Characters: A Song Of Ice And Fire The Free Folk
This is a listing of wildling characters that appear in the Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Visit here for the main character index.
The Free Folk are the people who live beyond the Wall. They are more commonly referred to as "wildlings" everywhere south of the Wall.
There are tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Free Folk split into hundreds of cultures, tribes, clans, villages and raiding parties, some reasonably cultured, others savage and hostile. The Free Folk refer to themselves in that way to differentiate themselves from the "kneelers," the people south of the Wall, subject to lords and kings. The Free Folk view the "kneelers" as lacking freedom, whereas the people of the Seven Kingdoms view the "wildlings" as lawless and primitive killers, rapists and thieves.
Due to their isolation from the rest of Westeros, they remain a free people, free of states, free of nobles, kings, and laws but those of their own choosing, following whatever leader they please. They believe that the gods made the earth for all men to share and when the kings came with their crowns and their steel swords, they stole it - by claiming it was all theirs and theirs alone.
Tropes related to the Free Folk:
- Action Girl: The role of the spearwife in general.
- Always Chaotic Evil: To the Seven Kingdoms. The truth is much more complicated.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Wildings will follow whoever is the strongest. Things like gender, age, birth order, and lineage mean little to them.
- Best Her to Bed Her: Wildling women believe that a man must be able to kidnap her to be worthy of marrying. And if they don't like who kidnapped them, they will just slit his throat at night.
- Fire Keeps It Dead: Wildings burn their dead so they won't come back as wights.
- Had To Be Sharp: Even more so than the northmen. To them, everyone south of the Wall is soft and pampered.
- The Horde: To the normal southerner.
- Liberty Over Prosperity: The Wildings view themselves as choosing freedom over all else, preferring to live in a very harsh, cold, and sometimes undead-infested land, than to be "kneelers".
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Alfyn Crowkiller ("Crow" being a nickname for a man of the Night's Watch), Harma Dogshead, The Lord O' Bones.
- Proud Warrior Race: Due to the nature of their surroundings, their interactions with the Night's Watch, and the relationships between the different groups, the general Wildling culture is based around combat.
- We Are Struggling Together: Many of the Wildling groups can hardly stand each other, and only work together due to Mance's influence. When they get crushed by Stannis at the wall and Mance is captured, many of them turn on each other or flee.
- This same argument is later used by Jon Snow to declare a truce between the Night's Watch and the Free Folk to fight against the Others. Most of the Free Folk get it, most of the Watch does not.
open/close all folders
Mance Rayder, The King Beyond the Wall / Abel the Bard
Even as early as King Robert's arrival at Winterfell, there are worries surrounding the so-called "King-beyond-the-Wall," a former member of the Night's Watch who has forsworn his vows, gone out to live amongst the wildlings, and become their leader. This king, Mance Rayder, is formally introduced in the third book and becomes entangled in the game of thrones as he leads a vast wildling host south against the Wall and the Night's Watch.
- The Ace: Many solidified Badasses in The Night's Watch claim that he was the best of them before joining the wildlings. This is hard to argue as so far he has been able to rally the rambunctious Free Folk into a massive army, scale The Wall and infiltrate Winterfell multiple times, and defeat Jon Snow with a huge greatsword most men would barely be able to swing.
- Amazon Brigade: The group of spearwives he takes in his quest to infiltrate Winterfell.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Briefly for his erstwhile friend and 'brother' Qhorin Halfhand.
- Anti-Villain: He's not even coming to conquer Westros: he wants to conquer the Wall but only so that his people can take shelter from the Others behind it; they rather accurately believe the Watch will never just let them through.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: How you become leader of the wildlings.
- The Bard: When he heard that King Robert was coming to Winterfell, he decided to see the man for himself, climbed the wall, raced south to intercept the Baratheon entourage, and used his singing to pass himself off as a bard. As such, he was at Winterfell throughout the entire feast and afterwards, which Mance tells Jon, to his astonishment. In ADWD, he takes on the guise of "Abel" to infiltrate Winterfell again and save who he thinks is Arya Stark.
