[WARNING – This article contains SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 6.]
With Game of Thrones season 6 reaching its final episodes, lines are being drawn and allegiances are being formed. The ‘war to come’ is still that between the living and the dead, which likely won’t truly happen until the HBO series’ final hours, but the petty squabbles between the different houses and factions of Westeros continue.
To help make sense of just who is loyal to whom and where the battle lines will fall, we’ve compiled a guide listing the most important and influential groups within the Seven Kingdoms and beyond. For each great house or similar group we’ve included a listing of those who remain loyal and those who are their sworn enemies. There will also be an indication (marked by ‘?’) if we have reason to suspect or are simply unsure of their loyalty. And lastly, at the end of this guide we’ve listed those houses or characters who remain an unknown quantity, keeping their true intention and allegiances a secret. As the show progresses and allegiance inevitably change, this guide will be updated. [Updated 6/27/2016]
Begin our Game of Thrones Faction Guide, below:
Allies: Wildlings, The Night’s Watch, Mormont, Hornwood, Mazin, Reed(?), Manderlay, Cerwyn, Glover, Karstark, Tully(?), Arryn, Brienne of Tarth, Ser Davos Seaworth, Melisandre(?), Samwell Tarly, Littlefinger(?)
Bolton, Lannister, Targaryen(?), The Night King
Game of Thrones has never been especially kind to the Starks. Established as an honorable house full of goodhearted and kind people, the Starks have suffered countless aggressions and, until very recently, did not even hold their ancestral home. Those surviving Starks are scattered across the known world, but as of season 6, Sansa Stark and her
half-brother cousin Jon Snow are reunited. They now hold Winterfell, having won it back in a bloody and brutal battle where a severely outnumbered army of Wildlings and men from many of the lesser northern houses (Mormont, Hornwood, Mazin) defeated the Bolton army and its much larger coalition – thanks in large part to the timely arrival of House Arryn’s Knights of the Vale.
With the Boltons defeated, Houses Umber, Glover and Karstark have all sworn their allegiance to House Stark, as did no shows House Manderlay and Cerwyn. Presumably, this will eventually include House Reed, which hasn’t made its current allegiance known, but in the past was a stalwart ally of the Starks. Meera Reed, the daughter of Ned’s friend, Howland, is currently north of The Wall with Bran Stark, and that would suggest the Reeds still consider themselves sworn to the Starks. But as for House Tully, well, had Brienne been able to win The Blackfish to their cause, then maybe, but with Edmure now a puppet of the Lannisters it seems unlikely Riverrun considers itself a Stark ally.
As of the season 6 finale, the gathered northmen, at Lyanna Mormont’s urging, hailed Jon Snow as the new King in the North.
Karstark, Glover, Umber
Though previously sworn to House Stark, the Boltons usurped their liege lords. As repayment for killing Robb Stark, thus ending his bid to be King in the North, Roose Bolton was installed as the new Warden of the North by the Lannisters and given Winterfell as the new seat of House Bolton. However, Roose was murdered by his bastard son, Ramsey, who then proclaimed himself the new Warden; a move that likely irritated the Lannisters, though they may be too involved with their own affairs to really care.
Ramsey was aware that Jon Snow was planning to challenge his hold on the North, specifically Winterfell, and gathered his own coalition of Northern houses; including the Karstarks, Glovers, and Umbers. Yet, even with the larger numbers – and the demoralizing move of publicly murdering Rickon Stark ahead of the battle – the Bolton forces were defeated. Ramsey was then defeated in single combat by Jon, and later, at Sansa’s command, was set upon by his own ravenous hounds and killed. Those houses which fought with the Boltons have once again sworn fealty to the Starks, reestablishing them as the reining northern house.
Tyrell, Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, Qyburn, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater(?)
Faith Militant, Targaryen, Martell, Greyjoy
When Tywin Lannister still lived, the Lannisters were a mighty house that few would ever consider opposing. But with Twyin dead the control the Lannisters once held is gone. Now, the future of the House Lannister lies with Cersei and Jaime – both of whom have recently participated in huge wins for their house, Jaime in ending the Siege at Riverrun, and Cersei by destroying all her enemies in a massive wildfire explosion.
