Fourth knife at Jon’s mutiny stabbing

“. . . or not.” Aemon chuckled softly. “Or I am an old man, feverish and dying.” He closed his white eyes wearily, then forced them open once again. “I should not have left the Wall. Lord Snow could not have known, but I should have seen it. Fire consumes, but cold preserves

A Feast for Crows – Samwell III


Here is where I would like to discuss in a compare-contrast way who or what the fourth blade was that made Jon feel ‘the’ cold. Was it ice or fire related? My thoughts are with fire… but then when I reread A Dance with Dragons – Bran II, I am undecided again. I do have an amazing crackpot hypothesis in the works that I will post when it is ready.

Serenity now!



* Editing and information is a current work in progress*

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“. . . a horror.” Davos retreated from her. “I want no part of you, my lady. Or your god. May the Seven protect me.”

Melisandre sighed. “They did not protect Guncer Sunglass. He prayed thrice each day, and bore seven seven-pointed stars upon his shield, but when R’hllor reached out his hand his prayers turned to screams, and he burned. Why cling to these false gods?”

“I have worshiped them all my life.”

A Storm of Swords – Davos III


For this page I recommend the George RR Martin stories:

  1. A Song for Lya– because of the fieriness of the entire story; from Valcarenghi as a Melisandre-like character, Gourlay as the affectionate Devan Seaworth towards Valcarnghi, to the immense amount of hot, spicey, fire that is the entire Greeshka hive-mind religion, and the “final union” of going into a red mass (like fire).
  2. Nightflyers– because the mother-ship is a crazy fire lady who lives inside a dragon and is jealous of the other passengers, and tries to kill them off to live out her desired destiny.
  3. In the Lost Lands– again we have a strange situation of a witch that takes a werewolf man out into the cold Lost Lands and swoops down on him from above with hot talons in order to kill him for his pelt. I posted a good chunk of In the Lost Lands in another page found here.
  4. The Skin Trade– where the very Jon-style werewolf protagonist, Willie Flambeaux, describes fiery pain and fingers like daggers that try to kill him. This is the story with the wall of mirrors and the Skinner the emerges. Yes, the name of the hero is Willie Flambeaux, as in a “sword” that brings the dawn. Additionally, there is another scene in this story where the main female protagonist, the Val-type Randi Wade, remembers a disembodied hand as she is sitting down with a not-yet-revealed fiery villain supporter, detective Rogoff.
  5. Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark– this story is Martin’s first attempt at creating a fire-based religion, even down the black stone altars and sacrificing children, and the strange hive-minded followers. I posted this story with commentary here.
  6. Fevre Dream– not only for the strong Jon and Val combo prototyping in Josh York and Valerie/Cynthia (combined into Val), but also for the entire Josh York backstory that parallels Jon’s, the false history/myth versus reality, the battles on the rivers, the red and white vessel (steamboat) with red lights and crown of flowers atop, the near death experience, and especially because the idea that Josh York is the Pale King come again as a savior.
  7. Armageddon Rag– The character Ananda is a near exact Melisandre prototype, a much more sinister version of Morgan full of magic from Bitterblooms. When we meet Ananda, she is dressed in red slashes of fabric, radiates her own heat, is very prophecy driven, controls the Stannis-like character Edan Morse (yes, as in garden code), her eyes blaze fire, a mirrored man, Edan Morse is made to wear amulets not unlike Melisandre and Mance (while under Mel’s influence). And most importantly, the multiple mentions of Ananda’s fiery hand that kills people with a literal fire and blood ritualistic concept. At the end, Ananda even “fires” the dart gun to try and kill the main protagonist, Sandy Blair, in order to fulfill prophecy, only it isn’t to actually kill him, but to resurrect the situation as a whole.
  • Armageddon Rag

Sandy’s stare was cold and angry and bitter. “So now you kill me, too. Well, go on. Get it over with.”

Ananda cocked her head to one side. “Death wish? Sandy, if I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead by now. I don’t stand around chatting up the enemy. Maybe it’d be safer to off you, but I can’t take the chance.”

A wave of relief washed over him. He felt dizzy. “Chance?” he repeated weakly.

“It’s all so murky, your part in this. But one thing Edan was clear on. You’re there at the end, for good or bad. I don’t dare eliminate you. Charlie is the joker in the deck, and we do need a full deck, right?” Her finger jerked; the gun spat once, twice. Sandy felt a brief small pain in his shoulder, another, higher, biting into his neck. Numbness spread outward from where the needles had penetrated. “Goodnight, sweet prince,” she said lightly. Then she leaned forward and gave him a quick, soft kiss as the world ran with kaleidoscope colors and his legs turned to silly putty beneath him.


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Our favorite author has a thing for Things! Martin is rather talented at sneaking in disembodied hands whenever he can, and in the bizzarist of ways. I love it. Throughout the story when a character reads a letter from another, they recognize the hand. The hand speaks.

  • A Game of Thrones – Eddard VI

Stout, jowly Janos Slynt puffed himself up like an angry frog, his bald pate reddening. “Aegon the Dragon himself could not keep the peace, Lord Renly. I need more men.”

“How many?” Ned asked, leaning forward. As ever, Robert had not troubled himself to attend the council session, so it fell to his Hand to speak for him.

“As many as can be gotten, Lord Hand.”

  • A Clash of Kings – Tyrion VIII

Tyrion shook his head. “We need someone who can do more than repeat our words and fetch back a reply. Our envoy must speak for king and council and settle the matter quickly.”

The Hand speaks with the king’s voice.” Candlelight gleamed green as wildfire in Cersei’s eyes. “If we send you, Tyrion, it will be as if Joffrey went himself. And who better? You wield words as skillfully as Jaime wields a sword.”

And then there is Ghost returning with the hand of Othor, the first interaction Jon has with the undead.

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon VI

“To me, Ghost.” Jon knelt. “Bring it here.”

The direwolf trotted to him. Jon heard Samwell Tarly’s sharp intake of breath.

