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"I'm going to find out who did this. I'm going to feed them to the sharks while they live."
―Yara Greyjoy[src]
Game of thrones 6x5 yara promo

Yara Greyjoy is a recurring character in the second, third, fourth and sixth seasons. She is played by guest star Gemma Whelan and debuts in "The Night Lands." Yara is an ironborn, Theon Greyjoy's older sister and his only surviving sibling. She was raised at Pyke, the stronghold of House Greyjoy. Yara is a fierce warrior and commands her own longship.

BiographyEdit

BackgroundEdit

Yara is the only daughter of Lord Balon and his wife, Lady Alannys of House Harlaw. Balon is the head of House Greyjoy and the Lord of the Iron Islands. The Iron Islands are one of the constituent regions of the Seven Kingdoms and House Greyjoy is one of the Great Houses of the realm. House Greyjoy rules the region from their seat at Pyke and Balon also holds the title Lord Reaper of Pyke.

Yara was born and raised at Pyke. She was Balon and Alannys's third child after Rodrik and Maron. She also has a younger brother, Theon. Eight years before the start of the series, Balon rose in rebellion against the Iron Throne and was defeated in a bloody war. Balon's two older sons were killed and Theon was taken by Lord Eddard Stark as a hostage for Balon's good behavior and obedience.[1] With Yara as Balon's only remaining child in the Iron Islands, he raised her as a surrogate son, encouraging her to become a reaver in her own right, which is unusual for women in the patriarchal culture of the ironborn. She is a fierce warrior and commands her own longship, to the disquiet of some of the ironborn who hold that women should not fight or command men in battle.[2]

Season 2Edit

Yara

Yara and Theon riding at Pyke.

Theon has returned to Pyke as an envoy from King Robb Stark. Yara rides out to greet him, posing as a commoner to get the measure of her brother. She offers him a lift on her horse up to the castle Pyke. He does not recognize her and is relentless in his attempts to seduce her. He presents Robb's suggested alliance to their father, Balon Greyjoy. Balon roundly rejects the terms, insisting that he is ironborn and will seize his crown. He compares Theon unfavorably to Yara, revealing her identity. He says that Yara will lead his assault.[3] Balon details a plan to attack the poorly defended north while Robb is distracted by his war with House Lannister. Yara is assigned thirty ships to seize Deepwood Motte, the stronghold of House Glover, while Theon is given a single ship to raid fishing villages along the Stony Shore. Theon is baptized by a Drowned Priest on the shores of Pyke in a show of loyalty to his blood relatives. Balon and Yara watch as he proclaims his faith in the Drowned God.[4]

Yara arrives

Yara arrives at Winterfell

Yara assembles her ships at Red Harbor. She rides to Lordsport to reach her fleet and encounters Theon struggling to command his unruly crew. She seizes the opportunity to mock him again. Her men would wait a year for her if need be, but Theon's crew is not loyal to him.[5] Yara's force takes Deepwood Motte as planned, but Theon ignores his orders and captures Winterfell instead by luring the garrison out to defend Torrhen's Square. He writes to Yara to request reinforcements to hold the castle. He announces to the assembled people of Winterfell that she will be sending him 500 men.[6]

She learns that he has executed Bran Stark and Rickon Stark (who were actually two orphans from the farm) for attempting to escape captivity. She rides to Winterfell with twenty men and tries to convince Theon to return home with her to avoid retribution from Robb Stark, but fails.[7] Theon is subsequently captured by House Bolton.

Season 3Edit

Yara Season 3 Trailer

Yara Greyjoy assembles her strike force to rescue Theon.

Following the events of the Red Wedding and Roose Bolton's ascent to Warden of the North, Ramsay Snow sends a letter and a box containing Theon's genitals to Pyke. In the letter, Ramsay demands that Yara's father order all ironborn to leave the North by the first night of the full moon under threat of flaying all of them alive and further torture and mutilation to Theon. Balon refuses to yield the lands and castles taken by the ironborn and dismisses Theon for having disobeyed him and for no longer "being a man" and unable to continue the Greyjoy line with children of his own. Yara, however decides to take the fastest ship of the Iron Fleet along with the 50 best killers of the Isles, sail up the Narrow Sea and into the Weeping Water, with the intention of marching against the Dreadfort to rescue her brother and bring him home.[8]

Season 4Edit

Yara in the dreadfort

Yara enters the Dreadfort.

