ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So why did you kill Jon Snow?
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?
After years of writing about this theory elsewhere, I finally have it in one place. The title of this page says it all. George has said that writing for television better honed his craft to create a better cliffhanger. This page will be a companion page to the “who done the stabbing” page, and the Ghost = Great Sword Ice page that is in the works.
Martin told Time Magazine that writing for network TV (including Beauty and the Beast) taught him the importance of the “act break.” This means going to a commercial on a moment of “revelation, a twist, or a cliff-hanger.” He wanted the books to keep readers engaged, so he “tried to end every chapter with an act break.” This doesn’t mean he wanted to always end chapters with cliffhangers, though.
“A cliff hanger is a good act break certainly, but it’s not the only kind of act break. It can just be a moment… a character moment, a moment of revelation, it has to end with something that makes you want to read more about this character.”–GRRM
Martin also discussed the importance of a cliffhanger as an act break in this video here at the 20:54 minute:
“I mean one of the structure of Song of Ice and Fire with his viewpoint things and and cutting between the viewpoints and all of them ending essentially with, I don’t know, cliffhangers or interesting points is is a structure I learned in television you won’t see it in my earlier novels but of course working for network television you have to have act breaks…”
If we keep in mind that A Dance of Dragons was the transition from act two to act three, as discussed here, what we witnessed with Jon on page was an act break. To be clear, I do think Jon was deeply wounded, but not mortally. I do believe that Jon will be unconscious and will have his third-eye opening experience as he astral projects his consciousness into Ghost, and it is then Jon will have connections with Bran. I do not think Jon will be dead like we see happened to Catelyn before her Lady Stoneheart reemergence.
So far we have plenty of “living dead” in A Song of Ice and Fire, but they are not all the same. I think most, if not all, A Song of Ice and Fire fans know GRRM’s thoughts on death and return:
Yeah, maybe. That may have been part of it. Part of it was also, it’s the dialogue that I was talking about. And here I’ve got to get back to Tolkien again. And I’m going to seem like I’m criticizing him, which I guess I am. It’s always bothered me that Gandalf comes back from the dead. The Red Wedding for me in Lord of the Rings is the mines of Moria, and when Gandalf falls — it’s a devastating moment! I didn’t see it coming at 13 years old, it just totally took me by surprise. Gandalf can’t die! He’s the guy that knows all of the things that are happening! He’s one of the main heroes here! Oh god, what are they going to do without Gandalf? Now it’s just the hobbits?! And Boromir, and Aragorn? Well, maybe Aragorn will do, but it’s just a huge moment. A huge emotional investment.
And then in the next book, he shows up again, and it was six months between the American publications of those books, which seemed like a million years to me. So all that time I thought Gandalf was dead, and now he’s back and now he’s Gandalf the White. And, ehh, he’s more or less the same as always, except he’s more powerful. It always felt a little bit like a cheat to me. And as I got older and considered it more, it also seemed to me that death doesn’t make you more powerful. That’s, in some ways, me talking to Tolkien in the dialogue, saying, “Yeah, if someone comes back from being dead, especially if they suffer a violent, traumatic death, they’re not going to come back as nice as ever.” That’s what I was trying to do, and am still trying to do, with the Lady Stoneheart character.
A few things here. Firstly, there is no benefit to Jon dying if he doesn’t come back more “powerful”. Martin just said he dislikes that trope, therefore it is expected he won’t commit that same mistake in his own story.
Second issue being that it makes total sense if Jon were to die then he should stay dead. But Jon did not die… not yet anyway, so this “cheat” to give Jon more power is averted again.
Jon Snow is a major character in the story, and since this blog follows clues from all over GRRM’s work, the main “Jon” type of hero character always has a near death experience first, and then he gains knowledge and insight during the process, returns with this knowledge to do better, and then may or may not die at the end. If this character lives, he usually survives and lives alone, but if he dies then his loved one spreads his knowledge, his tenets, into the rebuilding society. Occasionally this Jon-type does have his partner in the end, both being alive.
Third, and rather notably, Jon is not Lady Stoneheart. The plot purpose between the two are completely different. George finishes this now fandom famous quote of his by explaining how this relates to Lady Stoneheart, specifically.
And just to add a bit more to the above interview, GRRM’s next question and statement is about Jon on the show… big difference than in the books.
And Jon Snow, too, is drained by the experience of coming back from the dead on the show.
Right. And poor Beric Dondarrion, who was set up as the foreshadowing of all this, every time he’s a little less Beric. His memories are fading, he’s got all these scars, he’s becoming more and more physically hideous, because he’s not a living human being anymore. His heart isn’t beating, his blood isn’t flowing in his veins, he’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of by ice, now we’re getting back to the whole fire and ice thing.
This is the same interview where Martin just said this:
You’re in unusual territory, with your characters very much still in your hands but also out in the world being interpreted for TV. Are you able to have walls in your mind such that your Daenerys, say, is your Daenerys, and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys is hers and the show’s?
I’ve arrived at that point. The walls are up in my mind. I don’t know that I was necessarily there from the beginning. At some points, when David and Dan and I had discussions about what way we should go in, I would always favor sticking with the books, while they would favor making changes. I think one of the biggest ones would probably be when they made the decision not to bring Catelyn Stark back as Lady Stoneheart. That was probably the first major diversion of the show from the books and, you know, I argued against that, and David and Dan made that decision. Interview source.
