The Full Game of Thrones Family Crest Line-Up

It was pointed out to me a week ago that Thomas Gateley, the man behind the Game of Thrones minimalism series I featured, actually had a larger collection relating to the series that was worth checking out.

I went on his Flickr page and found that he’s crafted a poster for 20 different houses in the GoT universe, complete with symbol, slogan and allegiance. Sure most of us know the Starks and the Lannisters at this point, but the Brackens? Martells? Boltons? I didn’t think so.

I hereby issue a challenge to Game of Thrones know-it-alls out there to help use noobs understand the universe better. In ways that do not spoil anything past season one, list some members of these lesser known houses that we might know from the show so that we can figure out who matches up with where. That would be helpful, and I know a lot of you are probably up to the task. Gallery starts below:

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  1. I’ve only just begun reading the series but I can do a few off the top of my head:

    Greyjoy: Robb Stark’s right hand, basically, is Theon Greyjoy (the redhead who’s inlove with the prostitute Roslyn).
    Tully: Lady Catelyn Stark is a Tully.
    Arryn: The house of the former Hand of the King, Jon Arryn. Lady Stark takes Tyrion Lannister to her sister Lysa (who was married to Jon Arryn) in the Vale of Arryn for trial.
    Mormont: The commander of the Night’s Watch is a Mormont. I believe Jorah (the knight travelling with the Targaryans) is his son.
    Clegane: Sandor and Gregor (The Hound and The Mountain) are Cleganes.
    Tyrell: The Knight of Roses, who competes in the tournament and gives Sansa a Rose is Loras Tyrell.

  2. As of Book 1 you know the Mallisters by Lord Jason Mallister, Lady Whent because she rules in the cursed castle of Harrenhal.

    Some of the others don’t come into play until Book 3.

  3. A bit of further information on Theon Greyjoy…

    Rather than being sent to the Starks as a ward (as seems to happen all over the place), he was taken by Ned Stark as an assurance of his fathers good behaviour after he and Robert Baratheon stormed the Iron Isles (home of the Greyjoys).

    Tullys… As Guy Incognitus said, Neds wife Catelyn was a Tully… Her sister Lyssa (with the kid who’s WAY to old to still be breast feeding) was married the ex-Hand John Arryn.

    Yes, Jorah, the knight travelling with Danerys IS Lord Mormonts (commander at the Wall) son.

    Baratheon… As well as (dead) King Robert, there are 2 brothers… Renly (who was seen being shaved by the knight of flowers) and Stannis who’s been mentioned but did a runner before the series got started (I think)… He should be coming into series 2.

  4. While those are all awesome, they represent the fundamental problem I have with George R R Martin and the Game of Thrones books (or Song of Fire and Ice or whatever). Of course you can draw incredible adaptations of things represented in the book. THE ENTIRE SERIES OF BOOKS EXIST SOLELY SO GEORGE R R MARTIN CAN DESCRIBE HOW HOUSE BANNERS AND THE SCENERY LOOK. Honestly, read through any of the books and tell me you’re not reading a list of colors and descriptory words at least half the time. Sometimes multiple paragraphs are devoted to describing the banner of a house, or the way sunlight reflects off the scenery. Let’s not forget that GRRM has to describe EVERY SINGLE HOUSE’S BANNER, even small, pathetic houses who are never mentioned again. I swear, he must be tripping on some really strong acid to find colors so interesting.

  5. House Bolton becomes really important in the North later on in the series, and the only character from House Seaworth is this awesome guy called Davos, who is with Stannis. We get to see him next season, so you can look forward to that. A knight from House Swann is part of the Kingsguard, and those characters become pretty important later on, too.

    Also, Jim Lahey, I just want to point out how silly the sentences, “Honestly, read through any of the books and tell me you’re not reading a list of colors and descriptory words at least half the time. Sometimes multiple paragraphs are devoted to describing the banner of a house, or the way sunlight reflects off the scenery” are. ‘Descriptory’ isn’t even a word. In case you’ve forgotten, description is one of the fundamental things that makes any given piece of literature memorable. I’m not saying that GRRM is fantastic, or that he doesn’t introduce some superfluous characters/houses, but your argument is really, really stupid. If there weren’t multiple paragraphs describing the scenery, how will we, the readers, have an adequate picture of what’s going on? Come on. He’s not dropping acid just because he likes description. If you don’t like Game of Thrones, come up with a better reason for it.

