In this video I show the drawing process of the “Dalton Greyjoy” image. 7 hours are condensed into 7 minutes.
The Greyjoy Family
The Heroes of the Dawn Age
The Myths and History of the Iron Islands
The Seastone Chair is an ancient throne of the Iron Islands, now used as the seat of the Lord of the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy.
The Seastone Chair is made of a block of oily black stone carved into the shape of a kraken. Legend says it was found on the shores of Old Wyk by First Men when they came to the Iron Islands. Archmaester Haereg pondered that the chair was created by a people who inhabited the isles before the First Men, and Maester Kirth speculated in Songs the Drowned Men Sing that the chair was left by a people from across the Sunset Sea.
Noting similarities between the Seastone Chair and the base of the Hightower, Maester Theron suggested in Strange Stone that they were the work of so-called Deep Ones.
House Greyjoy of Pyke has ruled the Iron Islands since Aegon’s Conquest. It is unknown if extinct iron king dynasties, such as the Greyirons or Hoares, used the Seastone Chair as their throne.
The Seastone Chair is now located on a dais in the Great Hall of the Great Keep of Pyke, the seat of Lord Balon Greyjoy. His younger brother Aeron Damphair, a priest of the Drowned God, claims that only a pious ironman can sit the throne, not an ungodly man or a woman.
ARTIST’S NOTE: The models for this image are Aziz and Sean from the “History of Westeros Podcast”. For years they have been pointing at the hidden tresures that are found in George R.R. Martin’s books – so I’m happy to feature them here, doing just THAT.
The Grey King is a legendary monarch of the Iron Islands who is said to have ruled for 1,007 years.
The Grey King is so named because his hair, beard, and eyes were grey as the winter sea, and at the end of his life even his skin had turned grey. He supposedly wore robes of woven seaweed and a tall pale crown made from Nagga’s teeth, but he is alternatively said to have worn a driftwood crown.
Legends say the Grey King slew the sea dragon Nagga, after which the Drowned God turned the sea dragon’s bones to stone. From the bones was made the Grey King’s Hall, which he heated with Nagga’s living fire.
The Grey King also brought fire to the earth by taunting the Storm God into setting a tree on fire with a thunderbolt. He taught men to weave nets and sails.
The Grey King took a mermaid as his wife so his children could live on land or in water. He also wore a crown of driftwood so all who knelt before him would know his power came from the sea and the Drowned God himself.
The Grey King allegedly carved the first longship from the pale wood of Ygg, a demon tree which fed on human flesh.
Eventually he cast aside his driftwood crown and walked into the sea to descend to the watery halls of the Drowned God to take his place at the right hand of the god. The Storm God snuffed out Nagga’s fire after the Grey King’s death and the sea stole his throne, with Nagga’s bones the only remnants of the Grey King’s Hall.
The Grey King is said to have had a hundred sons who fought after his death. The sixteen who survived divided the Iron Islands amongst themselves.
All of the great houses of the islands claim descent from the Grey King, including House Greyjoy, with the exception of House Goodbrother, who claim descent from the Grey King’s loyal eldest brother.
Galon Whitestaff was an ironborn priest of the Drowned God who lived during the Age of Heroes. He was called “Whitestaff” for the tall carved staff he carried to smite the ungodly – a staff made of weirwood or from Nagga’s bones depending on the tale. He called for the unification of the Iron Islands as a single kingdom, decreeing that ironborn must not make war on their own kind or carry off each other’s women or raid each other’s shores. He summoned a kingsmoot at Old Wyk to choose a high king to rule over the salt and rock kings alike. The kingsmoot chose Urras Greyiron, who was crowned with a driftwood crown by Galon himself.
After Urras Ironfoot’s death, his son Erich seized the crown and proclaimed himself king rather than be chosen in a kingsmoot. Though half-blind and feeble, Galon arose in fury and summoned all “captains and kings” to unmake Erich the Ugly and condemn him to death. Instead, Erich saved his life by breaking down his father’s crown and casting it into the sea. The kingsmoot then chose Regnar Drumm.
Qhored I Hoare, known as Qhored the Cruel, was a member of House Hoare and was one of the greatest kings the Iron Islands ever produced. Some accounts state he was actually of House Greyiron or House Blacktyde.
The young Qhored sacked Oldtown, taking thousands of women as captives. When he was 30, Qhored defeated King Bernarr II Justman and took Bernarr’s three sons as hostages. Three years later he murdered the boys in the Bloody Keep of Pyke, crushed Bernarr’s vengeful army, and drowned the river king as a sacrifice to the Drowned God, putting an end to House Justman.
