- This article is about the organization, for the episode see Sons of the Harpy (episode).
- "Sons of the Harpy. They want to put a collar back on my neck."
The Sons of the Harpy were an underground insurgency group opposing the rule of Daenerys Targaryen over Meereen, composed of former slavers. They took their name from the harpy, the traditional heraldic symbol of the slave-masters in the Ghiscari cities of Slaver's Bay, and the Ghiscari Empire before them. They concealed their identities by wearing golden masks with horned faces resembling harpies.
A member of the Sons of the Harpy slits the throat of White Rat, an Unsullied, when the latter approaches a prostitute and pays to be embraced by her. The assassin, who was in league with the prostitute, leaves his mask at the brothel as a revindication of the Sons' responsibility. The murderer is later caught by Daario Naharis, who finds him hiding in a wall. Daenerys pays heed to Ser Barristan Selmy's insistence that the man should have a trial for his crimes. However, Mossador believes the man does not deserve a fair trial, which leads him to finding his prison cell and killing him. Following a coordinated attack by the Sons of the Harpy, in which Ser Barristan is murdered and Commander Grey Worm is heavily injured, Daenerys decides to make peace with the Great Masters by reopening the fighting pits and arranging her own marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq. As expected, the Sons of the Harpy stop their attacks following the betrothal, which leads Daario to suspect Hizdahr's involvement with the group.
However, at the reopening of the fighting pits in Daznak's Pit, the Sons mount a mass attack which kills Hizdahr zo Loraq as well as many Unsullied and Civilians. During the rebellion, Daenerys, Jorah, Daario, Missandei and Tyrion try to escape the assassins by crossing the fighting pit, surrounded by a small phalanx of Unsullied. In turn, the group is quickly surrounded by more of the Sons, when suddenly Drogon intervenes, burning, biting and crushing many of them. While the remainder of the Sons retreat, Daenerys flies off on the back of the dragon, leaving her advisors and allies in the center of the pit. While Jorah and Daario track their Queen down, Tyrion is chosen to lead the city and deal with the Sons of the Harpy until Daenerys returns, as he is the only one with experience governing a city.
With help from Varys, Tyrion launches an investigation to determine the whereabouts of the Sons of the Harpy. Exploring the streets in "disguise" (even in Meereen, Tyrion's appearance is still distinctive), Varys believes the Sons are organized under a single leader, and an eventual tip-off from one of his little birds will make them easier to track. Moments later, a shocked Tyrion and Varys discover that the Sons have set fire to every ship in Meereen's harbor.
Thanks to Varys's network of spies, he is able to turn one of the Sons' allies, the prostitute Vala, and gain information about the organisation behind the uprising. The Sons of the Harpy were being funded and supplied by the slaveholders of Yunkai and Astapor, who had reclaimed both cities from Daenerys's rule. Both cities are also being supported by Volantis, renowned among the Free Cities of Essos for its practice of slavery. With this information, Tyrion instructs Varys to have a message delivered to the leaders of all three cities.
Tyrion, his advisors, and the representatives of Yunkai, Astapor, and Volantis enter into negotiations at the Great Pyramid in Meereen. They reach a compromise agreement that will see slavery in Slaver's Bay phased out over a seven-year period and all slave masters compensated.
As a result, peace returns to Meereen. However, the three slave-trading cities break their peace treaty and attack Meereen, bombarding the city. This attack coincides with the return of Daenerys on her dragon Drogon. During the bombardment, the Sons of the Harpy emerge in masses to slaughter freedmen and other civilians within the city. They are halted by the timely arrival of Daario Naharis and Daenerys's Dothraki horde, who rout the Sons and retake the city gates.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Sons of the Harpy are also a resistance movement of Ghiscari with ties to the Great Masters and the slaver families of Meereen. They target freedmen, Unsullied, and "shavepates" - Meereenese that have accepted the rule of Daenerys Targaryen and have shaved off their ostentatious Ghiscari hairdos as a sign they have abandoned the customs of the 'old' Meereen. They are not described wearing masks; in fact, they are never even seen in the books.
Their membership seems to be drawn from those who benefited from the old regime, particularly the old aristocratic families of the Great Masters, but Daenerys cannot confirm which former slave-master families are supporting the Sons of the Harpy and which ones are not. She strongly suspects the House of Pahl, among others, but the main problem is not even knowing who they are: as an insurgency, they are conducting a "shadow war" in the alleys of Meereen, ambushing Daenerys's soldiers when they are alone or in small groups, then fleeing back into the night to avoid retaliation. Whenever they kill, they leave their mark near the murder scene - not a mask but a harpy drawn in the blood of their victims. Daenerys's loyalists have not managed to capture or kill even one of them.
At first, the Sons of the Harpy have limited their attacks to unarmed freedmen, cutting them down in the streets or breaking into their homes under the cover of darkness to murder them in their beds. Later they have grown bold and moved to kill Daenerys's soldiers, starting with Stalwart Shield.
The Brazen Beasts have taken dozens of the Harpy’s Sons, and those who have survived their capture have yielded names when questioned sharply, but the identity of their leader remains unknown.
Among the victims of the Sons of the Harpy are:
- The Unsullied Stalwart Shield - stabbed multiple times by at least six attackers, then his throat was filled with goat genitals.
- The Unsullied Black Fist and Cetherys - slain by crossbow bolts.
- The Unsullied Mossador and Duran - crushed by falling stones.
- The Unsullied Eladon Goldenhair and Loyal Spear - poisoned at a wineshop.
- Three former slaves: moneylender, a cobbler, and a harpist named Rylona Rhee whose fingers were cut off before they killed her.
- Three freedwomen weavers who made a beautiful tapestry for Daenerys. The Sons of the Harpy broke their loom and raped them before slitting their throats.
Unlike in the show, the Sons of the Harpy never act in broad daylight. So far in the books, Grey Worm and Barristan Selmy have never had an encounter with them.
Although it has not been proven conclusively, there are strong circumstantial evidence that indicate Hizdahr is in league with the Sons of the Harpy, maybe even their leader:
- Daenerys offers him to marry her, on condition that he puts end to the attacks of Sons of the Harpy for ninety days. By unknown methods, he manages to for twenty-six days.
- While watching the pit fighters, he offers Daenerys honeyed locusts. Later it is revealed the locusts were poisoned. Luckily, Daenerys did not eat any. Strong Belwas ate a lot and nearly died as a result.
- He acts rather meekly when provoked by the Yunkai Wise Masters and the leaders of the mercenary companies they hired.
Following Daenerys's departure, Ser Barristan Selmy is convinced of Hizdahr's guilt and has him thrown to jail. Soon afterwards, the Sons of the Harpy renew their attacks, claiming many more victims than before (twenty-nine in one night) - which strengthens the suspicion against Hizdahr. They have not only left their mark near the bodies, but also messages like "Dragons must die", "Harghaz the Hero", "Death to Daenerys".
At the point the novels reached, the Sons of the Harpy have not been stopped yet, not even slowed down. Ser Barristan and others who remain loyal to Daenerys form a council to rule Meereen till she returns, but they do not have time to take care of the Sons of the Harpy due to much more urgent matters: Yunkai is leading a new alliance of slaver-powers to besiege the city.
The Sons of the Harpy seem vaguely similar to the Sicarii, a Jewish splinter group that formed one of the world's earliest assassination units. During the Roman occupation of Judea (modern-day Israel and the Holy Land) in the first century C.E., the Sicarii operated in much the same way the Sons of the Harpy did under Daenerys' rule; committing hit-and-run killings against both the occupiers and local inhabitants who sided with them, and then quickly slipping away to avoid capture.
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