist colony in many ways to the rest of Westeros. The islands where the Ironborn live are brutal, both in location and in the weather that surrounds them at any given time. Also unlike other kingdoms around Westeros, the Iron Islands don’t give the role of king to one family — instead they hold what is called a “kingsmoot”.

A kingsmoot happens after a ruling king is dead — all of the potential monarchs who want to rule put their name forth before giving a speech to convince the other longship captains why they should rule. Eventually a vote is taken and a new king is chosen. The Greyjoy’s have enjoyed many years of rule although several other families have sat on the Salt Throne at the head of the Iron Islands.

The Greyjoy family has always been as loyal as the person willing to give them the most in return.

For instance, in the infamous war known as the Dance of the Dragons where two separate Targaryen’s were battling for the throne, Dalton Greyjoy — better known as the Red Kraken — was given offers by both sides in the war. Aegon II made the first offer to Lord Dalton to try and sway him to bring his ships onto his side but the crafty king of the Iron Islands decided to wait and see what his half-sister might offer instead.

When Rhaenyra Targaryen made him a better deal, Dalton helped that side by destroying her enemies — namely the Lannister’s, who weren’t that far away from the Iron Islands on Casterly Rock. The Red Kraken burned the Lannister fleet and sacked Lannisport during the war. Unfortunately for Dalton, both Aegon and Rhaenyra ended up dead as a result of the war and it was Rhaenrya’s son who ended up sitting on the Iron Throne.

Eventually, Dalton was killed by a random woman (his greatest weakness) and the Lannisters sought revenge against the Greyjoy’s. Years later, Balon Greyjoy — who just recently died — also tried to rise up and basically declare the Iron Islands as its own kingdom. This time, King Robert Baratheon stamped out the uprising but rather than kill Balon, he allowed him to bend the knee to swear loyalty to him while also taking away his only living son, Theon, and placing him with his best friend Ned Stark in Winterfell.

So what significance do the Greyjoy’s have now?

They still command a very vast, powerful navy that rivals any other fleet in the world. They also have an interesting location in Westeros because they are fairly close to the North, which is why they started sacking those cities while Robb Stark was off at war. The Greyjoy’s are about to elect a new leader as well. Yara Greyjoy, could potentially be the first woman to lead the Iron Islands in history and she has her brother Theon by her side. With her leadership, Theon could potentially convince Yara to team up with Jon Snow and/or Sansa Stark to take back the North from the Bolton’s.

On the other hand, Euron Greyjoy, who is the person that chucked Balon off that bridge, is a vicious, conniving pirate, who could have much different plans for the Iron Islands if he’s left in charge.

Yes, Jerome Flynn will be returning to Game of Thrones season 6 to play our favorite sell sword Bronn. His role is still unclear because he was promised a better wife after helping Jamie Lannister rescue Myrcella from the Martell’s in Dorne last season. Let’s also not forget his strange fascination with one of the Sand Snakes named Tyene, who nearly killed him a year ago. At some point, the story in Dorne will pick up again and perhaps Bronn will make an appearance then.

Either way, expect Bronn to pop up at some point this season — we just don’t know when!

Don’t forget, if you have Game of Thrones questions make sure to send them to us via Twitter at either @DamonMartin or @NerdcoreMov.

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