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On Sunday night, as legions of Game of Thrones fans watched the united North take on the Night King and his hordes of wights and ice zombies, we watched many brave soldiers and royals fall in the Battle of Winterfell.
**SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3, "The Long Night."**
As one of the first casualties of the Battle of Winterfell, Lyanna Mormont went down in a suitably brutal and heroic way. As the wights climbed Winterfell's walls and invaded the castle's safest enclosures, a giant stepped over the wall, crushing soldiers in his path. Lyanna, not one to go down without a fight, was grabbed by this giant, who squeezed the life out of her. But she didn't go before she delivered a killing blow to the giant's eye. She'll be remembered and revered as a hero by both her fellow fighters and Game of Thrones fans alike.
Lyanna had the blood of warrior women in her veins. She became lady of Bear Island at the age of 10 after her mother fell in combat fighting for Robb Stark in the War of the Five Kings. She was an inspiration. If a little girl in full armor can charge toward a massive zombie giant and take him out in her final breath, you can definitely do whatever it is you thought you were afraid of doing.
One could never approach Lyanna Mormont assuming that she’d play nice. If you believed she’d go along with whatever you said because she was just a child — kind of like Jon and Sansa did when they first confronted her — you were sorely mistaken.
Unlike Joffrey or Tommen or Robin Arryn, Lyanna was no figurehead, with lords and ladies making decisions in her name in hushed voices behind locked doors. Lyanna was a leader to the marrow of her bones. Men five times her age would do as she commanded, or else.
“If they’re half as ferocious as their lady,” Davos Seaworth said of Lyanna's men, “the Boltons are doomed.”
The girl ruler carried her loyalty to Winterfell like a weapon. Her words were daggers. When Stannis Baratheon cowered in Castle Black and sent ravens throughout the North bearing messages for all the noble houses to join his cause, he received a simple and cutting answer from House Mormont: “Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark.”
Stannis got his because Lyanna could smell traitors and liars from across Westeros. He wasn’t the only one to get slashed by proverbial bear claws, either. When Ramsay Bolton tried to convince the Starks that he’d pardon treason from every other house in the North if everyone just ditched their weapons, she gave him a scowl that was no doubt burned in his memory until he ended up getting eaten alive by his own dogs.
When she found out the Night King was creeping up on Winterfell with his undead army, Lyanna’s command wasn’t just for grown men to train for battle, but for anyone, male or female, over the age of 10 to strap on their gauntlets and start getting ready. Anyone who was able to lift a sword could wield it. You kind of get used to these things when you take ownership of a noble House at 10.
By the way, you have to wonder about that little girl, even younger than Lyanna, who insisted she could fight as she waited for her bowl of soup in the freezing cold. That wasn’t the voice of some princess-in-training. She settled for guarding the crypt, but there was no way that girl wasn't from Bear Island.
Lyanna left this mortal coil in the only way she would have deemed acceptable. She fought more fiercely than most men and had the courage to run and face an undead giant head-on while screaming like a banshee. It takes a certain kind of person to strike a deathblow even as they are gasping their last breath.
Rest in peace, Lyanna. The North Remembers.