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This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8.
The Battle of Winterfell has come and gone.
Many fans spent the better part of the last decade discussing what the final showdown with the Night King might look like. Now we know. Many of the things people expected happened—the crypts did, in fact, go all “Thriller” on us—as a massive dragon battle tore through the skies over Winterfell and a genuinely devastating number of lives were lost.
In the wake of the war to end all Westerosi wars, another battle has yet to be fought. Daenerys Targaryen may have lost a painful number of troops to the Night King’s army, but she isn’t finished yet. The last two episodes of the series will see the final battle fought between two queens. In light of the sometimes overwhelmingly epic nature of this series, we’re taking a look at which troops each queen has fighting for her.
The armies taking part in the final battle
Each queen is bringing an impressive number of troops into the final fight. Between what remains of the Unsullied, Cersei’s recently arrived mercenary group the Golden Company, and the split Westerosi houses, thousands of fighters are set to join the fight for the Iron Throne. Here’s who we can expect to see sporting Lannister red and who’s more likely to wear Daenerys’ darker hues.
Before the Night King’s army dominated her attention, Daenerys was fighting to win the respect of the northern lords. She brought a massive army along from Essos, but many of those involved lost their lives in the battle with the dead. As she turns her attention to the threat to the south, what remains of Dany’s army will certainly have their work cut out for them.
1) The Unsullied
Though their numbers may be diminished, the Unsullied amount to the most significant number of troops in Dany’s military force. These superior soldiers were created for the sole purpose of warfare. Trained as slaves by the masters in Astapor, the Unsullied are lauded for their elite fighting abilities. When she left Essos, Dany brought with her the 8,000 Unsullied and 5,000 boys in training that she stole from Astapor—minus those that lost their lives to the turmoil in Meereen. We can estimate that upwards of 10,000 Unsullied hit the fields for the Battle of Winterfell.
The elite fighters took a heavy hit during the battle; they lost half their numbers to the dead. That means Dany is bringing significantly fewer Unsullied into her battle with Cersei than she intended. Still, the Unsullied are considered impressive warriors worldwide. Even a few of these capable soldiers will greatly boost Dany’s chances in the final fight.
2) The North
The North has suffered heavy losses throughout the course of Game of Thrones. They’ve been swearing troops to various Kings in the North since season 1, and half of the remaining fur-clad warriors were struck down by the Night King’s wights. Still, a few of these vicious men and women still live to fight for their newly sworn Queen.
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Many of the Northern lords are hesitant to join with the Dragon Queen, however. Perhaps the most vocal dissenter is Sansa Stark, who has repeatedly noted the North’s desired status. Jon Snow made his intentions clear in the fourth episode of season 8, however, when he repeatedly reminded his companions that he’d sworn himself—and therefore all of the North—to Dany.
The knowledge of Jon’s true parentage has the potential to throw everything into chaos, but for now, what is left of the North is sworn to fight for Dany. A number of the houses still have plenty of men to pledge, even after their losses in the constant Game of Thrones warfare. Houses Glover, Reed, and Tully all have men left, not to mention the Knights of the Vale. There are surely some Mormont men left as well, and if their late leader is any example, they really do fight “with the strength of 10 mainlanders.”
Dany only has one dragon left. Let that devastating fact sink in for a moment.
OK, deep breath. Drogon was always portrayed as the largest, smartest, and most loyal of Daenerys’ scaly children. Arrows and spears have already been shown to do little, if any, damage to the only remaining dragon. The ease with which Rhaegal was shot down, however, creates a real sense of fear regarding Drogon’s survival odds. If a scorpion bolt or two is all it takes to down a dragon, Cersei’s troops are well equipped to rid Dany of her last child.
That being said, a single dragon is still equal to a truly impressive number of men. With some armor—both dragons ultimately went down from a hit to the neck—Drogon would be nigh-unstoppable. His devastating power was on full display in the season 7 episode “The Spoils of War,” when he demolished the Lannister troops. If he unleashes a similar level of ruin upon Cersei’s men, or Euron’s fleet, we are unlikely to see many survivors.
4) Yara and the Iron Fleet
Yara has a score to settle. The Iron Born rebel was shaken up last time we saw her, but fans everywhere are hoping to see her familiar fire when she next appears on-screen. Recovered from Euron’s captivity, Yara has been reunited with her men for several episodes now. She traveled back to the Iron Isles with what meager forces remained to her and retook the unprotected land.
That means that Yara has added any Iron Born left in their homelands still in fighting condition. While it seems likely Euron took every man that he possibly could, Yara’s troops should get a boost from her countrymen. They may not have anything resembling a fleet anymore, but Yara’s Iron Born may end up turning the tides of the inevitable battle against Euron’s Iron Born and the Golden Company.
The young blacksmith that escaped King’s Landing back in season 1 got quite the upgrade this season. Now Lord Gendry Baratheon of Storm’s End, newly legitimized, has control over what remains of the Baratheon forces. Many of Stannis’ men were wiped out in the fight—if you can call it that—with Ramsay Bolton.
Still, we can assume that Stannis left a number of his men behind. Young Stormlands men have also been coming of fighting age during the long years that passed since the War of Five Kings. Any of the remaining troops in this southeastern region of Westeros are now sworn to Gendry. In turn, Gendry is sworn to the queen who legitimized him, which adds any remaining Stormland troops to her army.
