Jon Snow

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Night's Watch.svgJon SnowNight's Watch.svg
Cristi Balanescu Jon SnowGhost.png
Jon Snow and Ghost at the Wall, by Cristi Balanescu © Fantasy Flight Games

  • Lord Snow[1]
  • Ser Alliser's bane[2]
  • The Snow of Winterfell[3]
  • The crow-come-over[4]
  • The Bastard of Winterfell[4]
  • The Black Bastard of the Wall[5]
  • Lord Crow[6]
Title Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
Predecessor Jeor Mormont
Culture Northmen
Born In 283 AC[7]
Father Lord Eddard Stark
Lover Ygritte
Personal arms A running white direwolf on a grey field
(Cendrée, a direwolf courant argent)

Played by Kit Harington
TV series Season 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell.[8] He has five half-siblings: Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark. Unaware of the identity of his mother,[9] Jon was raised at Winterfell. At the age of fourteen, he joins the Night's Watch, where he earns the nickname Lord Snow. Jon is one of the major POV characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, Jon is portrayed by Kit Harington.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Jon Snow

Jon has more Stark-like features than any of his half-brothers.[9] He is graceful and quick, and has a lean build.[10] Jon has the long face of the Starks,[11][12] with dark,[10][12] brown hair[13][14] and grey eyes[12] so dark they almost seem black.[10] Jon resembles his father, Lord Eddard Stark.[9][15] Because he looks so much like a Stark, Tyrion Lannister notes that whoever Jon's mother was, she left little of herself in her son's appearance.[11] Out of all the Stark children, Arya Stark is said to resemble Jon the most, as Robb, Sansa, Bran and Rickon take after their Tully mother, Catelyn.[16]

Jon looks solemn and guarded,[11] and is considered sullen and quick to sense a slight.[17] Due to having been raised in a castle and trained by a master-at-arms, Jon is seen by some lower-born members of the Night's Watch as arrogant at first,[1] though this changes when they become more friendly towards one another, as Jon is reminded of his nonetheless privileged background and decides to pass on his knowledge to them. Jon is observant,[10][9] a trait he developed on account of being a bastard.[9] He is a capable horseback rider and is well practiced in fighting with a sword.[9] Jon has resented his bastard status most of the time.[9] He desires to be viewed as honorable[18] and wants to prove he can be as good and true as his half-brother, Robb.[19] Jon dreamed he would one day lead men to glory, or even become a conqueror, as a child.[20] He feels strongly about not fathering a bastard himself.[21][4] George R. R. Martin has described Jon as "the brooding, Byronic, romantic hero whom all the girls love".[22]

While Lord Eddard openly acknowledged Jon as his son and allowed him to live at Winterfell with his half-siblings, Jon felt like an outsider nonetheless. While Jon has good relationships with his siblings, especially Robb, with whom he trained since they were children,[23] and Arya, whom he sees as somewhat of an outsider as well,[1] Eddard's wife Catelyn, who was especially annoyed when Jon bested Robb in training or classes,[23] ensured that Jon was never truly one of them.[1][24] Jon is not close to Theon Greyjoy, Eddard's ward.[17] Lord Stark refuses to speak of Jon's mother, and the boy grew up unaware of her identity, something which has wounded and haunted him.[9][25][26][27] When Jon dreams of her, he considers her to be beautiful, highborn, and kind.[25]

As a northerner raised at Winterfell, Jon keeps faith with the old gods.[24]

After joining the Night's Watch, Jon dresses in their official black garb.[1] While there is no description of Jon's personal coat of arms in the books, Martin told the company Valyrian Steel, which makes replicas of Jon's sword, to use the reversed Stark colors on the plaque that goes with the sword.[28]


Jon and Robb Stark at sword-play, from Game of Thrones Blu-ray

Jon was born in 283 AC, near the end of Robert's Rebellion,[N 1] and he was named by Lord Eddard Stark.[29] One tale says Jon was named after Lord Jon Arryn,[30] Eddard's second father.[31] The identity of Jon's mother is a mystery, and several suggestions have been made by those who know the Starks. Jon is unaware of his mother's identity[21][1] and Eddard refuses to speak of her.[1] When Eddard returned from the war, he brought the newborn Jon to Winterfell, insisting on raising him with the rest of his family. Jon and his wet nurse had been installed in the castle before the arrival of Eddard's new wife, Catelyn Tully, and his young son and heir, Robb Stark, from Riverrun, which Catelyn did not take well.[9]

