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A Song Of Ice And Fire / Tropes E to I

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This page covers tropes found in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Tropes A to D | Tropes E To I | Tropes J to R | Tropes S to Z | YMMV


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    E 
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The narrative draws zero attention to the similarity, but the random unnamed septon Brienne encounters pulling a wagon in her first chapter of A Feast for Crows perfectly matches Cersei's description of the new High Sparrow twenty-four chapters later.
  • Easy Evangelism: Subverted. At first it looks like the Free Folk around the Wall are quick to embrace Melisandre's faith rather plausibly since they're starving and the Others are slaughtering anyone who doesn't join the religion to get through the Wall. However it doesn't take long for them to start carving faces into the trees around their new homes.
  • Easily Forgiven: Robert's greatest ability as king is to turn his former enemies into allies by forgiving them for past conflicts. Short term wise it helped recovering from the war rather fast but in the long run his enemies are just plotting new ways to attack Robert outside a battlefield where he would have beaten them.
  • The Eeyore: Dolorous Edd is always making humorously pessimistic comments. It's unclear whether he's a genuine curmudgeon or just a very Deadpan Snarker.
  • Elaborate Underground Base:
    • The Guildhall of the Alchemists is a labyrinth of underground tunnels and halls in black marble. This is justified as they make wildfire down there; if the blaze goes out of control, the labyrinth is to slow its progress, and the experiment rooms are situated below rooms full of sand that are designed to collapse and smother everything down there.
    • Castamere, the seat of House Reyne, was essentially a walled mine converted into halls, galleries, and bedchambers.
  • El Cid Ploy: An Astapori army is defeated when the Butcher King is slain, and it's revealed that he's actually a rotting corpse tied to his horse.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Old Nan claims the sky is blue because their world is found in the eye of an impossibly large giant known as Macumber.
  • Elemental Eye Colors:
    • Downplayed because its more about elemental symbolism than Elemental Powers. The Starks, who are associated with ice, snow, and winter, have grey eyes; at least until Tully genes were added into the mix and everyone but Arya and Jon was born with blue eyes. The Tullys, who are associated with water and rivers, have blue eyes. The Tyrells, who are associated with nature, especially flowers, have golden-green eyes.
    • Melisandre, a priestess who worships a god of fire, has red eyes.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: The Children of the Forest and the First Men.
  • Empathic Environment: Rain streams down the face of several people in circumstances where they may well be shedding Manly Tears.
  • Endless Winter: Winters can last for decades. There are oral traditions of a winter that lasted for generations, and a myth that, should the Others return and invade Westeros, they will cause a winter that never ends. Word of God is that the unnatural seasons are caused by magic, but it's unclear if it's the Others' magic or something else.
  • Enemy Mine: Jaime and Brienne's team-up; Arya's brief stint in the company of the Hound could also qualify, since she passed up several chances to run away, and continued to help him until his death seemed imminent. In an effort to save everybody, Jon invokes this for cooperation with the Wildlings to fight the Others and their undead army, which is not popular with many of the Night's Watch.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Only death can pay for life. Jaqen H'ghar, Mirri Maz Duur and Melisandre all assert this, and most magic seems to follow the rule.
  • Ethnic God: The Drowned God is only worshipped by the Ironborn people. Lesser known ethnic deities from this universe are the Great Shepherd (worshipped by the Lhazarene people), Boash (was only worshipped by the Lorathi a long time ago), the nameless god of the Norvoshi, and the Black Goat of the Qohoriks.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: A few examples here, but one sticks out as the most literal recreation of the original trope. Jon Snow's apparent death at the hands of the Black Brothers at the end of A Dance With Dragons involves a group of them descending on him with daggers. Some of them while crying, since while they don't want to do this, they feel they have no choice.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Westeros is a pretty ruthless place, but some things are considered beyond the pale.
    • While slavery is practiced on the eastern continent, it is outlawed in Westeros and punishable by death. Even the Ironborn, who make "thralls" (indentured serfs) and "salt wives" (concubines) of their prisoners, are offended by the concept of chattel slavery. Children of thralls are born free, and some of the Iron Islands houses are descended from thralls.
    • Sacred Hospitality is taken very seriously, and there have been two severe violations of it in the series: one of these is Shrouded in Myth and still the subject of songs; the second occurs in A Storm of Swords and appals so many people that its short-term gains are soon overwhelmed by the huge loss of public face the perpetrators suffer. It's so important that in A Dance With Dragons, even while dealing out horrific retribution for the latter atrocity, the avenger is careful not to actually violate hospitality laws.
    • As a Blood Knight with redeeming qualities, Jaime Lannister may commit or attempt murder for reasons of varying morality: however, he would never kill by trickery or use assassins to do his killing for him.
    • Although there are many people who have no problem with murder, most will balk at killing a family member. Roose Bolton comments on this: "If the kinslayer is accursed, what is a father to do when one son slays another?"
    • As a warrior belonging to a culture that has been raping, pillaging and burning for the last several thousand years, Black Lorren is no stranger to brutality. But even he feels nothing but contempt for Theon, when the latter intends to use a young girl as a hostage to ward off a major Stark offensive.
  • Everybody Hates Hades:
    • In Westeros, one of the aspects of the Seven, the Stranger, is among other things the god of death. Hardly anybody worships him, loath to draw his attention to him, and the only people to regularly do so are the "silent sisters", the mute nuns who prepare bodies for burial.
    • In Braavos, by contrast, the House of Black and White considers every culture's death god to be an aspect of the Many-Faced God, who is not considered evil as death is merely an aspect of life.
  • Every Man Has His Price: A favourite tactic of Tyrion's. If he can't charm you, or outwit you, he'll offer to buy you off. And a Lannister always pays his debts. Unfortunately this tactic is less effect when he's up against members of his own family, who can outbid him in power and wealth.
    • Taken to its logical (and literal) extreme when Tyrion is Made a Slave and tries to buy himself while on auction (not that he really expected it to work).
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": There have been three High Septons so far, and none of them are even given names. It is eventually explained that it's their holy duty to forsake their earthly names upon taking office.
  • Everyone Is Related: Most of the main characters are aristocrats whose families have been intermarrying for centuries. Robert Baratheon's Arch-Enemy was also his second cousin, the Starks have distant cousins in various Vale families, many noble families in the Reach are related via Garth Greenhand, the Freys have marriage/blood ties to practically everyone, etc.
  • Evil Albino: Peasants believe that Ser Brynden Rivers, an albino bastard, is the Evil Chancellor (Master of Whisperers, then Hand of the King) to King Aerys I. It turns out that he became a greenseer long ago, but the jury's still out on whether he is now, or ever was, genuinely evil or just a Hero with Bad Publicity.
  • Evil Chancellor: Most chancellors are really after their own ends.
    • Littlefinger and Varys are always suspected of manipulating events for their own ends. These suspicions are completely correct.
      • Both of them tell Ned Stark pretty much outright "Don't trust anyone, not even me." It's possibly the most honest either of them has ever been.
    • Tywin Lannister has a fearsome reputation, and it's justified, but the land prospered during his original service as Hand, and the people loved him for it, at least at the time.
    • Tyrion is viewed as this by the smallfolk, but in reality he's the only thing standing between the realm and certain destruction. After Tyrion kills his father and goes missing, the situation in King's Landing deteriorates quickly.
    • King Aerys's final chancellor (after he had killed several others) was Lord Rossart, who was an evil chancellor because of how well he advanced the king's interests, being an insane pyromaniac just like Aerys.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Sansa manages to rack up quite a few:
      • Lysa Tully. Both Lysa and Sansa fell in love with the wrong kind of man except Lysa never learns and becomes Littlefinger's willing pawn going so far as killing her husband Jon.
      • Cersei Lannister. She and Sansa both dreamed of becoming Queen but quickly became disenchanted with the social expectations that came with this.
      • Littlefinger. Both he and Sansa were Wide Eyed Idealists as children and had sweet, gentle natures before going through a horrendous Break the Cutie and Trauma Conga Line process, resulting in both becoming cynical and emotionally guarded. The only difference so far seems to be that Sansa has maintained an aspect of her kind-hearted personality whilst Littlefinger is an outright sociopath.
    • Ramsay Snow and Jon Snow are both bastard sons of powerful northern houses. Jon, however, was raised in a loving household by his father at his father's home castle and is an acknowledged, highborn bastard son while Ramsay was left to his peasant mother and unacknowledged by his father for most of his life. And while they both disliked their illegitimate status, Jon was able to acknowledge he wasn't a legal Stark (see the discovery of the direwolves) and eventually accepted it; Ramsay's primary berserk button is being reminded of it. While Jon joins the Night's Watch for the sake of honor and duty, Ramsay razes Winterfell, Jon's home. Jon is honorable, heroic and strives to do the right thing while Ramsay is pretty much the direct opposite of that. Finally, while Jon turned down his chance at legitimization out of a sense of duty, Ramsay jumped at becoming a Bolton and likes to pretend he was never anything but that.
      • Their relationships with their families are also direct contrasts to each other. Jon loves and is loved by his father, Ned, who raises Jon alongside his trueborn siblings. Ramsay's father, Roose, treats Ramsay very poorly, disinherits him, and only acknowledges Ramsay once he realizes he has no other choice for an heir. Jon loves his half-brothers and sisters and even turns down becoming a Stark partly in consideration of their rights while Ramsay very likely poisoned his half-brother to lay claim to his, and Roose suspects he will do the same to any newborns Walda Bolton will bear as well.
    • Roose Bolton and Ned Stark are both powerful northern lords with bastard sons. However, Roose's relationship with his bastard son, Ramsay Snow, is a dark counterpoint to Ned’s relationship with his bastard son, Jon Snow. Ned raised and loved Jon as one of his sons, bringing him up alongside his true born children, while Roose treated Ramsay poorly, completely disinherited him, and only acknowledged Ramsay once his true born son was killed because Ramsey was his only remaining offspring.
    • Catelyn Tully and Cersei Lannister were both married off to cement alliances but the former grew to love her new family while the latter did not.
    • Maester Luwin always does his best to instruct the Lord of Winterfell to be good and just, whomever the lord is, while Grand Maester Pycelle is only loyal up to the point where he transfers his loyalty to someone else just because he wants to keep his job and/or his head.
    • Robb Stark and Joffrey Baratheon. They're both teenage leaders who gain power quickly due to the deaths of their dads. They also both die at weddings.
    • The Starks and Boltons are probably the two strongest houses in the North, keeping to many of the old ways, but the Boltons believe the Starks are soft because they no longer follow some of the North's less savory practices like the "Right of First night" and flaying.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog:
    • The direwolves know exactly who the Starks' enemies are, and at one point Catelyn sends someone on a Snipe Hunt because of the way Grey Wind growls at him. Most of the time, however, their objections go unheeded.
    • Averted by Daenerys' dragons. They're hostile towards a lot of people, both deserving and not, but are said to be particularly fond of Brown Ben Plumm, who ultimately goes over to the Yunkai'i. It's suggested that dragons' affinity for people is tied more to their possessing "dragon blood" (i.e. Valyrian ancestry) than their morality.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Others.
  • Evil Is Dumb: Viserys, Joffrey, and Theon. And Cersei, Oh Gods, Cersei!
  • Evil Matriarch: Cersei Lannister.
  • Evil Old Folks: Walder Frey, Olenna Redwyne, Craster. Though Olenna isn't so much evil as she is snide and manipulative.
  • Evil Overlord: The legendary Night's King, 13th commander of the Night's Watch.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Most of A Feast For Crows conserns this, as the deaths of Joffrey and especially Tywin, emboldens the surviving villains of Westeros to take advantage of the disorder. Cersei attempts to rule through her son, Euron Grejoy attacks the undefended Reach, the surviving Bloody Mummers rape and burn what's left of the Riverlands and it's hinted that Roose Bolton might crown himself King in the North.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Melisandre, though she claims to be acting for the good of humanity against an Obviously Evil foe. Her chapter in A Dance With Dragons makes her quite a bit more sympathetic, as it indicates that there may be some truth to these claims. The sorcerers of Qarth also seem to be pretty self-serving and malicious.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Stannis.
    "I stopped believing in gods the day I saw the Windproud break up across the bay. Any gods so monstrous as to drown my mother and father would never have my worship, I vowed. In King’s Landing, the High Septon would prattle at me of how all justice and goodness flowed from the Seven, but all I ever saw of either was made by men."
  • Evil Tainted the Place: A Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane example: the castle of Harrenhal was built by a tyrannical king (named Harren), who died right there when a dragon roasted him. Since then, no one manages to hold this castle for long, and everyone thinks of Harrenhal as an unholy and cursed place. The possible rational explanation for that is that the castle is too big for any non-royal feudal lord to properly maintain, and useless for defense because of damage sustained from that dragon.
