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The Drowned King and the Faceless Crow - Complete analysis

Balon Greyjoy Faceless Man

98 replies to this topic

#1 Cosmic Maintenance Man

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:07 AM

As a beginning forum user, I often found myself going back to older threads and wiki pages in order to accumulate information that other people had already gained through extensive research and discussions. This prompted me to start a series of analyses, in an attempt to clarify the theories people have been making on this site for a long time. After combining many scattered pieces of information regarding much discussed topics in ASOIAF, I ended up with more-or-less complete analyses. I hope sharing these notes with the rest of the community will help out other newer members (and perhaps older ones too) in understanding these theories.

So far we have discussed, in great detail, the theory that the sandsnake Sarella is actually the Sphinx in oldtown and the theory that the Hound is still alive as the gravedigger on the Quite Isle.

This time, I mean to clarify another often brought up theory. This one states that King Balon Greyjoy was murdered by a faceless man, hired by his brother Euron Greyjoy. Let’s see whether or not this claim can be backed:
.....................................................

In a Storm of Swords, Balon Greyjoy dies under rather mysterious circumstances. Stranger still, we learn all the information about it through second-hand sources. Supposedly Balon Greyjoy was crossing one of the bridges between Pyke’s many islands when the wind got hold of it and tore it to pieces, killing the king. At first glance this may sound like a normal accident, however, further details prove there is more to this case.

The most important indications that hint to truth behind this claim can be found earlier in ‘A Storm of Swords’. Arya and Beric Dondarrions men camped overnight at High Heart to meet with ‘the Ghost of High Heart’ and hear her visions of the future whilst learning more about the whereabouts of Lord Beric Dondarrion. She tells them she has seen the following vision:

“I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks. All this I dreamt, and more.”


This means that ‘the Ghost of High Heart’ successfully envisioned the deaths of:
- Renly Baratheon: “a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag” => Referring to Milessandre’s shadow slaying Renly
- Catelyn Tully: “a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks” => Refering to Catelyn's death and resurrection at the Twins.

Both of the deaths she predicted happened like she said they would, which gives her visions credibility. Now let's look at the rest of her dream:
1) The old lady said she “dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung”. This clearly suggests that King Balon was killed by a Faceless Man. Also, the king happened to be on a bridge during a heavy storm, hence the “swaying and swinging”.

2) Furthermore, she sais that the Faceless Man had “a drowned crow perched on his shoulder, with seaweed hanging from his wings.” There is a good chance that the drowned crow is a reference to the FM being contracted by someone amongst the Ironborn. Most likely Euron Greyjoy, knowing that his nickname is 'Crow’s Eye'.

3) Another indication can be found in the following passage:

“Euron Crow’s Eye, they call him, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail. He’s been gone for years, but Lord Balon was no sooner cold than there he was, sailing into Lordsport. He’s been to Asshai and back, I heard. Wherever he was, though, he’s home now, and he marched right into Pyke and sat his arse in the Seastone Chair, and drowned Lord Botley in a cask of seawater when he objected.”

Euron Greyjoy, who has not been in Westeros for nearly two years, happens to arrive at Pyke the day after Balons death. With the King out of the way he had the opportunity to claim the Seastone chair, which he of course promptly did.

4) Additionally, Euron has spent time sailing around the east and has gained a vast amount of wealth doing so. This means that he certainly had the opportunity and wealth to hire a Faceless Man.

Euron Greyjoys timely arrival and the fact that the Ghost of Highhearts visions all came true are strong evidences that support the theory that Euron hired a Faceless Man to kill his brother Balon, in order to claim the Seastone chair for himself.
......................................................

Hopefully this analysis helped out those of you that were uncertain about this often discussed topic. I am sure there are still things to be added, so feel free to add your own own clues and opinion.

Edited by Cosmic Maintenance Man, 14 January 2012 - 05:27 AM.


#2 Zmeischa

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:14 AM

Good points.
I wonder why the crow is drowned and has seaweed on it's wings. Is it foreshadowing or what?

#3 Roose Seal

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:33 AM

Good points.
I wonder why the crow is drowned and has seaweed on it's wings. Is it foreshadowing or what?

I always thought that was foreshadowing that the Damphair is eventually going to kill Euron somehow...