Yara carries out her intentions of sailing to rescue Theon. She utilizes longboats and canoes to get upriver and approach the Dreadfort, and she and the ironborn soldiers use grappling hooks to scale the walls and find out where Theon is being held. However, when they enter the kennels where he is sleeping, Theon, believing it to be another one of Ramsay's psychological mind games, claims he is Reek and refuses to go. Ramsay enters with some guards, and in the ensuing fight most of both sides are killed. Yara offers Ramsay his life if he surrenders Theon, but Ramsay instead releases his hounds and the Ironborn are forced to retreat without Theon. Once back to the boats, Yara claims her brother is dead.[9]

Season 6Edit

At Pyke, Yara informs her father that the Glovers have retaken Deepwood Motte and put the ironborn garrison there to the sword. With the loss of Deepwood Motte, the last major ironborn fortress in the North, Yara reasons that the ironborn invasion is a doomed cause. When Balon insists on continuing the fight, Yara argues that while the ironborn are unparalleled in naval warfare, they fare poorly on land, especially against a much larger mainland host. During their conversation, Balon chastises his daughter for wasting men on trying to rescue Theon from the Dreadfort. Yara refuses to apologize for her rescue attempt but tries to convince her father to end their rebellion against the mainland.[10]

She points out that they were only able to take the strongholds in the North because the Northern lords were fighting a war in the South. Now the war is over and the northerners are taking back their strongholds from the ironborn. Yara then reminds her father that the last time they pushed the Northerners too far, they were defeated and she lost her two older brothers. Balon angrily responds that he lost three sons that day and warns Yara that he will replace her with another heir if she does not obey. The two part company and Balon is murdered by his estranged brother Euron Greyjoy.[10]

Yara and Aeron

Yara and Aeron discuss the upcoming Kingsmoot at the funeral of Balon Greyjoy.

Balon's body is discovered after the storm and the following day Yara attends hs seaside funeral which is officiated by her uncle Aeron Greyjoy, one of the Drowned Men priests. Following the funeral, she vows to avenge her father's death by finding whoever is responsible and feeding them to the sharks while they're still alive. When Yara announces her intention to succeed her father on the Salt Throne, Aeron reminds his niece that the Kingsmoot chooses the next ruler. While Balon wanted his daughter to succeed him, Aeron firmly points out that Balon does not make the rules. Aeron says that perhaps she will win the Kingsmoot and become the first woman in history to rule the Iron Islands - but then again, perhaps not.[10]

When Theon returns to the Iron Islands, Yara berates him for betraying her at the Dreadfort. She suggests that Theon's arrival just before the Kingsmoot signals his desire to be king, which he denies. After pressuring Theon to tell her what he wants, he tells her that he wants to support her claim to the Salt Throne.[11]

At the Kingsmoot, Yara is the first to claim the Salt Throne. She initially gains the support of those gathered, citing her experience leading the Ironborn and as a sea warrior. One person does not support her claim due to her gender and Theon's return. This remark prompts Theon to speak about Yara's bravery and legitimacy to rule. His speech convinces most of the Ironborn, but just as the Kingsmoot is about to close, Euron arrives. He lays claim, and Yara accuses him of murdering Balon. Euron admits his kinslaying but successfully convinces the Ironborn that their former king was holding them back from greatness. Euron wins the Kingsmoot, but while he is being baptized as the new ruler, Yara and Theon gather those loyal to them and sail with the majority of the Iron Fleet.[12]

AppearancesEdit

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
Season Four appearances
Two Swords The Lion and the Rose Breaker of Chains Oathkeeper First of His Name
The Laws of Gods and Men Mockingbird The Mountain and the Viper The Watchers on the Wall The Children
Season Six appearances
The Red Woman Home Oathbreaker Book of the Stranger The Door
Blood of My Blood The Broken Man Season 6, Episode 8 Season 6, Episode 9 Season 6, Episode 10

