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When we look at the surnames prevalent in other Kingdoms, they appear to be based on whatever object that Kingdom is famously associated with:

  1. Snow for North because of their severe winters and summer snows. Basically they have Snow the whole year.

  2. Hill for Westerlands because the country is full of hills.

  3. Flowers for Reach because the country is famous for its fertile lands, gardens and vineyards.

  4. Storm for Stormlands because the Kingdom is famous for its violent and frequent Storms.

  5. Rivers for Riverlands because of the mighty River Trident and its tributaries that water this Kingdom.

  6. Sand for Dorne because it is the only part of Westeros which has deserts.

  7. Waters for Crownlands seems to be fairly new and presumably that refers to the Narrow Sea it adjoins and the fact that it has major ports like Duskendale, King's Landing, Driftmark, Dragonstone etc.

  8. Stone for Vale (Vale and Mountain is the full name) because of all her mountains and stony terrains.

"Pyke" stands out in this company because it is an Island on the Iron Islands. One might have expected the bastard surname for Iron Isles to be something like Iron for their Iron mines or Salt for all the Sea-salt. Or is it just how the Westerosi spell the Pike fish?(No the Pike fish is Pike in ASOIAF) What does GRRM say about this?

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  • 1
    Same question on Reddit and aFoIaF. No canonical answers.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 8:43
  • 6
    Don’t tell him! Commented May 9, 2019 at 9:18
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    The way I saw it, Iron born saw legitimity and family differently than the rest of Westros. In this case It seems they have better opinions of 'Naturals children', so instead of giving them the name of the ground, they give them the name of the castle.
    – dna
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 11:50
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    I think the common factor in all those names is that they are defining geographical features of the kingdom(s), but also they sound nice. Pyke, being one of the most definitive features of The Iron Isles makes sense here. Besides, it's nicer sounding than many of the alternatives from that place.
    – Möoz
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 23:45
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    Pike is a freshwater fish though
    – Sitethief
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 14:17

1 Answer 1

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Unknown, but probably because of how it sounds.

I have not found any evidence for why GRRM chose 'Pyke' as the bastard name on the Iron Isles.

When you say "One might have expected", you are making an assumption. I believe that GRRM just went with what "sounds nice", as he tends to do:

Bale: Where do you get the names of your characters?

GRRM: I make them up. In many cases, they are variants of real names -- Eddard for Edward, for example. They have to have the right "sound," though. It is hard to explain... and hard to do as well.

Bale: I am a big proponent of the theory that "names have power". Not in the fantasy sense, where the holder of a true name can make you stand on your head or somesuch, but in the phonetic sense, for lack of a better description. I feel that names can evoke a feeling about a character, describe a character, better than a whole page devoted to just that.

GRRM: I agree.

You should read some Jack Vance. He's marvelous with names. Tolkien was very good as well.

Bale: So, Where do you get the names of your characters? How do you come up with them? Do you TRY to give characters names that will evoke feelings in the mind of the reader, or is that just a lucky coincidence?

GRRM: You want the names to be evocative, yes.

- So Spake Martin, #1235 [emphasis mine]

Also, in-universe "Pyke" is synonymous with the Iron Isles, so it would definitely fit within the reason of identifying a bastard from a specific location.

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    The final paragraph is pure circular reasoning. It's only synonymous with the Iron Isles because it's their bastard surname.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Feb 6 at 9:31
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    Pyke is not synonymous with the Iron Islands; it's the name of the Greyjoy castle. The use of "Pyke" as the noble bastard name would be a case of metonymy (name of the castle -> name of those who live there -> name of those produced by those who live there).
    – chepner
    Commented Feb 6 at 14:54

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