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This is a listing of organizations that appear in the Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Visit here for the main character index.
An institution from Westeros, the Kingsguard exists to... guard the king, and anyone close to him. They consists of seven knights who swear themselves to bachelorhood, celibacy and duty, serve for life, and wear pure white when on-duty. Members of the Kingsguard, by virtue of being members, are considered the de facto finest knights in the realm, and all of them are at least excellent fighters; whether they are Pillars of Moral Character is another question. Daenerys has gone to the effort of constituting a new Queensguard, which confers some legitimacy on her claim, but due to various circumstances it has never had more than one knight in it at a time.
- Badass: At least, that's what it says on the label. However:
- Prince Aemond the Dragonknight defeated a Dornish champion during the Conquest of Dorne and took an arrow for his king, defended his brother's honour in trial-by-combat and later from assassins even though they hated each other with a volcanic passion.
- Ser Gwayne Corbray duelled Daemon Blackfyre for an hour during the Battle of the Redgrass Field, both with Valyrian steel swords, to the point that when Daemon won he called for his maester to tend to Gwayne because he respected the man's fight.
- Ser Duncan the Tall did some pretty awesome stuff before and during his time wearing the white cloak, right up to his actions the Tragedy of Summerhall, which would ultimately kill him.
- Ser Arthur Dayne! Pretty much the most badass knight since Ser Duncan. He fought the Smiling Knight (who scared the smallclothes off of everyone, including Jaime Lannister) until his opponent's sword broke, at which point Ser Arthur allowed him to fetch another sword! He still won!
- Ser Barristan Selmy is such a badass that, when he leaves the Kingsguard and disappears, four of the five kings in the war fret their eyes out that he joined the enemy's side. Ser Barristan once claims that he could cut through five of the current Kingsguard like a dagger cuts cheese. Sufficing to say that he ain't kidding!
- Captain Ersatz: There are (at least) two of them in-universe. The first is Daenerys's Queensguard, while the second was Renly Baratheon's Rainbow Guard. Both orders were modeled after the original Kingsguard and fulfill a similar role to it.
- Celibate Hero: Or, at least, they're supposed to be. Characters in the series know All Men Are Perverts, and there are knights who got away with it because it didn't get in the way of their duty.
- The only member of the Kingsguard that expresses any kind of regret at breaking this vow is Arys Oakheart, who is having an affair with Arianne Martell.
- Fallen Hero: Some Kingsguard have not lived up to their chivalrous standards. Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer is the foremost. There's also Criston Cole the Kingmaker, Orivel the cowardly, Lucamore the Lusty and Gyles Greycloak the traitor.
- Honor Before Reason
- Inadequate Inheritor: The current Kingsguard, according to Barristan Selmy. He makes his contempt known when Joffrey dismisses him:
Barristan: Have no fear, sers, your king is safe...no thanks to you. Even now, I could cut through the five of you as easy as a dagger cuts cheese. If you would serve under the Kingslayer, not a one of you is fit to wear the white.
- Hell, even the Kingslayer himself acknowledges this as true (and after Selmy is dismissed the appointees only get worse and worse with one exception), telling Loras Tyrell:
Jaime Lannister: I served with Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of Morning, who could have slain the six of you with his left hand while taking a piss with his right.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Played with. Many members are deconstructions, but some (Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, Barristan Selmy, and Lord Commander Duncan the Tall) run it straight.
- Master Swordsman: Has featured several, such as Arthur Dayne, Barristan Selmy, and Jaimie Lannister.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: The Kingsguard are sworn to live this trope, no matter how terrible their monarch might be. This is seen in full effect under Joffrey, and horror stories of what the Kingsguard either participated in or enabled under Aerys Targaryen have become the stuff of legend. Jaime Lannister, Barristan Selmy, and Sandor Clegane are notable for being the only three members of the order in recent history to say "fuck that noise" to this trope.