Something that bothers me a little about the "Euron hired a faceless man to kill Balon" theory (although most of it makes sense) is that it seems a little "too" convenient that Euron is the prime suspect because he comes back to Pyke just one day after Balon's death...surely everyone would think that would be too big of a coincidence to be just a coincidence and Euron wouldn't be so conspicuous about it... If he had really hired a FM to kill Balon, wouldn't he wait a few days or weeks to come back home as to not be considered a suspect ?

So five possibilities :

1) It really was a huge coincidence. Euron was not the one who hired the FM. Maybe Victarion did, hoping to claim the throne for himself, thinking Euron was long dead. Euron just happened to come back at the wrong time.
> This one strikes me as improbable. TGoHH's visions have all proved correct and who would the crow represent, if not Euron Crow's Eye ? A maester of the Citadel maybe ? But to what end ?

2) It wasn't a coincidence. Euron hired the FM and came back as soon as possible, before his brother could make a move for the Throne, not thinking that everyone would think his return a bit too timely.
>I find it hard to believe that Euron would be so conspicuous and return immediately after his brother's death, given what we know about Euron's crafty and resourceful personality. He'd wait a few days and let the dust settle, as he'd know everyone would accuse him on his overly-coincidental return.

3) It wasn't a coincidence. Euron did hire the FM and planned his return knowing that people would suspect him, but at the same time hoping they would think it too 'easy' an explanation to just accept it like that.
>Possible, but that's a little twisted and convoluted... so I dunno.

4) Not a coincidence. Someone got wind of Euron's imminent return to Pyke and saw that as a perfect opportunity to frame him. The "drowned crow with seaweed" could indicate that it was actually Aeron framing (ie. making it appear as if it was the Crow, ie. a disguised crow...?)
>Another possibility...

5) The Man without a Face is not a Faceless Man at all and the Crow is not Euron at all and we are all interpreting this vision wrong. If there really is nothing more to it than what the Ghost says, then there really is no mystery around Balon's death and that would be a little boring, wouldn't it ?

We have no elements other than the Ghost's vision, so it's hard to come up with an explanation that makes sense.

Edited by The Lost Direwolf, 11 January 2012 - 09:37 AM.


#4 Cosmic Maintenance Man

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:47 AM

I always thought that was foreshadowing that the Damphair is eventually going to kill Euron somehow...

Something that bothers me a little about the "Euron hired a faceless man to kill Balon" theory (although most of it makes sense) is that it seems a little "too" convenient that Euron is the prime suspect because he comes back to Pyke just one day after Balon's death...surely everyone would think that would be too big of a coincidence to be just a coincidence and Euron wouldn't be so conspicuous about it... If he had really hired a FM to kill Balon, wouldn't he wait a few days or weeks to come back home as to not be considered a suspect ?


I really do believe Euron hired the FM. The possibilities you list strike me as highly unlikely and the way it turned out, in my opinion, is very much within the character and capabilities of Euron Greyjoy.

I absolutely reject both notions of Victarion killing Balon or Damhair plotting and executing such an evil scheme. Both of them are firm believers of the Drowned God and would not even dare think to kill their own brother, knowing that is one of the greatest sins a man can commit in the eyes of Gods and men. Even when Euron raped Victarions wife he did not attempt to kill him, instead he killed his own wife.

Crows Eye definitely knew people would suspect him, but he didn't care. He had to arrive as soon as possible, before a new King could be appointed. A 'coup d'état' was his best option. He proved that he doesn't care about what people think, as stated in this quote:

Wherever he was, he’s home now, and he marched right into Pyke and sat his arse in the Seastone Chair, and drowned Lord Botley in a cask of seawater when he objected.”

This shows that, from the beginning he was willing to kill anyone that disagrees with his rule. In my opinion, all the evidence point to Euron organizing an assassination and following it up with a coup d'état.

Edited by Cosmic Maintenance Man, 11 January 2012 - 09:53 AM.


#5 Roose Seal

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:58 AM

This shows that, from the beginning he was willing to kill anyone that disagrees with his rule. In my opinion, all the evidence point to Euron organizing an assassination and following it up with a coup d'état.

But that's the thing, if he really did plan the assassination, a coup wasn't necessary at all, wasn't he the lawful heir to the Throne ?

I know all things point to Euron hiring a FM man, and that's the most senseful theory, but it just seems too obvious... Maybe I've come to expect too many twists ?

