May 10 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 28

A Read of Ice and Fire George R R Martin A Storm of Swords Part 28Welcome 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 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

What Happens
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!

*snickers* Poopy.

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!

Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
Better than "milk of the puppy," which a bunch of non-book readers thought they heard on the TV show.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
I feel so bad for Jon. He is literally the character that makes me the most depressed. Dany's story at least gets the AWSUM upbeats like Astapor, and facing off with Pyat Pree. Jon doesn't even get that, just drudge after drudge, and when he gets something good, his honor demands he fuck it up(parallel the choices between the two brothers, one chooses love over honor, and one who chooses honor over love).

Also I was (s)elected to inform, but it's actually one chapter next week, and three the following. Unless you want to do all four, WE WON'T COMPLAIN(but you might!)
Jon FINALLY reaches the wall, and seems pretty screwed. The worst part isn't how massively understaffed they are (though that's bad enough), but how most of the able-bodied men are gone, either killed on Mormont's ill-fated expedition, or sent to respond to Mance's feints. It's basically Jon and a few others vs over 100 raiders. I'm not so concerned about the main party notrh of the wall- well, I am concerned, but not as much, mainly because the wall if freaking 700 FEET tall! Pretty hard o climb that with an old man on top throwing rocks at you- and if they run out of rocks I'm sure they can make plenty of snowballs.
Ygritte wouldn't have Jon's kid unless she wanted to. Didn't she already try allaying his fears on that front? It has been mentioned several times already that there are herbal remedies for women to avoid pregnancy (Cersei told Ned she ensured never having a child by Robert, Arya encountered Lady Smallwood while traveling with the brotherhood without banners, who mentioned a specific tea that half the women of the riverlands drink due to Tom o Sevenstreams and his philandering ways). Although supposedly effective herbal abortives haven't always been that effective in history in the real world.
Leigh, I think wishing for bad things to stop happening to our favorite characters is an exercise in futility. This is definitely not a series in which to look for rainbows and candy. As you noted in your first post, it has puppies, but even they end up as huge monster wolves that tear men's faces off.
Lastly, poop has alawys been one of my favorite words, though I can't hear it without thinking of Beavis' voice saying it. Poop! Yes, I also have the mentality of a 5 year old.
Ross Newberry
6. rossnewberry
Milk of the poopy? Is that, like, chocolate milk?
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
ch. 48 -- Jon: Jon makes it to Castle Black--cool. Dolorous Edd did make it back, but just a dozen out of the two hundred. I think Jon has left out on obvious candidate for the new Night Watch head -- and that's Jon, of course. That makes a great deal of sense. Of course, Robb has made Jon his heir and plans to basically bribe the Watch to return him. That plan would be complicated if Jon is in charge. He has the usual Stark honor and wouldn't want to just abandon his post. I still really want to know just how destroyed Winterfell is. We know that Bran is OK, not sure about Rickon as we haven't heard any news there in a long time.
Marty Beck
8. martytargaryen
Thanks for the post, Liegh. I have enjoyed them all even though I have little time to form intelligent comments. Hope you are feeling better soon.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
9. AlirozTheConfused
No, no, no the best candidate to follow in Mormont's stead

is the magnificent wonderful splendid wise Dolorous Edd

An Edd for me, an Edd for you; an Edd is strong, an Edd is true

An Edd won't fail, an Edd prevail; an Edd for me, an Edd for you!
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
@5, There was an herb that the ancient Romans used into extinction. I imagine it was pretty effective.
Melanie DeJulis
11. Shonagon
@3 I love the honor/love comparison. Thanks for pointing that out!
12. DougL
Arghh, one chapter lol

I suppose Leigh has to slow down or she will catch up to the glacially slow GRRM too quickly, but I really want to see what she thinks of the end of this book.
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
I agree with Aeryl @3 on the timing point. There is one more unlinked chapter, followed by three that go hand in hand and that, if possible, should be read and recapped together.

Re Jon - the larger reputational danger is not from breaking vows (you are right that lots do that now) but being perceived as being too "in bed" with wildlings as a group. The NW has been fighting wildlings for many years and animosity is very high.
Rob Munnelly
14. RobMRobM
Leigh - so what you are saying is that we should change Jon's name to Egwene Snow - am I right? LOL.
Vincent Lane
15. Aegnor
@13 Or how about three chapters next week, one after that, then 4 the week after that? That way it will match up with the first three digits of Pi. All this is getting a bit ridiculous.
16. Ser Tom
Yay! Jon made it back to Castle Black! Boo! The raiders will soon be there too. 'Tis a desperate situation indeed. Such great ramping up of tension. As for the next few chapters. Any order or combination that Leigh does them in will be fascinating to behold. Hold on to your hats, folks. It only gets bumpier from here.
Deana Whitney
17. Braid_Tug
@6, rossnewberry - oh... shame on you... your grandkids would be so… laughing their heads off right now.

@ 10. Aeryl – so glad you brought that up. It was the first thing I thought of when she was talking about herbs.

