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Are The Wildlings Cannibals

author
David Lawrence
• Monday, 07 December, 2020
• 9 min read

They are considered savages by the rest of Westeros, due to their barbaric lifestyles and worship of the Old Gods of the Forest. Such factions include the raiders from the Frozen Shore, the woodsmen of the Haunted Forest, ice-river clans believed to be cannibals, and the people of Then.

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Contents

The people of Westeros believe that all Wild lings are savage and are the main reason as to the necessity of the wall and the Night's Watch. However, the Night’s Watch does not forget its origin and believes the Wild lings are the least threatening force to come from beyond the wall.

Gritty says that the second person she ever had sex with was a Then boy, who didn't speak a word of the Common Tongue, but was “built like a mammoth.” Following Jon Snow's betrayal and flight from the wild lings, he reports back to Castle Black's remaining leadership that Dance Ryder is advancing on their position with an army 100,000 strong, and that he has united the Then, Horn foots, and the ice-river clans, and he even has giants marching with him.

Dortmund confesses to Gritty that he hates Then, and tells Star that he won't answer to him for any recent losses, only to Dance. Star points to his own Then war and his accompanying owl, and says that his men took a detour to feed on a nearby village, sharing that he finds meat so much better south of the Wall.

The Then then discard the two rabbits that the other wild lings had on the fire, and produce parts of a human body from a bag, which they put to roast. When Lord Commander Jon Snow and Dortmund arrive at Hard home to offer the Free Folk to retreat to Castle Black and settle south of the Wall, a meeting of the clan chieftains is held, where the Then are represented by Nobody.

When a captive OSHA is brought before Ramsay Bolton, he asks her if the flayed man on his banners worries her. In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Then are tribe of wild lings established in an eponymous valley on the northern end of the Frost fangs.

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(Source: winteriscoming.net)

The entire valley is heated by volcanic activity giving it a far warmer climate than surrounding lands. Indeed, their culture and technology level is very close to what the First Men were like centuries ago, before the coming of the Annals.

Unlike other tribes of wild lings, the Then do have lords, who enforce established laws, making them the most disciplined and obedient of the Free Folk. However, most of the wild lings have no knowledge of how to forge metal at all, and commonly use simple weapons made of only stone, bone, or sharpened wood.

Many of the other wild lings still manage to obtain iron weapons from raiding or trading with smugglers in exchange for furs and other resources, but this is not a consistent method for arming and equipping an entire army. The Then have joined the army of Dance Ryder, who defeated Star three times to win their allegiance.

Later, Sign weds Alps Stark, and becomes the founder of the newly styled House Then. In the books, the Then are the most advanced and civilized of the wild lings, which is what makes them more dangerous than many other more savage but undisciplined clans.

They hunt other wild lings to eat them for their meat, due to the lack of food in the frozen wastelands they inhabit. Meanwhile, the TV-Thenns retain the noticeably more advanced equipment of their book counterparts, with basic metal armor consisting of interwoven bronze disks.

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Jon presents Stannis's offer to Dance, which is life in exchange for fealty, mentioning the Ice-river clans as being among the Free Folk he successfully recruited into his army. Most of the wild lings live east of the vast Frost fang Mountains, where the climate is hospitable enough for the Haunted Forest to grow.

For that matter, the lands west of the Frost fangs don't even have much contact with the majority of the wild lings who live east of the mountains, because the passes are so difficult. Two major groups of wild lings, however, do live in the arctic wastes west of the Frost fangs: the bone-sled riding men of the Frozen Shore, and the Ice-river clans of the interior.

They live further north of the Frozen Shore, but west of the Frost fangs, in one of the most isolated corners of the lands beyond the Wall. While the men of the Frozen Shore can obtain food from the fish of the sea, the Ice-river clans of the interior inhabit a true arctic wasteland, utterly inhospitable to human habitation, with no woods and hardly any plants or animals.

It is considered a shocking testament to Dance Ryder's skills as a negotiator that he was actually able to convince the Ice-river clans and sled-riders of the Frozen Shore to make peace, and willingly march together in his army. For a significant part of the run of Game of Thrones, they’re a persistent threat, always lurking Beyond the Wall, ready to sweep down upon the south should the Night’s Watch slacken their guard.

