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House Frey of the Crossing is a noble House of the Riverlands in A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones. Though the franchise is famous for having mostly morally ambiguous characters and factions most of House Frey is villainous, having been the main perpetrators of the Red Wedding, one of the greatest atrocities in the series. However, there are some likable Freys, like Roslin, Stevron, Perwyn, Amerei, Olyvar, Alesander, and others, mostly being women and children, with some grown up men and boys.
The Freys were founded about 600 years before the series began, when a petty Lord built a bridge over the Green Fork. Eventually the crossing was expanded into twin castles, one on either side of the river, hence the Frey's seat of power is known as the Twins. The Freys also use the title Lord of the Crossing.
The current Head of House Frey is Walder Frey who at the beginning of the series is 89, and has been married seven times. He has over a hundred descendants, trueborn and bastard-born. For his 90th nameday Walder Frey takes his eighth wife, Joyeuse Erenford, who is over 70 years younger then him. Many of the Freys share the weaselly appearance of their common ancestor Walder Frey.
War of the Five Kings
When Tywin Lannister attacks the Riverlands Walder Frey doesn't answer his liege lord Hoster Tully's calling the banners. After the death of Robert Baratheon the Lannisters usurp the throne through Joffrey Baratheon. When Robb Stark marches south Walder Frey refuses to let his army across. He claims he would be breaking oaths to the crown by fighting the Lannisters, even though when the Tullys first called him Robert wasn't dead so Walder wouldn't have been breaking his oaths. Robb is forced to make terms with him, agreeing to marry a Frey and betrothing his younger sister Arya Stark to one of Walder Frey's sons, Elmar. Two of Walder Frey's grandsons, Big Walder Frey and Little Walder Frey, are sent to be fostered at Winterfell, and Walder Frey's 18th son Olyvar Frey becomes Robb's squire. The Freys join Robb Stark and later proclaim him King in the North with the other Northern and Riverlands nobility.
When Robb attacks the Westerlands Ser Stevron Frey, Walder Frey's eldest child and heir to the Twins, is wounded and later dies in his tent. This means Stevron's eldest son, Ryman Frey, becomes heir.
When Stannis Baratheon is defeated at the Blackwater by Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell, the Freys at Harrenhal with Roose Bolton fear Robb will lose the war and try to find a way out. Later they receive news that Robb has broken the marriage pact, marrying Jeyne Westerling to protect her honor after taking her virginity. The Freys leave Robb's cause. Olyvar Frey wishes to remain with Robb, but is forced to leave by his kin.
The Red Wedding
The Freys agree to join Robb again if his uncle Edmure Tully, Lord of Riverrun, marries Roslin Frey, Walder Frey's daughter by his sixth wife. However the wedding is a trap. At what becomes known as the Red Wedding, Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn Stark, and most of their army are murdered by the Freys and the Boltons. Edmure Tully and many other nobles are taken captive.
For this Walder Frey's second son Emmon Frey is made Lord of Riverrun, one of his granddaughters Amerei Frey is to marry Lancel Lannister who has been made Lord of Darry (Amerei's mother was a member of the now extinct House Darry), and another Frey girl marry Ser Daven Lannister. Roose Bolton, who has been made Warden of the North for his part in the Red Wedding, personally murdering Robb Stark, has married another of Walder Frey's granddaughters, "Fat" Walda Frey, one of Amerei's sisters, after Walder offered him the weight in silver of a Frey girl as their dowry. Roose takes a Frey force under two of Walder Frey's sons, Aenys Frey and Hosteen Frey, north to help him take control.
However the Frey's treachery, especially as they broke guest right, one of Westeros' most sacred institutions, has won them the enmity of most of the Seven Kingdoms, especially in the Riverlands and North, as the nobles there lost men and relatives at the Red Wedding.
Ryman's second son Black Walder Frey besiges Seagard, forcing Lord Jason Mallister to surrender by threatening to hang their heir Patrek.
