Portrait by Amok©
Lord of Ham
Sam the Slayer
|Born||In 283 AC, Horn Hill|
A Game of Thrones (appears)|
A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (POV)
A Feast for Crows (POV)
A Dance with Dragons (appears)
|Played by||John Bradley|
|TV series||Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6|
Samwell Tarly is the eldest son of Lord Randyll Tarly and his wife Melessa Florent. A recruit of the Night's Watch originally from House Tarly, he is popularly called Sam. He becomes a POV character in A Storm of Swords. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is played by John Bradley.
Appearance and Character
- See also: Images of Samwell Tarly
Samwell is very fat, with dark hair, pale eyes, and a large moon-shaped face. Jon Snow originally estimates Samwell to weigh 20 stone (127 kg/280 lbs).  Samwell is fond of music and songs, and prefers books over weapons and soft fabrics over armor. He is also a timid craven, afraid of blood and violence. Although unsure of himself, Sam is intelligent and thoughtful.
Samwell was the first child of Randyll Tarly, Lord of Horn Hill, and his wife, Melessa Florent. Randyll, regarded as one of the finest military commanders in the Seven Kingdoms, did everything in his power to raise his son into what he deemed a proper heir, but Samwell frustrated him at every opportunity, resisting every effort made to change his nature. A dozen masters-at-arms failed to toughen him. Attempts such as dressing him in his mother's clothes, forcing him to sleep in chainmail, and even being bathed in aurochs blood by Qartheen warlocks failed to raise his valor. He even wept to see a chicken slaughtered.
Sam once accompanied his father on a trip to the Arbor, but the Redwyne twins Horas and Hobber bullied him and Lord Randyll brought him back home. Sam's mother revealed to him that Randyll had meant for Samwell to remain at the Arbor, to serve as Lord Paxter Redwyne's page and squire. Had Sam pleased Paxter, he would have been betrothed to his daughter, Desmera.
After Lady Melessa bore her husband three girls, Samwell's brother Dickon was born. Dickon showed all of the physical vigor that Samwell lacked, and Randyll's attentions turned to raising his more promising younger son to take his place. For a time Sam was left to enjoy his music, food, and other soft pursuits, though Randyll forbade Samwell from traveling to Oldtown to study at the Citadel, horrified at the notion of a member of House Tarly wearing a maester's chain. To discourage the boy, Randyll had Sam chained and manacled to a wall for three days.
When Sam reached maturity, his father bluntly told him that he was not worthy of their house's ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, and that he must join the Night's Watch and renounce his family name so that he would not stand in the way of Dickon's inheritance. Failing that, Randyll promised that Sam would suffer an unfortunate hunting accident on the morrow. Sam chose to take the black.
A Game of Thrones
Samwell arrives at Castle Black shortly after Jon Snow and is immediately mocked for his size and timid nature. Ser Alliser Thorne, the master-at-arms, joins in the mocking, nicknaming him "Ser Piggy" and doing nothing to prevent the other recruits from bullying him and hurting him during their training. Miserable, Sam finds a friend in Jon, with whom he shares his story. Jon takes pity on Sam and, to Alliser's annoyance, takes it upon himself to persuade (and threaten, when necessary) his fellow recruits to stop their abuse.
Samwell is not helped by Alliser's training and remains an incompetent warrior. Because of this he is initially deemed not ready to take his vows and become a man of the Night's Watch with Jon and his fellow recruits. Jon, fearful of what will happen to Sam once he is no longer able to protect him, persuades Maester Aemon to allow him to join the stewards, convincing him that despite his uselessness as a soldier, Sam's literacy and intelligence may be of great value to the Watch. Aemon agrees, and gives Samwell a position assisting him in Castle Black's rookery and library, displacing Chett. Despite having been born and raised into the Faith of the Seven, Samwell decides to take his Night's Watch vow with Jon at a heart tree. He is able to impress Lord Commander Jeor Mormont by noting some of the odd details of the corpses of Othor and Jafer Flowers. He is among the group of friends who stop Jon from abandoning the Night's Watch and forswearing himself.
A Clash of Kings
Sam joins the great ranging which ventures beyond the Wall, and he is placed in charge of the ravens as Lord Commander Mormont's aide. When the expedition stays a night at Craster's Keep he is befriended by Gilly, a pregnant daughter-wife of Craster. Gilly is fearful that if she has a boy, Craster will sacrifice it to the Others. Samwell, unsure of what to do, turns to Jon for help, but there is nothing that Jon can do.
A Storm of Swords
When wights attack the Watch's camp at the Fist of the First Men, Sam sends ravens to alert Castle Black and the Shadow Tower. When the Watch loses the fight at the Fist, however, Sam releases the rest of the ravens but forgets to include messages with them. He escapes with a group of about fifty survivors led by Jeor Mormont. The march is hard on Sam and he is helped by his friends Grenn and Small Paul, but eventually they are separated from the majority of the men. Paul, who carries Sam for much of the journey, is attacked and killed by an Other, but the weight of his body disarms it as he dies. Samwell, who is carrying a dragonglass dagger that was among the cache found by Ghost, blindly stabs the Other, which dies instantaneously from the dragonglass blade. Killing the Other earns him the nickname "Sam the Slayer", although many say this mockingly as they do not believe his feat.
