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Just how good of a Lord Commander of the Night's Watch was Jon Snow?

5 posts in this topic

I hold to the belief that Jon was a shitty Lord Commander. After all one has to be pretty controversial to get stabbed by their own men right?

1. Jon gave Stannis lands, shelter, advice, food. And then the Pink Letter comes and all the sudden Stannis is said to be dead. Personally I see Stannis winning the Battle of Ice as honestly logical people, how can he not? (Also wait what Ramsay said in the Pink Letter that Stannis's friends have their heads on spikes on the walls of Winterfell, uhhhhhhh) This means that the Boltons, Freys, Lannisters and Tyrells may set their sites on Jon who helped a pretender to the Iron Throne.

2. Jon beheaded Janos Slynt. Jon had a bad choice either way, let him live and men will whisper about Jon being weak, kill him and Jon isn't going to boost relations with the Crown.

3. Jon gave the gift of mercy to Mance Rayder. This makes people think that Jon actually is friends with Mance.

4. This one big error when talking to Stannis. "They north rode with Robb," Jon I ADWD.

5. Jon's plan at the end of ADWD to desert and kill Ramsay.

6. Confessing to killing Qhorin Halfhand. Why not say the wildlings did it?

7. Confessing to sleeping with Ygritte. Why not say that nothing happened their, yes one could say that Jon is honorable to a fault but then again one must ask if that is actually true considering Jon's plan at the end of ADWD.

8. The deal he made with Tycho Nestoris. He makes that deal and then all the sudden they think he is dead turning the Throne against him even further because it basically serves as a big middle finger to the Crown by saying I'm going to profit on you not paying your debts to a bank that will always have its due.

9. The wildling rescue mission at Hardhome that was planned.

I probably could think of more but I can't right now.

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I also thought he was a shitty lord commander. He was thrust into a position he was not ready for.

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I've thought about this a lot too, so let's debate! For argument's sake, I'll take the position that Jon was an able commander who was tragically misunderstood by his own men...

Jon is the best recruiter in the history of the Wall, manning it better than it's been for centuries if not millenia by absorbing the wildlings. In fact he not only added thousands to his forces by recruiting them, but eliminated them as enemies by saving them, making them dependent on him for food, confiscating and selling their material wealth, and taking hundreds of their children as hostages. Now that he actually has the manpower, he's having the other castles of the Wall repaired, as previous Lord Commanders allowed them to degrade for centuries to the point of being "scarce more than ruins" according to First Builder Othell Yarwyck (Samwell V ASOS). 

He secured a loan with the Iron Bank to feed the Watch through what most people think is an upcoming long winter, or the Long Night come again. I know you list this as a mistake, OP, but this actually seems like a pretty good deal on Jon's part. If it is just a long winter and they survive the whole Other drama, then yes they will be massively in debt, but let's not forget they will have settled wildlings on the Gift, creating new sources of taxation for the Watch and hence increased revenue. If they are in for the Long Night, then it's unlikely that the Iron Bank will still be around to collect, or for that matter that the Watch will still exist. In fact the Watch only has a shot of surviving the Long Night, and a presumable war with the Others, because of Jon's actions, so it's likely that any future members of the Watch would consider him a hero. Further, Tycho's alleged death isn't really a motivation for turning on Jon, because either the contract would be lost and hence things would be as if he never made the deal in the first place, or else Tycho sent a copy to his superiors at the Iron Bank and therefore Tycho's fate is inconsequential and the Watch would still receive the loan. 

To argue your point about Stannis, what other choice did Jon have? The man saved them from being destroyed by Mance's host, so Jon really owed him. Further, Stannis' forces wildly outnumbered the Watch, and were better armed besides. They could have just taken the Wall and all of the Watch's resources if they wanted to, so Jon was smart to bend but not break here. Also, who cares if the Watch thinks Jon was friends with Mance? They would still think he killed him, which would just as logically show that Jon puts the Night's Watch vows and the laws of the land before things like friendship and mercy. 

Yes his actions are controversial among the black brothers, but their ignorance and lifelong hatred of the Wildlings blind them to the logic of said actions. I would say there's evidence that Jon's a calculating and pragmatic leader, an able negotiator, and a fair emissary to royalty and nobility. He's compassionate and understanding but willing to make tough decisions that will hurt people for the greater good, like swapping Gilly's baby for Dalla's. He values honest counsel and independent thought, which we can see in his two main advisors, Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck, who disagree with him on virtually everything. More important to him is loyalty, and despite literally stabbing Jon in the back (and also front) they claim to do it "For the Watch," which suggests a deeper sort of loyalty, not to the specific man in charge at the moment but to the ancient purpose and values of their order. Instead of "lickpsittles" he chose to surround himself with men he knew would do what they thought best for the Wall. 

Jon's not perfect, and he makes mistakes. Personally I never wanted him to take his vows in the first place, but it's a little late for that bullcrap now. He probably shouldn't have sent Sam and Aemon away at the same time, leaving only Clydas at Castle Black for maesterly duties. He does seem to go a bit insane once the Pink Letter arrives, though I wonder if there wasn't more to his plan, after all he and Tormund supposedly talk "for the best part of two hours" to change the plan for the Hardhome rescue. The plan we hear about, Tormund going to Hardhome and Jon going to Winterfell to kill Ramsay, doesn't seem like it would take two hours to come up with, so I tend to think something sneaky is going on there. 

