History of Thrones: Gods Eye and the Isle of Faces

History of Thrones is our series where we examine important historical events and people from the complex and controversial past of Westeros, ones that might tell us something about the story going forward on Game of Thrones. However be warned, if you think cutting down theories is sacrilegious, you might consider them spoilers.

You can find all other History of Thrones entries here.


A new Game of Thrones fan theory says the Night King isn’t just marching on the Seven Kingdoms, but that he is marching to a very specific place within in it: the sacred and mysterious Isle of Faces in the Gods Eye lake. But why of all the famous places in Westeros would he be interested in that one spot, especially when it has never played any role on the show? It’s because its many weirwoods witnessed one of the most important events in the Realm’s history, and the sacred order who serve there to watch over the trees could possess the secrets needed to win the Great War between the living and the dead.

Located near the middle of Westeros in the Riverlands is the Realm’s largest lake, known as the Gods Eye. Harrenhal sits on its northern side, and on its southern edge there’s a river that runs to the Blackwater Rush. They say when it’s warm its waters sparkle blue and green, but in winter it looks pewter like a steel sword. Many legendary battles have taken place along its shores, and even high above them, like during the Dance of the Dragons.

But it’s the island within the Gods Eye that stands as one of the most sacred and mysterious places in the Seven Kingdoms. That’s where the Children of the Forest and the First Men signed the peace treaty known as the Pact. For 2,000 years after the First Men arrived in Westeros (12,000 years before Game of Thrones), the Children fought them. It started when the First Men began cutting down weirwood trees, which were not only the Children’s gods, but where they believed they went when they died. In their eyes, the First Men were killing their ancestors.

When the two sides finally decided to end the fighting they met on the Isle of Faces, where the Children’s greenseers and the leaders of the First Men began a friendship that lasted 4,000 years. They carved faces into the weirwood trees on the island so they could bear witness to the agreement. Almost all other weirwoods in the south had been destroyed by this time, so a sacred order known as the Green Men was formed to watch over and guard them. The “old gods” of the North are the same gods of the Children, so these weirwoods took on great significance to the First Men too.

During their thousands of years of peace and friendship, the First Men and Children defeated the White Walkers together during the first Long Night. But their coexistence ended when the Andals came to Westeros, forcing the Children far beyond the Wall, while the First Men intermarried with them. The Andals were unable to defeat the Green Men though, whoever they were.

No one knows much about the Green Men, who still live on the Isle of Faces to this day. Old tales say they have green skin and horns, or even antlers, but they are a mystery because, as Bran says in the books, “No one visits the Isle of Faces. That’s where the Green Men live.”

Could the Green Men be the Children of the Forest, who we know can live for thousands and thousands of years? Or could they be the offspring of the Children and the First Men? One man alive today likely knows the answer to that question–the man who saved Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy and who sent his two children, Jojen and Meera, to help Bran Stark: Howland Reed.

Before the infamous Tourney of Harrenhal, which set in motion Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar’s relationship, Howland Reed traveled to the Isle of Faces to meet with the Green Men. He spent a winter there, but what secrets he learned remain unknown. It was after he left the Gods Eye when his close friendship with the Starks began, but that might have just been a coincidence.

There could be a specific reason Howland Reed was able to spend so much time with the Green Men, because as a crannogmen of the Neck he might have a special connection with them. Crannogmen are a reclusive people who live in the marshes and bogs that were created by a massive flood created by the Children of the Forest during their war with the First Men (a terrifying display of power that failed to cut Westeros in two like the Children had hoped, but likely led to the First Men wanting peace). Crannogmen live off the land, and don’t have castles and holdfasts the way the rest of Westeros does.

Additionally, they are diminutive in stature, a trait some believe is due to their intermarrying with the Children long ago. Some think the Children still live with them to this day.

If nothing else, crannogmen live according to the beliefs and traditions held by the Children far more than any other people in Westeros do. “We live closer to the green in our bogs and crannogs, and we remember. Earth and water, soil and stone, oaks and elms and willows, they were here before us all and will still remain when we are gone,” said Jojen in the novels.

The Isle of Faces is a sacred place, where one of the most important events in Westeros’s history occurred. It might also be where the last Children of the Forest, the race who created the White Walkers, exist.

Which is why the Night King might be headed there, whether he knows exactly what secrets it contains or only that it has something worth knowing. Considering Game of Thrones has never mentioned the Isle of Faces, and only had one brief reference to the Gods Eye, it might seem strange it could suddenly be so important in the final six episodes.

But Howland, Jojen, and Meera Reed, as well as the Children of the Forest, have been important players all along, and they might have some secrets left to share with us, like the ones the Isle of Faces has been hiding for 10,000 years.

Explore the rich, complicated, and controversial lore of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire — and how it connects to HBO’s Game of Thrones — in our deep dive series,  History of Thrones.

Images: HBO

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