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Game of Thrones Wiki
Game of Thrones Wiki

Sandor 'the Hound' Clegane and his hostage, Arya Stark.

Catelyn Stark: "Spare his life. Keep him as a hostage."
Edmure Tully: "A hostage. Tell the Karstarks that as long as they remain loyal, he will not be harmed.""
Catelyn Stark and Edmure Tully to Robb Stark about what to do with Rickard Karstark.[src]

A hostage or captive is a member of a noble house that is held against their will by another noble house or organization. Some hostages are imprisoned if considered dangerous or if there is risk that they may escape (with or without outside help). Others are awarded the courtesy and privileges of nobility and given relatively free run of the castles or keeps they are captive in. In the case of children, these hostages often become no different from wards to their captors.

In times of war, hostages are taken and kept alive to use later in political negotiations or in exchange for ransom. Such prisoners are usually only held until the war is over. As a high-profile hostage can be an important bargaining chip, it is considered impolitic for their captors to harm them.

In peace time, specially after the end of a war or rebellion, long-term political hostages are taken to ensure the good behavior of a captive's relative or retainers, under penalty of torment or death for the hostage.

Known hostages


Cersei Lannister: "Are you mad!? The Martells loathe us!"
Tyrion Lannister: "That's why we need to seduce them. We're going to need their support in the war your son started."
Cersei Lannister: "She'll be a hostage!"
Tyrion Lannister: "A guest."
Cersei Lannister protests against her daughter being sent to Dorne.[src]
Rodrik Cassel: "Lord Stark raised you among his own sons!"
Theon Greyjoy: "Among them, but not one of them! I was his hostage! Taken from my home!"
Theon Greyjoy protests the circumstances that led to him becoming a "ward" of House Stark.[src]
Edmure Tully: "We took hostages. Willem Lannister, Martyn Lannister."
Robb Stark: "Willem and Martyn Lannister are fourteen years old."
Brynden Tully: "Martyn is fifteen, I believe."
— Walk of Punishment
"Take me for your hostage, but let Robb go!"
Catelyn Stark to Walder Frey[src]
"Theon was a valuable hostage, not your plaything."
Roose Bolton to Ramsay Snow[src]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Greatjon Umber is taken hostage by House Frey after the Red Wedding, as a political hostage as to usher House Umber to swear fealty. Contrary to the books, in the TV series Greatjon Umber is not present during the wedding and the writers have confirmed that he is therefore free somewhere in the Riverlands.

The naming of Ser Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard is also held as hostage-taking on behalf of Aerys II Targaryen. By naming him as his sworn bodyguard, the Mad King was not only robbing Tywin Lannister of his prized heir, but also keeping Jaime close as he feared Tywin to be plotting against him.

In "A Dance with Dragons", Daenerys takes a child hostage from each of the noble families of Meereen, hoping by that to put an end to the attacks of the Sons of the Harpy. She appoints them as her cupbearers. When the killing continues, one of Daenerys's advisors, Skahaz mo Kandaq, urges her repeatedly to kill a hostage for every killing, reasoning "What good are hostages if you will not take their heads?". Daenerys refuses, since she has grown fond of them and cannot bring herself to purchase peace with the blood of little children. She is aware that makes her weak in Skahaz's eyes. It is likely that Daenerys's enemies have also regarded her compassion as a sign of weakness, and that encouraged them to continue with the murders of her loyalists. Following Daenerys's departure, Hizdahr takes over Meereen but is soon overthrown and imprisoned by Ser Barristan Selmy and other loyalists of Daenerys, who form a council to rule Meereen until she returns. One of their main concerns to is free the three hostages that Yunkai still holds - Daario, Hero and Jhogo. Skahaz advises Selmy that if the Yunkai kill any of the hostages - they will kill one of the cupbearers as a payback, reasoning "What use are hostages if they may not be touched?”. Like Daenerys, Selmy refuses to kill innocent children.

See also