The crannogmen are so called for their habit of living in small villages formed of reeds and thatch that sit atop floating islands in the mire (crannogs). They are a poor people and seldom leave their lands, subsisting on fishing and frogging. Some claim the crannogmen's smaller size is because of intermarriage with the children of the forest, while others attribute their size to poor nutrition.
Crannogmen are talented hunters and warriors. Despite their short stature and somewhat primitive lifestyle, they have proven a notoriously difficult people to conquer. They wield nets, bronze knives, three-pronged frog spears, and round leather shields. They use guerrilla tactics and have a mastery of their difficult terrain. According to those who have fought them, their houses, even their castles, move.
Crannogmen are looked down upon by most other people of the Seven Kingdoms for their tactics, which are viewed as cowardly. Ironborn claim that crannogmen poison their weapons and smear them with feces and worse things. Even a graze by a poisoned arrow can be deadly. The swamp-dwellers are disparaged as "frogeaters" and "mudman", while ironborn refer to them as bog devils. Crannogmen are well acquainted with House Frey of the Twins, who control the crossing of the Green Fork. Riverfolk allege that crannogmen can breathe water, have green teeth, and have webbed hands and feet like frogs.
The histories say that the crannogmen grew close to the children of the forest in the days when the greenseers tried to bring the hammer of the waters down upon the Neck. The crannogmen and their Marsh Kings held Moat Cailin against southron invaders. They swore oaths of fealty to the Starks thousands of years ago, when King Rickard Stark slew the last Marsh King and took his daughter as wife.
A Game of Thrones
Robb Stark leads a host of northmen south to rescue his father, Lord Eddard Stark, from King's Landing. Robb sends a message to Howland Reed, Lord of Greywater Watch, tasking the crannogmen with guarding the causeway in case Lannisters march north.
A Clash of Kings
Victarion Greyjoy, Lord Captain of the Iron Fleet, achieves the fall of Moat Cailin, while his nephew, Theon Greyjoy, leads the capture of Winterfell. Theon intends to hold Meera and Jojen Reed as hostages to stay Howland's hand, but the Reed children vanish from Winterfell.
A Storm of Swords
Robb, now King in the North, tasks Galbart Glover and Maege Mormont with sailing on Mallister longships into the Neck. The envoys are to inform Howland and the crannogmen of Robb's plan to recover Moat Cailin. Robb is murdered by Lord Roose Bolton during the Red Wedding, however.
A Feast for Crows
The poisoned arrows of crannogmen weaken the ironborn garrison at Moat Cailin, so Victarion wears heavy chain mail over boiled leather for protection. After the death of his brother Balon, the King of the Isles and the North, Victarion leads most of the Iron Fleet back to the Iron Islands for the kingsmoot.
A Dance with Dragons
Ralf Kenning, left in command of Moat Cailin by Victarion, is mortally wounded by a poisoned arrow. Ramsay Bolton sends Theon Greyjoy to resolve the siege of Moat Cailin, offering the remaining ironborn food and safe passage if they surrender unarmed. As Theon approaches arrows fly at him from unseen attackers in the bog, but he is able to enter the gatehouse without harm. Theon convinces the ironmen to surrender, but Ramsay executes the captives anyway.
Walder: Mudmen are sneaks, they won't fight like decent folks, they skulk and use poison arrows. You never see them, but they see you. Those who go into the bogs after them get lost and never come out. Their houses move, even the castles like Greywater Watch. They might be out there right now, listening to everything we say.
Farlen: My dogs would smell anything in them bushes. Be all over them before you could break wind, boy.Walder: Frogeaters don't smell like men. They have a boggy stink, like frogs and trees and scummy water. Moss grows under their arms in place of hair, and they can live with nothing to eat but mud and breathe swamp water.
Just as dangerous were its people, seldom seen but always lurking, the swamp-dwellers, the frog-eaters, the mud-men. Fenn and Reed, Peat and Boggs, Cray and Quagg, Greengood and Blackmyre, those were the sorts of names they gave themselves. The ironborn called them all bog devils.—thoughts of Theon Greyjoy
We live closer to the green in our bogs and crannogs, and we remember. Earth and water, soil and stone, oaks and elms and willows, they were here before us all and will still remain when we are gone.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran III.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Crannogmen of the Neck.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 9, Bran I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 50, Theon IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Kings of Winter.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 24, Theon II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 46, Bran VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.