“Gods be good,” Dywen muttered. “That’s a hand.”

And while we are at it, Davos is already a phantom (Ghost?) hand, and when Stannis dies, Davos will go to join Jon Snow King of Winter as his hand. During the time between Stannis’ death and Davos joining Jon, Davos will be a “disembodied” hand. This is heavily based on the GRRM story Fevre Dream. Heavily. Including the fact that Davos and Abner Marsh from Fevre Dream both jump into the water to save themselves, only to reemerge later to the confusion of others who think they died. Both characters also become to “right hand” of the main protagonist. So much more, but this is enough for now.

  • A Clash of Kings – Davos II

For a long time the king did not speak. Then, very softly, he said, “I dream of it sometimes. Of Renly’s dying. A green tent, candles, a woman screaming. And blood.” Stannis looked down at his hands. “I was still abed when he died. Your Devan will tell you. He tried to wake me. Dawn was nigh and my lords were waiting, fretting. I should have been ahorse, armored. I knew Renly would attack at break of day. Devan says I thrashed and cried out, but what does it matter? It was a dream. I was in my tent when Renly died, and when I woke my hands were clean.”

Ser Davos Seaworth could feel his phantom fingertips start to itch. Something is wrong here, the onetime smuggler thought. Yet he nodded and said, “I see.”

  • A Storm of Swords – Davos V

“Your Grace!” Davos edged forward. “Might I speak?”

Stannis closed his mouth so hard his teeth snapped. “My lord of the Rainwood. Why do you think I made you Hand, if not to speak?” The king waved a hand. “Say what you will.”

Let’s take a look at some other disembodied examples in Martin’s own works:

  • The Skin Trade

[Randi Wade’s POV section]

The automat had been her favorite restaurant when she was a little girl. Every year on her birthday she would demand a movie at the Castle and dinner at the automat, and every year her father would laugh and oblige. She loved to put the nickels in the coin slots and make the windows pop open, and fill her father’s cup out of the old brass coffee machine with all its knobs and levers.

Sometimes you could see disembodied hands through the glass, sticking a sandwich or a piece of pie into one of the slots, like something from an old horror movie. You never saw any people working at the automat, just hands; the hands of people who hadn’t paid their bills, her father once told her, teasing. That gave her the shivers, but somehow made her annual visits even more delicious, in a creepy kind of way. The truth, when she learned it, was much less interesting. Of course, that was true of most everything in life.

[Later in Willie Flambeaux’s POV during the “big evil” reveal]

Willie looked into the mirrors.

The reflections were gone. Willie, Steven, the moon, all gone. There was blood on the mirrors and they were full of fog, a silvery pale fog that shimmered as it moved. Something was moving through the fog, sliding from mirror to mirror to mirror, around and around. Something hungry that wanted to get out.

He saw it, lost it, saw it again. It was in front of him, behind him, off to the side. It was a hound, gaunt and terrible; it was a snake, scaled and foul; it was a man, with eyes like pits and knives for its fingers. It wouldn’t hold still, every time he looked its shape seemed to change, and each shape was worse than the last, more twisted and obscene. Everything about it was lean and cruel. Its fingers were sharp, so sharp, and he looked at them and felt their caress sliding beneath his skin, tingling along the nerves, pain and blood and fire trailing behind them. It was black, blacker than black, a black that drank all light forever, and it was all shining silver too. It was a nightmare that lived in a funhouse mirror, the thing that hunts the hunters.

He could feel the evil throbbing through the glass.

“Skinner,” Steven called.

The surface of the mirrors seemed to ripple and bulge, like a wave cresting on some quicksilver sea. The fog was thinning, Willie realized with sudden terror; he could see it clearer now, and he knew it could see him. And suddenly Willie Flambeaux knew what was happening, knew that when the fog cleared the mirrors wouldn’t be mirrors anymore; they’d be doors, doors, and the skinner would come …

Willie just barely survives the actual attack by the Skinner that takes place in his next POV section. Blood was splattered on the mirrors, which summoned the Skinner. Bowen Marsh and friends attacked Jon and got blood on the mirror of the wall which implies some great other force has been summoned. I believe this is why Jon felt “only the cold” at his mutiny, which implies that the whatever-great-other-force, the Skinner, is arriving shortly. Maybe not instantly as in the short story The Skin Trade, but it has been summoned.

What compares here to A Song of Ice and Fire is the mirror, or rather, the immense walls of mirrors. The Wall in ASOIAF is described multiple times as a mirror to individuals like Tyrion, Stannis, and Jon. Aside from the individuals, the Wall is a huge reflection of the degradation of Westeros as a whole. The Night’s Watch is now a lowly penal colony instead of well trained, honorable men who defend the realms of men. The Wall as a mirror also plays a part in going “through the looking glass”, which in story the term is to go “Under the sea” as Patchface tells it. This has the double meaning of going north of the wall into the green sea of trees, as well as to greensee.

One more thing that comes to mind with the disembodied hand idea is how during the mutiny Jon was not able to get his hand to work when needed. Jon had spent the last four-five books working and flexing his burnt sword hand to keep it from getting stiff. I think it should be taken into consideration that some outside force was controlling the situation in more ways than just the actual stabbings. Jon’s hand not working is notable.

  • “For the Watch.” Wick slashed at him again. This time Jon caught his wrist and bent his arm back until he dropped the dagger. The gangling steward backed away, his hands upraised as if to say, Not me, it was not me. Men were screaming. Jon reached for Longclaw, but his fingers had grown stiff and clumsy. Somehow he could not seem to get the sword free of its scabbard.


I appears that whatever is happening to Jon in the moment of his mutiny, this is his tempering just as Daenerys was tempered in her Drogo pyre that birthed her flaming sword, Drogon. Just as Bran was tempered during his unconscious awakening when the hand of the golden man flung him from the tower. I once had a very teeny, tiny crackpot of my own that dragonsteel was more of a “prophecy” type of steel, and that it was the wielder/owner that made it dragonsteel since it seems to be different from Valyrian steel, as pointed out in the book series. So it’s more the person makes the steel, as opposed to the sword makes the person. This mutiny is a plot point that has to happen for several reason both personal to Jon, and political to the realm.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIII

Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …

Only the cold, which is different than feeling ‘only cold’, as in death. I really feel as if this is Jon being tempered by water, much like his earlier scene.