  6. @ Jim

    I completely disagree. You could say Martin frequently mentions sigils, but to say he explains them in great detail is completely wrong. He refers to them frequently in order to help the reader keep all of the families straight, but at most he just describes the colors and the logo.

    Martin is not without faults, but being overly descriptive is not one of them.

  7. @uncoolaidman

    If you say so… I just don’t think sigils need an entire paragraph to describe them. My main problem with the sigils is he describes every sigil in existence. That’s fine for the larger houses, but by the time I quit reading 700 pages into book three (those of you who have read it know what drove me over the edge), GRRM was describing sigils of people who weren’t important at all, and it was often the only time those people were mentioned in the books. Whenever there was a new battle, I heard four or five more sigil descriptions, then never heard from those houses again after the battle (why tell me about the sigil when you’re just using that house as cannon fodder?). I do understand the way he describes the sigils is representative of their houses and is used to ‘concisely’ tell the reader about those houses, but I feel he relies too heavily on that as his one way of distinguishing between certain people.

    You cannot, however, tell me his descriptions of the natural world in the books are concise in any way. He has frequently spent more than one full page describing a singe, simple scene, because grass can’t be green, it has to be a lustrous, swaying ocean of green stalks, with a glowing, bright white sun across them. Again, I am fine with his overly long descriptions of certain things, but I think he is using it as a crutch to make his books longer. Some support for this is that he didn’t even mean to write the fourth book. He just wrote so much for it, he had to split it into the fourth and fifth books. The series was originally going to be five books, but each one took him five years and 1,000 pages to write, so he extended it to seven (by the way, if he hasn’t died of diabetes or heart failure by the time he’s done with seven, I guarantee the series will continue until he does).

    While all of that doesn’t necessarily mean he is only writing descriptions of objects, it is indicative that he gets carried away very easily, and his stories become much more bloated than what he had originally planned.

  8. I don’t think what Jim is describing up there is true in the first 3 books but I do feel that AFFC and ADWD were way too slow-paced for my liking. However, I don’t think it was an issue of over-description of sceneries; the problem was that he spread the events of the books way too thin over numerous chapters in which barely anything happened. I’m having serious doubts he can wrap this up in two more books, but I do intend to see this series through to the bitter end. The TV shows are great right now because the first three books are fully awesome.

  9. so back on topic fellas

    Martell – Dany’s late brother, and former heir to Iron throne, Rhaegar, was married to Princess Elia, daughter of the head of House Martell. These guys live in the southernmost part of Westeros, out in the sandy deserts.

    House Tyrell – All flowers, these people. The young knight who fought Gregor Clegane in the tourney is Loras Tyrell, one of the House’s royal sons. Tyrells, as well as Martells, become important later on.

    House Bolton – Roose Bolton is its lord, and his bastard son Ramsay Snow. Sworn to the Starks up north. Specializes in skinning people. Not a joke. Will come into play soon.

    As for the rest of the Houses, they’re “skippable” I’d say.

  10. I dunno about being overly descriptive of sigals specifically but I do kinda agree in general. I do love the books but I did find my self skipping over the extensive description of every dish served at every meal, with the large feasts especially being ridiculous. And it is kind of annoying to have story lines SO spaced out, just as you’re getting into one thread the chapter ends and you need to wait 8 chapters to pick it up again. It’s just nit-picking though I do really enjoy the work overall

  11. Reading the posts about description, I think that there can be too much and too little.

    I have actually tried my hand at writing something in a similar genre and I have found that without sufficient description it’s really hard to get any feel for a scene. I have written whole pages of text and then gone back through it and added more description just because the text doesn’t match this picture in my head of a scene, alomst doubling what I wrote.

    Having just picked up Game of Thrones and begun reading, I can see why some would think that the books are too long. LOTR anyone???

    More of a problem for me is names. From the beginning he refers to the same characters by different names and I have found it hard to keep track of who the hell I’m reading about.

    So different things bother different people. If you don’t like it don’t read it.

