In “Game of Thrones” Season 2, episode 3 “What is Dead May Never Die,” Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) goes home to the Iron Islands. He’s been living as a semi-war prisoner with the Starks in Winterfell since they defeated his father in battle. Prisoner or not, he was raised as a Stark and has had a far more cushy life up north for nine years than he would have had growing up with dear, old dad. Here is what you need to know about the land that produced Theon.
House Greyjoy rules the Iron Islands at the moment, though it falls under the seven kingdoms. They rule from a castle on Pyke, the main island. The others are Great Wyk, Old Wyk, Harlaw, Saltcliffe, Blacktyde and Orkmont. Incidentally, illegitimate children born in the islands are given the surname Pyke, just as Winterfell gives them the name Snow.
The islands are home to the Ironborn, a fierce group of sea warriors. The islands are barely fertile and the Ironborn get their treasure by raiding. Their motto is “We do not sow.” They also choose not to pay “the gold price” for things, feeling that using money and purchasing is weak. Instead they pay “the iron price,” preferring to get their loot through raiding and death.
The men of the island have regular wives called “rock wives,” but take mistresses called “salt wives.” These unfortunate women are captured on raids and kept as concubines. They have very low status in society. A man can have any number of them.
They inhabitants of the islands worship the Drowned God. He’s a harsh god, who fits right in with the “Old Way,” which refers to the raiding, plundering lifestyle. The Drowned god’s worship says that the Ironborn were made to raid and rape and take over lands with fire, iron and blood. Newborns are drowned shortly after birth and brought back to life. When the drowning is done again, whether on purpose or in the sea, the person is called a “drowned one” and is considered holy. “What is dead my never die, but rises again harder and stronger.”
Sounds like a vacation, right? Check out the preview of “What is Dead May Never Die” below and see exactly who Theor has to deal with. “Game of Thrones” Season 2, episode 3 airs on Sunday, April 15 on HBO.