- "Stannis is a commander. He's led men into war twice. He destroyed the Greyjoy fleet."
- ―Eddard Stark
The Battle of Fair Isle was a pivotal naval battle in the Greyjoy Rebellion, taking place approximately nine years before the beginning of the Game of Thrones series. After the defeat of the ironborn in the Battle of Seagard, Lord Stannis Baratheon, Master of Ships to King Robert I, smashed the Iron Fleet, paving the way for the Iron Throne to invade the Iron Islands themselves and ultimately crush the rebellion.
When King Robert Baratheon is mortally wounded in a hunt, his youngest brother Renly Baratheon argues with Eddard Stark that he should succeed ahead of middle brother Stannis Baratheon, citing that Stannis is not fit to be a king because he is a stern man who inspires no love or loyalty. Eddard counters that Stannis is a proven battlefield commander, in both Robert's Rebellion and the Greyjoy Rebellion in which he "destroyed the Greyjoy fleet" (though he doesn't mention the "Battle of Fair Isle" by name). Renly responds by pointing out that no one denies Stannis' accomplishments as a soldier, and Robert was a good soldier too, but asks if Eddard still honestly thinks that good soldiers make good kings. Having seen how ill-fitted Robert was to ruling, Eddard cannot deny the truth of what Renly says, but leaves saying that he will not declare for Renly, because he will not dishonor Robert's final hours by shedding blood in his halls.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Lords Stannis Baratheon and Paxter Redwyne are sent to deal with the Iron Fleet following the attack on Lannisport. Stannis devised a trap for Victarion Greyjoy and destroys the Iron Fleet off the coast of Fair Isle, in the Sunset Sea.