Artos of House Harclay is the current Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He is an albino skin-changer, whose companion is a massive shadowcat known as Night, a great white and black striped beast the size of a garron. Artos also occasionally slips into the skin of a great eagle.
Artos was betrothed to the daughter of the Lord of House Dustin as a sign of peace and friendship between the Northern Mountain Clans and Barrowton. Dustin grew attached to his son-in-law and it was in Barrowton that Artos learned his letters and swordplay. When Dustin's lady daughter died of sickness, Artos remained in the Barrowlands.
Artos arrived at Castle Black, to swear his sword to the Night's Watch. Shortly thereafter, he, Beric Storm and two other rangers, Rolf and Gawen, went on a ranging where they encountered a band of wildlings. Rolf died during the confrontation, and Artos converted Beric to the Old Gods after they stumbled upon a Weirwood Tree.
Artos later met Jojen Stark when the lord visited the Wall. They both shared their concerns over Lord Commander Rhaegar Targaryen's southron ambitions and together made arrangements for Artos to take command of and restore the Nightfort in an effort to strengthen the Wall. The two ranged North of the Wall, bonding over a connection to the Old Gods and deciding to put plans in place to overthrow Lord Commander Rhaegar, for the good of the Night's Watch.
During their discussion, the group was attack by a force of wildlings. Jojen was struck by a stray arrow, but survived thanks to the appearance of Beric, who was able to return the Lord Stark to a maester at the Wall.
Artos and his men executed Rhaegar II Targaryen after successfully overthrowing Castle Black. Artos was chosen as the new Lord Commander. Several Rhaegar loyalists were locked in the ice cells.
Artos sent Balon Selmy, Rhaegar's former steward, along with Gawen, Ryk, Robert Storm, Bael Surefoot, and several other brothers to the Shadow Tower which had cut off all communication during the second era. It was believed to be a partially political move, removing several significant Rhaegar loyalist from Castle Black, while keeping them under the eye of several men loyal to the new Lord Commander.
Artos led a ranging north of the Wall to track down Rhaegar's dragon, Vellath, which had escaped upon the Lord Commander's death. North of the Wall, Artos and his brothers stumbled upon a direwolf which Shadow killed. Nearby they found four direwolf pups.
Donnell Harclay, father (deceased)
Ella Harclay, sister by marriage
Rodrick Harclay, brother
Marbelle Harclay, sister
"The northerner's appearance among the ranks of the Night's Watch had been unforeseen by all, and in a few months he had ascended higher than most would throughout their entire service. The 1009th of his title, yet the first of whom had usurped it." - Thoughts of Armond, Night's Watch ranger.
"Most men at Castle Black had been about as warm to Artos as the Wall they guarded, and the new Lord Commander had learned to pick and choose his battles when it came to making changes." - Blood and Whispers
"Perhaps it was envy, jealousy, or a result of his cynical nature; but Armond did not trust Harclay. The milky skin was alike that of wights and the ranger had known numerous wildlings to share the Lord Commander's skinchanging trait." - Thoughts of Armond, Night's Watch ranger.