House Words Wednesdays: House Kettleblack
Welcome to House Words Wednesdays! Each week, I take a House without known canon or semi-canon words and present what I think could make sense as that House’s motto. You’re free to suggest more as well, if your favored House has not yet been suggested; take a look at this link to see what has already been suggested, and shoot me an ask through Tumblr if you have another House you’d like to see
House Kettleblack is a family of indeterminate, but probably very low, rank, probably from the Crownlands generally and King’s Landing specifically. The A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide states that the Kettleblacks are a “family of hedge knights and sellswords” with “no holdings in the Crownlands”, whose members are “often found in the service of various lords”. This seems as likely a background as any, though the main novels - probably for good reason - keep the Kettleblacks’ origins murky. When Jaime remarks that he has never heard of Ser Osmund Kettleblack despite knowing of “every hedge knight, freerider, and upjumped squire of any skill” who has ever competed in a tourney, Ser Osmund is at best evasive: the eldest Kettleblack brother claims he served in the Disputed Lands and the Stepstones with a company called the Gallant Men, and was knighted on a battlefield by “Ser Robert … Stone”, though “he’s dead now” (the ellipsis is there in text; Osmund is almost certainly George Glass-ing his knighthood). As fits a hedge knight family, though, the Kettleblacks at least boast a sigil: a black kettle on red, within a black orle.
The Kettleblacks are about as roguish a family as you get in ASOIAF, and time and again they’ve proven themselves utterly unscrupulous and utterly untrustworthy. Cersei begins meeting with the three Kettleblack brothers, Osmund, Osfryd, and Osney, during ACOK, hoping to use them to build her own sellsword force in contrast to Tyrion’s; unbeknownst to Cersei, Tyrion has already bought all three as informants against the queen (especially after Osmund is named to the Kingsguard). What neither Lannister sibling knows, however, is that the Kettleblacks are really in the pocket of Petyr Baelish, who has retained the brothers’ father, Oswell, as his servant, hoping to use the Kettleblack brothers as “three hidden daggers” against the Lannister regime. Fortunately for Littlefinger, Cersei is eager to use the brothers Kettleblack during her AFFC regency, to her own downfall. Her plan - first to have Osney Kettleblack bed Margaery and be sent to the Wall, where he might kill Jon Snow, then to have Osney falsely confess to sex with Margaery so that “the little queen” will be arrested - is fatally complicated by Cersei’s directive to Osney to murder Tyrion’s High Septon and her sleeping with the youngest Kettleblack himself; consequently, the scheme backfires in dramatic fashion when, under torture from the High Sparrow, Ser Osney confesses to sleeping with the widowed queen and killing the former Voice of the Seven. All three Kettleblack brothers are imprisoned as of the end of ADWD, though their ultimate fates remain unknown. (“Alayne I” of TWOW offered a tantalizing hint - old Oswell showing up on a lathered horse to meet with Littlefinger - though whether he brought news of his son’s arrests, their trials, or Cersei’s likely triumph in her own trial is unknown.)
Given that their very surname is a joke - the old “pot calling the kettle black”, probably in reference to (at least) Cersei using Osney to charge/frame Margaery for the very thing Cersei herself was doing for years as queen, sleeping with a Kingsguard knight - I would think the Kettleblack words have to be a joke too. Thus, the words I chose for our dear Kettleblacks are So Forged, Always Firm. A good kettle would have to be firm to have any worth, but if there’s one thing the Kettleblack brothers are not, it’s firmly loyal. Jaime’s assessment - that Ser Osmund “fought for anyone who would pay” him - is an accurate summary of all the Kettleblacks; their bodies, minds, and souls are always up for the highest bidder, and no bidder is too sacred to be replaced. Even Littlefinger complains to Sansa that “the lads are far too treacherous”, with Osmund “especially unreliable” since he was named to the Kingsguard. They’re as unreliable kettles as you could scour up, and as Osney’s confession under torture demonstrated, they’re never so firm as not to crack.
Let me know what you think of these words for House Kettleblack. Next week goes to an extinct House, another family whose unfortunate fate was to rule Harrenhal.