The two showrunners of the HBO show Game of Thrones remixed Lady Stoneheart into Jonny Stoneheart. This is not the only way the show added Lady Stoneheart; Arya baking Frey pie at the beginning of a season, the Sandor ‘the Hound’ Clegane finding the Brotherhood without Banners (who are hanging people) where this huge “hound” goes to the river’s edge and pisses in the water. Classic show Plotzee!
What to Read
The best stories of GRRM’s to read to see this near death experience are as listed as best as my memory can remember. In each and every one of these stories, the main icy “Jon” archetype is on the literary path of gained knowledge through experience. And also in each and every one of these stories the main Jon-archetype has a near death experience where his protector, usually his love interest, stands over his body protecting him until he heals (and sometimes later dies).
- Nightflyers. One of the strongest Jon and Val against a fiery dragon prototype stories George has written. Melantha, the Val-type, stands over Royd Eris as he is near mortally wounded and she protects him until he can “save the day”. Royd has a near death experience, but Melantha protects him and motivates him to use his talents that he never realized he had. I suspect that we will see this similar situation between Val and getting Jon to accept his warg talents. Other people will assist in other Jon healing aspects as well. So, so many shared themes in this story with ASOAIF.
- Fevre Dream. The main protagonist, Joshua/Josh York, is injured and in danger of being overpowered by the dark lord type antagonist (yes, George has dark lords). Joshua’s protector stands over him and urges him on so Josh can “save the day”. Additionally, this story also makes a deal about mirrors used on the Fevre Dream ship. The Fevre Dream ship is akin to the weirwood throne before its usurped and changes into Ozymandias- The Iron Throne.
- *The Skin Trade. I cannot recommend enough the importance of reading this story to get a clear idea of how GRRM’s writing process in this werewolf story is already translating into ASOIAF, right down to the Val & Jon relationship, the wall of mirrors, blood on the mirrors called the Skinner, the Roose, Ramsay, Reek plot lines, the killing of the Frey boy at Winterfell, and incest causes madness. For this topic, the last stand between the protagonist Willie Flambeaux and the “thing that hunts the hunters” and how Willie is stabbed is crucial.
- Armageddon Rag. The main protagonist, Sandy Blair, is seduced by a fiery woman named Ananda that wants a warlike revolution that could destroy all in the process. Sandy is the one chosen to join this rock group, the Nazgûl, and that allows him the opportunity to learn better and do better. He most certainly has his share of Fevre dreams, is almost killed, is shot in the neck with a dart gun and bleeds everywhere… but he sleeps and dreams and wakes again to help humanity.
- Bitterblooms. Mainly for the flowers species called bitterblooms as well as frost flowers. This has to do with Jon’s ‘flowering’ warg puberty described way below.
- Remembering Melody, transcribed here. This story again shows blood on the mirrors invites an “other” through the door/gates.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XIII
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. “Wick, put that knife …”
… away, he meant to say. When Wick Whittlestick slashed at his throat, the word turned into a grunt. Jon twisted from the knife, just enough so it barely grazed his skin. He cut me. When he put his hand to the side of his neck, blood welled between his fingers. “Why?”
“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.
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 …
* * *
So, let’s discuss the,” blood welled between his fingers,” line as this seems to be the most frequent line used to “prove” Jon is bleeding out and dying. I disagree with this idea because we don’t know that Jon is bleeding out because he still has the strength to do other things like:
- Ask Wick “why”.
- Grab at Wick’s wrist during a second slicing attempt and twist.
- Jon reaching for Longclaw. Sure he couldn’t get it free, but that could be a separate issue because he was then…
- … able to pull the “buried” dagger from his gut.
- Jon felt “only the cold,” as opposed to feeling cold in his own person. Remember, in this story there are two types of cold, and the coldest cold is on the northern side of the wall, especially when the Others are showing up. Marsh and Wick just “brought down the wall” metaphorically by stabbing their Lord Commander. In doing so they invited the cold of the Others. They got blood on the mirrors and brought the Skinner (re: The Skin Trade), or rather more precisely, a Great Other, the thing that hunts the hunters. Melisandre may possibly have had something to do with it as well.
George uses blood welling at least eight times in A Song of Ice and Fire, and none of them are the killing blow. Some people have their blood well, and then another killing strike comes that finishes them. While some others have their blood well as just an injury. I am of the opinion that GRRM would be very specific, if not graphic, about blood from a fatal jugular wound to be more active in description, not a passive “welled”. I would imagine blood from a jugular enough to kill a man within seconds would gush, or spurt, or pulse with each beat of the dying heart.
- A Game of Thrones prologue [With the Jon-ish aspect of Waymar Royce being hunted in a Jon foreshadowing. Not even Waymar dies from his blood welling]: Then Royce’s parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red. [and then]
When the blades touched, the steel shattered. A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers. The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.
- A Game of Thrones- Catelyn IV: Varys lifted the knife with exaggerated delicacy and ran a thumb along its edge. Blood welled, and he let out a squeal and dropped the dagger back on the table.
