The Riverlands is a central region of the continent of Westeros, consisting of the rich, fertile, and populous areas around the forks of the Trident and the northern Blackwater Rush. It is ruled from Riverrun by House Tully. The Riverlands is not considered one of the traditional Seven Kingdoms, as at the time of Aegon's Conquest the territory was controlled by House Hoare of the Iron Islands. Because of its central position in Westeros and lack of natural boundaries, the Riverlands has been a frequent battleground. The people of the Riverlands are known as "rivermen" and are a mixture of hardy warriors, peaceful fisherfolk and devout smallfolk. Bastards born in the Riverlands are given the surname Rivers.
The Riverlands encompass a region of plains, forests, hills, and endless rivers. They border the North, near the source of the Green Fork in the swamplands of the Neck. To the east, the Riverlands extend to the Vale of Arryn's Mountains of the Moon and Crackclaw Point in the Crownlands. To the south the Riverlands border the Crownlands and the Reach. The Riverlands extend west to Ironman's Bay and the mountainous Westerlands. The heavily fortified Golden Tooth guards the entrance to the Riverlands but belongs itself to the Westerlands. The Riverlands is named for the number of rivers which are present. The Green Fork that runs south from swamps in the Neck, the Blue Fork and the Red Fork, that run from the north from the southwest, come together a short distance from Lord Harroway's Town to form the Trident. The Red Fork runs from its source in the western mountains to Riverrun where it combines with the Tumblestone and then runs to the east and combines with the Trident before pouring into the Bay of Crabs at Saltpans. The northern Blackwater Rush runs through the southern Riverlands. The Riverlands does not contain any major cities, but has a number towns, such as Fairmarket, Harrentown, Lord Harroway's Town, Maidenpool, Saltpans, and Stoney Sept. Its major castles include Harrenhal, Raventree Hall, Riverrun, Seagard, Stone Hedge, and the Twins. Additional noteworthy places in the Riverlands are the old ruins at Oldstones, where in ancient times House Mudd had its castle, and the lake God's Eye with the Isle of Faces in it. The Lady of the Leaves lives in a village hidden in trees, while a ghost is said to be at High Heart. The Quiet Isle is located at the mouth of the Trident.
The Riverlands are rich and fertile and populous. The numerous rivers that run across its expanse are used for trading and the transport of goods, In times of peace fisherfolk in skiffs and grain barges pole downstream and merchants on floating ships sail on the rivers. With so much trade on the rivers, villagers will haul their grain and other goods to it to see it sold and carried elsewhere by the merchants. Wine can be made from small, tart grapes grown in the Riverlands.
During the Dawn Age the First Men settled in the Riverlands, coming into conflict with the native children of the forest. After centuries of fighting, a pact was signed at the Isle of Faces, the children withdrew to their forests, while the First Men raised their kingdoms in the lands ceded by the mysterious folk. The Riverlands saw the rise of the Kings of the Rivers and Hills. During the thousand years that followed, various families ruled the Riverlands. Many dynasties claimed these lands during the Age of Heroes, including the Brackens, the Blackwoods and the Mudds, who were the last of the First Men to claim the Riverlands as their own. Their time came to an end with the coming of the Andal invasion. At this time, King Tristifer IV of House Mudd, raised his armies and met the Andal invaders. King Tristifer was said to have won 99 out of his 100 battles against the Andals; in the final battle he was killed. His son and successor, Tristifer V was not as successful as his father and the kingdom fell. The Andals raised their own petty kingdoms and for a long time the Riverlands were the kingdom of native Andal dynasties, including the Teagues, the Fishers and the Justmans. The sons of a River King were murdered in the Bloody Keep of Pyke in the Iron Islands 700 years before Aegon's Landing. The last native king was killed by Stormland invaders about 360 years before Aegon's Landing. The Storm Kings in turn were defeated by the Iron King, Harwyn Hardhand, who established his own kingdom from the Iron Islands to the Riverlands. Two generations later, Harwyn's grandson, Harren the Black, ordered the construction of an immense castle, Harrenhal, as a display of his wealth and power. Construction of Harrenhal took forty years and a huge amount of resources and money to build. Ironically, the same day the most immense castle in history was finished, Aegon I Targaryen invaded Westeros with his dragons.
