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  • JON: As a boy looking out from my father's castle,

  • I thought the sun could never set on the North.

  • So vast did it seem.

  • A part of me still does.

  • The North is by far the largest of the Seven Kingdoms

  • and can fit the other six inside it.

  • Not that the others care.

  • Cold and damp, that's how the Southerners see the North.

  • But without the cold, a man can't appreciate the fire in his hearth.

  • Without the rain, a man can't appreciate the roof over his head.

  • Let the South have its sun, flowers and affectations.

  • We Northerners have home.

  • Mine was once Winterfell,

  • the ancient seat of my father's family, House Stark,

  • who have ruled the North since the First Men and were once the Kings of Winter.

  • Growing up, Lady Catelyn made sure I knew I wasn't a Stark,

  • no matter how much blood I shared with her trueborn children.

  • But where their name rules over the North, mine is the North.

  • Snow.

  • Our land stretches from the Wall down to the Neck,

  • a narrow land that divides us from the rest of Westeros.

  • Legend has it that the Children of the Forest flooded it in their war against the First Men.

  • If that's true, every Northman owes them a debt of gratitude.

  • The swamps of the Neck are as good as the Wall

  • for keeping out unwelcome armies.

  • And if the swamps don't deter you, the crannogmen men should.

  • Small, shy people who rarely leave those swamps

  • and who follow House Reed,

  • the gatekeepers of the North

  • and among the most important and loyal bannermen of House Stark.

  • Also a bit strange.

  • I heard their oath of fealty once as a child.

  • It's like no other lords'.

  • Ancient and dark, they swear by earth and water,

  • by bronze and iron,

  • and by ice and fire.

  • Where House Reed holds the gate to the North,

  • House Manderly holds the port, White Harbor,

  • the closest thing to a Southern city we have

  • governed by the closest thing to a Southern family we have.

  • Generations ago, the Manderlys were driven from the Reach,

  • but the Starks gave them their land in return for featly.

  • Now White Harbor is the richest city of the North

  • and the Manderlys the richest family.

  • Not in gold and silver like their Southern counterparts,

  • but in fish, grain and trade.

  • As for the other great Northern Houses,

  • the Starks brought them into the fold during the Age of Heroes.

  • A Stark wrestled an ironborn for Bear Island and gave it to the Mormonts.

  • A Stark granted a keep and land to a younger son, Karlon,

  • in return for putting down a rebellion.

  • His family then grew up into the Karstarks.

  • Starks fought the wildlings and their kings beyond the Wall

  • beside the Umbers of Last Hearth,

  • thus earning their fealty.

  • Boltons, back then they were the bane of the North.

  • A few were even rumored to wear their enemies' flayed skins as cloaks.

  • But after centuries of war,

  • they too bent the knee.

  • And so House Stark became the Kings in the North

  • but never forgot that they weren't the North.

  • When Aegon and his dragons landed on Westeros,

  • the kings of the Rock and the Reach

  • sent all their men to die to defend their grounds.

  • Torrhen Stark knelt to spare his people the same fate.

  • He placed duty above pride.

  • Just as my brothers in the Night's Watch had done for thousands of years at the Wall.

  • Many think of it as the end of the world, but it's not.

  • I've seen other land stretch as much farther than any man knows

  • into the Land of Always Winter

  • where the White Walkers came from during the Long Night.

  • After the First Men and the Children of the Forest beat them back,

  • Brandon the Builder raised the Wall

  • and set up the Night's Watch to guard the realms of men.

  • He gave us our oath,

  • our castles and the Gift,

  • the lands behind the Wall whose farms and crops sustain us.

  • Southerners may now mock my black brothers

  • as thieves, rapers and worse.

  • And not without cause.

  • But the North remembers why we're there.

  • And if we fall, the South will get a very harsh,

  • and very cold reminder.

  • TYWIN: The Westerlands are all bounded by three natural defenses.

  • Mountain, sea and forest.

  • Necessary barriers when the land is as rich as ours.

