|“||They will call you men of Night’s Watch now, but you are bigger fools than the Mummer’s Monkey here if you believe that. You are boys still, green and stinking of summer, and when the winter comes you will die like flies.||„|
|~ Ser Alliser to the new recruits of the Night's Watch|
Ser Alliser Thorne is one of the main antagonists of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series and its TV adaptation, Game of Thrones.
In the TV adaptation, Thorne serves as the main antagonist of Jon Snow's storyline in Seasons 1, 4, 5 and the first three episodes of Season 6.
He is a ranger of the Night's Watch and served as one of its masters-at-arms. The tone of his voice and his contempt makes him hated by all the Night's Watch's recruits.
In the TV series, he is portrayed by Owen Teale.
Alliser Thorne is a slim and sinewy 50-year-old man, dry and hard, with a sharp, cold voice. He is extremely aggressive, humorless, barbaric, hateful, bitter, and mean-spirited. He takes jokes poorly and likes to give mocking names to the recruits, such as: "Lord Snow" for Jon Snow; "the aurochs" for Grenn; "Rat" for Rast; "Mummer's Monkey" for Pypar; "Stone Head" for Halder; "Pimple" for Albett; "Ser Piggy", "Lady Piggy", and "Lord of Ham" for Samwell Tarly. At first, he hated the other new recruits of the Night's Watch more than Jon and had only a disdain for the boy, giving him a mocking nickname as Jon is an illegitimate son with a young lord's upbringing. This disdain turns into hatred when Jon replies to one of his mockeries, provoking the hilarity of the whole common room of Castle Black. Ser Alliser is good at leadership and a proven warrior, but his personality and personal hatred towards others are what keep him from becoming a true leader, causing distrust from Jeor Mormont. He's one of the few remaining knights of the Night's Watch, thus considered necessary to keep order and discipline for the Wall despite his actions.
Little is known about Ser Alliser's previous life before taking the black, and the only known thing about House Thorne is that it still exists and serves the Iron Throne. It is unknown who is the current head of House Thorne and what relation Alliser had with the family. It's also never said if he visited again the seat of his house like Benjen did.
Prior to joining the Night's Watch, Alliser was a knight of House Thorne of the Crownlands and fought on the side of House Targaryen during Robert's Rebellion. A defender of King's Landing, after its sack, Thorne was given the choice by Lord Tywin Lannister between death or taking the black, along with other fellow Targaryen loyalists such as Ser Jaremy Rykker. He's known for being mean-spirited and a bully who doesn't really care to train the recruits. Jeor Mormont is also afraid of the idea of Thorne commanding the Night's Watch. Thorne is a hateful person, having a dislike or hatred for nearly ever man at Castle Black unless he's highborn. His known friends are Thoren Smallwood, who died at the Fist of the First Men in the third book, A Storm of Swords; Ser Jaremy Rykker, killed by the wight of Jafer Flowers in the first book, A Game of Thrones; Ser Glendon Hewett of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and its current temporary commander; and Lord Janos Slynt, executed by Lord Commander Snow in the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons. Both Alliser and Benjen Stark have a dislike for Tyrion Lannister and accuse him of mocking the Night's Watch.
During the second book he arrives at King's Landing with the hand of a wight, and demands to see the King, but he's refused by the Hand of the King Tyrion Lannister: Alliser Thorne arrived at King's Landing with Othor's hand to impress on the Iron Throne the severity of the threat from beyond the Wall so that King Joffrey may send more troops to the Wall. However, Lord Tyrion remembers him as the mean-spirited man who likes to torment recruits. Out of spite, Tyrion keeps Ser Alliser waiting so long that Othor's hand decomposes, leaving bones, and is therefore not very convincing. Tyrion does not allow Alliser to see the king, and when Thorne starts to act aggressively at court, Tyrion has the Kingsguard to send him away, allowing him to take some men from the Red Keep's dungeons.
After taking a few prisoners and weapons with him, he returns to the Wall via sea again. During Alliser's absence, the duty of master-at-arms of Castle Black is taken by Ser Endrew Tarth, arrived from the Shadow Tower.
Thorne serves as the master-at-arms of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and he becomes an ally with Lord Janos Slynt and Ser Glendon Hewett. The three arrive at Castle Black at the end of the third book, with reinforcements from Eastwatch, for the wildling invasion commanded by Mance Rayder. Thorne and Slynt threaten to behead Jon, but eventually, they both agree to send him to treat with Mance, hoping to see him killed.
