Tower of the Hand

Book 4, Chapter 2.
Aeron learns that King Balon Greyjoy is dead and calls a kingsmoot to determine his successor.
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Aeron is on Great Wyk drowning initiates into the priesthood of the Drowned God. He has drowned three already without incident, but the fourth and final man, Emmond, thrashes about, and Aeron needs help to finish the job. As he finishes, he sees three men on shore, the Sparr and his son Steffarion and Gormond Goodbrother. He finishes the ceremony with the help of his drowned men, including Norjen and Rus, using CPR to bring Emmond back to life and accepting him into the drowned men. Every priest of the drowned god occasionally loses one of the drowned, even Tarle the Thrice-Drowned, who is so revered he was once chosen to crown a king1, but Aeron has never lost one.

Aeron turns to the new arrivals. Gormond tells him that Balon is dead, killed when the bridge he was crossing at Pyke was destroyed in a storm. Aeron declares that the Storm God cast him down for making the ironmen great again. He takes Gormond's mount and tells his men to meet him at Pebbleton. As he rides, Aeron thinks of his brothers. Their father, Quellon Greyjoy, had nine sons. His first wife, a Stonetree, birthed Harlon, Quenton, and Donel. His second wife, a Sunderly, birthed Balon, Euron, Victarion, Urrigon, and Aeron, and his third wife, who was not of the Iron Islands, birthed a sickly halfwit named Robin. Quenton and Donel died as infants, Harlon was taken by greyscale fever, and only Balon, Euron, Victarion, and Aeron lived to adulthood. Balon had been a fearless child. By thirteen, he was as good with an oar and at the finger dance as any man in the isles. At fifteen, Dagmer Cleftjaw took him reaving in the Stepstones for the first time, and he took his first two salt wives. By seventeen, he captained his own ship.

When Aeron arrives at Hammerhorn, Gran escorts him to the hall, where Lord Gorold awaits with Maester Murenmure. Aeron tells him to send everyone away, but while Gorold sends Gran and two of his daughters, Gysella and Gwin, out of the room, he has the maester stay. Aeron cannot abide maesters and begins to leave until Murenmure informs him that Euron sits the Seastone Chair and calls on all captains to return to Pyke and do fealty. Aeron is shocked that Euron has returned, as Balon exiled him two years ago. He immediately states that only a godly man may sit the Seastone Chair and Euron worships only his pride. Lord Gorold asks if Balon spoke to him of the succession, and Aeron remembers that when he returned from reaving on the Stoney Shore and told Balon of Theon's fate, Balon had stated that he hoped Theon was dead so he could not stand in Asha's way. Before Aeron can speak, however, Murenmure says that Theon is now ruler, or Asha if he is dead, but Aeron cares not for green land law and states that no woman may sit the chair either. Gorold asks what to do, and Aeron says he should send no answer until Aeron has prayed.

Aeron continues on to Pebbleton with Greydon Goodbrother guiding him. As they ride through the night, Aeron dozes in the saddle and thinks of the scream of a rusted hinge and of Urrigon. While Lord Quellon and his elder sons had been away at war, Urrigon, then fourteen, lost half his fingers doing the finger dance with Aeron. Quellon's third wife, a Piper, allowed her maester to attempt sewing the fingers back on his hands, but the wound mortified, and Urrigon died. Quellon died on his voyage as well, and so it was Lord Balon who returned and chopped off three of the maester's fingers and had his father's wife sew them back on. The maester died as his wounds mortified as well, and the wife died not long after while delivering a stillborn daughter. Afterwards, Aeron became a wild drunk until his ship, Golden Storm, was destroyed off Fair Isle by Fury during Greyjoy's Rebellion. He washed up on shore, was taken captive, and spent the rest of the war in chains beneath Casterly Rock. Afterwards, he was a changed man and became a servant of the Drowned God.

Greydon leaves Aeron the next morning to take the news of Balon's death to his cousins at Downdelving, Crow Spike Keep, and Corpse Lake, and Aeron continues to Pebbleton alone, stopping to preach on the way and gathering a dozen followers. By the time he arrives at Pebbleton, his drowned men have prepared a shelter for him, where he retires after drowning his new followers. He is restless, and so wades out into the water and finally figures out what must be done. Lord Meldred Merlyn comes to see him the next morning. He has received a bird from Euron as well as one from Asha at Ten Towers, the seat of House Harlaw. Aeron preaches to the assembled that they should go neither to Pyke nor Ten Towers but rather to the ruins of the Grey King's hall at the hill of Nagga on Old Wyk for a kingsmoot. Urras Ironfoot, Sylas Flatnose, Harrag Hoare, the Old Kraken, and many other great kings had been chosen in kingsmoot, and Aeron believes this is the best way to deny Euron the crown.


Active Characters

  1. Aeron Greyjoy - Aeron never loses a man during a drowning, which men consider a sign of the Drowned God's favor.
  2. Balon Greyjoy - At thirteen he was an accomplished oarsman. At fifteen he spent his first summer reaving, slaying his first man and taking his first two salt wives in the Stepstones. At seventeen he was a ship captain.
  3. Meldred Merlyn - Lord of Pebbleton and head of House Merlyn. He is bald and fleshy.
  4. Tarle - Called Tarle the Thrice-Drowned. A renowned priest of the Drowned God. He crowned Lord Balon Greyjoy king before Greyjoy's rebellion.
  5. The Sparr - He is a hatchet-faced old man with watery eyes.


  1. The Drowned God - The priests of the faith are served by the drowned men who aid them and protect them. They wear robes of mottled blue, green, and gray and carry cudgels. To become a drowned man, a man must be drowned in the sea and resuscitated by a priest. Every newborn used to be drowned in this manner, but now they are usually just quickly dipped in a tub of seawater. The ironmen believe that the Drowned God is engaged in an eternal war with the Storm God.


  1. Pebbleton - A town on Great Wyk. It is home to several thousand fishermen who live in hovels around a square towerhouse with a turret at each corner that serves as the seat of House Merlyn.


  1. Balon Greyjoy's Rebellion - In one of the decisive battles of the war, Stannis Baratheon, commanding from Fury, destroyed the Iron Fleet, commanded by Victarion Greyjoy after luring it into a trap off of Fair Isle. Aeron Greyjoy's ship, Golden Storm was destroyed in the battle and Aeron nearly died. He washed up on shore and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in the bowels of Casterly Rock.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.