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"Where the North has its honor and the south its chivalry, the Iron Islands has its strength."
Theon Greyjoy[src]

Map showing the location of the Iron Islands off the west coast of Westeros.

The Iron Islands is one of the nine constituent regions of Westeros. They are a cluster of seven small, rocky islands off the western coast of the continent, in Ironman's Bay. The Iron Islands are ruled from the castle of Pyke by House Greyjoy.

The islands are the smallest and one of the least-populous regions of Westeros, but the naval skills of their people, the ironborn, are unmatched and they enjoy great mobility due to their ships. The ironborn also have a unique culture and religion, centered on maritime raiding and pillaging other peoples, that sets them apart from mainland Westeros. However, they were forced to stop these practices following the War of Conquest, or at least to stop raiding around Westeros itself. Although this edict was not always effectively enforced by the Iron Throne, Daenerys Targaryen reinstated it as a condition of the Iron Islands regaining independent rule nearly 300 years later.

Prior to the War of Conquest, the Iron Islands were a sovereign kingdom, along with the other "Seven Kingdoms" of Westeros. For the three generations immediately preceding the Conquest, the ironborn also controlled the Riverlands, which they had in turn conquered from the Stormlands.

Bastards born in the Iron Islands are given the surname Pyke.


The Iron Islands are located off the western coast of Westeros, in Ironman's Bay (an inlet of the Sunset Sea). They are north of the Westerlands, west of the Riverlands, and southwest of the Neck and the North. However, the entire western coast of the continent, from the Wall in the North to the Arbor in the extreme south of the Reach, are considered to be within range of far-reaching ironborn coastal raids. Centuries before the War of Conquest, the Iron Islands did indeed rule much of the coast from the Arbor to Bear Island in the North, and at the time of the War of Conquest, they ruled the Riverlands.

The Iron Islands are small and rocky, swept by fierce storm winds, with poor soil and hardly any natural resources. The few poor crop fields that are present have their rocky soil plowed by thralls, men captured in raids and forced into servitude; even the noble houses of the islands usually cannot afford draft animals, and the Old Way discourages the ironborn themselves from farming, anyway. While located at roughly the same latitude as the Eyrie in the Vale or the Twins in the Riverlands, the harsh storm winds that howl through the islands make them fairly cold. In such precarious circumstances, the inhabitants came to rely heavily on the bounty of the sea, and ultimately raiding the mainland.



A map of the seven major islands in the chain, with names labelled, from the Histories & Lore featurettes.

Coastal regions



The Grey King fights the sea dragon Nagga.

House Greyjoy of Pyke traces its bloodline back to the legendary king of the First Men, the Grey King of the Age of Heroes. He fought Nagga the sea dragon, built his hall and throne from her bones, married a mermaid, and ruled for a thousand years. Due to the poor soils and limited natural resources of the Iron Islands, the ironborn adopted a warlike culture of raiders and plunderers. Over the centuries, they developed a reputation as hated reavers who pillaged the weaker settlements on the mainland. Following the Burning of Harrenhal and the deaths of King Harren Hoare and his sons, the ironborn were driven back to the Iron Islands. House Greyjoy then became the dominant house and rulers of the Iron Islands.

In the wake of Robert's Rebellion, the ironborn, under Balon Greyjoy, saw a chance for independence and rebelled against the Iron Throne in what would become known as the Greyjoy Rebellion. But Balon had underestimated the newly-crowned King Robert Baratheon, who, along with Lord Eddard Stark, led an invasion of the Iron Islands and laid siege to the Greyjoy seat of Pyke. "King" Balon's two eldest sons Rodrik and Maron Greyjoy were killed during the battle. After bending the knee to the Iron Throne, Balon was forced to give up his remaining son and heir, Theon Greyjoy, as a hostage to Ned Stark.

