What Will "The Winds of Winter" Bring For Jon Snow?
Warning: Spoilers Lie Ahead
The Winds of Winter is the sixth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. This article will take a look back at the previous five installments as well as make predictions on the next chapter in the series. The reader has been warned that spoilers lie ahead.
From Bastard to Lord Commander
Things aren't easy for bastards growing up in Westeros. The prospects of life don't offer near the promise of that of the nobles, plus you don't even get to keep your families last name. Region specific last names are bestowed upon children born out of wedlock and in the North where the Starks rule, Snow is that name.
Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark and his as-of-yet divulged secret lover, was one of the lucky ones. Raised by Lord Eddard in his own castle of Winterfell and able to grow up as a brother to Lord Starks trueborn children. Jon's greatest obstacle growing up us Eddard's wife, Catelyn, who despises the boy because of the images of infidelity he creates within her head.
Lord Stark treats the bastard as his own son and protects him. Jon is close as a true sibling with the true Stark children: Robb, Arya, Sansa, Bran and Rickon. As the book opens the whole family is in the North at Winterfell awaiting King Robert's arrival. Eddard is to be sent down to the capitol and Jon pulls his Uncle Benjen aside and asks to be given a chance to be a man of the Night's Watch, the once proud group of ragtag brothers who protect the Far North at The Wall from Wildlings and unspeakable monsters.
Benjen agrees to take the boy and that sparks Jon's journey. See, a bastard does not have rights to land, inheritance or women, all a bastard can do to claim a name for himself is go to the Wall where everyone starts equal. They train to be soldiers and protect the Realm from whatever lies north of the massive 700 foot tall ice wall.
Jon says his heartfelt goodbyes, the special ones coming from Arya and Robb as well as Lord Eddard. Jon Snow then makes his long trip north with the Brothers of the Night's Watch. He decides to take his pet albino direwolf, Ghost, that his family had given to him.
As Jon arrives at the Wall, his training commences and he is automatically an outsider even though he is the best swordsman of the group. It is explained to him that he cannot look down on the thieves and rapists that are now his brothers because they are the only family he has now and he has no right to put himself above them. As he realizes this he begins to get close with a few of his fellow recruits named Pip and Grenn and especially an obese noble born boy named Samwell Tarly. Jon takes him under his wing and tries to help the boy find confidence and courage.
Jon's Uncle Benjen leaves to go north of the Wall and Jon is raised to a true brother by an oath that they call "Taking the Black". Jon and Sam make their oaths to the Old Gods north of the Wall at a hearttree.
He is then made a steward to Lord Commander Mormont, the leader of the Night's Watch, which he scorns because he wants to be a Ranger. It is explained to Jon that he is being groomed for leadership and should welcome the opportunity.
One night while performing his duties Jon stumbles across a Wight (Basically a frozen Zombie) that has came back to life and is trying to kill the Lord Commander. Jon kills the thing by setting it afire but suffers a hand injury in the process, automatic renown throughout the brothers is earned for the bastard. Mormont gives Jon a Valyrian sword named Longclaw that was supposed to be meant for his own son.
News comes to the Wall that Lord Eddard has been beheaded in King's Landing and Robb is marching south to go to war which makes Jon want to desert the Night's Watch. His brothers talk him out of it and Mormont informs him that instead of sitting on the Wall waiting to see what attacks them from the North, the brothers will be ranging far north of the Wall to see what evil is amassing.
As the travel through the frigid tundra, the native Wildlings have all seemed to have gone missing. They reach the Fist of the First Men and meet up with the rest of the brothers. Jon is handpicked for a small group led by Qhorin Halfhand that will sneak into the mountains to see what they can find.
They catch a group of Wildlings and Jon kills one, as he prepares to kill the next he sees it is a redheaded woman named Ygritte who the Halfhand orders him to kill. Jon releases her because of his morals and their party is later captured by Ygritte and a Wildling commander named Rattleshirt, who wears a full set of bones over his armor. The Halfhand orders Jon to do whatever he must to infiltrate the Wildlings and see what they are planning which eventually leads to Jon having to kill his brother the Halfhand in front of the Wildlings to prove himself.
Jon is taken to the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, who was himself a brother of the Night's Watch at one time before deserting. Jon must convince him and his group that he has truly broken his vows and wants to join their party. Mance sends him with his right hand man, Tormund Giantsbane, to go attack the Wall. On their way back Jon begins to break his vows by sleeping with Ygritte, he also begins to develop compassion towards the Wildlings.
As the reach the Wall, the plan becomes clear that they are going to scale the 700 foot blockade and go over the other side. The expedition is successful, although there are casualties, and Jon and a small party reach the south side of the Wall. They head back towards Castle Black, the main castle of the Night's Watch, and as they approach Jon must decide between his brothers or the new people he has some affection for.
Jon deserts the Wildlings and rides for Castle Black to warn them of the impending attack. They defend the castle against the attackers and Jon finds Ygritte dead after the fight which causes much sadness.
After his grief, Jon realizes that Mance is now full on assaulting the north end of the Wall and with Lord Commander Mormont dead by his own men, Jon takes control and assumes leadership of defending the Wall which he does for some days. Stannis Baratheon arrives with his magical Red Priestess, Melisandre, and helps the Night's Watch sweep away Mance's forces and the Wall is finally safe.
Stannis, who believes himself the rightful King of Westeros, promises to legitimize Jon and make him the true Lord of Winterfell is he recognizes Stannis as the true King. Jon says no and is voted in as the new Lord Commander.
Jon is now put in a tight spot with his own men, Stannis's men and the Wildlings. Lord Commander Snow creates a treaty between his men and the Wildlings and allows them passage south of the Wall as long as they help in defending from any of the mysterious northern evils. This creates tension between him and his own men.
Mance Rayder is captured and seemingly burned alive but through some magic we find out that was Rattleshirt disguised to look like Mance. The real Mance has been sent to Winterfell to rescue Jon's sister.
Jon provides Stannis with information that will help him get support for his army from northerners and when news reaches the Wall that the Bolton's have successfully taken Winterfell and may be holding Jon's sisters captive, he decides to ride south to rescue them himself, effectively going against all Night's Watch protocols. As he is about to leave his own men stab him in cold blood in the street, creating what appears the be the end of Jon Snow.
What Will The Winds Bring?
This may be moot is Snow is truly dead when the next book opens, but unlike other morally strong characters in this series who have been killed off, I don't see Jon Snow's story done just yet. The Red Priestess, Melisandre, seems to be looking for her prince that the prophecies speak of and more and more she has been thinking that this is Jon not Stannis.
We have seen others who follow her religion bring people back from death so my bets are that she recites the words and the Lord of Light reincarnates Jon back to himself. All out chaos will ensue between the Wildlings and the Night's Watch which I think will see Jon hoarded off by Melisandre and taken to even more mysterious parts of the far north where he will learn things that normal men hadn't seen before.
On their return I think Jon will help his younger brother Rickon set up as heir of Winterfell after the Bolton's are destroyed and he will head off looking for the only person who can help him destroy the true evil in the realm, the White Walkers. How to finally end them? Dragon fire.
With the Walkers descending into the realm, the battles between self proclaimed King's won't mean as much and Jon will unite with Danaerys Targaryen and her dragons once it is revealed his mother was a Targaryen to dispense the evil from the world. They will be rejoiced and will be the final ones sitting on the Iron Throne. A Song of Ice and Fire it truly will be.