During the reign of King Qhored, the ironborn could rightfully claim that his writ ran “wherever men can smell salt water or hear the crash of waves.” The ironborn were at their peak of expansion, ruling territory along the Sunset Sea from the Arbor to Bear Island. Many men abandoned the shores for fear of Qhored’s reavers, while those who remained were forced to pay tribute. The Kingdom of the Reach called him Qhored the Cruel.
King Qhored died at the age of 90, having ruled for 75 years.Qhored’s conquests were gradually lost by his successors and descendents, however.
ARTIST’S NOTE: In this image I wanted to combine three aspects of Qhored’s life.First, his sacking of Oldtown and the taking into captivity of thousands of women. I was inspired by several artists (Christoph Fesel, Peter Paul Rubens and Giambologna) who painted or chiselled “The Abduction of the Sabines”.
Second, I somehow wanted to include the end of House Justman. Their sigil shows golden scales – but now there are the hearts of three kids in them.
Third, I somehow wanted to give Qhored a “magical” look, because he turned 90 years old. If during the Viking era someone made it to that age, they were probably considered as magicians.
Urron Greyiron, known as Urron Redhand, was a member of House Greyiron and was the first King of the Iron Islands to make the throne hereditary, five thousand years before the War of the Five Kings. His descendants ruled uncontested for 1,000 years, until the Andals swept over the Iron Islands.
Urron was the salt king of Orkmont during the rule of his great-uncle, Urragon IV Greyiron, who had assumed the High Kingship of the Iron Islands without being chosen in a kingsmoot. It was the dying Urragon’s wish for Urron to succeed him, but the Drowned Men were determined not to lose the power of kingmaking for a third time after Urragon’s assumption of the throne and, before that, Torgon Greyiron’s usurpation from Urrathon IV Goodbrother. Nevertheless, Urron put an end to the institution of kingsmoot when he descended with his axemen on Nagga’s hill on Old Wyk, and slew all captains, the thirteen salt and rock kings, and half a hundred priests and prophets assembled for the choosing, taking the title of the High Kingship of the Isles and making it an hereditary one. Urron had the crown of the king be made of black iron instead of driftwood, and ruled for twenty-two years.
In his reign, the rulers of Great Wyk, Old Wyk, Pyke, Harlaw and the lesser isles were reduced to lords, while several ancient lines that refused to bend the knee were extinguished. Along with the kingsmoot, Galon Whitestaff’s decree against ironborn making war upon each other ended. Urron Redhand and his descendants had to deal with half a dozen major rebellions and at least two major thrall uprisings.
“The Drowned God makes men, but it’s men who make crowns.” – Urron Redhand
“I am the Greyjoy, Lord Reaper of Pyke, King of Salt and Rock, Son of the Sea Wind, and no man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown, as Urron Redhand did five thousand years ago.” – Balon Greyjoy
ARTIST’S NOTE: In this image I tried to combine several aspects of Harwyn’s story into one depiction. For deeper insight, read the background info below. Harwyn is in the center, a towering figure, pointing towards the East, where the Riverlands are. Even though Harwyn is victorious over his enemies (like the Durrandon soldiers in the foreground – notice the stag symbol on the shield), his focus on ruling the Riverlands instead of the Iron Islands will ultimately lead to his demise. That’s why I chose to draw in the destroyed Harrenhall in the background, the infamous castle that will be built by his grandson Harren the Black and torched by Aegon the Conqueror.
Another reference to the history of Harwyn is the man on the left who has fallen off his horse. There’s a broken shield with the sigil of House Hoare next to him. So this could be a soldier who has fallen, but also his brother, prince Harlan, whom he supposedly murdered.
The men carrying the ship in the background are Harwyn’s men, carrying the fleet from Seagard to the Blue Fork.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Harwyn Hoare, known as Harwyn Hardhand, was a King of the Iron Islands from House Hoare who conquered the riverlands and became the first King of the Isles and the Rivers. The ironborn longship Hardhand is presumably named in his honor.
In his youth Harwyn raided the Stepstones and visited Free Cities such as Volantis, Tyrosh, Braavos, and Lys. He was a captive in the Basilisk Isles for two years, served as a sellsword in the Disputed Lands, and joined the Second Sons, with whom he fought in several battles.
Harwyn succeeded his ailing father, King Qhorwyn the Cunning, although Harwyn had only been third in line to the Seastone Chair. His eldest brother had already died of greyscale two years prior, but the middle brother, Prince Harlan, died after falling from a horse. Though it was said to be an accident, the death was considered suspicious especially when King Qhorwyn passed six days later, allowing Harwyn to claim the throne as King of the Iron Islands.
