The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore


4. The Iron Islands
  • Even men of the Iron Isles have walked the Wall (I: 553)
  • For thousands of years, raiders from the islands (called ironmen by those they raided) were the terror of the seas from as far as the Port of Ibben and the Summer Isles (I: 688)
  • The ironmen prided themselves on their fierceness in battle and their sacred freedoms (I: 688)
  • Each island had its own rock king and salt king. The High King of the Isles was chosen from among their number (I: 688)
  • The ironborn use longships (II: 85)
  • The ironborn captains are proud and wilful and do not go in awe of another man's blood (II: 123)
  • A longship can travel twice as swiftly as a merchant cog (II: 123)
  • Life is mean and meagre on the islands. Men spend their nights drinking ale and arguing over who has the worse lot, the fisherfolk who struggle with the sea, the farmers who try to eke out a living from the poor thin soil, or the miners who break their backs underground (II: 124)
  • The ironmen of old turned to raiding, in part no doubt to the poor qualities of their islands (II: 124)
  • The Iron Islands are an insignificant backwater in comparison to the rest of the Seven Kingdoms (II: 125)
  • The hovels in which the smallfolk live use sod for the roofs (II: 126)
  • Longships might be painted in various colors, such as red (II: 126)
  • At least some longships have iron rams on their bows, shaped fancifully (II: 126)
  • A woman might well captain a ship in the Iron Islands (II: 129)
  • There are thralls in the Iron Islands, despite the fact that slavery is illegal in the Seven Kingdoms (II: 132)
  • There are a few women on the Iron Islands who crewed longships alongside their men, and it's said that salt and sea give them the same appetites as men (II: 277)
  • A longship a hundred feet long would have about fifty oars and room for about a hundred men on the deck. There are larger ships in the Iron Islands, belonging to the Lord Reaper of Pyke or other important figures (II: 278)
  • The ironborn call the mainland "the green lands" (II: 279)
  • Ironmen do not bend their knees often or easily, but are respectful to lords who have earned it (II: 280)
  • The Iron Islands are too rocky and sparse to breed good horses. Most islanders are indifferent riders at best, being more comfortable aboard their ships. Even lords ride garrons or shaggy ponies from Harlaw, and oxcarts are more common than drays (II: 282)
  • Smallfolk who are too poor to afford oxen or horses pull their own plows (II: 282)
  • The fleet of the Iron Islands is known as the Iron Fleet, with a Lord Captain at its head who is not necessarily the Lord of Pyke (II: 284)
  • The ironborn have a game they call the finger dance, entailing throwing short-hafted axes at one another. The trick was to catch the axe or leap over it just right. The name comes from the fact that the game usually ends with a dancer losing one or more of his fingers (II: 287)
  • Ironmen of old were often blood-drunk in battle, so berserk that they felt no pain and feared no enemy (II: 394)
  • Longships have high prows which are sometimes carved (II: 396)
  • Most ironborn would prefer fighting on foot or from the deck of a ship over fighting on horse back (II: 397)
  • The ironborn lack the discipline to stand against a charge of armored horsemen (II: 589)
  • The old way of healing serious wounds in the Iron Islands was to use fire and seawater (IV: 24)
  • Petty lords and villages can be found all along the way from the Hardstone Hills to Pebbleton at Great Wyk (IV: 26)
  • Most ironborn lords style themselves by their house names, such as "the Sparr", but some who have been influenced by the mainland style themselves as lord (IV: 27)
  • Ironmen will make use of ships captured in raids or war, such as cogs, carracks, and dromonds that cannot be run ashore (IV: 256)
  • At a kingsmoot, men of note will bring servants (thralls or salt wives, or if they are too familiar with the ways of the green lands, maesters, singers, and knights). Common men will stand in a crescent at the knoll's base, with women, children, and thralls to the rear while captains and kings climb to the top of the hill (IV: 269)
  • A claimant to the crown at a kingsmoot will come forward, supported by picked champions, and make his case to the ironborn. He then concludes by distributing the bounty and treasure he has to offer. The captains and kings who accept the treasures shout their support, and anything left over can be picked over by lesser men, whose support no one cares about (IV: 270-272)
  • At least some Iron Islands warships employ drummers to keep time. They drum a battle beat during fighting (IV: 427)
  • Some ironborn warships are large enough to have lower decks (IV: 431)
  • There are no slaves on the Iron Islands, only thralls. Thralls are bound to service, but they are not property, and a thralls children would be considered free if they were given to the Drowned God. The onl way to win a thrall was to pay the iron price (IV: 435)