King Stannis Baratheon is infuriated by the absence of a leader and forces Maester Aemon to start the election in a rushed way, so Thorne, Hewett, First Steward Bowen Marsh, and First Builder Othell Yarwyck support Janos Slynt during the election of a new Lord Commander. Samwell convinces the other candidates for Lord Commander, Ser Denys Mallister, commander of the Shadow Tower, and Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, to support Jon Snow against Lord Janos. Janos wants to have Jon executed for killing Qhorin Halfhand (although Qhorin was already going die at the hands of Mance so he let Jon do it quickly to infiltrate the wildlings). Yarwyck and Marsh grow tired of Thorne and Slynt's plotting and support Jon. Jon also receives a vote from the late Jeor Mormont through his living raven and he's elected the 998th Lord Commander. In the TV show, Alliser replaces Janos as candidate for the election of new Lord Commander. However, as both a reward and a way to win his loyalty, Jon names Thorne the First Ranger of the Night's Watch. In the books, Jack Bulwer becomes First Ranger, while Thorne is a ranger officer, and Iron Emmett becomes the new master-at-arms of Castle Black, before becoming later the garrison commander of Long Barrow.
Thorne holds a strong disliking for Jon Snow. In the TV series this grudge eventually hits its boiling point in the Season 5 finale, "Mother's Mercy", where Thorne, Othell Yarwyck, Bowen Marsh, and several other men of the Night's Watch, including Olly, brutally stab Jon Snow and leave him to die after he let the wildlings go through the other side of the Wall to make them live in the lands of the Gift, the lands that have been raided by the wildlings for thousands of years, causing them to remain mostly abandoned. This differs from the original version in book 5 where Jon names Black Jack Bulwer First Ranger and him, Thorne and Dywen commanders of three groups of rangers beyond the Wall to find the rest of the wildlings. After Stannis's warnings and Slynt's execution, Jon was actually worried about Ser Alliser's loyalty, so he decided to send him with the other rangers to help find and rescue any wildling they can find north of the Wall. Thorne thinks Jon is sending him to die and promises he will return alive or as a wight. Jon doesn't like Thorne but still hopes he will make it back alive. In both books and TV show Ser Denys Mallister and Cotter Pyke, the commanders of the other 2 main castles, are not involved in the assassination of Jon.
The Mutiny at Castle Black in the novels
In the books, the Mutiny at Castle Black happens for multi-faceted reasons. Like in the TV series, Jon works to rescue the wildlings and lets thousands of wildlings through the gates, along with giants and mammoths, in an effort to save them from the Others. Because of their size most of the mammoths and giants pass via sea through Eastwatch. The Night's Watch also find many other wildling groups and families during the rangings beyond the Wall, scattered during the attack and burning of their camps by King Stannis Baratheon. Wun Wun is also found in the Haunted Forest with a wildling family. Many other wildlings fled from Stannis's invasion have been found by the wights and killed to join them, while the warrior band led by the Weeper is not far from the Shadow Tower. Tormund leads 4,000 wildlings through the gates of Castle Black in exchange of possession and hostages to ensure good behavior and to help pay for the resources needed to support the wildlings and Night's Watch through the winter. Meanwhile, Alys Karstark agrees to marry the Magnar Sigorn in an arrangement set up by Jon to protect Alys from being forcibly married to her cousin Cregan and so she can retake her home.
Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck strongly oppose Jon's efforts to save and ally with the wildlings and consider it treason. Thorne is not present at Castle Black for most of the book having been sent on a mission by Jon early in the fifth book. Cotter Pyke, commander of Eastwatch, is sent with ships to Hardhome and rescue thousands of wildlings camped there. Jon devotes much effort into rebuilding the castles along the Wall in preparation to defend against the Others, manning them with Watch members and willing wildlings alike. He allows those wildlings who wish to take the black into the Watch, which is also met with opposition from Bowen and his advisors.
As Jon is trying to do his best to prepare the Watch and the wildlings to fight the Others. Stannis Baratheon, now Lord of the Nightfort, heads south to support the Wall for the imminent war and winter: since Dowager Queen Cersei Lannister and the Boltons are bothered by the alliance between Stannis and the Night's Watch, Stannis tries to liberate the North from the Boltons and secure protection in the south, as well as support from the northern houses against the Others. He sent an order to Dragonstone for his men to start mining the dragonglass in the island to bring it to the Wall.