Lord Eddard was fiercely protective of Jon[32] and refused to send him away.[9] Jon was raised at Winterfell with his half-siblings, where he was tutored by Maester Luwin,[33] and trained at arms by the master-at-arms, Ser Rodrik Cassel. Jon has trained at swordplay since he was old enough to walk, together with Robb,[23] whom he came to view as his "best friend, rival and constant companion,"[1] and later also with Theon Greyjoy,[34] after the latter came to Winterfell following the conclusion of Greyjoy's Rebellion. Jon learned how to swim in the great moat at Winterfell; he is considered a strong swimmer.[35]

Jon grew close to his true-born siblings, especially Robb and Arya. Because they look alike, Arya came to believe that she was bastard-born as well, but Jon reassured his half-sister this was not the case.[16] As a young child[N 2] Jon and Robb built a great mountain of snow on top of a gate, hoping to push it on someone passing by. They were discovered by Mance Rayder, a ranger from the Night's Watch who had accompanied Lord Commander Qorgyle to Winterfell. The ranger promised not to tell anyone, and Jon and Robb succeeded in their ploy, being chased around the yard by Fat Tom, their victim.[3] Jon and Robb would often play a game of sword-play, in which they would pretend to be great heroes (including Florian the Fool, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, King Daeron I Targaryen, and Ser Ryam Redwyne). Once, when Jon called out that he was "Lord of Winterfell," Robb informed him that it was impossible due to his bastardy, which would become a sore memory for Jon.[23] Another time, Jon covered himself in flour and hid in one of the empty tombs in the crypt of Winterfell, and jumped out to scare Sansa, Arya, and Bran, who had been brought to the crypts by Robb.[36]

Since he was young, Jon's hero was King Daeron, the Young Dragon, who had conquered Dorne at the age of fourteen.[21][20] Lord Eddard had dreamed about raising new lords and settling them in the abandoned holdfasts in the New Gift, and Jon believes that, had winter come and gone more quickly, he might have been chosen to hold one of the settlements in his father's name.[35]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Jon finds Ghost, by Magali Villeneuve © Fantasy Flight Games
Jon gives Needle to Arya Stark, by Lucas Durham © Fantasy Flight Games

Jon accompanies his father, Lord Eddard Stark, his brothers Robb and Bran, his father's ward Theon Greyjoy, and others from Winterfell to the execution of Gared, a deserter from the Night's Watch. On their way back to Winterfell, Jon and Robb race ahead and find a litter of direwolf pups. When Eddard states that killing the pups quickly would forestall a painful and slow death, Jon points out that there are five pups—one for each of Eddard's legitimate children—and the direwolf is the sigil of House Stark, indicating that they must be meant to have the wolves. The comparison only works out because Jon is not claiming a pup for himself, and Eddard gives in. As they leave, Jon discovers an albino pup, cast away from its litter.[10] He claims the pup for his own,[10] eventually naming it "Ghost."[21]

Because he is a bastard, Jon is not allowed sit with his siblings and the royal children during the feast welcoming King Robert I Baratheon and his family to the north. At the feast Jon speaks with his uncle, Benjen Stark, the First Ranger of the Night's Watch. When Benjen suggests that the Watch could use a man as observant as Jon, Jon quickly requests to accompany him to the Wall when he leaves, as even a bastard can rise to a position of honor there.[21] Benjen is hesitant about having Jon join at such a young age, resulting in an argument causing Jon to storm out.[21] Outside, he runs into Tyrion Lannister, the youngest brother of Queen Cersei Lannister, who counsels him to "never forget what you are" and tells Jon to make it his strength instead.[21]

Although hesitant about it at the feast, Benjen eventually approaches Luwin, telling the maester that Jon had expressed interest in joining the Night's Watch.[9] When Lord Eddard decides to accept the position as Hand of the King at King's Landing, his wife, Catelyn Stark, refuses to allow Jon to remain at Winterfell. As Eddard feels he cannot take Jon south with him, Luwin suggests the Night's Watch for Jon, and Eddard agrees. Catelyn is pleased, because as a member of the Watch Jon will never father children who might contest her grandchildren's inheritance of Winterfell.[9]

The decision for him to go to the Wall leaves Jon angry in the days before he is set to leave.[37] The departure day is postponed following Bran's accident, but a fortnight after Bran's fall Jon and Benjen are ready to leave Winterfell. Jon says his last goodbyes, first to the comatose Bran, then to Robb, and finally to Arya, to whom he gives a small, slender sword which they name Needle.[38] On his way to the Wall, Jon quickly becomes disillusioned with the Night's Watch, after meeting Yoren, a so-called wandering crow, and his new recruits.[11] During the journey, Jon befriends Tyrion Lannister, who had decided to travel further north to see with Wall for himself.[11]

