Mance Rayder

Mance Rayder is the King of the wildlings and lives beyond the Wall. Formerly a man of the Night’s Watch, he abandons his vows and travels beyond Castle Black to unite the various tribes of wildlings scattered up North.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

After gathering the wildlings under his rule, he got a new title as the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Mance believes in freedom and leaves the Watch after being asked to change his clothes to the attire worn by the Watch’s brothers. Mance begins marching toward the Wall with his people after uniting them. He meets Jon Snow, who learns that he plans to pass through the Wall with the wildlings as the threat of the wights and Others increases.

Mance Rayder is a prominent character in the events of A Song of Ice and Fire. After the threats of the wights become imminent, Joer Mormont, the lord commander of the Night’s Watch, goes out to find Benjen Stark and learn about the threat from the wildlings. He sends Qhorin Halfhand with a group of three other men, including Jon. Qhorins expedition to discover the secrets of Mance Rayder leads to his death and Jon’s capture. On reaching the wildling’s camp, Jon realizes the scale of Mance’s forces and later escapes to Castle Black. Later, Mance becomes a crucial player in helping Theon in Winterfell.

Mance Rayder Profile

  • Character Name: Mance Rayder.
  • Title: King-Beyond-the-Wall.
  • Aliases: The Unburnt King, Lord of Bones, Abel, The Mance.
  • Wife: Dalla.
  • Allegiance: Free folk.
  • Religion: Old gods of the forest.
  • Hair Color: Gray.
  • Eye Color: Brown.
  • Enemies: Stannis Baratheon.
Mance Rayder Character Portrait

Brief History

Mance was born to a woman of the free folk and a man of the Night’s Watch. He got taken in by the Watch and became a ranger of the Shadow Tower. Though sworn to uphold the duties of the Watch, Mance enjoyed singing songs of Bael the Bard and adventure. He once traveled with Lord Commander Qorgyle and met Lord Eddard Stark, who was with a young Robb Stark and Jon.

Years after he visited Winterfell, Mance got attacked by a Shadow Cat while ranging and was almost on the brink of death. A wildling woman rescued him and tended to his wounds. She helped repair his clothes with patches of red silk, but when he reached the Watch, he got forced to replace the cloth with the black cloak of the Watch.

Displeased at the lack of freedom of the Night’s Watch, Mance Rayder abandoned his vows and journeyed beyond the Wall. He began uniting the different tribes of wildlings, and after uniting more than 90 tribes together, he became the King-Beyond-the-Wall. With a mighty army, Mance Began marching toward the Wall. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont sent Qhorin and Jon to investigate Mance’s intentions. Realizing he was searching for the legendary horn of winter, Jon escaped the wildlings’ camp back to Castle Black.

Mance tries to attack Castle Black, but with help from Jon, he loses. He later sends an envoy demanding an agreement with the person in charge of Castle Black and meets Jon the second time.

Appearance and Other Details

Mance is a slim man with a broad chest and long gray hair. Lines formed from his laughter rest at the edges of his mouth. He enjoys the company of wildling women and loves playing the lute and making music about the tales of Bael the Bard. His charismatic nature and vast social skills make him a great negotiator, but his overtrusting personality hinders him from seeing people for who they are.

Though he is the King of the wildlings, Mance does not wear a crown or take any ornament to define his position. He wears a black ringmail over wool and leather clothes and puts on a cloak of red silk from Asshai. To signify his status, he stays in a great tent made from the pelts of snow bears and adorns the top of the tent with the antlers of a great elk. Mance’s ordinary looks make a great disguise. His flare for singing and adventure makes him take on new identities with enemies noticing.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones

On realizing that King Robert I Baratheon is visiting Winterfell, Mance decides to partake in the ceremony held in the King’s honor. He climbs the Wall, purchases a horse, and journeys to Winterfell. Disguised as a musician, Mance plays the lute and goes unnoticed during the event. On his return home, he meets Dalla, who later becomes his wife. Osha, a wildling woman, decides to capture Bran and bring him to Mance as a ransom but gets captured instead. While ranging in the Shadow Tower, Qhorin Halfhand learns from a captured wildling that Mance is gathering the free folk to a secret stronghold.

A Clash of Kings

To investigate the disappearance of wildlings from their villages, the Night’s Watch sends a force to go on a great range beyond the Wall. Lord Commander Mormont learns that Mance is gathering an army in the frostfangs and may attack from the south against the Seven Kingdoms. Qhorin Halfhand offers to travel to the frostfangs to get more information about Mance Rayder’s actions.

Qhorin and Jon travel to the Skirling Pass, where they meet a group of scouting wildlings. Qhorin, Ebben, Jon, and Dalbridge kill the men, but Jon spares Ygritte. After taking care of the bodies, Qhorin tries to reach the frostfangs but gets captured by a party led by Rattleshirt. Ebben and Dalbridge get killed, but Jon yields and kills Qhorin.

