Jon Snow, I would suggest, is the one gaping hole in a series populated by a fascinating collection of flawed human beings. He is a walking cliche who time and again gets unearned reward while facing straw-man opponents, and if he ends up anywhere near the throne at the end of the series, I shall scream very loudly.
Take the first book (I'll do the others in subsequent posts).
In the very first chapter, Jon is established as a deeply perceptive character, when we see him making all sorts of commentary on the royal visit to Winterfell. Now this, in itself, is not a problem: Tyrion is also very perceptive, and we are similarly treated to various character judgements through his eyes. But Tyrion is established as highly intelligent, educated, and politically savvy fellow; Jon is a 14 year old who has little experience or knowledge of politics. And whereas Tyrion's flaws are there for all to see, Jon is emphatically not ugly and crippled and afflicted with a seriously warped family environment. Jon, it seems, is just gifted.
Then Jon winds up on the Wall. And sulks a lot. He makes a enemy of a cartoonish villain (Thorne), and courtesy of being in the right place at the right time, ends up getting his hands on a Valyrian Steel Blade. Bearing in mind that Longclaw has been in the Mormont family for centuries, and that Tywin Lannister would have killed to get his hands on Valyrian Steel. If the Wall really is this tough, unyielding place, Jon should have received polite thanks, and perhaps a few nods from the old hands. A 14 year old non-Mormont has no business running around with that sort of sword, but Jon gets a kewl blade to go with his kewl wolf.
Jon also angsts about being allocated to the Stewards. In a series where Arya and Sansa are dealing with psychopaths, and where Ned is getting his head cut off, Jon's whinge is that he hasn't got into his desired class. And even that turns out to be a silver lining, since Jon gets-everything-on-a-silver-platter Snow is being groomed for the Lord Commandership (which, of course, is supposed to be a democracy. Mormont could groom him all he likes, but it's the Watch's decision, not his. Except that Snow is now destined...).
Oh yes, and Jon gets prosthetic wit courtesy of hanging out with Dolorous Ed, which sets the general precedent for the rest of the series: the character and action in Jon's storyline comes from the supporting cast, not the hero. Jon himself is a passive reactor to events, but hey, he's probably the hidden son of Rhaegar, and he's earned it all with his excellent choice of parents.
Finally, the book presents us with the first of Jon Snow's patented dilemmas. Which in pretty much every case are actually choices between making a right or wrong decision. Other characters may be faced with scenarios where every choice is bad, but as we'll see in future books, if Jon ends up in such a situation, a deus ex machina rides to the rescue to get him out. In this case it's a choice between deserting and riding to help Robb, or staying true to his vows. Which, when you stop to think about it, isn't really a dilemma at all in this context, though fortunately for Jon, he's protected from the consequences of his actions through the timely intervention of the nice, helpful, supporting cast (Lord Commander Mormont is also very forgiving). A shame we couldn't have had Robb beheading Jon as a deserter. Damn you, Sam...
All this is just the first book. Did I mention I really, really dislike Jon?
Edited by Roose Bolton's Pet Leech, 06 March 2012 - 04:23 AM.