At Castle Black, Jon first remains aloof and distant, making no friends; he scorns his fellow recruits who return the feeling, resenting him due to his attitude. Days after their arrival, Benjen leaves to lead a ranging, and while Jon requests to accompany him, Benjen refuses to allow it, leaving Jon angry. After a fight between Jon and several other recruits, Jon speaks with Donal Noye, the armorer at Castle Black, who points that Jon has been a bully to the other recruits. When a letter arrives from Winterfell informing Jon that Bran, though crippled, has awoken and will live, Jon is ecstatic, and when he returns to the Common Hall, he offers his fellow recruits advice on their swordplay.[1] Jon soon becomes a natural leader, mentor, and friend to most of his fellow trainees, earning him the enmity of the master-at-arms, Ser Alliser Thorne. When Samwell Tarly arrives at the Wall, Jon reaches out to him, and helps him being accepted by the majority of the recruits.[39][33]

As new recruits are about to arrive at Castle Black, eight recruits, including Jon, are chosen to take their vows. Sam is not chosen, and Jon realizes that it will only be a matter of time that Sam will be hurt or killed in training without his friends present to protect him. Jon visits Maester Aemon and asks if Aemon will persuade Jeor Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, to take Sam from training and allow him to take his vows, pointing out that Sam, due to his ability to write, read, and do math, would make a good personal steward for Aemon.[33] This earns Jon the enmity of Chett, Aemon's steward.[40] Aemon promises to consider it.[33] Sam finds Jon the next day, informing him that he too is allowed to take his vows, and has been appointed Aemon's personal steward. Jon expects to be raised to the rangers, but is angered when Lord Commander Mormont appoints him as his personal steward instead. Sam points out to Jon that Mormont has given him the position in order to groom him for command, which quells his anger.[24]

Jon and Sam decide to say their vows in front of the weirwood trees located north of the Wall. After they have said the words, Ghost returns with the severed hand of Jafer Flowers,[24] alerting the men of the corpses of Jafer and Othor. The two corpses are brought back to Castle Black, where Jon is informed of the death of King Robert and the arrest of his father, Eddard. Jon attempts to attack Alliser after the knight mocks Eddard and Jon, and is placed in isolation as a result. That night, the two deceased brothers they had found north of the Wall rise. When one wight attempts to attack Lord Commander Mormont, Jon intervenes, saving Jeor's life, though he seriously burns his hand in the process.[41] In gratitude, Jeor gives Jon Longclaw, the Valyrian steel bastard sword of House Mormont, on which he has had a direwolf head engraved onto the pommel in honor of House Stark.[42]

Though he is now a sworn brother of the Night's Watch, Jon becomes torn between the Watch and his former family when he learns from Sam that Robb has marched south with an army. Maester Aemon explains to Jon the difficulty of keeping true to the Night's Watch's vows at times, citing among other examples the deaths of most of his relatives at the end of Robert's Rebellion, causing Jon to realize Aemon is a Targaryen.[42] Nonetheless, Jon tries to desert and join Robb's army after Eddard's execution, though the penalty for deserting the Night's Watch is death. His new friends bring him back, however, and save him from this fate.[43]

The next day, Lord Commander Mormont chastises him for running, and Jon agrees to fully commit to the Watch. He accepts his place as Jeor's squire and prepares for the journey beyond the Wall which Mormont plans to lead.[43]

A Clash of Kings

Jon meets Ygritte - by M.Luisa Giliberti ©

Jon's old bedchamber at Winterfell is given to Big Walder and Little Walder Frey, the wards of Catelyn Stark.[44]

The Night's Watch prepares for the great ranging north to investigate the haunted forest, after the disappearances beyond the Wall of several rangers, including Benjen Stark. Jon brings his direwolf, Ghost. Jon fetches Samwell Tarly for Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, who has been waiting for maps of the lands further north. Jeor and Jon discuss his hand, which still troubles him, but is slowly getting better. They discuss Maester Aemon, and Jeor reveals that Aemon had once been offered the Iron Throne, but instead had decided to remain a maester, and the throne passed to his younger brother, Aegon V Targaryen. Jeor points out the similarities between Jon and Aemon in having a brother for king; Jon reassures the Lord Commander that, like Maester Aemon, he too will keep his vows.[45]