- Though he also fits the Wandering Minstrel trope too; as with other minstrels in ASOIAF he has an eye for the women, is often up to mischief, and is under the constant threat of coming to a sticky end.
- Big Bad: From the perspective of the Night's Watch.
- The Casanova: Even when he was still a member of the Night's Watch and supposedly celibate.
- Dangerous Deserter: Since Mance was such a skilled ranger and knows their ways, he is even more dangerous to the Night's Watch than a typical Wilding.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Melisandre uses a glamour to make him look like Rattleshirt, who was executed in his place.
- Five-Bad Band: He has this going on with his war leaders, Styr, Tormund, Rattleshirt, Varamyr, and Harma. The "bad" part is debatable for everyone except Styr, Varamyr, and Harma.
- Friendly Enemies: As a deserter from the Night's Watch, he knows and respects many of the "crows" who oppose him.
- Going Native: After being helped by a wildling woman, he goes native and joins the wildlings and eventually becomes their king.
- I Just Want To Be Free: The general motto of the Wildlings.
- It Was a Gift: He still wears his Night's Watch cloak repaired with red silk.
- Non-Uniform Uniform: He deserted the Night's Watch because they wouldn't allow him to wear one. Specifically, his black cloak was mended with red silk by a wildling healer, after she helped him recover from an injury he took during a ranging. Despite the gift this woman made—pretty obviously the most valuable thing she owned—his commander Lord Denys Mallister made him switch out with a fresh plain black one. But Mance wasn't having it.
- Visual Pun: He's a turncloak both literally and figuratively.
- The Paragon Always Rebels: Qhorin mentions Mance was the best Ranger at the Shadow Tower.
- Revenge Before Reason: Inverted; he toys with the idea of killing Jon Snow for his betrayal, but realizes Jon would only be replaced as Lord Commander by someone worse.
- Warrior Poet: He can write a song just as well as he kills.
- Wicked Cultured: Loves music and is his own bard. (Also, for limited values of "wicked".)
"We free folk know things you kneelers have forgotten. Sometimes the short road is not the safest, Jon Snow. The Horned Lord once said that sorcery is a sword without a hilt. There is no safe way to grasp it."
Mance Rayder's wife and one of his advisors.
- Death by Childbirth: Dies giving birth to Mance's son during Stannis' attack on the wildling camp.
- Hot Consort: Even a Wildling king had to have a beautiful wife at his side.
- Only One Name: Like most wildlings, she doesn't have a House name.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: She dies in the same book she first appears in and has very little page time.
"Free folk and kneelers are more alike than not, Jon Snow. Men are men and women women, no matter which side of the Wall we were born on. Good men and bad, heroes and villains, men of honor, liars, cravens, brutes... we have plenty, as do you."
Sister of Dalla, Val is a highly respected voice among the wildlings.
- Girl in the Tower: After being captured, she is held in one of Castle Black's towers.
- The King's Sister-in-law: Invoked. She is regarded as a "wildling princess" by the Queen's Men, who assume they can marry her off to one of their own nobles to secure an alliance with the wildlings. Jon Snow has given up trying to explain that the wildlings don't recognize Royal Blood, only Asskicking Equals Authority.
- Not So Different: As shown above, she points this out to Jon in regards to the people of Westeros and the Free Folk. She's not wrong, as she and several other Free Folk prove to be much better people and even more civilized that some of those who look down on them as Wildling savages.
- Nubile Savage: How Stannis' knights see her.
- Only One Name: Like most Wildlings, she has no House name.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Every one who sees her is stunned by her beauty, and Jon notes that she would turn heads in any court in the world. This leads to a lot of problems for Val and Jon since Stannis' knights keep trying to arrange to marry her and accuse Jon of trying to keep her for himself.
