We know from the Game of Thrones episode preview that we will finally meet Sam’s family for the first time. The Tarlys are one of the lesser known houses in the Game of Thrones universe, however they are one of the most important houses as well. The Tarlys aren’t referenced much in the show, only occasionally by Sam and once by Davos and Robert Baratheon. But because of their political alliances, strong leader, and well-trained army, the Tarlys will be a deciding factor in the second half of this season.
Using references from the show and information from George R. R. Martin’s books, this article will explain the importance of the Tarlys and the current members of the family.
Tarly Family History
House Tarly of Horn Hill is the most important vassal to the Tyrells of Highgarden. They have one of the strongest armies within Westeros and are known for being well-trained and fierce fighters.
Throughout its history, the Tarlys have hosted tournaments and have been heavily involved in nearly all political conflicts and wars in Westeros. The Tarlys allied with Renly during The War of the Five Kings and were one of the only houses to reject Stannis after Renly’s death. Their sigil is a huntsman and their words are “First in Battle.”
Current Tarly Family Members
Lord Randyll Tarly: Lord of Horn Hill and head of the family.
Randyll Tarly is a fierce warrior and brilliant tactician. He was the only loyalist general to defeat Robert Baratheon at the Battle of Ashford during Robert’s rebellion against the Mad King. Based on Sam’s descriptions, Lord Randyll apparently has very little use for non warlike pursuits. In the show, Sam describes him as not a very literary man. In the fifth season, Stannis is surprised that Sam is Randyll’s child because Sam is so clearly not a warrior.
Randyll forced Sam to join the Night’s Watch under threat of death. In the first season, Sam describes how Randyll forced him to take the black, “You’re almost a man now, but you’re not worthy of my land and title. Tomorrow you’re going to take the black, forsake all claim to your inheritance and start north. If you do not, then we’ll have a hunt… and somewhere in these woods your horse will stumble and you’ll be thrown from your saddle to die. Or so I’ll tell your mother. Nothing would please me more.”
Melessa Tarly: Wife of Lord Randyll Tarly
Melessa of House Florent is the cousin of Selyse Florent who was married to Stannis Baratheon. Sam describes her much more warmly than his father. She and Sam were much closer than Sam and his father and it’s heavily implied that she doted on him. Sam carried around her thimble while at the Wall until he gave it to Gilly in season 2.
Samwell Tarly: Eldest son of Randyll Tarly
Samwell Tarly is the exact opposite of the firstborn child Randyll desired. Sam had no interest or skill in natural firstborn pursuits, such as swordplay, horseriding, and battle. Rather, Sam focused on books and was very close to his mother. Sam was forced by his father to join the Night’s Watch after his father threatened to kill him and claim it was an accident. Upon joining the Night’s Watch, he and Jon Snow grew very close and Sam was the Lord Commander’s trusted adviser. Sam has a deep connection with the wildling woman Gilly, and even killed a White Walker to protect her. He is heading to the Citadel to become an official Maester.
Dickon Tarly: Fifth child of Randyll Tarly and presumable heir
Dickon Tarly (awful name) is the second son of Randyll Tarly and the favorite child. He was interested in all the things Sam wasn’t growing up. It’s unclear in both the books and show how Dickon treated Sam, but it probably wasn’t great. Dickon excelled at hunting and swordplay. In the books, Dickon was only twelve years old when Sam was sent to the Night’s Watch, but the show will probably accelerate his age, like it did for Robb and Jon, when he appears next episode.
Talla Tarly: Youngest daughter of Randyll Tarly
Talla is the daughter of Randyll and Talla Tarly. Little is written about her in the books and she has yet to appear in the show, but she is close to Sam and Melessa.
Why Do The Tarlys Matter?
The Tarlys will be a major player in the second half of this season for several reasons. First, Randyll Tarly is an excellent general and the Tarly army is known for its skill in battle. Margaery describes them as “House Tarly, who still gives the Reach the best soldiers it has. If Aegon had named them as his lords, the Reach would’ve become the greatest military camp in the world.” Based on the fourth episode of this season, the Tyrell army will be sent to King’s Landing to deal with the High Sparrow threat and Randyll Tarly may be leading them since Mace Tyrell is incompetent.
Dickon will probably seriously object to Gilly’s arrival. Randyll will be nominally polite and taciturn, much like Tywin Lannister, but Dickon will probably see Gilly’s arrival and Sam’s heroics as a potential threat to his succession to becoming the lord. Especially as Gilly describes Sam’s valiant efforts defending Castle Black from Wildlings and being one of only a handful of people to slay a White Walker.
Finally, the Tarly storyline will eventually lead to a standoff between Sam and his father. Their relationship seems parallel to Tywin and Tyrion’s relationship. Tywin rejected Tyrion and blamed him for Tywin’s wife’s death in childbirth. Tyrion tried to prove he was a worthy son to his father, but was never able to. This season could be building towards a similar dynamic between Sam and Randyll. Sam might ultimately have to confront his father in order to protect Gilly. Or, if it is truly a parallel between Lannisters, Sam might be looking to avenge Gilly.
This post was originally written by Patrick Dodd.