The Neck is a swamp and marsh-filled region of Westeros, located where the waters of the Bite, an inlet of the Shivering Sea, and Blazewater Bay, an inlet of the Sunset Sea, draw relatively close to one another, making it the narrowest part of the continent.
The northern end of the Neck is controlled by House Stark via the formidable, but usually empty, ruined castle of Moat Cailin and their vassals, House Reed of Greywater Watch, which controls the interior of the swamps. The southern end of the Neck is held by House Tully of the Riverlands through their redoubtable vassals, House Frey of the Twins. The Neck presents a formidable tactical obstacle to anyone planning to invade the North and was instrumental in holding off the invading Andals. However, it was not effective against airborne dragons, leading King Torrhen Stark, the last King in the North, to his decision to bend the knee to Aegon the Conqueror during the Targaryen Conquest.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Neck was originally a much more pleasant location, but during the war between the Children of the Forest and the First Men it became a point of no retreat for the Children. When their formidable fortress of Moat Cailin looked like it might fall, the Children called upon the same sorcery they had used to shatter the Arm of Dorne centuries earlier to destroy the Neck and split Westeros in half. The sorcery was not effective and they merely flooded the Neck from coast to coast, creating bogs and swamps.
The swamplands of the Neck are by far the largest in all of Westeros, making it a rather unique biome. It is the only place on the continent inhabited by a species of crocodilians, known as "lizard-lions". Exactly what lizard-lions are like has not been made explicit, given that some species of animals in Westeros are not a one-for-one equivalent with real-life animals (i.e. shadowcats, direwolves, etc.). Lizard-lions are said to be ambush-predators, who remain motionless in the water until they strike at unsuspecting prey (much like real-life crocodilians), and they have teeth like daggers. House Reed does use a lizard-lion as its sigil, however, while Jojen and Meera Reed were introduced in Season 3 the TV series has yet to portray a version of their sigil, which might have given more insight into what lizard-lions are supposed to look like.
The inhabitants of the Neck, known as "crannogmen", dwell on floating islands and even build their fortresses on them. The people of the Neck are small of stature and survive by hunting the numerous animals who live in the swamps. The crannogmen use tridents, nets and spears in combat. The crannogmen are also blood of the First Men and hold to the Old Gods of the Forest. They submitted to House Stark when Rickard Stark, King in the North, defeated the Marsh King and took his daughter as wife.
The crannogmen have a hostile relationship with the inhabitants of the Twins to the south. The Freys and their servants call the crannogmen '"frog-eaters" and are disparaging of their martial skills.
The crannogmen maintained their ancient allegiance to House Stark, since King Rickard Stark defeated the Marsh King and took his daughter as wife, even when contact between them and the outside world had faded away to almost nothing. However, several years before the beginning of Robert's Rebellion, Howland Reed of Greywater Watch made the acquaintance of Eddard Stark. They became fast and loyal friends, and Reed stayed at Eddard's side throughout the war. During the battle at the Tower of Joy, when Eddard and six companions rode to free his sister Lyanna from the clutches of three Kingsguard, Howland Reed saved Eddard's life. The two of them were the only survivors of the battle. Howland Reed has since become Lord of Greywater Watch and had two children, Meera and Jojen.
Bear Island · Queenscrown · Last Hearth · Karhold · Winterfell · Deepwood Motte · Torrhen's Square · Castle Cerwyn · Hornwood · Ramsgate · Widow's Watch · Barrowton · White Harbor · Oldcastle · Moat Cailin · Flint's Finger · Greywater Watch · Ironrath
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