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Rickard Karstark

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"Any man who stands between a father and his vengeance asks for death!"
―Rickard Karstark[src]

Rickard Karstark is a recurring character in the first, second and third seasons. He was originally played by guest star Steven Blount and debuts in "Fire and Blood". The role was recast for the second season with John Stahl playing Lord Karstark. Rickard Karstark is the Lord of Karhold and the head of House Karstark, a vassal of House Stark.



Rickard Karstark is the Lord of Karhold and the head of House Karstark, a vassal family to House Stark of Winterfell. He is a close ally and distant relation of House Stark.[1] He has three sons, Torrhen Karstark[2] Harrion Karstark[3], and Harald Karstark.

Season 1Edit

Lord Karstark listens to the debate between Robb Stark, Jonos Bracken and Greatjon Umber about whether they should join forces with Renly or Stannis Baratheon. When the Greatjon names Robb as the King in the North and lays his sword at his feet, Karstark is the second to join him, saying he'll have peace on those terms.[4]

Season 2Edit

Stark Bannermen

Stark bannerman hear that Queen Cersei rejected their peace terms in "A Man Without Honor".

Rickard Karstark is among Robb Stark's host in the Westerlands and is present when Alton Lannister gives Queen Cersei Lannister's response to Robb's peace terms. Karstark's son Torrhen Karstark is later killed by Jaime Lannister during an escape attempt. After Jaime's recapture, Lord Rickard demands Jaime's execution in revenge for the murder of his son, but Catelyn Stark speaks for his life. After Lord Rickard's threatening reaction, she reminds him that he has sworn an oath of loyalty to Robb Stark and that Jaime is a prisoner of war. She says that he should remember who his king is and who she is. She promises him that Jaime will be punished for what he did. Reluctantly Lord Karstark gives in, but demands retribution when his King returns from The Crag. During the confrontation with Lady Catelyn, Lord Rickard also dismisses Talisa Maegyr as a "foreign bitch".[2]

Catelyn sends Jaime to King's Landing with her sworn sword Brienne to exchange him for her captive daughters, fearing that Rickard or his men will kill him if he remains in the camp. He is furious that she has denied him his vengeance and rejects her argument that Jaime may yet save the lives of her children, adding that he personally would happily exchange his life for those of his deceased children, Torrhen and Harrion, even if it meant captivity for them. Robb tells Catelyn that she has betrayed him and orders her kept under guard.[5]

Season 3Edit


Rickard and Roose Bolton find the slaughtered prisoners at Harrenhal.

Rickard's faith in Robb continues to deteriorate as the Northern host arrives at Harrenhal, finding the castle's inhabitants had been put to the sword. Roose Bolton attempts to reassure Rickard, telling him that he has sent his best hunter in pursuit of the Kingslayer, and that the dead will be avenged in time. Karstark, however, is clearly unconvinced.[6]

Lord Karstark manifests his disapproval of the march to Riverrun for the funerals of Lord Hoster Tully, grandfather of his King, considering it a distraction from the war effort. When questioned by Robb if he has lost faith in the Northern cause, Lord Karstark insists that if the cause is revenge he will keep faith "until it snows in Dorne", but adds that he believes Robb lost the war the day he married Talisa Maegyr.[7]

Rickard Karstark and his men kill Martyn Lannister and Willem Lannister in the dungeons of Riverrun and are brought before Robb Stark. He openly insults the King in the North and claims the war is a lost cause. Remaining true to his honor just like his father, Robb decides that Lord Karstark must die for his treason. Though Edmure Tully, Talisa, and Catelyn attempt to advise Robb to hold Karstark hostage and send him to the Night's Watch after the war - on the basis that the Karstarks form a significant portion of Robb's army, and they will abandon Robb if he executes their lord. Despite the warnings of all of his councilors, Robb refuses to listen.

Robb prepares to execute Rickard s3e5

Rickard Karstark is executed by Robb Stark.

As Lord Karstark is brought before Robb, he reminds him that the blood of the First Men run through both of their veins since they are of the North. Lord Karstark also reminds Robb he fought alongside Eddard Stark during Robert's Rebellion and alongside him against King Joffrey. Finally, he states that they are both kin, since House Karstark was founded by a Stark of Winterfell. Robb tells him that all of it didn't stop him from murdering the Lannister boys and it will not save him now. Rickard doesn't want to be saved, but he wants it to haunt him for the rest of his days. True to the traditions of the North and his father, Robb Stark personally beheads Rickard Karstark with a single strike of his sword after Rickard curses Robb and renounces all allegiance to him.[8] In the aftermath, the Karstark forces abandon Robb and return home.

In the meantime, while he is being tortured in the Dreadfort, Theon Greyjoy incorrectly assumes Ramsay Snow to be Rickard's son, keeping him prisoner on Rickard's orders, since he is Robb's bannerman, remaining unaware that Rickard has been executed.


