19

Craster...loves...his daughters, but not really his sons. I know he offs them, but how, and is it for some "Other" purpose? Some sort of dark tribute to the supernatural forces of the North to be left alone?

I seem to recall such an implication, but I forgot if this was made explicit anywhere.

18

There's a scene in Clash of Kings where it's mentioned Craster's sons are left out in the woods as an offering for the Others - I think this is the first time Jon Snow and the black brothers pass through his hamlet.

In one of the later books (book 3?), one of Craster's wives tells Sam to take Gilly and her son and go "because the boy's brothers are coming to get him" - one theory is that his sons are turned into one of the Others by the sacrifice (or ritual).

Not much is confirmed about the Others or how they came to be.

  • 1
    I think in the novel, Jon confronts Mormont about his suspicion that Craster gives his sons up to the Others, and Mormont basically confirms that it's common knowledge among the high-ranking Rangers. (In the show this happens after Jon sees it first-hand). – KutuluMike Jun 15 '12 at 3:01
15

It is not mentioned explicitly anywhere, but it is alluded to.

  • During the fateful Night's Watch ranging, when Jon visits a wildling village and looks into the mouth of a heart tree, he sees bones.
  • Craster claims to be a "godly man," whatever that means, and therefore does not need to worry about wights. Presumably, because he gives offerings.
  • When Lord Commander Mormont dies, p380 in my copy of A Storm of Swords, the chapter ends with two of Craster's wives and Gilly pleading with Sam to take her away:

Gilly was crying. "Me and the babe. Please. I'll be your wife, like I was Craster's. Please, ser crow. He's a boy, just like Nella said he'd be. If you don't take him, they will."
"They?" said Sam, and the raven cocked its black head and echoed, "They. They. They."
"The boy's brothers," said the old woman to the left. "Craster's sons. The white cold's rising out there, crow. I can feel it in my bones. These poor old bones don't lie. They'll be here soon, the sons."

It is implied here that the danger is to the boy, because none of the other women are leaving. One might argue that they'd sacrifice themselves to save Gilly and the boy, but I prefer to think they consider themselves safe enough with the rogue Night's Watch men, and the danger comes from drawing the Others to Craster's keep.

Read like that, there is little doubt as to the danger they believe exists, and the implication is pretty strong that "Craster's sons" are in fact Others. Since none of the boys supposedly survived infancy, it cannot be wights, and the implied magic involved -- them coming for his son, as though they had sensed it -- does hint that there is something supernatural about them.

  • 2
    I miss the Old Bear's crow, in the TV show... – Dan Ray Apr 2 '12 at 18:11
  • Isn't it in the show? Never noticed. – TLP Apr 2 '12 at 18:26
7

As TLP and Sorcerer13 mentioned, Craster gives his sons to the Others (White Walkers) as tribute. He calls it "honoring the Gods".

Interestingly, the TV show confirms what the book alludes to, that the boys:

(This is shown at the end of Season 4 Episode 4 )

Become White Walkers. A White Walker brings one of the boys to a ritual attended by several other Walkers. There, one of them holds a finger up to the boy and we see the boy's eyes turn blue, just like the Walkers.

You can also see for yourself:

enter image description here

4

You are correct, it is mentioned that the boys are offered up as a tribute to darker powers. As you say, you know that he gives his sons to the Cold, so let's not go into that. Jon knew about Craster's sacrifices.

"That's pretty." He remembered Sansa telling him once that he should say that whenever a lady told him her name. He could not help the girl, but perhaps the courtesy would please her. "Is it Craster who frightens you, Gilly?"

"For the baby, not for me. If it's a girl, that's not so bad, she'll grow a few years and he'll marry her. But Nella says it's to be a boy, and she's had six and knows these things. He gives the boys to the gods. Come the white cold, he does, and of late it comes more often. That's why he started giving them sheep, even though he has a taste for mutton. Only now the sheep's gone too. Next it will be dogs, till . . ." She lowered her eyes and stroked her belly.

"What gods?" Jon was remembering that they'd seen no boys in Craster's Keep, nor men either, save Craster himself.

"The cold gods," she said. "The ones in the night. The white shadows."

And suddenly Jon was back in the Lord Commander's Tower again. A severed hand was climbing his calf and when he pried it off with the point of his longsword, it lay writhing, fingers opening and closing. The dead man rose to his feet, blue eyes shining in that gashed and swollen face. Ropes of torn flesh hung from the great wound in his belly, yet there was no blood.

"What color are their eyes?" he asked her.

"Blue. As bright as blue stars, and as cold."

She has seen them, he thought. Craster lied.
ACOK - Jon III

He decided to tell the Lord Commander about what he thought was shocking.

In half a hundred ways. "He gives his sons to the wood."

A long silence. Then: "Yes." And "Yes," the raven muttered, strutting. "Yes, yes, yes."

"You knew?"

"Smallwood told me. Long ago. All the rangers know, though few will talk of it."

"Did my uncle know?"

"All the rangers," Mormont repeated. "You think I ought to stop him. Kill him if need be." The Old Bear sighed. "Were it only that he wished to rid himself of some mouths, I'd gladly send Yoren or Conwys to collect the boys. We could raise them to the black and the Watch would be that much the stronger. But the wildlings serve crueler gods than you or I. These boys are Craster's offerings. His prayers, if you will."
ACOK - Jon III

So as you can see, Night's Watch knew that Craster offered his children as prayers or sacrifices. They however most likely considered it Wildling superstition given that they did not believe the Others were truly out there once again.

Before all that, there were occasions on Which Craster referred to his gods in a rather suspicious manner:

"We've had no such troubles here . . . and I'll thank you not to tell such evil tales under my roof. I'm a godly man, and the gods keep me safe. If wights come walking, I'll know how to send them back to their graves. Though I could use me a sharp new axe." He sent his wife scurrying with a slap on her leg and a shout of "More beer, and be quick about it."
ACOK - Jon III

And Gilly had also told Sam all about Craster's sacrifices:

There had been no attacks while they had been at Craster's, neither wights nor Others. Nor would there be, Craster said. "A godly man got no cause to fear such. I said as much to that Mance Rayder once, when he come sniffing round. He never listened, no more'n you crows with your swords and your bloody fires. That won't help you none when the white cold comes. Only the gods will help you then. You best get right with the gods."

Gilly had spoken of the white cold as well, and she'd told them what sort of offerings Craster made to his gods. Sam had wanted to kill him when he heard. There are no laws beyond the Wall, he reminded himself, and Craster's a friend to the Watch.
ASOS- Samwell II

So in conclusion, Craster sacrificed his sons to the "gods" aka the Others as part of a deal to spare him and his. It is unclear why Craster thought the deal would last for long.

3

Craster leaves his sons out in the woods as a sacrifice for the Others.

1

He leaves them out as an offering to the White Walkers. @Aegon's answer clearly demonstrates this from a book perspective but it is also the case from the show.

This is actually shown in the show when Jon follows Rast who leaves the baby boy in the forest. It is later shown in Season 4 that the White Walkers have collected this boy and have left him on an alter. The Night King then approaches who places a hand on the babies face and turns his eyes blue, essentially turning him into a White Walker.

This is also covered in season 3 episode 8 when Sam kills a white walker who is trying to take Little Sam away from Gilly.

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