Game of Thrones Wiki


Game of Thrones Wiki
Game of Thrones Wiki

"Those are Thenns at our walls. They eat the flesh of the men they kill!"
Alliser Thorne[src]

The Thenns, also known as the Thenn, are a clan of Free Folk, from very far north of the Wall. They speak the Old Tongue.[1]

The Thenn people are the most advanced and best equipped of the wildling tribes, as well as the most disciplined. Thenns shave their heads bald and engage in self-scarification as well as cannibalism, feasting on the flesh of their enemies.

Prominent Thenn


Season 3

The Thenn now march in the army of the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, who has united all of the different wildling clans to assault the Wall and force their passage to the south. Mance points out that the Thenn hate the Hornfoots.[2]

Ygritte says that the second person she ever had sex with was a Thenn boy, who didn't speak a word of the Common Tongue, but was "built like a mammoth."[1]

Season 4

A pair of Thenn among wildling raiders.

Following Jon Snow's betrayal and flight from the wildlings, he reports back to Castle Black's remaining leadership that Mance Rayder is advancing on their position with an army 100,000 strong, and that he has united the Thenns, Hornfoots, and the ice-river clans, and he even has giants marching with him.

Meanwhile, further south, Tormund sends a messenger beyond the Wall to inform Mance, who sends in turn a band of Thenns led by the their Magnar Styr to reinforce Tormund's troops. Styr catches up with Tormund in a ravine a month later and the two have a cold meeting. Tormund confesses to Ygritte that he hates Thenns, and tells Styr that he won't answer to him for any recent losses, only to Mance. Tormund also asks Styr how he found them, and why they approached from the south, rather than the north. Styr points to his own Thenn warg and his accompanying owl, and says that his men took a detour to feed on a nearby village, sharing that he finds meat so much better south of the Wall. The Thenns then discard the two rabbits that the other wildlings had on the fire, and produce parts of a human body from a bag, which they put to roast. Reclining before the meat, Styr tells Tormund that he should try "crow" before his death.[3]

Season 5

When Lord Commander Jon Snow and Tormund arrive at Hardhome to offer the Free Folk to retreat to Castle Black and settle south of the Wall, a meeting of the clan chieftains is held, where the Thenns are represented by Loboda. Loboda doesn't believe the Night's Watch cares about what happens to them, despite the Lord Commander's appeals and his offer of dragonglass as a weapon against the White Walkers, which Loboda dismisses as just as unlikely as the mythical "ice spiders as big as hounds". Jon argues Mance Rayder would have supported his suggestion, so Loboda asks what happened to him. When Snow admits he killed him, Loboda prepares to kill him, only to be stopped by Tormund, who reveals it was a mercy kill. Loboda remains stubborn, claiming that all the Free Folk who get on the Crows' boats will be executed, as they have always been enemies and his ancestors would spit on him if he broke bread with a crow. Loboda abandons the hall, and he is followed by many other chieftains, to the dismay of Jon, Tormund, and Karsi, who exclaims she "fucking hates Thenns."[4]

Season 6

When a captive Osha is brought before Ramsay Bolton, he asks her if the flayed man on his banners worries her. She asks him if he eats his victims afterward but he chuckles and says no. Osha then replies that she's seen worse, referring to the Thenns.[5]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Thenn are tribe of wildlings established in an eponymous valley on the northern end of the Frostfangs. The valley of Thenn is hidden deep within the northern Frostfangs, roughly three times as far north as the Fist of the First Men is from the Wall, but ironically it is one of the most fertile and hospitable areas north of the Wall. The entire valley is heated by volcanic activity giving it a far warmer climate than surrounding lands.

The Thenn are the most culturally sophisticated of the Free Folk. They speak the Old Tongue and consider themselves the last of the First Men. Indeed, their culture and technology level is very close to what the First Men were like centuries ago, before the coming of the Andals. Unlike other tribes of wildlings, the Thenn do have lords, who enforce established laws, making them the most disciplined and obedient of the Free Folk. They are led by a "Magnar", a word which means "Lord" in the Old Tongue, whom they consider more a god than a man. The valley of Thenn, therefore, is an oasis of fertile land and relative civilization in the far northern depths of the lands beyond the Wall.