  • Evil Uncle: Often deconstructed or played with more complexity.
    • Stannis and Renly Baratheon are pretenders to their nephew's throne. They're actually unrelated to Joffrey and Tommen by blood. Of course, when your nephew is Joffrey, it takes more than just wanting to depose him and set yourself up in his place to make you "evil."
    • Euron Greyjoy is the primary political rival of Asha Greyjoy and a pretty mean customer.
    • Arnolf Karstark joins with Stannis in hopes that the Lannisters will execute his great-nephew, leaving him lordship of Karhold.
    • Tyrion is regarded as Joffrey's evil uncle (on the Lannister side), but he's not particularly evil. However, unlike Stannis and Renly, he actually is Joffrey's uncle. Twice, as it were..
  • Evil vs. Evil: The War of the Five Kings is a prolonged conflict with many, many atrocities committed by both sides. Ultimately a case is made that all armies are essentially evil to the poor peasants who get caught in the middle of every conflict.
  • Evil Will Fail: Many of the worst characters who meet poor ends do so as a direct result of their horrible actions.
    • Joffrey Baratheon is murdered because his bride's family recognizes him as Obviously Evil and are smart enough to pull off an assassination without getting blamed.
    • Tywin Lannister is murdered because of his continuously callous treatment of his son.
    • Gregor Clegane is killed horribly out of revenge for an old atrocity.
    • The Bloody Mummers alienate all possible allies by their constant treacheries. They are also among the most sadistic and violent characters in the whole series. Vargo Hoat deserves special mention. He had Jaime's sword hand chopped off, then tried to rape Brienne. Brienne responded by biting off his ear. Roose Bolton arranged for Vargo's maester to leave with Jaime to tend to his stump, and without proper medical attention, Vargo's bite wound gets infected, leading to fever and delirium, and most of Vargo's men abandon him.
    • The Freys as a family are dropping like flies due to predatory reprisals by vengeful Northmen and the Brotherhood Without Banners due to their blatant violation of Sacred Hospitality at the Red Wedding. Despite their attempt to lie their way to absolvement, their reputation is badly tarnished by it in the eyes of those who don't prey upon them as well.
  • Exact Words:
    • It is Ironborn code that "Ironborn shall not spill the blood of Ironborn." So what does Euron do to his enemies? Drowns them in seawater.
    • Similarly, Khal Drogo deals with a belligerent Viserys while constrained not to spill the blood in his holy city by giving him the golden crown he asks for, in a different state of matter to which he expects it. Visiting merchants also bring guardsmen who strangle with silk ropes to punish thieves.
    • The tradition of giving a "guest gift", signifying the end of a host's obligation of Sacred Hospitality, is exploited to allow the host to have the guest killed immediately afterwards.
    • When Qhorin Halfhand commands Jon Snow to go over to the Wildlings, Jon pleads with him to at least tell the Lord Commander that he didn’t break his oath and acted under orders. Qhorin vows that “When I see him next. I swear it.” Unfortunately Qhorin planned to sacrifice himself to make Jon's defection seem genuine. He vowed to tell Jeor Mormont in the afterlife.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Biter.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: The fate of Ser Amory.
  • Explicit Content: The sex scenes in the series tend toward the explicit, though often they're intentionally un-arousing, so that the word porn seems a bit inappropriate.
  • Extranormal Institute: The Citadel. Zig-zagged in that the institute tries hard to be normal and to propagate the paradigm in which magic is nothing more than weird cultural studies. But there is a contrarian minority in the Citadel, which actively tries to study magic.
  • Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: The series is set in a Low Medieval European Fantasy, but much of the series is about the major families jostling for political power.
  • Extreme Libido: Amerei Frey is a nymphomaniac, which greatly reduces her value in an Arranged Marriage between House Frey and House Lannister.
  • The Extremist Was Right:
    • In the context of a feudal society with sharp class divisions and a fixed hierarchy of liege lord-vassal-lower vassals-landed knights and small-folk way, way below, is it more effective for a Lord to act like Tywin Lannister and ruthlessly cut down rebellions root and stem or be relatively benign and First Among Equals, like the Starks, and accept submission by the Boltons, leaving them with memories of bitterness and plotting future rebellions?
    • Tywin Lannister is also shown to deliberately cultivate this image among his supporters such as Kevan Lannister and Grandmaester Pycelle who believe that he's a man who does what needs to be done and so, is above the petty judgment of critics like Tyrion and the small-folk. Later both of them are killed for the same justification by Varys the Spider. He acknowledges that they are relatively benign and are stabilizing a realm but for him, the short term chaos is useful for peace, as he envisions it, in the longer run even mocking them for being good men in service to a poor cause.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Euron Greyjoy wears an eyepatch over his mysterious "Crow's Eye."
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    F 
  • Face Palm Of Doom: How Gregor Clegane kills Oberyn Martell, described in gory detail. Also a Thwarted Coup de Grâce.
  • Facial Horror:
    • Sandor Clegane's brother held his face in a fire as a child, leaving him with horrific burns that Sansa Stark, for one, can barely bring herself to look at.
    • Dagmer Cleftjaw's injury is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the result of an axe blow.
    • Tyrion with his misshapen head, odd eyes, and after the Battle of Blackwater, next to no nose
  • Facial Markings: In Essos, it is common to brand or tattoo slaves on their faces as marker identifying their status. In particular, Patchface has a checkered "motley" pattern tattooed on his face and priests of Rh'llor, who are generally temple slaves, have flame tattoos on their faces.
  • Failure Knight: Brienne, Jorah Mormont, Barristan Selmy, and Jon Connington. Cruelly subverted, however, with Ser Dontos, who is forced to become Joffrey's jester and then killed by his secret employer Littlefinger.
  • The Fair Folk: Two possible examples:
    • The Others are tall, slender, magical, malevolent creatures who live in the inhospitable north and prey on humans for no comprehensible reason other than the desire to expand. They also apparently take human children offered to them, somewhat reminiscent of changelings.
    • The children of the forest are a race of small, mysterious, magical, forest-dwelling people who came into conflict with humans many generations ago. They live for hundreds of years and have a great deal of power, but their time is drawing to a close.
  • Fake Defector:
    • When Theon takes over Winterfell, Osha pretends to join him, and then takes the opportunity to kill some of his men and smuggle Bran and Rickon to safety.
    • Jon Snow fakes a switch over to the wildlings at the insistence of Qhorin Halfhand. He even thinks of becoming a real defector until the wildlings test his loyalty by ordering him to kill a man whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jon is unable to bring himself to kill an innocent man.
    • The Tattered Prince has some of his Windblown fake defection to Dany's forces, but gets a surprise when some of his men, including Quentyn Martell, defect for real, having only been masquerading as sellswords to gain entrance to Meereen.
  • Fake Wizardry: The sorceress Melisandre definitely has magical powers, but they are weaker than she lets on, and so to maintain her image, she uses colorful powders, chemicals and the like. Making the stage magician connection is the fact that she literally keeps her "supplements" up her sleeves.
  • Fallen Princess: Sansa Stark and Margaery Tyrell. Daenerys is one since birth.
  • False Flag Operation: Cersei plans to stage an ambush on a Dornish party by a group claiming to belong to Tyrion.
  • False Reassurance: "A Lannister always repays his debts" can often be this. When Symon Silver Tongue attempts to blackmail Tyrion by threatening to expose Shae to his father or sister in order to be allowed to sing at Joffrey's wedding, Tyrion tells him he'll send Bronn to tell him when he's managed to find him a place. "You have my word as a Lannister, Bronn will call upon you soon." As soon as Tyrion leaves, he tells Bronn to take Symon somewhere private, kill him and dispose of the body.
  • Family Extermination: House Reyne rebelled against their liege lords House Lannister. Tywin Lannister retaliated by marching on their seat of Castamere and executing everyone in it. The house's downfall is popularized in-universe in the song "The Rains of Castamere", which features as a symbol of the Lannisters' intimidation and power.
  • Famous Ancestor:
    • Most houses have at least one person of great note to boast about being related to, many of them being legendary kings and warriors from the Age of Heroes. For the Great Houses, it often overlaps with Founder of the Kingdom. See the Character Page for more information.
    • Some commoners claim to have the blood of kings and lords because they descend from noble bastards. Such claims are practically impossible to prove or disprove.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Promise me, Ned." Lyanna Stark.
    • "Lyanna..." Rhaegar Targaryen. His death scene is never actually shown, but the official encyclopedia says this was his last word.
    • "The seed is strong." Jon Arryn
    • "For Robert!" Ser Waymar Royce
    • "The first sword of Braavos does not run!" Syrio Forel.
    • "I will give Lyanna your love, Ned. Take care of my children for me." Robert Baratheon.
    • "Joffrey Baratheon is the one true heir to the Iron Throne, and by the grace of all the Gods, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm." Eddard Stark
    • "Cold..." Renly Baratheon.
    • "Jeyne? Mother... Grey Wind..." Robb Stark.
    • "A son for a son." Catelyn Stark
    • "I...I can't..." Joffrey Baratheon.
    • "As if he could. Turn, Snow, and die." Qhorin Halfhand.
    • "Who calls me bastard?!" Craster.
    • "No corn. Tell Jorah. Forgive him. My son. Please. Go." Commander Jeor Mormont.
    • "Oh, you know nothing, Jon Snow." Ygritte.
    • "Ten thousand, as you promised, my lord." Dontos Hollard.
    • "Say the name!!!" Oberyn Martell
    • "More than anything, my giant of Lannister." Shae.
    • "I beg... a... a drink of water, and...another boon. If you would.''Maester Luwin.
    • "Only one? Oh, Petyr, do you swear it?" Lysa Arryn
    • "I want him dead, the traitor. I want his head, you'll bring me his head, or you'll burn with all the rest. All the traitors. Rossart says they are inside the walls! He's gone to make them a warm welcome. Whose blood? Whose?" Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King.
    • "Sister, please... Dany, tell them...make them...sweet sister...!" Viserys Targaryen
    • "You are...no son of mine..." Tywin Lannister.
    • " Aegon? Dead. He's dead." Kevan Lannister
    • "You will not take her whilst I still draw breath." Arys Oakheart
    • "Please, my lord. Mercy. I'll . . . I'll go, I will, I . . ." Janos Slynt
    • Oh. Quentyn Martell. Though this is one of the most famous last words of the series, it's neither his last word (he clings to life a few more days), nor does he ever say it (he thinks it while being roasted).
    • "You have no witness." Merrett Frey.
    • "Kill me, and be cursed. You are no king of mine." Rickard Karstark.
    • "Tansy." Hoster Tully.
    • "Ghost." Jon says this right before passing out from his stab wounds.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention:
    • Valyrian names almost always contain "ae", and/or end in "-ar", "-on', "-or", "-lys", "-rys" or "-nys" (Elaena, Maekar, Aegon, Maegor, Maelys, Naerys, Aenys). They also have many names starting with "Rhae" (Rhaegar, Rhaenys, Rhaenyra, Rhaella). The "ae" is also seen occasionally seen in the Free Cities and parts of Westeros (Taena, Margaery).
    • Male Dothraki names end in "-o" (Drogo, Haggo, Qotho). Daenerys decides to combine Valyrian and Dothraki naming conventions for her son, naming him Rhaego.
    • In Slaver's Bay, the letters "q" and "z" are extremely common and there is a "mo" or "zo" between the first names and surnames. (Kraznys mo Nakloz, Skahaz mo Kandaq, Yezzan zo Qaggaz).
    • In Braavos, the suffixes "-o", "-io", and "-is" are common for both first names and surnames. Some Valyrian naming conventions are seen as well, since Braavos is the "runaway bastard child" of Valyria (Tycho Nestoris, Noho Dimittis, Syrio Forel).
  • Fantastic Rank System:
    • The prime minister of the Seven Kingdoms is called the Hand of the King. His advisers sit on the Small Council and have official titles like "Master of Laws" (i.e. attorney general or justice minister), "Master of Coins" (i.e. secretary of trade or finance minister), and "Master of Ships" (i.e. secretary of the navy). In A Feast For Crows, Cersei prefers a more grandiose approach, and so changes the titles to be unique (and also so no man on the council may call himself "master" of anything over her); Master of Ships, for example, becomes Grand Admiral.
    • Dothraki khalasars are led by khals, who have a number of lieutenants calls kos. When a khal dies, each ko will sometimes split off to form a new khalasar with himself as khal.