One of Rayder's chief lieutenants, Tormund is a giant gasbag of a man whose bark is worse than his bite. He replaces Mance as de-facto leader of the Wildlings after the latter's capture at the end of A Storm of Swords
. He helps broker a fragile peace between the Wildlings and the Night's Watch, and in this capacity Jon begins to rely on him heavily.
A wildling spearwife, Ygritte is first encountered by Jon Snow while he's scouting Mance Rayder's army in the Skirling Pass, where he captures and then frees her. After Jon joins the wildlings as a Reverse Mole
, she takes a great interest in him, having taken his refusal to kill her when she was his captive as a sign he has feelings for her. Eventually, Jon really does start to love her, which provides him with much angst because his vows as a member of the Night's Watch demand celibacy. Not to mention that he's got to turn his cloak again soon...
The Lord O'Bones
The Lord O'Bones
One of Mance Rayder's lieutenants, and easily the worst of them, The Lord O'Bones (Rattleshirt to his enemies) is arrogant, vicious, and petty, dressing himself in the bones of his enemies. He is the one who captures Jon Snow, and remains extremely suspicious of him throughout A Storm Of Swords
- Character Death: Melisandre burn him instead of Mance, while he's concealed by a glamour to make him look like Mance.
- Dirty Coward: Rattleshirt's a competent enough fighter, but a coward at heart.
- Enemy Mine: With most of the wildlings, but in particular with Harma Dogshead, as the two of them warred against each other once.
- I Have Many Names: Most of them derogatory. The Lord O'Bones, Rattleshirt, Bag Of Bones...
- Jerkass Has a Point: Though a cruel and malicious character, he isn't wrong when he questions Jon's loyalty to the Wildlings or when he continues to be suspicious of him.
- Known Only by Their Nickname: Always referred to as Rattleshirt or The Lord O'Bones, and his real name is never stated.
- The Neidermeyer: Longspear Ryk and Ygritte come to see him as one and leave his group.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Deliberately invoked.
- Skeletons in the Coat Closet: He clothes himself in the bones of his enemies.
- Villainous Widow's Peak: Under his skull helmet.
A Wilding who is a powerful skinchanger and is the POV of the prologue to A Dance With Dragons
- Awesome McCoolname: He was originally named "Lump", and deliberately chose the name Varamyr to be more impressive (not difficult), and as he added additional "skins" (animals he'd skinchange into), he changed his sobriquet accordingly.
- The Bad Guy Wins: His backstory shows him becoming so powerful that dozens of villages paid him homage. The story positions him as the typical villain to these people who every so often produce a hero to slay him to save their women from his sexual advances. But in his story, he always defeated the heroes who challenged him and continued keeping the villages and their women inthrall.
- The Beastmaster: He is a warg who can wear the skins of six different animals at one point.
- Bi the Way / Bestiality Is Depraved: Sometimes wargs into the female wolf of the pack he controls while she's being mounted. Yeah...
- Body Surf: Mainly with animals, including to deprive other skinchangers of their "second life" in their animal hosts, but as a last ditch effort, he tries to save himself by taking over a Wilding woman.
- The Dreaded: He was this to some groups of Wildlings before he joined with Mance. They feared him so much that they paid him homage and even gave him sexual favors.
- Evil Counterpart: Before Varamyr all we'd seen are the 'good' Stark wargs, so the oft-mentioned prejudice against skinchangers seems unreasonable. Varamyr shows this belief is not without justification.
- Evil Sorcerer: He uses his magic to terrorize other Wildlings and even force women to have sex with him.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He started as a weak and unwanted child, but once he discovered his powers, he became powerful and influential and widely feared.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: One he brought up on his own. Most Wargs will live on through their bonded animal after death (at least until the animal's death), and Varamyr took his mentor's wolf by force and dooming him to die a natural death.
