The Game of Thrones death count continued to rise this week,and the War of the Five Kings is all but over. The king of the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy, finally took a tumble - he joins Joffrey, Stannis, Renly and Robb Stark on the great 'in memorium' section of the show. As entrances go, the arrival of newcomer Pilou Asbæk to HBO's epic certainly wasn't an understated one. Making his first appearance in the second episode of Season Six, "Home", Asbæk's Euron Greyjoy spectacularly throws his older brother, Balon, from a rope bridge during a late-night storm. With the Iron Throne now up for the taking, have we just met another contender for the race -and just who is this mysterious new pirate?
He is a proper pirate
Whilst this is the first time fans of the show have met Euron, he is already well established in George R.R. Martin's books. The Euron of the books is your proper 'seven-seas' style pirate, complete with eye patch and all. His nickname, Crow's Eye, comes from the rumour that under his eye patch, his left eye is a:
"Black eye shining with malice. "
His right eye is known as his 'smiling eye' and as blue as a summer's sky. In addition to your usual piratey antics, Euron is fond of raping and pillaging villages like the rest of the Ironborn are famous for. Whilst Asbæk's live-action version seems to have both eyes in working order, we are hoping they won't stay that way for long.
He has his own ship
Before his rope bridge topple, Balon Greyjoy briefly mentioned Euron's madness at sea where his own crew tied him to the mast during a storm when he lost his mind. Afterwards he cut out their tongues to keep them from spreading the news that the fearsome pirate lost his sea legs. We are presuming that this incident took place aboard Euron's ship, 'The Silence' - so-called because it is manned by mutes, after Euron got chop-happy with their tongues. The ship is black, with a dark red hull and red deck to better hide the blood which often gets spilled on it...lovely!
He also has his own coat-of-arms
We Do Not Sow.
Balon Greyjoy was the latest family member to bite the dust, joining two of his sons with the drowned God. Surprisingly in Westeros there are still plenty of Greyjoy men knocking around. Balon was the eldest, followed by Euron, then Victarion Greyjoy, and the youngest is Aeron (who we also saw in "Home"). Whereas the rest of the Greyjoy boys stick to the classic sigil of a golden kraken on a black field, Euron likes to stand out from the pack. His personal coat-of-arms is a red eye with a black pupil beneath a black iron crown supported by two crows.
This isn't the first time the show has mentioned Euron
The Greyjoy family has taken a bit of a backseat in recent times, but back in Season One there were already signs of the famed pirate Euron. Tyrion talks about Theon's uncles fighting in the Raid on Lannisport during the Greyjoy rebellion. Euron concocted the plan to burn the Lannister fleet when anchoring,which was carried out by the Iron Fleet, commanded by Victarion Greyjoy. The pirates successfully destroyed the Westerland's fleet and Tyrion says:
Nothing prettier than watching sailors burn alive.
So why haven't we seen him before?
We have already met Theon, Balon and Asha Greyjoy, but up until know the show has been pretty sparse with the rest of the clan. In the books Euron was a very bad boy, banished from the Iron Islands by Balon, which would explain why he was so shocked to see his baby brother on that rope bridge. Victarion Greyjoy had a salt-wife whom Euron raped; whilst Victarion beat his salt-wife to death with his fists, Euron escaped unharmed. Balon ruled that there would be no kinslaying in his hall and instead banished Euron, never to return whilst he is alive. The books hint that Euron's timely arrival means he hired an assassin to throw Balon from the bridge, whereas on the show he just straight up murdered him himself! The show will presumably next move to the Kingsmoot storyline, where a new king of the Iron Islands must be chosen. In the books it is Asha, Victarion and Euron in the main running, but with Theon heading 'home', he could be the one to replace a (still) absent Victarion.
Euron's feeling 'horny'
If throwing your brother off a bridge isn't bad enough, it is at the Kingsmoot that Euron proves he is not a man to be messed with. Euron is in possession of a magical dragon horn called Dragonbinder - whoever blows the horn dies, whereas the horn's master has control of any dragons that hear its sound. Look out Daenerys. On Euron's banishment travels, he went to the ruins of Valyria, as well as capturing several warlocks of Qarth who may have trained him in black magic. Whilst in Valyria he came into possession of Dragonbinder, which is banded with Valyrian steel and engraved with Valyrian glyphs. When the horn is sounded, the glyphs glow:
I am Dragonbinder ... No mortal man should sound me and live ... Blood for fire, fire for blood.
At the Kingsmoot he silences the supporters of Asha and Victarion by having one of his supporters blow the dragon horn. The horn is said to sound like a thousand screaming souls and true to legend, the man who blows it, Cragorn, drops dead. After Craghorn's death the maester cuts open his lungs, which are revealed to be charred from the inside, smoking kills!
Daenerys isn't the only one with dragons
On the subject of dragons, the Mother of Dragons is in good company in George R.R. Martin's books as Euron's first act after the Kingsmoot is to get his own dragon. Euron himself once owned a dragon - well sort of), n A Feast For Crows it was revealed that Euron was once possession of a dragon's egg, before tossing it overboard in one of his many foul moods. Now as King of the Iron islands, he sends Victarion and his fleet to Meereen with Dragonbinder, to court Daenerys in Euron's name and bring her to him with dragons in tow. When we leave everyone at the end of A Dance with Dragons, Victarion is there at the 'Second siege of Meereen'. The show will probably follow a different path - I mean, we don't even have Victarion yet, and Daenerys is a little preoccupied with the Dothraki.
Asbæk wasn't everyone's first choice
Season Six is sure to be a big one for the Iron Island, but is Asbæk the right 'great Dane' for the role? You only have to search 'Euron Greyjoy' in Google images to be inundated with fan-art of one particular actor in the role. With the casting call for Euron, many circled Mads Mikkelsen to take the role:
Pirate, man in his 40’s to late 50’s. He’s an infamous pirate who has terrorized seas all around the world. Cunning, ruthless, with a touch of madness...He’s a dangerous-looking man. A very good part this season.
People said that Mads and his brother Lars would make a wonderful Euron/Victarion pairing. With Mads free from the cancelled Hannibal, the casting was perfect. Alas, Asbæk was cast and the character was set in stone:
What is dead may never die.
So there we have it - the latest addition to the Thrones cast and a part that fans of the show have been waiting for for years. The Greyjoys were noticeably absent during season five - even Theon spent his days as Reek. With the upcoming Kingsmoot storyline and the likelihood of the dragon horn, it looks like things are going to remain a little stormy on Pyke. Raise the main sails and set sail for more family drama than an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.