Despite the fact that they are, ostensibly, some of the most inveterate enemies of the southern realms of Westeros, the series seems more than a bit cagey about several aspects of their culture and their history. It’s rather strange to think that a group known for both their stubborn refusal to bow to authority and their hatred of the Night’s Watch would, in fact, unite behind a man who served for many years in that organization, even if he was born a willing.

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Obviously, this says a great deal about the sort of charisma and power that Dance Ryder wields as a leader, but there are still some aspects of their decision to unite behind him that don’t quite add up. While many of them appear as one would expect of people who haven’t experienced the benefits of civilization, there are some truly strange, bizarre, and sometimes downright frightening tribes.

As their name suggests, the wild lings seem to have an almost pathological aversion to anything that smacks of the civilization of the south, presumably because it would make them either soft or would take away their vaunted independence. Students of history will know that, in Westeros, it’s something of a miracle that the entire continent still has any people left, considering the many uprisings and wars that have taken place over the centuries.

Logically speaking and given their violent natures, they should've driven themselves to the point of extinction before the events of the series and yet, there's enough of them to mount a resistance against the White Walkers and even lay siege to the Wall. Given how little contact there usually is between those south and north of that great edifice, however, it doesn’t make sense that so many of the wild lings would not only be able to speak Westeros, but actually be fluent in it.

He’s a truly reprehensible character, but the bigger mystery is why the wild lings, not especially known for their caring or their mercy, would leave him alone to lead his life as he wants rather than (at the very least) taking his wives as their own. Indeed, it is precisely their knowledge of the existential threat posed by the ancient and malevolent creatures that leads them to unite.

However, it remains unexplained why they would have tried to live Beyond the Wall in the first place, knowing that there was such a power lurking there, simply waiting for its chance to strike at the south. Though they don’t get as prominent billing in the series as they do in the books, it’s still mentioned that the Horn foots, as their name implies, have feet that have been so scarred from the cold that they no longer need to wear shoes.

The Free Folk is the self-given name for the people who live in the lands beyond the Wall, still on the continent of Westeros but beyond the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms. The name they employ makes reference to their society, which recognizes no inherent or hereditary political authority, except for leaders whom they choose to follow.

Normally the wild lings are divided into many rival clans, but occasionally, they unite behind a single over-chieftain known as a King-Beyond-the-Wall, as they were under Dance Ryder. The Free Folk are now allies of House Stark after many of their people were saved by Jon Snow.

They were, essentially, the people unlucky enough to be living north of the Wall when it was constructed eight thousand years ago. Besides this shared ethnic heritage, their common descent means that there are also many cultural similarities between the wild lings and the Northerners.

The wild lings are much closer in lifestyle and habits to how the First Men lived thousands of years ago (though they lack the level of political organization that the first men possessed), as the North has come under some cultural influence from their Sandal neighbors who invaded southern Westeros six thousand years ago, and particularly since the Seven Kingdoms were united into a single realm by the Targaryen Conquest three hundred years ago. The Free Folk have made many attempts to invade the Seven Kingdoms since the construction of the Wall (Jon Snow mentions that there have been six such invasions in the last thousand years, before Dance Ryder).

Despite the bravery and perseverance of the Free Folk, all attempted invasions of the Seven Kingdoms have failed, as those who live north of the Wall lack the weapons, training and organization to defeat their southern counterparts. Over the ages, the people of the Seven Kingdoms to the south had largely forgotten why the Wall was constructed in the first place and came to believe that it exists to protect the realm from the wild lings, whom they regard as primitive savages and barbarians.

The shift of focus also reduced the Night's Watch from a band of honorable warriors into largely a penal colony for exiled criminals, disgraced noblemen, and bastards with no where else to go. The Free Folk consist of a wide variety of many fractious tribes and village-dwellers, some reasonably refined, others savage and hostile.

Even in the lands of House Stark, there are some followers of the Faith of the Seven, often southern noblewomen who come to the North to secure marriage alliances. While in certain times the clans will unite behind a “King-Beyond-the-Wall”, the title and position are not hereditary, as the Free Folk will follow no man simply because of who his father was.