Bowen Marsh and his men are also uncomfortable with Jon providing aid to Stannis, fearing the wrath of the Iron Throne which views Stannis as a rebel. Jon explains the Watch owes Stannis a debt for saving them and he is their guest but Bowen Marsh remains uneasy and fearful of retribution from the Iron Throne.
Near the end of the book, Jon Snow receives a taunting letter purportedly from Ramsay Bolton, addressed to 'Bastard':
"Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.
Your false king’s friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. 'Instead' you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.
I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.
I want my bride back. I want the false king’s queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want his wildling princess.
I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard’s heart and eat it.
Ramsay Bolton, Trueborn Lord of Winterfell."
Excerpt From: George R. R. Martin. "A Dance With Dragons."
Jon is horrified by the letter. He and Tormund, who is with Jon when the letter is delivered, discuss what to do for the next two hours. Afterward, Jon announces at Shieldhall that Tormund will lead the ranging to Hardhome and he will go south and confront Ramsay. He says he will go alone and will not make anyone join him, unless they wish to. The wildlings are moved by his words and join him while Bowen and his men disappear from the Shieldhall. With his announcement to march south, Jon compromises his neutrality as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and his causes great discontent within the Watch's upper leadership.
Amidst the chaos, Jon hears a scream of agony and rushes to the source. When he arrives, a bleeding Wun Wun is holding the mangled body of Ser Patrick. Jon tries to prevent more loss of life and as he turns around, he sees Wick Wittlestick, who slashes at Jon's throat with a dagger, just barely grazing him. While Jon is still trying to understand, Bowen Marsh and others surround him and plant daggers in him, all of them saying with tears in their eyes, "For the Watch." By the time the fourth dagger slashes him, Jon has fallen. It's not mentioned yet if Yarwyck stabbed Jon like in the TV series. Thorne was not present during the mutiny as he has not yet returned from his mission beyond the Wall. Jack Bulwer and his group were found by the Weeper and his men and sent back to Castle Black as dead corpses. The Weeper plans to take the Shadow Tower. Melisandre has seen a vision in the flames about other rangers returning to Castle Black with blue eyes. It's still unknown if it's Thorne's group or Dywen's group.
In the sixth season of the TV series, Alliser, Marsh, Yarwyck, Olly, and the rest of the officers try to convince Ser Davos Seaworth to leave the Wall and the Night's Watchmen loyal to Jon Snow to surrender. Thorne promises he won't kill Ghost and will set him free in the lands beyond the Wall, with the other wolves and direwolves living there. Because of Thorne's lack of popularity and previous actions, Dolorous Edd doesn't trust the knight so Davos asks for time to consider the offer. Thorne manages to calm down the infuriated black brothers in the Great Hall, telling them that Jon was going to destroy the Night's Watch and he saved it. Marsh and Yarwyck don't seem very convinced anymore about their role in Jon's death, along with many other men. However the confused brothers decide to wait and see what happens with Davos and the loyalists. Only the steward boy from a ruined village of the Gift, Olly, shows loyalty to Thorne.
After Edd leaves secretly Castle Black and ride to seek support from the wildlings, Thorne and the officers return and order Davos to open the door of the Lord Commander's Tower. Davos and the loyalists refuse, so Thorne and his men prepare to fight. The massacre is avoided when the giant Wun Wun and a wildling warband storms into the castle, led by Tormund. Only two men of the Watch are killed, and the mutineers, having not much loyalty for Thorne's cause, immediately surrender, including Marsh and Yarwyck. Only Olly, disgusted by the wildlings living in the lands of his people and angered by the deaths of his family and friends at the hands of the wildlings, remains loyal to Thorne and attacks Tormund, reminding how he commanded the raid on his village along with Styr. Thorne and Olly are both overpowered and Dolorous Edd orders the mutineers to be taken to the Ice Cells.
After Jon Snow is brought back to life and reclaims his role as Lord Commander, he sentences Thorne, Olly, Marsh and Yarwyck to death by hanging for the mutiny. When Jon asks the mutineers for their final words; even when faced with his execution, Thorne is calm, but unrepentant, and states that he doesn't regret what he did and if he had to do it again, he would. Thorne warns Jon that he while he can rest, Jon will be fighting the wildlings' battles forever as well as his own, before accepting his fate. Jon dislikes killing the mutineers but he does his duty and serves justice according to the traditional law, and cuts the rope holding the trapdoor in place, hanging and killing Thorne and his fellow conspirators simultaneously.