The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore

So Spake Martin

April 2001

Wildlings in the North
Submitted By: Lannister

I was wondering if you would clarify something for me. At the time A Storm of Swords ends, The Nightswatch, Stannis and his followers, and Mance and the Wildlings are all at the Wall. Mance is a captive of Stannis and so cannot be executed by the Watch. The wildlings have very strong feelings about "kneeling" and being "kneelers." If Stannis were to allow the wildlings to settle in the Gift, would it be in their nature to attack northern villages and towns for plunder? Or is their sense of property stronger than their desire to take by force what can be taken?

Raiding is definitely a part of wildling culture, as it was for many in the real world -- the Norse who went a-viking every summer, the ancient Celtic cattle raiders, the Scots border reivers, etc. Can they refrain once settled in the Gift? Well, that's the question, isn't it?

Would striking a deal with Stannis be considered "kneeling"?


Would the wildlings agree to leave the northern villages in peace if asked or would that also be considered "kneeling"?

They would see this as a question of choosing between their freedoms and their lives. Raiding is part of their culture... on the other hand, they also value a man keeping to his sworn word.

Would participating in joint attacks on Bolton lands and holdings be considered "kneeling"?

They will fight easily enough... although military discipline is not part of their martial tradition.

Do the wildlings hate northerners like they hate the Nightswatch?

No. Interview