The Ironborn made an auspicious return to Game of Thrones this past Sunday, when Euron Greyjoy killed his older brother Balon, the self-declared king of the Iron Islands. Yara Greyjoy, Balon’s daughter, vowed revenge (although she doesn’t yet know that Euron was behind the murder), but before she can carry out her plans, the matter of succession must be sorted out. Very soon, the Ironborn will hold a kingsmoot, a meeting that will determine the next ruler of the Ironborn.
In an interview with TV Guide, Gemma Whelan, who plays Yara, talked a bit about how a kingsmoot goes down. “It’s not just a reign of tyranny,” she said. “It actually has got some structure to it. It’s a nice juxtaposition for the Ironborn.”
People would have to campaign, make their statements and say their manifesto of what they’re going to do. Then the Ironborn vote according to what they’ve heard.
The Ironborn are traditionally known for raiding seaside towns and taking money, goods, and slaves by force. They pay the iron price over there, not the gold. It is indeed a nice juxtaposition that the warlike Ironborn seem to be among the only people in Westeros who actually hold elections.
Yara intends to try to win over the Ironborn at the Kingsmoot, but as we saw during her conversation with Balon in “Home,” she’s not quite as eager to make war on the North as he was. By the sound of it, Euron will be at the Kingsmoot, too, and his “kill first, ask questions later” approach may appeal to many of the Iron Islanders.
Euron is something of an x-factor at this point in the story, but Whelan thinks it’s best to be wary of him. “He certainly puts the cat amongst the pigeons,” she said. “The little we’ve seen of him so far, he ain’t messing around, is he? He’s a law unto himself, as he is in the books. So it’s quite true to the characterization.”
One small thing that didn’t make it over from the books: in George R.R. Martin’s novels, Euron wears an patch over his left eye. He didn’t lose it—he just likes to keep it covered up. According to Theon, the patch conceals a “black eye shining with malice.” His right eye is blue, and referred to in the books as his “smiling eye.” Pilou Asbæk, who plays Euron, took to Twitter to explain the change:
— Pilou Asbaek (@PilouAsbaek) May 5, 2016
Well, that certainly makes Euron sound ominous. Personally, I don’t mind that the production pitched the eyepatch. There’s plenty of mystique around Euron already.
Whelan also weighed in on the current state of the relationship between Yara and her brother Theon. By the sounds of it, Theon will indeed make it home to the Iron Islands, although it’s unclear whether he’ll be in time to catch the kingsmoot. “It’s a good relationship even though it’s volatile,” Whelan said. “I do know that Yara is very morally correct and family-oriented. She wants the right things to happen, the right course of action. So we’ll see if her morals stand up when Theon returns.
At the moment, the Ironborn plot is one of the few that hasn’t gone beyond the books, and Whelan said that although there will be “some recognizable parts” to the Greyjoy storyline in Season 6, “there are some surprises as well.” We’ll have to watch and wait to separate the one from the other.