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon VII

Spinning, Jon saw the drapes he’d ripped from the window. He flung the lamp into the puddled cloth with both hands. Metal crunched, glass shattered, oil spewed, and the hangings went up in a great whoosh of flame. The heat of it on his face was sweeter than any kiss Jon had ever known. “Ghost!” he shouted.

The direwolf wrenched free and came to him as the wight struggled to rise, dark snakes spilling from the great wound in its belly. Jon plunged his hand into the flames, grabbed a fistful of the burning drapes, and whipped them at the dead man. Let it burn, he prayed as the cloth smothered the corpse, gods, please, please, let it burn.

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon VIII

“A scarred hand is nothing. On the Wall, you’ll be wearing gloves often as not.”

“As you say, my lord.” It was not the thought of scars that troubled Jon; it was the rest of it. Maester Aemon had given him milk of the poppy, yet even so, the pain had been hideous. At first it had felt as if his hand were still aflame, burning day and night. Only plunging it into basins of snow and shaved ice gave any relief at all. Jon thanked the gods that no one but Ghost saw him writhing on his bed, whimpering from the pain. And when at last he did sleep, he dreamt, and that was even worse. In the dream, the corpse he fought had blue eyes, black hands, and his father’s face, but he dared not tell Mormont that.

And what happens to swords that are tempered? They don’t die, but rise again harder and stronger. Jon is not Renly, or Catelyn, or Waymar Royce. No. Rather, Jon is a main character and love or hate it, main characters do have a certain amount of plot armour that is there for a reason. Those other characters are in place for different reasons that apply not just to their own subplots, but also as examples and set-up for future events. History repeats, but with a twist.

  • A Clash of Kings – Catelyn IV

Renly laughed. “Tell me, my lady, do direwolves vote on who should lead the pack?” Brienne brought the king’s gauntlets and greathelm, crowned with golden antlers that would add a foot and a half to his height. “The time for talk is done. Now we see who is stronger.” Renly pulled a lobstered green-and-gold gauntlet over his left hand, while Brienne knelt to buckle on his belt, heavy with the weight of longsword and dagger.

“I beg you in the name of the Mother,” Catelyn began when a sudden gust of wind flung open the door of the tent. She thought she glimpsed movement, but when she turned her head, it was only the king’s shadow shifting against the silken walls. She heard Renly begin a jest, his shadow moving, lifting its sword, black on green, candles guttering, shivering, something was queer, wrong, and then she saw Renly’s sword still in its scabbard, sheathed still, but the shadowsword . . .

“Cold,” said Renly in a small puzzled voice, a heartbeat before the steel of his gorget parted like cheesecloth beneath the shadow of a blade that was not there. He had time to make a small thick gasp before the blood came gushing out of his throat.

 


For the FIRE

Jon has rather bizarre relationship with fiery talons, and it has been going on for quite some time… and more importantly, it happens often when there is “ice magic” in play.

  • A Clash of Kings – Jon VII

“There was a tree with my brother’s face. The wildlings . . . there were thousands, more than I ever knew existed. And giants riding mammoths.” From the way the light had shifted, Jon judged that he had been asleep for four or five hours. His head ached, and the back of his neck where the talons had burned through him. But that was in the dream.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XI

“Dalla died.” Jon was saddened by that still. “Val is her sister. She and the babe did not require much capturing, Your Grace. You had put the wildlings to flight, and the skinchanger Mance had left to guard his queen went mad when the eagle burned.” Jon looked at Melisandre. “Some say that was your doing.”

She smiled, her long copper hair tumbling across her face. “The Lord of Light has fiery talons, Jon Snow.”

And it even happens in other character storylines that are parallels to Jon; an ice against a fire struggle. Brienne is the ice opposing the Cersei fire-sword.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jaime IV

“Live,” she said, “live, and fight, and take revenge.” But she spoke too loudly. Rorge heard her voice, if not her words, and came over to kick her, shouting at her to hold her bloody tongue if she wanted to keep it.

Craven, Jaime thought, as Brienne fought to stifle her moans. Can it be? They took my sword hand. Was that all I was, a sword hand? Gods be good, is it true?

The wench had the right of it. He could not die. Cersei was waiting for him. She would have need of him. And Tyrion, his little brother, who loved him for a lie. And his enemies were waiting too; the Young Wolf who had beaten him in the Whispering Wood and killed his men around him, Edmure Tully who had kept him in darkness and chains, these Brave Companions.

It shouldn’t be any surprise to Leech blog readers by now that I do speculate the ice and fire counterparts are going to come to a head either on the Trident River, or God’s Eye lake- either way, water is involved. Just as we read Daenerys in A Dance with Dragons getting the shivers when thinking of the Sun’s son, I am speculating that Jon gets the fiery talons and gets them via a red fire “god”.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys VII

“A sun in splendor, transfixed by a spear.”

The sun’s son. A shiver went through her. “Shadows and whispers.” What else had Quaithe said? The pale mare and the sun’s son. There was a lion in it too, and a dragon. Or am I the dragon? “Beware the perfumed seneschal.” That she remembered. “Dreams and prophecies. Why must they always be in riddles? I hate this. Oh, leave me, ser. Tomorrow is my wedding day.”

I can hear the cringing now. I know many are going to remain stalwart with the idea that Melisandre is going to revive Jon through a fire burning, or give him the kiss of life, or that Jon went to save Arya, etc. And that is ok to do so. However, I speculate these situations may not happen, and partially because never once in all of GRRM’s 40+ stories that I have read has the fire element ever been anything other than destruction of some sort. Additionally, I do not think Jon is dead-dead. He may (probably) die by the stories end, but this is not his death. I base this idea on both what we see in A Song of Ice and Fire as well as those stories listed above. In each of these stories (and maybe a few I am forgetting) the “Jon” always, always has a near-death experience first, gain a bunch of knowledge (kill the boy, let the man be born, enlightenment), and then they go on to fight again. Sometimes there is a final death, sometimes not. It depends.