Harwyn planned the invasion of the riverlands, which were weakly held by the Storm King Arrec Durrandon. The ironborn landed one hundred longships south of Seagard and then carried the ships to the Blue Fork. Samwell Rivers’ small host was shattered by Harwyn’s charge at the Tumblestone. Harwyn then defeated the army of Lady Agnes Blackwood, who was betrayed by Lord Lothar Bracken. Harwyn was impressed with Agnes and offered her to become his salt wife, but the king killed her when she refused.
The Storm King Arrec then met Harwyn in a battle at Fairmarket. Aided by many river lords, including Lothar Bracken, Theo Charlton, and Lords Goodbrook, Paege, and Vypren, the Hoares crushed the stormlanders and Arrec’s rule over the riverlands collapsed. The rivermen had hoped to regain their independence and celebrated at first, but Harwyn retained control for himself. Lord Bracken had desired to be river king; he rose in rebellion six months later, which resulted in him starving to death in a crow cage.
Harwyn spent most of his reign ruling and suppressing rebellions in the riverlands rather than the Iron Islands. Harwyn died in bed with a salt wife at the age of 64, and he was succeeded as King of the Isles and the Rivers by his son, Halleck Hoare.
Harwyn was the grandfather of Harren the Black.
“Longships are meant to be sailed [and] swords are meant to be blooded.” – Harwyn to the ironborn
“His palace was a tent, his throne a saddle.” – Harwyn’s men regarding Harwyn
Dalton Greyjoy, known as the Red Kraken, was Lord of the Iron Islands, Lord Reaper of Pyke, and head of House Greyjoy during the final days of Viserys I Targaryen and then the Dance of the Dragons. He is regarded as a great hero of the ironborn of the Iron Islands.
Dalton was a daring and bloodthirsty man. He was loved by his men but not by his wives, as he tired of women quickly. Despite his youth, Dalton was shrewd.
The wild young son of the heir to Pyke, Dalton rowed at age five and reaved at ten, sailing with his uncle to plunder the pirate towns of the Basilisk Isles. By fourteen, Dalton had sailed as far as Old Ghis, fought in a dozen actions, and claimed four salt wives.
Dalton claimed a Valyrian steel longsword, which he named Nightfall, off a dead corsair. While fighting in the Stepstones as a sellsail, the fifteen-year-old Dalton avenged his uncle after watching his death. Because Dalton emerged from the fight drenched in blood from a dozen wounds, men began calling him the Red Kraken. Later in the same year, Dalton returned to the Iron Islands to claim the Seastone Chair after hearing of his father’s death. Immediately he began to build longships, forge swords, and train fighters, citing that “the storm is coming” as the reason.
The Dance of the Dragons began after the death of King Viserys I Targaryen in 129 AC when Dalton was sixteen. The Red Kraken is said to have laughed after hearing of the outbreak of war.
The greens of Aegon II Targaryen offered Dalton the position of master of ships and the admiralty to replace Ser Tyland Lannister, who had been made master of coin, if Dalton would bring his ships around Westeros to battle Lord Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake. Instead of leaping to the offer, Dalton waited to see what the blacks had to offer.
On the black council, Prince Daemon Targaryen suggested appealing to Dalton’s bloodlust to bring him on the side of Rhaenyra Targaryen. Instead of asking him to sail to Blackwater Bay, Rhaenyra only asked for Dalton to attack her enemies.
The Red Kraken chose black over green, deciding to attack the nearby westerlands, vulnerable with Lord Jason Lannister campaigning in the riverlands. His wife, Lady Johanna, barred the gates of Casterly Rock but was unable to protect the rest of the west. Dalton burned the fleet of House Lannister and sacked Lannisport, carrying off gold, grain, and trade goods. Hundreds of women and girls were taken as salt wives, including the favorite mistress of Jason and their natural daughters. Dalton led the capture of Kayce, and after the fall of Fair Isle Dalton claimed four of Lord Farman’s daughters as salt wives, giving the fifth, the “homely one”, to his brother Veron.
Lord Jason was killed in the Battle of the Red Fork in 130 AC.
For the better part of two years, the Red Kraken ruled the Sunset Sea like the driftwood kings of antiquity. The regency of Aegon III commanded Dalton to cease his raiding, but the Red Kraken ignored them.
While sleeping in Lord Farman’s bedchamber at Faircastle, Dalton was killed when the girl Tess cut his throat with his own dagger before throwing herself into the sea. As the Red Kraken had never taken a rock wife, his closest heirs were his young salt sons, and within hours a bloody struggle for succession broke out among the ironborn.
