Lord Commander Mormont and Ser Jaremy have arrived to examine the corpses Ghost discovered. Jon is there as well, and so are Chett, Sam, who represents Maester Aemon, and a dozen rangers including Dywen, Hake and Ketter. Earlier, Bass, the kennelmaster, tried to get the dogs to take a scent from the hand Ghost brought back, but they refused to do so. Chett is handling the dogs now, and they are fighting him and refusing to go near the corpses. Ser Jaremy recognizes the dead men as Othor and Jafer Flowers, both of whom were part of Ben Stark’s ranging. Ser Jaremy thinks they must have been dead only a day, but Sam points out that the blood has dried up and they must have been dead longer. It is strange though, because there is no sign of rotting, or maggots, and no animals other than Ghost will get close. Both corpses also have bright blue eyes, though neither one’s eyes were ever blue. Lord Commander Mormont orders the corpses returned to Castle Black so Maester Aemon can examine them and orders Ser Jaremy to scour the surrounding woods.
Bowen meets the group as they return to the Wall and tells Lord Commander Mormont that a raven has come. As Jon returns to his quarters, everyone from Ser Alliser to Donal Noye stares at him. He finds Pyp, Grenn, and Todder and learns that Robert is dead. He returns to Lord Commander Mormont’s quarters, and the lord commander tells him about Eddard being arrested and charged with treason. He is in a daze for the rest of the day. Everyone knows what happened. He gets piteous looks, and Hobb gives him an extra helping at dinner. Matthar, Pyp, Grenn, Todder and Sam try to comfort him. He hears Ser Alliser slandering Eddard and attacks, leading to his being subdued and imprisoned.
After some time, Jon dozes off in his cell, and when he wakes up, it has gotten very cold and Ghost is scrabbling at the door. He opens the door and sees his guard dead with his head twisted around. He goes up to the Lord Commander’s chambers and sees a dark shape going in. When he follows, he discovers it is the supposedly dead Othor. He hacks Othor’s arm off as well as half of his face, but Othor keeps coming and so does the severed arm. Othor starts to strangle Jon, but Ghost saves him. Lord Commander Mormont stumbles out with an oil lamp, and Jon grabs it, torches the drapes, and throws the burning mass at Othor.
This was a surprisingly long Jon chapter and there’s actually a good deal to talk about but all in order.
The morning was unnaturally warm; beads of sweat dotted the Lord Commander’s broad forehead like dew on a melon.
Wait, so how does the Wall stay frozen if it’s warm enough that Mormont would actually sweat? I mean, I realize that the man’s been on the wall for years but surely he hasn’t gotten so used to the cold that he’d sweat even when the temperature is below say, 10 degree Celsius? I actually have very limited experience with the cold myself, so you’ll have to forgive me if this is actually fairly common.
Jon is continuing to have bad dreams though he doesn’t give too many details here so it’s hard to read into much of what he’s mentioned. He does talk a bit about dead kings coming out of their tombs, which makes me think not just of his own impending, possible resurrection but also of what exactly the link between the Starks and the Others is.
Belike the axe that Othor carried, m’lord
I think based on the prologue, we can pretty much infer what exactly happened here. One of them got converted into an wight and turned on the other (heh). None of this explains where the fuck Benjen Stark is. I mean, it’s been five full books, the least Martin could do is give us a body and be done with it. Part of me still thinks that Benjen is Coldhands, but we’ll see how that turns out. Also, we learn here that it’s been almost half a year since Tyrion visited the Wall (which was roughly when Benjen left it) and while that doesn’t help a great deal with contextualizing everything that’s happened since, it’s good to have some sort of marker.
What follows is a close examination of the many, many ways that this situation spells bad news. The Others are clearly operating very close to the Wall but somehow Mormont’s grand expedition does not encounter until they are well into the forest, unless I’m remembering it wrong. The unease of the animals is standard fantasy fare regarding evil influences, so nothing much to note – except, that Ghost is different. Well, we already know he’s different but it seems to imply that he’s more comfortable with the wights? Or rather, that he’s brave enough to confront them? Of course, the most ominous sign of all is the sudden change of eye colour. At this point, even Mormont should be beginning to suspect something other than the Wildlings but I don’t blame them for not thinking of the Others straight away.
Even if she was a whore, I don’t care, I want to know
This sums up our entire attitude towards his mother as well! In any event, I wonder how Ned would have told Jon the whole story. Assuming Robb didn’t go to war, would Jon have told Robb? Once Robert died would it have become an open secret? I guess we’ll never know.
The things we love destroy us every time, lad.
Foreshadowing? What did Jon love? Ygritte, I guess. What was Ygritte? A wildling. What will destroy Jon? His love for wildlings. This seems to check out if you twist the logic around enough.
If Lord Eddard was killed, she would be as much to blame as the queen
This is actually very true and something that I hadn’t thought of before. I wonder if Catelyn feels the same guilt once Ned dies?
In other news, Ser Alliser Thorne continues to be an asshole. Jon totally overreacted but I think it’s also a matter of Thorne saying the worst possible thing at the worst possible time. A crack like that a few days after Jon had gotten the news might have passed but it was just way too soon. I feel like Thorne knew that though but he still had to get his dig in. Either way, I’m glad that Mormont handles it somewhat though I’m not convinced that Thorne is worth the trouble to keep around on a long term basis.
I’ll end this post with a note on Mormont’s raven. I don’t think it did anything too important but I’m keeping an eye on it because of theories that Bloodraven has been using it to subtly communicate with the Night’s Watch. Here, the closest thing to significant that it did was shout ‘Burn’ when Jon had already grabbed a lamp. I don’t know if that really counts because the scene makes it seem like Jon had already got the idea of burning the hand before the raven started screeching but let’s just assume that we can chalk it up to Bloodraven. I still think the theory’s weak on the whole, though.