- "You think I'm insulted? I am a pirate. I'm an excellent pirate."
- ―Sallador Saan to Matthos Seaworth
Salladhor Saan is a minor character in the second and third seasons. He is played by guest star Lucian Msamati and debuts in "The Night Lands." Salladhor Saan is the commander of a fleet of mercenary warships. He was recruited to King Stannis Baratheon's cause but Salladhor abandoned him after the Battle of the Blackwater.
BackgroundEditSalladhor Saan is a pirate-lord from Lys. He commands a fleet of thirty ships that frequently prey on merchant ships traveling between Westeros and the Free Cities to the east. Sometimes in pursuit of extra wealth, he shifts from pure piracy to being a sellsail: hiring out the services of his ships and crews to the highest bidder, to act as mercenaries in various conflicts.
Davos Seaworth and his son Matthos meet with the Lysene pirate Salladhor Saan on a beach nearby Dragonstone. Davos promises that Salladhor will be paid a fortune in gold when they take King's Landing. Salladhor points out that Stannis Baratheon has the smallest army of the claimants to the Iron Throne and wonders why he should fight for him. Davos answers that Stannis is a proven battle commander unlike Renly or Joffrey, who have never fought before and adds that Stannis has just begun the fight and expects more of his bannerman to join his cause because he is the most honorable man in the Seven Kingdoms. Salladhor notes the irony of a smuggler vouching for the honor of a king.
Matthos warns Salladhor to mind his words, calling him a pirate. Davos silences his son and Salladhor says that he is not insulted, asserts being not only a pirate but an excellent one and that he does not sail for promises. Davos challenges this, explaining that Salladhor sails on a promise of ships to plunder every time he leaves port. Salladhor says that promise always comes true and Davos says that his promise is the same. Davos points out that Salladhor is not a young man and that pirate's lives are short. Salladhor jokes that only the clever pirates grow old. Davos suggests that Salladhor could continue to steal from cargo ships and live an easy life while it lasts but that he is offering a harder alternative with greater rewards. He promises riches and fame. Salladhor says that he has a good name for songs and then tells Davos that he wants Queen Cersei.
He says that he will lend his thirty ships provided he can get Cersei when they take King's Landing. Matthos is annoyed by Salladhor's selfishness and says they are not fighting for Salladhor to rape the Queen. Salladhor makes the distinction that he does not intend to rape her and jokes that Matthos has not experienced his persuasiveness. Matthos insists that Stannis has a divine right to rule and that the Lord of Light is the only god. However, Salladhor is dismissive of religion. Matthos turns away and Davos says that he cannot promise the Queen, only the gold and glory. Salladhor asks if Davos believes that Stannis can win and Davos replies that Stannis is the “one true king.” Salladhor contrasts Davos's loyalty to Stannis against their history together; Stannis chopped off Davos's fingers for smuggling. Salladhor says that he will sail with Davos because Davos is the most honest smuggler he has ever met and asks Davos to make him rich. They shake hands and Salladhor leaves.
Later that night Davos informs Stannis that Salladhor has agreed to join his forces. Stannis asks Davos if they can trust Salladhor, and he responds that he has known Salladhor for thirty years but has never "trusted" him. However, Davos is certain that Salladhor has been tantalized by his promise of vast wealth.
Salladhor's ship rescues Davos, who was thrown overboard by the wildfire blast in the Battle of Blackwater, from the sea. Salladhor, who abandoned Stannis' cause after the battle, offers Davos his hospitality but is very reluctant to take Davos to Dragonstone. He tries to dissuade Davos from trying to kill the red priestess Melisandre since she has sacrificed any man who speaks against her since the Battle of the Blackwater. He says she accuses those who are against her of being servants of darkness, and since they're both criminals (and therefore actual servants of darkness) they should stay well away. Davos insists on being taken back to Stannis's castle, and Sallador eventually agrees to stay just long enough to see Davos ashore.
|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|
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Salladhor Saan is a flamboyant and colorful figure, a respected ship captain and leader of men. While he sells his skills to the highest bidder, he has some genuine loyalty to his friends and allies. His personal flagship is the Valyrian, a great war galley that dips three hundred oars and is a famous - and sometimes feared - sight on the Narrow Sea.
In the books, the inhabitants of Lys distinctively have fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Salladhor himself is not said to be an exception, and possesses long white hair. Some of the other Free Cities have populations that have distinctive dark features, such as the olive-skinned inhabitants of Myr, Lys' great rival. The TV series changed this, as Salladhor is played by a dark-skinned actor of Tanzanian descent. However, it actually isn't that unusual to encounter dark-skinned people throughout the continent of Essos. The cities of Slaver's Bay routinely conduct slaving raids on the coast of Sothoryos, the continent south of Essos. Sothoryos is loosely analogous to Africa, as Essos is loosely analogous to Eurasia, and the inhabitants of Sothoryos are distinctively dark-skinned. Slaves are also often sold to the southern Free Cities such as Volantis, Lys, and Myr. Over the centuries, slaves have often won their freedom or escaped, and they or their descendants have gone on to become powerful merchants or risen through the social ranks to become powerful lords. Others are commonly encountered as pirates and mercenaries.
Writer Bryan Cogman later confirmed that, within the TV series continuity, Salladhor Saan is actually from the Summer Islands (whose inhabitants are notably dark-skinned), and apparently moved to Lys (similar to how Xaro Xhoan Daxos was changed to also originally be from the Summer Islands, but moved to Qarth years ago, and considers himself to be "from" Qarth). In Cogman's words, "we made him an expat [expatriate] from the Summer Isles", though after Season 2 ended, he couldn't remember if they made a conscious decision to make Salladhor black to make the cast more racially diverse, or if they simply chose him based on the strength of the actor's performance. At any rate, this means that TV-series Salladhor is originally from the Summer Islands, but he has been based out of Lys for many years (which actually isn't very far from the Summer Islands, located to the southwest) - and thus Salladhor considers himself to be "from Lys" and a "Lysene" national, although he is not "ethnically" a Lysene.
In the books, Salladhor Saan is actually related to Samarro Saan, a pirate who became one of the infamous "Band of Nine" during the War of the Ninepenny Kings, fought about forty years before the War of the Five Kings. An assorted band of mercenaries, pirates, and adventurers, the Band of Nine conquered the Disputed Lands, then Tyrosh, and were conquering the Stepstones to use as a base for a future conquest of Westeros itself when the Targaryens pre-emptively attacked. Samarro was also a Lysene and known as the "Last Valyrian". It isn't clear how exactly Samarro was related to Salladhor. Moreover, if Salladhor's backstory was significantly changed within the TV series, it isn't clear if they could still share the same relationship in the TV continuity - though it's entirely possible that one of Samarro's descendants simply moved to the Summer Islands (or perhaps fled, after the Band of Nine were deposed) and intermarried there.
During the Battle of the Blackwater, Imry Florent places Salladhor and his crew at the rear of the fleet. Davos thinks it is a mistake, for Salladhor and his men are experienced sailors and warriors, and were wasted at the rear. Salladhor and his fleet stay outside of Blackwater Bay to keep watch for any hidden fleets that may sneak up from behind. This snub turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because as a result Salladhor's sellsail ships were so far behind that they were the only part of Stannis's fleet that was not caught in the wildfire trap and destroyed. After Stannis's army is smashed by the combined Lannister-Tyrell force, Saan orders his ships to pick up the remnants along the shore, and transports them back to Dragonstone.
In "Valar Dohaeris", Salladhor says that he has been married four times, and that he had a son who died. This information has not been given in the books.