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Richard Hoffman

“For the watch”

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15 hours ago, Quoth the raven, said:

 

The wildlings were acting under Jon's command, on a mission that Jon sent them to.  The guilt falls on Jon.  Splitting hairs is not going to erase Jon's treason away. 

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What I find very telling after Jon reads the letter to Toregg is Toregg picks up on the mention of Mance and Jon almost tells him about Melisandre's ploy but holds back. He thinks of her words of warning but doesn't send for her. Toregg suggests it's all lies but Jon refocuses on Mance and  then his worries about what happened, not only with Mance but Stannis.
Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII
"Might be all a skin o' lies." Tormund scratched under his beard. "If I had me a nice goose quill and a pot o' maester's ink, I could write down that me member was long and thick as me arm, wouldn't make it so."
"He has Lightbringer. He talks of heads upon the walls of Winterfell. He knows about the spearwives and their number." He knows about Mance Rayder. "No. There is truth in there."
"I won't say you're wrong. What do you mean to do, crow?"

Now Toregg at this point has become, probably, Jon's most trustworthy friend and ally and defers to Jon's authority and judgement. He offers his counsel but recognizes Jon as the leader. I really like this relationship.Toregg doesn't even know much of what the letter is talking about but knows full well it has Jon in a serious dilemma. Then Jon arrives at the most personal worries and feelings of grief and lingering guilt and horror and love all tangled up together.
Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII
Jon flexed the fingers of his sword hand. The Night's Watch takes no part. He closed his fist and opened it again. What you propose is nothing less than treason. He thought of Robb, with snowflakes melting in his hair. Kill the boy and let the man be born. He thought of Bran, clambering up a tower wall, agile as a monkey. Of Rickon's breathless laughter. Of Sansa, brushing out Lady's coat and singing to herself. You know nothing, Jon Snow. He thought of Arya, her hair as tangled as a bird's nest. I made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell … I want my bride back … I want my bride back … I want my bride back …
"I think we had best change the plan," Jon Snow said.
They talked for the best part of two hours.


kissedbyfire dropped the main paragraph of this quote upthread in the middle of a vigorous and at times heated discussion of the political ramifications of Jon's decisions and Bowen's decisions and the concepts of oathbreaking, ruling authority etc. and for me personally it was the best quote at the best time. It brought me right back to what I think is the most crucial theme of ASoIaF  and what I honestly believe it to be: What is love and what is it's power? Jon contemplates the political ramifications. He contemplates the ideals of honor and duty. He contemplates the pain of growth. He contemplates the pain of loss. He contemplates the fear of not knowing. Most crucially, he contemplates the destruction of innocence and the cruelty and horror of murder and enslavement. He chooses love and finally for a brief two hours he stops charging ahead and butting heads and worrying. He admits to himself he needs to revise his plans. He needs to become the leader he is meant to be. He knows it but he still hasn't figured it out completely, but in one of GRRM's finest underated lines, in my opinion, he begins a better process. He admits it's beyond his control. He starts a new dialogue. He talks to a friend for two hours. The process is the correct one for a leader. He has even noted it previously in a reference to Stannis' method of ruling. Unfortunately, the two hours are all Jon takes and he doesn't include the full group of advisers available to him for a myriad of reasons, the primary one I believe is he still has not fully accepted the Wall is his and he is the Wall's ruling authority. He has not yet let go of the boy and become the man. He clings to it still. He flexes his sword hand but he has also taken the most critical step simultaneously in a way. He closes his fist and then opens it. Anger, frustration and hopelessness give way to openess and with it, a faint glimmer of hope.
Jon the leaves his quarters and wrestles Ghost back inside. The pattern starts again. He notes his distrust of Borroq, a man coincidentally, who if he were to be turned into an ally could help Jon harness his gift. Then, comes the wonderfully evocative decriptive passage of the Shieldhall and what it once stood for and how it has slid into decay over the years due to neglect and the absence of knights who chose to serve the Black. I also believe it shows the ties to family they all brought with them and that although those ties may be set aside for the common purpose, they are never completely severed until death. Upon death they are taken down and buried with the dead in a symbolic gesture to their sacrifice.
Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII
Hundreds of knights meant hundreds of shields. Hawks and eagles, dragons and griffins, suns and stags, wolves and wyverns, manticores, bulls, trees and flowers, harps, spears, crabs and krakens, red lions and golden lions and chequy lions, owls, lambs, maids and mermen, stallions, stars, buckets and buckles, flayed men and hanged men and burning men, axes, longswords, turtles, unicorns, bears, quills, spiders and snakes and scorpions, and a hundred other heraldic charges had adorned the Shieldhall walls, blazoned in more colors than any rainbow ever dreamed of.
But when a knight died, his shield was taken down, that it might go with him to his pyre or his tomb, and over the years and centuries fewer and fewer knights had taken the black. A day came when it no longer made sense for the knights of Castle Black to dine apart. The Shieldhall was abandoned. In the last hundred years, it had been used only infrequently. As a dining hall, it left much to be desired—it was dark, dirty, drafty, and hard to heat in winter, its cellars infested with rats, its massive wooden rafters worm-eaten and festooned with cobwebs.
But it was large and long enough to seat two hundred, and half again that many if they crowded close. When Jon and Tormund entered, a sound went through the hall, like wasps stirring in a nest. The wildlings outnumbered the crows by five to one, judging by how little black he saw. Fewer than a dozen shields remained, sad grey things with faded paint and long cracks in the wood. But fresh torches burned in the iron sconces along the walls, and Jon had ordered benches and tables brought in. Men with comfortable seats were more inclined to listen, Maester Aemon had once told him; standing men were more inclined to shout.


