Lord Walder Frey was the Lord of the Crossing, Lord of Riverrun, Lord Paramount of the Trident, and the head of House Frey, the Great House of the River lands, and a former vassal house to House Tully, the previous Great House which he betrayed at the Red Wedding. He was eventually murdered by Arya Stark in retaliation for the Red Wedding, where he had also betrayed House Stark.
Walder Frey is the Lord of the Crossing and the head of House Frey, a vassal family of House Tully of the River lands. His house is noted for its overwhelming fertility and he has over one hundred descendants. He rules the Twins and its surrounding lands, controlling the strategically important crossing of the Green Fork. Over the years, this great stone bridge and the castles that control it have made House Frey a fortune in crossing fees. Lord Walder been married seven times and is almost ninety years old when the series begins.
He is referred to by his liege lord, Hoster Tully, as the “Late Lord Frey” after delaying his arrival to assist Robert’s Rebellion until the outcome had already been determined.
Catelyn Stark meets a knight with a group of men at arms of House Frey at the Crossroads Inn and asks after Lord Walder’s health. The knight replies that Lord Walder is well and is planning to celebrate his 90th birthday by taking a new wife. Tyrion Lannister laughs derisively at the news, making enemies of this group.
When Robb Stark’s army arrives at the Twins on its march south, Robb needs to cross the river to gain a tactical advantage over the Lannister forces. As a Tully banner man, Walder Frey had been called up, but he had delayed going until he saw which side had the advantage. Now that Riverrun is besieged by the Lannisters, Frey wonders why he should risk their fury. Catelyn tells Robb that Walder Frey is slippery and not to be trusted, despite his allegiance to her father. Fearing that Walder would attempt to imprison Robb and sell him to the Lannisters, Catelyn volunteers to negotiate with him, despite the warnings of Robb, Rodrik Cassel, Greatjon Umber and Theon Greyjoy, stating that she has known Walder since childhood.
Upon entering the Twins, Catelyn finds Walder and his vast brood of sons, grandsons and bastards. Although two of his sons, Stevron and Ryger, respectfully remind their father to remember his courtesies to Catelyn, her being the daughter of their liege lord, Walder agrees to Catelyn’s request to dismiss them – including his new fifteen-year-old wife, Joyeuse Erenford – while they negotiate. An alliance is formed; in return for permission to cross and the service of Walder’s troops, Robb will marry one of Walder’s daughters or grand daughters, whichever he likes. Additionally Arya, when recovered, will marry Walder’s son Waldron. Robb must also take another son, Olyvar Frey, as a squire. Robb consents to the match, even after his mother indicates that Walder’s daughters are not particularly attractive.
In response to Robb’s plea for men to help him capture Casterly Rock, Lord Walder sends his sons Lothar and Black Walder to Riverrun to discuss the terms of a new alliance with him. Lord Walder demands Harrenhal, as well as the marriage between Edmure Tully and his daughter Roslin. When the King in the North and his entourage arrive, Lord Walder offers them his hospitality, but cannot keep himself from mocking Robb over his broken oath, insulting Queen Talisa and leering over her. Later, he oversees the wedding of Edmure and Roslin, and the following feast.
Once the newlyweds retire for the bedding, he has the halls sealed and gives the cue for his men to slaughter the Starks. He watches in rapture and takes sips from his cup as Talisa(along with her unborn child) is stabbed to death by Lothar, whislt Robb’s banner men are killed by crossbowmen. In a desperate bid to save her son, Catelyn Stark takes Lady Joyeuse hostage and begs Walder to spare his life, swearing they will take no vengeance. However, Walder hypocritically faults Catelyn for allowing her son to break the oath she swore to him the last time they spoke right there in his castle, even though he had then openly expressed his indifference towards the oath he swore to her father and had now just broken his promised protection of guest right.
When Catelyn threatens to cut his wife’s throat if he does not comply, Walder shrugs and coldly retorts that he will find another. Robb is then killed by Roose Bolton, who had sealed an alliance with Walder by marrying his grand daughter Walda, Lady Joyeuse is killed by Catelyn, and finally Catelyn is killed by Black Walder. For his part in the Red Wedding, Lord Walder is granted Riverrun and protection from vengeful Northerners by Tywin Lannister. The next morning, he and Roose Bolton gloat over their victory, though Bolton appears concerned when it is discovered that Robb’s great-uncle, Brynden Tully, escaped the massacre, while Frey is undisturbed. Frey voices his contempt for Robb, referring to him as a “stupid boy” and mockingly drinking a toast to him, while Bolton claims that it was precisely Robb’s political inexperience that led him to betray him.
Lord Walder and the rest of House Frey are now the focus of distaste and hatred by the North and the River lands for their part in the Red Wedding, especially since the River lands have fallen into disarray and lawlessness since they were granted to the Freys by the Lannisters. None of House Tully’s vassals accept Lord Walder as their new liege lord. A farmer avows that Lord Walder himself committed sacrilege by sharing bread and salt with the Starks and Tullys before slaughtering them, and that he will “burn in the seventh Hell” for it.