The ranging party passes through several wildling villages, including Whitetree, but find no hint of any wildling presence.[46] They then stop at Craster's Keep, where they learn that the normally anarchic wildlings are uniting under a Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. Though the youths are commanded not to speak to Craster's daughters, the pregnant Gilly approaches Jon after encouragement from Sam. She asks to join Jon when they leave Craster's Keep, but Jon refuses her, and later scolds Sam for ever having given her the idea.[47]

After reaching the Fist of the First Men, Ghost leads Jon to a mound where the direwolf digs up an old warhorn and a cache of dragonglass wrapped in an old cloak of the Night's Watch.[48] Jon distributes these items among his sworn brothers. After the arrival of Qhorin Halfhand with the men from the Shadow Tower, Jon is picked by Qhorin to accompany one of the three scouting parties into the mountains.[49] Jon grows a beard after leaving the Fist.[50][51]

In the Skirling Pass, Qhorin's party comes across a group of wildling sentries, and Jon is one of those assigned to take them out. He kills one of the man, but discovers his second target is a woman. Jon instead decides to take prisoner the girl, who is called Ygritte. He reveals he is the bastard son of Eddard Stark, and during the night, Ygritte tells Jon the story of "Bael the Bard," a song which insinuates that, through Bael, the Starks too have wildling blood. Later, Qhorin orders Jon to kill her, but Jon secretly lets her go instead. Before she leaves, Ygritte informs Jon that Mance Rayder would accept him, if he wanted to join the free folk.[50] Jon tells Qhorin about this, who confirms that Mance would be willing, and tells Jon that Mance had been a man of the Night's Watch himself once. When he dreams that night, Jon sees through the eyes of Ghost, and witnesses thousands of wildlings, and giants and mammoths, before being attacked by an eagle. Jon informs the group, who recognize Jon for a warg. They later see the eagle, and when they find a wounded Ghost, Qhorin decides they return to the Fist of the First Men.[52]

With the enemy following them, Qhorin orders Dalbridge to stay behind to defend the others,[52] while Ebben and Stonesnake are sent forth to reach the First is great haste, leaving only Qhorin and Jon. The Halfhand commands Jon to join the wildlings when they are discovered, and to do whatever they ask. When the wildling band led by Rattleshirt finds them, Jon yields, and the wildlings require him to kill Qhorin to proof his loyalty to them. With the help of Ghost, Jon kills Qhorin, and the wildlings agree to bring him to Mance Rayder.[53]

A Storm of Swords

The death of Ygritte by zippo 514 ©

Rattleshirt brings Jon to meet Mance Rayder. Telling Mance that he had been poorly treated at Winterfell because he is a bastard, Jon convinces the King-Beyond-the-Wall that his desertion from the Night's Watch is sincere. During their conversation, Jon learns Mance's plans to invade the Seven Kingdoms.[3] While traveling to the Fist of the First Men, Jon's clean-shaven face is scratched by Orell's eagle. Jon and the free folk see the aftermath of the fight at the Fist.[54]

Mance has Jon and Ygritte join Styr and Jarl for their mission south of the Wall.[4] Jon falls in love with Ygritte,[55] breaking his vow of chastity by sharing a tent[4] and sleeping together in a cavern.[55] Jarl falls to his death when Styr's party climbs the Wall,[56] and the survivors descend at Greyguard and enter the Gift.[35]

Jon hesitates between betraying Ygritte or leaving the Night's Watch, eventually realizing that he must escape and warn Castle Black of the upcoming attack. When Jon refuses Styr's orders to kill an old man at abandoned Queenscrown, Ygritte kills the man instead. The wildlings are then attacked by the direwolf Summer, unaware that it is due to the efforts of Jon's half-brother Bran Stark, who is hidden in the village's tower. Jon manages to escape in the confusion on a horse, but not before taking an arrow in the leg.[35]

Meanwhile, Robb Stark, the King in the North, marches from Riverrun to the Twins for the wedding of Lord Edmure Tully to Roslin Frey. Robb believes his siblings Bran, Rickon, and Arya Stark are dead, and he does not want Winterfell and the north to fall into House Lannister's hands following Tyrion Lannister's marriage to Sansa Stark. Against the objections of his mother, Catelyn Stark, Robb legitimizes Jon as his heir, according to a semi-canon source.[57] Robb's decision is witnessed at Hag's Mire by Catelyn, Edmure, Galbart Glover, Lord Jason Mallister, Lady Maege Mormont, and Lord Jon Umber.[58] Robb and Catelyn are then betrayed by Lords Walder Frey and Roose Bolton in the Red Wedding.[59]

