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Lord of Handle

The Ironborn's ships

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My first time as OP, be gentle :P

Well, it's a simple question: Where do the Ironborn get the wood to build their ships?

We have no reason to think that there is any significant forestation on the small, windswept, not very fertile (and it seems to me somewhat densely populated) islands.

So if they don't have enough trees, do they buy the wood they need? But who in their right minds would sell shipbuilding material to a nation of pirates?

What do you think?

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They import wood from the mainland and abroad. As to who would sell shipbuilding material to a nation of pirates, not all ships are used for war and raiding, some are used for transport and fishing, they are islands after all.

As to why would someone sell lumber to pirates, the answer is money.

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They import wood from the mainland and abroad. As to who would sell shipbuilding material to a nation of pirates, not all ships are used for war and raiding, some are used for transport and fishing, they are islands after all.

As to why would someone sell lumber to pirates, the answer is money.

I just find it hard to believe that the people of Westeros would trust the Ironborn. The fortress of Seagard was built to defend against the Ironborn and the people of Westeros know perfectly well that pirating is an essential part of their culture. The only reason Robb trusted them was because he trusted Theon to stay loyal to him and he trusted Balon Greyjoy to have 2 working brain cells.

There's got to be iron elsewhere in Westeros, and other than that what do the Ironborn have to offer? Maybe on the short term you can make a profit by selling lumber to the Ironborn, but on the long term you'd save yourself a lot of trouble if you didn't.

If I were sitting on the Iron Throne, I know I'd put an embargo on the Iron Islands until they gave up their viking ways for good.

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I just find it hard to believe that the people of Westeros would trust the Ironborn. The fortress of Seagard was built to defend against the Ironborn and the people of Westeros know perfectly well that pirating is an essential part of their culture. The only reason Robb trusted them was because he trusted Theon to stay loyal to him and he trusted Balon Greyjoy to have 2 working brain cells.

There's got to be iron elsewhere in Westeros, and other than that what do the Ironborn have to offer? Maybe on the short term you can make a profit by selling lumber to the Ironborn, but on the long term you'd save yourself a lot of trouble if you didn't.

If I were sitting on the Iron Throne, I know I'd put an embargo on the Iron Islands until they gave up their viking ways for good.

1. They won't raid Westeros as long as there is a centralized power: the Iron Throne.

2. Putting an the embargo on the Iron Isles wouldn't make them give up the Old Way. The British tried the same with Boston, and that didn't stop Bostonian defiance. The Ironborn would only resist more.

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1. They won't raid Westeros as long as there is a centralized power.: the Iron Throne.

Dagon Greyjoy didn't let that stop him.

2. Putting on the embargo on the Iron Isles wouldn't make them give up the Old Way. The British tried the same with Boston, and that didn't stop Bostonian defiance. The Ironborn would only resist more.

I wouldn't really care whether they gave up the Old Way or not. As long as they were cut off from the sea it wouldn't matter.

I just can't see how they've always been able to maintain such a large fleet. Has any seafaring nation ever been totally dependent on importing timber? It just doesn't seem very sustainable or realistic.

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Iron ore. The Iron Islands may well be the primary source of iron for the Seven Kingdoms, for all we know. The Myraham travels all the way from Oldtown to trade for iron ore.

And because of cultural factors, the value of owning a ship is so high ("Every man is a king aboard his own ship", and note that those who have a say in the kingsmoot include captains) that that's what the ironborn invest their wealth in, even if it doesn't make a lick of economic sense for them. For every successful reaving captain, there's probably half a dozen that aren't successful and basically maintain their longships just to maintain their status as captains.

I suspect many of them are traders, and their reaving is just opportunistic. Those that are dedicated reavers seem to head out east, to the Stepstones (as Balon did) and beyond (as Euron did).

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...I just can't see how they've always been able to maintain such a large fleet. Has any seafaring nation ever been totally dependent on importing timber? It just doesn't seem very sustainable or realistic.

Venice, Genoa, Holland

Then you have the likes of Britain and France dependant on some imported timbers principally for masts.

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Venice, Genoa, Holland

Then you have the likes of Britain and France dependant on some imported timbers principally for masts.

Good point, you could probably add ancient Athens to that list too.

I was just thinking about how Denmark was never able to rebuild its fleet after the Napoleonic wars, though, ships of the line are obviously in a whole different category from longships.

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Well Denmark lost Norway to Sweden, who as long term rivals probably weren't minded to sell them timber!

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As the iron island seem to be based partly of iceland - no trees, anyway the westeros geography is a little bit messed up anyway, I would say driftwood, that is where it came from on iceland, also we see Victorion seizing ships for the Iron Fleet, they could break up the kogs and stuff for wood to make longships.

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Well Denmark lost Norway to Sweden, who as long term rivals probably weren't minded to sell them timber!

I know, that's what I meant.