I can already tell that this essay will grow to be a giant, so I will try to break it down in to additional linked posts if needed. I started discussing this idea a few years ago on the Westeros.org site. Here is a link to the main thread post if you are interested.


We have already seen plenty of fiery hand buildup in the story. Some are just minor mentions by minor characters, but many are more active in the story and add the foreshadowing needed. As a note, dragons and fire and are both interchangeable with characters. There can be “fire” characters, just as there are “dragon” characters, but they are not always Targaryens. The symbolism between these figures is a changeable as flame.

  • A Storm of Swords – Daenerys I

Viserion’s scales were the color of fresh cream, his horns, wing bones, and spinal crest a dark gold that flashed bright as metal in the sun. Rhaegal was made of the green of summer and the bronze of fall. They soared above the ships in wide circles, higher and higher, each trying to climb above the other.

Dragons always preferred to attack from above, Dany had learned. Should either get between the other and the sun, he would fold his wings and dive screaming, and they would tumble from the sky locked together in a tangled scaly ball, jaws snapping and tails lashing. The first time they had done it, she feared that they meant to kill each other, but it was only sport. No sooner would they splash into the sea than they would break apart and rise again, shrieking and hissing, the salt water steaming off them as their wings clawed at the air. Drogon was aloft as well, though not in sight; he would be miles ahead, or miles behind, hunting.

  • A Storm of Swords – Davos III

“. . . a horror.” Davos retreated from her. “I want no part of you, my lady. Or your god. May the Seven protect me.”

Melisandre sighed. “They did not protect Guncer Sunglass. He prayed thrice each day, and bore seven seven-pointed stars upon his shield, but when R’hllor reached out his hand his prayers turned to screams, and he burned. Why cling to these false gods?”

“I have worshiped them all my life.”

  • A Storm of Swords – Arya VII

Lord Beric shook his head. “Clegane won his life beneath the hollow hill. I will not rob him of it.”

“My lord is wise,” Thoros told the others. “Brothers, a trial by battle is a holy thing. You heard me ask R’hllor to take a hand, and you saw his fiery finger snap Lord Beric’s sword, just as he was about to make an end of it. The Lord of Light is not yet done with Joffrey’s Hound, it would seem.”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Tyrion VII

Benerro’s high voice carried well. Tall and thin, he had a drawn face and skin white as milk. Flames had been tattooed across his cheeks and chin and shaven head to make a bright red mask that crackled about his eyes and coiled down and around his lipless mouth. “Is that a slave tattoo?” asked Tyrion.

The knight nodded. “The red temple buys them as children and makes them priests or temple prostitutes or warriors. Look there.” He pointed at the steps, where a line of men in ornate armor and orange cloaks stood before the temple’s doors, clasping spears with points like writhing flames. “The Fiery Hand. The Lord of Light’s sacred soldiers, defenders of the temple.”

Fire knights. “And how many fingers does this hand have, pray?”

I am speculating that Melisandre is the hand to the fiery god, whose name varies by region, but to Melisandre (and Red Priests) is known as R’hllor. The fire god is a hungry god, we know that by now. Hungry and jealous as the books tell us. What do we know of the position of hand?

  • A Game of Thrones – Eddard I

Ned knew the saying. “What the king dreams,” he said, “the Hand builds.”

“I bedded a fishmaid once who told me the lowborn have a choicer way to put it. The king eats, they say, and the Hand takes the shit.” He threw back his head and roared his laughter. The echoes rang through the darkness, and all around them the dead of Winterfell seemed to watch with cold and disapproving eyes.

Is Melisandre the disembodied hand? What do we know of her age and the ruby at her throat that seems to have command over her? Or, is Melisandre just acting as hand and is casting the “sword that was not there”, as in the Catelyn chapter with the shadowsword?

  • A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I

“A few. I was eating bean-and-bacon soup whilst Bowen Marsh was going on about the high ground. The Old Pomegranate thought that I was spying on him and announced that he would not suffer murderers listening to their councils. I told him that if that was true, maybe they shouldn’t have them by the fire. Bowen turned red and made some choking sounds, but that was as far as it went.” The wildling sat on the edge of the window, slid his dagger from its sheath. “If some crow wants to slip a knife between my ribs whilst I’m spooning up some supper, he’s welcome to try. Hobb’s gruel would taste better with a drop of blood to spice it.”

Melisandre paid the naked steel no mind. If the wildling had meant her harm, she would have seen it in her flames. Danger to her own person was the first thing she had learned to see, back when she was still half a child, a slave girl bound for life to the great red temple. It was still the first thing she looked for whenever she gazed into a fire. “It is their eyes that should concern you, not their knives,” she warned him.

Mel is a zealot and misguided and her belief is that Azor Ahai is someone who needs to be reborn, so if she thinks Jon “good”, then he needs to die first. I believe it is more likely that she eventually sees, or interprets correctly, the face of the true great “Other”, who is not an other Other, but is the antithesis of her red R’hllor. The ice to her fire. She is being led to Jon to kill him as to make way for the fire god to “reappear”. Please read the story Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark to see how George works this idea. It is in there to a virtual T.

Additional Melisandre information for your reading pleasure:

  1. Melisandre and Selyse will Burn Shireen, not Stannis.
  2. Is Bran already turning in to a tree?
  3. Jon and Daenerys at the Trident- Bran is Jon’s ice armor.
  4. Touching on the story Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark

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So, why do I speculate that Melisandre is behind the mutiny “for the watch” stabbing? Let me explain, but first we have to address the mutiny conspirators as the story tells it now.

“It’s not the walls that make a lord, it’s the man.”

