“Winter is coming.” “The North remembers.” These famous sayings from the northernmost corners of Westeros are about to be joined by another: “Iron from ice.”
Such are the words of House Forrester, the noble house at the heart of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series, set in the continuity of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and inspired by George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The interpersonal and political dynamics of House Forrester remain very much a mystery to book reader and show watcher alike; they’re mentioned in Martin’s fifth novel, A Dance with Dragons, but only in casual passing. Still, based on what we know of Westeros, and what little details Telltale has revealed, we can attempt to connect some dots.
To begin with, we know that the Forresters hail from Ironrath, a castle on the outskirts of the great Wolfswood in the northernmost kingdom of Westeros. Their castle is surrounded by massive quantities of ironwood, hard and black trees used for making armor, shields, shelter and the like. It’s an invaluable resource, especially in times of war — like the times currently ringing throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
The Forresters are loyal to House Glover of Deepwood Motte, who in turn are sworn to the Starks of Winterfell. If Game of Thrones has heroes (and that’s an if), it’s the Starks, from the late Lord Eddard, the late Lady Catelyn, their late King-in-the-North son Robb, and their surviving children: royal hostage Sansa, fierce killer Arya, broken greenseer Bran, and chronically missing-in-action Rickon.
From what Telltale has revealed, House Forrester’s family structure is remarkably similar to the Starks. Lord Gregor is the Ned-like patriarch, strong and proud in his Northern roots. His wife is Lady Elissa of a minor Southron house, House Branfield; she first viewed her marriage to Gregor as a punishment, but ultimately grew to love him, not unlike Catelyn Stark’s own history with Ned.
From what Telltale has revealed, House Forrester’s family structure is remarkably similar to the Starks.
The youngest son, Ryon, is just a child, clueless to the wickedness of the world, much like Rickon. The two middle children, twins Ethan and Talia, are, by all available accounts, incredibly close; perhaps they’re more like highborn twins Jaime and Cersei Lannister than any Starks, though preferably with less incest.
Will House Forrester suffer similar fates as their House Stark counterparts? It’s certainly possible, considering the political climate of the Seven Kingdoms. Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series is said to take place between the end of season three and the beginning of season five, premiering in the spring.
In other words, Ned is long dead, Robb and Catelyn have just been murdered, and the Northern army is on its knees, crushed under the golden might of the Lannisters. The traitorous Roose Bolton of the Dreadfort has been named Warden of the North; his twisted, torturing son Ramsay is a confirmed character in the game. Presumably, there is no love lost between the Forresters and Boltons — and if the Forresters aren’t careful, something will be lost. (See: Ramsay, Theon Greyjoy, and Theon’s penis.)
Speaking of the memberless Greyjoy family member, Theon’s fellows from the Iron Islands could pose a significant threat to the Forresters. In season two of Game of Thrones, Yara Greyjoy (who goes by Asha in the books) captured Deepwood Motte on orders from her father, Lord Balon Greyjoy; he, like so many others, has crowned himself in the wake of King Robert Baratheon’s death.
As mentioned before, Deepwood Motte is the home of House Glover; as mentioned before, the Forresters are sworn to the Glovers. It can’t be a coincidence that one of the characters in the Telltale series, Ironrath’s master-at-arms Royland Degore, harbors a deeply personal grudge against the Ironborn; the stage is set for a catastrophic conflict between the Forresters and Greyjoys.
But wait! There’s more: House Whitehill, described by Telltale as House Forrester’s “bitter rivals.” Right now, there’s almost nothing we can say with certainty about the Whitehills, — the “bitter rivals” thing should be portentous enough — except for this nugget from A Wiki of Ice and Fire: “According to semi-canon sources … the Whitehills are one of the few northern families to follow the Faith of the Seven instead of the old gods.”
What do Whitehill’s religious preferences have to do with anything? Potentially, a lot. It means they have something in common with Westerosi south of the Neck. Specifically, Westerosi in King’s Landing. Even more specifically, the Lannisters.
In Telltale’s most recent trailer, the cruel Cersei Lannister paints a perfectly clear picture of what she wants from House Forrester: “You rely on your ironwood — that much is clear. It’d be a shame to see it fall into the hands of another house.”
In other words, the Lannisters want House Forrester’s loyalty. More importantly, they want House Forrester’s ironwood. And if House Forrester won’t bend the knee — a very possible outcome, given what we can assume about a proud Northerner like Gergor Forrester — then what’s to stop the Lannisters from aligning with the Whitehills, a house of similar religious values, an abiding hatred of the Forresters, and a vested interest in seeing their rivals burn to the ground?
It’s true that the Northerners have their ways and their words. But it’s also true those in King’s Landing have ways and words of their own — and never forget: a Lannister always pay his debts.