Spoken by Rickard
Brienne of Tarth: "To threaten my lady is an act of treason!"
Rickard Karstark: "Treason!? How can it be treason to kill Lannisters!?"
— Rickard and Brienne of Tarth[src]
Catelyn Stark: "Wise men do not make demands from Kings."
Rickard Karstark: "Fathers who love their sons do."
— Rickard shows his desire to kill Jaime Lannister.[src]
Rickard Karstark: "I lost one son, fighting by your son's side. I lost another to the Kingslayer, strangled with a chain. And you commit treason because your children are prisoners? I would carve out my heart and offer it to the Father if he would let my sons wake from their graves and step into a prison cell."
Catelyn Stark: "I grieve for your sons, my lord..."
Rickard Karstark: "I don't want your grief, I want my vengeance, and you stole it from me."
— Rickard to Catelyn Stark on releasing Jaime.[src]
Rickard Karstark: "200 Northmen slaughtered like sheep."
Roose Bolton: "The debt will be repaid, my friend. For them, and for your sons."
Rickard Karstark: "Will it? They rot in the ground while their killer runs free."
Roose Bolton: "The Kingslayer won't remain free for long. My best hunter's after him."
— Rickard and Roose Bolton[src]
"It's treason to free your enemies! In war, you kill your enemies! Did your father not teach you that, boy!?"
―Rickard to Robb Stark[src]
"Leave me to the King. He wants to give me a scolding before he sets me free. That's how he deals with treason. Our King in the North. Or should I call him 'the King who lost the North'?"
―Rickard to Brynden Tully[src]
Rickard Karstark: "The blood of the First Men flows in my veins as much as yours, boy. I fought the Mad King for your father. I fought Joffrey for you. We are kin, Stark and Karstark."
Robb Stark: "That didn't stop you from betraying me, and it won't save you now."
Rickard Karstark: "I don't want it to save me. I want it to haunt you to the end of your days!"
— Rickard expresses his disdain to Robb before his execution.[src]
"Kill me and be cursed! You are no King of mine!"
―Rickard's last words to Robb[src]
Spoken about Rickard
Robb Stark: "I'm not fighting for justice if I don't serve justice to murderers in my ranks, no matter how high-born! He has to die."
Catelyn Stark: "The Karstarks are Northmen. They won't forgive the killing of their Lord!"
Talisa Stark: "Your mother's right. If you do this, the Karstarks will abandon you."
— Catelyn and Talisa warn Robb of what will happen if he executes Rickard.
Catelyn Stark: "Spare his life, keep him as a hostage."
Edmure Tully: "A hostage. Tell the Karstarks that as long as they remain loyal, he will not be harmed."
— Catelyn and Edmure strongly advise Robb to keep Rickard as a hostage to no avail.[src]


Season One appearances
Winter is Coming The Kingsroad Lord Snow Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things The Wolf and the Lion
A Golden Crown You Win or You Die The Pointy End Baelor Fire and Blood
Season Two appearances
The North Remembers The Night Lands What is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis
Season Three appearances
Valar Dohaeris Dark Wings, Dark Words Walk of Punishment And Now His Watch is Ended Kissed by Fire
The Climb The Bear and the Maiden Fair Second Sons The Rains of Castamere Mhysa

Family treeEdit

Rickard Karstark family tree

Rickard Karstark

Karstark sig
Lady Karstark
Karstark sig
Harrion Karstark
Torrhen Karstark
Harald Karstark family tree
Harald Karstark

Behind the scenesEdit

Rickard Karstark

Steven Blount as Rickard Karstark in "Fire and Blood."

Originally Vinnie McCabe had been announced in the role of Rickard Karstark, however he turned out to be playing a Lannister bannerman, Leo Lefford, in the same episode as Karstark's debut. Steven Blount appeared as a Stark bannerman in "Fire and Blood."[4] Blount's character was given lines spoken by Rickard Karstark in the book and his CV lists him as playing Lord Karstark.[9] For the second season it was announced that John Stahl was playing Rickard Karstark.[10] Stahl was named on screen as Lord Karstark in "A Man Without Honor."[2]

Bryan Cogman acknowledged that Rickard Karstark worships the Old Gods, so his line that he would cut his own heart out and offer it to the Father (one of the Seven) if it would bring his sons back is an error; Cogman reconciled this by saying that Lord Rickard's line should be understood as simply being very sarcastic, i.e. equivalent to if he had said "I'd rip out my heart and offer it up to the Great Stallion of the Dothraki if it would bring my sons back."

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Rickard Karstark is the ruling lord of House Karstark of Karhold. Their lands are along a heavily-forested headland far to the north-east of Winterfell, overlooking the Shivering Sea. He is named for Eddard Stark's father, Rickard, and fought in Robert's Rebellion alongside his liege lord. He has four children: Harrion, Torrhen, Eddard and Alys. He's described as gaunt and long-bearded, and Jon Snow implies he is a fierce warrior.

Two of Lord Rickard's sons, Torrhen and Eddard, are struck down by Jaime Lannister in the Battle of the Whispering Wood, while he kills Stafford Lannister at the Battle of Oxcross. Lord Rickard's mention of losing a son to Jaime prior to Torrhen's death seems to reference Eddard's death at the Whispering Wood. Though clearly angered that Jaime is kept alive, Lord Rickard doesn't openly demand the execution of Jaime. Catelyn's decision to send Jaime back to King's Landing isn't caused by Karstark's actions but of fear that Joffrey may execute Sansa on a whim, as she believes Theon has executed Bran and Rickon. Lord Rickard becomes furious when Robb forgives Catelyn for her actions, and murders the hostages Willem Lannister and Tion Frey - not Martyn Lannister. Robb subsequently orders Rickard executed, and the Karstarks abandon him.

Rickard is succeeded by his son Harrion, who is currently held prisoner by the Lannisters and his whereabouts are unknown. Rickard's execution has severe consequences in the books. While the TV series make it clear that all of the Karstark forces abandoned Robb, it is implied in the books that the few Karstarks who remained with Robb following Rickard's execution played a role in the Red Wedding.

See alsoEdit


v  d  e
Lord: Harald Karstark Heir:
Seat: Karhold Lands: The North
Title(s): Lord of Karhold
Ancestors:Brandon the Builder · Rodrik Stark · Karlon Stark · Beric Karstark · Mara Karstark · Commard Karstark · Regan Karstark · Berrican Karstark · Petyr Karstark · Laurence Karstark · Jon Karstark
Deceased members:Rickard Karstark · Torrhen Karstark · Harrion Karstark
Overlord:House Bolton

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