  • From our mines come the gold and silver that fuel the rest of Westeros.

  • From Lannisport, our largest city,

  • come the most skillful gold and silversmiths in the land.

  • Yet, geography alone is not strength.

  • The Westerlands would've been sacked and pillaged for thousands of years,

  • if it hadn't been for the men who ruled it.

  • My family. House Lannister.

  • According to legend, we trace our descent to Lann the Clever.

  • A trickster of the Dawn Age,

  • who swindled the Casterlys out of Casterly Rock,

  • their ancient castle.

  • A childish story, but not without merit.

  • One, a mind can and should be a weapon in a man's arsenal.

  • Two, Lann must've been clever enough not to rely solely on his wits.

  • After all, where today is House Casterly?

  • Three, by keeping the Casterly name on the castle,

  • Lann reminded the world of the price of getting in his way.

  • The Reynes ignored all these lessons.

  • Not content with being the second richest family,

  • they sought to challenge the first. Mine.

  • My father had put up with their insults and disrespect.

  • When I came of age,

  • I led our army to teach them what they should've known.

  • Some people say I was too harsh.

  • That eradicating every member of their family was not necessary.

  • But now there are no bannermen as loyal to their lord

  • as the Westerlands to us.

  • If any lord bridles at our authority,

  • I have only to send a singer with a harp

  • and he falls back into line.

  • Because I will not have our lords squabble amongst themselves,

  • like the lords of the Riverlands,

  • or hide in their castles like the lords of the Vale,

  • each of our bannermen contributes a unique skill

  • that furthers the whole of the Westerlands.

  • House Clegane, because every lord needs a beast from time to time.

  • So, Gregor strikes terror into the hearts of our enemies

  • and our friends.

  • So too, does his disappointing brother, Sandor, the traitor.

  • House Payne, who provides us loyal servants.

  • Ser llyn Payne was once captain of my household guard,

  • until the Mad King heard him boast that I ran the Seven Kingdoms,

  • which I did.

  • The Mad King tore out Ser llyn's tongue.

  • Making him especially well-suited to later become the King's Justice.

  • Apparently, these days,

  • a younger Payne also serves my degenerate son, Tyrion.

  • House Lefford, who guards the Golden Tooth,

  • the eastern pass through the mountains,

  • and the all too frequent chaos of the Seven Kingdoms.

  • Though after Robb Stark's recent incursions, perhaps we need a new gatekeeper.

  • Fools look at the Westerlands and see gold.

  • Fools see our wealth and call it strength.

  • Gold is just another rock.

  • The Westerlands are strong because of House Lannister.

  • From strong leadership comes unity.

  • From unity comes power.

  • BLACKFISH: Men have fought over the Riverlands since the Dawn Age.

  • But that's to be expected of things that rest below the Neck.

  • It doesn't help that the Riverlands are between everything and everything else.

  • The Westerlands' gold, the Reach's grain,

  • the Vale's rock and the North's snow.

  • House Mudd once ruled as the kings of the rivers and hills.

  • But after a thousand years, their line was exhausted

  • and fell to the Storm Kings who fell to the ironborn.

  • I suppose after years of drowning at sea,

  • our rivers looked pretty attractive to that race of pirates and rapers.

  • Never mind that their monstrous castle, Harrenhal,

  • was too large to staff and garrison.

  • It turned out the ironborn wouldn't be there long enough to bother.

  • Aegon Targaryen landed to our south,

  • and as had many before him, liked the look of the Riverlands.

  • My ancestor, Edmyn Tully, led the desertion of riverlords to his cause.

  • And was rewarded by getting to watch King Harren burn in his own tower.

  • Unfortunately, that's not all Edmyn got.

  • House Tully was named the Lords Paramount of the Trident,

  • which means we had to keep in line all those lords

  • who hadn't governed themselves for thousands of years.

  • We were now responsible for aiding the Mallisters at Seagard

  • against the pouting ironborn whenever they got cheeky.

  • For settling Harrenhal on a family

  • stupid enough to think its curse would skip them

  • after devouring all previous families.