Image galleryEdit

Family treeEdit

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Balon Tree
Balon Greyjoy
Deceased
 
House-Greyjoy-heraldry
Alannys Greyjoy
née Harlaw
 
Euron Greyjoy Promo
Euron Greyjoy
 
House-Greyjoy-heraldry
Victarion Greyjoy
 
Aeron Tree
Aeron Greyjoy
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rodrik tree
Rodrik Greyjoy
Deceased
 
House-Greyjoy-heraldry
Maron Greyjoy
Deceased
 
Yara
Yara Greyjoy
 
Theon Tree
Theon Greyjoy
 
 
 
 

QuotesEdit

Spoken by Yara
"You were a terrible baby, do you know that? Bawling all the time, never sleeping. And one night you just wouldn't shut up, screaming like a dying pig. I walked over to your crib, I looked down at you. I wanted to strangle you. And you looked up at me and you stopped screaming. You smiled at me. Don't die so far from the sea."
―Yara Greyjoy to her brother Theon Greyjoy.[src]
"I'm going to pick the fastest ship in our fleet. I'm going to choose the 50 best killers on the Iron Islands. I'm going to sail up the Narrow Sea all the way to the Weeping Water. I'm going to march on the Dreadfort. I'm going to find my little brother and I'm going to bring him home."
―Yara vows to save her brother from Ramsay Snow.[src]
"My brother is dead."
―Yara realizes that Ramsay has all but destroyed Theon.[src]
Spoken about Yara
"She's commanded men. She's killed men. She knows who she is."
Balon Greyjoy expresses his delight with Yara.[src]
"You've got bigger balls than he ever did. But with those... big balls of yours...how fast can you run?!"
―Ramsay to Yara[src]

Behind the scenes Edit

  • On an interview with Thronecast, Gemma Whelan specified that "Yara" is pronounced "yah-ruh", not "yeah-ruh".[13]
  • On the Season 2 Blu-ray, Yara narrates Histories & Lore videos on "House Greyjoy" and "The Drowned God".
  • After Season 2, Yara only briefly appeared once in Season 3 and once in Season 4, then not at all in Season 5, before returning as a major presence in Season 6 for the substantial Kingsmoot subplot from the fourth novel. After her return in episode 6.2 "Home", actress Gemma Whelan was asked in interviews if she ever knew when Yara would be returning for her major subplot. Her response was that she never really knew when the Greyjoy storyline would return to focus with the later Kingsmoot subplot: even by Seasons 2 and 3 the production team felt lucky enough to get renewed one season at a time. Thus they didn't have any firmly established plans about whether the Yara/Kingsmoot subplot would appear in Season 5, Season 6, or not appear at all - though Whelan was made aware that Yara could potentially have much more to do several seasons into the future, but nothing was definitive. She simply had to hope along with the audience that it would eventually appear in the TV series at some point.[14]

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels Yara is called Asha Greyjoy, but her name was changed in the TV series; possibly to prevent confusion with Osha the wildling. Ironically, as the daughter of a Great House and one of Balon Greyjoy's only two surviving children, Asha Greyjoy is actually a much more prominent character than Osha the wildling; Asha Greyjoy is even a POV character in several chapters. Thus it is curious why they changed Asha's name and not the other way around. It is probably because Osha was already introduced in Season 1 and the similarity with Asha Greyjoy's name wasn't realized until production on Season 2 began.

In the German dub of the TV series, however, the character is still called "Asha" as in the books.

Another small change is that in the books, "Asha Greyjoy" has short black hair, a lean build, and a sharp beak of a nose. In the TV series, "Yara Greyjoy" has brown hair. Other than these minor naming and cosmetic differences, Gemma Whelan's portrayal is actually quite faithful to Asha Greyjoy's behavior and actions in the books.

Balon is greatly proud of his wild headstrong daughter, and believes she can succeed him, although it is doubtful the other ironborn would accept her as their queen. He wishes Theon dead so he would not stand in Asha's way, though this resentment has been cut from the television series, where Balon appears to be genuinely saddened after "losing" Theon to the Starks.