In 134 AC Jason Lannister’s widow, Johanna Lannister, avenged Dalton’s raids by having her men-at-arms sail to the Iron Islands with the fleet of Ser Leo Costayne, the lord admiral of the Reach. One of Dalton’s salt sons was taken captive, gelded, and made into Casterly Rock’s new fool.
ARTIST’S NOTE: This image shows Dalton and Tess on a ship, in front of a burning castle. It combines several aspects of Dalton’s life in one scene: the sea, raiding, Nightfall and his final demise – a woman.
This is a depiction of all the priests of the Drowned God and all the Maesters who wrote something about the Iron Islands that we know of from the novels and the World-Book. Even though they lived at different times throughout the history of the Ironborn, they are all featured in the same spot, a rocky beach somewhere on the islands, maybe on Pyke or Harlaw.
This time-spanning depiction was strongly inspired by Raphael’s picture “The School of Athens” in which he drew all the great philosophers of the Ancient World. I wanted to include George R.R. Martin in the picture somewhere and I came up with the idea of depicting him as Sauron Salt-Tongue. That lead to the idea to have him stand next to other authors who influenced him, so I did some research on authors that he explicitly mentioned in interviews as inspiration. Most of them were beardless elderly men, so I gave them some more facial hair and removed their glasses. There are three exceptions. Damphair is my good friend Henryk, who is featured in the family tree of the Greyjoys as well. Galon Whitestaff will also appear somewhere else on the map, so I used an actual model. And lo and behold: there’s a map-drawing maester called Theron Pyke at the bottom, of whom was said that he could draw better than write. In front of him you see a sketch of… well… Middle Earth.
Aeron Greyjoy, the “Damphair”
Aeron Greyjoy is the youngest surviving son of the late Lord Quellon Greyjoy and Lady Sunderly, and is a younger brother of Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands. As a result of a near-death experience during Greyjoy’s Rebellion, Aeron became a priest of the Drowned God, and is now called the Damphair because of his wet hair. In the image he is pointing up and down, signifying the suspense between the seats of the Storm God and the Drowned God.
The Shrike was a priest of the Drowned God who lived during the reign of Harmund III Hoare, King of the Iron Islands. His given name is unknown. He is pointing towards the west (Great Wyk), answering the age-old question, where Hoares go to.
Tarle, the “Thrice-Drowned”
Tarle, better known as Tarle the Thrice-Drowned, is a priest of the Drowned God. He is renowned for his incredible success rate when performing the drowning ceremony, a rate only surpassed by Aeron Greyjoy.
Sauron Salt-Tongue was a priest of the Drowned God. He declared the ironborn to have originated in the Drowned God’s watery halls, made in the god’s image, emerging from beneath the seas with dominion over all the waters of the earth.
Lodos was a drowned man who claimed to be the living son of the Drowned God.
Beron Blacktyde, known as Blind Beron Blacktyde, is a priest of the Drowned God from House Blacktyde.
Galon Whitestaff was an ironborn priest of the Drowned God who lived during the Age of Heroes.
Haereg was an archmaester who wrote the exhaustive History of the Ironborn.
He suggested that the ancestors of the ironborn were not First Men, but instead a race of unknown origin from beyond the Sunset Sea who created the Seastone Chair, but he ultimately rejected the idea for lack of evidence.
Archmaester Hake believed the the kings of House Hoare were ungodly men, but Haereg believed they were resented by the ironborn because of their tolerance for the Faith of the Seven.
“You may dress an ironman in silks and velvets, teach him to read and write and give him books, instruct him in chivalry and courtesy and the mysteries of the Faith, but when you look into his eyes, the sea will still be there, cold and grey and cruel.”
Hake was an archmaester from Harlaw who wrote about the history of the ironborn.
“The man who owns a boat need never be a thrall, for every captain is a king upon the deck of his own ship.”
Maester Theron Pyke
Maester Theron, born Theron Pyke, was a maester of the Citadel born a bastard of the Iron Islands who lived a century ago. In his manuscript Strange Stone he postulated the existence of Deep Ones a “queer, misshapen race of half men sired by creatures of the salt seas upon human women”. Theron suggested they inspired the legend of merlings and that the sea creatures who fathered them inspired the religion of the Drowned God. He also noted a certain likeness between the black stone of the ancient fortress on Battle Isle that serves as foundation to the Hightower and that of the Seastone Chair, both of unknown origin, and postulated they had been constructed by the Deep Ones.
Old Grey Gull
The Old Grey Gull is a priest of the Drowned God. His true name is unknown. He lives on a rock.