- A Game of Thrones- Arya IV:Syrio ducked under his blade and thrust upward. The guardsman fell screaming as blood welled from the wet red hole where his left eye had been.The fallen men were getting up.
- A Dance with Dragons- The Kingbreaker: Selmy blocked the cuts at his head and let his armor stop the rest, whilst his own blade opened the pit fighter’s cheek from ear to mouth, then traced a raw red gash across his chest. Blood welled from Khrazz’s wounds. That only seemed to make him wilder. He seized the brazier with his off hand and flipped it, scattering embers and hot coals at Selmy’s feet.
- A Dance with Dragons- The Queen’s Hand: He saw no sign of dragons, but he had not expected to. The dragons did not like the rain. A thin red slash marked the eastern horizon where the sun might soon appear. It reminded Selmy of the first blood welling from a wound. Often, even with a deep cut, the blood came before the pain.
- note here that welling blood comes before pain, not welling blood comes before death.
- 3 more ASOIAF book quotes with “welling blood” can be found here https://asearchoficeandfire.com/?q=blood+welled
George also uses the term or action of blood welling in a few of his other stories (not as many as I expected, sadly). None of them are the “killing blow”, but rather a serious wound, or part of a larger fight. This seems to be another example of the author using his own themes the way he sees fit for his stories.
- Fevre Dream [Emily dies, but only because she is fed on by the fiery Damon Julian]:
Sour Billy reached behind him, and pulled the knife from the sheath in the small of his back. Emily’s dark eyes bulged wide and frightened and she tried to pull away, but he had a firm grip on her and he was fast, very fast. The blade had scarcely come into view and suddenly it was wet; a single swift slash across the inside of her wrist, where Julian had planted his lips. Blood welled from the wound and began to drip onto the floor, the patters loud in the stillness of the ballroom. Briefly the girl whimpered, but before she quite knew what was happening Sour Billy had sheathed his knife and stepped away and Julian had taken her hand again. He raised her slim arm up once more, and bent his lips to her wrist, and began to suck.
- Fevre Dream [Damon Julian acting a little more like fire-woman Catelyn Stark before she transforms into Lady Stoneheart. Still, the blood welling does not mean death]: Julian’s dressing gown hung from him in bloody tatters, but he wasn’t dead. “I am not so easy to kill as poor Billy,” he said. Blood welled in his eye socket and dripped down his cheek. Already it was crusting, clotting. “Nor as easy as you will be.” He came toward Marsh with languid inevitable slowness.
- Sandkings [Lissandra is a fire woman “agent” to the god-like Simon Kress. She was brought in to kill the Sandking bugs by using a handheld flame thrower, but she fails. Yes, Melissandre is the literary opposite with the Mel prefix added. This Lissandra does die, but not by her blood welling. No, rather she is later consumed.]:She stepped into the door, shifted the laser to her left hand, and reached up with her right, fumbling inside for the light panel. Nothing happened. “I feel it,” Lissandra said, “but it doesn’t seem to …” Then she was screaming, and she stumbled backward. A great white sandking had clamped itself around her wrist. Blood welled through her skinthins where its mandibles had sunk in. It was fully as large as her hand. Lissandra did a horrible little jig across the room and began to smash her hand against the nearest wall. Again and again and again. It landed with a heavy, meaty thud. Finally the sandking fell away. She whimpered and fell to her knees. “I think my fingers are broken,” she said softly. The blood was still flowing freely. She had dropped the laser near the cellar door.
- *The Skin Trade [Sooo very much goodness in this passage. I love this story]. The story opens with the dichotomy of ice/skinchanger identity being put in opposition of the spicy-fire-blood people:
Willie smelled the blood a block away from her apartment.
He hesitated and sniffed at the cool night air again. It was autumn, with the wind off the river and the smell of rain in the air, but the scent, that scent, was copper and spice and fire, unmistakable. He knew the smell of human blood.
A jogger bounced past, his orange sweats bright under the light of the full moon. Willie moved deeper into the shadows. What kind of fool ran at this hour of the night? Asshole, Willie thought, and the sentiment emerged in a low growl. The man looked around, startled. Willie crept back further into the foliage. After a long moment, the jogger continued up the bicycle path, moving a little faster now.
The story The Skin Trade goes on at great length about a type of mega-hunter Great Other that emerges through mirrors, making its on page debut through a *wall of mirrors. This is the quicksilver sea. Willie Flambeaux is a Jon Snow prototype. In this opening few paragraphs alone, we get several hints to the Jon-north-ice side of this story. The copper and spice and blood is consistent with Melisandre and many other fiery types GRRM writes about. There are clear divisions here, and in ASOIAF. We have a Gared running (fleeing) situation, Willie calling the runner an “asshole”, as Jon calls Theon an “ass” when Theon kicks Gared’s head. Then a few sentences after this excerpt we get Val “hurts to breathe” statement, and Will as a poacher scene, and Ghost as the original ICE sword. Good stuff, now back to the story, this time near the ending…
- The Skin Trade
And then, dimly, he heard Steven screaming, screaming in a high shrill thin voice, a little boy’s voice. “No, Daddy,” he was whining, over and over again. “No, please, don’t bite me, Daddy, don’t bite me anymore.”
Willie let him go and backed away.