Asha's uncles Victarion, Aeron, and Rodrik "the Reader" Harlaw respect her and acknowledge her power, but do not believe she can rule the ironborn due to her gender. Other ironborn often mock Asha ribaldy. However, Asha is confident and strong-willed enough to dismiss such attitude scornfully, and she always talks back sharply and make fun of those who taunt her.

Asha's crew adore her devotedly. Half of them love her as their daughter, the other half want to have sex with her, and all of them would die for her.

Some time after Winterfell was sacked, Asha comes there, but finds only unrecognizable dead bodies, partly eaten by wolves. She believes Theon is dead, but admits she cannot be certain. She, not Balon, receives a taunting letter from Ramsay with a piece of Theon's skin. That makes her realize what has become of her brother, but unlike in the show she never attempts to save him from the Dreadfort.

Over the years Asha has had several lovers, some shared her bed for half a year, some for half a night. She takes precautions (moon tea) to prevent getting pregnant. Her favorite lover is Qarl "the Maid", and she had thoughts about marrying him, but that would be impossible because he is too lowborn. Tristifer Botley, who was fostered by Asha's mother, proposed to her, but she declined (using her dagger to emphasize her refusal) because she prefers having adventures at sea and in battle rather than staying at home and raising children. So far in the books, there is no indication that Asha is homosexual, though she is seen kissing a woman in the series' sixth season.

Asha loves her father, but considers him as "a brave man but a bad lord". Sh realizes that the ironborn have gained nothing from his military campaigns - the Greyjoy Rebellion and the invasion to the north - only casualties. She believes it would be best for the ironborn to make peace with the north, and this is her main platform at the kingsmoot.

Asha becomes a POV narrator starting in the fourth novel, A Feast for Crows. This storyline was pushed back so it corresponds to TV-Yara starting in Season 6. Season Six incorporates the Ahsa storyline from the novel but changes some of the order of events. In A Feast of Crows, Balon is dead by the time that Yara returns to the Iron Islands. Instead of visiting Pyke, she visits her uncle Rodrik Harlaw in the Ten Towers. Despite these differences, the TV series still incorporates Asha's character including her intention to succeed her father as ruler of the Iron Islands and her criticism of Balon's war strategy in the North. The death of Balon is first reported as an "off-screen" event in A Storm of Swords and Asha is not present at his funeral.

Asha's reunion with Theon occurs under very different circumstances in the fifth novel, A Dance of Dragons. Asha, who by this stage has been taken prisoner by King Stannis Baratheon, encounters a dishevelled and battered Theon; who had recently rescued the false "Arya Stark" (actually Jeyne Poole) from Ramsay Bolton. By that stage, the Kingsmoot has already occurred with Asha and her followers fleeing back to Deepwood Motte in the wake of Euron's victory. In the novels, Asha initially does not recognize Theon - in her eyes he is an old man, resembling a scarecrow, his face is a skull with skin, his hair bone-white and filthy; a reversal of their first reunion on Pyke in A Clash of Kings. When Stannis intends to execute Theon for his role in the alleged murders of Bran and Rickon, she pleads for his life. When that fails, she petitions Stannis to execute him with the sword to spare him a painful death by burning.

While the Kingsmoot in A Feast of Crows also results in Euron's victory, it takes place under different circumstances from the TV series. Firstly, the Kingsmoot takes place on Old Wyk rather than Pyke. Instead of a two horse race between Yara and Euron, her book counterpart Asha has to face several candidates including her other uncle Victarion Greyjoy. Asha manages to humiliate one of her opponents, Erik Ironmaker, by daring him to stand on his two feet. Erik's support evaporates when he is unable to rise. Unlike the TV series, Asha campaigns on a peace platform castigating Balon's war and advocating making peace with the North in return for some lands. In the novel, the Kingsmoot almost ends in a fight between Asha and Victarion's supporters until Euron manages to win the Ironborn over by having one of man blow an enchanted horn, the Dragonbinder. Following Euron's victory, Asha and her supporters travel overland through Great Wyk before sailing back to Deepwood Motte. In A Dance of Dragons, Euron does not intend to kill his niece and nephew; believing the latter to be dead. Instead, he uses a seal to marry Asha to Erik Ironmaker, who rules the Iron Islands in Euron's absence.

