Mance Rayder

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Mance Rayder
Mance Rayder by Amok©
Mance Rayder by Amok©
Biographical Information
Alias The Mance
Other Titles King-Beyond-the-Wall
Culture Free Folk
Heir Wildling prince
Wife Dalla
Books A Game of Thrones (Mentioned)
A Clash of Kings (Mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Appears)
Played by Ciarán Hinds
TV series Season 3 | Season 4

Mance Rayder was once a man of the Night's Watch before breaking his vows and abandoning his post. He has since become extremely influential among the wildlings, and called the "King-beyond-the-Wall".


Appearance and Character

Mance is a big man, long legged and lean, broad in the chest and shoulders. His once long brown hair is now gone mostly grey, and laughter lines appear at the corners of his mouth. [1] He has a sharp face and shrewd brown eyes.[2] He is an unremarkable-looking man in his middle years, with a fondness for music.


Mance Rayder by graikfaik ©

Mance was a wildling child taken by the Night's Watch and raised as one of them.[3] He was a loyal member of the Night's Watch for most of his life until he suffered an injury while ranging, and was healed by a wildling woman. While he recuperated, she mended his torn cloak with swatches of red fabric.

Upon returning to the Wall, the Night's Watch commanders required him to replace his mended cloak with one of uniform black. This infringement of freedom caused him to abandon the Night's Watch and live with the wildlings in the way he wished.[2]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

It was revealed that when Robert Baratheon came to Winterfell to see his old friend Eddard Stark, Mance was actually present at this event. Hearing of the King's planned visit via sources in the Night's Watch, Mance, inspired by the Bael the Bard legend, decided to partake in the event. He scaled the Wall and journeyed to Winterfell.

His presence was unbeknownst to both Eddard Stark, who had never met Mance, and Benjen, who had also never met him despite being in the Watch for a few years. Under the disguise of a musician, Mance played the lute during the feast.

A Storm of Swords

Mance undertook the monumental task of uniting the notoriously individualistic wildlings under his guidance to invade the Seven Kingdoms. They assembled in the Frostfangs. Following the rumors about Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-The-Wall, and the wildlings deserting their villages, the Night's watch assembled in force and left to range beyond the wall.

When Jon Snow met with Mance under pretext of joining his campaign, Mance explained that he had taken possession of a magic horn known as the Horn of Winter that could topple the Wall, and would use it as a last resort if he could not bypass it militarily. However, Mance revealed that the wildlings, including his own people, had been hunted by the Others and their wights, and were unable to stop them. His true aim therefore was not to destroy the Wall, but to use it as a shield against the Others.

Mance playing the lute, Val in the background - by Amok ©

Mance undertook his invasion of the Wall while it was manned by a skeleton crew commanded by Jon Snow. Despite overwhelming odds, Jon successfully held Mance's forces at bay long enough for Stannis's unexpected reinforcements to arrive and demolish the disorganized wildling army.

Mance's wife Dalla died giving birth to their son during Stannis Baratheon's attack on the wildling camp.[4]

A Feast for Crows

Jon smuggled Mance's son (Wildling prince) away from the Wall in the care of Samwell Tarly because he knew that Stannis's sorceress Melisandre was looking to sacrifice a child of royal blood, and that Mance's title of "King-Beyond-the-Wall" could be construed as a royal lineage.

A Dance with Dragons

Mance is supposedly burned alive by Stannis with the wildlings, members of the Night's Watch, King's Men, and Queen's Men there to bear witness. Jon Snow orders him killed by archers of the Watch during the burning to give him a quick death.[5]

In actuality the man killed was Rattleshirt, who was glamored by Melisandre's magic to appear like Mance. Meanwhile, the actual Mance was glamored by a ruby worn at his wrist to appear as Rattleshirt. No one but Mance and Melisandre knew the truth of the deception. Melisandre kept the secret from Stannis due to Stannis's strict code of following the law. "Rattleshirt" even sparred with Jon Snow in the yard and Jon was shocked by the man's speed and skill, not knowing it was actually Mance.

Later when word reached the Wall that Arya Stark (it was unknown the girl was actually Jeyne Poole) was to wed Ramsay Snow, Melisandre offered to send Rattleshirt to retrieve her, but Jon refused, not trusting Rattleshirt. Therefore, Melisandre revealed Mance's disguise in order to make Jon reconsider the offer. Jon held Mance's son (it was unknown to both Melisandre and Mance that Jon had switched Mance's baby with Craster's) so Mance would do everything in his power to rescue Jon's sister for the sake of his son.[1]

Mance took six wildling spearwives with him [6] - Rowan, Holly, Squirrel, Willow Witch-eye, Frenya and Myrtle. He arrived at Winterfell as a bard under the assumed name "Abel" (an anagram for "Bael" from the "Bael the Bard" legend) [7] and claimed the women were camp followers and relatives to him. [8] Mance performed songs throughout the wedding and subsequent feast at Winterfell, while during the night his wildling spearwives killed several Bolton men at arms (suspicion was cast on Theon Greyjoy at first, then Manderly knights) causing tension in the castle between the Bolton, Frey and northern houses. They also got the help of a reluctant and fearful Theon Greyjoy to help them free "Arya", even though he knew it was really Jeyne Poole. Tensions exploded in the castle when Little Walder Frey was murdered (though the spearwives claimed to Theon that his death was not their doing).

Disguised as bedmaids bringing water for Arya's bath, the six women and Theon entered her bedchamber and there Squirrel stripped out of her clothes and they disguised the terrified Jeyne as a bedmaid to sneak her out (Squirrel would remain in the room and escape by climbing down the tower).[9][10]The ploy was a success until Jeyne gives their position away by screaming, and Theon and Jeyne are forced to jump from Winterfell's battlements to the snow below. [11]

It was reported in a letter to Jon purportedly from Ramsay Bolton that Mance has been captured and thrown in a cage which is exposed to the elements and that the six spearwives that came with him had been killed and skinned. Mance is being forced to use their sewed-together skins in the cage, as it is his only source of warmth. [12]

Quotes by Mance

The Wall can stop an army, but not a man alone. [2]

Quotes about Mance

He was the best of us, and the worst as well. [13]
- Qhorin Halfhand

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon.
  3. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 53, Jon.
  4. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell.
  5. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 10, Jon, Pages 134-138.
  6. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon.
  7. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell (Reek IV), Page 491.
  8. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak (Reek V).
  9. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell (Reek VI), Pages 616-717.
  10. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I, Pages 673-686.
  11. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 62, The Sacrifice (Asha III), Page 826.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon, Pages 907-908.
  13. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 68, Jon, p 558.
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