A Storm of Swords

Mance Rayder has his men dig graves in search of the horn of winter in the frostfangs. Jon gets brought to him after killing Qhorin. Mance reveals he was once a good friend to the ranger of the Night’s Watch. After mistaking Mance for Styr and Tormund, Mance sends him with Styr to climb the Wall from the south to attack Castle Black. However, on reaching Queenscrow, Jon gets saved by Summer, Bran’s wolf, and escapes back to Castle Black. He warns the Watch of the impending attack from Styr and fortifies the Castle against him. Styr attacks but gets repelled and crushed by the brothers of the Watch. After the battle, Jon realizes Ygritte got shot by an arrow.

After Styr fails, Mance Rayder attacks the Wall. With help from Jon, he gets repelled. Believing the Castle has many men, Mance sends an envoy to meet the Watch. Ser Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt send Jon to meet Mance, tasking him to prove his loyalty by assassinating him.

On meeting Mance Rayder, Jon learns he found the Horn of Winter. Mance lays out terms, asking the Watch to surrender. However, Stannis Baratheon surprise attacks him and captures him. During the conflict with Stannis, Dalla, Mance’s wife, goes into labor and gives birth to Mance’s son before dying.

Mance gets captured and held in Castle Black by Stannis. After talking with him, Stannis decides to sacrifice Mance to R’hllor, believing that his royal blood will enable Melisandre to empower him for the future. Val, Dalla’s sister, asks Jon to let Mance hold his son, but Stannis refuses his request. Jon later becomes the Commander of the Night’s Watch.

A Feast for Crows

Convinced that Stannis will sacrifice Mance’s son, Jon summons Gilly and forces her to switch her son for Mance’s. He then sends her, Sam, and Maester Aemon to the citadel.

A Dance with Dragons

After sending Sam and Gilly to the Citadel, Melisandre burns Mance Rayder as a sacrifice to R’hllor. Amid his screams, Jon orders that his men fire arrows at him to end his suffering. After Stannis decides to march on Deepwood Motte, Melisandre stays behind. She reveals to Jon that she had put a glamour spell and switched Mance with Rattleshirt. She tells Jon that Mance is the only one that can rescue Arya from Winterfell.

Mance Rayder sneaks into Winterfell under the guise of Abel during Ramsay Bolton’s wedding to Arya Stark, who was Jeyne Poole. After Lord Roose Bolton scolds his son for the treatment of people, Mance, and his Spearwives, Holly, Squirrel, Rowan, Willow Witch-eye, Frenya, and Myrtle, begin killing some of Ramay’s men and the guests to incite violence. They then convince Theon Greyjoy to join them. 

As Theon tries to escape from the city with Mance, Jeyne screams, and they get discovered. They jump into the snow and run away. However, Mance and his Spearwives get captured by Ramsay’s men. Ramsay sends a letter to Jon stating that Mance is in a cage open to the elements.

After Mance’s capture, tension begins rising in the Night’s Watch. Jon sends Val to meet Tormund Giantsbane and negotiate to allow his people through; this worsens the situation in the Watch and leads to problems.

Appearance in Adapatations

In HBO’s adaptations of A Song of Ice and Fire, Mance Rayder’s character got portrayed by Ciaran Hinds. Though the novel showed that Melisandre used magic to hide his identity, the show did not. In the TV series, Mance died in season five, episode one, after getting burnt alive and shot with arrows by Jon’s men.

Mance Rayder: A King without a Crown

What makes a king? Is it his gold, silver, or people? The character of Mance Rayder shows that when one understands the fundamentals of human interaction, one becomes a king in one’s own right. Mance Rayder was a man with an optimistic stance on life. He believed in freedom and fought to have no rule in his life. Mance admired the simple things that made one happy. He cherished the people around him and always looked towards the best in people. 

Even though he was a king, Mance’s presence calmed a tense environment and made people listen. His character is one designed to show the best in humanity.


Does Mance Rayder fight with a sword?

Yes, Mance Rayder is an exceptionally skilled sword fighter. He was once a brother of the Night’s Watch and a friend to Qhorin Halfhand, one of the best swordsmen in the Watch. Raised in the Watch since he was little, he mastered sword fighting and became an expert.

Who is Mance Rayder’s father? 

The identity of Mance Rayder’s father is unknown. Mance was born to a wildling mother and a father who was of the Night’s Watch. After a group of raiders got killed, he was discovered and cared for by the Watch.

Was Mance Rayder’s tent special?

Yes, it was. Mance Rayder’s great tent got made from white pelts of snow bears. The tent got adorned with the antlers of a great elk.

Does Mance Rayder get killed by Ramsay?

At the end of ‘A Dance with Dragons,’ It is revealed that Ramsay captured Mance Rayder and imprisoned him. He sends a message to Jon Snow, stating Mance and his Spearwives got imprisoned in Winterfell.

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