July 18, 2011

Jon VI

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Jon talks to Alliser Thorne, commanding him to a ranging. Thorne talks back at him, telling him that he’s master-at-arms, not a ranger, but Jon will have nothing of it, telling him that he’ll have seasoned rangers with him. Thorne tells him that he wouldn’t make Slynt’s mistake, but that if the Others killed him, he would return as a wight, remembering and slaying Jon. 

Jon then leaves his rooms, going out to the training yard. There he commands the actual master-at-arms to point out his best three recruits and to set them against him simultaneously. Jon fights the three recruits, showing him their mistakes while he is at it and ultimately besting them. When he is finished, Rattleshirt, who has watched the combat, challenges Jon to fight him, and Jon tells him that Stannis should have burned him, not Mance. Rattleshirt tells him that the queen burned exactly whom she had to burn for all the world to see. Jon agrees to the fight. Rattleshirt takes on a two-handed sword against Jon’s long sword and shield, fighting him hard and nearly defeating him. When Jon’s shield is hacked to splinters, he charges Rattleshirt and brings him down, but the Lord of Bones gets on top of him and hits his head on the ground, then ripping his visor open and telling him that if he’d a dagger, Jon would be dead. Jon yields to him. 

The other black brothers seize Rattleshirt, demanding that he’d be killed for threatening to kill Jon, but he has nothing of it and tells them that he could have killed him since he had a dagger. He then gets a letter, sealed with pink wax, from the Dreadfort. In the letter, Ramsay tells him that Moat Cailin has fallen and that he will take Arya Stark as his bride at Winterfell. Jon tries to forget that Arya is his sister and to concentrate on the Watch, striding around, when he sees a red-haired girl. He takes her for Ygritte, not thinking, only then realizing that it is Melisandre. She tells him that she had a vision of Arya, fleeing the marriage on a half-dead horse and coming to the Wall. Jon is unease by her knowing, and even more so when she can call Ghost to her and he won’t hear Jon. She tells Jon that he has to embrace his gift instead of shunning it out. She also talks of magic around the Wall, and how few people understand it. Finally, she tells Jon that he shouldn’t have sent the ranger out, since three of them will die and return as wights, and that he should have believed her in the first place since she can serve as his eyes as well. 

This chapter is very short. Besides the fights, which take up nearly half of it and show Jon’s prowess in battle as well as Rattleshirt’s and the approach that Jon has with his brothers, we get some information about Ramsay’s next plans. That he wants to wed Arya is nothing new to the reader, but it is for Jon, who can’t know that it’s in truth Jeyne Poole pretending to be Arya. Melisandre seems to know everything again, and Jon is in a serious conflict: if Arya is really fleeing her marriage to the Wall, he will be forced to react somehow. Will he be true to his oath, not taking part and sending her back, or will he rescue her, forsaking his vows and endangering the whole Watch? 

Of course, this conflict will turn out differently, since Mel makes mistakes of her own. She can’t really know how Arya looks like, and her knowledge of the facts may be unsettling, but we’ve seen such things previously by Littlefinger and Varys, so they don’t need to be magical in origin. When Melisandre sees the fleeing girl in her vision, she takes her for Arya, since that suits her ends in persuading Jon of her powers – she does not really think about it that the Arya she thinks to see is much too old to be Jon’s half-sister; Alys Karstark, who it really is, is about 15 years old, hard to confuse with a 10-year-old. It’s the first time we can definitely witness Melisandre to err. 

As to side notes, it is also unsettling to see how she is able to overpower Jon’s connection to Ghost. She calls the wolf, embraces him, and Jon is not able to call him back. It’s also nice to see that Rodrik’s training echoes in Jon’s mind, when he is not ashamed of his defeat at the hands of Rattleshirt – who we know to be Mance Rayder – but rather takes it as a chance to learn. Mance Rayder shows here how he bested so many wildling leaders; he is obviously not only a smart leader, but also capable of defending himself. At last, the letter Ramsay wrote was wrote in blood again, which Jon doesn’t notice, but becomes clear from the shattered brown letters. The guy is really creepy.


  1. Thank you for this blog. Started reading ADWD a couple of months back, and was finding it really tedious and confusing. Your posts are helpful.