Steven sat on the floor, sobbing. He was bleeding like a sonofabitch. Pieces were missing from thigh, calf, shoulder, and foot. His legs were drenched in blood. Three fingers were gone off his right hand. His cheeks were slimy with gore.
Suddenly Willie was scared.
For a moment he didn’t understand. Steven was beaten, he could see that; he could rip out his throat or let him live, it didn’t matter, it was over. But something was wrong, something was terribly, sickeningly wrong. It felt as though the temperature had dropped a hundred degrees, and every hair on his body was prickling and standing on end. What the hell was going on? He growled low in his throat and backed away, toward the door, keeping a careful eye on Steven.
Steven giggled. “You’ll get it now,” he said. “You called it. You got blood on the mirrors. You called it back again.”
The room seemed to spin. Moonlight ran from mirror to mirror to mirror, dizzyingly. Or maybe it wasn’t moonlight.
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 …
He was running on instinct now; he didn’t know why he did it, he just did. The pain was there waiting for him along with his humanity, as he’d known it would be. It shrieked through him like a gale wind, and sent him whimpering to the floor. He could feel the glass shard under his ribs, dangerously close to a lung, and his left arm bent sickeningly downward at a place it was never meant to bend, and when he tried to move it, he screamed and bit his tongue and felt his mouth fill with blood.
The fog was a pale thin haze now, and the mirror closest to him bulged outward, throbbing like something alive.
Steven sat against the wall, his blue eyes bright and avid, sucking his own blood from the stumps of his fingers. “Changing won’t help,” he said in that weird flat tone of his. “Skinner don’t care. It knows what you are. Once it’s called, it’s got to have a skin.” Willie’s vision was blurry with tears, but he saw it again then, in the mirror behind Steven, pushing at the fading fog, pushing, pushing, trying to get through.
He staggered to his feet. Pain roared through his head. He cradled his broken arm against his body, took a step toward the stairs, and felt broken glass grind against his bare feet. He looked down. Pieces of the shattered mirror were everywhere.
Willie’s head snapped up. He looked around wildly, dizzy, counting. Six, seven, eight, nine … the tenth was broken. Nine then. He threw himself forward, slammed all his body weight into the nearest mirror. It shattered under the impact, disintegrated into a thousand pieces. Willie crunched the biggest shards underfoot, stamped on them until his heels ran wet with blood. He was moving without thought. He caromed around the room, using his own body as a weapon, hearing the sweet tinkling music of breaking glass. The world turned into a red fog of pain and a thousand little knives sliced at him everywhere, and he wondered, if the skinner came through and got him, whether he’d even be able to tell the difference.
Then he was staggering away from another mirror, and white-hot needles were stabbing through his feet with every step, turning into fire as they lanced up his calves. He stumbled and fell, hard. Flying glass had cut his face to ribbons, and the blood ran down into his eyes.
Willie blinked, and wiped the blood away with his good hand. His old raincoat was underneath him, blood-soaked and covered with ground glass and shards of mirror. Steven stood over him, staring down. Behind him was a mirror. Or was it a door?
“You missed one,” Steven said flatly.
Something hard was digging into his gut, Willie realized. His hand fumbled around beneath him, slid into the pocket of his raincoat, closed on cold metal.
“Skinner’s coming for you now,” Steven said.
Willie couldn’t see. The blood had filled his eyes again. But he could still feel. He got his fingers through the loops and rolled and brought his hand up fast and hard, with all the strength he had left, and put Mr. Scissors right through the meat of Steven’s groin.
The last thing he heard was a scream, and the sound of breaking glass.
* * *
Compare this is the other descriptors of when the Others are said to arrive; they bring their own cold, it hurts to breathe (Willie Flambeaux and his inhaler), mirrors/ice walls are involved, as are spices and blood, and the strange sensations of ‘burning-hotness- frozen fire, the ice dragon-Others. That is what Jon is feeling, the Others after the fourth hand attacks him. I have long suspected that the A Game of Thrones prologue showing Waymar and the Others is a setup for Jon:
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
The young knight turned back to his grizzled man-at-arms. Frost-fallen leaves whispered past them, and Royce’s destrier moved restlessly. “What do you think might have killed these men, Gared?” Ser Waymar asked casually. He adjusted the drape of his long sable cloak.
“It was the cold,” Gared said with iron certainty. “I saw men freeze last winter, and the one before, when I was half a boy. Everyone talks about snows forty foot deep, and how the ice wind comes howling out of the north, but the real enemy is the cold. It steals up on you quieter than Will, and at first you shiver and your teeth chatter and you stamp your feet and dream of mulled wine and nice hot fires. It burns, it does. Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don’t have the strength to fight it. It’s easier just to sit down or go to sleep. They say you don’t feel any pain toward the end. First you go weak and drowsy, and everything starts to fade, and then it’s like sinking into a sea of warm milk. Peaceful, like.”
A Dance with Dragons – Jon VIII
“My tongue is too numb to tell. All I can taste is cold.”
“Cold?” Val laughed lightly. “No. When it is cold it will hurt to breathe. When the Others come …”
- [and then] “I don’t care what she says,” muttered Dolorous Edd, as Val vanished behind a stand of soldier pines. “The air is so cold it hurts to breathe. I would stop, but that would hurt worse.” He rubbed his hands together. “This is going to end badly.”
