Ygritte was a woman of the Free Folk who lived north of the Wall. She was part of Mance Rayder’s army and became the lover of Jon Snow.
Ygritte was a quick-witted and courageous young spearwife. She had red hair and displayed great skill as an archer. Living north of the Wall, she was well skilled in survival and was staunchly loyal to the cause of Mance Rayder. She valued her status as a free woman, and disparaged those living south of the Wall as ‘kneelers’, who blindly followed hereditary leaders instead of choosing a king.
Ygritte believed that because wildling’s and Northerners both claim descent from the First Men, there is no need for them to be fighting, and that only the geographical divide of the Wall separates them. As with other wildling’s, Ygritte understood that the real threat lies with the impending invasion of the White Walkers.
Ygritte was captured by Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand as the sole survivor of their assault on her watch post. She instructed her captors to burn the bodies of her companions, but Qhorin questioned her motives, thinking that she wanted a fire to attract more wildling’s. He then instructs Jon to execute her, telling him to catch up to him after the deed is done. Jon prepares to do so, but cannot bring himself to kill her.
Ygritte begs Jon to get it over with and awaits the stroke from his sword, but he hesitates and Ygritte seizes the opportunity to escape. Jon recaptures her, becoming isolated from his brothers in the process. With night approaching, Jon refuses to make a fire, forcing them to sleep out in the cold. Ygritte convinces him to huddle next to her to share body warmth but then makes sexual advances towards him as they fall asleep, which he rebuffs.
After a cold night, Ygritte awakens, still a prisoner of Jon. She turns the conversation to his virginity, during which Jon presses his loyalty to the Night’s Watch. Jon leads Ygritte along as he tries to find Qhorin Halfhand. On the way she argues with Jon, saying that the North belonged to the Free Folk long before the Andals came. Ygritte tells Jon that, as both Northerners and the Free Folk are descendants of the First Men, there is no sense in the two constantly fighting. After luring Jon off his guard by attempting to seduce him, she manages to escape again and lead him into a wildling ambush.
Ygritte brings Jon to the Lord of Bones, who orders him executed. She convinces Rattleshirt that Mance will want to question Jon because of his Stark blood. The Lord of Bones presents Qhorin, whom he had captured. The Halfhand openly blames Jon for the deaths of his men, and this discord intrigues Ygritte. Unbeknownst to Ygritte, Qhorin’s outward rage toward Jon is actually a plan to install Jon as a spy within Mance Rayder’s army.
During their way to meet with Mance Rayder, Ygritte continues to toy with Jon. Qhorin communicates a plan to Jon, through which Jon would appear to desert the Night’s Watch and join up with the wildling’s. He insists that Jon and he fight and allows Jon to kill him. Ygritte and the rest of the band are stunned, but accept Jon as one of their own and free his hands.
Ygritte leads Jon Snow into Mance Rayder’s camp in the Frostfang Mountains. Jon is shocked to see a giant among the tents. While the group is walking through the camp to Mance Rayder’s tent, some young boys pelt Jon with ice and stones, Ygritte protects him and shoos them away. When they arrive at Mance Rayder’s tent, she tells him not to look so grim, “If Mance Rayder likes you, you’ll live another day. And if he don’t…”
Ygritte later travels with Jon and Mance as they march slowly south towards the wall. They encounter one of his scouts, Orell. Ygritte is surprised to find that Jon has never seen a warg before.
While marching south towards the Wall, Ygritte and the rest of the Free Folk arrive at the Fist of the First Men. They survey the bloody aftermath of the assault on the Night’s Watch by the White Walkers and their army of undead wights. Mance orders Ygritte, along with Jon and a group of twenty wildling’s led by Tormund, to scale the wall and attack Castle Black from the south.
Before leaving the camp she playfully steals Jon’s sword and makes him chase her into a nearby grotto. Ygritte starts undressing, and says that she wants to make sure Jon Snow has truly abandoned his vows. She stands before him naked and kisses him. Jon is hesitant at first, but loses himself in his attraction to her and performs cunnilingus on a very surprised Ygritte. After sex, Jon and Ygritte lay together in a naked embrace, and she lovingly teases him about his former virginity. They then leap into the hot springs and Ygritte expresses her reluctance to ever leave the grotto.
Some time later, as the wildling’s ready to climb the wall, Ygritte reveals she is aware that Jon is still loyal to the Night’s Watch. She understands that he is an honourable man, but warns him that he has obligations to her as well.
While climbing, Ygritte causes a massive crack, which dislodges a large sheet of ice and sends several wildling’s to their deaths. She and Jon are left hanging by their safety rope. Orell decides that Tormund cannot continue climbing with the weight of Jon and Ygritte’s bodies pulling them down, and begins cutting the rope. Jon barely manages to get a hold in the Wall and saves himself and Ygritte when their rope is severed. They reach the top of the Wall and share a passionate kiss, grateful to be alive after such a narrow escape.