Edric Dayne, Lord of Starfall and a member of the brotherhood without banners, tells Arya that he is Jon's milk brother, as they shared the same wet nurse, Wylla.[60]

A barely-conscious Jon warns Mole's Town and Castle Black and is tended to by Maester Aemon. Grenn and the maester gently break the news to Jon that Bran and Rickon have allegedly died at the command of Theon Greyjoy.[61] After Jon recuperates, he helps Donal Noye in the defense of Castle Black against Styr's raiders. All of the raiders are killed, including Ygritte, who dies in a grief-stricken Jon's arms after having been shot with an arrow by another Night's Watch brother.[62]

When Mance attacks, Donal has Jon command from atop the Wall while the blacksmith descends to defend the gate. After Donal is killed by Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg, Jon reluctantly takes command of the Wall's defenses, after prompting from Master Aemon. Jon successfully holds the Wall against overwhelming odds for several days.[63]

Jon and Melisandre, by Katherine Dinger © Fantasy Flight Games

Upon the arrival of Ser Alliser Thorne and Lord Janos Slynt at Castle Black, Jon is arrested for his earlier defection and thrown in an ice cell, where he is threatened with execution for his desertion and the murder of Qhorin Halfhand.[14] After Aemon vouches for Jon's honor and capability during the wildling attack, Alliser and Janos realize they cannot have Jon hanged due to his popularity on the Wall. They therefore force him to make an assassination attempt on Mance during a parley, hoping he will be killed there instead. During the negotiations, Mance states that he has the Horn of Winter, which he claims will cause the Wall to collapse. He reveals that he only had the wildlings attack the Wall not to conquer, but to escape the Others. The King-Beyond-the-Wall then offers Jon the Horn of Winter if the Night's Watch allows the wildlings to safely pass through to south of the Wall, but Mance states that they will not yield to the lords or their laws. Before Jon can attack Mance or destroy the Horn, however, the knights of Stannis Baratheon and rangers of Cotter Pyke appear. During the battle beneath the Wall, Jon guards Mance's tent while Val helps her sister Dalla give birth.[19]

Jon's defense of the Wall earns him popular support and his release from imprisonment. Jon meets with Stannis, who tells him that if he recognizes Stannis as king, he will legitimize Eddard Stark's son and make him Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell, and marry him to Val in order to gain support of the north and the free folk.[64] Jon is overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and grief for his dead siblings, admitting to himself that becoming Lord of Winterfell was something he always desired, and that he was always envious of Robb Stark for his legitimate birthright.[64] When Jon suddenly experiences Ghost's hunger, he is joyous to realize his direwolf has returned from beyond the Wall. Jon realizes that if he bends the knee to Stannis he would then have to allow Melisandre, Stannis's red priestess, to burn the heart tree in the godswood of Winterfell.[23]

Meanwhile, due to the efforts of Samwell Tarly, an unknowing Jon has been offered as a compromise candidate between rival factions for the post of Lord Commander of the Night's Watch,[65] as Jeor Mormont had been slain in the mutiny at Craster's Keep.[66] After Jon refuses Stannis's offer, he learns he has been elected the 998th Lord Commander in a landslide vote, to his own disbelief.[23]

A Feast for Crows

Lord Commander Jon Snow, by Josu Hernaiz ©

Jon takes up residence in Donal Noye's old quarters, and he institutes mandatory archery practice for all black brothers at Castle Black.[67] Fearing that Melisandre might burn Maester Aemon and the infant of the captured Mance Rayder for their royal blood, Jon secretly swaps Mance's son with Gilly's son. Jon sends Samwell Tarly to the Citadel to train as Castle Black's next maester, sending Aemon, Gilly, Mance's child, and Dareon with Sam.[67][68]

In King's Landing, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister is outraged to learn of Jon's appointment as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, as he has given Stannis Baratheon shelter. The small council agrees that Jon must be removed from command. Grand Maester Pycelle suggests informing the Watch that the crown will send no more men to the Wall until Jon is removed. Cersei is delighted with Qyburn's suggestion to send a hundred recruits with secret orders to remove Jon.[69] She plots to send Ser Osney Kettleblack to carry out the plan,[69][70][71] but both Osney and Cersei are imprisoned by the Faith of the Seven before these plans can come to fruition.[71]