Catelyn Stark was murdered at the Red Wedding when one of Walder Frey's sons, Raymund Frey, cut her throat. She was stripped and thrown into the river in a mockery of Tully funeral customs. However she is found by the Brotherhood without Banners, and resurrected by its leader Beric Dondarrion at the cost of his life. Catelyn rises again as Lady Stoneheart, a different figure from Catelyn. She takes control of the Brotherhood and determines to take vengeance on all those she holds responsible for the loss of her family. The Brotherhood begin by capturing one of Walder Frey's great-grandsons Petyr Frey, and demanding a hundred dragons for him. When Walder's ninth son Merrett Frey delivers the ransom, hoping to win the favor of the main Frey branch as Petyr is the youngest son of the current heir to the Twins, he finds Petyr has already been hanged. Merrett tries to justify the Red Wedding and excuse his role. However Stoneheart judges him guilty and he is hanged.
Second Siege of Riverrun
Ryman Frey besieges Riverrun aided by the reluctant Riverlands nobility and the Lannisters under Ser Daven Lannister, who has been made Warden of the West by his cousin Cersei Lannister. It is poorly handled. Ryman spends most of his time drinking and whoring, and each day places Edmure on a gallows, trying to make their uncle Ser Brynden Tully, "the Blackfish", Castellan of Riverrun, surrender the castle. However each day Brynden refuses and Ryman doesn't hang Edmure, not wanting to lose a hostage. Roslin truly loves Edmure. She is pregnant by him and prays for a girl, fearing if she produces a male heir to House Tully her family will kill Edmure. Men from their force frequently go missing, possibly hanged by the Brotherhood.
Jaime Lannister arrives to lift the siege. Seeing Ryman's incompetence he sends him back to the Twins, giving command to Ryman's eldest son Edwyn Frey. He then persuades Edmure to make Brynden surrender Riverrun, threatening to destroy the castle and Edmure's unborn child. However Brynden escapes by swimming under a gate, infuriating Emmon, the new Lord of Riverrun. Jaime then hears from Edwyn that Ryman was hanged within a day's ride of the Twins along with the three Knights and 12 men-at-arms accompanying him. Edwyn suspects his brother to be responsible, though his bastard uncle Walder Rivers says Black Walder is at Seagard Edwyn says they have spies on the camp.
In the North Roose Bolton faces problems due to Stannis Baratheon entering the North. The Northmen despise the Freys for the Red Wedding. Jared Frey, Symond Frey, and Rhaegar Frey take the bones of Ser Wendel Manderly, who was murdered at the Red Wedding, to his father Wyman Manderly, Lord of White Harbor and richest man in the North. Wyman agrees to marry his grandaughters to Rhaegar Frey and another of Walder Frey's grandsons, Little Walder Frey. When Davos Seaworth comes to White Harbor to try and gain support for Stannis Wyman apparently has him executed. However he really executed a criminal with a similar appearance in their place. His other son Ser Wylis Manderly is returned to him and at the feast celebrating their return Wyman reveals to Davos he plans to restore the Starks. Wyman says he will give guest gifts to the Freys, which under the rules of guest right means they will no longer be under his protection. The Freys disappear en route to Winterfell. Wyman brings three huge pies containing meat to the feast at Winterfell, serving pieces to the Freys and Boltons, and eating some himself.
Little Walder Frey is found murdered. Their uncle Hosteen attacks Wyman, leading to a confrontation in which Frey and White Harbor men are killed. Roose sends the Frey and Manderly men out to meet Stannis. When the Freys ride out of Winterfell Aenys falls into a pit trap dug by Mors Umber's boys, breaking his neck. Command falls to his half-brother Hosteen, a fierce fighter but not particularly clever.
In the TV show, House Frey still gains control of the Riverlands in the aftermath of the Red Wedding, but eventually Brynden Tully manages to regain Riverrun. Many houses of the riverlands, such as Blackwood and Mallister, rise in rebellion against the Freys. Since Ryman Frey has been removed from the show, Walder sends Lothar Frey and Black Walder Rivers (a combo character of Black Walder and Walder Rivers, but far less competent) to besiege Riverrun. Like in the books, they use Edmure as a hostage and threaten to kill him of Brynden does not surrender, but they ultimatly don't for the same reasons in the books. The Lannister army is sent to assist the Freys and Jaime arrives to take command and lift the siege. He learns that Roslyn has given birth to a son, whom Jamie threatens to kill if Edmure does not order the Riverrun men to surrender. Edmure, in order to save his son does as Jaime tells him to do and Riverrun is soon under Frey control and a Lannister captain reports that Brynden died fighting, whether or not he is telling the truth or lying is yet to be seen.
