• Mattie Stu

Game of Thrones Lore – Direwolves

Direwolves were an unusually large and intelligent species of wolf. Whilst they were held to be near-mythical in the south of Westeros, inhabitants of the North acknowledged their rare but very real existence. Large populations of the species may have existed in the North for millennia, but due to centuries of human encroachment on their territory, they were pushed back to the furthest north. Men of the Night’s Watch confirmed sightings of direwolves north of the Wall, and wildings who lived Beyond the Wall claimed greater numbers of direwolves could be found in the Haunted Forest. By the reign of Robert Baratheon, no direwolf had been sighted south of the Wall in 200 years, not even in the Stark’s land of the North. However, Ned Stark and his sons discovered a dead female direwolf and her six newborn pups. The rare find proved to be a very favourable one for the Stark family, as the six pups grew to be loyal and fearsome allies…

An adult direwolf was as large as a small horse, and was capable of ripping a man’s arm completely from its socket. Even a young direwolf was capable of killing a man by ripping out his throat. They were not simply larger than regular wolves, the species were proportioned differently, having larger heads with a leaner and more pronounced muzzle, longer legs in proportion to their body, and proportionally larger teeth that were often used to crush bones. Direwolves were loyal to their masters and attacked anyone who threatened them. Furthermore, they proved to be useful in battle.

When Lord Eddard Stark and his children found a dead stag and a dead female direwolf next to her six pups in wolfswood near Winterfell, his first instinct was to kill them. However, his bastard, Jon Snow, urged him to save the pups as the direwolf was the sigil of House Stark, and was possibly an omen. Swayed, Eddard allowed his six children to have one of the six pups each on the condition that they cleaned, raised and fed them with no help from the servants. At the time of recording this video, only two of the original six are still alive in the show, those being Ghost and Nymeria. The former belonged to Jon Snow and was taken to Castle Black when the bastard joined the Night’s Watch. Albino in appearance with red eyes, Ghost was always loyal to Jon, even after his “death”. Nymeria was adopted by Arya Stark. But she had to chase away the wolf cub in fear for her safety after it attacked Prince Joffrey Baratheon in defence of her. Nymeria roamed the Riverlands, meaning it was the first direwolf to be seen that far south in many centuries. Rumour stated that Nymeria led a large pack of direwolves.

The attack on Joffrey by Nymeria led to the first direwolf death: Lady, adopted by Sansa Stark, was killed in place of its sister for biting Joffrey, under the order of Robert Baratheon at the urge of Cersei Lannister. The second of the six direwolves to die was Grey Wind. Adopted by Robb Stark, Grey Wind accompanied the main Stark army to the south and was used by King Robb as a ferocious war dog. Unfortunately, it was killed at the Twins by Frey men with crossbows during the Red Wedding. The third to perish was Shaggydog, which was renown for its easily distinguishable black fur. Adopted by Rickon Stark, the direwolf accompanied its master and his party in leaving Winterfell when it was sacked. Rickon and Osha later sought refuge with the Umbers, only to be betrayed by them in favour of an alliance with Ramsay Bolton. Shaggydog was killed as a result, allowing the Umbers to clearly show their new loyalty. Lastly, Summer was the final to fall. Adopted by Bran Stark, it accompanied him and his brother in departing their home. When the brothers were separated, Summer stayed with his master, where the party eventually ended up Beyond the Wall at the Cave of the three-eyed raven. The direwolf was mauled by wights in an effort to protect Bran. The sacrifice bought Bran valuable time, allowing his party to escape…

Now it’s time for this week’s question: out of the six direwolves, which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

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