When Ser Jaime Lannister offers that Ser Brynden Tully join the Night's Watch to end the siege of Riverrun, Brynden refuses, citing the distrust of his niece Catelyn for Jon.[72]

A Dance with Dragons

Lord Commander Snow executes Janos Slynt - by Jaskolski ©

Lord Godric Borrell tells Lord Davos Seaworth that according to tales of the Vale, Jon's mother was a fisherman's daughter who had helped Lord Eddard Stark reach the Three Sisters during Robert's Rebellion.[30] Arya Stark overhears people speaking of Jon at Ragman's Harbor in Braavos.[5]

Jon cedes the Nightfort to King Stannis Baratheon, whose men also occupy Castle Black. Jon is continually harassed by the queen's men, such as Ser Godry Farring[73] and Ser Clayton Suggs.[74] Advising Jon to keep Ghost close, the red priestess Melisandre warns Jon against "daggers in the dark."[73]

Jon rebukes all demands from Stannis to settle his men within the Gift, claiming that the land and the other unoccupied castles along the Wall as belonging to the Night's Watch. Jon remembers the parting words of Maester Aemon to "kill the boy and let the man be born," the same advice Aemon had given when his younger brother ascended the Iron Throne as Aegon V Targaryen.[68] Jon reads part of the book left for him by Aemon, the Jade Compendium.[75]

Jon orders Janos Slynt, who had participated in the beheading of Lord Eddard,[76] to garrison the abandoned Greyguard, but Janos refuses. After Janos continues to refuse the Lord Commander, Jon orders him hanged for his insubordination. Jon then recalls the laws of the First Men and his father, however, and instead beheads Janos himself, using Longclaw to carry out the sentence. This increases Stannis's respect for Jon and cements his new position.[68] Jon sends his friends from Castle Black, ordering Grenn and Pypar to Eastwatch and Halder and Todder to the Shadow Tower.[75]

Stannis refuses Jon's request to spare the captive Mance. As Melisandre burns the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Jon has his men kill Mance with arrows to end his suffering.[75] Stannis orders the captive Rattleshirt to serve Jon.[74] When Stannis plans to attack the Dreadfort, Jon convinces him to instead seek the help of the northern mountain clans.[74] Stannis marches west and is able to secure the allegiance of the clans, greatly augmenting his own strength.[77]

Jon delivers supplies to the free folk at Mole's Town[78] and sends ranging parties north of the Wall.[79] Rattleshirt defeats Jon in a sparring match.[79] When news arrives that Ramsay Bolton is to marry Jon's half-sister, Arya Stark, Melisandre informs Jon she has had a vision of a girl on a dying horse making for Castle Black.[79] Melisandre reveals that she had changed the appearances of Mance and Rattleshirt with a glamor, so that Stannis actually executed Rattleshirt and that Mance has been serving Jon. Mance is sent to secretly rescue Arya,[80] although the conspirators do not know that Ramsay's bride at Winterfell is actually Jeyne Poole.[34] After the fight by Deepwood Motte, Stannis begins his march on Winterfell.[81]

In the weirwood grove in the haunted forest, Jon finds a small group of wildlings and the giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun.[20] In order to learn more about wights, Jon consigns the corpses of dead wildlings in Castle Black's ice cells, hoping they will rise but be safely imprisoned.[20][82] Jon displeases his fellow officers by sending the wildling Val to treat with Tormund Giantsbane and by intending to garrison abandoned castles with wildlings. They also object to Jon naming Satin as his steward and squire. Jon sends his friend Eddison Tollett to Long Barrow.[82] After Stannis's wife, Queen Selyse Baratheon, arrives at Castle Black from Eastwatch, Jon negotiates with Tycho Nestoris, an envoy of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Jon agrees to a loan so the Watch can purchase food and supplies and hire ships.[83]

Betrayal at the Wall by JB Casacop © Fantasy Flight Games

When a wearied girl arrives at Castle Black, Jon is surprised to learn it is not his sister Arya, but instead Alys Karstark, who is fleeing a forced marriage to Cregan Karstark. Her uncle only desires her because she is heir to Karhold.[83] When Cregan arrives with reinforcements to claim Alys, Jon has them thrown in an ice cell.[84] Jon arranges a marriage between Alys and Sigorn, establishing House Thenn.[84] Jon orders Cotter Pyke to rescue wildlings at Hardhome.[84] Alys informs Jon that Arnolf Karstark plans to betray Stannis, so Jon has Clydas send a raven to Deepwood Motte in an attempt to warn the king.[84]