    • While there is a de facto hierarchy of Houses based on wealth and power, there doesn't seem to be the formalized system of ranking nobility that there was in Medieval Europe. There are no Barons, Counts, Marquises, Dukes, or such, the only title that seems to be used is "Lord", which in real life indicated a subordinant of a Baron (the lowest Noble rank). In his early interviews, Martin admitted that he largely simplified the forms of feudalism to better fit Rule of Perception and make it easier to follow and track Lord by region, land, and allegiance, whereas in real history, this is far harder and more ambiguous, for both historians, and the actual feudal lords of that given era.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Bastard-born individuals in Westeros often face societal prejudice, disfavour and outright bigotry. Noble-born bastard children have their own regional surname (Snow, Stone, Storm, Sand, Rivers, Hill, Pyke, Waters, Flowers) because they do not inherit their father's house name. While it is possible to be legitimized (by royal decree), it is uncommon. Bastardy among smallfolk is generally not considered an issue, at least among nobles, since smallfolk have no titles or land to inherit.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: To a whole swathe of medieval history.
    • The main present story is a reworking of the Wars of the Roses, with the Feuding Families Stark and Lannister being less than subtle clues, though because the author likes to mix and match history, several incidents are interchanged and switch roles. The York Brothers are actually closest to the Baratheon Brothers, Robert (Edward IV), Stannis (Richard III) and Renly (George Clarence). Edward IV also inspired the downfall of Robb Stark (breaking a crucial marriage contract and alienating a key rival), while the Starks seek to avenge the death of Ned Stark (whose fate echoes that of Richard, Duke of York, father of the York Brothers). The plot of the Succession Crisis concerning the legitimacy of royal issue also parallels the historynote  and later devolve to a Cycle of Revenge that ends up depopulating the nobility. Likewise the landing of Aegon VI and the Golden Company echoes the arrival of Henry Tudor who arrived under a Red Dragon banner. And, even more directly, brief mentions are made of the Red and Green "Apple" Fossoways, who appear to have their own squabbles over titles and are two branches of a House. The symbol of House Tyrell, one of the major power players in the series, is depicted in the TV adaptation Game of Thrones as a dead ringer for the Tudor double rose,
    • Another character, Cersei, is almost directly inspired by Margaret of Anjou, who married Henry IV and ostensibly started the War of the Roses to begin with. Quite like Cersei, Margaret manipulated the king (who was less than competent on his own) and played a sort of chess master-like role in the conflict.
    • Richard, the Early of Warwick, is very similar to Roose Bolton, initially fighting for the Yorks but turning against them when the young Edward of York marries someone instead of his betrothed.
    • The Bishop of London asked the people who they wanted to see as king, and they gave an uproarious shout in the favor of Edward of York. This is almost exactly like the scene in which Robb Stark is proclaimed King in the North by his bannermen.
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  • The civil war between Aegon and Rhaenyra, is very similar — except for the dragons, of course — to the conflict between Stephen of Blois and Empress Matilda, cousins who vied over the English throne in the 12th century. Aegon is even persuaded to take the throne by his wife and mother, much as Stephen was. The Purple Wedding was also inspired by the death of Eustace (Stephen de Blois' son) at the the end of the Anarchy. Like the result of the Anarchy, Rhaenyra's claim is vindicated by her son Aegon III;
  • Likewise, The Red Wedding is based on real-life violations of Sacred Hospitality such as the Glencoe Massacre and the Black Dinner;
  • Cersei's (who is also inspired by Isabelle of France) convoluted "Fawlty Towers" Plot to frame Margaery for adultery was inspired by the Tour de Nesle affair, were the daughters-in-law of King Philip the Fair allegedly committed adultery;
  • The Blackfyre Rebellion is a reworking of the Jacobite Rebellion;
  • Cersei's situation in Clash of Kings resembles that of the Byzantine-born Bulgarian Empress regent known only as Smiltsena (named after her husband, Emperor Smilets) who ruled in 1298-1300: after her husband's death, she supports her infant son (Ivan IV Smilets) against her late husband's two brothers (boyars Voysil and Radoslav), and two other claimants (Theodor Svetoslav Terter, the son of a previously abdicated emperor, and Chaka, the son of a renegade Golden Horde warlord), while marrying her daughter off to secure an alliance with another nobleman (despot Aldimir). Like Cersei was offered to remarry into the Tyrells who were the Lannisters' most powerful neighbors at the time, but got rejected, Smiltsena unsuccessfully offered her own hand in marriage to Serbian emperor Stefan Dečanski. Just like Cersei' children were married off to the same house, Smiltsena's other daughter, Theodora, got married to the same emperor.
  • Some aspects of the War of the Five Kings, namely the Brave Companions pillaging the countryside, the religious frenzy and the burning of whole villages as part of a terror campaign comes from The Hundred Years War.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Lots and lots. Much of Westeros and the outlying lands seem to have been inspired by a real-world culture, Expy, or simply a well-worn fantasy trope. The most obvious are:
    • The Dothraki are a Born in the Saddle culture, based on the Mongols, Alans, Huns, Thracians, and Turkic peoples.
    • Valyria is a fallen empire modeled on Rome, with some Atlantis/Lemuria thrown in.
    • The Rhoynar culture, whose history is told in The World of Ice and Fire is somewhat modeled after the Greeks: independent city-states with a common culture, eventually conquered by Rome/Valyri. Though considering that they lost their homeland and eventually found home in Dorne/Moorish Spain, they are also quite similar to the state of Judea after the fall of the Jerusalem which birthed the Jewish diaspora, most of whom settled in the Iberian peninsula for centuries.
    • The Free Cities are loosely based on the medieval Italian city-states (including Italian-sounding names) and some elements of Ancient Greek culture, with Braavos being a City of Canals like Venice and Volantis having a oligarchical form of democracy like Athens. They even speak a language descended from Old Valyrian.
    • Old Ghis is a blatant counterpart of Carthage, right down to its rivalry with Valyria, the counterpart of Rome. The Slaver Cities —Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen— are reminiscent of other ancient Phoenician city-states, particularly Tyre and Sidon. Likewise, Qarth seems to share a great deal with ancient Baghdad.
    • Westeros as a whole has many similarities to Britain, including waves of conquering cultures (e.g. Aegon as William the Conqueror) and a wall up in the cold north to keep out barbarians. Even the colective name of the independent kingdoms (The Seven Kingdoms is a dead ringer for the Heptarchy: the Anglo-saxon kingdoms of late antiquity and early middle ages. Specific regions tend to show their own influences:
      • the North—Northern England and Southern Scotland
      • the Iron Islands—Viking Scandinavia, with their independentist streak reminding of Ireland's relationship with the rest of Britain
      • the Riverlands—Medieval Northern France (Anjou, Blois, Burgundy, Brittany, Champagne, Flanders, Maine, Normandy, and Touraine)
      • the Vale—The Alps
      • the Westerlands—Southern England
      • Dragonstone—Wales, in that the heir apparent to the throne is named Prince of Dragonstone.
      • the Stormlands—Medieval Germany
      • the Reach—Medieval Southern France (Aquitaine, Gascony, Limoges, Marches, Perigord, Poitou and Toulouse)
      • Dorne—Moorish Spain/the Mediterranean, with some Wales as well. Like the rulers of Wales, the rulers of Dorne style themselves as Princes.
      • Beyond the Wall—Northern Scotland; the Northern mountain clans are reminiscent of Scottish Highland Clans
    • Yi-Ti is heavily inspired by Imperial China. The similarity is only hinted at in the main novels, but The World of Ice & Fire gives a detailed description where it becomes self-evident.
    • Asshai and its native religion were probably inspired by Persia and its native religion, Zoroastrianism.
    • The rarely-mentioned southern continent Sothoryos is roughly analogous to Africa during this time period.
    • From what we know of the port city of Ibben, it sounds like a theoretical Inuit or Siberian native society if they had founded cities.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion:
    • The Faith of the Seven is Westeros' version of the organized Christian Church, being that it has institutions organizing a common doctrine, regulating practices of priests, complete with monasteries and nunneries (called Septries) with a Pope being elected by high ranking Septons. Its doctrine though with its One God in Seven Aspects is an elaboration of the Holy Trinity. However, the Faith lacks many other features familiar from the history of the Catholic Church or the Christian namely a Christ-figure and a Passion Play on which the religion is built, as well as a veneration of saints. Likewise, in terms of how the Church is directly under control of the Crown, it is significantly weaker than the Church was in the Middle Ages.
    • The Old Gods, praised by the Children of the Forest and the First Men before the Andals brought the Faith of the Seven from Essos and still worshipped in the North in a somewhat syncretic fashion. This religion is clearly based on pre-Christian European Paganism and frequently invokes shades of various druidic and pagan faiths of pre-Christian Europe, as well as other animist religions such as worship of trees on which faces are carved and a past that includes human sacrifice.
    • The worship of R'hllor, which comes from outside the Seven Kingdoms, bears a great similarity to Zoroastrianism, with two diametrically opposed but equally powerful deities locked in conflict. Also, as with Zoroastrianism, adherents of R'hllor place a high religious emphasis on fire, believing it to be sacred. It's also greatly inspired by Christianity in its militant missionary zeal, its aggressive monotheism and dismissal of polytheism and demands of conversion from prospective initiates and adherents.
    • Mother Rhoyne, still worshiped by the remaining Rhoynar: a Mother Goddess of Nurture and Nature, clearly based on the matriarchal Prehistoric Mother Goddess cults.
    • The Drowned God, worshiped in the Iron Islands, seems similar to Norse god Odin who is also known as the Hanged God because he hanged for nine days of the Yggdrassil. No surprise in that the Ironborns are the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Vikings. It's also inspired by Christianity in that the Drowned God is a dead-and-resurrected Godnote , and the religion emphasizes identification and emulation of the Drowned God's ordeal, and the fact that baptism, or dunking beneath the water is a major part of their religious practise. Other parts of the religion, and the Iron Islands on the whole, is more or less a kind of Lovecraft-inspired cult.
    • The Faceless Men worship Death itself, named the Many-Faced God. Similar to several death worshiping cults of Asia like the Assassins and the Indian Thugs.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Wolves" for Northmen, "Lions" for Westermen, "Squids" for Ironborn, "Frog Eaters" got Crannogmen and of course, The Others.
  • Fat Best Friend: Samwell Tarly, having terrible self esteem due to being constantly demeaned by his abusive father. Jon and others have tried to make him feel better about himself but it hasn't really taken yet. Hot Pie to Gendry and Arya, who often acts as The Load to their more capable survival skills.
  • Fat Idiot: Lysa Arryn for sure. Also Mace Tyrell. Subverted with Samwell Tarly. Sam is fat and timid...but stupid he isn't. Also subverted, and lampshaded, with Lord Wyman Manderly: he tells Ser Davos Seaworth that because he is fat, everyone thinks he is also stupid, and he lets them believe that so he can more easily manipulate them.
  • Fatal Flaw: Some examples:
    • Cersei Lannister: Paranoia, and losing her youth and beauty.
    • Daenerys Targaryen: Chronic Hero Syndrome.
    • Tyrion Lannister can't stop being snarky even if he is in big trouble and saying something gets him in even more trouble.
    • Tywin Lannister: caring more about making his family strong and feared than about being a loving father.
    • Viserys Targaryen: Arrogance and obsession with being the rightful king.
    • Ned Stark: He's terrible at playing the Game Of Thrones.
    • Jaime Lannister: Rashness and impatience.
    • Sansa Stark and Quentyn Martell's Genre Blindness, and in Sansa's case, being a Horrible Judge of Character.
    • Every great House is expected to act a certain way for good or ill. Starks are always honorable, no matter what. Tullys place family above everything else. Baratheons never give up no matter how much it costs them. Lannisters, Targaryens and Greyjoys are obsessed with domination. Arryns are too arrogant. Martells are too caught up with vengeance. Boltons are too violent. Freys have an inferiority complex. The Tyrells are overly ambitious.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Being captured by Ramsay Bolton certainly qualifies.
    • The experience of Gregor Clegane after fighting Oberyn Martell.
  • Fear of Thunder: Hodor's almost gets Bran and Rickon's party discovered by wildlings, until in a moment of panic Bran discovers he can warg into people.
  • Femme Fatale: Cersei Lannister.
  • Fence Painting: Eventually subverted.
  • Feuding Families: Fantasy version of the War of the Roses with even more factions. The feuding Stark and Lannister families sound noticeably similar to the historical York and Lancaster families, though their closer fictional counterparts would be Baratheon and Targaryen, respectively. Other noble houses have their own grudges, such as the Blackwoods and the Brackens.