A Dance with Dragons – Jon XII
“I know,” said Jon Snow.
Tormund turned back. “You know nothing. You killed a dead man, aye, I heard. Mance killed a hundred. A man can fight the dead, but when their masters come, when the white mists rise up … how do you fight a mist, crow? Shadows with teeth … air so cold it hurts to breathe, like a knife inside your chest … you do not know, you cannot know … can your sword cut cold?”
- The Skin Trade- Willie Flambeaux, who uses Primatene Mist
I’ve got asthma too.” He took the inhaler out of his pocket, showed it to her. “You want to kill me, making me take the damned TV would do the trick.”
- Under Siege– After *unnamed protagonist* returns from a time travel-skinchange of Anttonen and returns to his own body:
Anttonen turned his face into the wind again, welcoming the chill, the numbing cold. He wanted it to cool his fury, to cut into the heart of him and freeze the passions that seethed there. He wanted to be numb. The cold had turned even the turbulent sea into still and silent ice; now let it conquer the turbulence within Bengt Anttonen. He opened his mouth, exhaled a long plume of breath that rose from his reddened cheeks like steam, inhaled a draught of frigid air that went down like liquid oxygen. But panic came in the wake of that thought. Again, it was happening again. What was liquid oxygen? Cold, he knew somehow; colder than the ice, colder than this wind. Liquid oxygen was bitter and white, and it steamed and flowed. He knew it, knew it as certainly as he knew his own name. But how?
I do believe Jon is deeply injured, and that maybe this is his “wake the warg” moment where he survives an event where he should have died, much like Bran and his fall and Daenerys and her Drogo fire pyre. Martin has said Bran is the “most magical”, while he also admits the Jon and Daenerys chapters also have higher levels of magic in them. Jon being dead just doesn’t fit. For what it’s worth, I do think there is a high chance that Jon dies dead-dead in the very end. But, he may wander off like the ending of Dying of the Light with the ‘Ghost’.
Symbiosis of the Wolf and the Tree
Jon and Bran are being set up to work as one- Bran the tree of knowledge will have Jon as the knight. Compare these scenes below. Bran asks some very interesting questions about his possible death and warging experience and this is just a few chapters before Jon and his mutiny stabbing, Bran even thinks of his family in the mess because he mistakes someone for his sister Arya like Jon did with Jeyne Poole.
Jon put his life on the line multiple times to save the free folk, something which he sees as important to the future of Westeros and humanity, in addition to Jon desiring one, Val:
- A Dance with Dragons – Bran II
The wights, Bran realized. Someone set the wights on fire.
Summer was snarling and snapping as he danced around the closest, a great ruin of a man wreathed in swirling flame. He shouldn’t get so close, what is he doing? Then he saw himself, sprawled facedown in the snow. Summer was trying to drive the thing away from him. What will happen if it kills me? the boy wondered. Will I be Hodor for good or all? Will I go back into Summer’s skin? Or will I just be dead?The world moved dizzily around him. White trees, black sky, red flames, everything was whirling, shifting, spinning. He felt himself stumbling. He could hear Hodor screaming, “Hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor.” A cloud of ravens was pouring from the cave, and he saw a little girl with a torch in hand, darting this way and that. For a moment Bran thought it was his sister Arya … madly, for he knew his little sister was a thousand leagues away, or dead. And yet there she was, whirling, a scrawny thing, ragged, wild, her hair atangle. Tears filled Hodor’s eyes and froze there.
“Summer was trying to drive the thing away from him.” Could this be a clue that someone had released Ghost during the mutiny, and that is why Jon called to him when he did? Did Jon see Ghost running to the rescue and call to him to actively make his first conscious warging? A loyal Raynald Westerling did release Greywind at Robb’s mutiny. Was Ghost going after a snark or grumkin?
“a cloud of ravens pouring from the cave.” Could this be a hint that the men loyal to Jon-Odin will come to his defense when he is stabbed? The NW are crows, but the raven is the symbol associated with Odin and the cave could be Shieldhall. The free folk and Night’s Watch brothers are flocking to Jon like ravens from a cave.
“he saw a little girl with a torch in hand, darting this way and that.” Could this be a hint that Val, or Melisandre with Shireen and the fire, will have an immediate impact after the mutiny?
- 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 …
Then compare Jon to what he has already experienced with his first Odin-like eye sacrifice where after this, back at Castle Black, he realizes that the free folk are not as “bad” as people claim. He shown that the term “wildlings” is a pejorative, and “free folk” is the true phrase. Jon’s second Odin-like sacrifice is the big mutiny stabbing, but here is the first sacrifice for knowledge. :
- A Storm of Swords – Jon II
… And still the eagle clung to his face, its talons tearing at him as it flapped and shrieked and pecked. The world turned upside down in a chaos of feathers and horseflesh and blood, and then the ground came up to smash him.
The next he knew, he was on his face with the taste of mud and blood in his mouth and Ygritte kneeling over him protectively, a bone dagger in her hand. He could still hear wings, though the eagle was not in sight. Half his world was black. “My eye,” he said in sudden panic, raising a hand to his face.
“It’s only blood, Jon Snow. He missed the eye, just ripped your skin up some.”
- A Dance with Dragons – Jon XI
“She won’t mind. Will you, girl?”
