The Case For Yara Greyjoy

(Welcome to Debate of Thrones, where a panel of Citadel-trained experts explain why someone deserves, or doesn’t deserve, to sit on the Iron Throne. In this edition: Yara Greyjoy is the toughest woman in Westeros – and the most deserving of being queen.)

Those who were fortunate enough to sail under Yara Greyjoy know what she is: she is a reaver, she is a warrior, she is Ironborn. First of her name, daughter of Balon Greyjoy and rightful heir to the Salt Throne – which, according to widespread reports, she’s recently reclaimed – tales of Yara Greyjoy have traveled far and wide across the fourteen seas. The woman with the largest fleet the world has ever seen. The siren goddess of the sea people. Cthulhu herself. The kraken’s daughter. Lady Poseidon.

If you ask me, the girl who should be sitting on the Iron Throne isn’t a golden haired tyrant coddled by a bright and sunny upbringing on dry land. The Realm deserves a ruler with a little backbone. Someone birthed from the sweat of survival. The Seven Kingdoms doesn’t need a pampered leader who has spent their life atop a royal seat watching everyone beneath them happily and willingly bend the knee. We’ve all seen what happens when you place a spoiled child in such a high state of sovereignty, and we can lest afford another Joffrey Baratheon. We’ve seen what happens when you give a mad king the keys to the kingdom, and we’ve witnessed an equally obtuse Lady Lannister torture subjects for such petty justifications as jealousy and gossip. We’ve had enough. We want a leader we can be proud of; we want to feel proud of ourselves again. Westeros deserves a woman who plucked fire from the sea.

Ironborn Strong

Who better to sit on the Iron Throne than a girl who is Ironborn? The Realm is a vast and tricky place where schemes blossom and the virtuous fall prey to the opportunistic. It requires a firm ruler who can withstand opposition and rebellion without crumbling under the intense pressure of the position. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as they say, so you’d better put a lad in charge who can withstand the weight. Yara Greyjoy can withstand anything, just look at where she grew up.

As a child, Yara watched from her castle window as the Northerners breached Pyke’s walls and knocked down their towers. She lost three brothers that day. Two were murdered and the third, Theon Greyjoy, was sent off to be raised at the Stark home, a supposed ‘act of mercy’ from Eddard Stark. Still mourning the loss of her siblings, Yara was raised by her father as a pseudo son, a king of substitute sex who forgoes frilly dresses in favor of a sharp sword with a kraken on the pommel. Not that she minded, of course. Yara learned to love the turbulent and bleak nature of the sea. The incessant torrential downpour, the nomadic lifestyle, the unforgiving sea wind – a lowly commoner such as myself just couldn’t hack it living like that day in and day out, but Yara can.

I hear a youth isn’t considered a man in the eyes of the Drowned God until he’s taken a life. That would mean two things for our girl: 1. She’s probably killed quite a few men by this point if she’s managed to gain the trust of her father, the notoriously ruthless Balon Greyjoy, and 2. The fact that this notion only includes one gender means that a woman who grew up in an extremely sexist society still successfully lead her own ships into battle, to lead men who respect and willfully follow her. It’s a feat that would feel impressive anywhere across the Seven Kingdoms, but especially so in such a misogynistic corner of the world where women are considered inherently inferior.

Tough as Nails Military Leader

If you want good fortune in the wars to come, you need to elect a military leader who can win your battles against those who seek to destroy you. Yara is an experienced commander who lead a large force of men to attack Deepwood Motte while her brother was busy disobeying his father’s orders and unsuccessfully attempting to recapture Winterfell. Yara earns her respect through action and rational rule, which is why her men follow her willingly wherever she goes. When her brother Theon couldn’t grasp a hold of Winterfell, he kidnapped the two young Stark boys, Bran and Rickon Stark, one of whom couldn’t even walk. When Yara brought a small party to Winterfell to warn Theon that his actions were putting the Greyjoy war effort in jeopardy, he ignored her pleas, bid her goodbye, lost hold of the Stark boys, and burned two tiny villagers in their place to try to scare everyone into believing he had killed the last living males of their bloodline. In the end, Theon wound up being kidnapped, betrayed by his own crew from who he never earned an ounce of respect, and was promptly shipped off to Ramsay Bolton where he was then tortured and mistreated for many years. Nobody deserves that kind of torment, it’s true, but Theon’s actions leading up to his demise beg for scrutiny. Is this your King?