The end of centuries of tradition and now the wildlings outnumber the crows by five to one.  Black takes in all colors of the rainbow. It was once an honored tradition and one of the Wall's  greatest strength, but also I think it hints at the hope still there in the decay. There may no longer be a need for knights to be seperate and dine alone anymore, because when Winter arrives, all people face the choice of whether to face it together or alone or not at all. The room is akin to wasp's nest buzzing with tension. Toregg blows his literal horn once, not his figurative one for once, as a call for quiet and "Silence fell". One blow. The rangers return.
 Jon states the crux of the dilemma of Hardhome. He notes who is present and who is not, but his mind is calm. He does not have extraneous thoughts. He is speaking openly and is present. He reveals he has delegated authority and responsibility for Hardhome to Toregg. Then Borroq questions his courage and hints at the misunderstandings that abound around the nature of skinchanging. a challenge to Jon personally. Borroq wants to know if he's ready to accept his power or hide from the judgement of ignorance that other men hold. At one point, previously, Borroq had even addressed Jon as "Brother" and Jon rejected the connection.
Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon XIII
"And where will you be, crow?" Borroq thundered. "Hiding here in Castle Black with your white dog?"
"No. I ride south." Then Jon read them the letter Ramsay Snow had written.
The Shieldhall went mad.
Every man began to shout at once. They leapt to their feet, shaking fists. So much for the calming power of comfortable benches. Swords were brandished, axes smashed against shields. Jon Snow looked to Tormund. The Giantsbane sounded his horn once more, twice as long and twice as loud as the first time.


It's a unifying move in one sense but also a confusing and potentially dangerous move and one directly connected to the tragedy coming. I think the wildlings to a great deal must respond to the letter with the same bewilderment and confusion as Toregg, but what they do respond to is the man reading it. Jon has made a move towards openess. He doesn't hide the letter and plot the downfall of Ramsey, but is it a judicious use of honesty? Has he revealed too much to soon? I would contend for the wildlings, no, but for the Watch, yes. Tormund sounds his horn again, one blast but "twice as long and twice as loud." Two blasts herald the sighting of wildlings. I think it symbolically unites the Watch and the Free Folk. It is no longer a signal of danger and it is no longer a signal of a sighting but a signal of acceptance of their presence. The treaty is fulfilled. The deal with Stannis to secure their services is complete. They are part of the Watch. They are Jon's swords as LC of the Watch. The wildlings are part of the effort now, in their own way and still with their concerns and agendas and shortcomings, but I contend at this moment, Jon has solidified his leadership of the wildlings on the Wall and they in turn accepted his leadership. Jon also has not broken his oath, in fact,  he's broadened it to include more help. If at this point, Jon had stopped again for a few hours to confer with more advisers and included The Free Folk and The Watch and The Queen's Men and Melisandre and Selyse and asserted his command, things would have been different, not even necessarily better or worse, but different. He doesn't though and it's not because he's stupid or morally weak or the worst strategic leader in the history of the Watch. Quite the contrary, actually, Jon is intelligent, honorable and thoughtful and has a greater capacity and vision for what it will take to survive The Winds of Winter than anyone else on the Wall. However, he is human. He makes mistakes. He misinterprets things. Also, there are other forces at work beyond his or any other character's ability to fully comprehend or control or avoid, as well and some of the dangerous forces are very immediate and some are not, but all of them are shrouded in secrecy, lies, manipulation, ignorance and betrayal. However, the dangerous forces are not the only forces at work and I will discuss both more in my next post.
 
 
Edited by Edgar Allen Poemont
Added thought

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On 1/14/2018 at 9:26 PM, Bowen 747 said:

The wildlings were acting under Jon's command, on a mission that Jon sent them to.  The guilt falls on Jon.  Splitting hairs is not going to erase Jon's treason away. 

No argument from me.  Mance didn't decide to get Arya on his own.  Mance was sent because the mission was illegal from the very beginning.  It was wrong to begin with.  Hence, the reason why Mance was spared from execution and the need to play at disguise.