I would also agree that he was thrust into a leadership position he was not entirely ready for, as no 16-year old boy is really ready for that kind of responsibility. However I think he does an admirable job, and a better one than Jeor Mormont. After all, the Old Bear also met his end by the hands of his own men, led hundreds of rangers to their doom on the Great Ranging, and did little to prepare the Wall for the cold winds of winter other than to mentor his successor, a man who would truly work to save the Wall: Lord Snow. 

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Jon was a terrible Lord Commander. Allowing the Wildlings through the wall was a good pragmatic decision, but he completely ignored the fact that generations of the Night`s Watch had forgotten completely about the Others and considered the Wildlings to be the enemy against which the Watch defended. Blood feuds that old and deep can`t be set aside so easily. Intervening to save Alys Karstark was a bad idea, as he gained the enmity of one of the most powerful Houses in the North. Sending Mance Rayder to Winterfell was extremely risky, endangering the neutrality of the Night`s Watch by interfering with the internal struggles of the Realm. Finally, he compounded this grievous error by proposing to lead the Watch south in a war against the lawful Warden of the North. This was a crisis the likes of which the Watch had not seen in generations. Assassinating him was pretty logical from that perspective.

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On 9/13/2017 at 2:24 PM, Dukhasinov said:

Jon was a terrible Lord Commander. Allowing the Wildlings through the wall was a good pragmatic decision, but he completely ignored the fact that generations of the Night`s Watch had forgotten completely about the Others and considered the Wildlings to be the enemy against which the Watch defended. Blood feuds that old and deep can`t be set aside so easily. Intervening to save Alys Karstark was a bad idea, as he gained the enmity of one of the most powerful Houses in the North. Sending Mance Rayder to Winterfell was extremely risky, endangering the neutrality of the Night`s Watch by interfering with the internal struggles of the Realm. Finally, he compounded this grievous error by proposing to lead the Watch south in a war against the lawful Warden of the North. This was a crisis the likes of which the Watch had not seen in generations. Assassinating him was pretty logical from that perspective.

Ignored the blood feud? Not at all. He acknowledged it, was constantly reminded of it by Marsh and Yarwyck, but what else was he supposed to do, let the cycle of hate continue? Let the Wall fall and with it the realms of men? No, he did the only thing he could to unite them, which is to make them live and work together, to bind them to a common cause. Eventually (probably) the Night's Watch and the Wildlings would reconcile as they got to know each other, serving alongside one another and trusting the others with their lives. After fighting the Others together they would find common ground and even eventually a mutual respect. After a generation or two most would forget the hatred altogether. Having a common enemy can be very uniting, just look at a little geopolitical conflict many people call the World War I and it's sequel, World War II: Fascist Boogaloo.

Calling the Karstarks one of the most powerful houses in the North is pretty generous, since their strength was mostly squandered in the Riverlands following Lord Rickard's betrayal and execution. Besides, they're likely split in loyalty to Arnolf, who's present but not the true lord, and Harrion, who's the rightful lord but also a captive of the enemy. This means House Karstark is very vulnerable during this confused transition of power. Marrying Alice to the Thenns deepens that divide and forces Arnolf to return to Karhold to take it back or else abandon the seat he is attempting to usurp and derive power from. Of course Stannis has him now, so it doesn't really matter, but that's more of a 20/20 hindsight thing.

Sending Mance Rayder to Winterfell actually wasn't that risky, since he has plausible deniability. Mance, a wildling, was spared, swapped out and released by Stannis and Melisandre, not Jon. Lord Snow even thought he was mercy-killing the man, as all of the witnesses to the Wildling submission ceremony can attest. Only Stannis, Melisandre, Mance, and Jon himself know that he signed off on the Arya rescue mission, so unless one of them publicly announces it, everyone is going to be hearing this through Ramsay, not the most trustworthy of sources. Jon can just deny it. Also the Pink Letter is likely fake and didn't even come from Ramsay, which means that no one else in the North has reason to believe Mance is even still alive, except for all the people Jon read the letter to, which brings us to Jon's only significant mistake.

I would agree that leaving to get vengeance on Ramsay was a "grievous error," but since it seems to be the only one Jon makes as Lord Commander, I wonder if either something else was going on, like A) there was a secret element to his plan that wasn't revealed to us, part of what Jon and Tormund talk about for "the best part of two hours" or 2) someone is influencing Jon telepathically or magically to make him kind of go insane. Since he struggles for four books between keeping his vows and doing right by his family, and since certain of Jon's schemes are not made known to us (like taking wards from among the wildling leaders) I tend to lean toward the first option. I do agree that, based on the events in the Shieldhall, the Night's Watch mutineers were pretty justified in assassinating Jon, but that's due mostly to their hatred and ignorance, not Jon's ability as Lord Commander. 

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