In that explosion, House Tyrell and the Faith Militant were effectively removed from the board with the deaths of Margaery, Loras, and Mace Tyrell, as well as the High Sparrow and his legions of followers. Also casualties of Cersei’s wildfire plot: Kevan and Lancel Lannister, leaving the family name firmly in Cersei and Jamie’s hands. However, their was another unintended casuality – Tommen, their son, who took his own life after witnessing the destruction of the Sept of Baelor.
With Tommen dead, Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, while at the same time Jaime returns to King’s Landing to bear witness to what she’s wrought.
The Crown, Faith Militant, Tyrell, Lannister
Enemies: Targaryen, Stark, Greyjoy
As viewers are aware, no one from House Baratheon remains an integral player in the “game of thrones”. Robert, Stannis, and Renly all died without any legitimate heirs and the question of who holds Storm’s End, the Baratheon ancestral home, is a mystery. There was, of course, King Tommen Baratheon, but his true lineage was questioned by almost all and known by more than a few as truly being the son of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. However, for all intents and purposes Tommen remained a Baratheon, even if in name only, and aligned himself with the Faith Militant.
Then Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor, killing off the High Sparrow, the Faith Militent, almost all of House Tyrell, and more. As a result of the carnage, Tommen took his own life by jumping from a high window in the Red Keep. Now, House Baratheon is truly dead and gone. (Unless, somehow, Robert’s bastard, Gendry were to reappear.)
Baratheon, Lannister, Tarly, Targaryen, Martell
Enemies: Cersei Lannister
One of the richest and most powerful houses in Westeros, House Tyrell had managed to avoid many of the same tragedies which have plagued other powerful houses throughout the series. That luck ran dry, however, once the High Sparrow and his fanatical Faith Militant took control of the church, imprisoning both Loras and Margaery Tyrell. Loras remained in a dungeon until his trial, but Margaery was able make herself an apparent ally of the High Sparrow by bringing Tommen into the fold. She later revealed to her grandmother, Lady Olenna, that her heart was still with House Tyrell, however, and that her conversion was only a ruse.
Through all of this, House Tyrell and Lannister have been little better than “frenemies”, only aiding one another when it’s mutually beneficial. But for Cersei, everyone who wasn’t either her brother or her children, was always her enemy. When it came to hers and Loras’ trial at the Sept of Baelor Cersei never has an intention of attending. Instead, she remained at the Red Keep and watched the old church go up in green flames, killing everyone – including Margaery, Loras, and Mace Tyrell.
Now, only Lady Olenna remains and she is seeking revenge for her house and family; aligning herself with House Martell, and more importantly, House Targaryen against the newly crowned, Queen Cersei.
Baratheon, Lancel Lannister, Margaery Tyrell
A relatively new player in the game, the Faith Militant was a fanatical organization within the The Faith of the Seven led by the High Sparrow. They made it their purpose to punish those who abused their power and offended the gods. Among their numbers they included Lancel Lannister, Tommen Baratheon, and Margaery Tyrell – though the validity of her conversion was always in question.
But none of that matters anymore. The High Sparrow and his many followers all died along many of King’s Landing’s courtiers (most importantly the Tyrells) in the massive wildfire explosion which destroyed the Sept of Baelor and was orchestrated by none other than Cersei Lannister.
Allies: Targaryen, Martell
Enemies: Inner-House Fighting,
House Greyjoy is another house that for some time was absent from the power struggle happening across Westeros. Balon Greyjoy failed to ever stake much of a claim during the War of the Five Kings and was murdered earlier this season by his younger brother, Euron. That then led to a Kingsmoot where Balon’s daughter, Yara, put herself forward as a candidate to rule the Iron Islands, only to be beaten by Euron, who was then crowned king of the Ironborn.
In her defeat, she and her brother, Theon, stole the Iron Fleet and fled across the Narrow Sea, seeking to ally themselves with Daenerys Targaryen. And that gamble appears to have paid off, as Houses Greyjoy and Targaryen have since sworn an allegiance – with Yara’s portion of the Iron Fleet promising to aid in Dany’s conquering of the Seven Kingdoms in return for sovereignty over the Iron Islands. However, the alliance also comes with a condition: the Ironborn are to no longer reave the coast Westeros, a practice which for ages has been their way of life. And in the future, that may prove a hard promise to keep.