  • For keeping the Blackwoods and Brackens from wiping each other out.

  • And giving us two more castles to deal with.

  • For keeping the Freys in their place and out of others' pockets.

  • For marrying off our sons and daughters wisely enough

  • so we didn't follow House Mudd into...

  • Well, the mud.

  • Yet under the Targaryens, the Riverlands knew a peace we hadn't had for centuries,

  • if even

  • But like all good things, sooner or later, it all goes to shit.

  • And our shit had a name.

  • Aerys Targaryen.

  • Westerns has had 'ms share oi mad Hugs,

  • but usually they had the sense not to bully more than one powerful house at a time.

  • Aerys soon blundered into a triple alliance.

  • The North, Stormlands, and Vale rose against him.

  • But, of course, where do you think most of the blood was spilled?

  • My brother, Hoster, guaranteed the answer to that

  • with the marriage of my niece to Eddard Stark, the Warden of the North.

  • At least Hoster didn't send her to Robert.

  • So the Riverlands joined the war against the Mad King.

  • And it was on one of our rivers that Prince Rhaegar died,

  • sealing the fate of his dynasty.

  • Robert was a great soldier and a horrible king.

  • Drinking and whoring are their own brand of madness

  • when you sit on a throne that everybody wants.

  • He died and another war started.

  • Again the armies marched, again the Riverlands burned.

  • If Westeros isn't careful,

  • pretty soon our people will grow some sense and abandon this place for a safer realm.

  • Like the Dothraki Sea.

  • I joke, of course.

  • The Riverlands are our home and Gods help us, we love it.

  • Still, as they say, the king eats and the hand takes the shit.

  • The same is true of the Riverlands.

  • The Seven Kingdoms piss,

  • and the Riverlands change clothes.

  • BRIENNE: Tarth has lulled many a novice sailor into complacency.

  • Our lush island sits on calm, blue water like an emerald set into a sapphire.

  • You would never guess that such a vision is only the sheath

  • hiding the blade of Shipbreaker Bay,

  • with its treacherous tides, unpredictable gales,

  • and sharp rocks lurking just below the water's surface.

  • The storms that blow through the bay water the Kingswood and Rainwood,

  • two of the great forests of Westeros.

  • And they give the Stormlands their name.

  • Even without our weather, we have more than earned our name in strife.

  • The first Storm King, Durran,

  • started his reign by declaring war on the Gods themselves.

  • He loved the daughter of the sea god and the wind goddess,

  • but they forbade the union.

  • At their wedding, the Gods unleashed their might,

  • pulling down his hold and killing all of Durran's family and guests,

  • though his wife shielded him.

  • Durran vowed to rebuild.

  • And when he did, the Gods again destroyed his home.

  • His councilors begged him to retreat inland, but he would not abandon his wall.

  • Finally, with the counsel of the Children of the Forest,

  • or perhaps a young Bran the Builder,

  • Durran raised a seventh castle that, try as they might, and still do,

  • the wind and sea gods could not tear asunder.

  • Durran took the name Godsgrief, and called his new home Storm's End.

  • Having beaten the waters to the east,

  • the Storm Kings turned their gaze to more practical enemies,

  • the Reach, Riverlands and Dome.

  • For thousands of years, the Storm Kings fought the Gardener kings of the Reach,

  • and various families of Dorne for control of the Dornish Marches,

  • just below the Red Mountains.

  • The fighting didn't stop until Dorne married into the Seven Kingdoms,

  • a mere 100 years ago.

  • But still the houses of the Stormlands, such as the Dondarrions,

  • guard the Boneway, the mountain pass into the Marches,

  • against any Dornish incursion.

  • The Storm Kings had greater luck to their north, at first.

  • They took the Trident from the River Kings

  • and built an empire that stretched as far as the Neck.

  • But then the ironborn swarmed out of their islands

  • and pushed the Storm Kings out of the Riverlands.

  • No doubt, the ironborn intended to expand their empire into the Stormlands.