#6 Cosmic Maintenance Man

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:08 AM

But that's the thing, if he really did plan the assassination, a coup wasn't necessary at all, wasn't he the lawful heir to the Throne ?

I know all things point to Euron hiring a FM man, and that's the most senseful theory, but it just seems too obvious... Maybe I've come to expect too many twists ?

Euron knew that nobody would accept him as King, lawfull heir or not. Damphair proved that there are ways around the whole "next in line" issue, for instance a Kingsmoot. (That idea, of course, backfired bigtime on Aeron.)

Also, I believe the twist was that Euron killed the king. Martin always tried to play off Balons death as an "accident" but it turns out he was actually murdered. Though truth be told, it was a pretty obvious twist, if you made the connection with 'the Ghost of High Heart'.

Edited by Cosmic Maintenance Man, 11 January 2012 - 10:10 AM.


#7 The Sunset King

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:15 AM

A lot of the visions in ASOS seemed to be more straightfoward and occurred quickly after being articulated. It is basically stated outright that Balon is going do die/is dead in one of the sentences commenting on the vision. Stannis throwing three leeches into the fire also gives strong indications that the three named will die.

The reference to the crow being "drowned" probably mainly is symbolic of the crow representing someone (Euron) from the Iron Isles, particularly a Greyjoy. I doubt that the seaweed is very important other than to show that the crow has an oceanic connection and maybe that the killer and the killed both have a strong connection to the Iron Fleet.

Edited by The Sunset King, 11 January 2012 - 10:15 AM.


#8 Arkash

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:23 AM

I think we'll definitly learn more about Euron in the TWOW chapter about the Damphair GRRM told us about !

#9 Im no Ser

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:49 AM

2) It wasn't a coincidence. Euron hired the FM and came back as soon as possible, before his brother could make a move for the Throne, not thinking that everyone would think his return a bit too timely.
>I find it hard to believe that Euron would be so conspicuous and return immediately after his brother's death, given what we know about Euron's crafty and resourceful personality. He'd wait a few days and let the dust settle, as he'd know everyone would accuse him on his overly-coincidental return.

3) It wasn't a coincidence. Euron did hire the FM and planned his return knowing that people would suspect him, but at the same time hoping they would think it too 'easy' an explanation to just accept it like that.
>Possible, but that's a little twisted and convoluted... so I dunno.


IMO it wasn't a coincidence and Euron doesn't care what people think. When Lord Botley refuses to back his claim (pre-kingsmoot) Euron drowns him. After the Kingsmoot when Lord Blacktyde tries to leave Euron cuts him into seven pieces and now parades around in Blacktyde's coat. This is not a leader out to win hearts and minds, and the idea that maybe he had Balon killed is part of his fear-inducing mystique amongst the Ironborn.

The thing I've always wondered is what the price was. I don't think the faceless men work solely for money - from what we've seen they appear to require a sacrifice (your child, your life) on top of the fee. What price did Euron pay?

#10 FanTasy

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:24 AM

Thank you for starting this thread!
At this stage I don't rule out Damphair being the one who killed Balon.
The 'drowned crow with seaweed' could fit Euron on all three aspects, but the 'drowned' and 'seaweed' also strongly hints at Damphair.

#11 Revan Baratheon

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:34 AM

Thanks alot for this analysis! The only thing still perplexing me is why he is called as the drowned crow? Maby cause he drowned that lord when he returned? Or maby drowned crow as in "drowned god" as in being ironborn...or may its foreshadowing as others suggest...

Euron has always struck me as being the most well-written ironborn(except reek) despite having no POV and very little screen time...

Vic is cool but damp hair needs to die fast..

#12 Francis Buck

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:34 AM

I also agree that Euron almost certainly hired a Faceless Man to kill Balon. You can say it's too obvious, and maybe it is, but Euron doesn't seem to care a whole about his reputation. Everyone knows the guy's a merciless pirate lord, and everyone knows he consorts with dubious company, including wizards and sorcerers. Yet he seems like he couldn't care less that anyone knows -- he certainly doesn't do anything to hide it. As others have said, Euron had no qualms with publicly drowning a man that opposed him, and so long as no one can prove that he killed Balon (which would pretty damn hard to do if he actuallly did hire a Faceless Man), then he really has nothing to worry about other than perhaps sullying his already ambiguous reputation. And even then, there are plenty of Ironmen who still think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. So I see no legitimate reasons to assume he didn't have his brother assassinated. It seems silly that GRRM would put such an obvious prophecy into the story, especially when the other two prophecies made obviously came true.

