I have dreamed of your Wall, Jon Snow. Great was the lore that raised it, and great are the spells locked beneath its ice. We walk beneath one of the hinges of the world.
Melisandre to Jon Snow
This is the second part of my in- depth look at Jon Snow, focusing on the book primarily but also the show. In the first part we looked at Jon's early relationships and how they have molded him into the man he is now. For this post I'd like to take a look at his relationship with the wildlings, and also take a look at where his story may go in The Winds of Winter and beyond. There will be spoilers for both books and show.
Jon has a very interesting relationship with the wildlings. Mance Rayder didn't trust him but liked him, and they had an interesting dynamic as Mance was King-Beyond-The-Wall and Jon is a bastard son of Ned Stark, the Warden of the North. There's a very interesting thing going on with Jon, Mance and Melisandre. In the books Mance has been ensorcelled by Melisandre and sent to retrieve Arya, who they think is at Winterfell. His actions there lead to Theon and Jeyne Poole (the fake Arya) escaping- so Jon's relationship with Mance Rayder is perhaps not over yet.
More interesting to me though is Jon's relationship with Tormund Giantsbane.
"See, lad, that's why he's king and I'm not. I can outdrink, outfight, and outsing him, and my members thrice the size o' his, but Mance has cunning."
Tormund took an instant liking to Jon, and it's fair to say at this point that he is a truer friend to Jon at this moment than almost anyone in the Night's Watch. Indeed, with the Watch having turned against Jon, it might be Tormund (with Melisandre's help) who saves his life. Consider that when Jon is killed there are a ton of wildlings at Castle Black, as well as Melisandre and her men. It's very possible it's going to come to blows between the Night's Watch men who killed Jon and the forces aligned with Tormund and Melisandre. I'll put my money on Tormund in that one.
Here is Jon and Stannis discussing Tormund.
"And this other man, this Tormund of the many names who eluded us after the battle? Answer me truly.
Tormund Giantsbane seemed to me the sort of man who would make a good friend and a bad enemy, Your Grace."
The last wildling I want to talk about is Val. The wildling princess, some call her, she is at Castle Black as well. In fact the whole conflict that ends with Jon being stabbed starts with one of Stannis' knights trying to get to her, and his way being blocked by the giant Wun Wun, who Jon has set to guard her. In the chaos Jon is killed. Stannis had notions of marrying her to one of his men, perhaps even Jon, but Jon declined when he stuck to his vows instead of taking Stannis' offer to be Warden of the northlands. Val and Jon have a relationship of mutual respect and I look forward to seeing where her story goes in the books.
"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."
No relationship survey would be complete without talking about Arya. She and Jon were close growing up, and I think it's interesting given the fact that Jon is very likely the son of Lyanna Stark, and Arya is often mentioned as being wild like Lyanna was. Arya of course has Needle thanks to Jon, and they think of each other often throughout the books.
"She would have given anything if Jon had been here to call her "little sister" and muss her hair."
Jon loves Arya so much he arguably forsakes his vow to the Night's Watch by sending Mance Rayder after her when they think she's at Winterfel.
"Bring her home, Mance. I saved your son from Melisandre, and now I am about to save four thousand of your free folk. You owe me this one little girl."
So... where do I see Jon's story going? Well first of all he's been killed, not raised yet like on the show, and as I mentioned above I think the Night's Watch and the wildlings will fight it out over his body. The wild card here is Melisandre and Queen Selyse. The queen doesn't like Jon but Melisandre does, and Selyse does what Melisandre tells her. If she commands Selyse or the knights under Selyse to intervene, I think they will. That would not bode well for the Night's Watch. And it may be why Martin sent Pyp and Grenn and anyone else close to Jon away in A Dance With Dragons- so that they don't get caught up in this bloodbath. Just speculation on my part of course.
Jon's obviously coming back (I mean probably?) and consensus seems to be that he (and likely Dany) will lead the resistance against the Others. But in the meantime is the Night's Watch effectively gutted? What happens with Stannis at Winterfell? Unlike the show I think Stannis has a large role to play yet, perhaps even fighting alongside Jon in the end? I think the Wall is coming down and Winterfell will be the focus of the resistance, and it will probably be Stannis who freed Winterfel for Jon. Jon will be free to lead the fight, not just as a Lord Commander of the Night's Watch but as the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and the roles of Tormund, Melisandre, and perhaps even Stannis will be crucial to getting him there.