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Game of Thrones: Ygritte
Warning: Spoilers Lie Ahead
These articles take a look back at characters involved in the massive A Song of Ice and Fire universe. Some may involve characters still present for the sixth installment while others may unfortunately detail the happenings of their lives and deaths. The reader has been warned that spoilers lie ahead.
Kissed by Fire
You know nothing, Jon Snow! One of the most memorable and loved quotes of the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series comes from none other than Ygritte herself. It has become part of ASOIAF lore and I personally loved every time Ygritte used the phrase on both the show as well as in the books.
Ygritte, the wildling doesn't use a surname, is introduced in the second book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. She is a young wildling woman who lives north of The Wall, a structure built a very long time before the series to keep out the White Walkers and subsequently the Wildlings in the series. She is described in the books as short and traditionally unattractive with eyes far apart and crooked teeth but her red hair is something the Wildling people see as lucky. The Wildling's who have this lucky red hair are described among their people as "kissed by fire".
We first meet Ygritte through Jon Snow's eyes as he has gone on a ranging with the Night's Watch to see what the Wildling's, commanded by Mance Rayder, are up to. Mance Rayder had previous been a sworn brother of the Night's Watch before fleeing and popping back up having united the many different tribes north of The Wall, a feat which hadn't been done previously.
Jon Snow is taken with a small party to scout what is happening and stumbles upon Ygritte with her companions who are also scouting. Jon Snow and his men kill all of her companions but he refrains from killing her as well when he realizes she is a woman.
They wait on Jon Snow's commanding officer Qhorin Halfhand to arrive and talk as they wait. She tells him of the Wildling's and once he reveals he is a bastard of Lord Eddard Stark, Ygritte informs him that the Starks of old were part descendants of Wildling people which Jon does not believe. The Halfhand arrives and orders Jon to kill her but instead he allows her to escape and informs the Halfhand that he did his duty.
Ygritte returns to her party which includes the fearsome Wildling, Rattleshirt, named because his armor comes from bones of dead men he had killed in the past and Orell, a warg who can transfer his consciousness into animals. Their party eventually run across and capture Qhorin Halfhand with Jon Snow who realizes he made a mistake letting her go.
As the transport their prisoners to Mance Rayder, Ygritte continually mocks Jon in playful ways but is shocked when he and the Halfhand get into an altercation and Jon Snow kills the Halfhand, a renowned swordsman and warrior among the Wildlings. In truth this was requested by the Halfhand so Jon Snow could infiltrate the Wildlings to ascertain their purpose but Ygritte and her party are in awe that this boy could kill this man. They are still skeptical that he wants to join them but decide to deliver him to Mance so he can make his case.
Jon is brought before Mance and seemingly convinces him that he is turning his back on the Night's Watch and wishes to fight for The Free Folk, a term the Wildlings use for themselves. Jon is ordered by Mance to ride with Tormund Giantsbane, one of Mance's advisors and generals, to the Wall. Ygritte follows Jon and begins trying to lie with him which he initially spurns because of his oaths not to sleep with women.
The Wildling army comes across an area known as the Fist of the First Men and bodies are ripped apart everywhere. They are the bodies of Jon's Night's Watch brothers, torn to pieces by the White Walkers, and Mance is angered that Jon did not inform him that his brothers were North of the Wall and looking for the Wildlings. He is angry enough to have Jon Snow killed but Ygritte saves his life when she informs Mance that Jon and her are sexually involved with each other. She has grown fond of him and lies to save his life.
Mance takes mercy on Jon now truly believing he no longer supports the Night's Watch as they are forbidden to have sex and allows the boy to live. In one of the most iconic scenes in the series, that night Ygritte takes Jon down into ice caves and finds a secluded hollow where she finally seduces him and her saying they are a sexual item is no longer a lie. From their on out they are an item and although Jon still feels regret at breaking his vows, he finds her beautiful and the relationship grows.
As the reach the immense wall of ice, Jon is commanded to scale and go over the Wall with a Wildling leader named Styr, Magnar of Thenn. Ygritte joins their party and they scale the massive 800 foot ice wall. They go up and over and their orders are now to attack the Night's Watch fort, Castle Black, from the south. On their way, the run across a man and Styr orders Jon to kill him. He is still incredibly suspicious of the former brother and uses this to see if he is truly with them. Ygritte deep down knows that Jon hasn't fully committed and cannot kill the man so she slits the unfortunately man's throat to help Jon.
Ygritte continually pleads to Jon that they are together and must support each other and he unsuccessfully tries to convince her that he really does support their mission. While at a tower there is a raging storm and unbeknownst to them there is a band of people hidden away in the tower. These people are Jon's little brother, Bran Stark, and his compatriots who are trying to get him north of The Wall. Bran is also a warg and in their confusion he uses his direwolf's body to attack the Wildlings so they can escape and realizes Jon is with them. There is massive confusion within the Wildlings on what is happening and in the fray Jon Snow escapes and rides off. Ygritte who is a master with a bow sees him leaving and fires an arrow into his leg. She is heartbroken that he is leaving her but does not want to kill him which she easily could have done.
Jon's abandonment makes her harder than before and the Wildlings prepare to attack Castle Black from the south. The battle begins and it is quickly apparent that Jon Snow has warned the Night's Watch of their impending attack. Ygritte fights and fires arrows into the army of men from the castle. Jon fights against the Wildlings through the night and also uses a bow to fire arrows into the attackers. As the night ends, the Night's Watch has been victorious and as he walks the grounds he finds Ygritte's body having been killed by an arrow which may or may not have been his and he deeply mourns for the woman he truly did love.
You Know Nothing!
Ygritte was only in the second and third book of the series but her lasting impact reverberates through the series. Whether it be through how she affected Jon Snow to grow to respect and care about the Wildling people or purely as an early insightful eye into the Wildlings to the reader so we could see who these people are, she left the series having made a huge impact. We got classic quotes like "You know nothing, Jon Snow!" as well as an iconic intimate scene in an ice cave. Ygritte was kissed by fire and may not have been lucky enough to survive the series but was lucky enough to have been one of the great characters in this massive series.