- Mr. Exposition: His chapter includes the "Rules of Warging" that he learned from his master. Interestingly, Bran Stark unknowingly breaks more rules and goes farther than even Varamyr was willing to.
- Squishy Wizard: He's not physically imposing, but is powerful and dangerous because he mentally controls animals including three wolves, a shadowcat, and a gigantic snow bear.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Wargs into a shadowcat to force women to come to him. This deconstructs Ygritte's justification of Best Her to Bed Her — you can't cut the throat of a man who you know will only Body Surf into another creature and tear you to pieces. Or worse, take over your own body.
- Villain Protagonist: Varamyr's story is that of the traditional fantasy underdog character who discovers that they have impressive magical powers, with the twist that Varamyr spends his entire life using his to terrorize others and fulfill his selfish desires.
Styr, the Magnar of Thenn
Styr, the Magnar of Thenn
One of Mance Rayder's lieutenants, he's the leader of the Thenn, a people that live in a valley way beyond the Haunted Forest and are proably the purest
descendants of the First Men. Unlike the rest of the Free Folk, the Thenn do have laws and rulers, and know how to forge bronze.
A widely feared raider who hates dogs. She has one killed every fortnight and its head serves as her banner.
- Character Death: Killed by Stannis' forces at the battle at the Wall.
- Decapitation Presentation: After she is killed, Stannis' forces put her head on a spike, mocking the way she put dog heads on spikes.
- Enemy Mine: She never liked Mance, but was forced to ally with him when he became King Beyond the Wall to escape the Others. She also warred with Rattleshirt at one point but now has to fight side-by-side with him.
- In-Series Nickname: Harma "Dogshead", which came about from her habit of killing and mounting dog heads on spears for her banner.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast
A feared raider with a history of killing members of the Night's Watch
A feared raider leader
A member of Rattleshirt's group that hangs around with Ygritte and Jon Snow.
- Biggus Dickus: According to Tormund, there's a reason they call him Longspear.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: Not really Ygritte's brother but she thinks of him as such, and when a lover came calling for her, Ryk broke his arm.
- Odd Friendship: Along with Ygritte, he takes a shine to Jon Snow, to the point where he ditched Rattleshirt's group for Tormund's when Jon was ordered to do the same.
- They Call Him Sword
A wildling raider that boasts descent from Raymun Redbeard, a legendary King-Beyond-the-Wall. He actually descends from Raymun's younger brother, who fled the battle
in which his brother was killed.
- Arranged Marriage: He and Queen Selyse arrange the marriages of his three daughters to Ser Axell Florent, Ser Brus Buckler and Ser Malegorn of Redpool.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: Jon notes that in green velvet, ermine cloak and trimmed beard Gerrick passes for a southron lord.
- I Have Your Son: His eldest son is one of the hostages taken by the Watch to keep the Free Folk chieftains and raiders in line.
- In-Series Nickname: Gerrick "Kingsblood".
- Small Name, Big Ego: None of the Wildlings believe his boasts of descending from Raymun Redbeard.
A wildling warg killed by Jon, he managed to send his consciousness into his eagle before dying.
An aged wildling chieftain commanding a clan formed by his own sons and grandsons. He has eighteen wives.
Soren Shieldbreaker is a wildling leader and a famed warrior.
Morna White Mask
A warrior witch, raider and clan leader. She has at least one son.
- Action Girl: She is a warrior and a raider.
- In-Series Nickname: Morna White Mask, because she wears a mask made of weirwood.
- I Have Your Son: His son is one of the hostages taken by the Watch to keep the Free Folk chieftains and raiders in line.
- Magic Warrior: She's known as a witch as well as a warrior.
- You Are in Command Now: She's given command of Queensgate, one of the empty castles of the Wall.
A wildling warg and one of Tormund's rearguard that crosses the Wall after the treaty between Jon Snow and Tormund
. He keeps a monstrously large boar.