  • Fictional Political Party: The Free City of Volantis features two big parties who compete for one of the three ruling chairs (Triarchs) of the city. The "Tiger" party pulls for military expansionism, while "Elephants" are mostly moneylenders who want to build trade relationships. The latter has been consistently more popular for quite some time, as the Tigers have never elected more than one of their members as Triarchs for nearly 300 years.
  • Field Promotion: Jon Snow gets a huge one. Davos gets an even bigger one. In "The Hedge Knight," Raymun Fossaway gets knighted in an impromptu ceremony so he can participate in a trial by combat.
  • Fighting from the Inside: This is the reason it's considered impossible to warg into humans; they realize what's happening and can tear themselves to pieces trying to "fight it off". Varamyr Sixskins tries to warg into a spearwife as a last resort when his own body is dying, but she resists fiercely. Bran successfully wargs into Hodor, with the implication that his simple mind was easier to overcome, although he was still scared and confused at first.
  • Fingore
    • Qhorin Halfhand
    • Ser Davos has lost the fingertips of one hand to Yubitsume (on Stannis' orders), and keeps them round his neck as a Creepy Souvenir.
    • Ramsay Snow's main hobby (besides hunting girls with dogs) is flaying the fingers of his prisoners and waiting until the pain gets so bad that they beg for him to cut them off; he will happily oblige.
    • The name of the "Fingers" dance practiced by the Ironborn is a dead giveaway of what usually happens to dancers. It involves juggling sharp hatchets. You can imagine the rest.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead: Wildlings traditionally burn their dead to prevent them from rising as wights. Fire also appears to be the only guaranteed method of killing wights once they rise, since even hacked-off limbs will continue attacking. It's eventually implied that wight-pieces will stop moving once the marrow is compromised, but breaking individual bones is obviously unfeasible.
  • Fire/Ice Duo: Not surprising, given the series' title.
    • While neither have elemental powers, the imagery behind this trope is likely why Rhaegar Targaryennote  pursued Lyanna Starknote ; he was hoping to fulfill some sort of prophecy regarding the prince that was promised and his "song of ice and fire".
    • The juxtaposition between the "Lord of Light" R'hllor, who is a fire god associated with light and life, and his enemy and diametric opposite the Great Other, a god associated with darkness, cold, and death.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Used constantly to contrast various political and supernatural factions in the series' overarching conflict. Again not surprising, given the series' title.
    • There are two conflicting religions based around the ocean-dwelling Drowned God (whose followers show their devotion by anointing their heads with seawater) and the fiery "Lord of Light" R'hllor (whose followers show their devotion with huge bonfires).
    • A major inciting event in the series involves the simultaneous return of the Others and the Dragons. The Others are undead creatures from the frozen North who carry weapons made of ice and melt like ice when killed, and the Dragons (obviously) breathe fire. Notably, both returns happen on opposite sides of the world, and both happen in the domains of two opposing factions of the war.
    • Many factions in the War of the Five Kings are visually associated with fire, water, or ice. If two factions are associated with traditionally opposed elements, it's a good sign that they're enemies.
      • House Targaryen's members are legendary for their dragon-taming skills, they follow the motto "Fire and Blood", they have a dragon as their sigil, and they claim to trace their lineage to Old Valyria (which was supposedly wiped out by a series of volcanic eruptions). King Aerys, one of the most (in)famous members of the family, started a lot of drama by attempting to use alchemical weapons to burn King's Landing to the ground.
      • Lord Stannis Baratheon is a militant follower of the religion of the aforementioned god R'hllor, he wears a red gold crown with points fashioned to look like flames, and he has a ring of heart-shaped fire worked into his personal sigil.
      • House Greyjoy is based in and around a series of islands, their members have a kraken as their sigil, they anoint their leaders with crowns made of driftwood, and they follow the religion of the aforementioned Drowned God.
      • House Stark and their Northern allies are constantly associated with ice and cold, they follow the motto "Winter is Coming", and they're initially led by Eddard Stark, who carries a greatsword called "Ice".
      • House Frey is intensely water-themed, as are most of the river-lords, and half of the field of their coat of arms is water. They also make a big deal about family and have a running metaphor of blood flowing like a river which is at first cute in a 'cheerful petty nobility with pretensions' way, then... not so cute when it becomes clear that they're playing the metaphor to its logical conclusion.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Jaime and Brienne (once they stop calling each other "wench" and "Kingslayer", that is)
    • Tyrion and Bronn call each other by their first name. Tyrion is of higher social standing and Bronn is his mercenary/kind of a friend.
  • First Period Panic: Sansa Stark freaks out when she sees her bedsheets stained with blood and attempts to burn them to hide it. But in her case it's that she knows exactly what it means: she's old enough to be forced to marry Joffrey.
  • Flaming Sword: Three different varieties:
    • Thoros of Myr buys cheap swords and coats them in wildfire (a mysterious alchemical substance akin to napalm or Greek Fire) for battles and melees. It's noted by others that this is a showy trick which would quickly wreck the sword itself.
    • Stannis Baratheon's Lightbringer is a magical sword that appears to be on fire, but the fire sheds no heat and has been suggested to be a glamour of Melisandre's.
    • Beric Dondarrion makes a real flaming sword with his own blood and the magical power of R'hllor. It seems to weaken the blade, though...
  • Flanderization: Hallis Mollen doesn't display his Captain Obvious tendencies until quite late in the first book, at which point it's lampshaded. After this, most of his lines involve stating the obvious.
  • Flipping the Bird: Some of the local color Arya learns as a Street Urchin in Braavos involves "showing them the fig".
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Jeyne Westerling and Robb. Causes no end of trouble, as his existing betrothal was the lynchpin of a political alliance.
  • Flower Motifs: The winter rose symbolising doomed and forbidden love for the Starks. Also, the Tyrells have the rose as their heraldic symbol and therefore use flowers to symbolize all kinds of things, much like the Animal Motifs of the other houses.
  • Foil A lot of examples with this trope include
    • Jon Snow to Ramsay Bolton. Both are highborn bastard sons of powerful family houses (Jon to the Starks and Ramsay to the Boltons obviously) who rose to high ranking positions — Jon becomes Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and Ramsay as the Heir to Warden of the North and House Bolton. However, where Jon is a brave, heroic, and honourable person who loves his family and true-born siblings, countering Westerosi beliefs of illegitimate children, Ramsay is a vicious, cruel psychotic man who likely killed his true-born half-brother and is implied to be where those stereotypes in Westeros originated.
      • While Jon is described as an excellent swordsman, Ramsay was trained by someone who was not trained himself, and "wields a sword like a butcher's knife".
      • Jon has Ghost, the male albino direwolf, as his companion. Ramsay keeps a growing pack of female hounds named after women he has raped, killed, and skinned, which he claims he has specifically trained to kill Direwolves.
    • Stannis Baratheon to Renly Baratheon. The two brothers are completely different from each other in many ways with each other. Renly is a very handsome, charismatic, friendly person who is well liked by seemly everyone and was able to quickly gain a army and support. Stannis on the other hand is a older, average looking, dull humorless man who despite his skills and rightful claim to the throne, is not really respect as much and struggles to gain suport.
    • Sandor Clegane to Brienne. While both are knights who ultimately serve the kingsguard, Brienne tries to live up to the idealistic heroic honorable view of a knight as protector of the inncocent. Sandor however has a much more cynical view towards being a knight and believes that him and other knights are really just savage killers.
    • Arya to Sansa. Like the Baratheon brothers, the Stark sisters are completly different. Arya is a tomboy who is far more interested in archery, sword fighting and adventure. Sansa on the other hand has no interest in that stuff and is more intrested in being a noble lady. Likewise, though Arya despises Joffrey, Sansa loves him...until he goes completely insane once he becomes king.
    • Margaery Tyrell to Cersei Lannister. Both became queen of the seven kingdoms and also both are tied with controlling Joffery. Where Margaery is well liked by the smallfolk due to her kindhearted image and is actually able to have some control over Joffery, Cersi makes no attempted to hide her Bitch in Sheep's Clothing image which in turn makes her disliked by the smallfolk. She also is not as persuasive with her son once he becomes king.
    • Joffery to Tommen. Joffery is a blood thirsty psychopathic king and Tommen is a sweet, friendly boy though maybe a little too weak-willed.
    • Ned and Robb Stark to the Lannisters in general. Both the father and son Stark are honorable, noble men who always try to stay that way. The Lannisters however are not above lying, playing dirty, or doing whatever it takes to win at any cost.
    • Just go here for more extensive version.
  • Food Porn: Martin has been quoted to have never encountered food that he didn't like. This is reflected in how mouth-watering his feast scenes tend to be. On the rare occasions when they aren't mouth-watering, it's usually a sign that something bad is about to happen; see, for instance, the Red Wedding. A Feast For Crows, ironically, is an exception to this. Instead we're treated to Livery Porn.
  • Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Cersei discovers one of the jailers who was guarding Tyrion had some gold pieces that might have come from House Tyrell, who were trying to marry their daughter to her son. Since Tyrion just murdered their father and escaped after being found guilty for killing Cersei's other son, Joffrey, this makes her suspect the Tyrells of having bribed the jailer to free Tyrion, even though Lord Tyrell wants Tyrion dead since his daughter could have died at his hands.
  • Foreign Ruling Class:
    • House Targaryen. They were originally a noble family of Valyria, who fled to Dragonstone before the Doom of Valyria and went on to conquer all of Westeros using three dragons, unifying the Seven Kingdoms under their rule. They ruled for around three centuries and brought with them some Valyrian customs, such as the Valyrian language, dragons, Valyrian steel and a habit of marrying brother to sister to keep their bloodlines pure. Incest is outlawed throughout Westeros and generally considered a huge taboo, but the Targaryens were the exception. They were eventually ousted around thirteen years before the start of the series during Robert's Rebellion and the few survivors fled in exile to Essos, vowing to one day reclaim the throne.
    • One of those survivors, Daenerys Targaryen, later conquers Slaver's Bay in Essos in order to eradicate slavery there; she decides to rule as queen to ensure the slave masters don't reclaim power and to keep the peace until the new order stabilises itself. Although she is welcomed with open arms by the freed slaves and a few other citizens, others chafe at being ruled by a foreigner, especially one who generally holds many aspects of their Ghiscari culture (such as slavery and the fighting pits) in contempt. Daenerys struggles to keep both factions happy and ward off attacks by an insurgent group known as the Sons of the Harpy, while not compromising too much on her own values.
  • Foreshadowing: Out of necessity, Arya quickly makes a habit of temporarily discarding her identity and making up a new one, a key skill of the Faceless Men she later joins.
    • Wylis Manderly, son and heir of Lord Wyman Manderly, is unknowingly fed pieces of Vargo Hoat by Ser Gregor Clegane. Later on Lord Wyman is feeding pies heavily implied to be made of three Freys to the Boltons and Freys at Winterfell.
  • Fork Fencing: Tyrion annoys a particularly humourless member of the Night's Watch with the trope. When the knight leaves in a huff, Tyrion claims his share of dinner.
  • Formally Named Pet:
    • Tommen's cats Ser Pounce and Lady Whiskers (the third one is named Boots, a shout out to a cat who made up a noble title).
    • Rhaegar's daughter named her cat Balerion, after her ancestor Aegon I's dragon. Martin has confirmed that the big, black cat that Arya chases in King's Landing is Balerion.
  • For Science!: Qyburn performed medical atrocities at the Citadel to gain more information about life and healing. In Cersei's service, he's able to continue his research with a project to create an undefeatable warrior, while also serving as a Torture Technician on the side.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: The various realms of Westeros have these, most of whom are legendary:
    • Bran the Builder for the North.
    • Lann the Clever for the Westlands.
    • The Winged Knight for the Vale of Arryn.
    • The Grey King for the Iron Isles.
    • Durran and Elenei for the Storm Lands.
    • Mors Martell and Nymeria the Warrior Queen for Dorne.
    • Garth Greenhand for the Reach.
    • Aegon the Conquerer and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya for Westeros as a whole.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The series is filled with a dozen plotlines. The series as a whole is Three Lines All Waiting, with the major plotlines being the Others in the North, politics in the south, and Dany's invasion plans across the narrow sea. By now there are so many that a majority of the draft fourth book ended up being split geographically into A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons (both Doorstoppers in their own right).
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble / Four-Temperament Ensemble: The 4 Wardens of the Realm.
    • Lannisters, wardens of the west = Cynics/Choleric
    • Starks, wardens of the north = Optimists/Melancholic
    • Tyrells, wardens of the south = Realists/Phlegmatic
    • Arryns, wardens of the east = Apathetic/Sanguine
  • Four-Star Badass: Tywin. Not that it excuses his personality in everyday life. The same goes for Randyll Tarly.
