Mutiny at Craster's Keep

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Mutiny at Craster's Keep
Conflict Conflict beyond the Wall
Date late 299 AC/early 300 AC
Place Craster's Keep
Result mutineer victory, loyalist retreat
Combatants
Night's Watch
Craster's family
Night's Watch mutineers
Commanders
Jeor Mormont
Craster
Dirk
Ollo Lophand
Casualties
Jeor Mormont
Craster
Garth of Oldtown
Rolley

The mutiny at Craster's Keep is a rebellious engagement involving the Night's Watch. After the crushing defeat in the fight at the Fist, the Night's Watch are forced to retreat and seek shelter at Craster's Keep in the haunted forest.

Background

The Night's Watch has been losing strength for years with fewer volunteers every season, so it increasingly relies on the dungeons of the Seven Kingdoms to fill the ranks. Many disreputable individuals are selected for the great ranging, and the forced march further beyond the Wall makes them even more disgruntled.

Chett and a few other brothers plan to betray Jeor Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and his senior commanders so they can escape the Watch, but the combination of the heavy weather and the assault from wights at the Fist of the First Men make this plan redundant.[1] Around sixty men[2] retreat from the fight at the Fist, but some die from wounds, wander off, or are attacked by wights or Others.[3]

Forty-four men reach Craster's Keep, but their morale is low and certain brothers start being more vocal with their criticism. After several days, Bannen and three others have died, leaving thirty-two men capable of fighting and eight incapacitated by wounds or illness.[2]

Mutiny

Trouble begins when Ulmer asks for more bread, as Craster's wives have brought only two loaves for the starving men to eat. Clubfoot Karl and Dirk demand more food, but are rejected by Craster, and Karl defies Jeor Mormont order to be silent. Samwell Tarly thinks that Karl is about to sit, but Craster, interrupting the standoff with the axe gifted to him by Jeor,[4] states any who disrespect him in his home must sleep outside in the cold without food.[2]

Losing his temper when called a bastard, Craster vaults his table but has his throat slit by Dirk. Craster crashes face first across the wounded Ser Byam Flint and drowns in his own blood. Dirk shoves a knife under the chin of one of Craster's wives, demanding that she show them where the food is or he will kill her. Lord Commander Mormont tells Dirk to unhand her, but Garth of Greenaway blocks his path and Ollo Lophand stabs Jeor's belly. Garth of Greenaway kills Garth of Oldtown, while Rolley of Sisterton breaks his neck after falling from the loft while chasing after Craster's wives.[2]

Aftermath

Fearing they will be killed by mutineers, Grenn, Dolorous Edd, Bedwyck, Dywen and other loyalists admit defeat and retreat back to Castle Black to report on the disastrous expedition. Grenn urges Samwell Tarly to come with them but he does not move. Of note, Sweet Donnel Hill was complicit in Chett's plan to betray their brothers on the Fist of the First Men, but it appears after the fight at the Fist he decided to remain loyal to the Watch. Approximately a dozen men return to the Wall before the Battle of Castle Black.[5] Other men, such as Jarman Buckwell, also return to Castle Black from beyond the Wall.[5]

While mutineers gorge in Craster's cellar or rape his younger wives, the shocked Sam sits with the dying Jeor Mormont's head in his lap. Jeor tells Sam to make for the Wall, instructing him to inform Castle Black of what happened. The Lord Commander's dying wish is for his exiled son, Ser Jorah Mormont, to take the black. Encouraged to escape by Craster's wives, Sam flees Craster's Keep with Gilly with her baby.[2]

Nine mutineers remain at Craster's Keep with his food and wives.[6] Five betrayers later wander in the haunted forest, planning to head south over the Wall for a warmer climate. However, they are killed by Coldhands and his ravens. Summer, the direwolf of Bran Stark, finds the bodies and eats parts of the meat.[7]

Participants

Loyalist casualties

Loyalist casualties include but are not limited to:


Confirmed loyalist survivors

Loyalists confirmed to survive and return to the Wall:


Craster's family


Mutineers


Quotes

Craster: Who calls me bastard?

Karl: It's no more than all men know.[2]

- Craster and Clubfoot Karl


Jeor: The gods will curse us. There is no crime so foul as for a guest to bring murder into a man's hall. By all the laws of the hearth, we—

Dirk: There are no laws beyond the Wall, old man. Remember?[2]

- Jeor Mormont and Dirk


Ollo had only one hand, but that was quick. He twisted free of the old man's grasp, shoved the knife into Mormont's belly, and yanked it out again, all red. And then the world went mad.[2]
- thoughts of Samwell Tarly

References and Notes

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