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30 minutes ago, Quoth the raven, said:

No argument from me.  Mance didn't decide to get Arya on his own.  Mance was sent because the mission was illegal from the very beginning.  It was wrong to begin with.  Hence, the reason why Mance was spared from execution and the need to play at disguise.

But did the Mance truly intend to rescue the presumed Arya? Apparently, Melisandre wanted Jon to send Mance to rescue his sister in order to gain Jon’s trust, but the especially curious issue here was that Melisandre saw Arya riding north, east of Long Lake, and Mance said he had a ploy in mind, asking for a handful of spearwives to help him, suggesting he knew that he would be going to Winterfell--not the eastern shore of Long Lake. Later we found out with the arrival of Alys Karstark at Castle Black, that Mance did not even bother to look for Arya, and Jon began to suspect that Melisandre had some other task for Mance. He ended up thinking about Melisandre’s secret agenda at least twice more.

Disguised as Abel, an echo of Mance’s hero, Bael the Bard, the Mance wanted to know how Theon captured Winterfell. Clearly, Mance was attempting to find some way for Stannis to capture Winterfell. He also wanted Theon to show him the crypts. While Mance was apparently unable to find some way for Stannis to capture Winterfell by some trick, his spearwives began murdering men to fan the flames of animosity between House Frey and the Northmen, especially House Manderly. Presumably, Mance intended to hide in the crypts as Bael had done.

But why was Mance so eager, desperate even, to help the presumed Arya to escape? He did not seem to care about Theon, but he needed Theon to get the presumed Arya out. Did he believe that he had stumbled upon Arya Stark at Winterfell, and that he needed to get her out of the castle to fulfill Melisandre’s vision to foster good relations with Jon and to promote fidelity between the Free Folk and the North? Is that why he apparently sacrificed himself to free the presumed Arya? Theon was quite convinced that Abel would be caught and flayed by Ramsay, and that fate was apparently confirmed in the pink letter

Spoiler

and in the Theon spoiler chapter from Winds, the events of which were confirmed to have occurred before Jon received the pink letter,

and foreshadowed in The Dornishman's Wife

Interestingly, one of the spearwives, Rowan, seemed to hold Theon in great contempt. This alone would not have been suspect, but she also took great umbrage at Theon’s use of House Stark’s words, suggesting she was actually a daughter of the North rather than a native of the Free Folk, although there did seem to be a grudging respect, or awe, for House Stark among the Free Folk. Rowan, tall and skinny, too lean and leathery to be called pretty, but attractive with auburn hair, could very well have been the daughter Mors lost during a wilding raid. 

Perhaps Mance stoped at Last Hearth with Rowan on his way to Winterfell. Perhaps Rowan convinced her father that he should not be demanding Mance’s skull for a drinking cup after all. 

Mors later arrived at Winterfell. He did not attack, but he started blowing war horns, presumably to instill fear in the defenders, but possibly to alert agents on the inside, and notice that was precisely when Mance decided it was time to bug out.

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11 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

But did the Mance truly intend to rescue the presumed Arya? 

Ofcourse he did.  And actually did rescue fArya.  Jon is responsible for setting Mance Rayder and the wildlings loose on the north to run his errands for him.  So however way you look at it, Jon is responsible for that mission. 

Edited by Quoth the raven,

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3 hours ago, Quoth the raven, said:

Ofcourse he did.  And actually did rescue fArya.  Jon is responsible for setting Mance Rayder and the wildlings loose on the north to run his errands for him.  So however way you look at it, Jon is responsible for that mission. 

I really not trying to be condescending here but I think this is a prime example of what frustrates some posters. Lost Melnibonean made a thoughtful post indicating why they thought to question if Mance even intended on rescuing Arya & you responded by reiterating that he did, no thought or evidence behind why & concluded with a statement seemingly meant to provoke someone into arguing. It's maddening. 

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4 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

But did the Mance truly intend to rescue the presumed Arya? Apparently, Melisandre wanted Jon to send Mance to rescue his sister in order to gain Jon’s trust, but the especially curious issue here was that Melisandre saw Arya riding north, east of Long Lake, and Mance said he had a ploy in mind, asking for a handful of spearwives to help him, suggesting he knew that he would be going to Winterfell--not the eastern shore of Long Lake. Later we found out with the arrival of Alys Karstark at Castle Black, that Mance did not even bother to look for Arya, and Jon began to suspect that Melisandre had some other task for Mance. He ended up thinking about Melisandre’s secret agenda at least twice more.

Disguised as Abel, an echo of Mance’s hero, Bael the Bard, the Mance wanted to know how Theon captured Winterfell. Clearly, Mance was attempting to find some way for Stannis to capture Winterfell. He also wanted Theon to show him the crypts. While Mance was apparently unable to find some way for Stannis to capture Winterfell by some trick, his spearwives began murdering men to fan the flames of animosity between House Frey and the Northmen, especially House Manderly. Presumably, Mance intended to hide in the crypts as Bael had done.

