The Borderlands are ruled from the castle of Ebonheart in the city of Blackgard by the eponymous House Blackgard following the fall of House Durrandon during the War of Conquest. Despite being the youngest of the ten major regions of the continent, the Borderlands have been so remotely isolated for centuries that its inhabitants have come to develop their own culture, language, lifestyles and religion. The Borderlands itself have been described as being "untameable", due to its rugged terrain and unpredictable weathers.
According to legend, the Borderlands have once been part of the ancient Kingdom of the Stormlands, founded by King Durran, also known as "Durran Godsgrief". Durran's distant cousin, Asterion, whom later would've come to be known as "Asterion the Black", was rewarded the title Lord of Ebonheart. With this title, came the dominion of the Borderlands, an isolated, then-unexplored land of rocky and cavernous hills, arid badlands, and volcanic quarries, a natural border for the Stormlands. Asterion founded the castle of Ebonheart and the city of Blackgard and the eponymous House Blackgard, guardians of the Kingdom of the Stormlands. During the Andal Invasion, the Borderlands and the North became the only two regions where the First Men were able to resist the advance of the Andals, six thousand years before the War of the Five Kings. As a result the Borderlands and its inhabitants have regained their unique and diverse culture over the years and the ethnic makeup is still predominantly First Men, while the typical "Andal culture" has dominated the rest of Westeros south of the Neck. However, after the War of Conquest, Andaren Blackgard was forced to open its borders to the Andals, marking a drastic change in the formerly dominant religions and cultures of the Borderlands. While the clan-based, Lumsos bordermen still clung to their Old Gods of the Forest religion and the Old Ways, the feudal-based, Loksos bordermen respectively adopted the religion of the Faith of the Seven, the Laws and Customs of the Andals and the principles of knighthood and feudalism.
The northern end of the Borderlands is a strategic choke point controlled by the formidable city of Blackgard. The lands surrounding Blackgard are the only place where water is available as a natural resource. Plant life is also present, which is quite unique in the wasteland. The only way to enter the Borderlands without having to climb the mountains is to go through a large road that leads straight to Blackgard. Blackgard's position completely dominates the path of this only route, making any attempt to invade the Stormlands futile.
The climate of the Borderlands, though harsh overall, is mostly dry. Occasionally, heavy and violent storms and rain showers make the ground slugged and difficult to travel through. Nearing the Red Mountain are the Ashlands, dry and inhospitable areas consisting of volcanic quarries and a highly toxic atmosphere.
Because of its treacherous and highly dangerous terrain, those who venture into the Borderlands unprepared are unlikely to survive. People who did venture into these lands and returned safely have stated that they not only had to battle starvation and dehydration, but also received frequent hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, and some even went clinically insane.
Castles and cities
- Blackgard, the ancient seat of House Blackgard and the regional capital.
- Ebonheart, the ancestral seat of power of House Blackgard and administrative capital.
- Charhelm, the seat of House Smyte
- The Cragmire, the seat of House Skinner.
- Iredale Fort, the seat of House Bergen.
- Oakwell, the seat of House Tradd.
- Sandkeep, the seat of House Tymber.
- Castle Bruckstone, the seat of House Bruckstone.
- Orphan Rock, the seat of House Wayne.
- Raytheim, the seat of House Linster.
- Weavington, the seat of House Warth.
- Eagleview Hall, the seat of House Archyr.
- Longdale, the seat of House Fletcher.
- Karthmere, a ruined castle and the former seat of House Whitegard.
- Hope's End, the seat of House Stally
- The Ebonfort, the seat of House Croft
- Darkheart Hall, the seat of House Heartley
- Castle Kensington, the seat of House Kensington
- Beastworth, the seat of House Feral
- Greyhall, the seat of House Greyhall
- Fort Gayle, the seat of House Gayle
Towns and settlements
- Vyrsts, a long mountain range originating from the foot of Red Mountain.
- Dornish Peninsulas, a piece of land surrounded by dry areas that formerly contained water.
- Ashlands, the dry and inhospitable areas surrounding Red Mountain.
Islands and coastal areas
- Vedhiim Island, a small island to the east of the Borderlands.
- Bay of Asterion, an immense lake where Vedhiim Island is located.
- Red Mountain, a colossal volcano to the north of the Borderlands.
During the reign of the Durrandons, the Borderlands were formally named the Fiefdom of the Borderlands, and was granted to House Blackgard after Asterion the Black won a bet with his cousin King Durran. The geography and climate of the Borderlands are extremely unique. They are located between The Stormlands, The Reach and The Crownlands. However, the Borderlands do not share the same climate with any of these regions. It is widely believed that the Children of the Forest were responsible for the creation of the Borderlands, as they were believed to have created The Neck and The Stepstones as well.
The legendary First Men warrior, Asterion the Black is thought to be the very first person born in the Borderlands. Because of this, members of his bloodline are official Borderlands natives. Asterion was King Durran's distant relative and a loyal bannerman to his house, House Durrandon. Durran gave Asterion complete control over the Borderlands.
The Borderlands present a formidable tactical obstacle to anyone planning to invade the Stormlands and was instrumental in holding off the Andals during their invasion of Westeros six thousand years ago. However, it was not effective against airborne dragons, leading to Aegon the Conqueror succeeding in invading the Stormlands. Even though Aegon survived the Borderlands, most of his footmen soldiers did not. Thousands of Aegon's soldiers died of thirst, hunger, or were killed by the wasteland cats.
Although the Borderlands started as a sub-region of the Kingdom of the Stormlands, Aegon was impressed with House Blackgard's defiance to him. Instead of destroying and replacing them as he did with the other defiant houses, he elevated the Blackgards to a Great House, giving them full control of the Borderlands as an independent region. The Blackgards remained loyal to the Baratheons, but no longer as vassals.
After Aegon was crowned King he ordered House Blackgard to open their gates for the Andals, granting them free passage into the Stormlands for the first time since their invasion 6,000 years ago. Now, the Andals are the most common ethnic group in the Stormlands. In the Borderlands however, a branch of the First Men still the occupy the Wasteland. They are called Bordermen.
The modern Bordermen, from whom most of the noble houses descended from, have strong Andal influences, including the principles of knighthood, thanks to the aftermath of the Andal Invasion, resulting in most their heraldry closely resembling that of the coat of arms used by the nobility south of the Neck. However, there are noble houses who still cling closely to their First Men ancestry. Their heraldry, in turn, is often simplistic, comparable with heraldry from the North.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Borderlands was originally a much more pleasant location, but during the war between the Children of the Forest and the First Men it became a point of no retreat for the Children. When their formidable fortress of Blackgard looked like it might fall, the Children called upon the same sorcery they had used to shatter the Arm of Dorne centuries earlier to destroy the Borderlands and split The Stormlands from the rest of Westeros. This event was known as the Cataclysm. The sorcery was not effective and they merely dried out the Borderlands from coast to coast, creating a complete wasteland with only a few small peninsulas.
Dorne · The Iron Islands · The Borderlands · The North · The Reach · The Stormlands (The Smithlands) · The Vale of Arryn · The Westerlands · The Riverlands · The Crownlands (King's Landing) · The Wall & the Gift · Beyond the Wall
Ebonheart · Darkmirror · Charhelm · The Cragmire · Iredale Fort · Oakwell · Sandkeep · Castle Bruckstone · Raytheim · Weavington · Eagleview Hall · Longdale · Karthmere · Darkheart Hall · Beastworth · The Ebonfort · Greyhall · Fyrestone · Fort Gayle · Castle Kensington · Hope's End · Redgrave · Orphan Rock · The Tinted Hollows
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Houses from the Borderlands