Reports are fuzzy as to whether or not Theon is actually still alive and able to claim the throne, but what is known is that Yara would make a far better leader than anyone else in line. Yara is an intelligent and resolute leader who makes her decisions based on what is best for House Greyjoy, not what is in her own selfish best interests at the moment. Not only has she been in charge of large fleets and responsibly held charge of thousands of men, but she also was down in the trenches with her men, fighting alongside them. Yara wasn’t up in a castle barking orders at her foot soldiers while she basked in the warm nectar of yet another glass of wine. She wasn’t up on a dragon, able to exit the scene at a moment’s notice when the tide turns, and she certainly isn’t hiding from danger down in some mangy crypt. Yara is in the thick of it. She’s just as talented a swordsman as the Bastard of Winterfell and she’s twice as smart as his older brother. Here is a Lord who can lead attacks and lead people. She can supply morale in times of war and maintain control in times of peace because her bravery in battle earns her trust. Get you a girl who can do both.

Daenerys Targaryen’s failed attack proves that if you’re going to attack King’s Landing, you’re going to need strong ships. Yara is the greatest captain on the fourteen seas. If anyone is going to bring down Euron Greyjoy and his naval forces, it’s going to be his niece. After all, she’s gotta have a hankering for some good old fashioned revenge by this point, after all he’s put he through. Euron murdered Yara’s father, Balon Greyjoy, actually admitted to his crimes, and then still claimed he deserved the Salt Throne over Yara simply because he was a man and she was a woman. After he was crowned, he immediately made his first task as King of the Iron Islands to hunt down and murder his niece and nephew. If it weren’t already evident by his strange choice in facial hair, Euron is utterly insane, proven by the time he went mad during the storm on the Jade Sea. Apparently, his crew had to tie him to the mast to keep him from jumping overboard. Euron repaid them by cutting out their tongues. In his own words, he needed ‘Silence’ – a word which later became the name of his ship. However intimidating this may seem, when the going gets rough, it’s better to know that your commander isn’t going to slice off your limbs because they can’t perform under pressure. Yara can keep her cool in a storm. She is the storm. She is power incarnate, she is the lightning, standing firm in the crackling air. She is stronger than her uncle, and soon she will rightfully sentence the man who murdered her father to death. She is a true Greyjoy, not Euron. After all, what kind of an Ironborn loses his senses during a storm?

Feed the Patriarchy to the Sharks

What better way to break the wheel than by putting a woman in charge of Westeros? Word around the campfire is when Yara met Daenerys Targaryen for the very first time, the Dragon Queen told her “our fathers were evil men. They left the world worse than they found it. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it”. As someone who has spent the past eight years watching men run the Realm into the ground over and over again, I have to say, Dany has a point. Her father nearly burned Westeros to the ground, determined to be the king of ashes. Yara’s father Balon Greyjoy led a rebellion against King Robert Baratheon nearly two decades prior, an act which led to the death of two of his sons, Rodrik and Maron. Yara also had to say goodbye to her brother Theon that day as he was promptly shipped off to spend the rest of his life at Winterfell under the watchful eye of Ned Stark. Balon’s rash and ineffective attempt at overthrowing the crown only ended in death and disaster. At the very least, it taught Yara a valuable lesson about true strength, and the resistance it sometimes requires.