Ygritte, Jon and the wildling’s are led by Tormund Giantsbane, then make their way towards Castle Black to await Mance Rayder’s signal to begin the attack on the Night’s Watch. On their way there, when Ygritte mentions that they’re going to take their land back. Jon tries to dissuade Ygritte of attacking the Wall, mentioning historical accounts in which all of the previous Kings-Beyond-the-Wall have failed. Ygritte protests, saying they’ll be successful because Mance is leading them, but accepts that they may die. She tells Jon, “But first, we’ll live.”
Along the way, Ygritte is confronted by Orell, who expresses his distrust of Jon and says he would make a much better husband. However, he is flatly refused. Later, Jon tries to persuade Ygritte that the wildling’s cause is doomed to failure, but she refuses to listen. She tells him that if they die, they die, but before that, they will live. The two kiss passionately.
Later, the wildling party prepares to raid an elderly horse breeder’s home. When the party attacks the farmstead, Jon surreptitiously hits a rock with his sword, alerting the old man and giving him the chance to escape. When Ygritte tries to shoot the fleeing man with an arrow, Jon causes her to miss by calling her name.
The old man is later caught in an abandoned windmill. Outside the mill, Orell suggests that Jon prove himself to the wildling’s by killing the man himself. Jon is ultimately unable to kill an innocent, and Ygritte shoots him for Jon. Realising that Jon is still loyal to the Night’s Watch, Tormund orders his men to kill the Crow. He also restrains Ygritte to stop her from “getting [herself] killed” for her lover’s sake. Jon defeats Tormund’s men and escapes, leaving Ygritte and heading back to the Wall.
When he stops to rest, however, Ygritte catches up to him and, despite his insistence that her love for him is mutual, shoots him three times before he can get away. She watches him ride away with tears in her eyes, regretting his betrayal of her and also that she could not bring herself to kill the man she loved.
Now awaiting Mance’s signal south of the Wall, Ygritte and Tormund rest. Despite wanting revenge for his betrayal, Ygritte still loves Jon, a fact that Tormund picks up on. Ygritte insists that all three arrows found their mark, but says that Jon may still have survived. Knowing Ygritte’s skill as a markswoman, Tormund says that if Jon is still alive, it is because she didn’t want him dead. A group of Thenns led by Styr arrives, bearing food from a raid farther south. When Styr asks if Ygritte is Tormund’s woman, she claims that she belongs to no one and points a threatening arrow at the Thenn. He ignores it and takes a seat next to the fire to cook his meat: a human arm.
Ygritte and the wildling band attack a village and kill almost all of its inhabitants. She kills one villager, Guymon, with an arrow, whose son, vengeful on killing Ygritte, Styr orders to run to Castle Black to warn the Night’s Watch about the impending attack, in the hopes that the brothers would leave Castle Black to protect nearby villages, leaving them vulnerable to the southern attack.
Ygritte participates in the attack on Mole’s Town. She is ambushed by a whore in the Mole’s Town brothel, but swiftly kills her with a spear thrust into her gut. Ygritte then discovers Gilly and her son in hiding, but spares their lives and motions for them to be quiet so they will not be found by other and less merciful wildling’s.
Just outside Castle Black, Ygritte gets into a heated argument with Styr over her feelings for Jon, motivating her to resolve to kill him herself and reestablish her tarnished reputation among her own people. The wildling’s then see Mance Rayder’s bonfire signal to attack Castle Black. Ygritte scouts Castle Black’s defences and reports back that most of the men are on the Wall and few remain in the Castle. The group prepares to attack, while Ygritte seems to have second thoughts. During the battle, she kills numerous brothers of the Night’s Watch, including Pypar.
Cornering Jon Snow, Ygritte aims an arrow at him. Seeing him weakens her resolve and she hesitates, only to have Olly shoot her through the chest from behind. Jon holds her in his arms, and she weakly asks if he remembers the cave where they made love – where she said she wished they could stay forever and not have to face the war and death outside. Ygritte says they should have stayed in that cave. When Jon insists that they will return there, she tells him “You know nothing, Jon Snow” and then dies.
After the arrival of Stannis Baratheon at the Wall, Jon speaks with Tormund, who is now a captive of the Night’s Watch. Tormund asks Jon if he loved Ygritte, and, when Jon does not respond, says that she loved him very much, as the only thing she talked about after Jon left her, was killing him. He convinces Jon to have her body burned beyond the Wall. Thus, Jon takes Ygritte’s body to a grove in the Haunted Forest and makes a funeral pyre before a weirwood tree, burning his love’s body with tears in his eyes.
Ser Davos Seaworth mentions to Jon that he and several black brothers witnessed him take Ygritte’s body beyond the Wall, which has led many in the Night’s Watch to believe that Jon has grown to feel sympathy for the wildling’s. Later, during the choosing for a new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Alliser Thorne cites Jon’s affair with Ygritte as a reason not to vote for him as a candidate.
When Melisandre attempts to seduce Jon Snow, he rejects her advances. Although Ygritte is long dead, Jon still loves her and cannot bring himself to sleep with another woman. Melisandre apparently senses this within Jon, and as she leaves, she quotes Ygritte by telling him, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”