Jon Snow... certainly one of the more important characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. Bastard son of Ned Stark (or is he?) and Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, his story arc is one of the most eventful and compelling in the series. The bulk of Jon's story takes place in the north, much of it beyond the Wall, so it is through his eyes that we learn about the Watch, the Others and the forbidding lands of the wildlings. For this post I wanted to take a look at some of the major points of Jon's life, mainly from the perspective of the books. Some of this will apply to the show as well, since there is overlap, but I'm coming mainly from the book perspective here. And there will be spoilers obviously.
I'm not going to exhaustively go through his history- that would take lots of posts- I'm going to share some thoughts and relevant quotes from key moments. The first is from Jon's early relationship with Donal Noye, the blacksmith of the Watch. He's the one who kills the giant Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg in the tunnel beneath the Wall, losing his own life in the act. He has an interesting perspective on the Baratheon sons.
"Robert was the true steel. Stannis is pure iron, black and hard and strong, yes, but brittle, the way iron gets. He'll break before he bends. And Renly, that one, he's copper, bright and shiny, pretty to look at but not worth all that much at the end of the day."
And here's what Stannis thought of Noye.
"Noye made my first sword for me, and Robert's warhammer as well. Had the god seen fit to spare him, he would have made a better Lord Commander for your order than any of these fools who are squab bling over it now."
Noye is the one who taught humility to Jon, and urged him to fight with the other recruits, not just to lord it over the others.
Let's talk about Ygritte. The love of Jon's life, he encountered her high in the Frostfangs on a scouting mission with Qhorin Halfhand. The Halfhand later died and Jon joined the wildlings, as he was commanded to do, to spy on them. This whole sequence in A Clash of Kings, when Jon meets the wildling host and sees giants and mammoths for the first time, is one of my favorites. And his relationship with Ygritte is awesome.
"You're mine. Mine, as I'm yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first we'll live. "
Jon's relationship with Stannis is fascinating. Stannis clearly likes Jon, and Jon knows that Ned Stark respected Stannis even if he didn't love him, so their verbal sparring is amazing. You get a sense of it on the show, but in the books there are whole chapters to revel in where they go back and forth. I like this exchange where Melisandre is walking with Jon after a meeting with Stannis.
"His Grace is growing fond of you."
"I can tell. He only threatened to behead me twice."
And since we're talking Melisandre... their relationship is amazing too, and she has warned him numerous times that he is in danger. The frustrating part is that he does not listen.
The ruby at Melisandre's throat gleamed red. "It is not those foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back. You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold."
"It is always cold on the Wall."
"You think so?"
"I know so, my lady."
"Then you know nothing, Jon Snow, she whispered."
Next time I'll look at Jon and his relationship with Tormund Giantsbane as well as a few others including Arya. And I'll speculate a bit on where Jon's story might be headed...