BackgroundThe practice of cannibalism has been practised since the day Evan Dragen founded House Dragen. Since then, it has been traditionally practised by both the Thenns and House Dragen, the latter having abandoned the practice when the Starks rose as Kings of Winter thousands of years prior to the beginning of the series. Although the act of cannibalism has been outlawed in the North and in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, there are still those who secretly adhere to this taboo practice, most notoriously Lucius Dragen.
The Dragens of Helgen have practised cannibalism for centuries, going as far as to adopt a man-eating viper on their heraldry. The Dragens used to kidnap and paralyse a victim and keeping them alive while they were sadistically being roasted alive, the victim could feel and experience everything as vividly as possible. When the Starks rose to power, however, this act was heavily outlawed. The Dragens were also forced to change their heraldry by portraying only their iconic viper and no longer a man-eating one.
However, cannibalism is also practised when extreme famine strikes. In which case, people who do consume their fellow man, usually do so out of necessity. On once occasion, there was a severe famine taking place in the city of Blackgard during the Fourth Border Wars. According to Trevyr Blackgard, the people were so hungry that they even consumed their own children, and sons even killed their own fathers for food.
One of the most famous stories on cannibalism, is that of the legend of the Rat Cook, a mythological Night's Watch cook who, according to legend, fed the king his own son in revenge for the king throwing offensive remarks at him. The cook killed the king's son and served his flesh in a pie to him. The king enjoyed the pie so much he asked for a second helping.
The gods cursed the cook by turning him into a fat, white rat which could only survive by feasting on its young. He was condemned to run the halls of the Nightfort, eating his own offspring. The gods were not offended by the murder, nor even by cooking the son and feeding him to his own father, for a man has a right to vengeance. What the gods could not forgive and cursed the cook for was that he broke the laws of hospitality and protection, which are held to be sacred above all others.
In the show
Alliser Thorne tells his story to Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly on how he, at one time, had to kill and eat his fellow Night's Watch rangers to survive a massive snow storm. At first, they killed and ate the horses and later, they cannibalized each other.
While trying to get back to Helgen, Lucius Dragen spots a bow hunter dining on a freshly killed rabbit. Lucius asks and begs the hunter to share the rabbit with him multiple times, but when he is refused, he attacks and kills the hunter. Later, he mutilates and butchers the hunter and consumes his body parts. This is the first time Lucius has ever eaten and killed a man.
Prince of the Moths
Lord Timos Crakehall, a notorious serial killer, stalks, kills, and eats random families during sequential crescent moons. He also kidnaps the young bounty huntress Alanis Blackwood, a surrogate daughter of Ethan Snow and a close lover of Lucius Dragen. He eats her alive and hangs her skeleton above Helgen's gates.
Father of the Dead
Acts of cannibalism are mentioned multiple times in this short story, mostly carried out by Lucius himself.
Si Jin, a vicious YiTish slaver from Mudtown is rumored to eat the flesh of his fallen slaves. This has earned him the nickname "Corpse-Eater". No slave dares speak this title in his presence, and it is unclear if he knows the slaves think he's a cannibal. If he actually is a cannibal is not revealed in the story, but left up to reader interpretation. Certainly, the way he killed Naqqo suggests that he may have feral tendencies. His weapons of choice - two long butcher knives - imply that he knows how to butcher meat, and he has been seen mutilating corpses on several occasions.
- Lucius Dragen
- Timos Crakehall
- Ramsay Bolton (rumoured)
- Zyre Skinner (for ritualistic purposes)
- Alliser Thorne
- The Rat Cook
- The Thenns
- The rioters during the Riot of King's Landing (presumably)
- The citizens of Blackgard during the Fourth Border Wars
- Si Jin
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the act of cannibalism has been practised most notoriously by the Thenns. Aside from the Thenns, however, other peoples have also practised cannibalism in history. According to The Edge of the World by Maester Balder, in ancient days men of Skagos sailed to the nearby island Skane, seizing all the women, killing all the men, and feasting on their flesh for a fortnight, in what was known as the Feast of Skane.
In the novels, the story of the Rat Cook is practically identical to that of the show's version.
- ↑ House Dragen (Histories & Lore)
- ↑ House Dragen
- ↑ The Prowler
- ↑ The Lost Dragon
- ↑ During the last winter, Thorne and his ranger companions were trapped in a massive winter storm and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
- ↑ During the Riot of King's Landing, the High Septon was seen being butchered by several starving rioters, assuming that they indeed cannibalized him.