Descended of the First Men, the Karstarks have the blood of the Starks of Winterfell in their veins from a thousand years before when a younger son of the house named Karlon put down a rebel lord and was given lands. They are big, fierce men, bearded and long-haired, and favor wearing cloaks made of the pelts of seals, bears, and wolves. Karhold lies far to the northeast of Winterfell in the midst of a forest beyond the Last River. Their motto is, “The Sun of Winter.” Lord Rickard Karstark has three sons, his eldest and heir named Harrion, and a daughter named Alys.
Harrion Karstark was a prisoner of the Lannisters after being captured at the Green Fork and his sons Eddard and Torrhen were killed by the Kingslayer at the Whispering Wood. Lord Rickard plainly desires vengeance and showed his displeasure when King Robb offered peace terms to the Lannisters. Joining the king on his expedition into the Westerlands, Lord Rickard killed Ser Stafford Lannister at Oxcross.
Rickard Karstark was executed with some of his men for the murders of Tion Frey and Willem Lannister, who were hostages at Riverrun. This led to the Karstark host breaking away from the rest of the northmen. Harrion Karstark’s fate is unknown after having been freed by Roose Bolton and joining the ill-fated expedition against Duskendale. Lord Rickard’s great-uncle, Arnolf, had been left in charge of Karhold and began to take full control of the seat with the help of King Stannis’s promise to approve his rule if he supports him; secretly, however, he has allied himself with Roose Bolton and intends to betray Stannis after joining his host. Arnolf attempts to force Lord Karstark’s daughter Alys to wed his own son Cregan, but she escapes Karhold and finds refuge at the Wall where Jon Snow imprisons Cregan while aiding Alys to wed Sigorn, the Magnar of Thenn.