  12. All the discussion (arguments?) about description pale into insignificance when you compare these books to Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho where EVERY time Patrick meets someone he describes EXACTLY what they’re wearing, where they got it from, how much it cost, how it compares to his own wardrobe selection for the day etc etc etc.

    For the record, I thought it was a brilliant book and, without these bits it just wouldn’t have been the same… You don’t have to read them but they DO need to be there.

    This series is slightly different since the descriptions aren’t there for the purpose of gaining insight into a character but the approach of ‘If you find the narrative boring, just skip it’ still applies.

  13. I’m surprised I don’t see House Frey, or Reed.(they will be in 2nd season for sure)

    House Karstark: They have blood of Stark in them. Their ancestor (Karlon Stark) Was a Stark and he left Winterfell and aqquired some land and built a castle, (called karl’s hold at first), eventually the name became karhold and the karhold starks became the Karstarks. 3rd season (or 3rd book) becomes interesting for this guy. So karstarks are like the Starks long lost family.

    House Tyrell: The house of ser Loras Tyrell, the knight of flowers, the guy who put ser gregor clegane (Mountain) on his ass.

    House Clegane: Sandor (hound) and gregor (The mountain), both brothers of this house sworn to starks, their banner has dogs on it, and lord tywin lannister always call them the dogs because of it (I’m not sure but good guess 😛 )

    The rest are either been covered or I don’t know it, (only halfway through book 3 part 1)

    Sorry for any grammar errors or spoilers.

  14. House Mallister: Sworn to Tully, part of the riverlands. One of their most powerful bannermen, Jason Mallister rules from Seaguard. Rarely comes into play for the story apart from being a side character

    House Bracken: Sworn to Tully, rule Stone Hedge. Have an ancient feud with House Blackwood of Raventree, also sworn to House Tully. The two houses produced Bloodraven and Bittersteel, two of the great bastards. Of slight importance in Book (Season) 5 and back history

    House Manderly: Sworn to House Stark. Rulers of White Harbour, the biggest city of the North and 5th biggest in the 7 kingdoms. Very powerful. Originated from the Reach and settled in the North a thousand years ago. One of the few northern houses who follow the Seven instead of the old gods. Ruled by Wyman Manderly. Important very late on. Very cool house members. Especially Wylla Manderly.

    House Swyft: Lannister Bannerman. Not a noble house but landed knightly house. Kevan Lannister’s wife is a Swyft. Usually among mentions of any Lannister Host.

    House Swann: of Red Cape. One of the Marcher Lords. Sworn to Baratheon. Only important person, Balon Swann, at least once history is taken aside.

    House Martell: The rulers of Dorne (one of the 7 kingdoms). My personal favourite. Their words unbowed, unbroken, unbent refer to them never being conquered by the Targayrens (united through marriage instead). Very powerful. Ruled by Doran Martell, who is the smartest of all the great lords in my opinion. Quote: “What is our heart’s desire” “Vengeance”

    Rest I think have been explained well, apart from the Boltons. But ill leave those to avoid spoilers

  15. GRRM describes all the banners because the banners are important to the people of Westeros, especially those in or serving one of the houses.

    Depending how far you are in the book series you will start to read a different attitude that the land across the Narrow Sea has regarding the Westerosi and their banners. It’s almost scoffed at the importance they place on them.

    Perhaps there is something to this? Maybe there will be major changes in Westeros regarding the houses or house system over the course of the last 2 books.

    Regardless, GRRM is the best fantasy writer since Tolkien. Personally, I think he’s better than Tolkien since GRRM writes for adults.

  16. For those of you who have read the books, there’s usually an index included at the end that lists the houses and shows their crest, describes their sigil briefly, names their allegiance and lists the members of the house. For those of you who haven’t read the books, pick them up the next time you’re at the bookstore–even if it’s for nothing more than to look at that index and the map of Westeros.

  17. @ Jim Lahey: Yes, I want to read a book full of descriptions such as: the grass was green. Seriously, are you five? This isn’t See Spot Run. Writing like that in short choppy sentences makes for one clunky book. Providing rich imagery makes a book enjoyable and incredibly immersive.

  18. A few houses have words that are known that aren’t on here.

    House Bolton: Our Blades are Sharp
    House Karstark: The Sun of Winter (referring to them being descended from the Starks)
    House Swyft: Awake! Awake!

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