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There are in fact trees on the Iron Islands. Not much use for shipbuilding, but they're there. I suspect the Iron Islands were more forested in the days when the First Men first settled there, but it's been deforested in the millenia since.

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Besides, if land is "not very fertile", then the lands which are too stony or sandy to be good for fields may be used for forests.

Also, do Iron Islands export iron ore or iron? They can very well be raising trees, using trunks and bigger branches for burning coal to smelt iron with?

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I always assumed that at least one of the Iron Islands is fairly forested. My top pick was Orkmont and what do you know, in the new maps Orkmont actually looks like a tree-covered island (I'm basing this on the cover of the maps box -- I haven't ordered the maps yet myself so I may be wrong). At any rate, an area can be covered with pines and still have very poor soil.

Ran's explanation makes sense, I reckon most of the resources are acquired through trade. But the Orkmont thing makes sense in my head as a back-up source of timber.

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Dagon Greyjoy didn't let that stop him.

I wouldn't really care whether they gave up the Old Way or not. As long as they were cut off from the sea it wouldn't matter.

I just can't see how they've always been able to maintain such a large fleet. Has any seafaring nation ever been totally dependent on importing timber? It just doesn't seem very sustainable or realistic.

Their reavers to begin with a trade embargo is only gonna cause them to steal trees and lumber, they have thousands of miles of Northern forest with no force to stop them from loading up ships with wood and sailing home.

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Their reavers to begin with a trade embargo is only gonna cause them to steal trees and lumber, they have thousands of miles of Northern forest with no force to stop them from loading up ships with wood and sailing home.

Stealing wood? That might work if they bring their biggest trading vessels, and the wood is already cut and ready, and most importantly unattended. After all they're going to need a fair bit of time to go far enough inland to get this wood, haul it to the shore in some way and load it into their ships, and they'd probably be vulnerable during the whole transportation process. If they were to personally cut down the trees (they wouldn't, performing manual labour is beneath the reavers) they would still need some huge ships.

I can't realistically picture large-scale timber theft in the Ironborn's typical reaving manner because the books tell us the longships used for reaving have shallow hulls (which is part of the reason why they can go so fast).

The ironborn paying the gold price for their timber sounds like the logical thing for them to do. Ran has pointed out how prestigious the status of ship-owner is; the captains probably accept that timber is just something you have to shell out for.

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Stealing wood? That might work if they bring their biggest trading vessels, and the wood is already cut and ready, and most importantly unattended. After all they're going to need a fair bit of time to go far enough inland to get this wood, haul it to the shore in some way and load it into their ships, and they'd probably be vulnerable during the whole transportation process. If they were to personally cut down the trees (they wouldn't, performing manual labour is beneath the reavers) they would still need some huge ships.

I can't realistically picture large-scale timber theft in the Ironborn's typical reaving manner because the books tell us the longships used for reaving have shallow hulls (which is part of the reason why they can go so fast).

They wouldn't be using their little ships but we're told of several larger vessels in the Iron Fleet. The North is unattended we're told over and over how desolate it is and a quick look at the map will show you a ton of forested area that's sea ajeacent. They have thralls for doing the labours task of cutting the trees.

I'm not saying they do a ton of this but it a pretty viable option a 2-3 large ships lands off the flint clifs with a 200 ironborn and 50 thralls in a day or two could take a nice load of lumber the local lord wouldn't have a force to stop them and by the time a real force was mobalized and came they'd be gone if they bothered to trade blood for a few trees when they have millions.

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I suspect many of them are traders, and their reaving is just opportunistic. Those that are dedicated reavers seem to head out east, to the Stepstones (as Balon did) and beyond (as Euron did).

In the real world, Vikings were traders/pirates, making little distinction, which Michael Crichton described as "a tendency shared by many seafarers from the Greeks to the Elizabethans." That could be the same case for Ironborn, as is the case of Asha.

Some of the Scandanavian areas, in places like Sweden, are rich in iron ore.

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My first time as OP, be gentle :P

Well, it's a simple question: Where do the Ironborn get the wood to build their ships?

We have no reason to think that there is any significant forestation on the small, windswept, not very fertile (and it seems to me somewhat densely populated) islands.

So if they don't have enough trees, do they buy the wood they need? But who in their right minds would sell shipbuilding material to a nation of pirates?

What do you think?

To me, the Old Way of the Ironborn would say that 1 good ship with a good Captain and a crew of Ironmen is more than enough to overcome and commandeer another ship. 2 ships becomes 4, and so on until they've aquired a fleet.

It may not have originated that way but once they run out of resourses, the Iron Islanders would be far more likely to grow there fleet via the true Old Way rather than trading. Victorion does it in ADwD.

They could use this method of aquiring lesser ships, sail them back to the Islands, break them down and use the materials to build true war ships.

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Paying for timber sounds normal to me. I mean even if they say the ironborn pays with iron price, you almost always have to have a sword first and I don't think all ironborn were able to pay the iron price for their first sword. similarly, i'd think their first boat would likely to have been bought.

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