After the ending of Game of Thrones, it seems as if House Stark finally managed to come out victorious in the game of thrones. The North is independent, Sansa Stark is Queen in the North, and even King's Landing has become the seat of a Stark king. But, as any fan who has watched the series knows, House Stark hasn't always been on top.
Yet some fans know it better than others. Those who read the books know considerably more about House Stark and the plight of the Starks of Winterfell. With ancient ties to magic, considerably different endings, and a much more detailed history, the books carry many meaningful details about the coldest of the Great Houses.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
10 Wargs And Skinchangers
While the show version of the Starks only has Bran as a skinchanger, the books revealed that each and every one of the younger generation actually had the ability to skinchange — with the exception of Sansa, given Lady's early death. Though Bran was clearly the most powerful, going so far as to skinchange into a human being, the others were no slouches.
It's a detail that adds to the importance of the direwolves and their magical ties to the Stark children. It also explains how painful it must have been for Arya when Nymeria rejected her or for Rickon and Sansa when Shaggydog and Lady died. The wolves truly were parts of them, and they were all wed for life.
9 Rickon Rides With Unicorns
While the show did send Rickon to the Skagosi islands, what many fans may not know is just what that island is like. Though it's known to be a horrifying place with cannibals behind every tree, it's also a mystical island filled with unicorns. Of course, the unicorns aren't exactly the creatures of fable.
In the Game of Thrones universe, magical creatures are little more than extraordinarily powerful weapons. So unicorns aren't blaring white animals with bright pink horns. Instead, they're shaggy goat-like creatures with long and deadly spikes protruding from their heads, and Rickon could easily have ridden one into battle.
8 Catelyn Came Back To Life
After the Red Wedding, one of the most unexpected Game of Thrones events, most show fans thought it was the end of Catelyn Stark. In reality, Catelyn was returned to life to wander the Riverlands and slaughter any member of Houses Frey and Lannister that she came across.
While the show never depicted the undead Catelyn and her stone-hearted rage, it's possible that she continues her crusade across her brother's lands, hunting down any of House Stark's enemies that her daughter failed to eliminate at the Twins. If so, it must be a terrifying sight indeed.
7 Not Always Honorable
While most fans know House Stark as honorable, thanks to Ned Stark's character and personality, it hasn't always been a house that prided itself on its honor. In fact, most of the historical Starks were incredibly cold and unforgiving, going so far as to war with their fellow houses and rule with an iron fist.
Ned Stark's honor largely came from having been fostered at the Eyrie with House Arryn, who rely on the house words "As high as honor." It goes to show how he grew up the way he did and also why he imparted the lessons of honor to his children. Still, Ned was far from a typical Stark, and his wild brother Brandon fit the bill considerably better than he did.
6 Kings For Thousands Of Years
Despite having devolved into a rather small size through the year, the Stark lineage traces back thousands of years. Once the Kings of Winter, the Starks reigned for millennia over the harsh northern lands, and they ensured the survival of their line through constant wars and brutal commands.
It's part of why Robb's bannermen wanted to raise him to the seat of a king: It was the historical position of the Starks. In fact, they had only been lords and wardens for a few hundred years, after the Targaryens came. Though they're the poorest of the Great Houses, they're certainly the most respected, thanks to their long rule.
5 Multiple Hands To The King
Though Ned Stark is well known as the Hand to King Robert Baratheon, he wasn't the first Stark to have been the Hand of the King. After the Dance of the Dragons, which is likely to be depicted in House of the Dragon, Cregan Stark served as the Hand of the King to Aegon III Targaryen.
Cregan was a harsh ruler who ordered countless deaths during an unsurprisingly short reign. Somehow, both Stark Hands served relatively short services for very different reasons. Cregan, at least, survived his time as Hand and successfully returned to Winterfell to continue serving as Warden of the North.
4 Killed The Night's King
Unlike the Night King in the show, the Night's King was once a Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, who may have married a White Walker. After intending to use the captive Night's Watch as his own personal army, the Night's King was attacked by the Starks and their bannermen and summarily was wiped from history.
So, given that Arya killed the Night King, it seems that the Starks managed to kill two different rulers of the night. It's also possible that the original Night's King was a member of the Starks, given how swiftly and thoroughly they wiped his name from history.
3 Stark Ages
While it's one of the best changes the show made, the current generation of Starks is actually much younger than it appears on-screen. With Robb starting off the series at a mere 14 years and Bran no more than eight, the entire family is actually incredibly young.
It contributes to the tragedy of the series that Robb was thrust into a war at 14, Sansa into a marriage at 12, and Arya to the streets at nine. Even poor Rickon found himself orphaned and homeless as a four-year-old. It shows the brutality of Westeros and how little they care for the lives of even children.
2 Never A Navy
There's a reason that the Starks and the North were vulnerable to attack by the Iron Fleet when Theon Greyjoy came to attack Winterfell. After Brandon the Shipwright was lost at sea, thousands of years before the main series, the next King of Winter, Brandon the Burner, set fire to the entire Northern Navy in a promise to never to see the Starks at sea again.
It shows why the Starks were so utterly devastated by a naval attack, and it also shows how reactive and wild the Starks could be. Just from losing one Stark, the entire family agreed to never set sail again, which was devastating to their defenses with the Iron Islands so near. Yet, in the same vein, it's a testament to the love the family holds for each other.
1 Blood Of The First Men
Given how far back the Starks can trace their lineage, they're actually descendent of the First Men of Westeros. It's the reason that the Starks hold to the Old Gods, the practice of the king rejecting the use of an executioner, and the concept of indisputable guest rights.
So in a way, through guest rights, the First Men are the reason that Walder Frey was able to trap Robb Stark. Yet they're also the reason Jon Snow was able to survive among the wildlings, as Ygritte immediately recognized that they both shared the blood of the First Men. In that way, while it can be detrimental to the Starks of Winterfell, it also saved their lives.