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Noble houses naming

Tarron Zeng

After watching some videos about the A Song of Ice and Fire noble houses, I did some research on the naming of the noble houses. So far I have found two such naming noble houses:

1. Original surnames: Noble houses that have their own surnames. Examples include Hapsburg, Capet, Plantagenet, Rothschild, Borgia etc.

2. Surnames based on location: Noble houses surnames that are based on the ruling fief. Examples include La Fayette, etc.

So, which do you think is more suited for naming noble houses?
I think a mix of the two are appropriate, because both can establish rather organically in a setting. I would just utilize whatever feels appropriate for your characters' backstories and for the cultural signifigance you want your readers to understand.

If the name is regional, What's the signifigance of the region? How will this be communicated to your audience? And, as far as surnames go, if you trace the origins far enough back in time, the surnames often end up being much older words for landmarks and regions, or occupations. I'm not an etymologist, but I'm sure it's fascinating to research stuff like that.

I personally have a huge variety of "Noble Houses" with a lot of varied histories and origins in my WIP. I'm not too worried about 'historical' accuracies because what quantifies noble houses in this storyline is based on ancient or modern meritocracies, not divine rights or implied divine lineages.


If you have prominent characters who belong to that noble house, use surnames. It’ll help the reader keep track of who belongs to what house.
Otherwise, you should focus on making the names easy to remember and/or descriptive. For the reader’s sake.
I'm more or less agreeing with others here.

You can use either method or both methods, and what you might consider most is how the name will not only remind the reader of who belongs to which house, but also will keep certain info about the character and/or house in the forefront of the reader's mind.

Names are like any word. There'll be connotations and a lot of meaning wrapped up in a name. So for instance if the most villainous house in your story has its manor or castle located in an unusual or prominent geographical area (or near a prominent landmark), you might consider picking a surname reinforcing this. Otoh, if the history of your world includes some prominent historical figure or legend, perhaps you can use a surname derived from that figure's name for a house that associates itself with that legend.

But this can work both ways. If you have a surname you already like, you can invent a history for it or even give a geographical feature that name. Or, you could just let your story create that legend via your characters, without doing anything else, and let various associations build. (For instance, I don't recall anything special about the name "Lannister," but now that name evokes so much for me, heh.)