- Subverted with Arys Oakheart, who's commanded by Joffrey to beat Sansa (like the rest of his brothers who do it without question and are pretty terrible about it). He objects to hitting her but gives in... and only hits her as lightly as possible.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Under terrible rulers, the Kingsguard sometimes act like this.
- Old Master: Inevitably, as they age. At the start of the series, Ser Barristan Selmy qualifies.
- Jaime gets promoted after a previous member died in his sleep of old age. (The series gets a pun from it by mentioning he was a member of House Grandison, whose sigil is a sleeping lion. Wouldn't Aerys prefer a roaring one instead?)
- Praetorian Guard
- Replacement Mooks: Thanks to the War of the Five Kings, the Kingsguard has been bled of its most competent knights. When Jaime finally returns to Kings Landing near the end of A Storm of Swords to assume his new role as Lord Commander of the order, he's shocked beyond words to discover it's now comprised of second- and third-string knights, Lannister cronies and up-jumped commoners of dubious backgrounds. The only members that Jaime approves of are Loras Tyrell and Balon Swann.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With the Brotherhood of the Night's Watch. Members of both forswear lands, titles and family, and consider themselves to be brothers in a family. Their respective sigils are pure white and pure black. One wears white and guards the king; the other wears black and guards the kingdom. (This parallel has not yet been drawn by the text.)
The Night's Watch
The oldest institution in Westeros, the Night's Watch exists solely to guard the Wall, an enormous barrier built of ice to shield Westeros from the ancient threat of a Zombie Apocalypse. In ancient days it was as esteemed as the Kingsguard; nowadays it's become a penal colony where convicted thieves, rapists and killers are shipped. Many nobles end up there if they become victims of political struggles. Joining the Night's Watch is called "taking the black" and all members serve for life. Jon Snow ends up here, and quickly takes on a leading role in the group.
- Army of Thieves and Whores: Literally.Several of its members ended up on the Wall because they were thieves, and Satin is a former (male) prostitute
- A Storm Is Coming: The reason why this group was founded.
- Badass Bookworm: Averted with Samwell Tarly, a bookworm and self-professed coward. Played a bit straighter after he becomes the first character in eight thousand years to kill an Other and becomes known as Sam the Slayer (See The So-Called Coward below.)
- Badass Creed:
"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."
- Chaste Hero: Supposedly, although most of them still get around whenever they have the opportunity. This is tolerated by the superiors because trying to enforce the oath of chastity would do more harm than good, (and it has been pointed out that the oath prohibits fathering children, not sex per se).
- Mole's Town, the nearest settlement, apparently has several brothels that do quite good business with brothers that have snuck away for an evening.
- Deadpan Snarker: "Dolorous" Edd Tollett.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Alliser Thorne.
- The Eeyore: Dolorous Edd, so very much. Played for Laughs.
- Fallen Hero: Mance Rayder was a black brother before becoming King-beyond the wall. There's also Rodrik Flint who tried to do the same, the 79 Sentinels who deserted, and the worst of the worst, The Night's King.
- Ironic Nickname: Many members have these, such as "Small Paul" and "Giant".
- Locked Away in a Monastery: The reason Sam Tarly was sent.
- Memetic Badass: Qhorin Halfhand -- in-universe!
- Mentor Archetype: Jeor Mormont, Qhorin Halfhand and Maester Aemon.
- Mildly Military
- Old Master: The senior members often are this. Special mention goes to Maester Aemon and Jeor "Old Bear" Mormont.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: By the time of A Game Of Thrones, they're composed mostly of criminals, bastards, disgraced nobles, enemies of politically powerful people, and the like. It doesn't stop them from being an effective fighting force.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: One of the reasons people are sent to the Wall; Janos Slynt, for example, and the Lannisters' original plan for Eddard Stark.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With the Kingsguard. See above.
- The So-Called Coward: Samwell Tarly is the first member of current Night's Watch to actually kill one of The Others.
- The Wall Around the World: At the northern end of it, at least.
A Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch introduced in the first novel, later becoming a narrator. A self-confessed Dirty Coward, Sam is fat, weak and soft, preferring the songs of harps to that of swords. He was essentially disowned by his father, Lord Randyll Tarly of Horn Hill, and shipped off to the Wall. Fortunately, there was a place for him there.
- Abusive Parents: well, all of this applies solely to Lord Tarly; evidently Sam's mother was kind to him. But look at the tropes pile up:
- Badass Bookworm
- Dirty Coward: per his own words, though he comes across as a Lovable Coward.
- Fat Best Friend: to Jon Snow.
- Father, I Don't Want to Fight
- Geek Physiques: Sam is described as being quite fat and un-athletic.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin, Nerds Are Virgins: played straight. (Until later...)
- The So-Called Coward: arguably a deconstruction.
The Brave Companions
The Brave Companions (called the "Bloody Mummers" and the "Footmen" behind their backs) are a band of Private Military Contractors from across the sea. At the end of the first book, they were brought from the east to Westeros by Tywin Lannister to fight for him in the first battles of the war. Led by Vargo Hoat ("The Crippler"), they are essentially an armed gang of criminals, outcasts and scum, who are the Psycho for Hire of whichever side is winning the war at the moment.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Vargo Hoat, with his slobbery lisping voice and eccentric behavior.
- Death by Irony: Vargo's signature move is cutting off limbs and leaving the victims alive. This eventually happened to Vargo himself, who had his own body parts roasted and fed to him by Gregor Clegane. Clegane keeps Vargo alive as long as possible, because he found the way Vargo slobbered when talking to be amusing.
- The Dreaded: Vargo is infamous and known as "The Crippler" among the servants, peasants and helpless victims. Those who are actually in a position to fight back know him by the rather less intimidating nickname of "The Goat" (referring to the emblem of Hoat's home city of Qohor, which is a black goat).
- Equal Opportunity Evil: The Brave Companions are quite diverse. It seems like the only criteria for membership in addition to being a competent fighter is being a completely amoral bastard.
- Evil Versus Evil: Once Gregor Clegane and Roose Bolton begin to hunt them down.
- Fat Bastard: Zollo, the fattest Dothraki you'll ever meet.
- For the Evulz
- Insistent Terminology: Do not refer to their company as anything but the Brave Companions or they'll make you suffer.
- Laughably Evil: Shagwell and Vargo.
- Mad Doctor / For Science!: Qyburn, a disgraced maester.
Qyburn: For hundreds of years the men of the Citadel have opened the bodies of the dead, to study the nature of life. I wished to understand the nature of death, so I opened the bodies of the living.
- Monster Clown: Shagwell, the jester. The first thing we learn about him is that he killed a man for not laughing at his jokes.
Brienne: You are no better than the rest of them. You have robbed and raped and murdered.
Shagwell: Oh, I have, I have, I shan't deny it... but I'm amusing, with all my japes and capers. I make men laugh.
Brienne: And women weep.
Shagwell: Is that my fault? Women have no sense of humor.
- Their entire nickname references this trope. A "mummer" is a costumed entertainer (particularly a mime). That's why they're the Bloody Mummers: they're a whole brigade of wildly-dressed psychopaths.
- Pedophile Priest: Septon Utt. It says a lot about how monstrous this group is when a Pedophile Priest comes across as one of the least terrible ones because he actually feels bad about raping and murdering young boys (not that his pangs of conscience stop him from continuing).
- Private Military Contractors
- Psycho for Hire: Every member of the group.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: An evil version of this trope.
- Rape, Pillage and Burn: Happens to every town and village the Brave Companions encounter.
- Serial Killer: Rorge and Urswyck seem to have been this before they joined the group.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Again, all of them, though it's a subversion since it's implied they were all sociopaths before they became soldiers.
- Stupid Evil: This applies once Rorge takes over, since they go around slaughtering indiscriminately to no apparent benefit, even as ever more people start hunting them as a result.
- Even before this, cutting off Jaime's hand and trying to rape Brienne when both of them could be very valuable hostages falls into this category. Roose Bolton actually declares himself "displeased" when he finds out, which is the closest he ever gets to showing anger.