Season 1

Theon is a ward of Lord Eddard Stark and lives at the Stark seat of Winterfell.[1] Despite the respectful and comforts afforded by the Starks, Theon is insecure about his status as a ward. He tries to intimidate the wildling servant Osha by telling her that commoners who strike a lord in the Iron Islands are punished by being tied a stake and left to drown at sea.[2]

Season 2

During the War of the Five Kings, Ned's heir Robb Stark, the King in the North, sends Theon to negotiate an alliance with Lord Balon in order to gain access to the Iron Fleet.[3] After landing at Lordsport, Theon is brought by his sister Yara Greyjoy back to their family castle at Pyke.[4] However, Balon spurns Robb's offer of an alliance and decides to take advantage of the fighting by conquering the North. At Pyke castle, Balon holds a war council and gives Yara command of a fleet of thirty ships to attack Deepwood Motte.[5] Meanwhile, Theon is given command of the unruly crew of the ship Sea Bitch. The seamen express contempt for their young prince, but he manages to control them with the help of his first mate Dagmer.[6] Theon seizes Winterfell but is subsequently betrayed by his own crew who hand him over to the Boltons in return for safe conduct.[7]

Season 3

Lord Balon and Princess Yara are at Pyke castle when they receive a letter from Ramsay Snow, the natural-born son of Roose Bolton who is acting on his father's authority. In the letter, Ramsay reveals that he has imprisoned, tortured, and emasculated Theon. Ramsay threatens to send more "bits" of Theon unless Balon withdraws his forces from the North. Balon disowns Theon since he disobeyed his orders and cannot further the Greyjoy line. However, Yara disagrees with her father and assembles a strike team of the best killers and warriors in the Iron Islands to rescue her brother from the Boltons.[8]

Season 6

After escaping Bolton captivity with Sansa Stark, Theon elects to return home to the Iron Islands rather than face her half-brother Jon Snow due to his role in the purported deaths of their brothers Bran and Rickon Stark. Back at Pyke, Balon and Yara argue over the loss of Deepwood Motte, the last major ironborn stronghold in the North. Despite Yara's efforts to urge him to end the war, Balon refuses to admit defeat. Later, Balon is murdered by his estranged younger brother Euron Greyjoy, who has returned from exile to claim the Salt Throne. The following day, Balon's body is recovered and he is buried at sea by Yara and her uncle Aeron Greyjoy, a Drowned Men priest. Aeron then announces a kingsmoot will be held to elect the new ruler of the Iron Islands.[9]

Later, Theon returns to Pyke and discovers that his father Balon has died. Following a tense reunion with his sister Yara, he pledges to support her claim to the Salt Throne.[10] At the Kingsmoot, Yara wins much support for advocating the creation of a mighty fleet to intimidate the North. However, she is outmaneuvered by her uncle Euron, who proposes forging an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen and using her dragons to conquer the mainland. Euron is subsequently baptized and crowned by Aeron as the new King of the Iron Islands. During Euron's baptism ceremony, Yara, Theon, and the loyalists take the best ships in the Iron Fleet and flee the Iron Islands. In response, Euron orders his people to chop down every tree in the Iron Islands to build a massive fleet. He also vows to hunt down and kill his niece and nephew.[11]

After reaching Meereen, Yara and Theon forge an alliance with Daenerys and her advisor Tyrion Lannister. Yara offers to provide a hundred ships if Dany helps them to defeat Euron and recognizes the independence of the Iron Islands. Dany accepts their offer but demands that the ironborn cease raiding and terrorizing the mainland. Yara reluctantly accepts Dany's terms.[12]

Season 8

While Euron's new Iron Fleet is stationed near King's Landing, Yara is freed from captivity by Theon and successfully retakes the Iron Islands some time before the Battle at Dragonstone.[13]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Iron Islands are seven small, barely-fertile rocks located in the Sunset Sea and Ironman's Bay to the west of the Riverlands, north-west of the Westerlands and south of the North. The religion of the Faith of the Seven holds little sway over the isles, which are instead dominated by the worship of the Drowned God , a savage and merciless figure.

