A so called "wandering crow," Yoren has spent the last thirty years traveling the Seven Kingdoms and finding new recruits for the Night's Watch.
Yoren is a member of the Night's Watch. As a man of the Night's Watch, his job is to recruit new members in order to keep the institution manned. Yoren travels the Seven Kingdoms looking for volunteers who criminals who choose to serve in the Night's Watch rather than being executed. As a young man, Yoren's brother was killed by a boy named Willem. Vowing to seek revenge, Yoren said Williem's name every night as a ritual to keep the memory of his killer in his mind. Yoren was eventually able to kill Willem with an axe. After killing him, Yoren went to the Night's Watch to escape prosecution.
Yoren rides south from Castle Black with Tyrion Lannister and is a witness to his capture by Catelyn Stark. Perhaps because of his friendship with her brother-in-law Benjen, Yoren takes it on himself to race to King's Landing and warn Eddard Stark of the news before it reaches the Lannisters. Later, Yoren is present in the crowd when Eddard is to be executed. Ned manages to point out his daughter Arya to him and ask for his help. Yoren cuts Arya's hair and disguises her as a boy, intending to take her north with his group of Night's Watch recruits.
While taking the Night's Watch recruits to the north, Yoren is stopped by two gold cloaks. One of the gold cloaks demand that Yoren hand over a bastard boy named Gendry. Yoren instead tells them to leave because the recruits are part of the Night's Watch and are out of the reach of any king or queen. The gold cloak pulls out his sword, but he pauses when Yoren puts a dagger to his artery. Yoren orders the cloak to drop his sword or he will kill him. The gold cloak does as he is told and drops the sword. Yoren takes the sword and remakrs that it will be put to good use in the Night's Watch. The gold cloak offers a reward for anyone turning over Gendry. Then warns Yoren that he will return with more men to kill Yoren and take Gendry. Taking shelter for the night, Yoren notices that Arya cannot sleep due to the memory of the people who killed her father. Yoren tells her the story of how his brother was killed and how he got his revenge. He advises her to say the name of those who wronged her to help her sleep. Then a horn is sounded. Outside the gold cloak returns with more men. Yoren rushes outside and meets Amory Lorch with a group of soldiers. Lorch demands that the recruits drop their weapons. When Yoren does not comply, Lorch orders a soldier to shoot Yoren with an arrow. Then when Yoren does not fall, soldiers begin attacking him. Yoren fights bravely, but he is soon overwhelmed. Lorch kills Yoren by putting his sword through Yoren's body.