GRRM does like to be sneaky, but sometimes I think things really are as simple as they appear, and people just feel like there has to be "more to it", when there's a good chance there isn't.

#13 Francis Buck

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:36 AM

Thanks alot for this analysis! The only thing still perplexing me is why he is called as the drowned crow? Maby cause he drowned that lord when he returned? Or maby drowned crow as in "drowned god" as in being ironborn...or may its foreshadowing as others suggest...

Euron has always struck me as being the most well-written ironborn(except reek) despite having no POV and very little screen time...

Vic is cool but damp hair needs to die fast..


The reference to a drowned crow is simply a way of clarifying that it was an Ironborn (drowned), and that the Ironborn in question was Euron (crow).

#14 Revan Baratheon

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:37 AM

I think we'll definitly learn more about Euron in the TWOW chapter about the Damphair GRRM told us about !

Yea im waiting for the next spoiler chapter...

Hey mAn didnt GRRM say that the next one will be in the paperback edition of ADWD or something??

#15 The Sunset King

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:12 PM

It would be a major twist if Euron did succeed in taking the Iron Throne. It would perhaps be the weirdest of the presently plausible outcomes as well with the possible exception of the capital being under the control of the Faith Militant. It is interesting to image how the court and institutions would adapt to having someone from the Iron Isles as a king. Anyone not following the religion of the Seven would face difficulties being accepted as a sovereign but someone following the religion of the Iron Isles would face the most problems. The estimation in which the Greyjoy house is held probably is lower than most of the other major houses and having a reaving corsair as the monarch would be problematic to say the least. Most of the nobility would not willingly support Greyjoy dominance of Westeros.

The only Iron guy with any hope of taking the throne is Euron. He can only do so by forcing the realm (or parts of it) to submit to his will through the use of dragons and their raw power. He is a longshot for the throne but if he does succeed in seizing control of a dragon there is a chance he might try to conquer King's Landing and/or some of the territory nearby. Daenerys should not allow herself to be conned into reliance on the Iron Fleet but there is also a risk of that happening.

Euron is likely to play an important role in TWOW, whatever ends up happening with him. He is one of the most interesting Greyjoys to observe in action and seems more cunning than most of the other villians.

Edited by The Sunset King, 11 January 2012 - 01:14 PM.


#16 Val the Wildling Princess

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:41 PM

Thanks alot for this analysis! The only thing still perplexing me is why he is called as the drowned crow? Maby cause he drowned that lord when he returned? Or maby drowned crow as in "drowned god" as in being ironborn...or may its foreshadowing as others suggest...

Euron has always struck me as being the most well-written ironborn(except reek) despite having no POV and very little screen time...

Vic is cool but damp hair needs to die fast..

I think the crow is a clear reference to Euron and the drowned is just cause he, as most of the iron born, has been drowned (as in the ritual Damphair does) and brought back so "what is dead cannot die".

Edited by Val the Wildling Princess, 11 January 2012 - 01:41 PM.


#17 jarl the climber

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:45 PM

I think the crow is a clear reference to Euron and the drowned is just cause he, as most of the iron born, has been drowned (as in the ritual Damphair does) and brought back so "what is dead cannot die".

I agree, I think i'm falling for you Val.

#18 Val the Wildling Princess

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:52 PM

I agree, I think i'm falling for you Val.

Thought you had already fell from the Wall /biggrin.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':D' /> be careful, I'm gonna steal you one of these nights.

About the topic (well, not really but about Euron) didn't Daenerys had a dream in ADWD where she had sex with a man with blue lips? Doesn't Euron have blue lips?

Edited by Val the Wildling Princess, 11 January 2012 - 01:53 PM.


#19 salt

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:03 PM

I've thought this theory was true for a while now and I agree that the prophesy makes it pretty certain. It will be interesting to see if any POV characters find this out or if Martin will just keep it as something never confirmed but assumed to be true by those who read closely, like the Frey pies.

#20 scurvy

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:05 PM

The only thing I disagree with is the wealth allowing him to hire a faceless man. The FM seem to charge a high price, but it is not specifically gold. The first gift they provided was to kill a slave owner for the slave. The slave had nothing but his own life to give, so that was the cost.

What did Euron have to give that was most important to him? That would have been the cost.