Tower of the Hand

Book 2, Chapter 24.
Lord Commander Mormont's expedition arrives at Craster's Keep. Sam promises to help one of Craster's wives, Gilly, escape when the Watch comes back through.
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Jon rides next to Lord Commander Mormont in a blinding rainstorm. The expedition has passed seven deserted wildling villages. They hear a horn in the distance, signaling that Craster is still at his keep. Craster is said to be half-mad and to consort with unsavory powers, but he has always provided shelter to the Watch and has no love for Mance Rayder. Lord Commander Mormont sends Jon down the column to spread the word that they will be stopping at Craster's Keep. On the way, Jon runs into Sam, who is miserable and wet, but holding up okay. Sam tells him that Craster is the bastard of a wildling and a ranger and that he marries his own daughters. Jon rides to the rear of the column to report to Ser Ottyn, who is happy that a rest is coming. Jon takes a shortcut through the woods to get back to the head of the column and runs into Dywen and Grenn. Soon after, Ghost emerges too. He rides into Craster's Keep and spies Dolorous Edd tending to Lord Commander Mormont's horse. Edd informs him that the Lord Commander is in the hall.

When Jon enters, he sees Lord Commander Mormont flanked by Jarmen and Thoren and about two dozen senior rangers seated on benches. Craster sits in a seat at the head of the hall. Craster says that he has not seen Benjen, but that Ser Waymar did come through. Craster says he also knows much about what Mance is doing, but will only tell them for a price. He asks for a new axe, which the Lord Commander grants him. Craster says the expedition can stay one night and that any man who touches one of his wives loses a hand. Mormont sends Jon to fetch the axe and bring Sam to draw a map. As he searches for Sam, he hears a commotion and a cry of "Wolf!" He discovers Ghost, who has gotten into a rabbit hutch, and one of Craster's wives, who is young and pregnant. He tries to calm her down, but Lark the Sisterman and Chett come up and taunt her and she runs off. After a brief altercation with the two, Jon walks off to look for Sam again.

Giant points Jon in the right direction, and he finds Sam sheltering under a rock. They eat one of the rabbits Ghost found, and Sam goes off to find the Lord Commander. The next morning, Jon wakes up to a frozen wonderland, as the night's chill has turned yesterday's rain into a thin sheet of ice. The girl he encountered approaches him and begs him to take her when he leaves. She identifies herself as Gilly, says that Sam sent her, and says she fears for her child. If it is a girl, there will be no problem, but Nella told her the baby will be a boy, in which case Craster will give him to the Others, as he always does. Jon joins Dywen, Grenn, and Hake for breakfast. He attends Lord Commander Mormont after that. He sees Sam with Gilly and approaches him. Sam has promised Gilly that on the way back he will help her, and Jon is angry. The Watch leaves Craster's Keep. Jon tells Lord Commander Mormont about Craster's sacrifices, but he responds that the Watch has always known, and there is nothing to be done. He also reveals to Jon that Craster has told him that Mance is gathering his people in the Frostfangs. This is inhospitable ground, so the only reason he can be gathering is to throw his strength against the Wall. The wildlings have done this several times throughout history. The most recent invasion was led by Raymun Redbeard in the time of Eddard's great-grandfather, and before that there was Bael the Bard, the Horned Lord, the brothers Gendel and Gorne, and Joramun, who is said to have blown the Horn of Winter and woken giants from the earth. The Lord Commander means to find Mance Rayder and stop him.


Active Characters

  1. Craster - He is powerfully built, but old, with long gray hair going to white. He has a flat nose and a drooping mouth and is missing an ear. He has nineteen wives, many if not all of them his daughters.
  2. Dywen - He has a set of wooden teeth that do not fit very well.
  3. Ottyn Wythers - He is old, small, and prune-faced.


  1. Horn of Winter - A legendary horn that was used by the wildling king, Joramun, to wake giants from the earth.


  1. Craster's Keep - The "keep" consists of nothing more than a midden heap, a pigsty, a sheepfold, and a windowless daub-and-wattle hall chinked together with logs and roofed with sod.


1.  Prologue 25.  Theon II 49.  Daenerys IV
2.  Arya I 26.  Tyrion VI 50.  Tyrion XI
3.  Sansa I 27.  Arya VI 51.  Theon IV
4.  Tyrion I 28.  Daenerys II 52.  Jon VI
5.  Bran I 29.  Bran IV 53.  Sansa IV
6.  Arya II 30.  Tyrion VII 54.  Jon VII
7.  Jon I 31.  Arya VII 55.  Tyrion XII
8.  Catelyn I 32.  Catelyn III 56.  Catelyn VII
9.  Tyrion II 33.  Sansa III 57.  Theon V
10.  Arya III 34.  Catelyn IV 58.  Sansa V
11.  Davos I 35.  Jon IV 59.  Davos III
12.  Theon I 36.  Bran V 60.  Tyrion XIII
13.  Daenerys I 37.  Tyrion VIII 61.  Sansa VI
14.  Jon II 38.  Theon III 62.  Tyrion XIV
15.  Arya IV 39.  Arya VIII 63.  Sansa VII
16.  Tyrion III 40.  Catelyn V 64.  Daenerys V
17.  Bran II 41.  Daenerys III 65.  Arya X
18.  Tyrion IV 42.  Tyrion IX 66.  Sansa VIII
19.  Sansa II 43.  Davos II 67.  Theon VI
20.  Arya V 44.  Jon V 68.  Tyrion XV
21.  Tyrion V 45.  Tyrion X 69.  Jon VIII
22.  Bran III 46.  Catelyn VI 70.  Bran VII
23.  Catelyn II 47.  Bran VI
24.  Jon III 48.  Arya IX