"The Rains of Castamere" is a song features in A Song of Ice and Fire and its TV adaptation Game of Thrones, which immortalizes the destruction of House Reyne of Castamere by Tywin Lannister.
House Reyne was obliterated after they rebelled against their liege lord, Tytos Lannister, who was perceived as weak by his own vassals. To restore Lannister dominance, Tytos's son, Tywin, marched against the upstart Lord Reyne. By the end of the rebellion, Castamere had been put to the torch and all members of House Reyne executed. The title is thus a play on words, as the "rains" fall over the empty halls of the "Reynes" who have been killed to the last man.
Lord Tytos Lannister, Tywin's father, had been a kind but weak ruler. He loaned money to lords who never bothered to repay him and his vassals openly ignored his orders and mocked him in court. When Lord Reyne (known as the Red Lion of Castamere) and Lady Ellyn Tarbeck rose in rebellion, Tywin took it upon himself to deal with the rebellion and wiped out both of the upstart lords, their families and households and put their seats of power to the torch.
Some years later after the extinction of House Reyne when Lord Farman of Faircastle grew uncooperative and truculent, Lord Tywin sent an envoy bearing a lute instead of a letter to play “The Rains of Castamere” in Farman's hall, and the latter gave no further trouble.
The lyrics heavily reference the fact that the sigil of House Reyne was also a lion, but a red one instead of the golden lion used as the sigil of House Lannister. The rebellion of the Reynes against the Lannisters was thus seen as a clash of lions.
In the decades since young Tywin reasserted House Lannister's dominance by crushing the Reynes, The Rains of Castemere went on to become very popular with soldiers of the Westerlands, becoming an "anthem" of sorts for House Lannister. This extends to the point that even Western soldiers sometimes refer to it simply as, "the Lannister song".
The song appears multiple times in books, especially before a sudden tragedy or death ocurred.
"The Rains of Castamere" is featured most prominently during the events of the infamous Red Wedding. The song is the signal for the forces of House Frey and House Bolton to turn on the Starks and Tullys and slaughter them. Lady Catelyn Stark is the only one present who recognizes the tune, but by the time she realizes what is happening, it is already far too late; as the song starts, so does the bloodbath that ends the life of King Robb Stark and the rebellions of the North and the Riverlands to the Iron Throne.
The song is played numerous times at the wedding feast of King Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell, not long before the former's death by poison.
Siege of Riverrun
Ser Jaime Lannister has Tom of Sevenstreams play the song to the captive Lord Edmure Tully to remind him what would happen to his family if he does not surrender Riverrun. Later, Edmure was forced to surrender, and the army of Lannisters and Freys marched into Riverrun, but fortunatly, Edmure secretly assist his uncle, Brynden "Blackfish" Tully, to escape.
In A Game of Thrones
The first occurrence of "The Rains of Castamere" in the HBO television series A Game of Thrones is in Season 2's 1st episode "The North Remembers", when Tyrion Lannister whistles the refrain as he enters the small council for the first time. In the ninth episode's scene in which Bronn drinks and sings with his men outside the Red Keep, the song is featured in a more complete form. The song is performed in the closing credits of the 9th episode "Blackwater", by the indie rock band The National, sung by their vocalist Matt Berninger. On the published tracklist of the soundtrack, the title is spelled "The Rains of Castomere" rather than "Castamere" as in the novels. The music was written by Ramin Djawadi and the lyrics by George R. R. Martin. The lyrics had not changed in TV series.
During the Season 3's episode 1 "Dark Wings, Dark Words", Thoros of Myr sings "The Rains of Castamere" when the brotherhood without banners finds Arya Stark. Cersei Lannister relays the history of the song to Margaery Tyrell in the 8th "Second Sons". In Episode 9 "The Rains of Castamere", the famous song is performed by the musicians at the Twins to begin the Red Wedding.
During Season 4's Episode 2 "The Lion and the Rose", the song is performed during the wedding feast of King Joffrey Baratheon, aka the Purple Wedding. It is also performed in the end credits by the band Sigur Rós, whose band members portray the musicians within the episode.
- And who are you, the proud lord said,
- that I must bow so low?
- Only a cat of a different coat,
- that's all the truth I know.
- In a coat of gold or a coat of red,
- a lion still has claws,
- And mine are long and sharp, my lord,
- as long and sharp as yours.
- And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
- that lord of Castamere,
- But now the rains weep o'er his hall,
- with no one there to hear.
- Yes now the rains weep o'er his hall,
- and not a soul to hear.
- And who are you, the proud lord said,