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Josh Winslow

One other thing I noticed on my last reread was how bad nearly every character is at thinking out the logical outcomes of their decisions. Catelyn flies south instead of sending a messenger and leaves Winterfell without any adult Starks (do you think she would have sent the entire garrison off to deal with the Iron Born or let Bolton's bastard get away with killing his wife?). Robb lets his hormones get in the way. Eddard utterly fails to understand how power works and did nothing to protect his family. Cersi makes bad decision after bad decision. I could go on, but the main thing I got out of the series on this last read is how badly aristocracy (with hereditary passing of power) works.

Littlefinger, Varys and Tyrion, some of the only capable men in Westernos have to struggle and fight to run things whereas lack-wits like the Starks are able to throw away tons of blood and treasure due mainly to their place in the feudal hierarchy.

Ryan Bonneville

@Josh - Which, of course, is why Stannis should be king. He's the only contender (and the only non-Jon Snow character) who actually has his eye on the ball.


It would serve Martin well to have Stannis survive all this and end up being king. No one likes him, barely anyone follows him, his claim to the crown is tenuous, and that's if you're being nice. This would all match up with Martin's deconstruction of the epic hero narrative, where the happy ending we're all hoping for (Jon Snow and Daenerys save the bloody world with dragons, get married, rule Westeros and have like twenty babies) flat out ISN'T the ending we can expect from history.

To answer the question of "Must there be a Jon Snow?" I admit that Jon dying or failing because he makes a series of badly-informed decisions would match with the pattern of Ned, Catelyn, Jon Connington, Cersei... and, well, pretty much anyone who ever made a plan that didn't work, which is pretty much everyone who ever made a PLAN. But as a writer, as some point you have to step back from indicting the tropes of the field you're writing in and allow a little bit of heroism to peek it's way through all the darkness.

Jon Snow must survive and eventually succeed because for him to fail is to damn the idea that anyone should attempt to do what's right for the world, instead of what's right for themselves.

Doctor Memory

Crow: I'm willing to believe that ONE of the deaths at the end of ADwD are fake-outs, but not BOTH. Between the demonstrated ability of the Red God's priests to occasionally resurrect people and the drawn-out prologue chapter that established that skinchangers can resurrect themselves, I think we can safely expect Jon to survive his temporary case of steel poisoning. Ergo, Stannis is dead.


Great comments, everybody.

@Crow, @doctormemory, my guess is that neither Stannis nor Jon is dead. GRRM's gotten reaaaaaally lazy about making us think his characters are dead: Brienne, Sandor, Tyrion, Bran, Theon, Asha... who am I forgetting? (Zombie Catelyn, Zombie Ser Beric and Zombie Ser Gregor are kind of a separate category.)

Doctor Memory

And by the way: I pretty much agree on all counts. The two great themes of ASoIaF are "living in the middle ages basically sucked" and "leadership is hard." In the latter category we have, well, basically every male Stark of adult age. Jon, much like Cersei, convinced himself that acting like a badass was more important than actually watching his flank. Jon's motivations were "better," but what of it? Practically his first act as Lord Commander was to make a point of alienating and distancing his friends and supporters, and he followed that up by repeatedly pissing in the faces of people who were potentially friends but also potentially enemies. No shock how it worked out.


@spencerman: You forgot Davos.

(But at least Syrio is dead.)

And I wouldn't take anything in Ramsay's letter without a cubic foot of pure NaCl - it's a clear attempt to provoke Jon and it stinks of desperation.


@Ryan: I agree that of the realistic contenders Stannis would probably be the best king, at least if it comes down to a choice between him and Dany. Ignoring the threat of a Targaryen invasion from across the narrow sea, the two main threats facing Westeros are
1.) Deterring of defeating an invasion by the Others we have clear reason to believe is coming, and
2.) Somehow managing to feed the population of the Riverlands that don't have the resources to survive a long winter.
Despite the two Targaryen's successes, neither Dany or Aegon have any real experience governing. Dany's tenure in Meereen was generally unsuccessful, and there's little reason to believe that she has the political and more important administration skills to ensure that the Seven Kingdoms' most populous regions don't starve on a massive scale in the coming winter. Administration capabilities were Ser Kevan's strong points, but of course he's an asset that isn't available to the Iron Throne anymore. I'm feeling more and more that GRRM is setting up for a Targaryen restoration -- it certainly seems like the narrative is becoming more and more assertive in suggesting that a Targaryen, not a (nominal!) Baratheon, is the rightful heir to the throne -- but I have trouble recognizing Dany as a capable governor rather than just the recipient of amazingly good luck.
Of course Dany's dragons would be a game-changing asset in a war with the Others, but I still don't see a Targaryen restoration as good for Westeros in the long term.

On a more practical level I can't see Jon dying simply because he's the only narrator that's consistently on the wall. From a story mechanics perspective, he's difficult to replace.


"You can't run a military if its top officer looks at his/her central task and decides, naahhh, we're gonna do it this way now."

Except Jon's decision was based on his realization that the purpose of the Watch was to protect men against the Others. The watch's view that their role was to fight the wildings was an erroneous view of their institution. By sympathizing with the Wildings Jon was able to see that they were men, entitled to the protection of the Watch.

In that sense Jon is working explicitly withing the framework of the institution, but the "true" institution of its origins. He is stabbed by the adherents to the contemporary view of the institution. So he is simultaneously revolutionary--in that he views wildings as fellow men--and reactionary; he views the the Watch in the same way an originalist views the constitution.


@sheenyglass: Perhaps it was an erroneous view. But it was unquestionably *the Watch's* view. Jon redefined its mission -- for a goal I think everyone can agree is worthy, but nevertheless a redefinition. And he never prepared his Brothers for such a drastic change.

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This is my favorite show too!

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Jon Snow for president!!! Would he be a democrat or republican? Labour or Tory? Fianna Fail or Fine Gael??!!!!!

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Jon's actions may have been expedient, but I don't see that he had a lot of choices. He has already demonstrated that he is resourceful, and he is the LORD - doing a much better job that those awful Bolton's etc. of actually caring for the small folk (the majority of people.). Anyway, this series is awfully addictive, and I cannot believe I just finished DWD and am having withdrawals. http://www.over50web.net/personal-growth/books/will-game-of-thrones-ruin-your-life/


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