The status of Dorne has been in question for more than a season. In the season 7 episode “The Queen’s Justice,” Cersei finally got her hands on Ellaria Sand and her daughter Tyene. The two—or, more likely, the one—have been languishing in a prison cell in King’s Landing ever since. Last episode, we found out that a new, unidentified prince has taken power in the southern region—and promised his military might to the Dragon Queen.
Ellaria promised her troops to Daenerys after usurping Dorne’s former leader, Doran Martell. Ellaria, the Sand Snakes, and Yara were on their way to Dorne when Euron struck. He captured Ellaria and Yara and killed many of the others. Since the Dornish troops have not yet joined the battle, they’ve taken minimal losses thus far in the Westerosi wars. If Oberon’s impressive fighting is any example of Dornish prowess, the southern troops could make a huge difference in the final fight.
7) The Brotherhood Without Banners
This ragtag group of outlaws has been showing up since the very first season of Game of Thrones. Inadvertently formed by Eddard Stark at the outset of the War of Five Kings, the group is comprised of capable warriors. They became a guerilla fighting group over the years, consistently working to hamstring Lannister efforts. More than anything, they dedicated their time to protecting the common folk of Westeros.
When they discovered the threat to the north, many of the Brotherhood chose to follow Beric Dondarrion into the fight against the dead. We saw Beric fight bravely against the Night King’s wights, ultimately sacrificing his life to pay for Arya Stark’s. He was the only recognizable face from the Brotherhood in the Battle of Winterfell, so we don’t know how many of them survived. If any did, however, they are sure to join Dany and continue their campaign against the Lannisters.
8) The Three-Eyed Raven
We can’t know for sure that Bran will choose to use his infinite wisdom to aid Dany—he hasn’t really used it thus far—but we can’t ignore the possibility. If he chose to, say, be useful for once, Bran could be a huge help to Daenerys and her men. Given all that he knows, Bran would be able to help Dany’s advisors insurmountably. With Bran’s access to information, he and Varys could feed Dany every bit of information she might need to conquer the Seven Kingdoms once and for all.
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Let’s also not forget the youngest Stark girl—killer of the Night King, wearer of many faces,and ultimate badass of Westeros. Could be, Arya is all the Northern army really needs. It wouldn’t be completely unheard of for the show to end with Arya and the Hound casually riding down to King’s Landing, stealing Cersei’s face and commanding the Lannister troops to stand down.
While the north was busy fighting to save every living creature in Westeros, Cersei was beefing up her army. The southern monarch turned her back on the great war to better prepare her fight for the Iron Throne. With all the work Cersei has been doing, Dany and our other heroes to the north have quite the fight ahead of them.
1) Lannister troops
At no point have the Lannister troops been found wanting. Throughout the series thus far, red-and-gold-clad Lannister men have been a force to be reckoned with—unless they were going up against a dragon, of course.
The Lannister’s boast around 20,000 troops. It’s hard to say how many of those have been lost in the numerous battles and conflicts throughout the series. They certainly lost a chunk in the season 7 episode “The Spoils of War,” when Dany and Drogon tore through them in a deluge of flame. Even assuming their numbers have been cut in half, however, the Lannisters bring a number of capable and well-equipped warriors to the final battle.
This mercenary group has a reputation for never losing a battle. Comprised of 20,000 skilled sellswords and 2,000 horses, the organization is a force to be reckoned with. There was a brief hope toward the beginning of the season that they might change their loyalties upon discovering the threat to the north, but no such luck.
Between their fleet, their numbers and their military expertise, the Golden Company has the potential to be Cersei’s biggest trump card in the final fight.
3) Euron and his Iron Fleet
Everyone’s least favorite uncle has proven himself annoyingly capable as a warrior, and seaman. Through the last two seasons, he’s decimated Dany’s ships several times over, capturing multiple beloved characters in the process. His fleet—equipped with those dragon-killing scorpions—is still going strong, and Dany has very few seafaring troops left.
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As far as we’ve seen, the only ships left to Dany will come courtesy of Yara’s Iron Fleet. Euron’s men have proven themselves quite capable against their fellow Iron Born, but now Yara has a score to settle. Combined with the grudge that he awoke in Dany last episode, Euron has his work cut out for him.
4) The Reach
The second-largest region in Westeros used to be ruled over by the Tyrells. When the ancient house fell, the capitol Highgarden and the rest of its lands became Cersei’s. Responsibility for this fertile land was handed over to the Tarlys after the Lannister’s victory. Unfortunately, its status was again thrown into question after Randyll and Dickon Tarly were put to death by Daenerys.
With their deaths, Samwell Tarly’s younger sister Talla became the Lady of Horn Hill and head of House Tarly. While she may not be ready for the responsibility, that conceivably puts her in control of all the armies of the Reach, since Highgarden was promised to her father. With his death, however, the region is more likely in a power vacuum. If Dany’s side wins, the area has been promised to Ser Bronn of the Blackwater.
5) The Westerlands
The Westerlands have long been Lannister turf. Long before Cersei married Robert Baratheon, the Lannisters ruled from Casterly Rock. This small region boasts a far bigger population than many of the larger areas in Westeros. Thanks to its access to precious metals, this area is second only to the Reach in wealth. And as such, Westerlands troops are some of the best equipped in the land. The capital of the Westerlands fell to Daenerys’ Unsullied in season 7, but the region is still under Lannister control. That means that all of the Westerlands well-outfitted armies will likely fight for Cersei.
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Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.