Jon treats with Tormund when Val brings the wildling leader to Castle Black. The Lord Commander tries to convince Torghen Flint and Brandon Norrey of the necessity of allowing Tormund's wildlings to pass through the Wall.[85] Tormund leads over three thousand wildlings south.[86]

Jon intends to rescue Cotter at Hardhome, but he is interrupted by a taunting letter from Ramsay which claims that Stannis has been defeated and Mance captured. Jon relinquishes command of the ranging and announces his intention to ride south against House Bolton. He does not order the Night's Watch to fight with him, but asks both wildlings and black brothers alike to join him of their own volition. Most wildlings in the Shieldhall agree to support him, but Jon's decision causes great discontent within the Watch's upper leadership. In the confusion resulting from Wun Wun's killing of Ser Patrek of King's Mountain, Jon is attacked in the mutiny at Castle Black. While stabbing the Lord Commander, Bowen Marsh and Wick Wittlestick state "for the Watch."[87]


Jon's parentage remains a topic of discussion among readers of the series, as his mother remains unidentified. On several occasions, the topic is brought to the reader's attention in text, although several characters provide different possibilities. Lord Eddard Stark's wife, Catelyn Tully, heard from her maids the tales Eddard's soldiers had told about Ashara Dayne, though Eddard refused to confirm this when she confronted him, and he silenced the stories about Ashara at Winterfell.[9] Years later, Sansa Stark heard rumors saying that Jon's mother had been a common woman.[13] Cersei Lannister mentions Ashara as Jon's potential mother as well, as well as "some Dornish peasant."[88] Eddard seems to have told King Robert I Baratheon that Jon's mother was a woman named Wylla, though Robert has never seen her.[89] Meanwhile, Lord Edric Dayne believes his wet nurse, Wylla, to have been Jon's mother.[60] According to Lord Godric Borrell, the daughter of the fisherman who brought Eddard from the Fingers across the Bite to the Three Sisters at the beginning of Robert's Rebellion gave birth to Eddard's bastard son, and according to Godric, it had been she who gave Jon his name, in honor of Jon Arryn.[30]

Fans of the series have speculated about his parentage for many years, with numerous theories having been developed during that time.

Quotes by Jon

Jon and Ghost, by John Picacio ©

Arya: I wish you were coming with us.
Jon: Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle.[38]

Arya Stark and Jon

Jon: First lesson: stick them with the pointy end.
Arya: I know which end to use![38]

—Jon and Arya Stark regarding Needle

Tell Robb that I'm going to command the Night's Watch and keep him safe, so he might as well take up needlework with the girls and have Mikken melt down his sword for horseshoes.[90]

Tyrion Lannister had claimed that most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it, but Jon was done with denials. He was who he was; Jon Snow, bastard and oathbreaker, motherless, friendless, and damned. For the rest of his life—however long that might be—he would be condemned to be an outsider, the silent man standing in the shadows who dares not speak his true name.[43]

—Jon's thoughts

Jon was not afraid of death, but he did not want to die like that, trussed and bound and beheaded like a common brigand. If he must perish, let it be with a sword in his hand, fighting his father's killers. He was no true Stark, had never been one... but he could die like one. Let them say that Eddard Stark had fathered four sons, not three.[43]

—Jon's thoughts

There's no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.[12]

—Jon to Samwell Tarly

The more you give a king, the more he wants. We are walking on a bridge of ice with an abyss on either side. Pleasing one king is difficult enough. Pleasing two is hardly possible.[68]

—Jon to Samwell Tarly

Edd, fetch me a block.[68]

—Jon to Eddison Tollett before the execution of Janos Slynt

Cregan: I see what you are, Snow. Half a wolf and half a wildling, baseborn get of a traitor and a whore. You would deliver a highborn maid to the bed of some stinking savage. Did you sample her yourself first? If you mean to kill me, do it and be damned for a kinslayer. Stark and Karstark are one blood.

Jon: My name is Snow.
Cregan: Bastard.