– Stannis to Jon

“No wall can keep you safe,” his [Jon’s] father had told him once, as they walked the walls of Winterfall. “A wall is only as strong as the men who defend it.”

– A Storm of Swords, Jon IV

To be clear and upfront, I do believe that Jon was wrongly stabbed by his brothers, that if he was breaking any vows it is still to be seen (the NW has forgotten its purpose). As you’ll see, Thorne, Marsh and Yarwyck were messing with Southron politics in the Nights Watch way before Jon was made Lord Commander, including Tywin trying to get Janos Slynt elected as the Lord Commander so that he has a puppet up there. Additionally, “Tywin with teats” Cersei has refused to help Jon and his plea for Night’s Watch help, and Cersei plots to have Jon killed (that never happens).

We should also keep George’s editor, Anne Groell, words in mind as we parse out these clues. It is a three tier reveal:

  • The first, subtle hint for the really astute readers, followed later by the more blatant hint for the less attentive, followed by just spelling it out for everyone else.   [basically, a three part reveal]

https://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/63456/how-much-does-george-r-r-martin-foreshadow/63468#63468

We are also told time and again that the wall is not what it used to be, going from a high honored position filled with noblemen and knights, to currently filled with thieves and rapists and criminals thanks to first the Andals, then the Targaryens setting up the King’s Guard. The result of this, and the real foe being absent for so long, is that the Nights Watch has forgotten its purpose:

  • “Spare me your but’s, boy,” Lord Mormont interrupted. “I would not be sitting here were it not for you and that beast of yours. You fought bravely … and more to the point, you thought quickly. Fire! Yes, damn it. We ought to have known. We ought to have remembered. The Long Night has come before. Oh, eight thousand years is a good while, to be sure … yet if the Night’s Watch does not remember, who will?”“Who will,” chimed the talkative raven. “Who will.”    <<< Jon will when he learns better and the man is born.
  • [Mormont] “We never knew! But we must have known once. The Night’s Watch has forgotten its true purpose, Tarly. You don’t build a wall seven hundred feet high to keep savages in skins from stealing women. The Wall was made to guard the realms of men . . . and not against other men, which is all the wildlings are when you come right down to it. Too many years, Tarly, too many hundreds and thousands of years. We lost sight of the true enemy. And now he’s here, but we don’t know how to fight him. Is dragonglass made by dragons, as the smallfolk like to say?”
  • Dance: Marsh flushed a deeper shade of red. “The lord commander must pardon my bluntness, but I have no softer way to say this. What you propose is nothing less than treason. For eight thousand years the men of the Night’s Watch have stood upon the Wall and fought these wildlings. Now you mean to let them pass, to shelter them in our castles, to feed them and clothe them and teach them how to fight. Lord Snow, must I remind you? You swore an oath.”
    • This is a perfect example of misinformation that is happening right now. THE WALL WAS NOT BUILT TO KEEP OUT WILDLINGS! Jon did not break that oath. The Free Folk are part of the realms of men the NW is sworn to protect.
  • The Wall was made to defend the realms of the First Men, and the men of the Night’s Watch have reportedly defended the Wall against Others and other monsters for eight thousand years since the end of the Long Night. Wiki Source.
  • World: Unique in the Seven Kingdoms is the Night’s Watch, the sworn brotherhood that has defended the Wall over centuries and millennia, born in the aftermath of the Long Night, the generation-long winter that brought the Others down on the realms of men and nearly put an end to them.
    • The wall was built to keep the Others out! Not Free Folk.
    • The maesters in the World Book say over and over that the Others were probably not real, which spreads the falsehood of the Faith/7 and negates the purpose of Northern culture and the Watch.
      • World: The history of the Night’s Watch is a long one. Tales still tell of the black knights of the Wall and their noble calling. But the Age of Heroes is long done, and the Others have not shown themselves in thousands of years, if indeed they ever existed.

Here comes Melisandre.

There is an SSM from Martin as recent as 2012 where a fan asked George about Melisandre and her mission specifically. I am so pleased the fan asked the question, and especially that George gave a decent answer (he can be tricky in that aspect).

  • Fan: Why did Melisandre seek out Stannis? Did she see him in her flames and decided to seek him out on her own, or is she on a mission on behalf of the red priests? It doesn’t seem at any point as if the latter is the case, when you compare to Moqorro who has been sent out by the priesthood.

    GRRM: You’re right. Melisandre has gone to Stannis entirely on her own, and has her own agenda.

I have a feeling that Marsh and company may have been under a spell of some sort because they were acting very strange with their tears and this: “The gangling steward backed away, his hands upraised as if to say, Not me, it was not me.”

  • Were they under a spell?
    • A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre IThe carved chest that she had brought across the narrow sea was more than three-quarters empty now. And while Melisandre had the knowledge to make more powders, she lacked many rare ingredients. My spells should suffice. She was stronger at the Wall, stronger even than in Asshai. Her every word and gesture was more potent, and she could do things that she had never done before. Such shadows as I bring forth here will be terrible, and no creature of the dark will stand before them. With such sorceries at her command, she should soon have no more need of the feeble tricks of alchemists and pyromancers.
    • A Storm of Swords – Samwell

I have no place here, Sam thought anxiously, when her red eyes fell upon him. Someone had to help Maester Aemon up the steps. Don’t look at me, I’m just the maester’s steward. The others were contenders for the Old Bear’s command, all but Bowen Marsh, who had withdrawn from the contest but remained castellan and Lord Steward. Sam did not understand why Melisandre should seem so interested in him.

    • A Clash of Kings – Jon VIIThen a sudden gust of cold made his fur stand up, and the air thrilled to the sound of wings. As he lifted his eyes to the ice-white mountain heights above, a shadow plummeted out of the sky. A shrill scream split the air. He glimpsed blue-grey pinions spread wide, shutting out the sun . . .

“Ghost!” Jon shouted, sitting up. He could still feel the talons, the pain. “Ghost, to me!”Ebben appeared, grabbed him, shook him. “Quiet! You mean to bring the wildlings down on us? What’s wrong with you, boy?”

