Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.
Today’s entry is Part 28 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 48 (“Jon”).
I decided to only do one chapter today because for one, I’m feeling a bit under the weather, and for another, a little bird has told me that People are saying Chapters 51 and 52 really need to go together. So we’ll do 49 and 50 next week and 51 and 52 the week after that. Okay? Okay!
Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread in the forums here on Tor.com. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.
And now, the post!
Chapter 48: Jon
Jon’s leg wound grows worse as he rides for the Wall, alternately consumed with guilt over and longing for Ygritte. He arrives at Castle Black and goes to the armory. Donal Noye is shocked to see him, and reveals that Jarman Buckwell had seen Jon with the raiders. Jon explains that he was following Qhorin Halfhand’s orders. Noye tells him that the brothers are spread thin all over the Wall, responding to what Jon knows are feints to camouflage the real target, Castle Black. Jon explains that a hundred and twenty raiders are coming from the south to attack.
Noye tells him there are only forty brothers at the keep, mostly boys, the elderly and the infirm, with eighty-year-old Ser Wynton Stout nominally in charge. Noye tells Jon there’s been no sign of Ghost, and helps him to the maester’s. As Aemon tends his leg, he tells Jon about the mutiny at Craster’s Keep and Mormont’s murder, with only a dozen men making it back, meaning Marsh is the interim Lord Commander. Jon knows Marsh to be not up to commanding during a wildling attack, and mulls over the poor choices left to take the role.
They make Jon drink milk of the poppy before cleaning his wound; to distract himself from the pain, Jon tells them about Styr the Magnar, and that Mance was unable to find the Horn of Winter. The drugs loosen his tongue, and he confesses about Ygritte and breaking his vows with her. He screams and then passes out when they cauterize his wound.
Pyp and Grenn wake him later, and they tell him how Sam killed one of the Others with Jon’s dragonglass dagger. Then they confess to Jon that they left Sam behind at Craster’s when he wouldn’t leave Mormont’s body. Pyp says they have sent birds with Jon’s warning to Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower, and the sentries know to keep an eye on the south approach as well.
Aemon tries to make Jon rest, but Jon refuses. He asks if word has been sent to Winterfell and the king, and reels when he hears the news that Winterfell is gone, and his brothers Bran and Rickon murdered by Theon Greyjoy. Jon remembers the grey direwolf he saw at Queenscrown, and wonders if some part of Bran might live on in Summer, as Orell did in the eagle. Aemon gives him more milk of the poppy, and he falls asleep to dream he is in the hot pools at Winterfell with Ygritte, beneath a weirwood with his father’s face.
…[Ygritte] was naked as her name day, trying to kiss him, but he couldn’t, not with his father watching. He was the blood of Winterfell, a man of the Night’s Watch. I will not father a bastard, he told her. I will not. I will not. “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” she whispered, her skin dissolving in the hot water, the flesh beneath sloughing off her bones until only skull and skeleton remained, and the pool bubbled thick and red.
Hrm. As far as fathering a bastard goes, there’s probably a very good chance that it’s already too late, Jon my boy, considering you and Ygritte basically screwed your way across the northlands.
Anyway. So, no disturbing dream imagery there, right? Yeesh.
I’m tempted to read some pretty heavy symbolic foreshadowing into that dream re: Jon’s future path, since it was a fairly blatant representation of Jon rejecting Ygritte/the wildlings for the Night’s Watch/Winterfell. Especially since it bolsters my theory all along, which is that Jon’s going to end up in charge of this goat rodeo sooner rather than later, poor kid. And Jon’s musings in this chapter about how every current candidate for the position is a sucky one didn’t help that theory along at allllll, no sirree.
That said, pregnant or not, there’s no way we’ve seen the last of Ygritte even if she wasn’t part of the party coming to attack the castle. That little soap opera is far from over, y’all.
I wonder what the consequences will be for Jon confessing that he broke his vows with Ygritte. It would be all kinds of hypocritical if there were any, of course, considering the brothel in Mole’s Town, but unfortunately people as a rule are depressingly fond of hypocrisy, so that doesn’t mean much.
Also, looking at the relative numbers here, I am intensely skeptical of the Night Watch’s ability to even mount the most pathetic of defenses against Mance once he gets to the Wall. I guess we (and Jon) had better hope that messing up the secret south-approaching attack is enough to keep Mance from getting over the Wall, because otherwise I believe the technical term is WE BE SCROD. Yikes.
On Noye’s reaction to seeing Jon:
[Jon] had almost forgotten about his face. “A skinchanger tried to rip out my eye.”
Wow, I’d forgotten about that, too. I wonder how bad the scarring is? Am I completely terrible for hoping he’s scarred in a tasteful badass way instead of a
Tyrion horrible disfiguring way? I don’t remember ever getting a description of Jon’s scars (since obviously Ygritte and the wildlings couldn’t have cared less about scarring in general), but I also don’t remember Jon mentioning that they interfered with his vision, so I have to assume they managed to avoid actually jacking up his eye. So possibly they’re not all that bad. Or they are and I just forgot, which is equally possible.
While we’re on the subject, can we please stop grievously wounding Jon for a minute? Kid’s, what, fifteen, and he’s already got facial scars, burn-mangled hands, and now (probably) a limp! I mean, sheesh. I understand the idjit insists on being all heroic ‘n stuff, which is apparently GRRM code for “license to not-so-metaphorically drag character backwards through a combine harvester,” but come on.
Here’s a thought—just for variety, let’s let him get through the next crisis relatively unscathed. Shake things up, yes? Hm? Have something not be completely horrible and agonizing for him for once? Just for kicks?
Sigh. Yeah, well. A girl can dream.
And really, really lastly: okay, this is so ridiculous, but I completely cracked myself up because I didn’t notice until going back over the summary that instead of “milk of the poppy,” I had typed “milk of the poopy,” Twice. Ha!
Wow. I think I have to give myself a time-out now, because apparently I am five. I am so disappointed in me, y’all.
And on that incredibly mature note, we out! See you next Friday!