  • Freak Out!: Catelyn Stark comes Back from the Dead as an absolutely pitiless Knight Templar.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Robert (id), Renly (ego) and Stannis (superego) Baratheon.
    • Robert (id), Ned (Superego), Jon Arryn (ego).
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Varamyr Sixskins' backstory. Littlefinger may also count.
  • Frontline General: Those commanding armies often take to the field with their men, given that Westeros is a medieval fantasy society where individual fighting prowess is equated with generalship. The extent to which this is true varies — Jaime Lannister is Lured into a Trap because his enemies know he's a Blood Knight who always leads from the front. Bored with the siege of Riverrun, Jaime hears of an attack by raiders on his supply line and leads a small force off to attack them, only to be ambushed by Robb Stark's army. King Robb also leads from the front to inspire his men but is more cautious about it, keeping a strong bodyguard and not taking unnecessary risks. The coldly pragmatic Lord Tywin leads from the rear, commanding the reserve, where he can control events and judge the right moment to throw in his own efforts, as does Stannis Baratheon.
  • Full-Boar Action:
    • The sigil of the famously robust and strong Crakehall family is a boar.
    • Robert Baratheon and Barsena Blackhair are both killed by boars, in both cases with people noting what a horrible way it must have been to go.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Dany's first attempt at a Slave Liberation in Astapor. Almost as soon as she leaves, a former slave seizes control and names himself king, and all the former slavers are enslaved by the freedmen.
  • Full-Name Basis: Ygritte with Jon Snow.
  • The Fundamentalist:
    • Melisandre is out to spread the good news about R'hllor. The good news is that all your false gods will be thrown in a fire. The bad news is you might just join them if you protest too loudly.
    • Moqorro, another priest of R'hllor, feels perfectly comfortable telling the Ironborn captain whom he serves that the Drowned God is a demon.
    • Those of Stannis' men who worship R'hllor are called "the queen's men," due to Stannis' wife Queen Selyse being a fundamentalist supporter of the new religion. Some people suspect that they even favor Melisandre above their own queen due to her power and influence.
    • Aeron Greyjoy, who found religion after a near-death experience. His insistence on drowning unbelievers extends farther than even murderous raiders care to go.
    • Also, the current High Septon has ushered in a new era of fundamentalism for worshippers of the Seven, considering R'hllor (and possibly the Old Gods) to be blasphemous, reintroducing the Church Militant, and arresting the Queen Mother for adultery.
  • Funetik Aksent: Sometimes averted. Many characters are described as having an accent, but this is never conveyed through spelling. Some characters from foreign cultures, such as the Free Cities, will use eccentric or crude syntax instead. However, the trope ith played thtraight with Vargo Hoat, leader of the Bloody Mummerth, who thpeakth with a thignificant lithp.

    G 
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Tyrion is a budding one. He invents a saddle for handicapped people and an anti-ship defense in the form of a great chain during the events of the first two books. He would invent something else, too, if the following events wouldn't force him to go into depression.
  • Gambit Pileup: Everyone has lots of plans, often changing them on the fly. By the end of A Storm of Swords, there are no fewer than seven leaders staking a claim on Westeros. Some are more skilled than others.
  • Gang of Hats: The noble families all look and, most of the time, act the same way.
  • General Failure: It becomes painfully obvious that the 'Wise Masters' of Yunkai are much better at abusing their slaves than they are at leading armies. Aside from their humiliatingly lopsided defeat to Dany at the gates of their own city, their armies feature such novelties as slaves soldiers on stilts and slave soldiers chained together at the ankles to prevent them running away. Their only success so far, at Astapor, stemmed from the efforts of their sellsword companies, and the incompetence of their employers drives those same sellsword companies to keep a line of communication with Meereen open in case they need to defect to save themselves.
  • Genius Bruiser: Archmaester Marwyn. He's described as looking more like a dockside thug than one of the leaders of an order dedicated to scholarly knowledge, short and muscular with broad shoulders, an ale belly and a broken nose.
  • Genre Deconstruction: The series has been described as a deconstruction of High Fantasy and medieval fiction.
  • Genre Shift: The Hedge Knight.
  • Gentle Giant: Hodor, who has the mental capacity of a child, gets frightened easily and does not defend himself. Small Paul also seems to have limited mental capacity and is mostly interested in getting a pet, though he does warn others that harming his hypothetical pet would make him quite angry. Dunk is almost seven feet tall and called a "giant" by others, but has a gentle and sensitive disposition for a knight. Wun Wun fits this unless threatened, and is large even by the standards of actual giants. Interestingly, giants in in-universe legend are bloodthirsty man-eaters, but the actual giants are vegetarians.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The Boltons have a tradition of doing this. Roose claims, apparently from personal experience, that it isn't tough enough to make decent boots out of.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: Tyrion to Penny, with a side order of Quit Your Whining.
  • Get Thee to a Nunnery: Used deliberately, due to the story's medieval setting. A man having "horns" means his wife is cheating on him. And there's the occasional Double Entendre that could have come straight out of a Shakespeare comedy;
    Varys: "You can match the queen coin for coin, but she has a second purse that is quite inexhaustible."
  • The Ghost: Howland Reed, mainly because he's the only one left who knows the nature of the promise Eddard made to Lyanna.
  • Gilded Cage: Arianne Martell is imprisoned in one by her father, as are the Sand Snakes. Sansa starts in one which rapidly deteriorates.
  • Gilligan Cut: In A Dance With Dragons, Penny, the only dwarf jouster, complains she that dwarf jousting needs two dwarves, one on a dragon, the other on a pig. Tyrion sees right through her intentions and refuses blatantly to participate. The next chapter starts with Tyrion riding the pig.
  • Glass Slipper: In the Knight of the Laughing Tree tale, the knight mysteriously disappears as the king declares him his enemy and sends the Dragon Prince to find him. He could find only his shield. Though it's possible that the prince covered up his identity and lied...
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: Noblemen are not expected to care about their bastard children, though they might provide for them. Bastards are often just left with their mothers or, if acknowledged, fostered with another family. Examples include:
    • Robert Baratheon. He had at least 8 bastard children, 16 if Maggy the Frog's prophecy is accurate, but only acknowledged one, Edric Storm, because the boy's mother was a noblewoman and her family demanded it. Even then, Robert just left Edric in Storm's End to be raised by the servants and forgot about him. Robert wanted to bring his eldest child, Mya Stone, to court as a positive influence on Joffrey, but Cersei threatened to have her killed.
    • That Ned Stark and Oberyn Martell avert this is considered remarkable.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Sansa and Arya Stark, played fairly straight but not quite to the level of Cain and Abel.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Cersei Lannister, who will let the world burn to protect her children and keep herself at the top of the heap.
  • Go for the Eye: The only way of killing a dragon, according to Tyrion, who notes that firing an arrow at the underbelly or down its throat won't work.
  • Going Native:
    • Dany goes native and becomes a true member of the Dothraki, to the disgust of her brother.
    • Jon Snow pretends to go native when he joins the wildlings, and at the very least, gains a lot of insight and respect for them in the process.
    • Mance Rayder really does go native when he joins the wildlings and eventually becomes their king.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Lynesse Hightower, Jorah Mormont's second wife. When the money ran out, she left him for a wealthy merchant prince of Lys.
    • Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, who marries Lollys Stokeworth for her inheritance (money, land, a proper title) and then sets about hastening that inheritance...
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Westeros uses golden dragons, silver stags and copper stars as money.
  • Gold Tooth:
    • The Faceless Man calling himself the Alchemist, which is probably a clue that he's Jaqen H'ghar, since Jaqen's second identity is described with practically identical features.
    • Daario Naharis has one.
    • Presumably using the money Tyrion gave him, Mord gets a bunch of gold teeth. It doesn't improve his appearance any.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: A theme that is moving closer to the foreground in recent volumes:
    • Westeros is pure aristocratic and rests on the Divine Right of Kings, and rigidly maintained feudal divisions. The Wildlings and Mountain Clans have some kind of democracy owing to harsher weather conditions putting a greater value on merit, yet they are considered highly uncivilized and primitive by Westerosi standards, even progressives like Tyrion. They are also highly violent and indulge in guerrilla/terrorist raids.
    • The Ironborn which is a macho culture of Rape, Pillage, and Burn has a tradition of every captain being a King of his ship, and every King needing to captain his ship, there are also cases where women may sail and pillage with men. They are paradoxically more primitive and meritocratic than mainland Westeros. The least gender-based and ethnically diverse region is that of Dorne that runs on monarchy but is more relaxed in terms of bloodlines and class than the rest of the continent.
    • Republics such as the Free Cities are oligarchies run on pure mercantilism and slave trade, which Westeros explicitly forbids. The major exception is Braavos which is recognizably a more idealized republic with a strong abolitionist tradition though its fortune and influence comes via a Mega-Corp like the Iron Bank that instigates War for Fun and Profit on non-payment of loans.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Tyrion, who was already unpopular, was further disdained by the people of King's Landing because he lost part of his nose, a typical "bad" scar, in the Battle of Blackwater, even though he was fighting to save their lives.
  • Good Shepherd:
    • The wandering priest, Septon Meribald, who is encountered by Brienne in the fourth volume.
    • The Elder Brother, who Brienne encounters in the fourth volume is also one of these, although he has a Dark and Troubled Past as a soldier prior to his Heel–Faith Turn.
    • Thoros of Myr is a borderline example. He started out as a Boisterous Bruiser lecherous priest who was a nice guy, but later on has a Heel–Faith Turn, and around this time joined a group of outlaws whose goal was to protect the smallfolk. What makes him borderline is that those outlaws become increasingly knight templarish over time, and while Thoros does not approve of this, he doesn't do anything to stop it (in part because the deity he believes in is not particularly merciful).
  • Good vs. Good: The majority of the Kings are a murky shade of good at worst. Robb Stark and, to a lesser extent, Stannis Baratheon are portrayed this way. Renly tries to convey this image, but is more a deconstruction of The Good King, coming across more as The Evil Prince with his scheming to take power for no real reason other than that he has a large army and a very high opinion of himself.
    King Stannis: Good men and true will fight for Joffrey, wrongly believing him the true king. A northman might even say the same of Robb Stark. But these lords who flocked to my brother's banners knew him for a usurper. They turned their backs on their rightful king for no better reason than dreams of power and glory, and I have marked them for what they are. Pardoned them, yes. Forgiven. But not forgotten.
  • Gossip Evolution: Many events in Westeros' history become convoluted thanks to details changing when news is passed around by word of mouth.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: GRRM's writing style is heavily iambic, and iambic pentameter occurs frequently enough that it's unlikely to be coincidental. A few of the more quotable examples:
    Jaime Lannister: There are no men like me. There's only me.
    Jon Snow: First lesson: Stick them with the pointy end.
    Eddard Stark: And if you cannot bear to do that, then
    perhaps the man does not deserve to die.
    Ygritte: All men must die, Jon Snow. But first we'll live.
    Jon Snow: The more you give a king, the more he wants.
    Jeor Mormont: The things we love destroy us every time.
    Aeron Greyjoy: No godless man may sit the Seastone Chair.
  • Gray Rain of Depression:
    • Ned gets caught up in one after visiting Robert's bastard daughter.
    • Robb Stark's army face the continuous rain of autumn, at a time when they remain undefeated, yet the political situation has turned against them.
  • Grave Clouds: At Tywin's funeral.
  • Great Offscreen War: By the bushel, though we do learn more about them in The World of Ice & Fire.
    • Robert's Rebellion/War of the Usurper.
    • War of the Ninepenny Kings.
    • Blackfyre Rebellion.
    • The Invasion of Dorne.
    • Dance of the Dragons, which becomes the focus of Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories.
    • The Targaryen Conquest.
    • Not to mention the countless other wars fought back when the Seven Kingdoms were kingdoms.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The Brotherhood Without Banners come across a senile old knight who keeps repeating how he suffered six wounds while holding the bridge against Ser Maynard. No-one knows what he's talking about, and Tom O'Sevens laments his lack of a singer who could have passed on the knight's heroic deeds. Within the series itself, Tyrion finds that others get most of the credit for defending Kings Landing from Stannis, and he's accused of being selfish when he tries to get some acknowledgement of this from his father (the only person he really wants credit from). Most ironic is Jaime Lannister, who killed the Mad King to stop him destroying his city with wildfire. Instead of being lauded as a hero, he's despised as The Oathbreaker because Jaime is too proud to feel he has to give an explanation.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Due to the moral ambiguity of many characters, there are often very sympathetic characters on opposite sides of conflicts. For example, the Battle of the Blackwater is shown mostly from Tyrion and Davos's perspectives on opposite sides.
