Could you elaborate on Jon being the son Stannis always wanted? I found it a curious statement :P
Everyone wants Jon to be their son. That may well be the most frequently recurring motif in his storyline. Benjen makes it explicit in Jon’s very first POV chapter…
“If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less eager to pay the price, son.”
Jon felt anger rise inside him. “I’m not your son!”
Benjen Stark stood up. “More’s the pity.“
…Jeor Mormont all but makes it explicit later in that first book…
"This is Valyrian steel, my lord,” he said wonderingly. His father had let him handle Ice often enough; he knew the look, the feel.
“It is,” the Old Bear told him. “It was my father’s sword, and his father’s before him. The Mormonts have carried it for five centuries. I wielded it in my day and passed it on to my son when I took the black.”
He is giving me his son’s sword.
…and Donal Noye, Maester Aemon, Qhorin Halfhand, Mance Rayder, and Tormund Giantsbane all have their own versions of this. They’re mentors, of course, probing and challenging and teaching (yes, even Tormund) but beyond that, there’s always a definite fatherly and generational tone to the dynamic; they’re all trying to pass something on to Jon before it’s too late.All the Halfhand’s lessons lead to him trusting Jon to kill him and carry on the mission. Mance clearly sees himself in Jon (and Jon deliberately leans into that) and Jon in a sense takes on his mission of bringing the wildlings south of the Wall. Tormund…well, Tormund likes Jon, and wants him to be happy, so much so that he doesn’t even pretend to be angry about Jon flying back to his fellow crows.
But none of these relationships are quite what Jon needs and is looking for. Again, Jon has to kill Qhorin, and turn on his wildling Dads, etc. Morever, Jon’s always comparing them all to Ned, who failed to pass on something very, very important to Jon before he died. It’s an open wound, and its influence is visible in how Jon feels about every other father figure he encounters.
So: does Stannis count among this number of almost-fathers, the not-quite-Neds? You tell me.
“Qhorin Halfhand commanded me to join the wildlings. He knew they would make me
kill him to prove myself, and told me to do whatever they asked of me. The woman was named
Ygritte. I broke my vows with her, but I swear to you on my father’s name that I never turned my
“I believe you,” the king said.
That startled him. “Why?”
Stannis snorted. “I know Janos Slynt. And I knew Ned Stark as well. Your father was no friend
of mine, but only a fool would doubt his honor or his honesty. You have his look.”
“Why do you think I abandoned Dragonstone and sailed to the Wall,
“I am no lord, sire. You came because we sent for you, I hope. Though I could not say why you
took so long about it.”
Surprisingly, Stannis smiled at that. “You’re bold enough to be a Stark.”
“His Grace is growing fond of you.”
“I can tell. He only threatened to behead me twice.”
He glanced at the letter again. I will save your sister if I can. A surprisingly tender sentiment from Stannis…
Jon glanced back at Stannis. For an instant their eyes met. Then the king nodded and went back inside his tower.
This might just be confirmation bias on my part, but have you noticed that in his GRRM posts, GRRM usually refers to Stannis as King Stannis rather than just Stannis? Do you think there's some significance to this?
Stannis Baratheon is “the king who still cared,” the closest ASOIAF comes to a feudal monarch worth following:
“And it is important that the individual books refer to the civil wars, but the series title reminds us constantly that the real issue lies in the North beyond the Wall. Stannis becomes one of the few characters fully to understand that, which is why in spite of everything he is a righteous man, and not just a version of Henry VII, Tiberius or Louis XI.” –GRRM
And so we king’s men cry on into the cold and dark: Stannis! Stannis! STANNIS!