The Neck is a swamp and marsh-filled region of Westeros, located where the waters of the Bite (an inlet of the Shivering Sea) and Blazewater Bay (an inlet of the Sunset Sea) draw relatively close to one another, making it the narrowest part of the continent.
The northern end of the Neck is controlled by House Stark via the formidable (but usually unmanned) castle of Moat Cailin and their vassals, House Reed of Greywater Watch, which controls the interior of the swamps. The southern end of the Neck is held by House Tully of the Riverlands through their redoubtable vassals, House Frey of the Twins. The Neck presents a formidable tactical obstacle to anyone planning to invade the North and was instrumental in holding off the invading Andals. However, it was not effective against airborne dragons, leading King Torrhen Stark, the last King in the North, to his decision to bow the knee to Aegon the Conqueror during the Targaryen Conquest.
In the books
In the Song of Ice and Fire novels the Neck was originally a much more pleasant location, but during the war between the Children of the Forest and the First Men it became a point of no retreat for the Children. When their formidable fortress of Moat Cailin looked like it might fall, the Children called upon the same sorcery they had used to shatter the Arm of Dorne centuries earlier to destroy the Neck and split Westeros in half. The sorcery was not effective and they merely flooded the Neck from coast to coast, creating bogs and swamps. However, the display was impressive and possibly killed many thousands of the First Men. It is possible that this display of power forced the First Men to make terms of peace with the Children, leading to the Pact and four thousand years of peace.
The inhabitants of the Neck dwell on floating islands and even build their fortresses on them. The people of the Neck are small of stature and survive by hunting the numerous animals who live in the swamps, including lizard-lions (a species of crocodile). They are known as 'crannogmen'. The crannogmen use tridents, nets and spears in combat. The terrain is not favorable for the use of horses, so very few of them become knights. The crannogmen are descendend from the blood of the First Men and hold to the Old Gods of the Forest.
The crannogmen have a hostile relationship with the inhabitants of the Twins to the south. The Freys and their servants call the crannogmen 'frog-eaters' and are disparaging of their martial skills.
The crannogmen maintained their ancient allegiance to House Stark for many centuries, even when contact between them and the outside world had faded away to almost nothing. However, several years before the beginning of Robert's Rebellion, Howland Reed of Greywater Watch made the acquaintence of Eddard Stark. They became fast and loyal friends, and Reed stayed at Eddard's side throughout the war. During the battle at the Tower of Joy, when Eddard and six companions rode to free his sister Lyanna from the clutches of three Kingsguard, Howland Reed saved Eddard's life. The two of them were the only survivors of the battle. Howland Reed has since become Lord of Greywater Watch and had two children, Meera and Jojen.
Bear Island · Last Hearth · Karhold · The Dreadfort · Winterfell (Winter town) · Deepwood Motte · Torrhen's Square · Castle Cerwyn · Hornwood · Ramsgate · Widow's Watch · Barrowton · White Harbor · Oldcastle · Moat Cailin · Flint's Finger · Greywater Watch · Rillwater Crossing · Ironrath · Highpoint
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Seagard · Wendish Town · Fairmarket · The Twins · Harrenhal · Raventree Hall · Stone Hedge · Crossroads Inn · High Heart · Acorn Hall · Maidenpool · Pinkmaiden · Stoney Sept · Pennytree · Saltpans · Lord Harroway's Town
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