  • Grim Up North: The Wall is there for a reason.
  • Groin Attack:
    • A Dance With Dragons strongly implies that Theon has been castrated by Ramsay.
    • Arya comes across some men being held in cages for doing some Rape, Pillage, and Burn, and it's pointed out that the rapist is the one with a bloody wound in his crotch.
  • The Grotesque: Tyrion Lannister, Sandor Clegane, and undead Catelyn. Possibly Loras Tyrell if he lives. Brienne is noted to look somewhat strange in Jaime's sole chapter in A Dance With Dragons. Theon Greyjoy, after his torture and abuse.
  • Guile Hero: Jaqen H'ghar's three-life debt to Arya plays out like a typical Guile Hero folktale — she wastes the first two deaths on cruel yet unimportant people, but eventually realises that what she really wants can't be achieved through murder alone, so she tells him to kill himself, and promises to revoke the order and consider the debt paid if he helps her free Harrenhal's prisoners.

    H 
  • Had To Be Sharp:
    • The people of the North are of this opinion about their homeland, with the people getting tougher the further north you go. By the same token, the wildlings see the Northmen as soft, pampered southerners.
    • The ironmen have a huge cultural superiority complex on this basis. "A hard land breeds hard men."
    • Several characters, including Dunk, Davos and Bronn, credit their resilience directly to their upbringing in Flea Bottom. It's also the first staging post of Arya's journey to Little Miss Badass.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Legend holds that giants from the north can interbreed with humans. Wildlings sometimes suspect particularly large people of having giant blood in their ancestry. Supposedly, only male humans and female giants can interbreed successfully.note 
  • Half-Identical Twins: Jaime and Cersei Lannister.
  • Happily Married: Eddard and Catelyn Stark, at least if little Jon Snow is staying out of the way.
    • Tywin and Joanna Lannister. Joanna was the only person who made Tywin smile.
    • Dany and Drogo, much to everyone's surprise.
    • Roose Bolton is quite fond of his chubby wife.
    • Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey are another incredible example, given the circumstances of their marriage.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Discussed at various points:
    • After Dany sacks the cities of the Ghiscari and liberates their slaves, the majority of the people she frees greet her as liberator and are pleased that she shut down their brutal treatment. However, the older slaves, who are qualified and quasi-professionals and comparatively well-treated, prefer the security of being owned over the chaos, starvation and mounting bloodshed in Meereen under Dany's rule. Later, in A Dance with Dragons, a slave is overheard proclaiming that having the right master is preferable to freedom.
    • Tyrion Lannister while living as a slave to Yezzan zo Qaggaz comes to the conclusion that if you have the right master, slavery is preferable to the life enjoyed by a peasant in Westeros, who while "free" are entirely at the mercy of their Lord's whims and have no real rights to defend their life and property aside from appeals to Kings or other liege lords.
  • Harmful to Minors: Fifteen year old Robb Stark leads an army against the king. Fifteen year old Jon Snow joins the Night's Watch and becomes Lord Commander at sixteen. Thirteen year old Dany is married to a man probably more twice her age and gets pregnant at fourteen. Twelve year old Sansa is married off to Tyrion.note  Ten/eleven year old Arya joins a guild of assassins/death-worshipers.
  • Hate Sink: Though there is no shortage of evildoers, a few stand out as particularly devoid of sympathy.
    • Joffrey is probably the best example, being a sociopath who hurts people purely for his own amusement. Though not as apparent in the beginning, once he becomes king, Joffrey uses his power primarily to indulge in whatever depraved cruelties his mind happens to come up with.
    • Viserys as well, though to a lesser degree. Despite being cruel and arbitrary like Joffrey, Viserys has little real power with which to abuse others. Daenerys is the only one who fears him, and that quickly changes once she becomes Khaleesi. It becomes easier to pity him than to hate him over time, as his rage becomes progressively more impotent.
    • Lord Walder Frey is hardly a likable character, being an opportunistic old curmudgeon, but he becomes a true target of hatred after A Storm of Swords, both in and out of universe.
    • Ramsay Snow (later Ramsay Bolton) seems to be designed to fill the hole left by Joffrey's death, and ends up exceeding it, showing such repeated, wanton and extreme cruelty that he is a front runner for the most depraved character in a series which has an awful lot of contenders for the title.
    • Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. "The Mountain that Rides", is an enormous and sadistic Black Knight who is entirely defined by his ferocity in battle and virtually infinite capacity for cruelty, getting a pleasure out of torture and rape.
  • Hates Baths: Arya doesn't see the point; after all, she was bathed twice just a fortnight ago!
    • Hodor loves swimming, but hates bathing with a passion.
  • Haunted Castle:
    • Harrenhal has this reputation, partially because the Targaryens used dragons to roast the castle's holders alive centuries ago, and partially because most of the people who hold the castle end up experiencing misfortune (Janos Slynt got sent up to join the Night's Watch, Tywin Lannister is shot and killed by his youngest son, Amory Lorch got thrown in the bear pit when the castle was taken, Vargo Hoat had his limbs chopped off and fed to him by Gregor Clegane, and so on. Littlefinger's currently alright, but he hasn't set foot in the place yet — though, neither had Slynt.)
    • The Nightfort on the Wall is thought by the black brothers to be haunted by the ghost of the Rat King.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The writing style occasionally uses somewhat antiquated expressions, probably in an attempt to sound more historical. The word "queer" is used its original sense of "strange."
  • Heal It with Booze: There are some instances of rudimentary surgery/medical care performed wherein a wound is sterilized with heated or boiled wine. Justified, since it is a Medieval European Fantasy, so there are no other antiseptics around.
  • Heal It with Fire: The Dothraki and Ironborn frequently use fire to cauterize serious wounds, and boiling wine is sometimes used to clean out nasty gashes. In a more fantastic case, Victarion's hand develops an infection so bad that a maester insists he must choose between amputation and death. The red priest Moqorro instead uses fire-magic to not only heal the arm, but make it inhumanly strong.
  • The Hecate Sisters: At one point King's Landing has three "Queens" who fill those roles (even though one of them is one the opposite side than the other two) and draw their power from them:
    • Margaery, the rising Queen, ostensibly the Maiden, who is there to marry the king.
    • Cersei, the psychotic Queen Mother, the mother of the king who doesn't want to give up her power.
    • Olenna, nicknamed "The Queen of Thorns", the wise and ruthless Crone, who pulls the strings, gets away with scolding nominally more powerful people and is willing to kill the king if he doesn't behave.
    • They also appear in a literal form: the three female aspects of God in the Faith of the Seven are the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Thoros of Myr, Lancel Lannister, and Aeron Greyjoy provide twisted examples of this. All of them experience religious awakenings and put aside things like carousing and womanizing, but there's a good argument that all end up as worse people because of it.
  • Heir Club for Men: Played straight for the most part, averted with the Martells, who don't privilege either gender in succession. The patriarchal society of Westeros considers the idea of a woman taking power and ruling to be absurd and any lengths will be taken to stack the decks against a woman seizing power. A Civil War, The Dance of the Dragons was fought to deny Rhaenyra, the only woman to sit on the Iron Throne, her just claim and inheritance simply because of her sex. In A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, this becomes a theme for several characters:
    • Asha Greyjoy was named the rightful heir of the Iron Islands by her father, King Balon Greyjoy, who was otherwise conservative but intended Asha to become his heir over his son Theon. Upon Balon's death, his exiled brother, Euron seizes the throne while Asha and Victarion are in the north. Aeron and others despise Euron, considering him "godless" but are opposed to Asha being heir and in the end, they pass over her and her other uncle, Victarion, and choose Euron.
    • Even with her dragons, the secret sponsors of Daenerys Targaryen, Varys, Magister Illyrio and The Golden Company actually expect her to marry Rhaegar's son, Aegon, give him one of her dragons and accept him as King despite herself being a Young Conqueror who achieved everything without their help.
    • Cersei Lannister's POV chapters voices considerable bitterness towards this, noting that when she cross-dressed as Jaime, her twin, when she was younger, her father treated him in a very different way from her. She was always regarded as a card for Tywin to marry into the Crown and never trained to rule. This ends up becoming a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy as she becomes extra paranoid and embittered despite finally given powers to rule as Queen Regent and neglects perfectly good advice that comes her way from several characters.
  • Heir-In-Law: Seems to be a viable way of gaining thrones in some places.
    • Ramsay Snow has used marriage twice to acquire (or legitimise his acquisition) of power. One of the instances is actually trickery — he claims to be married to Arya Stark, strengthening his position in the lands the Starks used to rule, but in fact, the girl in question is not Arya Stark at all.
    • Lord Tywin's desire for Tyrion to go through with a marriage to another member of the Stark family, Sansa, has a similar rationale. Robb Stark goes so far as to disinherit Sansa to stop her marriage being used as an excuse for House Lannister to rule the north.
    • Alys Karstark runs away from home to prevent herself being married by someone who wants to inherit when her brother dies (an event which they don't intend to be very far off).
  • Hellhole Prison: Pretty much every dungeon is one of these. The Eyrie has cells with a sloping floor and no wall overlooking a massive drop. Sweetsister has cells that are halfway below high tide, so the prisoner has to keep their head above water the whole time. King's Landing has several levels which get worse as you go down, ending in the Black Cells, which Cersei makes even worse by leaving them in the hands of her Playing with Syringes Torture Technician. While not yet shown in-series, Casterly Rock seems to have particularly horrific ones, as on several occasions, a Lannister will note that a (really bad) prison cell is a Luxury Prison Suite compared to the ones at Casterly Rock.
  • Here There Be Dragons: The possible territories and exploration of the seas beyond the west coast of Westeros (the Sunset Sea) has either not been carried out or is conspicuously missing. There are legends regarding the King in the North Brandon the Shipwright, who sailed west never to be heard from again; in despair, his son Brandon the Burner set fire to the remaining North fleet.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Aegon the Conqueror and his descendants ruled Westeros from the backs of their dragons, but by the time of the series dragons have been extinct for some time. They leave behind their skeletons (the skulls are kept as heirlooms, and the rest of their bones make for excellent bows and dagger hilts,) and fossilized eggs, which are considered beautiful and beyond price. Daenerys hatches three of the fossilized eggs at the end of the first book.
  • Hero of Another Story: Due to the series' Loads and Loads of Characters, it's full to the brim with these. Special mention should go to King Stannis (who survived a siege, later described as "They were down to rats and beets, horses and dogs had been eaten long ago), Dolorous Edd (just about anything he says if you believe it, but highlights include finding a dead brother of the Night's Watch floating in the barrel of wine!), Maester Aemon (the man was 102 years old when he died and has lived through most of the history known to the main characters), Aegon the V (A hero from the "Dunk and Egg" novellas, long dead in the main novels), Barristan The Bold, Tormund Giantsbane, Theon's friend Dagmer Cleftjaw, Mance Rayder and Lord Bloodraven... The list goes on and on.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
    • Tyrion Lannister, at least in his role as Hand of the King to Joffrey.
    • Jaime killed The Caligula, but the way he did it (he'd sworn an oath to protect the man) is considered dishonorable. Part of the problem is his pigheaded refusal to explain his perfectly good reasons, thinking that asking forgiveness or making excuses would make him look weak. When Jaime killed him, The Mad King was getting ready to burn down the city, killing hundreds of thousands of people. By keeping this secret, Jaime has ensured that everyone sees the assassination as a political move to help his father take King's Landing.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: The wildlings explicitly favor those "kissed by fire" as lucky.
  • Heroic Bastard:
    • Jon Snow, whose parentage is subject to wild mass guessing by the fanbase but is "officially" Ned's bastard son by an unknown woman.
    • Gendry seems to be shaping up as one of these.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Syrio Forel's is a successful example- a rarity in this series.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dunk and Egg are implied to become this eventually, with Aegon making Dunk Commander of his kingsguard and naming his son after him.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Aegon, raised in Essos by a mercenary, seemingly at Varys' instruction.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Chataya's brothel in King's Landing and the Braavosi courtesans.
  • The High King
    • The Targaryens subdued the Starks, Lannisters and Arryns as well as eradicated the Gardeners, Durrandons and Hoares to make themselves Kings of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men. Whoever holds the Iron Throne is heir to this legacy.
    • There are also the Kings Beyond the Wall who for a time are allowed to lead the wildling tribes.
  • High Turnover Rate: The office of Hand to the King has seen several characters take the office in the course of a few short years. It is officially the Number Two to the King and is essentially the same as Prime Minister, with the expectation they serve as The Good Chancellor to The Good King. Since good kings are in short supply, a lot of different people get the post. Three of them (Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister) get killed on the job for political and/or personal reasons. One of them, Tyrion Lannister, proved to be hyper competent but was overwhelmed by bigotry owing to his dwarfism and when Cersei Lannister becomes Regent for Life, it becomes a kind of revolving door until Kevan Lannister settles for Mace Tyrell, which given his dubious competence doesn't seem likely to become a long-runner.
