Getting to Know Lyanna Mormont: HBO's Game of Thrones' Breakout Star

After a whirlwind of unpleasantness in Season 5 of Game of Thrones, which caused many fans to quit the show entirely, HBO decided to play with our emotions even further by making Season 6 the most lady-centric season of the series ever.

You can read our entire Season 6 lady-centric recap here.

In that recap, I neglected to delve into the details around the very young (but undeniably venerable) ruler that is Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island. At the time I was wrapping up my recap (3:00 AM, to be exact), I was so focused on each character arc that I felt Lady Mormont’s was too small to include (just as I did with Lady Olenna, and wrapped Queen Margaery’s into Cersei’s recap). It was foolish of me and I hope to rectify this error here.

First, some history:

Bear Island

As far back as 10,000 years before the events Game of Thrones, control of Bear Island was won in a wrestling match between a Stark and an Ironborn. The Stark then gifted the island to the Mormonts, who had been loyal allies of the Starks up until then and thus remained ever since. Fast-forward thousands of years and the Lord of Bear Island, Jeor Mormont, takes the Black and passes rulership to his good-for-nothing son, Jorah Mormont, who eventually gets banished from Westeros (and winds up following Daenerys Targaryen). The Lordship of Bear Island then transitions to Maege Mormont, Jeor Mormont’s sister. She fights for Robb Stark and ultimately dies in the War of the Four Kings, leaving lordship to her 10-year-old daughter, Lyanna Mormont.


Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island

We first feel Lyanna Mormont’s presence in Season 5, when Stannis Baratheon petitions the many houses of the North to back his claim for the throne. In what we will later discover to be Lyanna’s standard mode of blunt, no-fuss, no-bullshit way of speaking, she has her ravens deliver Stannis her personally-written reply:

"Bear Island knows no King but the King in the North, whose name is Stark"

Lyanna appears for the first time on-screen in S06E07 "The Broken Man" when Sansa Stark and Jon Snow plead with Lyanna for her allegiance and support in their endeavor to retake Winterfell and the North from Ramsay Bolton. Sansa bungles an attempt at flattery, not anticipating that Lyanna is uninterested in such things as beauty standards:

"I remember when you were born, my lady. You were named for my aunt Lyanna. It's said she was a great beauty. I'm sure you will be too."
"I doubt it. My mother wasn't a great beauty, or any other kind of beauty. She was a great warrior, though. She died fighting for your brother Robb."

Snap. She’s not impressed much with Jon Snow either, and points out that Sansa has been married off twice now, to a Lannister and a Bolton, questioning their legitimacy entirely. This kid is brutal. Fortunately, for Sansa and Jon, they brought Davos with them. Part of me thinks that Davos just has a magical way with children, much like he did with Shireen Baratheon, charming them with his gruff, old grandpa demeanor. A more direct reasoning is that Davos meets Lyanna’s expectations by speaking to her with the deference she is owed, rather than talking down, patronizing, or seeking to control her. Lyanna agrees to back the Starks once more, and pledges her entire army of 62 fighting men to fight alongside Jon.

Lyanna Mormont throws shade at Ramsay Bolton on the field of battle

After the Starks retake Winterfell, all the Lords of the North gather there to discuss the next step. The men whine, hem, and haw until Lyanna has had enough. She shames them for their cowardice and makes her allegiance known:

"Your son was butchered at the Red Wedding, Lord Manderly, but you refused the call. You swore allegiance to House Stark, Lord Glover, but in their hour of greatest need, you refused the call. And you, Lord Cerwyn, your father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton. Still you refused the call. But House Mormont remembers. The North remembers. We know no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark. I don't care if he's a bastard. Ned Stark's blood runs through his veins. He's my king from this day until his last day."



So what's next for the Lady of Bear Island? In our world, Lyanna Mormont is a welcome addition not only to Game of Thrones, but to the pop-culture lexicon and Internet memes. Don’t play, or Lyanna Mormont will call you out:

I'd be remiss if I didn't also encourage you to read this great interview with Bella Ramsey, the 12-year-old actress who masterfully played Lyanna Mormont on the show. Regarding the HBO series, the upcoming seventh season of Game of Thrones has shaped up to be a War of the Queens, and it would unwise to not include Lyanna Mormont on the game board.

I’ll admit, part of me feels a bit emotionally manipulated by the showrunners giving Lyanna Mormont such an awesome array of scenes. As I said in my Season 6 recap, after the mistreatment of female characters, carelessness around sensitive and triggering imagery, and use of misogynistic tropes in Season 5 and the series as a whole, they cannot undo the damage they've done.

Still, isn’t Lyanna Mormont exactly the kind of heroic character we’ve been dying to see? The showrunners could have easily fallen back on a male character to meet the plot’s requirements, but opted instead to include Lyanna, and for that, I am appreciative.

My expectations are higher now, and if the showrunners botch Lyanna Mormont, by the old gods and the new, there will be hell to pay!

Will you answer the call?

Adrian Martinez is a graphic designer, comic book letterer, hobbyist writer, and all-around geek living in New York City.