<snipped>

“The Milkwater flows from a great lake at the foot of a glacier,” Stonesnake put in.

“There was a tree with my brother’s face. The wildlings . . . there were thousands, more than I ever knew existed. And giants riding mammoths.” From the way the light had shifted, Jon judged that he had been asleep for four or five hours. His head ached, and the back of his neck where the talons had burned through him. But that was in the dream. (This wasn’t a dream, instead it was Jon warging (ice magics) and not knowing what is happening. It turns out it was Ghost who was attacked.)

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XI

“Dalla died.” Jon was saddened by that still. “Val is her sister. She and the babe did not require much capturing, Your Grace. You had put the wildlings to flight, and the skinchanger Mance had left to guard his queen went mad when the eagle burned.” Jon looked at Melisandre. “Some say that was your doing.”

She smiled, her long copper hair tumbling across her face. “The Lord of Light has fiery talons, Jon Snow.”

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIII

Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking.

“Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …

Was Ser Patrek trying to steal Val at swordpoint and Wun Wun said “NO” because he knew Val belonged to Jon already?

  • STORM, Jon II: “Good,” King Stannis said, “for the surest way to seal a new alliance is with a marriage. I mean to wed my Lord of Winterfell to this wildling princess.” Perhaps Jon had ridden with the free folk too long; he could not help but laugh. “Your Grace,” he said, “captive or no, if you think you can just give Val to me, I fear you have a deal to learn about wildling women. Whoever weds her had best be prepared to climb in her tower window and carry her off at swordpoint . . .
  • DANCE, Jon X: …Satin was all grace, dancing with three serving girls in turn but never presuming to approach a highborn lady. Jon judged that wise. He did not like the way some of the queen’s knights were looking at the steward, particularly Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain. That one wants to shed a bit of blood, he thought. He is looking for some provocation.
  • DANCE, Jon XIII: Men poured from the surrounding keeps and towers. Northmen, free folk, queen’s men … “Form a line,” Jon Snow commanded them. “Keep them back. Everyone, but especially the queen’s men.” The dead man was Ser Patrek of King’s Mountain; his head was largely gone, but his heraldry was as distinctive as his face. Jon did not want to risk Ser Malegorn or Ser Brus or any of the queen’s other knights trying to avenge him.

Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun howled again and gave Ser Patrek’s other arm a twist and pull. It tore loose from his shoulder with a spray of bright red blood. Like a child pulling petals off a daisy, thought Jon….”Leathers, talk to him, calm him. The Old Tongue, he understands the Old Tongue. Keep back, the rest of you. Put away your steel, we’re scaring him.Couldn’t they see the giant had been cut? Jon had to put an end to this or more men would die. They had no idea of Wun Wun’s strength. A horn, I need a horn. He saw the glint of steel, turned toward it. “No blades!” he screamed.


THE GUILTY PLOTTERS

Alliser Thorne has had an issue with the Starks since AGOT, and actually since Robert’s Rebellion had him sent to the wall. Thorne, Marsh, and Yarwyck had been plotting against Jon for a while… way before Jon was even Lord Commander. If anything, these guys sitting in the tub of hot water are trying to sway the election to gain political favor in Kings Landing. They are playing at southron politics and history shows there is motive for all mutineer members.

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon IX“Lord Snow is nothing if not arrogant,” said Ser Alliser. “He murdered Qhorin, just as his fellow turncloaks did Lord Mormont. It would not surprise me to learn that it was all part of the same fell plot. Benjen Stark may well have a hand in all this as well. For all we know, he is sitting in Mance Rayder’s tent even now. You know these Starks, my lord.”“I do,” said Janos Slynt. “I know them too well.”
  • A Storm of Swords – Samwell IV

Three-Finger Hobb had promised the brothers roast haunch of mammoth that night, maybe in hopes of cadging a few more votes. If that was his notion, he should have found a younger mammoth, Sam thought, as he pulled a string of gristle out from between his teeth. Sighing, he pushed the food away.

There would be another vote shortly, and the tensions in the air were thicker than the smoke. Cotter Pyke sat by the fire, surrounded by rangers from Eastwatch. Ser Denys Mallister was near the door with a smaller group of Shadow Tower men. Janos Slynt has the best place, Sam realized, halfway between the flames and the drafts. He was alarmed to see Bowen Marsh beside him, wan-faced and haggard, his head still wrapped in linen, but listening to all that Lord Janos had to say. When he pointed that out to his friends, Pyp said, “And look down there, that’s Ser Alliser whispering with Othell Yarwyck.”

  • A Storm of Swords – Tyrion IV

[Tywin] “There is no need. The Night’s Watch is a pack of thieves, killers, and baseborn churls, but it occurs to me that they could prove otherwise, given proper discipline. If Mormont is indeed dead, the black brothers must choose a new Lord Commander.”

Pycelle gave Tyrion a sly glance. “An excellent thought, my lord. I know the very man. Janos Slynt.”

Tyrion liked that notion not at all. “The black brothers choose their own commander,” he reminded them. “Lord Slynt is new to the Wall. I know, I sent him there. Why should they pick him over a dozen more senior men?”

“Because,” his father said, in a tone that suggested Tyrion was quite the simpleton, “if they do not vote as they are told, their Wall will melt before it sees another man.”

“In closing, ask Marsh to pass along His Grace’s fondest regards to his faithful friend and servant, Lord Janos Slynt.”

  • A Storm of Swords – Jon XII

“When has Stannis Baratheon ever had much good to say of anyone?” Ser Alliser’s flinty voice was unmistakable. “If we let Stannis choose our Lord Commander, we become his bannermen in all but name. Tywin Lannister is not like to forget that, and you know it will be Lord Tywin who wins in the end. He’s already beaten Stannis once, on the Blackwater.”

“Lord Tywin favors Slynt,” said Bowen Marsh, in a fretful, anxious voice. “I can show you his letter, Othell. ‘Our faithful friend and servant,’ he called him.”