  • History Repeats: Daenerys Targaryen, on the run from those in power who want her dead, marries Khal Drogo, a mighty warrior who would be considered a savage by the rest of the world. Alys Karstark, on the run from those in power who want her dead, marries The Magnar of Thenn, a mighty warrior who would be considered a savage by the rest of the world.
    • The Stark family also end up mirroring the character arcs of previous generations:
      • Ned Stark and Rickard Stark: unjustly executed by a mad, cruel king which triggers a country-wide civil war.
      • Robb Stark and Brandon Stark: the eldest Stark son, heir to the North and expected to be a great leader only to be brutally murdered as a young man while trying to avenge/save their father.
      • Jon Snow to Ned Stark: the quieter younger (or illegitimate) son who grew up in the shadow of their older brother, the Stark heir. Neither expect to become Lord of Winterfell and spent their later formative years away from home (Castle Black and the Vale respectively) after their family is separated, but end up in line for the succession due to their brother's tragic death.
      • Sansa Stark and Catelyn Tully: a proper lady used as a pawn in marriage alliances. Their initial betrothal fell apart due to war (Brandon's murder and Joffrey turning on the Starks) and they were quickly forced into second choice options (Ned and Tyrion/Harry Hardyng) while being subject to Littlefinger's unwelcome affections.
      • Arya Stark to Lyanna Stark: the rebellious Stark daughter with "wolf blood" who gets separated from her family during the war and whose beloved older brother (Jon and Ned respectively) moves hell and high water to save. Has links with a Baratheon (Gendry and Robert) who mourns them deeply after they're dead or presumed so.
      • Bran Stark to Benjen Stark: The younger son, more removed from the politics and bloodshed of Westeros's fight for the Iron Throne. Ends up going North and uncovering the deeper mysteries and powers at work in Westeros.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics:
    • When the Dothraki aren't using Attack! Attack! Attack!, they're doing this; particularly their Horse Archers.
    • Tyrion urges the Mountain Clans to do this when sending them out to harass Stannis' approaching army. Shagga points out that such tactics are second nature to them.
  • Hivemind: What happens when one of the Greenseers becomes an Old God. To explain, the Greenseers are skinchangers who possess a number of extra abilities but the prime ability seems to be an aptitude for possessing plants as well as animals. At the end of their lives they use this ability to join a greenseer collective that has been building inside the 'minds' of the trees for millennia. They qualify as a hive mind because, as far as has been shown, little to no individuality remains after the Greenseer has joined the Old Gods. Granted this may be end up being proved false; as being a God in this series practically demands you be as absent as possible.
  • Hobbes Was Right:
    • Most high-born characters, even sympathetic characters such as Tyrion Lannister, believe that people need strong leadership and guidance otherwise the commonfolk are too argumentative to actually make decisions. Tyrion mocks the hill tribes for being proto-democratic in collecting everyone's opinion, even the women's, and then forming a decision by consent, citing it as one of the things he plans to change. He's also opposed to the republican Free Cities.
    • Stannis and Co. and the Night's Watch believe this to be a major failing of the Wildlings. Jon Snow points out that Mance Rayder managed to unite the Wildlings behind him but was either incapable or unwilling to instill them the proper discipline, which involves division of responsibility, command and rankings that would make them a real army. Stannis also dislikes the Night's Watch practice of voting for their Lord Commander, which takes way too much time for him, so he has them locked up in a room and forces them to choose.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cersei restores the military orders of the Faith in exchange for supporting her rule and cancelling the crown's debt. Instead, the newly armed religious zealots decide to stage a coup, imprisoning Cersei and seizing control of the king.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Isn't used too often, although A Feast for Crows has Littlefinger say "in for a penny, in for a stag", while in A Dance With Dragons, two characters reference "a scale from the dragon that flamed you".
  • Hollywood Atheist:
    • Stannis Baratheon has the Evil Stole My Faith variety, having turned against the worship of the Seven after seeing his parents killed in a shipwreck. It's compounded by his general nature as a cold, harsh person. Although he takes part in the religion of R'hllor, it's stated that he only does so for the power that Melisandre promises him.
    • The Hound does not believe in gods for similar reasons, and fits the "belittles religious people" category of Hollywood Atheist.
    • Towards the end of A Clash of Kings the originally devout Catelyn Stark seems to be heading this way, as her questioning of her beliefs is the result of the various terrible things that have happened to her.
    • Earlier, Jamie Lannister voices the problem of evil, asking why there is such injustice if the gods exist and they are just, suggesting he may be an atheist due to this. At that point Catelyn rejects these sentiments however, saying he can't blame the gods for trying to kill her son (this is one reply to the problem of evil: the free will defense).
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted. Ambushes, judicious use of terrain, discipline, and adequate supply lines are all referenced frequently, and it is mentioned that one occasion when the Dothraki tried to use a straight cavalry charge against a disciplined phalanx with a shield wall they got slaughtered, despite outnumbering the phalanx over ten to one. In fact, there are several times when the conventionally chivalrous tactics of a Knight in Shining Armor, which can seem very close to Hollywood Tactics, have been noted to have failed against a superior (and less honourable) commander.
  • Homage: The series includes a number of clear and possible homages.
    • Samwell Tarly is a homage to Samwise Gamgee, the fat best friend of the protagonist.
    • The phrase "Valar Morghulis", a mantra to Arya and a code for the Faceless Men of Braavos is likely a homage to Tolkien as well. Both the words 'Valar' and 'Morghul/Morgul' are from his works, though their meanings in the series are completely different from those in Tolkien's work. Similarly, the term "warg" is also used in The Lord of the Rings but has a different meaning (as both come from Old Norwegian word for wolf).
    • In another 'homage' to The Lord of the Rings: wraithlike creatures that can only be harmed by certain blades
    • There is a stealth reference to Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn with the mention of two brothers, Josua and Elyas, constantly bickering with each other.
    • Daenerys' marriage to Khal Drogo is a possible homage to the Nibelungenlied legend, where Grimhild marries Attila the Hun in order to avenge her heroic husband Siegfried's death.
    • House Jordayne of the Tor is a homage to fellow fantasy writer Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time books (published by Tor Books). Their sigil is a golden quill on a field of green checks, and are lead by Lord Trebor (Robert spelled backwards). There's also a brief mention of an Archmaester Rigney who "wrote that time is a wheel". Robert Jordan's real name is James Rigney.
    • Oberyn Martell's duel with Gregor Clegane is confirmed by Word of God to be a homage to The Princess Bride, although it's also a Deconstruction of the scene it's based on.
    • Valyria: a peninsula of dragon riders? With white-haired royalty with a taste for Brother–Sister Incest? And the largest, most advanced empire in the world? Sounds an awful lot like The Elric Saga. Being a morally ambiguous albino sorcerer, Bloodraven has a particularly noticeable similarity to Elric.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: In the backstory, the War of the Usurper basically happened because both Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen loved Lyanna Stark. Whether Lyanna herself reciprocated either's affections isn't known for certain, but was ultimately a moot point.
  • Honor Before Reason: Eddard Stark, to an extreme degree. He only lets go of his precious honor when it's a choice between that and his daughters' lives. Later in the series, it becomes apparent that this is something of a Reconstructed Trope — Ned's assumption of honor in others is his undoing, but his own, and his family's, honorable reputation ensures Undying Loyalty among several of his bannermen even after he and his heir are killed and his family scattered, his castle is burnt and House Bolton apparently have the North stitched up. There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold:
    • Subverted with Shae.
    • Alayaya, Pia and some others play it straight, though.
  • Hope Spot: Two in the third book. If you already get the series' macabre themes, you can see both of them coming several paragraphs ahead of time. One of them is subverted, however, when the newly dead guy promptly comes back to life.
    • In Dance with Dragons, Jon Snow asks for volunteers to go with him to Winterfell and an army of wildlings agree to go with him to take the fight to Ramsay Snow, who threatens to march on the Night's Watch if he doesn't get 'Arya' and Reek back, along with several other threatening demands. The chapter ends with several members of the Night's Watch stabbing him, apparently to death.
  • The Horde: All wildlings are The Barbarian Horde to the people in the Seven Kingdoms, though it turns out that the Others were the real threat all along.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Eddard Stark, Catelyn Stark, Sansa Stark, Lysa Arryn and Cersei Lannister. Jon Arryn proves to be something of one too, having put Littlefinger and Janos Slynt in their positions of power and never noticed that his wife was insanely obsessed with Littlefinger.
    • The people of King's Landing hate Tyrion and actually believe Pycelle and Janos Slynt are good folk.
  • Hostile Weather: The seasons are abnormally out of kilter — years of winter follow long summers. It's also traditionally upheld that it's downright deadly what the Others can do in and with the cold to the point it seems as if they can actually intensify the effects. Worse: Winter Is Coming... a bad one. Too bad most people don't believe the Others will be coming with it.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Humans and giants. Human men sometimes survive... human women rarely do.
  • Hot Witch: Melisandre. It's ambiguous whether she's a Vain Sorceress or just naturally... hot.
  • A House Divided: Happens a few times in the series, both in the backstory and the main. The first civil war bred by the division between the Targaryens and Blackfyres is a classic example of the trope. As the main story goes on, however, it becomes plain that many a House has the potential to become this: primarily the Baratheons (three ways), the main branch of the Lannisters (everyone for him-or-herself), and the Karstarks. The Freys look set to fall into this the moment The Patriarch finally dies.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Khal Drogo, who towers over a roomful of other men, gets married to the 13-year old Daenerys, who is slight in figure even for her age.
  • Human Traffickers: Slavery is very common outside of the Seven Kingdoms, to the point that human trafficking is the main industry of Astapor (which specializes in Child Soldiers), Yunkai (which specializes in sex slaves), and Mereen (which specializes in domestic slaves).
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Others. Gregor Clegane, somewhat before but definitely after Qyburn turns him into Ser Robert Strong.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The series aren't aloof in pointing out to the fact that the constant wars, powermongering, destructive, exploitative and generally horrible behavior of the humans has had a greatly negative effect on the world. That's saying a lot considering other supposedly horrible beasts like dragons and the undead inhabit it as well who don't even come close to being just as crappy as the bulk of the humans who try to control it.
  • Humiliation Conga: Suffered by many characters.
    • Tyrion Lannister lives this trope due to being a dwarf. He's imprisoned, openly mocked, forcibly married, enslaved and forced to joust on a pig for others' amusement.
    • Theon Greyjoy, once he returns to the Iron Islands, and thereafter. Book five takes it Up To Eleven, and turns it into such a Trauma Conga Line that he manages to become The Woobie, which is quite an achievement considering how loathsome he is in book two.
    • Samwell Tarly whenever he was around his father, and later during his training at the Night's Watch.
    • Cersei suffers one at the hands of the Faith, being shaved bald and forced to march naked through the city. Kevan notes that the experience seems to have broken her.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Tywin Lannister was this to the mad King Aerys, to the point that the people cheered twice as loud for him as they did for the actual ruler, and visitors would sometimes mistake him for Aerys. Jealousy over this fact is part of the reason why Aerys allowed Jaime to join the Kingsguard behind his father's back and refused to consider having Rhaegar marry Cersei.
  • Hyperlink Story: The books have a revolving POV structure where each chapter is narrated by alternating series of characters from different parts of the fantasy setting, from different classes, genders and ages. Some of the plot threads, such as the Night's Watch and Essos, rarely overlap directly but play as parallel narratives to the realm of the Seven Kingdoms, the arena where most of the characters' stories take place.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When the Kindly Man tells her she's too proud for the Loss of Identity required by a Faceless Man, Arya says she can be more humble than anyone.
    • During their unsuccessful peace negotiations, Stannis loses his temper over his brother's constant snarking and draws his sword.
    "I am not without mercy!" shouted he who was notoriously without mercy.

    I 
  • I Am X, Son of Y: The Mountain Clans. Tyrion cottons on and introduces himself as "Tyrion, son of Tywin".
  • I Call It "Vera":
    • Arya's sword Needle.
    • Valyrian swords are usually very rare family heirlooms and all have names, including Ice, Lady Forlorn, Oathkeeper, Red Rain etc. More comically, Joffrey's swords "Lion's Tooth" and "Hearteater", and "Widow's Wail".