The Free Folk will follow a King-Beyond-the-Wall into battle, but they do not perform ceremonies of submission such as kneeling in front of him or referring to him as “your Grace”. They call the people of the feudal Seven Kingdoms Keepers “, because they physically kneel to men who they didn't choose to rule over them.

At the time of the War of the Five Kings the Free Folk are divided into about 90 different clans or tribes, some of which have long been bitter enemies with each other. Normally they are politically divided, but were united under King-Beyond-the-Wall Dance Ryder for the common goal of forcing their way south of the Wall before the next winter comes, which will bring the White Walkers with it.

After his death, Dortmund and Jon Snow traveled to Hard home, along with other members of the Night's Watch and the Free Folk, to attempt to convince the rest of the Free Folk to join them in the upcoming war against the White Walkers and their armies of Wights. Numerous clans from the vast Haunted Forest, immediately north of the Wall but east of the Frost fang Mountains.

The Then, who dwell in a valley north of the Frost fangs, who know how to forge bronze and engage in ritual cannibalism and self-scarification. The communities of the Frozen Shore, known for riding sleds and chariots made of walrus bone pulled by dogs.

Horn foots, who dwell on the Frost fangs, known for the blackened and hardened soles of their feet due to not wearing anything on them Ice-river clans Cave people The non-human race of giants who live beyond the Wall had also allied itself with Dance Ryder and marched in his willing army.

Loosely speaking they may thus be considered part of the wild lings “, though the inhabitants of the Seven Kingdoms generally use the term to refer to specifically the human clans living beyond the Wall. The North men have a bitter feud with the Free Folk due to being at the forefront of the latter's incursions into the Seven Kingdoms.

Other kingdoms south of the Wall share similar derisive sentiments, but to a lesser extent, seeing the Free Folk as a light threat and the Night's Watch as an unnecessary organization where criminals and undesirables are sent to join. For as centuries passed, the White Walkers, the Night's Watch's true enemies, largely came to be considered myths, and Watch's resources have been directed towards fighting the Free Folk for subsequent generations, forgetting the order's real purpose.

While at Castle Black, Tyrion Lannister converses with Been Stark and Loren regarding the Free Folk. While not outright sympathizing with them, Tyrion makes clear his view that the only real difference between the Free Folk and the rest of Westeros is that the former group just happened to live on the northern side of the Wall when it was first constructed 8,000 years ago.

{The Lord of Bones}, aka Rattle shirt, a renowned leader of a raiding war band now aligned with Dance Ryder. {Nobody}, a Then who assumes a position of seniority over his clan following the death of Star.

This may be the TV series version of the Frozen Shore tribes, who have been mentioned in the Histories & Lore features. The lands they live on are desolate, but the surrounding waters are plentiful, so they gain most of their sustenance from the sea.

Little grows there, and what few animals live there don't make for good furs, so the inhabitants just decorate themselves with bits of bone from whatever small game they can hunt. They may be the TV version of the Horn foot people, which the Histories & Lore videos describe as living in the mountains.

Wild lings from the vast Haunted Forest, like Dance and Dortmund, wear heavy animal furs. Add a photo to this gallery In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Free Folk consist of various factions, such as the people of Then, raiders from the Frozen Shore, and settlers and woodsmen in the Haunted Forest.

At the time of the books, they are unified under a King-Beyond-the-Wall, Dance Ryder, a former member of the Night's Watch who fled the Wall and betrayed the Sworn Brothers. With the Wall grievously under-strength, as the first book begins, there are fears that the wild lings may try to invade and that Lord Edward Stark might have to lead his banners against them in a punitive strike.

The wild lings prefer to kidnap women far from their villages, rather than from their own clan, and it is considered a great sin to marry relatives. The Old Gods of the Forest, worshiped by both the Free Folk and the North men, don't have as many formal rules as the Faith of the Seven, but their religion still maintains a few fundamental social prohibitions, one of which forbids Incest.

Due to the harsh conditions Beyond the Wall, the wild lings have a high infant mortality rate and believe that naming a baby after birth is an ill-omen.

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