Ravens are a species of large, black-feathered birds native to Westeros. Westerosi ravens are similar to common ravens of Earth, only with better homing instincts. Like carrion crows, ravens often scavenge from the dead.
- See also Images of Ravens
Ravens are used by maesters of the Citadel to carry messages between castles and other settlements. While doves and pigeons can also be trained to carry messages, ravens are stronger flyers, larger, bolder, far more clever, and better able to defend themselves against hawks. Owls and hawks can still be threats to ravens, however. During wartime, soldiers often attempt to shoot down messenger ravens.
The maester of each castle usually tends to its own flock of ravens, breeding and training them. Ravens sometimes imitate human speech like parrots. Maesters can teach the speech of ravens. Maesters raise a breed of large of white ravens at the Citadel that are said to be more intelligent and are sent out to mark the change of seasons.
Most ravens are trained to fly to a specific castle, but some can be taught to fly between two castles and are therefore greatly prized. Maybe once a century, a particularly clever raven might be able to fly to as many as five castles upon command.
Jeor Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, has a pet raven that talks. Tytos Blackwood, Lord of Raventree Hall, wears a cloak of raven feathers. Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, wears a bronze-and-iron helm with raven wings, and Bluetooth also owns a raven-winged helm. Tyanna of the Tower, the mistress of whisperers to Maegor I Targaryen, was known as "the king's raven" because of her hair. Lord Brynden Rivers was known as Bloodraven because of a red birthmark which some believed to resemble a raven. Red Raven is a galley of the royal fleet.
The children of the forest taught the First Men to use ravens to communicate over long distances. The greenseers of the children could change their skins and speak through the birds. Unlike humans, ravens can speak the True Tongue, the language of the children. Some priests of the Iron Islands believe that ravens are servants of the Storm God. In the Faith of the Seven, the first raven is said to have been let into the world when the Crone peered through the door of death.
There is a dead weirwood of colossal size in the godswood at Raventree Hall in Blackwood Vale. Every evening at dusk hundreds of ravens come and roost on the tree all night, as they have for thousands of years.
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
Since Cressen is no longer able to climb to the rookery, Pylos attends the ravens at Dragonstone. When he announces his claim to the Iron Throne, Stannis Baratheon has Pylos send forth all one hundred seventeen ravens from Dragonstone.
A Storm of Swords
Sam releases the caged ravens during the fight at the Fist, but he forgets to attach messages to them. While retreating to the Wall, he and Gilly are attacked by wights at a village. Hundreds of ravens fly from the village's weirwood and attack the wights, however, and the pair are rescued by Coldhands.
During the election of the new Lord Commander, Mormont's raven flies from a kettle, lands by Jon Snow, and says the word "snow". The inspired men of the Night's Watch soon select Jon as their new leader.
A Feast for Crows
Queen Regent Cersei Lannister has ravens sent throughout the Seven Kingdoms offering lordship to whomever brings her the head of her brother, Tyrion Lannister, who has been convicted of the death of their father, Lord Tywin.
A Dance with Dragons
Lord Roose Bolton sends ravens throughout the north summoning lords to Barrowton for the wedding of Ramsay Bolton and "Arya Stark", although the wedding is eventually moved to Winterfell. Theon Greyjoy spots ravens in the godswood of Winterfell, with the birds thickest at its weirwood.
As Coldhands escorts Bran Stark and his companions north through the haunted forest to the cave of the three-eyed crow, the murder of ravens with the ranger gradually dwindles. A cloud of ravens appears from the cave when Leaf rescues the party from wights. The three-eyed crow teaches Bran how to enter the minds of ravens as a skinchanger. While in Summer, Bran sees ravens among the dead creatures outside of the cave.
—thoughts of Bran Stark
Catelyn: Theon, when you return to my uncle, tell him he is to place his best bowmen around the Twins, day and night, with orders to bring down any raven they see leaving the battlements. I want no birds bringing word of my son's movements to Lord Tywin.
Theon: Ser Brynden has seen to it already, my lady. A few more blackbirds, and we should have enough to bake a pie. I'll save you their feathers for a hat.
Most ravens will eat grain, but they prefer flesh. It makes them strong, and I fear they relish the taste of blood. In that they are like men ... and like men, not all ravens are alike. Doves and pigeons can also be trained to carry messages, though the raven is a stronger flyer, larger, bolder, far more clever, better able to defend itself against hawks ... yet ravens are black, and they eat the dead, so some godly men abhor them.
Varys: I bring dire tidings.
Tyrion: You ought to dress in black feathers, Varys, you're as bad an omen as any raven.
It was the singers who taught the First Men to send messages by raven ... but in those days, the birds would speak the words. The trees remember, but men forget, and so now they write the messages on parchment and tie them round the feet of birds who have never shared their skin.
Behind the Scenes
- So Spake Martin: Ravens, June 11, 1999
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Prologue.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 60, Jon VIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 66, Bran VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 46, Bran VI.
- Fire & Blood, Three Heads Had the Dragon - Governance Under King Aegon I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 52, Jon VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
- The Winds of Winter, Theon I
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houses in the Riverlands
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houses in the Vale
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houses in the Westerlands
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houses on the Iron Islands
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 15, Jon II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 24, Theon II.
- Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- The Sworn Sword.
- The Mystery Knight.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 58, Davos III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
- Fire & Blood, Aegon's Conquest.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 41, Jon V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 18, Samwell I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 56, Bran IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 7, Cersei II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 4, Bran I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 13, Bran II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 61, The Griffin Reborn.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 37, Bran V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.