Game of Thrones Gemma Whelan Interview Yara Greyjoy

Gemma Whelan (Yara) on the kingsmoot, and Pilou Asbæk explains Euron’s missing eyepatch

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:

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.


  • The Night’s Watch also elect their Lord Commander (to be fair you said “among the only”)
    Are there any other examples?

    • The Volantines are another example. They elect from the nobility basically and any landholders may vote. It’s a big festival type atmosphere.

      • Volantis has a rotational electoral system, the bigger irony is that other elected leaders serve for life i.e. Ironborn Kingsmoot, Night’s Watch Lord Commander and the Sealords of Braavos.

        The triarchs must always go through the election to continue ruling. When one triarch tried to break the status quo he was ripped apart by elephants.

    • The mountain clans elect their leaders too. But everything is altogether too democratic with them.

      I should point out that the Kingsmoot happens only when succession is unclear, given Theon being absent and the only male son. It’s been hundreds of not thousands of years since one.

  • Totally off topic here but I’ve gotta say I’m really liking Grey Worm’s outfit this season. So much better than the droopy pants he’s worn every season prior that looked like man diapers! 😏

    • Y’know, we haven’t really gotten a chance to talk about it, what with all the craziness with Jon Snow and Euron and Ramsay and so on, but you’re right: it is better.

  • I really hope they don’t mess the Iron Islands’ storyline as they did with Dorne’s.

    • Agreed. I loved how in the first season Yara showed up in they really depicted her relationship to the men on her ship well. I hope that same respect comes through at the Kingsmoot and she is not just shoved aside as a non-contender. This season is supposed to be highlight the women in the series so I hope this remains true with her. In the books she had (some) support at the Kingsmoot, right? Been too long since I read AFFC to remember..

  • GRRM has a lot of fun with weird eyes, and the show has trouble doing them. Euron’s and Tyrion’s mismatched eyes, Dany’s amethyst eyes, etc. And if you give Euron an eyepatch, you would also expect him to have a parrot. I can understand the decision.

    Still, they should have done Bloodraven correctly. “A thousand eyes and one” is too good to screw up, but they did it.

    • A thousand eyes and one was never meant to be literal, lol. Bloodraven has two eyes like other humans. The thousand eyes refers to metaphorical eyes.

      • It is because he has thousands of eyes (I.e. spies) and one (being that he lost an eye to Bittersteel at the Red Grass Field).

  • He wears an eyepatch cuz some sailors/pirates keep one eye in the dark so when they go below deck they switch it to the other eye so the covered eye is already acclimated to the dark. Wouldn’t have been that outlandish to explain it that way.

  • If Theon does indeed go back to the Iron islands, he’s as good as dead. He has a chance to survive if he gets there before the Kingsmoot and leaves immediately after. Alternatively, if the election goes the way it does in the books and he sticks around, or gets captured before he can leave, Silence will have a new cockless figurehead that decays in real time.

  • It’s probably cos we already have one dude with an eye patch, beric in the brotherhood under no banners.

  • i suspect that in the series, Euron was banished because he raped Balon’s wife, instead of Victarion’s. so Theon is son of Euron. this explains why they are so similar in look. Theon will take Victarion’s storyline and will go to Mereen

    • Hope you’re right about Theon continuing. We’ve heard precious little in the way of spoilers about what he does beyond heading back to the Iron Islands, and I am fearful that he might be the next Big Death. Alfie Allen is such a wonderful actor, and I would be very sad if Theon’s arc ended.

  • But seriously is it that hard to get a damn eye patch? So sick of changes like this that would take almost no effort to include and make book fans so happy.

    • There was me thinking that this was a TV show adaptation of the books that has clearly said time and time again that it is not a like for like copy of the books.

      Feel free to vote with your TV remote if you are that sick of all the changes or re-read the book part that gushes over the all important Eye patch.

      • You’re so right! I forgot that I can’t have my own opinion on what would or would not be simple to include, regardless of it being an adaptation. One that people forget initially set out with the goal to be as true to the books as possible. How dare I share such an outlandish opinion!

  • They probably tried the eyepatch and decided it looked dumb or silly. That might explain Daario too — they might have tried giving him blue hair and a beard, and looked at it and said “that looks really dumb”.

    Not everything that works on the page works on screen.

  • the eye patch is not important… one might as well complain on tyrion’s beard

  • Thanks, Dan! 🙂

    Unfortunately, Euron’s eye patch is a hotter topic today than Grey Worm’s old man diapers… LOL.

  • Am I the only one who has a problem with this ?

    I mean, a Danish man taking control over anything at all ?

    They rolled over to the Germans faster than you can say Sieg Heil !