When Asher Forrester, Beskha and Malcolm Branfield reach Meereen, they meet with Croft of the Second Sons, who orders his men to apprehend them. Croft gives Asher the choice of losing an eye or a hand, as retribution for stealing from him. Once Asher makes his choice, Croft plunges his knife into the tent support that Asher is pinned to and bursts into laughter. Revealing that he was only playing a joke on them, Croft comments that Asher went as pale as a snow bear's arse.
As they follow the Ice Dragon to reach the North Grove, Duncan Tuttle, Cotter and Sylvi find the fresh corpse of a stag. They are then ambushed by its killer, an enormous snow bear. They run and it pursues them until they reach a frozen river separating them from a cave. Gared distracts the snow bear as Cotter and Sylvi run for the cave, and when it chases him across the ice it breaks beneath it and causes it to fall in. The snow bear comes after them again as they reach the North Grove, where it is revealed that Josera Snow has been warging into the bear. Josera wargs into the bear again to battle a group of wights when they attack the grove. If Gared chooses to bring the wildlings south to aid House Forrester in their conflict against House Whitehill at the end of the episode, the bear will travel with them.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, snow bears can be found Beyond the Wall. They are similar to real-life polar bears, but much larger. Adapted to the cold climate of the far north, snow bears have white pelts and can grow to massive size, with one described as thirteen feet tall (at the shoulder, even when walking on all four legs, not when rearing up on its hind legs). Snow bears are not exactly the same as "polar bears", however, because real-life polar bears usually have a maximum size of only five feet tall at the shoulder (still the largest living species of bear). The difference between snow bears and common bears is similar to the difference between direwolves and common wolves.
The ranger Dywen claimed that he saw a fifteen feet tall bear, but Lord Commander Mormont dismissed that as nonsense, commenting that it was even less likely than the tale about his sister that she has taken a bear for a lover. Snow bears, however, actually do grow this large.
A large female snow bear is among the animals that the wildling skinchanger Varamyr Sixskins controls, and he rides it into battle as a mount. Greatjon Umber's uncle Mors "Crowfood" Umber wears a cloak made of a snow bear's pelt, with the head section serving as a hood.
As with other animals such as horses, the White Walkers can reanimate dead snow bears into wights. During the Battle of the Fist of the First Men, Jeor Mormont was able to rally his men to defend their position for a time using flaming arrows against the hordes of wights, but their position was then broken by a huge and terrifying snow bear wight. When the wight-bear came upon the Watch's commanders, the officer Thoren Smallwood valiantly rushed ahead to attack it - despite Smallwood's normally arrogant and self-serving personality. Smallwood's sword nearly beheaded the beast, but with a single swipe of its arm the wight-bear tore Smallwood's head clean off from his shoulders.
Animals and Plants of the Known World
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