At Horn Hill
Very fat (127 kilograms/280 pounds).
Samwell Tarly, often called Sam, is the eldest son and child of Lord Randyll Tarly and his wife, Lady Melessa Florent. Although Sam lacks fighting skills and has a timid nature, he is loyal to his friends and has a knack for learning.
Samwell was the first child of Lord Randyll Tarly and his wife Melessa Florent. Lord Randyll was regarded as one of the finest military commanders in the Seven Kingdoms and he did everything in his power to raise Samwell into what he deemed a proper heir. Unfortunately, Samwell resisted every effort and failed to meet his father's expectations.
He was sent to the Arbor as a page, but the Redwyne twins (Hobber and Horas) bullied him, and Lord Paxter sent him back to Horn Hill where a dozen masters-at-arms proceeded to fail at toughening Samwell. There were many attempts to strengthen Samwell's disposition such as dressing him in his mother's clothes, forcing him to sleep in chainmail, and being bathed in aurochs blood by Qartheen warlocks, but each failed to raise his valor.
After Lady Melessa bore her husband three girls, Samwell's brother Dickon was born. Dickon Tarly showed promise that Samwell lacked, including the physical vigor Lord Randyll had tried to instill in his older son. As a result, Randyll's attentions turned towards raising his more promising younger son to take his place instead of Samwell. For some time Randyll allowed Samwell to enjoy his music, food, and other soft pursuits, but Randyll forbade his son from traveling to Oldtown to become a Maester.
When Sam finally reached maturity, his father told him that he was not worthy of their house's ancestral sword. Randall then told Samwell to join the Night's Watch and renounce his family name so that he would not stand in the way of his younger brother's inheritance. If he refused to do so, Randyll promised that Samwell would then suffer an "unfortunate hunting accident". Having no other choice, Samwell chose to take the black of the Night's Watch.
- In A Game of Thrones, Samwell arrives at Castle Black shortly after Jon Snow, and the former is immediately mocked by the others for his size and his timid nature. Ser Alliser Thorne, the Night's Watch's master-at-arms, joins in mocking Samwell and even nicknamed him "Ser Piggy." Samwell luckily finds a friend in Jon and shares his story with him. Afterwards, Jon takes pity on Samwell and even takes it upon himself to persuade (and threaten, when necessary) his fellow recruits to stop their abuse. Samwell is not helped by any of Ser Alliser's training and remains an incompetent warrior, and he is initially deemed not ready to take his vows and become a man of the Night's Watch with Jon and his fellow recruits. Jon persuades Maester Aemon to allow him to join the Stewards by convincing the maester that, despite his uselessness as a soldier, Sam's literacy and intelligence could be of great value to them. Aemon agrees, and replaces Chett with Samwell in Castle Black's rookery and library. Samwell later decides to take his Night's Watch vow with Jon Snow at a Heart Tree, and he is even able to impress Lord Commander Mormont by noting some odd details about Othor and Jafer Flowers's corpses. Samwell is also among the group of friends who stop Jon from abandoning the Night's Watch and forswearing himself.
- In A Clash of Kings, Samwell joins the Great Ranging to the Far North, and he is placed in charge of the ravens as Lord Commander Mormont's aide. When the expedition stays a night at Craster's Keep, Samwell becomes friends with Gilly, one of daughters/wives of Craster. Gilly is pregnant, and she is scared that, if she has a boy, Craster will sacrifice the baby to the Others. Scared and not knowing what to do, Samwell asks Jon for help but the latter does not have a solution.
- In A Storm of Swords, when the Others attack the Watch camp at the Fist of the First Men, Samwell manages to send word of the attack to Castle Black, and he is able to escape with a small group of survivors led by Jeor Mormont. The march is hard on Sam and he is helped by his friends Grenn and Small Paul, but eventually they are separated from the majority of the men. Paul, who carried Sam for the most part, gets attacked and killed by an Other, but the weight of his body disarms it as he dies. Samwell, who is carrying a dragonglass dagger that was among the cache found by Ghost, uses the opportunity to attack the Other and earns the name "Sam the Slayer". Samwell and Grenn then reunite with the remaining survivors at Craster's Keep, where Gilly gives birth to a son, but, shortly after, violence erupts in the keep and Craster and Mormont are both killed in the fighting. Sam is forced to flee with Gilly and her newborn, but they only make it as far as a village Sam believes to be Whitetree before they are attacked by wights. A reanimated Small Paul attacks Sam first and the latter tries to stab him with the dragonglass dagger, but it proves to be ineffective and Sam ends up setting Paul on fire to kill him. Sam and Gilly keep running, and end up getting saved from other wights by Coldhands. The two runaways are then led back to the wall where Samwell encounters Bran Stark, Hodor, Meera Reed, and Jojen Reed who he leads back to Coldhands. Later, Sam returns to Castle Black after the Battle of Castle Black where he finds that Stannis Baratheon is urging the swift election of a new Lord Commander. Stannis goes as far as threatening to name one himself if none can achieve the required two-thirds majority. To prevent Janos Slynt from winning, Sam decides to approach the other candidates, Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister individually, and he lies to each of them regarding Stannis's intentions to name the other to the position. This convinces them both to support Jon Snow as a compromise candidate, which then leads to Jon's election.
- In A Feast for Crows, one of Jon Snow's first acts as Lord Commander is to send Samwell south to Oldtown so that he can study there to be a maester for Castle Black. Jon sends Dareon with Samwell, and appoints the former as a recruiter for the Night's Watch. He also sends Maester Aemon and Mance Rayder's baby in order to prevent Melisandre from sacrificing them for their king's blood. Gilly is forced to go along with the group so that she can nurse Rayder's son. Maester Aemon falls ill on the voyage, and they are forced to spend their coin on an inn and a healer while in Braavos but his condition continues to worsen. Samwell urges Dareon to sing at the local taverns to earn money to buy passage on a ship to Oldtown, but Dareon spends most of what he earns on wine and the city's whores. Samwell ends up confronting Dareon in a brothel where he accuses him of breaking his vows, and Dareon responds with his intention to abandon them and desert the Night's Watch. The two start fighting, but Samwell is pulled off of Dareon and thrown into a canal. He is pulled out by Xhondo, who heard him mention dragons and had seen them in Qarth. Xhondo then offers them passage on his ship, the Cinnamon Wind, in exchange for work and the last of their possessions. Maester Aemon dies early in that journey, and, in mourning for his death, Gilly briefly becomes a lover to Samwell. She names the child after Aemon, and after landing at Oldtown, she is sent to Horn Hill with the story that her child is a bastard fathered by Sam. Samwell continues to the Citadel where he encounters Alleras who has been looking for him. Samwell is brought to Archmaester Marwyn, who asks Samwell to repeat Aemon's final words, and, afterwards, Marwyn decides to find Daenerys and become her maester.