Allies: Targaryen, Greyjoy, Lady Olenna Tyrell
Enemies: Lannister, Stark(?)
Earlier this season, Ellaria Sand overthrew Prince Doran Martell, murdering him and seemingly taking control of House Martell and Dorne in the process. The exact fallout from this event is still mostly unknown, but what we do know is that Ellaria entered into discussions with Lady Olenna soon after Cersei murdered the rest of House Tyrell, united by their shared lust for revenge against House Lannister.
Ellaria and the Sand Snakes also declared themselves allies of House Targaryen, having received Varys as an envoy from Daenerys. Now, Martell ships sail in Daenerys’ fleet as she makes her away across the Narrow Sea to Westeros.
Allies: Dothraki, Unsullied, Second Sons, Greyjoy, Martell, Tyrion Lannister, Varys, Jorah Mormont, Lady Olenna Tyrell, Dragons
Baratheon, Lannister, Tyrell, Bolton, Stark(?)
Once the ruling house of the Seven Kingdoms for generations, House Targaryen is all but extinct – except for one woman, Daenerys. Separated from Westeros by the Narrow Sea, Daenerys had slowly built for herself a massive army comprised of Dothraki, Unsullied, the sellsword company the Second Sons, and as of just recently, a significant portion of the Iron Fleet, commanded by Yara of House Greyjoy and the allegiance of House Martell of Dorne.
As her advisors she has Tyrion Lannister, Jorah Mormont, Varys, and potentially Lady Olenna, all of whom can provide her with a wealth of knowledge about the land she hopes to reconquer. She also has three dragons, which seemingly give Daenerys an absurd advantage. But having those dragons and arriving in Westeros as a conquerer will also likely make her many enemies, possibly pitting House Targaryen against just about every other house in Westeros.
The Night King
Allies: Everyone dead ever.
Enemies: Everyone else still alive, Bran Stark
The Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights is the true enemy of absolutely everyone in Westeros and beyond. The real war is the one between the living and the dead, the light and the darkness. Unfortunately, very few realize this, and it’s that inaction which may very well lead to the destruction of everyone and everything south of The Wall. That is, unless Bran Stark can achieve his destiny of becoming the Three-Eyed Raven. It isn’t exactly clear just how Bran will do this, but even the recently returned Benjen Stark has assured Bran it’s what needs to happen if the living are to have any hope of defeating The Night King. No pressure, Bran.
The Hound – Revealed as having survived his near fatal injuries, The Hound remains an unknown quantity. While living with Brother Ray, Sandor Clegane tried moving on from a life filled with violence – until that life found him, and all those who lived in that peaceful settlement were murdered by the Brotherhood Without Banners. The Hound is sought vengeance for the slaughter, killing several of the Brotherhood in the process, but upon meeting again with Beric Dondarian – who also condemned the actions of his men – Sandor may have found a new purpose.
Brotherhood Without Banners – Led by Beric Dondarian, the Brotherhood Without Banners hasn’t appeared since season 3, but after some of their men took part in a senseless and cruel massacre, we again met with the Brotherhood as Dondarian and Thoros of Myr were dispatching justice, hanging the men responsible. It was here that The Hound came upon them, and though they share a something of history – what with Sandor having once killed Beric, who was later revived by Thoros – he has seemingly joined their ranks, at least for a little while. What exactly their mission is nowadays isn’t entirely clear, but Beric makes mentions of the “cold winds rising in the north“, which could imply they eventually join in on the true battle against The Night King.
Littlefinger – When we’re discussing characters who haven’t made their true agenda known, there are none more duplicitous than Petyr “Littelfinger” Baelish. However, he has revealed to Sansa Stark that his dream is to sit the Iron Throne himself and that he sees her at his side. Throughout the course of the series, Littlefinger has betrayed practically everyone, and Sansa would do well not to trust him (something she thankfully realizes). But House Stark has found itself indebted to Littlefinger once again, having been saved by his timely arrival with the Knights of Vale during their battle against the Boltons. And while on the surface it may appear he’s allied himself with the Starks, his agenda isn’t one that aligns with the newly crowned King in the North, Jon Snow. And at the end of the day, you can be sure there’s only one person who truly matters to Littlefinger, and that’s himself.
Game Of Thrones will continue with season 7 in 2017 on HBO.