- Undying Loyalty: Say what you will about Qyburn, but he's the one person who hasn't abandoned Cersei, despite having nothing to lose if he does (and, frankly, plenty to lose if he stays).
- Possibly his For Science! motivation drives him to stay loyal because nobody else would give him free reign to experiment on prisoners or let him create an indestructible undead warrior.
- War Is Hell: It is in general in these books, but when they're around even moreso.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Their eventual fate, at Roose Bolton's and Gregor Clegane's hands. Unsurprisingly, nobody feels particularly sorry for them when this happens.
The Brotherhood Without Banners
Originally a troop of soldiers sent out by Eddard Stark under the leadership of Lord Beric Dondarrion to bring the king's justice to Gregor Clegane's band of marauders, the Brotherhood Without Banners become outlaws when the Lannisters take the throne and continue to fight on in the name of House Baratheon against increasingly hopeless odds as the series progresses. They also become increasingly extreme in their definition of "justice", particularly after Catelyn comes back from the dead as their leader, and begin hanging anyone they encounter with even a tangential connection to the Lannisters.
- The Archer: Anguy.
- The Big Guy: Lem Lemoncloak.
- The Blacksmith: Gendry, once he joins them.
- Blood Magic: Practiced by Thoros of Myr.
- The Dreaded: For the Lannisters and their allies.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Beric. Could be a case of Death Is Cheap but Beric himself said that every time he's brought back, he feels less and less like his old self. And his scars from the times that he got killed do remain.
- Hanging Judge: Literally.
- He Who Fights Monsters
- Kick the Dog: After Lady Stoneheart takes leadership, she has Ser Hyle Hunt and Podrick Payne hanged (and possibly anybody she's viewed as a Lannister supporter)... and Brienne has to either choose the same fate or kill Jaime.
- Knight Templar: They eventually turn into this.
- La Résistance
- Memetic Badass: Beric Dondarrion, the Lightning Lord, becomes this in-universe.
- Thoros of Myr and his Flaming Sword qualify for this.
- Not So Different: Sandor Clegane calls them out on their hypocrisy when they capture him and accuse him of war crimes.
- Pet the Dog: Before the entrance of Lady Stoneheart as their leader, they're quite kind to the smallfolk they meet on the road, and don't particularly mistreat Arya Stark, and in a pretty literal sense, Sandor Clegane once he wins his trial by combat.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Contrast with the Brave Companions.
- The Remnant: They become this after Beric Dondarrion's death.
- Revenge: Their motivation once the resurrected Catelyn takes over.
- We Help the Helpless: They start out as a sort of Robin Hood outfit, defending the smallfolk against the predations of the Lannister armies. However, this doesn't last.
The Faith Militant
The military wing of the Faith of the Seven. The two orders are the "Warrior's Sons" and the "Poor Fellows", also known as the Swords (Warrior's Sons) and Stars (Poor Fellows); the former are knights who have given up their lands and possessions to fight for the Faith; the latter consist of peasants and women. Many pilgrims take up weapons to protect themselves and other victims of the war, which results in a massive Church Militant. They answer only to the High Septon, an Expy of the medieval Pope.
- Batman Gambit: The High Septon plays Cersei like a fiddle until she grants the Faith the right to have an army and to judge people. She plays right into their hands and ends up arrested for treason and fornication.
- Church Militant: They are actually a positive force in Westeros.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: The High Septon is fond of using this for "confession".
- The Fundamentalist
- Genre Savvy: The latest High Septon appears to be this: when Osney Kettleblack confesses to him about his supposed affair with Margaery, he points out to Cersei that he's never heard a confession from a man so pleased to be guilty. Then he reveals that he took certain steps to make sure that Osney was telling the truth...
- High Priest: The High Septon, of course.
- Knight Templar: The High Septon. As an organization, they are somewhat inspired by the real Knights Templar.
- Warrior Monk