Val patted the long bone knife on her hip. “Lord Crow is welcome to steal into my bed any night he dares. Once he’s been gelded, keeping those vows will come much easier for him.”
“Har!” Tormund snorted again. “You hear that, Toregg? Stay away from this one. I have one daughter, don’t need another.” Shaking his head, the wildling chief ducked back inside his tent.
With this information, it is within reason to say that with the free folk (who outnumber the Night’s Watch nearly 5 to 1 per Jon at Shieldhall) and still most of the Night’s Watch brothers still loyal to Jon, and the fact that everyone sees Val as a princess, or high ranking, it is plausible that Val will come to aid Jon after he is stabbed. I am sure if this happens then Morna, Borroq (who called Jon brother, as in skinchanger brother) and Tormund will be there as well to assist.
- A Game of Thrones – Daenerys III
“He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi,” the Lysene girl said. “Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return.”
The two Dothraki girls giggled and laughed. “You are foolish strawhead slave,” Irri said. “Moon is no egg. Moon is god, woman wife of sun. It is known.”
“It is known,” Jhiqui agreed.
In a way, both girls are correct. One is Lysene and the other Dothraki. The common lesson in this tale is that a moon and sun will come together and birth a dragon. This is another obvious overlap with Daenerys and what happened to her out on the Dothraki sea with her Drogo pyre and her baby dragons.
We have also seen the many links to Val and her being a moon maiden figure, healer, moonsinger, and snow bear warrior. Ygritte was the first moon for duty, Val is the second moon for love and “prophecy”, just as Elia was for duty and Lyanna was for love/prophecy.
There was a plan to play politics and try to influence the choosing of the Lord Commander at Castle Black a long time ago. Some of these conspirators openly hated Jon and Starks, some hated being at the wall, some hated Jon because they are misunderstanding the meaning of the Night’s Watch purpose. There was talk of plans to try and control the decision making process, to bring southron politicking into the neutral Night’s Watch. Jon was able to get rid of many of the four conspirators [Othell Yarwyck, Janos Slynt, Alliser Thorne, Bowen Marsh] except for the one that has the literal description of being duplicitous- the Pomegranate, Bowen Marsh.
What it seems some theorists are doing is lumping every death together in one big pile without realizing that Catelyn, Beric, the Hound, Varamyr, etc. all die for different reasons. Details matter. Some are linked to others for the purpose of foreshadowing within their own sub-plot, others are only linked because it gives a glimpse of just one aspect to the bigger picture. George describes three other symbolically connected deaths that directly link to Jon the same way, down to the body positions and last words.
Jon and Catelyn’s death are not comparable. Jon and Cat had no intimate connection in life, why would they have one in death? Cat’s death is not the connection to Jon. There was someone else who died at the Red Wedding that does have a deep connection to Jon on both a personal, bonded level and also has a direwolf and warg abilities. Robb is the death connection… but only for the cause and beginning.
Jon’s own mutiny stabbing is related to the main characters in his physical life- Rhaegar, Bran, Robb. Jon honors Eddard by way of his life teachings. Jon is keeping Ned’s spirit alive that way. One of those ways is shown in his conversation with Stannis about how Jon agrees he wants to repopulate the Gift with free folk, because repopulating the Gift was something Ned (and Benjen) wanted to do.
Rhaegar= the past at the Trident, which also carries on Jon’s connection to water. Rhaegar dies, falls to his knees which would be into mud at the Trident, and whispers his last word, “Lyanna”. (yes, that has been confirmed)
Robb= the present. Robb is also mutiny arrowed/stabbed like Jon, but Robb has a wolf to warg into and Cat tells Robb to go to Greywind. Robb’s last word is “Greywind.” Greywind was also released by Robb’s squire, Raynald, and chances are Ghost was released as well and Jon sees him and has his first conscious warg into Ghost as Jon’s last word is, “Ghost.” Robb also is the one to die because as much as he is a Stark, he is not a Stark in the symbolic way Martin is setting up int he series. Robb looks Tully (fire), was born, crowned and died in the Riverlands. He was also given a Riverlands name as no variant of “Robb” exists in the north, but does exist in the Riverlands.
Bran= the future. There is the scene outside BR’s cave where Bran saw himself laying face down in the snow (as Jon did when he was stabbed), and Bran saw Summer defending his body (as Ghost probably is), and then Bran gets help from a female who is connected to the old gods (of which Jon realizes Ghost is also of, and Jon realizes he and Ghost are one). Bran at this time is looking at his body and wonders what could happen to it, and that is when Leaf shows up to help. We also saw this foreshadowing of someone (a female) coming to help Jon when he was wounded when Jon was attacked by the eagle that came for his eyes, and Jon was face down in the mud, and Ygritte came to stand over his body to defend it with her bone knife. Well, there is another woman at Castle Black with a bone knife, and a connection to Ghost, and many reasons to defend John at this time during his second fall into snow.
Even Melisandre sees a man-wolf connection:
- The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again. But the skulls were here as well, the skulls were all around him. Melisandre had seen his danger before, had tried to warn the boy of it. Enemies all around him, daggers in the dark. He would not listen.
In addition to all of this readers are shown in a Quentyn Martell chapter, who is the parallel aspect of cautionary Jon-tale if Jon were to try and reach too high, life is what matters.
