- "And why do you think the farmers abandoned those villages? Because the wildlings raided them for years, cut them down! Just like they did this boy's people!"
- ―Bowen Marsh to Samwell Tarly
Bowen Marsh is the First Steward of the Night's Watch, based at Castle Black. He is in charge of the day-to-day running of the Night's Watch, dealing with issues of supplies, funding, logistics and communications. He hails from House Marsh, a noble crannogmen family of the Neck sworn to House Reed.
Marsh is present when Mance Rayder is executed by Stannis Baratheon for refusing to bend the knee. Later, he participates in the Choosing of the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He stands among Alliser Thorne's supporters, and fails to applaud or cheer when Jon Snow is elected. He is also bregrunginfly sits beside Jon when he orders Janos Slynt to restore Greyguard, who refuses, before being executed by Jon for insubordination.
At a later meeting in the Night's Watch, Marsh sits alongside Jon, Thorne and First Builder Othell Yarwyck and openly opposes Jon's proposal to allow the wildlings access through the Wall to settle in the Seven Kingdoms or even join the Watch itself. Samwell Tarly cites The Gift as a good place for the wildlings to settle because much of the farmland there is deserted, but Marsh reminds him that this is because the wildlings frequently targeted the lands of the Gift in their raids of the North, citing Olly's village as an example.
When Jon Snow returns from Hardhome with thousands of wildlings and lets them in through the Wall, Bowen Marsh is among the many black brothers who look at the wildlings and even their Lord Commander with disgust.
Marsh later takes part in and helps organize a mutiny against Jon Snow, as many Black brothers feel that he has forsaked the Night's Watch for the wildlings. After tricking Jon into being trapped in a corner, Marsh is the third to stab Jon, after Alliser Thorne and Othell Yarwyck, though he looks somewhat remorseful while uttering "For the Watch". He and the mutineers then leave Jon for dead as the sun rises.
Thorne openly admits that he orchestrated Jon's murder, and Marsh was one of the conspirators. Marsh is present when Thorne threatens to kill Jon's loyalists if they refuse to surrender by nightfall. Come nightfall, Marsh is among the mutineers who try to break into Jon's quarters, stopped only when Eddison Tollett returns with the wildling army. With the Night's Watch outnumbered, Edd orders the mutineers arrested for their treachery. Marsh is subsequently dragged off and locked in an ice cell. Following Jon's resurrection, Marsh and the mutineers are sentenced to execution by hanging for their treason. He openly tells Jon that he shouldn't be alive, while Jon counters that the mutineers shouldn't have killed him. He dies when Jon cuts the rope that triggers the hanging.
|Season Five appearances|
|The Wars To Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother’s Mercy|
|Season Six appearances|
|The Red Woman||Home||Oathbreaker||Book of the Stranger||The Door|
|Blood of My Blood||The Broken Man||No One||Battle of the Bastards||The Winds of Winter|
- "For the Watch."
- ―Bowen Marsh after stabbing Jon Snow during the Mutiny at Castle Black.
Behind the scenes
During the first season it was believed Brian Fortune was playing Marsh, and Dennis McKeever was playing Othell Yarwyck, based on comments made by Fortune and McKeever's character delivering one of Yarwyck's lines from the books. However, this assumption was then dispelled: McKeever reappeared in Seasons 2 and 3 in the Great Ranging, even though Yarwyck didn't participate in the books; in Season 4, Fortune's character was identified as Yarwyck; and Michael Condron was subsequently cast as Marsh for the fifth season, which means Fortune's character was always Yarwyck, while McKeever was simply playing an unnamed Night's Watch officer.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Bowen Marsh first appears in the first book, A Game of Thrones. He is described as being red and round, leading Dolorous Edd to nickname him "the Old Pomegranate". He is is an important senior figure in the Watch, reporting directly to Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and is just below him in the command hierarchy of the Watch.
Dolorous Edd, Mance Rayder and Cotter Pyke have the same opinion about Marsh: that he is more skilled in counting than fighting.
When Mormont and the rest of the Night's Watch ride out to investigate the wildling menace in the so-called "Great Ranging", he remains in command at Castle Black. Though not explicitly stated, Bowen Marsh hails from House Marsh, a noble house from the Neck sworn to House Reed.
In A Storm of Swords, as the wildlings advance to Castle Black, Mance Rayder sends raiding parties to attack several areas of the Wall, in order to draw attention away from the main host and to split the defenders. Unfortunately, Marsh falls for the trick and takes most of the garrison from Castle Black. When Jon Snow returns, he finds that only forty-one men are left in the castle, most of them old, crippled, or inexperienced.
In the novels, Marsh is initially friendly with Jon Snow. In A Dance with Dragons, he staunchly supports Jon when he is elected as the new Lord Commander, but slowly becomes disillusioned with him when he proposes an alliance with the wildlings, personally reminding him that what he is proposing is nothing less than treason towards the Watch. He also against attempting to save the wildlings at Hardhome.
When Jon decides to leave Castle Black to seek out and kill Ramsay Bolton, who apparently sent Jon a threatening letter, it is Marsh who instigates the mutiny against Jon instead of Alliser Thorne (who is not present, since Jon sent him earlier on a mission beyond the wall, and has not returned yet). He is the second to stab Jon, exclaiming "For the Watch" with tears in his eyes.
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