- "Knock down the statues, strip away the gold, and this is what remains"
- ―The High Sparrow
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the High Sparrow is a prominent member of the "sparrows", a religious movement formed during the War of the Five Kings in the wake of brutalities committed against septs as well as men and women sworn to the Faith of the Seven. The sparrows form as a popular disgust movement, outraged that the Lannisters are completely indifferent to the death and starvation that the smallkfolk are suffering due to the war Queen Cersei started. They call themselves "the sparrows" because, just as the sparrow is the humblest of birds, they are the humblest of men.
The sparrows are also angered that the leadership of the Faith of the Seven has become corrupt and easily bribed off by the Lannisters, rather than speak out against their crimes. The High Septon when the war began was richly dressed and too obese to walk far, even as war refugees starved to death in the streets of King's Landing (this High Septon was later torn to pieces by a mob in food riots). The ruling council of the Faith of the Seven, known as the Most Devout, have also amassed great personal wealth in their offices - which they usually display by wearing expensive silks and jewelry. In stark contrast, the High Sparrow is a poor priest who used to travel the countryside performing his services: he wears only a simple roughspun tunic of white wool, as a sign of his humility and piety.