King Harren the Black was very unpopular within the Riverlands when Aegon invaded Westeros. Aegon approached a number of lords in the region, convincing them to rebel against Harren; the first to do so was Lord Edmyn Tully, while others included the Mallisters, Brackens, Blackwoods, and Freys. Harren thought if he refused battle Aegon would have to lay siege to the castle. Instead, Aegon let his dragons attack. The heat produced by the dragons was so great that much of Harrenhal burned and melted, killing Harren and his children. After the victory Aegon raised House Tully to dominion over the Riverlands, below the sovereignty of the Targaryens. The Inn of the Kneeling Man on the Red Fork was built where Torrhen Stark, King in the North, is believed to have submitted to Aegon. When the Dance of the Dragons began, the river lords were notoriously quarrelsome and nominally under the rule of House Tully. Most of the river lords supported Rhaenyra Targaryen and the blacks against Aegon II Targaryen and the greens. Prince Daemon Targaryen quickly took Harrenhal and followed up with victories at the Burning Mill and Stone Hedge. The green army from the Westerlands was defeated by three forces from the Riverlands and the North in the Battle by the Lakeshore. In response, Prince Aemond Targaryen and his dragon, Vhagar, burned much of the Riverlands, but Aemond was eventually killed at the Gods Eye by Prince Daemon. Ser Criston Cole, the Kingmaker, led an army of greens through the Riverlands, but they were hampered by the scorched earth tactics of the river lords. The rivermen and their northern allies crushed Cole and his greens in an ambush south of the Gods Eye.
During Robert's Rebellion Hoster Tully, liege lord of the Riverlands, took the side of the rebels; he was already connected with them through the engagement of his daughter Catelyn to Brandon Stark. After Brandon's death, Hoster had Catelyn married to Brandon's younger brother Eddard and his younger daughter Lysa married to Jon Arryn. A number of Lord Tully's vassals remained loyal to the Targaryens, including Darry, Mooton, Goodbrook, and Ryger. Lord Walder Frey arrived late to the Trident in support of the rebels. The Battle of the Trident, which ultimately determined the outcome of Robert's Rebellion, was fought in the Riverlands.
A Game of Thrones
After Catelyn Tully abducts Tyrion Lannister, Lord Tywin Lannister retaliates by sending Ser Gregor Clegane to raid the Riverlands. The Hand of the King, Lord Eddard Stark, tasks Beric Dondarrion with stopping the raiders. Beric's force is ambushed in the Battle of the Mummer's Ford, however, and Gregor continues killing and plundering. Tywin leads a Lannister army and defeats several castles, including Harrenhal, Raventree Hall, and Darry. The Twins and Seagard are noted to be the only two Riverland settlements largely untouched by the fighting. Ser Jaime Lannister's army defeats a Riverland army under the command of Edmure Tully at the Battle of Riverrun and besieges the capital of the Riverlands. Because it is surrounded by the Tumblestone and the Red Fork, Jaime has to set up three camps to lay an effective siege. Meanwhile, Robb Stark gathers the northern bannermen and marches south. At the Twins, he agrees to marry a daughter of Lord Walder Frey in return for crossing of the Green Fork and an alliance with House Frey. Robb sends Lord Roose Bolton southeast. While Tywin defeats Roose in the Battle of the Green Fork, this allows Robb to head southwest toward Riverrun. Robb surprises Jaime's army in the Battle of the Whispering Wood and the Battle of the Camps, liberating Edmure and Riverrun and taking Jaime prisoner. At Riverrun, the gathered northern and river lords proclaim Robb to be king.
A Clash of Kings
After the defeat of Jaime, Tywin brings his army to Harrenhal instead of King's Landing. Robb Stark, King of the Trident, allows the river lords to leave Riverrun and retake their castles from the Lannisters. Sending Ser Cleos Frey as an envoy, Robb claims the lands watered by the Trident and its tributaries, bounded by the Golden Tooth to the west and the Mountains of the Moon to the east. However, the acting Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister, rejects Robb's territorial demands. The river lords burn their crops to prevent the Lannisters from taking them, while Tywin has foragers burn villages and slay smallfolk. Robb takes the northern horse and some of the Freys to raid the Westerlands. While Robb is away, his mother, Catelyn Tully, frees Jaime Lannister in the hope that he will free her daughters, Sansa and Arya, who she believes are held hostage in King's Landing. Unknown to Catelyn, however, Arya has been traveling incognito through the war-torn Riverlands. Roose Bolton is able to recover Harrenhal and other territory in the Riverlands when Tywin leaves to defend the Westerlands from Robb. Tywin marches west, but is turned back by Edmure at the Battle of the Fords. Tywin then heads southeast to King's Landing to defend his grandson, King Joffrey Baratheon, from Joffrey's uncle, Stannis Baratheon. As a reward for negotiating the alliance between House Lannister and House Tyrell, the Iron Throne grants Harrenhal to Petyr Baelish and names him Lord Paramount of the Trident. Petyr remains in King's Landing, however.