A wildling who doesn't work with the rest or join Mance's army. Craster lives in his own area with his, ahem, family, and will offer shelter to wildling or Night's Watch alike, provided there's something to benefit him. Widely known for marrying and impregnating his daughters.
- Abusive Parents: Marries and rapes his daughters and scarifies his sons to the Others.
- Bastard Bastard: He's the bastard son of a Night's Watch ranger and a wildling woman
- Berserk Button: Being called a bastard or a niggard will send him into a rage.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: With a patriach like him, that's an understatement.
- Deal With The Others: Sacrifices his sons to the Others, so they don't come after him and his wives.
- Evil Old Folks: The old man rapes his daughters and sacrifices his sons.
- Human Sacrifice: He offers his sons up to the Others; this evidently pacifies them enough to leave him and his daughters alone.
- I Work Alone: Received an offer to join Mance's cause. He sent back the messenger without his tongue.
- Ineffectual Loner: Averted; he even manages to keep the Others off his back.
- Lesser of Two Evils: The Night's Watch consider working with him to be largely this. His hospitality has saved the lives of countless rangers, so it would be far worse to kill him. Especially since there are no laws north of the Wall; what he's doing may be reprehensible, but in no way is it illegal.
- Parental Incest: Has a couple dozen daughters, who he marries. And if the kids born from them turn out to be daughters, once they grow up he marries them too.
- Team Switzerland: Does not choose sides between the Night's Watch or the wildlings... or even the Others.
- Wife Husbandry: He raises his daughters to be his wives.
One of Craster's wives/daughters, Samwell Tarly falls for her and helps her and her son escape Craster when the Night's Watch retreat back to the Wall after the Great Ranging.
- Adult Fear: Being forced to give up her child and travel far away from him. Despite it is to save the life of another one.
- Parental Incest: She is forced to become one of her father's wives.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Though Craster isn't much to write home about, she is described as attractive.
Giants are a legendary Dying Race
that still lives beyond the Wall. They too have joined Mance Rayder's army
Tropes related to the Giants:
Mag the Mighty
Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg
The leader of Mance's giants.
Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun
A giant that is discovered by a ranging during A Dance With Dragons
. He eventually joins the Night's Watch, albeit unofficially.
- The Alcoholic: Jon fears that he will become this and therefore tries keeping him away from wine.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Subverted, as he gets talked out of fighting the Watch.
- Badass Adorable: He has the attitude of a child and can easily rip you to pieces if you should insult him or threaten him.
- Berserk Button: The Too Dumb to Live Ser Patrek of King's Mountain presses it by trying to "rescue" Val from him, even though Val is not Wun Wun's captive. Wun Wun goes all Papa Wolf on the idiot's ass.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The end of ADWD has him bleeding, and dangling a dead Ser Patrek of King's Mountain from one arm, just as a fight breaks out and the Night's Watch try to murder Jon.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Subverted by human standards, but by giant standards he seems to be something of a lightweight. This is why Jon tries keeping him away from wine.
- Dumb Muscle: He's not very intelligent, at least from what we gather.
- Gentle Giant: After his Heel-Face Turn. Just don't piss him off.
- Giant Mook: For the Watch.
- Heel-Face Turn: Initially a hostile giant, the ranging party is able to talk him down and he joins the Night's Watch.
- Licked by the Dog: Princess Shireen takes a shine to him, showing she must be a kind individual and also that Wun Wun must be a noble character. In contrast, Queen Selyse considers him a filthy beast.
- Papa Wolf: To Val, the wildling princess.
- The Unintelligible: He doesn't speak the Common Tongue, though he picks up a few words. Leathers speaks to him in the First Tongue.
A King-Beyond-the-Wall from the time of Lord William Stark.
The Red Raven
The Red Raven
The younger brother of Raymun Redbeard. He fled the Battle of Long Lake, and became known for his cowardice. Gerrick Kingsblood descends from him.