Mance Rayder

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Mance Rayder
Mance Rayder by Amok©
Mance Rayder by Amok©
Biographical Information
Alias The Mance
The Unburnt King
Other Titles King-Beyond-the-Wall
Born in , at Beyond the Wall
Culture Free folk
Wife Dalla
Issue Aemon Steelsong
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 | Season 5

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 free folk, and is called the "King-Beyond-the-Wall". In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Ciarán Hinds.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Mance Rayder

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

Mance wears black ringmail and shaggy fur breeches, over which he drapes a slashed cloak of black wool and red silk. His helm is bronze and iron and has raven wings at each temple.[3][4]


Mance Rayder by graikfaik ©

After a group of wildling raiders were put to the sword, Mance was a wildling child taken by the Night's Watch and raised as one of them.[5] His last name of "Rayder" comes from this origin.[6] When Lord Commander Qorgyle traveled to Winterfell to meet with Lord Eddard Stark, Mance rode escort and met the young Robb Stark and Jon Snow.[1]

Mance was a loyal member of the Night's Watch for much of his life until he was attacked by a shadowcat 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, Ser Denys Mallister required him to replace his mended cloak with one of uniform black. This infringement of freedom caused Mance to abandon the Shadow Tower[5] and live with the free folk in the way he wished.[1]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

It is later revealed that when King Robert I Baratheon comes to Winterfell to see his old friend Lord Eddard Stark, Mance is 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 scales the Wall near Long Barrow, purchases a horse south of the New Gift, and journeys to Winterfell.

His presence is unbeknownst to both Eddard, who did not remember Mance from his previous visit, and Benjen Stark, who had never met Mance despite being in the Watch for a few years. Under the disguise of a musician, Mance plays the lute during the feast. He meets Dalla during his return to the lands beyond the Wall.[1]

A Clash of Kings

Mance undertakes the monumental task of uniting the notoriously individualistic wildlings under his guidance to invade the Seven Kingdoms. They assemble in the Frostfangs. Following the rumors about Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, and the wildlings deserting their villages, the Night's Watch assembles in force in a great ranging beyond the Wall.

A Storm of Swords

When Jon Snow meets with Mance in the Frostfangs under pretext of joining his campaign, Mance explains that he has taken possession of a magic horn known as the Horn of Winter that can topple the Wall, and will use it as a last resort if he cannot bypass it militarily. However, Mance reveals that the wildlings, including his own people, have been hunted by the Others and their wights, and are unable to stop them. His true aim therefore is 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 undertakes his invasion of the Wall while it is manned by a skeleton crew commanded by Jon Snow. Despite overwhelming odds, Jon successfully holds Mance's forces at bay long enough for Stannis Baratheon's unexpected reinforcements to arrive. Although Mance personally leads a wedge of mounted free folk against rangers from Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the disorganized wildling army is demolished by Stannis's knights.[4]

Mance's wife, Dalla, dies giving birth to their son during Stannis's attack on the wildling camp.[7]

A Feast for Crows

Jon smuggles Mance's son away from the Wall in the care of Samwell Tarly because he suspects that Stannis's sorceress Melisandre is 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.[7] Gilly later suggests the name Aemon Steelsong for Mance's son.[8]

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.[9]

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

Later when word reaches the Wall that Arya Stark is to wed Ramsay Bolton, Melisandre offers to send Rattleshirt to retrieve her, but Jon refuses, not trusting Rattleshirt. Therefore, Melisandre reveals Mance's disguise in order to make Jon reconsider the offer. Jon holds Mance's son so Mance would do everything in his power to rescue Jon's sister for the sake of his son. However, Mance does not know that Jon has switched Mance's son with Gilly's son.[2]

Mance takes six free folk spearwives with him [10] - Rowan, Holly, Squirrel, Willow Witch-eye, Frenya and Myrtle. He arrives at Winterfell as a bard under the assumed name "Abel",[11] an anagram for "Bael", and claims the women are camp followers and relatives to him.[12] Mance performs songs throughout the wedding and subsequent feast at Winterfell, while during the following nights his spearwives kill several northern men. Suspicion is cast on Theon Greyjoy at first, then Manderly knights, causing tension in the castle between the Boltons, Freys and other northern houses. They also receive the help of a reluctant and fearful Theon to help them free "Arya", though he knows she is really Jeyne Poole. Tensions explode in the castle when Little Walder Frey is murdered, though the spearwives claim it was not their doing.

Theon assists Mance's spearwives in rescuing Jeyne, but when Jeyne gives their position away by screaming, Theon and Jeyne are forced to jump from Winterfell's battlements to the snow below.[13][14][15]

It is reported in a letter to Jon purportedly from Ramsay Bolton that Mance has been captured. Ramsay claims Mance has been thrown in a cage which is exposed to the elements and that the six spearwives that came with him have been killed and skinned. Mance is allegedly being forced to use their sewed-together skins in the cage, as it is his only source of warmth.[16]

Quotes by Mance

Mance Rayder - by artist Diego Gisbert Llorens © Fantasy Flight Games.
The Wall can stop an army, but not a man alone.[1]
- Mance to Jon Snow

I know every bawdy song that's ever been made, north or south of the Wall.[1]
- Mance to Jon Snow

The Halfhand was carved of old oak, but I am made of flesh, and I have a great fondness for the charms of women ... which makes me no different from three-quarters of the Watch.[1]
- Mance to Jon Snow

Free folk don't follow names, or little cloth animals sewn on a tunic. They won't dance for coins, they don't care how you style yourself or what that chain of office means or who your grandsire was. They follow strength. They follow the man.[17]
- Mance to Jon Snow

Quotes about Mance

He was the best of us, and the worst as well.[18]
- Qhorin Halfhand, to Jon Snow

Mance has cunning. He was raised a crow, you know, and the crow's a tricksy bird.[1]
- Tormund, to Jon Snow

References and Notes

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