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What Will "The Winds of Winter" Bring for Mance Rayder?
Warning: Spoilers Lie Ahead
The Winds of Winter is the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This article will take a look back at the previous five installments as well as make predictions on the next chapter in the series. The reader has been warned that spoilers lie ahead.
The King Beyond The Wall
Only one man could unite the cannibalistic Thenn's, the giants and all of the other tribes that make up the Wildlings. That man, Mance Rayder, had previously been a sworn borther of the Night's Watch who was tasked with protecting the realms of men from the very Wildlings he now leads. How does one man do this? Read ahead to find out.
Mance doesn't appear in the A Song of Ice and Fire series until the third book but once introduced to him we find he has been present at events all through the series so we will start at the beginning. Mance had been a Wildling child born north of the Wall, an 800 foot monstrosity of ice that keeps the Wildlings penned north so they cannot interfere with the Seven Kingdoms. His people were killed and baby Mance was taken to Castle Black, home of the Night's Watch who garrison the Wall. Mance was raised as a brother of the Night's Watch and even taken to Winterfell when he was younger where he saw both Robb Stark and Jon Snow as young children.
Mance's defection from the Night's Watch came when he was on a ranging north of The Wall and was attacked and injured by a wild animal. A Wildling healer treated his wounds and nursed him back to health. His cloak, which was all black as are all clothes worn by brothers of the Night's Watch, was mended with red fabric and as he returned to Castle Black his superiors required him to throw away the red and black coat and take a new all black version. This one small act led to many deaths later in the series but for the time being changed Mance's mind about the Night's Watch as he now saw them as oppressive and his freedom out of his own hands. Mance then defected and fled north of the Wall. He took up with the Wildlings and his life opened up as he was now allowed to live how he pleased.
Fast forward many years and Mance has now been positioned as a Wildling leader, even being called the King Beyond the Wall. The Free Folk, what the Wildlings call themselves, say they are all free to make their own decisions but see Mance as their leader which is a feat all its own since no one has been able to unite all of the people under one banner.
It is made clear that during the first couple of books Mance was present at major happenings such as King Robert Baratheon's visit to Winterfell where he asks Lord Eddard Stark to be his Hand of the King. Mance has been supremely skilled in sneaking around through his time with the Night's Watch and the Wildlings and is present where he once again sees the Stark children and Jon Snow. He even goes so far as to play music for these men who do not know his true identity. Upon his return to the Wall he meets Dalla who becomes his wife and mother to his child.
Mance Rayder then undertakes the monumental task of moving his united Wildlings south to attack the Wall. He doesn't know but the Night's Watch has ranged north of The Wall to find out what Mance is planning and Jon Snow, who has joined the Watch, goes with them and is captured by a band of Wildlings who bring him to Mance's headquarters.
Jon Snow had killed his commanding office, Qhorin Halfhand, and is asking to join the Wildlings as he is also defecting from the Night's Watch. This is not the truth but in reality Jon has been tasked with infiltrating the Wildlings so when Jon is brought before Mance and his hierarchy they are initially extremely skeptical of the boy. Jon first meets Tormund Giantsbane, Mance's war general, who he thinks is Mance himself before he reveals he is in fact the King Beyond the Wall.
Mance asks Jon's intentions and also tells him that he is not marching primarily to destroy the Night's Watch but because an ancient forces known as the White Walkers has reawakened and is killing his people. He informs Jon he intends to move his people south to escape the White Walkers and use the Wall as a shield for his people. He does, however, inform Jon that he has found an ancient horn that supposedly can bring down the Wall if blown and will use it if the Night's Watch does not permit him to pass.
Mance then sends Jon off with a group of Wildlings to scale the Wall and attack from the south. Jon Snow eventually defects from the Wildlings after scaling the Wall and informs Castle Black they are about to attack. They stop the invaders south of the Wall and then Jon treats with Mance and Tormund as they position themselves right outside the Wall. The battle begins and as it ensues Stannis Baratheon shows up surprisingly and helps defeat the huge army of Wildlings for the Night's Watch and Mance is taken captive.
As he is captured, Dalla gives birth to Mance's son who is now Prince Beyond the Wall and in effect has King's blood. This is important because there is a Red Priestess named Melisandre with Stannis Baratheon's army who serves as an advisor and worships a god who believes sacrifice by fire can help them win the war in the Seven Kingdoms. She believes King's blood the most effective and asks for Mance's son to sacrifice as an omen.
One of the Night's Watch brothers, Samwell Tarly, has smuggled a Wildling woman to the Wall and she has a baby which is switched out with Mance's son before the sacrifice. Sam, Gilly and the baby are then shuttled off to safety aboard a ship so Mance's son can live.
Mance is then sentenced to die by fire because of his blood and Jon Snow orders his men to fill him full of arrows as the fire starts to give him a quick death. It appears Mance has been sacrificed but later revealed that Melisandre had used her magic to make one of Mance's generals, Rattleshirt, take on his appearance at the sacrifice and Mance still lives.
Melisandre and Mance are the only two who know and eventually when Jon Snow receives word that his sister, Arya Stark, is to be wed to Ramsay Bolton she suggests sending "Rattleshirt" to save her. The real Rattleshirt who has now been sacrificed was no friend of Jon Snow's so he refuses which makes Melisandre reveal that Mance is actual still alive.
Jon Snow tells Mance that he will go save his sister but if he tries anything funny he still holds Mance's son, who in actuality is Gilly's son (Yes, there is a lot of this person is actually that person), because Mance is not aware that his son was sent off to stop the sacrifice. Mance agrees and heads to Winterfell hoping to save Arya.
Mance takes six Wildling women and enters Winterfell under the disguise of Abel, a musician for the wedding. Over the course of the wedding and following nights members of the Bolton's forces continually die which leads to unrest in Winterfell as Mance's women are tasked with killing them. Suspicion is immediately cast on Theon Greyjoy who is a captive of Ramsay's since the second book. Theon even goes so far as to tell Abel he will help him save Arya from the Bolton's. Throughout all of the suspicion Stannis' forces are arriving outside the gates of Winterfell and the entire city is boiling on edge ready to explode.
Mance has Theon and the six women attempt to rescue Arya, which is revealed to be another girl who looks like Arya, and Theon and the girl jump over the walls of Winterfell leaving Mance's whereabouts undetermined again. At the end of the fifth book, Jon Snow receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton saying Stannis is dead and Mance has been captured. He details that Mance is in a cage and has to use the flayed skins of the six women as a blanket for warmth.
What Will the Winds Bring?
I am of the mindset that Ramsay's letter is a farce. There is supposedly a huge battle in the snow that George R. R. Martin has detailed will be happening in the next book and I believe Stannis' forces will prevail ultimately and Mance will be released. I think he will take word back to Jon Snow, who seems to be dead, of the fake Arya and Mance will somehow factor into Melisandre's plans. I think Jon Snow is not really dead and was in fact faked by Melisandre so he could sneak off and as things at The Wall explode for the worse Melisandre will try to use Mance to bring order back. Eventually I think Mance will overreach his boundaries and Melisandre will in fact sacrifice him to the fire for some purpose. After all, there are no happy endings in Westeros and a nasty, fiery death seems likely for the King Beyond the Wall.