(Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Game of Thrones” through its July 23 episode.)
War is still ravaging Westeros, but while most of the great houses are sizing each other up, House Greyjoy is warring with itself. The lords of the Iron Islands are fighting for independence from the Iron Throne, but the Salt Throne is contested between the children of the last king, Baelon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide), and Baelon’s brother Euron.
House Greyjoy attacked a number of castles on the mainland after it started fighting for independence, capturing key locations like Deepwood Motte and Winterfell. But King Baelon’s campaigns were failures, and eventually, the Ironborn wound up losing all their holdings and retreating to the Iron Islands.
When that happened, Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) showed up and murdered King Baelon, throwing him off a bridge in the middle of a storm. To choose a successor, the law of the Iron Islands called for a “kingsmoot” — essentially, an election to determine who would succeed Baelon. Euron was chosen to sit the Salt Throne.
Baelon had four children, three sons and a daughter, although his eldest two sons were killed years earlier, during the king’s last rebellion against the Iron Throne. Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan), Baelon’s daughter, was designated as his heir, after Baelon’s youngest child, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), was taken hostage by House Stark to guarantee that Baelon wouldn’t rebel again.
Theon was captured by House Bolton after he turned on the Starks and attacked Winterfell. Ramsay tortured him psychologically and physically, mutilating Theon by castrating him, and turned him into “Reek,” a shell of his former self. Yara tried and failed to rescue him, but eventually, Theon escaped with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and returned to the Iron Islands.
The death of the king of the Iron Islands left both Yara, who puts her name in to be queen, and Theon, who supports her claim (and tells everyone he’s not fit to rule). Between them and Euron, the Iron Islands are split, with Yara’s supporters leaving for Essos with her when she and Theon headed to Meereen to make a pact with Daenerys. The successfully allied with the Mother of Dragons, who promised to help them fight Euron and to give the Iron Islands their independence.
But Euron hasn’t spent the time since his brother’s children escaped idle. He built a fleet of a thousand ships, and tried to form an alliance with Cersei Lannister. When Yara and Theon sailed for Dorne with Ellaria Sand to raise her army to attack King’s Landing in Season 7, Euron intercepted the, destroyed Yara’s fleet, and captured Yara and Ellaria. Theon managed to escape by throwing himself overboard, but it sure looked like he reverted back to his Reek state and abandoned her.
There’s one other Greyjoy in the mix as well: Aeron Greyjoy (Michael Feast), Baelon and Euron’s youngest brother. Aeron is the priest of the Drowned God who has popped up several times over the years — most notably back in season 2 when Theon reintegrated into the Ironborn, and in season 6 when he performed the drowning rites on Euron after Euron was chosen to be king. Aeron is the one who organized the kingsmoot, and supports Euron as the lawful king.
The Damphair hasn’t had much a role in the show yet, but with the Greyjoys sailing into battle, it’s possible he’ll be a part of the war between the Greyjoys to come. It’s tempting to think of Aeron as a wild card in this conflict, but since he has not been officially introduced on the show as a Greyjoy (he is, however, identified in the books) it’s possible he’ll just be an afterthought from here on out. But who knows?