Sam and Grenn rendezvous with the remaining survivors at Craster's Keep, where Gilly gives birth to a son. Shortly thereafter, violence erupts in the keep, with some Night's Watch men believing that Craster is holding out on the food he provided for the Watch, and others harboring mutinous intentions toward Lord Commander Mormont. Craster and Jeor are both killed in the mutiny. Before Jeor dies he gives Sam his dying wish, that his son, the exiled Ser Jorah Mormont, join the Watch.
Sam is forced to flee, joined only by Gilly and her newborn.They make it as far as a village Sam believes to be Whitetree but are then attacked by wights, including a reanimated Small Paul, who attacks Sam first. Sam fights him off and stabs him with the dragonglass dagger, but it proves ineffective. Desperately, Sam strikes him with a piece of charred wood, which catches him on fire, killing him. They run, but are beset by additional wights, and are saved at the last moment by Coldhands.
Gilly and Sam are led back to the wall by Coldhands, who has informed them that there will be one in the Nightfort that must be sent to him. Entering the Nightfort through the castle's Black Gate, Samwell encounters Bran Stark, along with Hodor, and Meera and Jojen Reed, all of whom he leads back to Coldhands.
After leaving the Nightfort on the south side of the wall, Sam and Gilly join Ser Denys Mallister and Bowen Marsh's party, also en route to Castle Black. They arrive after the Battle of Castle Black, with Stannis Baratheon present and urging the swift election of a new Lord Commander and threatening to name one himself if none can achieve the required two-thirds majority. In the voting, Janos Slynt gains ground on the leading candidates, Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister. Believing Janos would be a disastrous Lord Commander, Sam approaches Cotter and Denys independently, and lies to each regarding Stannis's intentions to name the other to the office, thus convincing them both to support Jon Snow as a compromise candidate, leading to Jon's election.
A Feast for Crows
One of Jon Snow's first acts as Lord Commander is to send Samwell South to Oldtown so that he might study there as a maester for Castle Black. With him he sends Dareon, whom he appoints as a recruiter for the Night's Watch, as well as Maester Aemon and the infant son of Mance Rayder, so as to deprive Melisandre of the chance to sacrifice them for their king's blood. He also sends Gilly, separating her from her child, so that she might nurse Rayder's son. Maester Aemon falls ill on the voyage, however, and stopping in Braavos they are forced to spend their coin on an inn and a healer. Aemon's condition worsens nonetheless, though he briefly wakes and wishes to hear the stories of Daenerys's dragons that are spreading throughout the city, having the revelation that Daenerys may be the true fulfillment of the prophecy of the prince that was promised.
Samwell urges Dareon to sing at the local taverns to earn money so that they might buy passage on a ship to Oldtown, but Dareon spends most of what he earns on wine and trade from the city's whores. Samwell confronts Dareon in a brothel and accuses him of breaking his vows, and Dareon responds with his intention to abandon them and desert the Night's Watch, resulting in a fight whereupon Samwell is pulled off of Dareon and thrown into a canal. He is pulled out by Xhondo, who heard him speaking of dragons and had seen them in Qarth. Xhondo offers them passage on his ship, the Cinnamon Wind, in exchange for work and for some of the last of their possessions.
Maester Aemon dies early in that journey, and in mourning for his death Gilly briefly becomes a lover to Samwell. She names the child after Aemon, and it is planned that upon landing at Oldtown she will be sent to Samwell's childhood home of Horn Hill with the story that her child is a bastard fathered by Sam. Samwell continues to the Citadel, where he encounters Alleras, who has sought him out and brings him straight to Archmaester Marwyn, who asks Samwell to repeat for him Aemon's final words. Upon hearing the story, Marwyn immediately departs the city with the stated intention of going to Daenerys and becoming her maester, not before ordering Sam to keep Daenerys and the dragons a secret from the Archmaesters.
Quotes by Samwell
– Jon Snow and Samwell
Sam thought of all the trials that he and Gilly suffered, Craster's Keep and the death of the Old Bear, snow and ice and freezing winds, days and days and days of walking, the wights at Whitetree, Coldhands and the tree of ravens, the Wall, the Wall, the Wall, the Black Gate beneath the earth. What had it all been for? No happy choices and no happy endings.
– Sam's thoughts aboard the Blackbird
The worst isn't done. The worst is just beginning, and there are no happy endings.
– Samwell to Dareon
– Samwell's thoughts
Quotes about Samwell
Nobody likes cravens. I wish we hadn't helped him. What if they think we're craven too?
The world was full of cravens who pretended to be heroes; it took a queer sort of courage to admit to cowardice as Samwell Tarly had.
– Jon Snow's thoughts
- Jeor Mormont to Samwell
- The Samwell Tarly article on the TV show wiki.
References and Notes
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33, Samwell II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
- See the Samwell Tarly calculation.
- HBO: Game of Thrones: cast and crew
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 70, Jon IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 23, Jon III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 18, Samwell I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 46, Samwell III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 56, Bran IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
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