Walder Frey’s dominion over the River lands is weakened when Brynden Tully, Edmure Tully’s uncle and a veteran of the War of the Nine penny Kings, reclaims Riverrun from the Freys with what remains of House Tully’s armies.
Walder learns of the capture of Riverrun, and the subsequent rising of the other River lands houses against House Frey, from Lame Lothar and Black Walder, which sends him into a fury. He accosts them for allowing Brynden to escape the Red Wedding alive in the first place, and demands they take back Riverrun. To do so, they will use the captive Edmure as a hostage, demanding that his sons show Brynden the knives they used to kill Talisa (along with her unborn child) and Catelyn. Walder rages that he knows the other River lords still laugh at him, and says that, despite his age, he will not die until they choke on their laughter.
During the feast at The Twins and following the defeat of House Tully, Walder Frey argues with Jaime Lannister over House Frey’s capability of taking control of the River lands: a furious Jaime, outraged by Walder comparing them similar as King slayers, coldly reminds Walder his House is held in contempt by the rest of the River lands, and if the Freys continue to prove themselves incompetent of holding their territory, the Lannisters will refuse to bail them out the next time they need help, leaving Walder speechless. Shortly after the Lannister army leaves, Walder dines on a piece of pie as a serving girl brings him another piece.
He correctly deduces the girl is not one of his progeny as she is “too pretty”, slaps her rear, and gives her a lascivious look but his mood quickly turns sour over the tardiness of Black Walder and Lothar. The girl replies that they are right there, revealing they are in the very pie that he was eating. Walder goes into a state of shock and looks back at the girl who then reveals her true identity: Arya Stark, wearing a mask she stole from the Hall of Faces. Walder Frey attempts to flee but Arya pulls him back and slits his throat open, the same way her mother, Catelyn, was killed, and watches with satisfaction as Walder bleeds out and dies.
After murdering Walder, Arya uses his face to impersonate him and hold a feast in honour of all of his sons. She gives a rousing speech, “reminiscing” over House Frey’s victories, before offering her audience a toast of poisoned wine. As Walder’s many sons drink from their chalices, Arya refuses to let any of the women partake, aware of their innocence. She then elicits cheers from the many Frey sons upon the mention of the infamous Red Wedding, though then goes on to subtlety mock them by reminding them of how they butchered a pregnant woman, cut the throat of a mother of five, and slaughtered the Starks after inviting them into their home. As the Frey sons begin to cough up blood from the poison, Arya watches with satisfaction as they all die before removing her mask and revealing herself. Before leaving, she asks Walder’s wife, Kitty Frey, to tell anyone that might ask what happened that “the north remembers”, and remarks that winter has come for House Frey.
- Tyrion Lannister: “Walder Frey is many things, but a brave man? No. He never would’ve risked such an action, unless he had certain assurances.”
- Tywin Lannister: “Which he got from me.”
- — Tyrion and Tywin Lannister discuss Walder Frey.
Walder Frey is shown to be an arrogant, cruel, domineering, sarcastic, lecherous, and tyrannical man who possesses no shame. He openly admits how little he thinks of the oaths he swears to other houses due to his strategic position, which he uses to extort hefty tolls in exchange for his allegiance, and shows a willingness to switch sides if he thinks it will benefit him more. Walder may see to it that his numerous progeny, true born and baseborn alike, are provided for but shows them little to no regard (as shown when he couldn’t even remember his granddaughter Merry’s name) as he basically uses them to further assert his own position. In truth, his ire towards Robb after he broke his vow had nothing whatsoever to do with any slight to his daughters and granddaughters but rather to his house.
Despite his advanced age, however, Walder shows little thought or concern for what happens to his house after he dies because like other individuals, namely Cersei Lannister and Ramsay Bolton, he is extremely self centred, not fully considering the long-term consequences of his actions. In addition, Walder Frey is extremely callous. When he meets Jaime Lannister, he speaks with the man as if they are equals (although Jaime has personally killed many men while Walder merely sat and watched as others died), calling himself a conqueror. He also credited himself as a king slayer like Jaime for his involvement in the Red Wedding, even though it had been Roose Bolton who had killed Robb Stark. Walder Frey had barely even got up from his seat during the massacre, and yet he credited himself with the deaths of greater men and women than himself.
Jaime is quick to point this out, and the fact that Walder views his house as a feared one for eliminating the Tullys on two occasions, even though he is simply loathed. Furthermore, he required very considerable support from Tywin Lannister for the Red Wedding, and he did not participate personally in taking Riverrun. Walder gloated that Brynden Tully had fallen to foot soldiers, even though he had never personally stepped into combat, considering generally defeating one’s enemy to be a victory – the very fact that he considered himself (an old man who called for the aid of stronger people to achieve his victories) to be on par with Jaime Lannister (who actually killed his king and was trained by heroes, and has participated in actual battles) shows that Walder is narrow-minded. He considers the fact that his enemies are dead and he is not to be a personal victory, and he acts like a strong, respected man and a crucial ally, when he is not essentially a valued ally of the Lannisters.
In his final moments, however, Walder’s swagger crumbles instantly when he is caught off guard by Arya with no one to protect him, and he shows his cowardice when he attempts to flee before she kills him, proving Tyrion Lannister right when he said that Walder was many things but not brave.