“Game of Thrones” characters routinely reference events and history that took place long before the show started. Without a working knowledge of Westerosi history, it’s easy to get confused when the show discusses things that happened years in the past — and that’s exactly what Ser Jorah (Iain Glen) and Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) do in the Season 7 episode “Beyond the Wall.”
As they’re walking beyond the Wall on their mission to find an undead wight, capture it, and bring it back to show the lords of Westeros, Jorah and Thoros discuss a battle they fought together years in the past. It’s not something that happened on the show, however, and viewers would be forgiven for not knowing what the pair are talking about.
The battle Thoros and Jorah discuss actually happened between Robert’s Rebellion, which everybody talks about a lot for obvious reason, and the beginning of the show — during a war that’s been mentioned a few times on “Game of Thrones” because it’s had some tangible impact on events going back to season 1.
Eight years after the end of Robert’s Rebellion, the lord of the Iron Islands, Baelon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide), declared himself King of the Ironborn and the Iron Islands a sovereign nation, and began an open revolt against the Iron Throne.
The Ironborn then started raiding all along the coast of Westeros, and won some early victories, including burning the Lannister fleet at anchor. But eventually, the superior power of the Iron Throne, and its numbers, crushed the rebellion. Lord Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) defeated the Iron Fleet, and Robert and Ned Stark laid siege to Pyke, the seat of the Ironborn’s Salt Throne.
That siege is where Jorah and Thoros come in. A Red Priest from Essos, Thoros had come to Westeros during Aerys Targaryen’s reign in order to convert him to worshipping the Lord of Light. But Thoros lost his faith, especially after watching the Mad King burn people alive, and mostly just drank and hung out in Westeros for years, fighting in tournaments. When Robert became king, Thoros was part of his court and a drinking buddy of the monarch.
When Robert and Ned besieged Pyke, they eventually blasted the fortresses’ walls to allow troops through. As discussed in “Beyond the Wall,” Thoros was famously the first man through, wielding his flaming sword. It was enough to scare the Ironborn enough for the priest to survive — as he tells Jorah, he was extremely drunk at the time and doesn’t even remember running through the breach.
Jorah also fought in the battle and wasn’t far behind Thoros, which is why he asks just how drunk the Red Priest was to have done what he did. A few other characters we’ve seen fought at Pyke as well — Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Jory Cassel (Jamie Sives) discuss the battle (and Thoros’ rushing the breach) at King’s Landing in Season 1.
The Greyjoy Rebellion at Pyke saw Baelon eventually surrender, as the Ironborn were outnumbered 10 to one. Two of Baelon’s sons were killed, and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), his youngest son, was made ward of Ned Stark as part of the armistice. That made Theon a hostage to ensure Baelon wouldn’t rebel again. Of course, as soon as Baelon had a chance during the war between the Starks and the Lannisters during “Game of Thrones,” he rebelled again.
They’ve mentioned the siege of Pyke a few other times throughout the series, including earlier this year when Euron Greyjoy told Jaime how much he enjoyed watching Jaime cut down his brothers had that battle. A few seasons earlier, Jorah and Barriston Selmy also briefly chatted about the siege of Pyke and mentioned Thoros’ heroics.
The siege of Pyke is one of those events in “Game of Thrones” that, like Robert’s Rebellion, had a major impact on events in the show as we see them unfold. Thoros is pretty famous throughout Westeros, in fact, and it’s largely because of his drunken heroism during the Greyjoy Rebellion.