southagermican asked:

Hello Butterfly, it's a pleasure as always to read you! I have a question I couldn't find (but I suck at it anyway). Jon says to himself that he should love his men but not be their friend, Ned Stark style, when he chooses not to sit with them at meals, etc. But we saw through Arya's PoV in AGoT that Ned made it a point to have meals with his men, hear them yap about their lives, and made that part of his strength as their leader. Did Jon misunderstand Ned, did Arya, or did I misunderstand Jon?

Thanks so much! And well, there’s two points here, and at first glance they do appear to contradict each other. But for clarity, let’s get the exact quotes:

The younger men were gathered at another table, where Pyp had stabbed a turnip with his knife. “The night is dark and full of turnips,” he announced in a solemn voice. “Let us all pray for venison, my children, with some onions and a bit of tasty gravy.” His friends laughed—Grenn, Toad, Satin, the whole lot of them.
Jon Snow did not join the laughter. “Making mock of another man’s prayer is fool’s work, Pyp. And dangerous.”
[…] Pyp laid a hand on Toad’s arm. “Croak no more, brave Toad, for our Great Lord Snow has spoken.” Pyp hopped to his feet and gave Jon a mocking bow. “I beg pardon. Henceforth, I shall not even waggle my ears save by your lordship’s lordly leave.”
He thinks this is all some game. Jon wanted to shake some sense into him. “Waggle your ears all you like. It’s your tongue waggling that makes the trouble.”
“I’ll see that he’s more careful,” Grenn promised, “and I’ll clout him if he’s not.” He hesitated. “My lord, will you sup with us? Owen, shove over and make room for Jon.”
Jon wanted nothing more. No, he had to tell himself, those days are gone. The realization twisted in his belly like a knife. They had chosen him to rule. The Wall was his, and their lives were his as well. A lord may love the men that he commands, he could hear his lord father saying, but he cannot be a friend to them. One day he may need to sit in judgment on them, or send them forth to die. “Another day,” the lord commander lied.


Back at Winterfell, they had eaten in the Great Hall almost half the time. Her father used to say that a lord needed to eat with his men, if he hoped to keep them. “Know the men who follow you,” she heard him tell Robb once, “and let them know you. Don’t ask your men to die for a stranger.” At Winterfell, he always had an extra seat set at his own table, and every day a different man would be asked to join him. One night it would be Vayon Poole, and the talk would be coppers and bread stores and servants. The next time it would be Mikken, and her father would listen to him go on about armor and swords and how hot a forge should be and the best way to temper steel. Another day it might be Hullen with his endless horse talk, or Septon Chayle from the library, or Jory, or Ser Rodrik, or even Old Nan with her stories.

–AGOT, Arya II

So, is it still a contradiction? Some might think so, but I really don’t. The distinction here is between friend and leader. Ned eats with his people in the Great Hall, yes, but he isn’t sitting down on the benches with the common men, quaffing ale and telling jokes and getting slapped on the back. Ned sits at the high table, and invites one man per day to join him – which is both an honor for that man, and a way for Ned to get to know the people under his command. That person, whether lowborn servant or knight or highborn vassal, feels closer to Ned and knows that his work is respected by him; but he also knows that Eddard Stark is his lord and due all the respect of that position.

(This should be contrasted with Tywin Lannister, who said “You feed your dog bones under the table, you do not seat him beside you on the high bench”, and made sure everyone under his rule knew their place. He would never sit a servant by him at dinner, nor ever allow women or smallfolk to give advice as his weak father did. Mind you, many other lords might find Ned’s behavior extraordinary, but Tywin’s style of rule is clearly established to be the most different.)

The trouble is that Jon seems to have learned one of Ned’s points but forgotten the other. (It’s not like he didn’t witness Ned’s practice of inviting servants to his table; Jon usually ate at the high table, with but a few exceptions.) Now, Jon is right in that he shouldn’t be sitting at a table with the men, especially the younger men – especially the ones who do not yet show him the respect due his office. He’s right in that they can’t be the same kind of friends to him anymore, not like when they were all new recruits and “Lord Snow” was a mocking nickname and not his actual title.

But instead Jon takes meals in his room (which are is not even the rooms of the Lord Commander, but the blacksmith’s room behind the armory), and doesn’t eat in the hall with his men at all. True, the Great Hall was burned, as well as the Lord Commander’s tower, but if Jon wanted to establish his authority he should have made a head table in the new common room for himself and the Night’s Watch officers, as well as taking the best room available for himself instead of giving it to Stannis. (“The trappings of power”, as Melisandre says; Stannis may be a king, but Lord Commander Jon Snow is in charge at the Wall.)

His choices sabotage himself – he separates himself from his men, but he does not show the visible authority that requires respect. (Yes, he establishes fear, with his execution of Janos Slynt for insubordination; respect and a connection with his men, the Ned Stark way, is very lacking.) Jon tries to distance himself from the young steward who hung out with Pyp and Grenn and Toad and Edd (and literally distances them by sending them to other Night’s Watch castles), but he doesn’t truly establish himself as the new Lord Commander to the other men of the Night’s Watch, old and new.

Of course there are many reasons for this behavior – Jon has to deal with the recovery and repairs from the wildling attacks, the presence of Stannis and his army and the captured wildlings, the new Bolton rule of the North, preparing for winter and the invasion of the Others – and both his youth and the sheer time pressure he’s working under really bite him hard. (One wonders how very different things might have been with the original planned five year gap between ASOS and ADWD.) And certainly there are other elements in play as well, that he never knew. But the mixed signals Jon shows the Night’s Watch men – not a friend to them, but not a beloved leader, either – really doesn’t help him with the troubles that’s to come.


fangirl challenge: 1/20 families (in no particular order)

the stark siblings: robb, jon, sansa, arya, bran, rickon

There were five of them when there should have been six, and they were scattered, each apart from the others. He felt a deep ache of emptiness, a sense of incompleteness. The forest was vast and cold, and they were so small, so lost.

you know noting Jon Snow

amorlinguarum asked:

Do you think the Azor Ahai Reborn, The Prince that was Promised, and The Stallion Who Mounts the World prophecies are all actually pointing to the same person? Or do you see each one as separate? I know Melisandre mentions AAR & TPTWP interchangeably, but I wasn't sure whether it connected to the Dothraki.

Hiya! Yeah, I think all three are pointing to Dany. Both the maesters with TPTWP and the dosh khaleen with the Stallion got the gender wrong; “no one ever looked for a girl.” 

Certainly, Jon could easily be AA as well, and Bran’s story contains elements of the Last Hero’s, but that Dany has the Dothraki prophecy in her corner as well, again with the same gender mistake, makes me think it’s her. I doubt we’ll ever get explicit confirmation, though; an existentialist like GRRM keeps his focus on how the characters react to potentially being the messiah, as we’ve seen with Stannis.