“What are you doing here, bastard?” Thorne asked.

“Bathing. But don’t let me spoil your plotting.” Jon climbed from the water, dried, dressed, and left them to conspire.

How funny will it be if Thorne, a Targ loyalist, finds out Jon’s heritage after he tries to kill him, However, Alliser will either come back as a wight, or he will come back and see Jon the Man and join his cause:

  • Ser Alliser only said, “You would like me to refuse. Then you could hack off my head, same as you did for Slynt. I’ll not give you that pleasure, bastard. You’d best pray that it’s a wildling blade that kills me, though. The ones the Others kill don’t stay dead … and they remember. I’m coming back, Lord Snow.”

“I pray you do.” Jon would never count Ser Alliser Thorne amongst his friends, but he was still a brother.


Bizarro Details

So Jon gets the curious pink letter, then he calls everyone to Shieldhall, an incredibly symbolic place as read about it here, he reads the letter, declares his intentions, then Jon sees a few key people slip out: Melisandre and the queen’s knights, Yarwyck and Marsh. Tormund arrives just in time to help control the rowdy crowd and calls for mead, and then Jon excuses himself to go see Selyse because he realizes he should have told her first.

  • Two quick things that stand out as oddly missing in the entire situation… 1) George’s love and need to describe in full detail the clothes, chainmail, cloaks, gloves, etc that people are wearing in important situations, and 2) the same need to describe in precise detail how the letter is written, such as ink color, is it flaky ink, handwriting type, etc. I can concede that Jon already knew Ramsay’s handwriting from previous letters, but the lack of clothing description makes me wonder.

The smash up between Wun Wun and Ser Patrek is happening and Jon thinks this:

  • “Val, was Jon’s first thought. But that was no woman’s scream.”

Then Jon is stabbed and he has a three-fold experience that parallels both his blood father Rhaegar, his brother Robb, and his brother Bran. Jon’s last word is “Ghost” because he is calling out to Ghost most likely to complete his first conscious warging into his direwolf. It is widely held that Robb called to Greywind to warg his wolf when he was mutiny stabbed at the Red Wedding. At this point in the story, Jon is only now accepting that he is more like a wildling, that he is a warg and that he and Ghost are one and he knows Ghost will keep him safe. A loyal Raynald Westerling did release Greywind at Robb’s mutiny just as someone could have released Ghost at Jon’s mutiny. More and more I feel like the entire Red Wedding was foreshadowing for this main event.

Jon does briefly think of the life lesson that he teaches Arya about how to stab and kill someone because he is currently being stabbed and “killed”. Arya herself even calls it a lesson as she talks about it with her dad and then again as she stabs and kills that horse boy who tries to grab her to turn her in. The lesson is important because we know Odin sacrificed himself for knowledge.

Jon also parallels Rhaegar by calling out, “Ghost”, as Rhaegar called out, “Lyanna”, when he died (confirmed on the app, as controversial as that source is).

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIII

Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it.

Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold …

  • A Storm of Swords – Catelyn VII

“Yes. Robb, get up. Get up and walk out, please, please. Save yourself . . . if not for me, for Jeyne.”

“Jeyne?” Robb grabbed the edge of the table and forced himself to stand. “Mother,” he said, “Grey Wind . . .”

Go to him. Now. Robb, walk out of here.”

Another curious connection between the Red Wedding and the mutiny is the use of a “spice person” to help arrange it. Sybell Spicer helped arrange the Red Wedding which got Robb killed, while Melisandre is repeatedly associated with spices, scents, smokes, and powders throughout the story. ASOS/Davos III ,and ADWD/Jon III, and ADWD/Jon VI to name a few.

  • A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV

[Dany’s vision of Rhaegar] Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman’s name.

But, is Jon dead-dead, or just hurt? I am in favor of just hurt. Why, you ask? Well, there are a few options or some combo of either. Here is a relevant option:

  • A Dance with Dragons – Jon III

All the same, the wildling princess was not beloved of her gaolers. She scorned them all as “kneelers,” and had thrice attempted to escape. When one man-at-arms grew careless in her presence she had snatched his dagger from its sheath and stabbed him in the neck. Another inch to the left and he might have died.

Because we don’t know what Jon was wearing in the way of layers of boiled leather, possible chainmail, etc. Also because not all stab wounds are lethal, and medieval operations were better then we think, but the in-world reason to think Jon may be unconcious is he has two healers there with him, Val and Morna, and Borroq the skinchanger who calls Jon, “brother.”


For the ICE

*work in progress

From book 1, Jon is developing an odd relationship with ice… and watery walls. Another reason why I believe Jon has proverbially drank from the cup of ice (as described below).

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon VII

Dead Othor slammed into him, knocking him off his feet.

Jon’s breath went out of him as the fallen table caught him between his shoulder blades. The sword, where was the sword? He’d lost the damned sword! When he opened his mouth to scream, the wight jammed its black corpse fingers into Jon’s mouth. Gagging, he tried to shove it off, but the dead man was too heavy. Its hand forced itself farther down his throat, icy cold, choking him. Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue. Jon raked cold flesh with his nails and kicked at the thing’s legs. He tried to bite, tried to punch, tried to breathe …

And suddenly the corpse’s weight was gone, its fingers ripped from his throat. It was all Jon could do to roll over, retching and shaking. Ghost had it again. He watched as the direwolf buried his teeth in the wight’s gut and began to rip and tear. He watched, only half conscious, for a long moment before he finally remembered to look for his sword …


IF Jon actually died

I do not think Jon is dead, yet. I do believe what we saw was Martin giving his typical Jon-type the first near-death experience, and that maybe, maybe Jon could have a final death at the end of the story. But for this section let’s talk about what happens IF Jon is dead. I wrote out the reasons why in this Jon page.

Often clues to one part of the story are told in a different POV, especially in epilogues or prologues. Glass candles are primarily a Daenerys POV item, but there is crossover meaning here in this section. I speculate it is another clue that Jon isn’t dead could come from this prologue:

  • A Feast for Crows – Prologue

“What are these glass candles?” asked Roone.