The seven major islands are named Blacktyde, Great Wyk, Harlaw, Old Wyk, Orkmont, Pyke, and Saltcliffe. There are also several smaller islets surrounding them, usually considered to be administrative subdivisions of the main seven. Lonely Light is the smallest and most distant of these, a small atoll of land located eight days' travel northwest of Great Wyk (for comparison, Pyke and Harlaw are only one day's travel apart). Old Wyk was the first of the islands to be settled (despite being located on the far side of the archipelago from the mainland), and the ironborn still hold it to be sacred. Great Wyk is the largest island, and thus the only one on which certain noble Houses derive more of their wealth from the land than the sea (such as House Goodbrother , which gains its wealth from iron mines in the island's central hills). Harlaw is the second largest island, and is the wealthiest and most densely populated of all the islands. Pyke is currently the strongest due to the Greyjoys' status as overlords of the Iron Islands, but this was not always the case. Before the War of Conquest, House Hoare from Orkmont island ruled over the ironborn, and before that, House Greyiron.

The economic production in the region is mostly centered on fishing in the abundant seas surrounding them - it is estimated that about seven of every ten ironborn families are fishermen (the rest are mostly raiders). The ironborn consider farming and mining to be beneath them, leaving such work to thralls. The windswept islands have poor rocky soil, really better suited to grazing than farming, whose fields only produce modest crop yields after backbreaking labor. Few landholders can even afford draft animals such as horses, so their stony fields need to be plowed by human labor. The local farms do not produce nearly enough food to feed the islands on their own: it is said that if the waters surrounding the islands were not so abundant for fishing, the ironborn would have surely starved in winters long ago.

The four largest islands (Great Wyk, Harlaw, Orkmont, and Pyke) do have mines with abundant supplies of iron, lead, and tin. Their large iron supplies are arguably what gave the islands their name (though the ironborn insist that they gained this name due to the iron strength of their inhabitants). The smaller three islands do not have such resources: Old Wyk is still held in high esteem for its holy status as the first settled of the islands, but Blacktyde and Saltcliffe are not considered to be very powerful or notable. Pyke is not as wealthy as Harlaw and Great Wyk, or even Orkmont: instead the Greyjoys were selected to rule all of the islands after the War of Conquest due to their distinguished lineage stretching back to the Dawn Age, and the great respect they already commanded from the other ironborn. Over time their rule did enrich Pyke island (probably through various shipping benefits, etc.) so that the largest town in the Iron Islands is Lordsport, also on Pyke island (ruled by House Botley). Even Lordsport, however, is modestly sized compared to larger trading towns on the mainland.

The ironborn have several large fleets of ships, mostly smaller longships, which according to a semi-canon source, consist of about 500 ships. The mighty Iron Fleet, commanded by Victarion Greyjoy, consists of about 100 warships which can stand against the largest warships produced elsewhere in Westeros. However, the ability of the ironborn to build larger ships is compromised by a lack of natural resources.

The Iron Islands were settled by the First Men many thousands of years ago. Somewhat isolated from the rest of Westeros, they did not take up the worship of the Old Gods of the Forest, instead creating their own religion based around the Drowned God and the Salt Throne, which they allegedly found already standing on the shores of Old Wyk when they arrived. When the Andals overran Westeros and conquered the Iron Islands, they intermingled with the natives. While a few locals converted to the Faith of the Seven, it did not fully take hold and worship of the Drowned God continued.

Under the rule of House Hoare, the ironborn reached the zenith of their power approximately four centuries ago. They invaded and conquered the Riverlands, building an immense castle on the shores of Gods Eye called Harrenhal. The castle was completed by King Harren the Black on the very day that Aegon the Conqueror landed on the coast of Westeros. Harren refused to surrender and was roasted alive in Kingspyre Tower by Aegon's dragons. The Riverlands rose in a bloody rebellion led by House Tully, and the ironborn were thrown back to their islands. With Harren and all his line extinguished, the ironborn elected House Greyjoy of Pyke to rule over them.

Several years after Robert's Rebellion was completed, Lord Balon Greyjoy rebelled against the Iron Throne, reasoning that most of the lords of Westeros would not support a usurper. He was wrong, and in the Greyjoy Rebellion he was soundly defeated. The ironborn fleets were destroyed and the castle at Pyke stormed. Balon's two eldest sons were both slain and his surviving son, Theon, was taken as ward and hostage by Lord Eddard Stark in return for his good behavior.

See also