However at the celebration feast at the Twins, Jaime reminds Walder that Brynden's capture of Riverrun shows that Walder so far, is not doing his job well in keeping the Riverlands under control. Later, while dining on pie, Walder asks a servant girl where Lothar and Black Walder are. The servant girl replies "They are here, my lord." Walder soon finds a toenail in the pie. The servant says that Walder's sons were not easy to carve and cook, then reveals that she is really Arya Stark. Walder tries to run but Arya grabs Walder and slits his throat, killing him.
Later, Arya disguises herself as Walder and summons all of Walder's sons present at the Twins for a feast. During the toast, she sarcastically mocks them for violating guest rights and tells them that not all Starks were killed. As she tells them this, Walder's sons start clutching their throats, Arya reveals that the wine has been poisoned. As Frey's sons drop dead, Arya removes Walder's disguise and tells the Frey women and servants that if anyone asks them what happened, they should tell them "The North Remembers."
Theories and TV series
In the TV series' Game of Thrones sixth and seventh seasons, Arya Stark somehow entered the Twins without being noticed and managed to kill Lord Walder, Black Walder, and Lame Lothar. Later she killed all male family members of House Frey during a great feast at the Twins, though no male children are seen during the event and it is unknown if Freys who live out of the Twins (Frey squires and knights under other lords, septons, and maesters) were invited as well. This differs from the book version where Arya actually wants only the names of the guilty Frey members, because she doesn't want to kill innocents for the sins of the other relatives (though in the TV version, all those poisoned Freys seems to be the guilty ones). She also personally knew the boy and her former betrothed Elmar Frey. Arya's storyline in the novels is not a revenge plot, but focuses on the drama of her losing her identity, past, and family because she hoped to get revenge, but instead found herself in the trap of the religion of the Faceless Men. In the books, Arya is afraid to become heartless due to her temper or just a tool without any identity and many faces, but she looks at Needle and she remembers who she really is.
In A Song of Ice and Fire Lady Stoneheart is in open conflict against the Freys and the Lannisters in the riverlands, thus if something bad happens at the Twins, the Brotherhood without Banners would be more likely the cause. Stoneheart is a corpse full of hatred and lust for vengeance without any worries about consequences and future. She is perfectly capable of killing every Frey she can find without listening to reason. It doesn't matter how old the person is, or if they were even involved with the Red Wedding: being called "Frey", "Lannister", or "Bolton" is the only reason she needs to kill everyone. A part from that, Lady Stoneheart kills everyone who just happens to work for the Freys and the Lannisters: from knights and squires, to mere men-at-arms and smallfolk workers with their families.
In the upcoming novel The Winds of Winter, something terrible and chaotic might happen at the Twins: with the presence of outlaw Tom of Sevenstrings infiltrated with the Lannisters and Freys during the Second Siege of Riverrun, the Brotherhood without Banners might murder Lord Walder, resulting with chaos and war of succession between male Freys, with Black Walder and Lame Lothar being the most dangerous. Lady Stoneheart might use such chaos to attack the Crossing and kill more Freys indiscriminately, resulting with a massacre worse than the Red Wedding as an act of retaliation. Stoneheart is more concerned with the main responsible for her family loss, the Freys and Lannisters, rather than House Bolton, who are also facing impending doom at the hands of Stannis Baratheon and the rebelling northmen.
- It is theorized by some readers that Black Walder may be responsible for the death of his grandfather Ser Stevron Frey, heir to the Twins and one of the few decent Freys, due to Walder raising him to be a good heir. Stevron was wounded at Oxcross and though apparently fine, died in his tent a few days later. Stevron was over 60 at the time, so he may have simply succumbed to his wounds. However Edwyn's belief that Black Walder was willing to kill his father to move a step closer to inheriting the Twins and Black Walder's presence at Oxcross helps this theory.
- It is widely believed that Little Walder was murdered by his cousin Big Walder. Even though it was snowing outside and Little Walder's blood had frozen, Big Walder was covered in blood. Early on Big Walder makes it clear he intends to become Lord of the Crossing despite being low in the line of succession. He may have also acted in horror at his cousin's cruelties.
- Many readers believe Stannis plans to trick the Frey army into charging onto a frozen lake next to the Crofter's village his army is camped in.
- Another theory is that the Brotherhood without Banners is planning an attack on the Freys. One of their members, Tom Sevenstrings, is stationed in Riverrun currently.