The Arryns are one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility in the Seven Kingdoms and ruled as Kings of Mountain and Vale for centuries until they bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror. Their seat is the Eyrie, a small but unassailable castle high on a mountain. Their motto is, “As High as Honor.”
Jon Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, Defender of the Vale, Warden of the East, and the Hand of the King has recently died as the first book begins. He fostered both Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark at the Eyrie, and joined them and Lord Hoster Tully in rebellion against the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen, after refusing to execute his wards and marrying Lord Hoster’s youngest daughter. During the war his cousin Ser Denys Arryn, the darling of the Vale, was killed by young Lord Connington. Jon was survived by his son and heir, the sickly boy Robert Arryn, and his wife Lady Lysa of House Tully.
The arms are represented in a fashion similar to the author’s original intent, and thus strikingly unlike the arms as represented by the publisher’s artists.
Lord Arryn’s death has been revealed to have been caused by poisoning rather than natural causes. The crime was committed by his own wife Lady Lysa so that she could keep her son (who Lord Arryn was about to send to Dragonstone for his safety), and was assisted by Littlefinger. Grand Maester Pycelle had a hand in it, keeping the poison from being purged from Lord Arryn, but he claims the actual poisoner to have been Lord Arryn’s squire. Hugh of the Vale, later knighted by King Robert, died before he could be questioned by Lord Stark, killed in while jousting against Ser Gregor Clegane.
Lady Lysa ruled in the Vale while her sickly son Robert is in his minority, but she has shown herself to be mentally unsound, wildly accusing the Lannisters of her husband’s death, naming her son True Warden of the East after King Robert gave that office to Ser Jaime Lannister, and refusing to move from the Vale to aid her family. She married Littlefinger, with whom she had had a long affair, and made him Lord Protector of the Vale, only to be murdered by him.