    • In a mundane weapon example, Garth, Manderly's jailer/torturer/executioner likes to introduce prisoners to his "ladies". There's a poker he calls the Whore which he heats up red hot and applies to his victims' private parts. He also has "Lady Lu", a large and sharp ax he uses for executions.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Many of the most famous characters in the entire series originate after the first book:.
    • Book 2: A Clash of Kings introduces Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Asha Greyjoy, Jaqen H'ghar, Brienne of Tarth, Ygritte, Margaery Tyrell, Qyburn and Ramsay Snow. It also has the first appearance of Wyman Manderly who would become a major fan favorite in A Dance with Dragons, as well as Aeron and Victarion Greyjoy who become POV characters in A Feast for Crows.
    • Book 3: A Storm of Swords has Lord Beric, Thoros of Myr and the Brotherhood without Banners (who had small cameos in the first book), Prince Oberyn Martell, Coldhands, Mance Rayder, Tormund Giantsbane, Val the Wildling Princess, Olenna Redwyne.
    • Book 4: A Feast for Crows has Euron Greyjoy, Arianne Martell, Doran Martell, Septon Meribald, the Elder Brother, Marwyn the Mage, Alleras and the High Sparrow.
    • Book 5: A Dance with Dragons has Barbrey Dustin, Jon Connington, the Golden Company, Quentyn Martell, Alys Karstark.
  • Iconic Sequel Song: Songs like "The Rains of Castamere" and "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" are commonly associated with the series, but don't even get mentioned until A Storm of Swords.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!:
    • Bran Stark believed he could have been a great knight had he not been crippled.
    • Viserys Targaryen II was the longest serving Hand and was already old when he became king. He reigned for only a year and it's thought he could have done the realm more good had he lived.
    • Daemon Blackfyre was considered the greatest uncrowned king of Westeros. His failed rebellion cemented him only as a villain.
    • Prince Baelor Breakspear shared the same reputation as Daemon but he got accidentally killed in a tourney melee.
  • Identity Amnesia: Using torture to invoke this trope seems to be one of Ramsay Bolton's favourite pastimes. He nearly manages it with both Theon and Jeyne, but they seem to have started recovering once out of his hands.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Chapters are named either for the POV character they're being told through, or with a title or nickname that refers (sometimes quite obliquely) to that character.
    • The titles of the books all take the form of "Article Noun Preposition Noun".
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place:
    • The grim North has a few other keeps and castles with forbidding names, such as Winterfell, the Dreadfort and, on the Wall, the Shadow Tower and the supposedly-haunted Nightfort.
    • Westeros and Essos' bodies of water don't sound very friendly either. Examples are Shipbreaker Bay, the Gulf of Grief, Slaver's Bay and the Smoking Sea.
    • Some Dornish castles and locations sound really scary: Hellholt, Ghost Hill, Scourge, the river Brimstone, the Boneway pass, and Hellgate Hall.
  • The Igor: Reek, to Ramsay Bolton. Both of them, the original Reek and Theon Greyjoy. The former (from what we know of him) appeared to be a pretty voluntary one, but the latter is a horrific Deconstruction of what kind of brainwashing does it take to turn a normal human (a prince, no less) into an Igor. On the more positive note, Theon picks up the essential skill of all Igors: to escape when the crowd with Torches and Pitchforks shows up.
  • I Have a Family
  • I Have No Son!: Tywin disowns Tyrion after he's implicated in Joffrey's murder, and Jaime after he refuses to quit the Kingsguard.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Ygritte is this to Jon Snow. Lyanna is this for both Ned and Robert. It's also suggested Dany inadvertently causes the deaths of Drogo and their unborn child. Also Jaime has a lot of guilt over letting Rhaegar's wife and children die brutally on his father's orders.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Biter eats people with teeth that are filed down to points.
    • It's strongly implied that a singer who tried to blackmail Tyrion ends up in a pot shop cauldron in Flea Bottom. As Bronn says, 'there's all kinds of meat' in that particular bowl of brown. Tyrion later tells Penny that he had a singer that offended him made into a stew.
    • The island of Skagos is reputed to be home to rampant cannibalism, although we haven't actually seen it yet.
    • Ser Wylis Manderly and other prisoners at Harrenhal are fed parts of Vargo Hoat. It's left ambiguous whether they knew what they were eating. Gregor Clegane also made Hoat eat himself.
    • Four of Stannis's starving soldiers eat one of their dead companions during their march on Winterfell.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, it is strongly implied that Lord Manderly had the three Freys who came to his court made into pies, which Manderly serves both to himself and the Frey and Bolton bannermen in attendance.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, it's very likely that the pork Coldhands provided to Bran and co. was actually flesh of Night Watch deserters Coldhands had killed.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Targaryen siblings at the start of the books. There is also House Westerling and possibly House Tollett.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Ghiscari are quite fond of the trope. They wear elaborate hairstyles sculpted into bizarre shapes, requiring their soldiers to wear giant helmets to avoid ruining their hair. Nobles wear toga-like outfits that are designed so that you have to hold it together with one hand to keep it from falling off. In this case, the clothing is impractical by design, as it shows the wearer doesn't have to work or do much of anything for himself. The slave soldier companies of the region have gotten so used to fighting mock-battles against each other that they have their slave soldiers wear utterly ridiculous battlegear even into real fights — one company wears stilts, another is together wrist-to-wrist and ankle-to-ankle...
  • In It for Life: Service as a maester, in the Night's Watch, Kingsguard, and several religious orders is lifelong. The Night's Watch' traditional funeral rites end, "Now his watch is ended."
  • In the Blood: Due to Brother–Sister Incest, members of House Targaryen were either honorable rulers or complete psychopaths. Particularly dishonorable mentions include Maegor the Cruel, Aegon the Unworthy, Aerion Brightflame, and Aerys the Mad.
    • On the other hand, House Bolton and House Lothston don't seem to have consisted of anything but complete psychopaths with very few exceptions.
  • In Medias Res: Many of the chapters tend to begin this way.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Lord Gyles Rosby, suffering from a disease that also causes Blood from the Mouth.
  • Individuality Is Illegal: Among the Unsullied and the Faceless Men.
  • Inferred Survival: Sandor Clegane.
  • Inherent in the System: The World Half Empty of the last book is a result of the oncoming Winter and the aftermath of a devastating civil war, the War of the Five Kings.
  • Inheritance Murder:
    • Done by proxy in the fourth book. Bronn marries Lollys Stokeworth, second in line inherit her mother's lands, incomes and titles. When Lady Stokeworth dies, Bronn kills Lollys' brother-in-law and banishes her older sister Falysenote , making Lollys the new Lady Stokeworth. Though Bronn doesn't directly inherit anything, as Lollys' husband he controls her wealth.
    • It's obvious to everyone in the Iron Islands that Euron Greyjoy had a role to play in his older brother Balon's death. He's been in exile for two years and just happens to come home the day after Balon's body washes up on shore? The youngest Greyjoy brother Aeron tries to subvert this trope by calling a Kingsmoot, allowing the ironborn to choose their next king, but Euron double-subverts it by winning and become the new king anyway.note
    • King Aerys the Mad suspected that his son and heir Prince Rhaegar had been plotting to kill him for power. There are hints that Rhaegar may have indeed wanted to remove his father from power, but nothing's certain.
    • Its commonly believed that Viserys II poisoned his nephew Baelor to acquire the Iron Throne, and was in turn poisoned by his own son Aegon IV for the very same reason only a year later.
    • Gerold Lannister was accused of murdering his brother Tybolt and niece Cerelle in order to gain the lordship of Casterly Rock. Its uncertain if he actually did however.
    • Hagon Hoare sold out his older brother Harmund, along with their mother, to his detractors in order to become King of the Iron Islands.
  • In Love with Love: Ned suggests that despite Robert's epic love for her, he really didn't know Lyanna that well as a person.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Ravens. Each bird is trained to fly to a specific location, though some especially intelligent ones are more versatile.
  • Insult of Endearment:
    • "You know nothing, Jon Snow!" becomes this for Ygritte
    • In the Dunk and Egg books, Dunk frequently recalls his late master Arlan saying, "Dunk the Lunk, thick as a castle wall." Dunk recalls Arlan as a friendly and even-tempered man, so it comes across that his master was using this trope, but the insecure Dunk has taken the words seriously and often uses them to chastise himself.
  • Inter-Class Romance: A few cases, both before and during the series, though this being Westeros most of them end badly:
    • In his backstory Tyrion married Tysha (a peasant girl) hoping his family would leave him be...unsurprisingly things went downhill the moment Tywin found out.
    • Meanwhile as a child, Littlefinger — the grandson of a hedge knight whose holding consists of one tiny peninsula — tried to win Lady Catelyn (the daughter of the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands) from her betrothed Lord Brandon Stark (heir to all of the North). The attempt did not go well.
    • Jorah Mormont (who is a penniless exile) spends the series endlessly pining for Daenerys "Stormborn" Targaryen, the Unburnt, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mother of Dragons many other titles to follow. Needless to say, things aren't looking good for him so far.
    • Minor characters Mya Stone (a baseborn commoner) and Mychel Redfort (a highborn knight) seemed to have a more hopeful future in the first book, but by the time they appear again, he's been forced to marry someone else.
    • Arya "Princess" of the North, and Gendry, a bastard child from Flea Bottom, were hinted to be developing feeling for each other while on the run together. Her disguise as a commoner meant they were able to befriend each other as equals, however Gendry clearly feared they'd be separated once she returned to her proper station — despite what Arya's own wishes may be. They later get separated for other reasons and neither even knows where the other one is.
  • Invading Refugees: The Free Folk.
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death
  • Ironic Echo: Theon spends most of A Dance with Dragons in a state of Stockholm Syndrome, denying his identity due to the horrific abuse he suffered at the hands of his captor, Ramsay Bolton; in his internal monologue he frequently repeats the line "You have to know your name" in order to remind himself that he's supposed to be "Reek", not Theon. At the end of his last chapter in the book he repeats the line to emphasize that he once again recognises himself as Theon.
  • Ironic Name: Two of the Freys have names that are ironic in terms of who they are named for. The severely mentally disabled Aegon (generally known as Jinglebell because his jerkass grandfather makes him act as a jester) is named after a great military leader and ruler. Similarly, Rhaegar Frey, a slimy and totally mediocre man, is named after a Pretty Boy Knight in Shining Armor who was both a sensitive intellectual and a military genius; Lord Manderly specifically calls him out as a "smirking worm who wears a dragon's name".
  • Ironic Nickname: Quite popular.
    • Jon Snow is mockingly dubbed "Lord Snow" by The Nicknamer Alliser Thorne, because he's the son of one of the most powerful men in Westeros and was raised by his father in a castle with a privileged upbringing, but as both a bastard son and a sworn Watchman, he can never inherit any of his father's lands or titles. Later, it loses its irony when he becomes Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
    • When the cowardly Samwell Tarly starts being called "Sam the Slayer," he thinks it's another example of the trope, but it's mostly meant sincerely to commemorate a heroic action he made.
    • Brienne is mockingly called "The Beauty" because she's very ugly.
    • A number of minor characters sport them. In the Night's Watch, Giant is a short man and Small Paul is a large one. The Ironman raider Rolfe the Dwarf is very tall. The sellsword Pretty Meris is horribly scarred and disfigured.
    • One of the former leaders of the Golden Company, Myles Toyne was jokingly nicknamed Blackheart by his troops, in reference to the image on his coat-of-arms. Toyne liked the nickname because it led people to be wary of him, but he's described by the rather stern Jon Connington as being warm and generous and A Father to His Men, and at the very least seems to have been a Sergeant Rock type.
    • Shae affectionately calls Tyrion her "giant of Lannister", which he finds quite endearing. Until she tells the whole court about it at the trial, claiming he "made" her call him that. When she tries to use it affectionately again after that, it's become a Berserk Button.
    • Big Walder is little and Little Walder is big. This one, at least, is justified by something other than irony, as Big Walder is the elder of the two.
  • It Is Not Your Time: Played with — a guilt-ridden Theon encounters a hooded stranger while wandering the snowbound ruins of Winterfell. The man asks Theon why he's still alive. Theon replies that the gods and Lord Ramsey haven't finished with him yet. The stranger laughs and says he'll leave Theon to them then. The encounter would mean little were it not that the Stranger (whose face is always concealed by a hood) is The Grim Reaper in the Faith of the Seven.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Morbidly obese Illyrio reveals that his sculpture of the beautiful young bravo was him at the age of 16. Robert Baratheon was also stated to be muscled and handsome before he took the Iron Throne.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Tommen has a whipping boy, Pate, who Cersei has beaten whenever Tommen steps out of line. On an occasion when he seriously annoys her, she orders him to beat Pate until he bleeds — and if he refuses, the boy will have his tongue cut out instead.

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