Craster is a wildling who lives north of the Wall. He lives in a fortified homestead, rather grandly called Craster's Keep, along with his daughters and wives. When his daughters grow old enough he marries them, and then incestuously fathers new children with them. At the time of the War of the Five Kings, he has nineteen wives. He is counted as an ally of the Night's Watch and allows his keep to be used as a redoubt by the Watch on their rangings northwards. However, he is also regarded as an unsavory character and his relationship with his daughters is regarded as sordid. The Night's Watch grudgingly has to tolerate this, as he is one of their few sources of information and shelter beyond the Wall.
A Great Ranging of the Night's Watch under Lord Commander Jeor Mormont arrives at Craster's Keep. Questioned by Mormont about Benjen Stark, Craster answers he has not seen Stark for three years and has not missed him because of his attitude. The wildling asks for wine and comments that southerners make good wine. Jon Snow takes offense and retorts that they are not southerners.
Craster turns his attention on Jon, compares him to his daughters and demands his name. He notes his bastard surname and reminds that anyone from south of the Wall is a southerner and that they are in the real north now. Jeor intervenes to apologize on Jon's behalf. Craster warns Jon against talking to his daughters. Jeor agrees to follow Craster’s rules while they are his guests and orders Jon to sit down and keep quiet. Craster asks if they brought wine and Jeor says that they did before questioning him about the abandoned villages they have passed. Craster insists on wine before answering and Jeor sends a man to fetch a cask of Dornish wine from their supplies. Jon looks around at Craster’s numerous daughter-wives on the upper level of the hall.
Craster reveals that the other wildlings have all gone to join Mance Rayder, calling him Jeor's old friend. The Lord Commander takes offense and decries Mance for breaking his vows to the Watch. Craster notes that Mance has gone from being a simple brother to the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Jeor observes that Mance has claimed that title for years but wonders what he rules. Craster holds up a finger and comments on the axe one of the officers is holding. Jeor orders the man to hand over the weapon, promising that it will be replaced on their return to Castle Black. Craster tests the weapon by cutting into the wood at his feet. He then reveals that Mance has been gathering an army and plans to march south. Jeor warns that it is a bad time to live alone in the wild and that “The cold winds are rising.”
Craster is unimpressed and says that his roots are sunk deep. He pulls over his daughter-wife Gilly and instructs her to tell Jeor how content they are, calling him the Lord Crow. Gilly says that they are protected by Craster and that it is better to live free than die a slave. Craster asks if Jeor is jealous of his many wives. Jeor says that they chose different paths and Craster jokes that Jeor’s path has only boys on it. Craster stands and asks if they would like to stay and Jeor accepts the offer. Craster warns that he will take the hand of any man who touches his wives and threatens to gouge Jon’s eyes out if he so much as looks at them.
Craster carries one of his babies into the woods at night. He leaves the baby on the ground and turns back towards his keep. Craster goes back to where he left the baby and finds Jon watching a White Walker pick up the baby from the ground. Before Jon can pursue the creature, Craster knocks Jon out with a blow to the head.
Craster brings Jon back to the keep with his wrists bound and face bloodied. Craster follows his captive inside and rouses the men of the Night's Watch. He tells them to get out blaming Jon for meddling and kicking his captive. Jeor and his men rise from their beds and Craster's wives watch from the rafters, Gilly among them. Craster approaches the Lord Commander and hands him Longclaw, telling him that he wants his men to leave and insisting that they make things right. Jon starts to speak, but the Lord Commander sends him outside, where Jon tells him what Craster is doing to his sons, but to his shock, Jeor has known for a long time and done nothing to stop it. Jeor explains that while he too is horrified at Craster's actions, he is essential to the Night's Watch for the information and shelter he provides for them North of the Wall. Jeor gives him Longclaw, instructing him not to lose it again, and they leave at dawn.
The survivors of the Battle of the Fist of the First Men return to Craster's Keep on their way back to the Wall. He initially mocks them and wants to refuse them shelter until he notices some of them stroking their weapons. Fearful that in desperation they might try to rush him, he relents. As the black brothers warm by his hearth, Craster continues to mock them, admits that he's feeding his pigs better than them - as pigs are useful to him - and half-seriously suggests to his guests that they should eat Samwell. He is also annoyed by Gilly's loud wailing from birthing pains. Craster insists that the black brothers should be grateful for his generosity, and that he is such a "godly man" for doing so. Mormont tensely questions that he is a godly man, but Craster insists that he is - to the "real gods", who consume entire armies on their way to the Wall but will spare Craster for his loyalty.
Tensions run high among the members of the Night's Watch. Grenn and Edd are shoveling pig manure, but the former rapist Rast urges them that they are not safe here and cannot trust Craster, who sacrifices his own newborn sons to the White Walkers, and there's every probability that if the White Walkers do come, he'll hand over the Night's Watch survivors to his real masters. Grenn and Edd don't want to discuss it.
In the main hall, Lord Commander Mormont is checking a map in his journal, as Craster continues to crassly berate the men of the Night's Watch. Mormont says that they have to stay long enough for their wounded to recover enough to be fit to travel, but Craster waves this off, saying they've recovered as much as they ever will. Craster openly suggests that they should just kill the men who are so severely wounded that they won't be able to travel, and if Mormont is reluctant to do the deed himself, he can just leave and Craster will finish them off. Mormont declines. This serves as the final straw, as another young steward, Karl Tanner, challenges Craster and complains that he is feeding them nothing but bread cut with sawdust, and he wants to know where Craster keeps his hidden larder. Meanwhile, Craster is sitting there getting quite drunk on the wine they gifted to him when they first came. Rast joins in the accusations, and Craster admits that he has winter stockpiles, but he needs those to feed his women and refuses to share them. Rast calls Craster a stinking bastard - at which Craster becomes enraged and threatens Rast with an axe. Mormont restraints Rast, and Craster shouts that he's throwing them all out to lay down outside in the cold on their empty bellies. Craster says he will chop the hands off the next man who calls him "bastard". A tense moment of silence passes, and Mormont grabs Rast to lead him out the doorway...
...when Karl, firmly staring directly at Craster, challenges him by calling him a "daughter-fucking, wildling bastard". Craster furiously lunges forward at Karl in a blind rage, but he is drunk and clumsy: without flinching, Karl holds off Craster's axe with his left hand, while using his right hand to ram a dagger through Craster's throat, which goes up into the roof of his mouth. This sparks off the Mutiny at Craster's Keep.
As the wildling who lived nearest to Castle Black, Craster hosted the men of the Night's Watch in exchange for wine and tools. An ungenerous host who made his daughters his wives, Craster was only tolerated by Lord Commander Mormont out of necessity. He and the Lord Commander died in an uprising led by a mutinous band of Night's Watch brothers.