We all knew that the Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones would have some major twists and turns, and HBO did not disappoint. While it may have been shocking for Cersei to publicly agree to send her forces north to fight the Night King, normality was restored when we learned of her ulterior motive. However, Cersei's plan to hire the Golden Company of Essos actually doesn't bode well for her future on the Iron Throne, and here's why.
Cersei plans to use the Iron Bank to hire The Golden Company of Essos - the greatest mercenary army in the world. If The Golden Company rings a bell, that's because it's been mentioned a couple of times throughout Game of Thrones. The first mention of the infamous sellswords is in Season 4, when Ser Davos Seaworth suggests that King Stannis Baratheon hire them to aid his fight for the Iron Throne. Also in Season 4, we learn that Jorah Mormont was formerly a member of this brotherhood of exiles. Finally, in Season 7 the group are mentioned by Cersei before we ultimately learn that Euron has been sent to bring the sellswords to Westeros.
So, Who Exactly Are The Golden Company?
So far in Game of Thrones, we've met Daario Naharis' Second Sons, as well as the Stormcrows hired by Ser Davos to serve Stannis. But many other sellswords exist in Essos, so what makes the Golden Company significant?
In the world of sellswords, the Golden Company are unlike any other, as they have a reputation for never breaking their contracts. Across Essos, there are numerous groups that will offer their services to those who pay them the most gold, but that motivation leads most sellswords to be disloyal if an opponent offers them more gold.
In Essos, The Golden Company is the most expensive band of mercenaries, as they are the most well known, powerful and loyal to those willing to pay them. Their motto is "Our word is as good as gold" with a battle cry "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel!," which references their founding after the Great Bastards of King Aegon IV Targaryen began a civil war within the Targaryen empire.
The Golden Company is a massive military force consisting of 10,000 men: 1,000 archers, 1,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and a number of war elephants (which will hopefully be seen in Season 8). Among the band of exiles are some of the best fighters in the world: rivaling and potentially surpassing the training standards of the Unsullied.
So, Cersei seems to be backing a winning horse with the Golden Company. They're notoriously reliable and could successfully take on the Targaryen forces. What could possibly go wrong?
Could The Golden Company Do The Unthinkable And Break Cersei's Contract?
Throughout George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the Golden Company is mentioned numerous times, and one very important detail in the books hasn't been discussed on the show: the arrival of a character known as Young Griff.
In Game of Thrones' source material, it's revealed that Young Griff has been in hiding for years. He is the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen, and his name is Aegon.
Ultimately, the Golden Company want gold and riches, but these exiled sellswords also want to return home to Westeros. In the books, the Golden Company pledge their allegiance to Aegon for this very reason and set sail for Westeros. As the show is simply using the books as a framework for where Game of Thrones is heading, it's possible that Young Griff will be more important to Season 8 than most realize.
As every fan will surely remember, Jon Snow's birth name was recently revealed to be Aegon Targaryen. In multiple instances, HBO has adapted storylines of more than one character to limit the complicated nature of the story. Examples of this include the show's version of Sansa Stark and, more recently, Euron Greyjoy. So, it's possible that Jon Snow, who now shares Young Griff's true name, will take on some of that character's importance for the purposes of the show.
With this in mind, it's possible that the Golden Company could break their contract and pledge loyalty to the man with the strongest claim to the throne – especially if it means that they are no longer exiled from Westeros.
Do you think the Golden Company will ally themselves with Rhaegar's trueborn son? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.