The Citadel

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


4.3.1. The Old Way
  • The ironmen used to carry woman away as prizes, and kept them as wives whether they wished it or not. A man would have his true wife, his rock bride who was of the islands as he was, and he would have the salt wives captured in raids (II: 124)
  • In the old days, the ironborn did not labor at farming, fishing, or mining. That was the labor for the captives they brought from their raids. The true trade of the ironmen was warfare (II: 125)
  • The Old Way had been destroyed when Aegon the Conqueror had burnt Black Harren, gave Harren's kingdom to the rivermen, and the reduced the Iron Islands to an insignificant backwater of a greater realm (II: 125)
  • The ironborn reavers used to carry burning brands, razing the places they raided (II: 132)
  • In the Old Way, only women could decorate themselves with baubles bought with coin. Warriors wore only the jewelry they took from the corpses of enemies that they slew themselves. This practice was called "paying the iron price* (II: 135)
  • Ritual executions, involving the drowning of victims in salt water, are made in the Drowned God's name if (for example) someone insults the god. It is the old way of the ironborn (II: 394)
  • Ironmen of old were often blood-drunk in battle, so berserk that they felt no pain and feared no enemy (II: 394)
  • The Old Way extends even to comrades, if one ends their life to save them pain or because they've failed in some matter (II: 395)
  • During reaving expeditions, the prettier women were taken as salt wives while the crones and ugly ones were simply raped and killed unless they had useful skills and did not seem likely to be troublesome; those became thralls (II: 395)
  • It is not part of the Old Way to lay siege to castles. Glory can only be gotten by fighting man to man, not by flinging rocks (II: 399)
  • 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. Selling slaves is not part of the Old Way (IV: 435)