A Dance with Dragons – The Spurned Suitor
Gerris pointed to where a corpse slumped against a brick wall, attended by a cloud of glistening green flies. “Did his death have meaning?”
Quentyn looked at the body with distaste. “He died of the flux. Stay well away from him.” The pale mare was inside the city walls. Small wonder that the streets seemed so empty. “The Unsullied will send a corpse cart for him.”
“No doubt. But that was not my question. Men’s lives have meaning, not their deaths. I loved Will and Cletus too, but this will not bring them back to us. This is a mistake, Quent. You cannot trust in sellswords.”
The Blue Flowering
Something that I have been saying for a while now is that the blue flower in the chink in the wall is Jon’s dragon puberty. Well, after more research and reading and coffee, I think this is Jon having his warg puberty instead, and I partially base this on Lyanna being the horse in the Knight of the Laughing Tree situation and Lyanna being eternally linked to the blue winter rose. Jon inherited his warg talents from his mother, as the other Stark children received theirs from Eddard. The thing is, there weren’t any direwolves around for the talent to switch on and maesters are trained to suppress the talents and magic. A sex-linked gene is present in a few of GRRM’s stories.
Here is one where the main protagonist is a strong Jon-protoype. Jon and Arya look just alike, and Jon looks like both Arya and Eddard (Stark). Therefore, Lyanna and Jon look just alike. Jon is almost a clone in this case. Here we have the climax of the story and Melantha and Royd (Val and Jon) need Royd to awaken and use his telepathic abilities he never admitted he had. This scene is what I speculate is going to happen at the Wall after the mutiny. Val will protect Jon, both physically and by encouraging his warg talent, all while hell is breaking lose all around. Part of the chaos is the ‘cold’ Jon feels will be the corpse handler magic coming over/through the wall and the bodies Jon has in the storage rooms will be coming back to wight life.
“Not Mother,” she said, desperate. “You always … say … Mother. I forgot … forgot. Not your mother … listen … you’re a clone … same genes … you have it too … power.”
“Don’t,” he said. “Never … must be … sex-linked.” “No! It isn’t. I know … Promethean, Royd … don’t tell a Promethean … about genes … turn it!”
The sled jumped a third of a meter, and listed to the side. A path was clear.
The corpse came forward.
“… trying,” Royd said. “Nothing … I can’t!”
“She cured you,” Melantha said bitterly. “Better than … she … was cured … prenatal … but it’s only … suppressed … you can!”
“I … don’t … know … how.”
Many in the fandom think this next Danerys passage means she and Jon will fall in love and marry and such. That’s an okay idea to have, but I see it quite differently. This is a warning to Daenerys, and it is something she may not understand until it is too late. I do believe that Jon is the Sun’s son in the prophetic words spoken to Daenerys. That means Jon is her thematic rival.
A Clash of Kings – Daenerys IV
. . . help her . . . the whispers mocked. . . . show her . . .
Then phantoms shivered through the murk, images in indigo. Viserys screamed as the molten gold ran down his cheeks and filled his mouth. A tall lord with copper skin and silver-gold hair stood beneath the banner of a fiery stallion, a burning city behind him. 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. . . . mother of dragons, daughter of death . . . Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd. From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies . . . Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright in his dead face, grey lips smiling sadly. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . . . mother of dragons, bride of fire . . .
Jon is still half a dragon, and dragon gender really doesn’t matter as far as the the stories go, and ‘flowering’ is a term used for girls who start menstruation and become eligible to bed, and we will see *why in the next book quote after this one. So… let’s start with how flowerings happen. The way it happens in ASOIAF world usually includes some combination of blood and fire.
- A Clash of Kings – Sansa IV
That night Sansa dreamed of the riot again. The mob surged around her, shrieking, a maddened beast with a thousand faces. Everywhere she turned she saw faces twisted into monstrous inhuman masks. She wept and told them she had never done them hurt, yet they dragged her from her horse all the same. “No,” she cried, “no, please, don’t, don’t,” but no one paid her any heed. She shouted for Ser Dontos, for her brothers, for her dead father and her dead wolf, for gallant Ser Loras who had given her a red rose once, but none of them came. She called for the heroes from the songs, for Florian and Ser Ryam Redwyne and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, but no one heard. Women swarmed over her like weasels, pinching her legs and kicking her in the belly, and someone hit her in the face and she felt her teeth shatter. Then she saw the bright glimmer of steel. The knife plunged into her belly and tore and tore and tore, until there was nothing left of her down there but shiny wet ribbons.
When she woke, the pale light of morning was slanting through her window, yet she felt as sick and achy as if she had not slept at all. There was something sticky on her thighs. When she threw back the blanket and saw the blood, all she could think was that her dream had somehow come true. She remembered the knives inside her, twisting and ripping. She squirmed away in horror, kicking at the sheets and falling to the floor, breathing raggedly, naked, bloodied, and afraid.
But as she crouched there, on her hands and knees, understanding came. “No, please,” Sansa whimpered, “please, no.” She didn’t want this happening to her, not now, not here, not now, not now, not now, not now.