@ 14, RomMRobM - Too funny! but she hasn't called Jon her "Oh-Oh Girl" yet, or how did she word that?...

Obviously I don’t have much to say about the chapter itself. So I’ll get back to work now.

Happy Mother’s Day! To those on this list that it applies!
To the guys, give your Mama a call if you can.
Elizabeth Doolin
18. mochabean
Thanks for the recap, even when feeeling peaked (as mother mochabean would say)

@9 You know, we are going to start expecting a rollicking Seussian song with every ASOIAF post

FWIW I read it the first time as "milk of the puppy" and didn't blink an eye. Just another one of those exotic GRRM ingredients, right?

I think it was right around here where I realized that these books had sunk their claws into me so deep there was no escape.
Ross Newberry
19. rossnewberry
Braid_Tug@17: You got me. One boy in 2nd grade, one boy in 5th.
Deana Whitney
20. Braid_Tug
@ 19, well, it helps that I had dinner with you, your wife, and WOT group at JCon. ;-)
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
BT @17 - as I recall from WoT, that would make Jon an "Ooh Ooh" boy.
Kieran B
23. Isengrim
Always a pleasure to read Leigh's thoughts on where the story is going.

Very much looking forward to the next two weeks' articles!
24. Aerona Greenjoy
Puppy milk would be one of those impossible ingredients, like hen's teeth. X-D

I can hardly wait for more, but will try to occupy myself with your WoT re-read. Best wishes for getting well.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
25. AlirozTheConfused
Leigh, do you realize (alize, alize)

Jon's just lost his family. Surprise! (surprise, surprise)

Last time that happened he ran away (away, away)

To make his father's enemies to pay (to pay, to pay)

and this time he won't be stopped by any commander (mander, mander)

And yeesh, when will the kid become immune to fire like the salamander (mander, mander)

The wound in his heart is worse than you realize (alize, alize)

'cause he's lost his brothers now, reportedly (all lies, all lies)
Sandy Brewer
27. ShaggyBella
Maybe puppy milk is what the puppies drink. A clever Maester would know how to obtain it. Romulus and Remus were raised on it... dog, wolf, about the same.
Lynn McDonald
28. meal6225
Jon 15? He's older than Robb. I've always felt Jon to be 18-19ish? and Robb 17-18?
Antoni Ivanov
29. tonka
@28. meal6225

At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, both Jon and Robb are fourteen years old. Now Robb is 16 years old. Jon must be about 16 as well. Whether he is younger or older is not really clear from the books yet.
James Kendall
33. JKsilver
I remember reading this chapter for the first time and being seriously worried that something had gone wrong horribly wrong at Castle Black, given how eerily quiet it is when Jon rides in. Fully expected a pack of wildlings to jump out at any moment.
Stefan Mitev
34. Bergmaniac
Jon didn't break his vows with Ygritte, as far as we know for now. The vow forbids fathering children, not having sex.
Vincent Lane
35. Aegnor

It's clear from the books who is older. Ned gets married to Cat, she gets pregnant with Robb, Ned goes off to war, gets someone else pregnant and comes home with the baby. Robb is definitely older.

spoilerish text below:
Even with the R+L=J theory (which I'm almost certain is accurate) it seems likely Robb is older but it isn't as certain.
36. Xyst3rness
According to the ice and fire wikia page (which contains spoilers, don't want to accidentally spoil it for anyone), both Jon Snow and Robb Stark are born in 283 AL. So it's a matter of months.
Tom Smith
37. phuzz
Leigh, sometimes you're theories are surprisingly correct (far better than my guesses when I first read the books), and sometimes you are hilariously wrong.
Not going to say which you are today ;)

Also, any chapter with Dolorous Edd is BEST CHAPTER.
38. tralfy

It is birth, not conception what counts, so I'm not quite so certain. Accepting that both Robb and Jon are Ned's children, it's pretty safe to assume that Robb was conceived first. But still Jon could have been born first. Even in a low-tech med environment, viable children can be born up to 8-10 weeks preterm, so if Jon was conceived no later than 2 months after Robb he might be older.
Irene Hipo
40. zambi76
Joby, The chapters numbering is different at ToTH probably because they count the prologue as a chapter which Leigh doesn't.
Bridget McGovern
45. BMcGovern
Hey, everyone! Moving forward, let's please drop the topic of which chapters Leigh is covering, and the numbering of said chapters, and so on, since such comments are relatively spoilery, just by nature. She's going to cover what she's going to cover, and any other input at this point is either irrelevant, spoiler-ish, or both, and it's getting out of hand. Thanks.
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
BM@45 - Understood but note that a couple of us made timing comments at the outset and dropped it since. I'd like to make another point on this but will jump over to spoiler thread.
Bridget McGovern
47. BMcGovern
@RobM: I'm aware, and I've been following/catching up on both spoiler and non-spoiler threads since getting back from vacation this weekend. I'm just asking that everybody drop the matter in the non-spoiler threads, moving forward.
Amanda Klepper
48. dichotomy08
I listened to the audiobooks, and thought it was "milk of the puppy" for a long time!

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