Jon Snow – if that be his real name, reports have little birds buzzing about something along the lines of Aegon Targaryen being closer to the truth – is a man who appears to bend the knee to any woman he comes into contact with. First, he pre-emptively ended his watch the second he met a pretty Wildling girl with hair like fire, and then, shortly after being named the King in the North, Snow pledged loyalty to Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. Pretty eyes and a flash of chicanery go a long way with this naïve little Northerner. Someone so fickle can’t be trusted with such an important position.

Likewise, Jon’s older brother Robb Stark, the previous Lord of Winterfell, eldest son of Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell and Lady Catelyn, has proven that he also turns to putty in the hands of beautiful women. Robb had promised to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters in order to help solidify a pact between the two families. Instead, Robb decided to follow his own selfish desires, breaking his oath to Walder Frey and marrying a common girl named Talisa instead. Robb offers up Edmure instead, and at their wedding, Walder Frey and his men murdered Robb and Lady Catelyn in cold blood, killing off nearly the entire Stark family in one fell swoop.

None of the men in this realm who have been elected to lead based on gender and privilege have proven themselves worthy to lead charge of such a vast and ferocious territory. It’s time for some new blood to shake things up. We need a new hero to sing songs about, a spirited pirate queen to conquer and make her mark upon the world. Yara was recently crowned the first woman in history to sit upon the Salt Throne. She might as well add Iron Throne to the list.

A Sensible Queen

Like many who have come before her, Yara is a ferocious warrior in battle. A true soldier, the queen of salt and rock has proven she can win in wartime and defend her shores with an iron fist. She’s more than just a fighter, though. Yara is arguably the most decent woman in Westeros, as she has proven time and time again. When Ramsay Bolton kidnapped her baby brother, Yara set out to rescue him – a much more difficult task than one who hasn’t traveled the world over might think. To reach House Bolton, Yara had to get to Dreadfort, which meant Yara had to sail all the way around Westeros and up the Narrow Sea. It was a tough task, and one her father wasn’t willing to partake in, but Yara persisted, taking her fastest ship with her best men to retrieve her brother Theon and bring him home. Sadly, once she arrived, she realized her brother was beyond repair, as he refused to board, screaming over and over that his new name was Reek and acting something akin to a mad dog, stewing in a cage at the bottom of the Bolton chambers.

Theon did eventually make his way back home, reuniting with his sister just in time to see her be crowned Queen of the Iron Islands, but their Uncle Euron arrives shortly thereafter, murdering their father and claiming the Salt Throne for himself. In the midst of Euron’s celebration ceremony, Yara and Theon steal away, knowing the minute their uncle is crowned he will come to kill them because they are the last living heirs to the throne. On the run and out of options Yara made the tough decision of going to the Dragon Queen for help, putting her pride aside in the name of survival. Yara told Queen Daenerys Targaryen about how their uncle was coming to hunt them down, and to ask for the Queen’s hand in marriage in exchange for his fleet. Yara offered an allegiance simply in exchange for protection, and when the Queen told Yara that she would have to stop reaving and pillaging and burning down villages in the name of conquest, Yara initially resisted. After all, reaving is the Greyjoy way of life, as was determined early on by the Drowned God. When Dany insisted, however, Yara wisely agreed, proving both her devotion to her family and her sound judgment in crucial moments.

Yara didn’t need three dragons to re-take the Salt Throne, she just needed a few good men and ships to carry them. She doesn’t necessarily need anyone’s help to sit pretty on the Iron Throne, but her current alliances also couldn’t hurt. Yara pledged herself to Dany once before, so it’s worth pointing out that after the dragon queen’s recent run-in with Euron, loss of her child and her best comrade Missandei, having the aid of Yara’s ships at sea could definitely put Daenerys back on track to properly invade King’s Landing. The only question is, once they’ve defeated the Lannister army, which queen should sit on the throne? The answer is Yara Greyjoy, the Queen of the Iron Islands, a fierce and devoted warrior with a heart of gold. What is dead may never die.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: