War Of The Five Kings: Balon Greyjoy

Not all of the would-be kings of "Game of Thrones" season two are familiar faces. We love to hate Joffrey, and we love to love Robb, but there are other players in the mix who are simply too new to get an immediate read on. In our third day examining the War of the Five Kings, we're looking at one of the new characters vying for the Iron Throne...

Balon Greyjoy

Know Your King

"What's dead may never die." So speak the worshipers of the Drowned God of the Iron Islands. This area of Westeros is ruled by the cold and calculated Balon Greyjoy, yet another of the key players eyeballing a crown in season two of "Game of Thrones." Unlike his competition, however, Balon's a veteran when it comes to playing this particular game.

Where Is He From?

Balon and House Greyjoy make their home on Pyke of the Iron Islands of Westeros, just southwest of Winterfell and within striking distance of Lannisport and Casterly Rock. A seaborn warrior, Balon and his men are most at home on water, as made clear by the Iron Islands' considerable fleet.

The King's Court

Lord Greyjoy is surrounded by equally salty advisors. First and foremost is his daughter Yara, far from a damsel in distress -- think Arya, but grown up and a master of the sea. Balon also has brothers he can depend on to varying degrees: Aeron Damphair, the drowned prophet, is the first we'll meet, while the barbaric Victarion and trickster Euron are sure to come eventually. Another party soon to arrive at Pyke: Theon, ally of Robb Stark, estranged son of Balon Greyjoy.

What Does He Do?

More importantly is what he's already done. This is not Balon Greyjoy's first attempt at winning the Iron Throne. He previously rebelled against the crown and was crushed by the forces of Lord Eddard Stark, losing the lives of his two oldest sons in the process. As part of peace terms between Pyke and the Seven Kingdoms, Balon was forced to surrender his son Theon to Lord Stark's custody as a hostage -- a harsh term for a boy who was more or less raised as part of the Stark family. This history is crucial to understanding Balon and the way he treats the people around him, Theon especially.

Do We Like Him?

Not especially. He's a hard, willful man who is dead set on winning the Iron Throne. He won't negotiate, he won't make allies -- particularly not with Robb Stark, who he links to his own previously failed rebellion. The way he's able to influence Theon's loyalties, too, is a big strike against Balon Greyjoy.

Tell us what you think of the would-be king in the comments section or on Twitter!