Also, they are the only wildling group that has any knowledge of metallurgy, as they know how to forge weapons and even armor out of bronze. Such weapons were supplanted south of the Wall six thousand years ago when the Andal Invasion introduced iron weapons to the continent. However, most of the wildlings have no knowledge of how to forge metal at all, and commonly use simple weapons made of only stone, bone, or sharpened wood. Many of the other wildlings still manage to obtain iron weapons from raiding or trading with smugglers in exchange for furs and other resources, but this is not a consistent method for arming and equipping an entire army. In contrast, the Thenn are well-disciplined, commanded by their own lords, and are all uniformly armed with bronze weapons and armor. Thus the Thenn are one of the toughest wildling groups that the Night's Watch has to face.

In the third novel, the Thenns are led by Styr, their Magnar, who rules with an iron hand. The Thenns have joined the army of Mance Rayder, who defeated Styr three times to win their allegiance. Jon Snow accompanies one hundred Thenns who climb the Wall and descend at Greyguard. He manages to escape from them at Queenscrown. Styr leads the raiders to attack Castle Black from the south, but are killed. The new Magnar is among the captives whom Stannis captures during the battle of Castle Black.

Following the battle, the Thenns are separated: many go to the Milkwater, where the Weeper gathers warriors to take the Shadow Tower; hundreds follow a dour warrior north, to take refuge in the valley of the Thenns; hundreds more go with the woods witch Mother Mole to Hardhome; the Thenns who were taken captive by Stannis follow Sigorn, the son of Styr who succeeded him as the Magnar.

Sigorn and his followers ally with the Night's Watch, though reluctantly. Later, Sigorn weds Alys Karstark, and becomes the founder of the newly styled House Thenn.

Conflation with the ice-river clans in the TV series

In the books, the Thenn are the most advanced and civilized of the wildlings, which is what makes them more dangerous than many other more savage but undisciplined clans. They do not engage in cannibalism. They are also not mentioned to engage in ritual scarification.

There is a different wildling group that does engage in cannibalism, the ice-river clans, who engage in this behavior due to the harsh conditions of the lands north of the Frozen Shore. The ice-river clans are regarded as savage and half-feral, even by the other wildlings, who loathe and fear them. They hunt other wildlings to eat them for their meat, due to the lack of food in the frozen wastelands they inhabit.

Due to time constraints, the TV series version of "the Thenns" is basically a conflation of the book-Thenns with the book-ice river clans - combining the most advanced and refined wildling clan with the most savage and animalistic. Again, making the Thenns cannibals in the TV series does have some precedent in the books, as there is a separate group of wildlings who are cannibals, but the TV show (somewhat paradoxically) combined them both together. That being said, the TV-Thenns do not appear to (primarily) eat other people as a survival tactic (like the savage ice-river clans in the books), but as a terror-tactic to frighten their enemies (i.e. the old trope of eating an enemy's heart to take his courage).

Meanwhile, the TV-Thenns retain the noticeably more advanced equipment of their book counterparts, with basic metal armor consisting of interwoven bronze disks. As explicitly mentioned in behind-the-scenes featurettes, the other wildlings only carry weapons made of wood, stone, and bone - what steel weapons they are seen carrying are mostly looted from dead Night's Watch members, so they have the same design as swords south of the Wall instead of a unique wildling-style. In contrast, the Thenns in the TV series are seen to carry their own distinctive bronze axes, matching the detail from the books that the Thenns are the only wildling group that has any knowledge of metallurgy.

Oddly, the TV series actually has mentioned the ice-river clans in both Season 3 and Season 4 as marching in Mance Rayder's army, so they do exist in the TV continuity (at least in principle), but they never appeared on-screen.

See also