Armen the Acolyte cleared his throat. “The night before an acolyte says his vows, he must stand a vigil in the vault. No lantern is permitted him, no torch, no lamp, no taper . . . only a candle of obsidian. He must spend the night in darkness, unless he can light that candle. Some will try. The foolish and the stubborn, those who have made a study of these so-called higher mysteries. Often they cut their fingers, for the ridges on the candles are said to be as sharp as razors. Then, with bloody hands, they must wait upon the dawn, brooding on their failure. Wiser men simply go to sleep, or spend their night in prayer, but every year there are always a few who must try.”

“Yes.” Pate had heard the same stories. “But what’s the use of a candle that casts no light?”

It is a lesson,” Armen said, “the last lesson we must learn before we don our maester’s chains. The glass candle is meant to represent truth and learning, rare and beautiful and fragile things. It is made in the shape of a candle to remind us that a maester must cast light wherever he serves, and it is sharp to remind us that knowledge can be dangerous. Wise men may grow arrogant in their wisdom, but a maester must always remain humble. The glass candle reminds us of that as well. Even after he has said his vow and donned his chain and gone forth to serve, a maester will think back on the darkness of his vigil and remember how nothing that he did could make the candle burn . . . for even with knowledge, some things are not possible.”

  • A Game of Thrones – Jon II

“I think so,” Arya said.

“First lesson,” Jon said. “Stick them with the pointy end.”

Arya gave him a whap on the arm with the flat of her blade. The blow stung, but Jon found himself grinning like an idiot. “I know which end to use,” Arya said. A doubtful look crossed her face. “Septa Mordane will take it away from me.”

  • A Game of Thrones – Arya II

“She was,” Eddard Stark agreed, “beautiful, and willful, and dead before her time.” He lifted the sword, held it out between them. “Arya, what did you think to do with this … Needle? Who did you hope to skewer? Your sister? Septa Mordane? Do you know the first thing about sword fighting?”

All she could think of was the lesson Jon had given her. “Stick them with the pointy end,” she blurted out.

Her father snorted back laughter. “That is the essence of it, I suppose.”

Ok, I know Jon is part Targ and he needs fire, I can accept that he may be dead-dead and the free folk try and burn his body, and that will unlock his dragon puberty. Fire rituals were ingrained into both the dragon symbolism and the north of wall First Men. Both burned their dead on a pyre. Jon is that bridge so fire may be very required.

IF Jon is dead, I do lean towards Jon having a pyre north of the wall at the weirwood grove where he took his NW vows. I think this will let Bran see what is going on and maybe to enter Jon’s mind to talk to him and take him on an exploratory history lesson about his paternity. The standing stones of the post two above explains the symbolism between the grove of nine weirwoods and actual cultural history.

However, fire or not, I believe Jon will always be an icy, water magic infused northerner. That is the cup he chose. Daenerys chose the cup of fire at the House of the Undying (as Cyrain does), and Bran chose the cup of ice… but Bran is being mentored by fire, so he will be the intermediary which is simply elemental water. Maybe.

A quickie about these cups: It is not about what is in these cups, it is a metaphor for their decision in life. It is who they are. What path they will chose. Each person was given a hallucinogen that opened up their mind’s eye allowing the subconscious to flow (Jon’s cup is in The Winds of Winter) and from their they make a decision.


For reference, the vows:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.


CRACKPOT CORNER…

This crackpot is a work in progress. For a teaser think back to the story Fevre Dream (< this is key!) and these bits…

  • The World of Ice and Fire – Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria

In such fragments of Barth’s Unnatural History as remain, the septon appears to have considered various legends examining the origins of dragons and how they came to be controlled by the Valyrians. The Valyrians themselves claimed that dragons sprang forth as the children of the Fourteen Flames, while in Qarth the tales state that there was once a second moon in the sky. One day this moon was scalded by the sun and cracked like an egg, and a million dragons poured forth. In Asshai, the tales are many and confused, but certain texts—all impossibly ancient—claim that dragons first came from the Shadow, a place where all of our learning fails us. These Asshai’i histories say that a people so ancient they had no name first tamed dragons in the Shadow and brought them to Valyria, teaching the Valyrians their arts before departing from the annals.

Yet if men in the Shadow had tamed dragons first, why did they not conquer as the Valyrians did? It seems likelier that the Valyrian tale is the truest. But there were dragons in Westeros, once, long before the Targaryens came, as our own legends and histories tell us. If dragons did first spring from the Fourteen Flames, they must have been spread across much of the known world before they were tamed. And, in fact, there is evidence for this, as dragon bones have been found as far north as Ib, and even in the jungles of Sothoryos. But the Valyrians harnessed and subjugated them as no one else could.

  • A Dance with Dragons – Bran III

The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife. Summer dug up a severed arm, black and covered with hoarfrost, its fingers opening and closing as it pulled itself across the frozen snow. There was still enough meat on it to fill his empty belly, and after that was done he cracked the arm bones for the marrow. Only then did the arm remember it was dead.

Bran ate with Summer and his pack, as a wolf. As a raven he flew with the murder, circling the hill at sunset, watching for foes, feeling the icy touch of the air. As Hodor he explored the caves. He found chambers full of bones, shafts that plunged deep into the earth, a place where the skeletons of gigantic bats hung upside down from the ceiling. He even crossed the slender stone bridge that arched over the abyss and discovered more passages and chambers on the far side. One was full of singers, enthroned like Brynden in nests of weirwood roots that wove under and through and around their bodies. Most of them looked dead to him, but as he crossed in front of them their eyes would open and follow the light of his torch, and one of them opened and closed a wrinkled mouth as if he were trying to speak. “Hodor,” Bran said to him, and he felt the real Hodor stir down in his pit.


But then we get back to this…

Oh George, you devil!
  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So why did you kill Jon Snow?
  • GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?

To be continued…