The sigil of House Karstark from Game of Thrones.
Based on George R.R. Martin’s famous series of novels (collectively known as “A Song of Ice and Fire”), the television series “Game of Thrones” premiered in 2011 on the channel HBO. It is set in a fantasy world heavily based on the society and culture of the European Middle Ages. Two large continents, Westeros and Essos, make up most of the visible landmass in this world, with the former being featured in storylines much more frequently. While typical elements from fantasy stories, such as dragons and various forms of magic, are seen throughout the series, they generally take a backseat to much larger themes, such as military conflicts, political machinations, and family dynamics.
The continent of Westeros is made up of many different regions, each of which has its own culture and history. Most of these regions form constituent parts of a single political realm, which is presided over by a ruling monarch. While they hold ultimate power over the realm, local governance of each region is handled by a “Great House”, a noble family whose members answer directly to the monarch. Each region also contains an extensive network of lesser noble houses called “Vassal Houses”, who owe their loyalty to the governing Great House. House Karstark is one of the Vassal Houses in the North. Their ancestral keep is known as the Karhold, a fortified castle in the eastern part of the North that overlooks the sea. Their sigil is a white sunburst on a field of black, and their motto is “The Sun of Winter”.
The Karstarks are descended from Karlon Stark, a member of the North’s long-governing Great House who was given his own lands as reward for helping to put down a rebellion. This ancestral bond earned the Karstarks a key place in army of the North- a force that played a major role in seasons two and three- but the execution of the Karstark patriarch caused the house to withdraw its forces, setting in motion events that would lead to the army being annihilated at the end of season three. Afterwards, relations between surviving members of the two houses were strained, but the Karstarks reaffirmed their loyalty to House Stark at the beginning of season seven.
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