Asha learns soon about her marriage. She is not annoyed for being married without her consent to a man who is old enough to be her grandfather, nor does she dedicate any thought whether the marriage is valid and can it be annulled - she simply accepts that as a fact. She reluctantly admits that it was politically wise of Euron: he turned a rival into a supporter, secured the isles in his absence, removed Asha as a threat, and probbaly had a good laugh of using a seal as a proxy.

At Deepwood Motte, Asha considers her options: go to Torrhen's Square, which is still held by Dagmer; make new life as a trader; settle at Sea Dragon Point; return to the Iron Islands and try to raise the ironborn against their new-crowned king. Tristifer Botley, who wishes to marry Asha, tells her about Torgon. The fact that in the past a Kingsmoot was ruled unlawful gives Asha an idea, but before she has a chance to think it over, Stannis attacks Deepwood Motte, destroying nearly all Asha's troops and taking her captive. Asha believes that now she has no hope to claim the Seastone Chair: the ironborn are not a forgiving people, and she has been defeated twice - by Euron at the kingsmoot and by Stannis.

Stannis takes Asha with his army, a prize to show the north that he can vanquish the ironborn. Asha, however, knows better: bringing down a woman will not awe any Northmen, thus her worth as a hostage is less than naught. Her uncle Euron rules the Iron Islands now, and he does not care if she lives or dies. It may matter some to Eric, but he does not have enough money to ransom her (even if Stannis ever agrees to release her for a ransom). Asha sees no point explaining that to Stannis, especially after she makes the mistake of mentioning Robert to him.

During the march to Winterfell, which is narrated from Asha's POV, a knight named Ser Justin Massey spends a lot of time with her. Asha finds him unimpressive, because he is not an ironborn and too much of a gentleman - definitely not her type. She is told that Ser Justin wants her - namely, her lands. His ancestral holdings were lost to him, so he seeks an advantageous marriage. No doubt he dreamed of putting her in the Seastone Chair on Pyke and ruling through her, as her lord and master. Asha, who knows how her people think, is aware that it is impossible: that would require ridding her of her present husband and Euron. She muses that Euron could eat Ser Justin for breakfast and wouldn't even belch. Morever, her father’s lands will never be hers, no matter whom she marries: her political position has been weakened seriously due to her two recent defeats, more than enough to stamp her as unfit to rule. Wedding Ser Justin, or any of Stannis Baratheon’s lordlings, would make her people despise her for marrying a "soft green land lord". Still, Asha does not deflate Ser Justin because he brings her food and wine, his company is much better than others of Stannis's host, and he is one of the few who'd object to sacrifice her to R'hllor.

On the sample chapter of the sixth book, Theon overhears Ser Justin requests permission from Stannis to marry Asha, reasoning that one day Stannis will need to take the Iron Islands, and that will go much easier with Balon Greyjoy's daughter as a catspaw, with one of his own leal men as her lord husband. Ser Justin claims the fact that Asha is currently married is not a problem: her marriage was done with a proxy, and was never consummated, therefore can be annulled; besides, Eric Ironmaker has one foot in the grave. Stannis thinks it over and answers "Serve me well in this matter of the sellswords, and you may have what you desire. Until such time, the woman must needs remain my captive."

.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

v  d  e
Lord: King Euron Heir:
House-Greyjoy-Main-Shield
Seat: Pyke, Pyke Lands: The Iron Islands
Title(s): King of the Iron Islands · Lord Reaper of Pyke · King of Salt and Rock · Son of the Sea Wind · Lord of the Iron Islands
Ancestors:The Grey King · Vickon Greyjoy
Current members:Aeron Greyjoy · Alannys Greyjoy · Euron Greyjoy · Theon Greyjoy · Victarion Greyjoy · Yara Greyjoy
Deceased members:Balon Greyjoy · Rodrik Greyjoy · Maron Greyjoy
Household:{Dagmer} · {Lorren} · {Drennan} · {Gelmarr} · {Stygg} · {Aggar} · {Wex} · {Urzen}

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