Jon: Guilty. Of that at least.[84]

Cregan Karstark and Jon

Quotes about Jon

You have more of the north in you than your brothers.[21]

Never ask me about Jon. He is my blood and that is all you need to know.[9]

Whoever Jon's mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, for nothing Catelyn said would persuade him to send the boy away. It was the one thing she could never forgive him. She had come to love her husband with all her heart, but she had never found it in her to love Jon. She might have overlooked a dozen bastards for Ned's sake, so long as they were out of sight. Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him. Somehow that made it worse.[9]

Catelyn Stark's thoughts

You know nothing, Jon Snow.[4]

Ygritte to Jon

Jon's more a Stark than some lordlings from the Vale who have never so much as set eyes on Winterfell.[58]

Jon Snow was the only brother that remained to her. I am a bastard too now, just like him. Oh, it would be so sweet to see him once again.[91]

Sansa Stark's thoughts

Needle was Jon Snow's smile. He used to mess my hair and call me "little sister," she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.[92]

Arya Stark's thoughts

My lords, when Donal Noye was slain, it was this young man Jon Snow who took the Wall and held it, against all the fury of the north. He has proved himself valiant, loyal, and resourceful. Were it not for him, you would have found Mance Rayder sitting here when you arrived, Lord Slynt. You are doing him a great wrong. Jon Snow was Lord Mormont's own steward and squire. He was chosen for that duty because the Lord Commander saw much promise in him. As do I.[14]

The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it.[93]

Varamyr's thoughts

Stannis had been a younger son living in the shadow of his elder brother, just as Jon Snow, bastard-born, had always been eclipsed by his trueborn sibling, the fallen hero men had called the Young Wolf. Both men were unbelievers by nature, mistrustful, suspicious. The only gods they truly worshiped were honor and duty.[80]

Melisandre's thoughts


Jon Snow


  1. About a fortnight passed between the Battle of the Trident and the Sack of King's Landing, during which time Queen Rhaella Targaryen fled to Dragonstone. Daenerys Targaryen was born nine months after the flight (A Game of Thrones, Daenerys I). Jon is said to have been "closer to eight or nine months or thereabouts" before Daenerys (So Spake Martin: Chronology, July 11, 1999).
  2. Before Lord Commander Qorgyle's death in 288 AC


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 19, Jon III.
  2. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, Bran IV.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon I.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 15, Jon II.
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
  6. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I.
  7. See the Jon Snow calculation.
  8. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 1, Bran I.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa I.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 69, Jon IX.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 35, Eddard IX.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 7, Arya I.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 65, Arya V.
  19. 19.0 19.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73, Jon X.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 35, Jon VII.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 21.6 21.7 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 5, Jon I.
  22. Meduza: ‘Fantasy needs magic’ An interview with George R. R. Martin, August 22, 2017
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
  25. 25.0 25.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23, Daenerys III.
  26. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 43, Eddard XI.
  27. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
  28. Longclaw: Plaque>> Valyrian Steel
  29. So Spake Martin: Numerous Questions, February 28, 2002
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  31. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  32. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  34. 34.0 34.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  36. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 50, Arya IV.
  37. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 10, Jon II.
  39. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
  40. A Storm of Swords, Prologue.
  41. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 52, Jon VII.
  42. 42.0 42.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 60, Jon VIII.
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 70, Jon IX.
  44. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 4, Bran I.
  45. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
  46. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 13, Jon II.
  47. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 23, Jon III.
  48. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 34, Jon IV.
  49. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 43, Jon V.
  50. 50.0 50.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 51, Jon VI.
  51. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 68, Jon VIII.
  52. 52.0 52.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 53, Jon VII.
  53. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran VII.
  54. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
  55. 55.0 55.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 26, Jon III.
  56. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 30, Jon IV.
  57. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Robb Stark.
  58. 58.0 58.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  59. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
  60. 60.0 60.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
  61. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
  62. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55, Jon VII.
  63. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 64, Jon VIII.
  64. 64.0 64.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 76, Jon XI.
  65. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
  66. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 33, Samwell II.
  67. 67.0 67.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 68.3 68.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
  69. 69.0 69.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
  70. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
  71. 71.0 71.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
  72. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  73. 73.0 73.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.
  74. 74.0 74.1 74.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
  75. 75.0 75.1 75.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 10, Jon III.
  76. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 65, Arya XII.
  77. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
  78. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 21, Jon V.
  79. 79.0 79.1 79.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 28, Jon VI.
  80. 80.0 80.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre I.
  81. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 42, The King's Prize.
  82. 82.0 82.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 39, Jon VIII.
  83. 83.0 83.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
  84. 84.0 84.1 84.2 84.3 84.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
  85. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
  86. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 58, Jon XII.
  87. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.
  88. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
  89. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  90. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, Tyrion III.
  91. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
  92. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 22, Arya II.
  93. A Dance with Dragons, Prologue.