Madness took hold of her. Pulling herself up by the bedpost, she went to the basin and washed between her legs, scrubbing away all the stickiness. By the time she was done, the water was pink with blood. When her maidservants saw it they would know. Then she remembered the bedclothes. She rushed back to the bed and stared in horror at the dark red stain and the tale it told. All she could think was that she had to get rid of it, or else they’d see. She couldn’t let them see, or they’d marry her to Joffrey and make her lay with him.
Snatching up her knife, Sansa hacked at the sheet, cutting out the stain. If they ask me about the hole, what will I say? Tears ran down her face. She pulled the torn sheet from the bed, and the stained blanket as well. I’ll have to burn them. She balled up the evidence, stuffed it in the fireplace, drenched it in oil from her bedside lamp, and lit it afire. Then she realized that the blood had soaked through the sheet into the featherbed, so she bundled that up as well, but it was big and cumbersome, hard to move. Sansa could get only half of it into the fire. She was on her knees, struggling to shove the mattress into the flames as thick grey smoke eddied around her and filled the room, when the door burst open and she heard her maid gasp.
In the end it took three of them to pull her away. And it was all for nothing. The bedclothes were burnt, but by the time they carried her off her thighs were bloody again. It was as if her own body had betrayed her to Joffrey, unfurling a banner of Lannister crimson for all the world to see.
Sansa lowered her head. “The blood frightened me.”
“The blood is the seal of your womanhood. Lady Catelyn might have prepared you. You’ve had your first flowering, no more.”
Sansa had never felt less flowery. “My lady mother told me, but I . . . I thought it would be different.”
“Everyone wants to be loved.”
“I see flowering hasn’t made you any brighter,” said Cersei. “Sansa, permit me to share a bit of womanly wisdom with you on this very special day. Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.”
And just as you would think flowers would die in the ‘dead of winter’, in Martinworld they do not. Especially if they are the special blue ones from Ymir, as Ymir is not just a planet in Martin’s Thousand World’s universe, but is is a *hermaphroditic giant and the first creature to come into being in the Norse creation myth.
There were flowers everywhere, Shawn saw when she took her eyes off the squat building long enough to look. They sprouted, singly and in clusters, from every little crack in the field, with snow and ice all around them, making dark islands of life in the pure white stillness of deepwinter. Shawn walked through them, closer to the building, until she stood next to one of the legs and reached up to touch its joint wonderingly with a gloved hand. It was all metal, metal and ice and flowers, like the building itself. Where each of the legs rested, the stone beneath had broken and fractured in a hundred places, as if shattered by some great blow, and vines grew from the crevices, twisting black vines that crawled around the flanks of the structure like the webs of a summer-spinner. The flowers burst from the vines, and now that she stood up close, Shawn saw that they were not like her little river bloom at all. There were blossoms of many colors, some as big as her head, growing in wild profusion everywhere, as if they did not realize that it was deepwinter, when they should be black and dead.
Then the vampire screamed, and the side of Shawn’s head exploded in pain, and she had blood in her eyes, and she was choking on blood, and blood and blood, and nothing more.… It was blue, all blue; hazy, shifting blue. a pale blue, dancing, dancing, like the ghost light that had flickered on the sky. A soft blue, like the little flower, the impossible blossom by the riverbank. A cold blue, like the eyes of the Ice Wagon’s black driver, like Lane’s lips when last she kissed them. Blue, blue, and it moved and would not be still. Everything was blurred, unreal. There was only blue. For a long time, only blue. (*Spoiler Alert! Shawn lives through this.)
Jon should be dead, as Bran should be dead and Daenerys should be dead. But they aren’t and he isn’t.
Well, there is more to come in this theory. The way it seems now, just with the information provided by the author in and out of ASOIAF, Jon has a very high chance of still being alive, but maybe in a suspended animation state allowing time for his third eye to open and to connect to Bran. There just doesn’t seem to be a good reason to have Jon as a walking dead character for the last two (three?) books. What functional purpose will that serve to have him alive for four books, then not? And by functional I mean narrative or literary purpose. This isn’t a cheap way to get out the the Night’s Watch vows (which could be altered with time anyway). As I mentioned above, I do suspect Jon might die in the end-end, a final death, but not now. Too much learning, teaching, and rebuilding has to happen first.
Until I get some updates, here is a good read about Greenseeing means Enlightenment that I wrote about. Many connections to the future plots of a few Ice and Fire characters.
These are just my thoughts, of which I could be wrong about any of this.
Link to interview where the leading quote was taken from. Here.
Want more GRRMspreading?
Here is an in-the-process list of the other stories I have transcribed and noted that compares line by line to ASOIAF. More stories will be updated on the main book club page if I do not get to updating here first.
- Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
- Closing Time– A short story that shows many precursor themes for future GRRM stories, including skinchanging, Sneaky Pete’s, catastrophic long nights…
- The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
- Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
- Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
- Fast-Friend transcribed and noted. Written in December 1973, this story is a precursor to skinchanging, Bran, Euron, Daenerys, and ways to scheme to reclaim lost love.
- The Steel Andal Invasion– A re-read of a partial section of The World of Ice and Fire text compared to the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. This has to do with both fire and ice Others in ASOIAF.
- A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
- For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
- This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
- A Peripheral Affair (1973)– When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
- The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
- Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
- A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
- Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
- The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
- The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
- Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
- Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.
If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.
Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!