|World of Westeros - People|
|Friday, 15 August 2008 08:21|
Bran looked away and pretended not to have heard, but he could feel Greyjoy’s eyes upon him. No doubt he was smiling. He smiled a lot, as if the world were a secret joke that only he was clever enough to understand.
— A Game of Thrones
The Iron Islands breed hardy folk, fit for seafaring and battle and, some say, little else. Take them away from the salt-wracked stones of Pyke, and they turn into slighter, softer creatures, if Theon Greyjoy is any example. Theon Greyjoy is the youngest and only remaining son of Balon Greyjoy, ruler of the Iron Isles. For 10 years, Theon has been a ward of Eddard Stark, but he was as much a hostage as a son. The Lord Reaper of Pyke once led a rebellion, and his dreams of conquest had to be checked by Robert and Eddard’s combined forces; Lord Eddard was given Theon, Balon’s heir, to help assure his father’s future loyalty.
If Theon feels uncomfortable about his status, he never shows it. Lord Stark behaves well enough towards him, always correct in his dealings with Theon, yet there was always some distance there. Among the children, young Greyjoy is treated like a cousin of the family. He trains and fights with Robb and Jory Cassel, ignores Jon Snow, and feels confident enough to treat Winterfell like his home. Lean, dark, and permanently smiling, many find the heir to Pyke something of a closed book. To those who understand the language of ambition, however, Theon is not so very hard to read.
Theon desperately wants to be something or someone. Among the Starks, there is no real role for him to play other than “friend to the heir of Winterfell.” Robb is developing in his role as successor to Lord Stark, while Theon, far from his land and lineage, stands in a desperately secondary position. In blood, Theon is Robb’s equal; in age, his elder. If Robb is the descendent of the Kings of the North, Theon is the heir to the Kings of Salt and Rock. One lineage is no less noble than the other. The difference is that Robb is surrounded by his family and the traditions of Winterfell, while Theon has been displaced from everything that would make him a credible heir to his homeland. He no longer knows his family, the traditions of Pyke are a childhood memory, and even the rocks and sea are strange to him now. Theon knows what he is meant to be. Becoming it is another matter entirely.
The Starks have a lot to teach Theon, if he were interested in learning about leadership and integrity. Theon is never really capable of receiving that tuition, however, because he secretly resents his tutor. For all Eddard Stark’s kind treatment of the young Greyjoy, Theon will only ever regard him as the man who brought ruin to Pyke. Eddard never guesses his ward’s feelings, but perhaps this is not surprising. The Greyjoy symbol is a kraken — a dangerous creature of the depths, seldom seen until it rises to destroy.
Theon seems very happy among the Starks, and even develops some affection for Robb, though his feelings inevitably include a little condescension. He thinks of Robb as his younger brother; as Robb’s star gains the ascendant, Theon’s own delusions of grandeur grow. He likes to describe himself as Robb’s councillor, someone who guides the young king and to whom Robb looks up. In fact, Robb treats Theon like a friend, but no more. Theon is older than Robb, and his bawdy stories and readiness for battle make him easy company, but when forced to take on the responsibilities of ruling Winterfell, Robb shows himself to be aware of the Greyjoy’s faults. On several occasions, Theon’s conceit earns him no great praise if not outright criticism; to a certain extent, this only makes the matter worse. The more he is slapped down, the more determined he becomes to prove himself special. Unfortunately, while the Starks are generous in many ways, they don’t tend to praise unless it is well deserved.
An example of this occurs when Bran is attacked by bandits in the wolfswood. During the resulting stand off, Theon kills the leader of the raiders with an arrow, making him the hero of the day in his own eyes at least. Robb points out that had Theon missed or had the bandit been wearing a breastplate, Bran would be dead. Moreover, had the Stark retainers not been chasing after Theon on his turkey shoot, Bran wouldn’t have been left alone and the incident might never have happened.
Keen to do anything that makes him the centre of attention, Theon doesn’t see it that way. He is ambitious and does not lack bravery, but he has no judgement and lacks the patience to work steadily towards his goals. He craves a swift victory rather than a sure one. Theon is the kind of man who wins the prize he seeks and never counts the cost until it is too late. In some ways, he is the living embodiment of his House’s motto: We do not sow.
|Last Updated on Friday, 20 May 2011 01:35|