Theon has been Lord Stark's ward since the Greyjoy Rebellion. He has now come of age and Balon has behaved himself so it would have made sense for Eddard to send him home, or at least ask Robert to clarify his position. There seems little point in making him stay at Winterfell.

  • I would assume it is because having ones only and eldest son is one hell of a bargaining chip. And as it was related to the politics, Robert would need to be the one to give permission for it. Add to that that at the start of the story, Theon is 15. (I am unsure when Eddard considers people 'of age')
    – Amber
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 15:21
  • He expects Robb (also 15) to function as the Stark in Winterfell so informally I think Theon must be considered to have come of age. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 15:56
  • Actually Theon is 19 so most definitely come of age. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


Theon wasn't being kept as a reward for Balon if he behaved well, Theon was a hostage to be used against Balon if he misbehaved.

With that in mind, consider what was happening at the time. The King's Hand has just died, and Eddard receives hints that it may not have been natural. Robert has come to visit Eddard and ask for his help. This is a time of stress for the kingdom. Why would Eddard or Robert even consider removing what they consider to be powerful leverage against dangerous neighbors?

  • Eddard doesn't deal in political realities but in duty and honour. He took Theon as his ward at Robert's request and now the boy is on the verge of manhood. He can't keep him as a ward any longer. He would have surely raised the matter with Robert who would have probably told him to bring Theon with them, or send him home. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 15:55
  • 2
    Holding Theon is his duty and honor to protect his kingdom. There was no agreement I know of to hand Theon back when he was a man - indeed, if this wiki is correct he already is at the start of GoT. (I don't have the books here now to confirm Theon was ten when he was taken.)
    – Nathan
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 16:17

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