Denys Mallister

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House Mallister.svg Ser
Denys Mallister
Night's Watch.svg
Romain LeguaySer Denys Mallister.jpg
Denys Mallister, by Romain Leguay © Fantasy Flight Games

Culture Rivermen
Born In or before 245 AC[1]Seagard[2]
Father Lord Mallister[3]

Denys Mallister is a knight of House Mallister and a member of the Night's Watch. He has served as commander of the Shadow Tower since 267 AC.[3] Denys is an uncle of Jason Mallister, Lord of Seagard.[4]

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Denys Mallister

Denys is an old man with blue-grey eyes and a long white beard. He has lost almost all his hair and his face is deeply lined. Denys still has his teeth and is graceful in his movement.[3]

The commander clasps his black cloak with a silver eagle. He wears a black velvet doublet with sable trimming the collar and accenting the sleeves.[3]

Denys is courteous and well-spoken due to his highborn roots.[3][5] He is also considered cautious and chivalrous.[6] Denys is proud of his upbringing and experience,[3] and he writes in a flowing hand.[7] He enjoys sweet wine.[3]

The knight distrusts the ironborn, and he considers Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, to be uncouth and uneducated.[3] Cotter, meanwhile, thinks of Denys as a preening eagle and does not consider him to be a warrior.[3]


Denys was born at Seagard[2] to a lord of House Mallister.[3] He was a squire at twelve, a knight at eighteen, and a champion at twenty-two years old. He once unhorsed both of Samwell Tarly's grandfathers (Alester Florent and the father of Randyll Tarly) at the same tourney.[3]

When Denys joined the Night's Watch, he was assigned to the order of rangers.[2] He has been the commander of the Shadow Tower since 267 AC. The knight has considered becoming Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but in the last two elections he yielded to first Lord Commander Qorgyle and then Jeor Mormont.[3]

Mance Rayder, one of the rangers at the Shadow Tower, was once wounded by a shadowcat during an expedition north of the Wall. A wildling woman nursed him back to health and repaired tears in his cloak with scarlet silk. When Mance returned to the Shadow Tower, Denys ordered him to burn the cloak and wear only the black cloaks of the Night's Watch. Denys's stern order influenced Mance's decision to desert the Shadow Tower and the Night's Watch the next day, joining the free folk living beyond the Wall.[8]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Ser Denys writes to Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, reporting that wildlings from the Frostfangs are moving south, slipping past the Shadow Tower in numbers greater than ever before.[9]

Denys sends another raven to Jeor, informing him rangers from the Shadow Tower have found whole wildling villages abandoned, and at night huge fires have been sighted, blazing in the mountains from dusk till dawn.[10] In the depths of the Gorge, Qhorin Halfhand, one of Denys's senior rangers, captures a wildling who says that Mance Rayder is secretly massing wildlings.[10]

A Clash of Kings

Craster confirms for Lord Commander Mormont the reports from Denys and Qhorin that Mance has been gathering wildlings, and he adds that Mance has been doing so in the Frostfangs.[11]

A Storm of Swords

When discussing the Night's Watch, Tyrion Lannister advises his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, to deal with Denys, commander of the Shadow Tower, or Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, rather than Janos Slynt; Tywin dismisses Denys as a Mallister of Seagard, one that would not serve his purposes.[12]

During Mance's attacks against the Wall, Denys sends word of the fight at the Bridge of Skulls to Castle Black.[13]

Denys leaves the Shadow Tower to attend the choosing for the next Lord Commander to replace Jeor, who was slain in the mutiny at Craster's Keep. Traveling with Bowen Marsh and other survivors of the Bridge of Skulls, this party happens across Samwell Tarly and Gilly on the road, escorting them to Castle Black.[14]

Denys is a leading candidate to become the next Lord Commander, along with Cotter, collecting two hundred and thirteen votes by the time only seven candidates remain in the race.[14] Because the support between them is divided, Janos Slynt appears as a potential alternative. Sam Tarly meets with Cotter in the Shieldhall and with Denys in the Lance. Although each commander expresses hatred for their rival, both agree that Janos would be a worse choice. Denys also objects to the candidacies of Othell Yarwyck, First Builder, and Bowen Marsh, Lord Steward. Sam then lies to Cotter and Denys that King Stannis Baratheon plans to name the other as Lord Commander, and he successfully persuades each to support Jon Snow instead.[3]

A Dance with Dragons

Denys sends regular ravens to Castle Black requesting additional men.[7] He writes back to express disappointment in the ten untrained wildlings sent from Mole's Town by Jon.[15]

Denys reports sightings of fires in the night north of the Gorge,[15] and he believes wildings are amassing to force the Bridge of Skulls once more.[16] Denys later writes of seeing great camps of wildlings in the mountains beyond the Shadow Tower.[17]

Quotes by Denys

We are the sons of great lords, you and I. We know the importance of birth, blood, and that early training that can ne'er be replaced. I was a squire at twelve, a knight at eighteen, a champion at two-and-twenty. I have been the commander at the Shadow Tower for thirty-three years. Blood, birth, and training have fitted me to deal with kings.[3]

—Denys to Samwell Tarly

It was a hard thing young Samwell asked of me. When Lord Qorgyle was chosen, I told myself, 'No matter, he has been longer on the Wall than you have, your time will come.' When it was Lord Mormont, I thought, 'He is strong and fierce, but he is old, your time may yet come.' But you are half a boy, Lord Snow, and now I must return to the Shadow Tower knowing that my time will never come. Do not make me die regretful. Your uncle was a great man. Your lord father and his father as well. I shall expect full as much of you.[5]

—Denys to Jon Snow

Quotes about Denys

The commanders at the Shadow Tower and Eastwatch were good men, but very different; Ser Denys courtly and cautious, as chivalrous as he was elderly, Pyke younger, bastard-born, rough-tongued, and bold to a fault. Worse, the two men despised each other. The Old Bear had always kept them far apart, at opposite ends of the Wall.[6]

—thoughts of Jon Snow

Cotter: The man's too bloody old for the job, maybe you ought to go tell him that. We choose him, and we're like to be back here in a year, choosing someone else.

Samwell: He's old, but he's well ex-experienced.

Cotter: At sitting in his tower and fussing over maps, maybe. What does he plan to do, write letters to the wights? He's a knight, well and good, but he's not a fighter, and I don't give a kettle of piss who he unhorsed in some fool tourney fifty years ago. The Halfhand fought all his battles, even an old blind man should see that.[3]

The commander of the Shadow Tower had been born beneath the Booming Tower of Seagard, and looked every inch a Mallister.[3]

—thoughts of Samwell Tarly