But why was Mance so eager, desperate even, to help the presumed Arya to escape? He did not seem to care about Theon, but he needed Theon to get the presumed Arya out. Did he believe that he had stumbled upon Arya Stark at Winterfell, and that he needed to get her out of the castle to fulfill Melisandre’s vision to foster good relations with Jon and to promote fidelity between the Free Folk and the North? Is that why he apparently sacrificed himself to free the presumed Arya? Theon was quite convinced that Abel would be caught and flayed by Ramsay, and that fate was apparently confirmed in the pink letter

  Hide contents

and in the Theon spoiler chapter from Winds, the events of which were confirmed to have occurred before Jon received the pink letter,

and foreshadowed in The Dornishman's Wife

Interestingly, one of the spearwives, Rowan, seemed to hold Theon in great contempt. This alone would not have been suspect, but she also took great umbrage at Theon’s use of House Stark’s words, suggesting she was actually a daughter of the North rather than a native of the Free Folk, although there did seem to be a grudging respect, or awe, for House Stark among the Free Folk. Rowan, tall and skinny, too lean and leathery to be called pretty, but attractive with auburn hair, could very well have been the daughter Mors lost during a wilding raid. 

Perhaps Mance stoped at Last Hearth with Rowan on his way to Winterfell. Perhaps Rowan convinced her father that he should not be demanding Mance’s skull for a drinking cup after all. 

Mors later arrived at Winterfell. He did not attack, but he started blowing war horns, presumably to instill fear in the defenders, but possibly to alert agents on the inside, and notice that was precisely when Mance decided it was time to bug out.

I think we have to take into account that mance probably thought that stannis was behind the horns and wanted to fuck the defense of the city. If the people inside witerfell fight between themselves it would be much easier for stannis to conquer winterfell. Specially if he can use a secret entrance into winterfel...

Then I have no idea how rowan would have convinced her father to spare mance... I would find it much more likely that they wouldn t say he was mance... Just a wildling in a mission from stannis and jon to save arya...

The part about how mance decided to go to winterfell and if he didn t have the ruby anymore are much more intringuing... However if mance had a safe way to rescue farya I think he would always do it. It is useful for him to establish better relations with mel, jon, stannis, northern lords and keep his son safe... There is no downside for him to do it. Besides, he probably feels he owes something to jon.

Finally, what if mel had someway to comunicate with mance through the ruby and while he was going to long lake decided to send him to winterfell instead? She might have seen that the girl would get to the Wall safelly and decided to use mance to help stannis conquer winterfell. In a way mance is mostly focused in finding ways to help stannis...

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On 1/14/2018 at 9:26 PM, Bowen 747 said:

The wildlings were acting under Jon's command, on a mission that Jon sent them to.  The guilt falls on Jon.  Splitting hairs is not going to erase Jon's treason away. 

:agree:

The blame falls on Jon.  Mance didn't go to Winterfell to take up skiing.  Mance is on a mission from Jon. 

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On 1/21/2018 at 6:42 PM, Lost Melnibonean said:

But did the Mance truly intend to rescue the presumed Arya? Apparently, Melisandre wanted Jon to send Mance to rescue his sister in order to gain Jon’s trust, but the especially curious issue here was that Melisandre saw Arya riding north, east of Long Lake, and Mance said he had a ploy in mind, asking for a handful of spearwives to help him, suggesting he knew that he would be going to Winterfell--not the eastern shore of Long Lake. Later we found out with the arrival of Alys Karstark at Castle Black, that Mance did not even bother to look for Arya, and Jon began to suspect that Melisandre had some other task for Mance. He ended up thinking about Melisandre’s secret agenda at least twice more.

Disguised as Abel, an echo of Mance’s hero, Bael the Bard, the Mance wanted to know how Theon captured Winterfell. Clearly, Mance was attempting to find some way for Stannis to capture Winterfell. He also wanted Theon to show him the crypts. While Mance was apparently unable to find some way for Stannis to capture Winterfell by some trick, his spearwives began murdering men to fan the flames of animosity between House Frey and the Northmen, especially House Manderly. Presumably, Mance intended to hide in the crypts as Bael had done.

But why was Mance so eager, desperate even, to help the presumed Arya to escape? He did not seem to care about Theon, but he needed Theon to get the presumed Arya out. Did he believe that he had stumbled upon Arya Stark at Winterfell, and that he needed to get her out of the castle to fulfill Melisandre’s vision to foster good relations with Jon and to promote fidelity between the Free Folk and the North? Is that why he apparently sacrificed himself to free the presumed Arya? Theon was quite convinced that Abel would be caught and flayed by Ramsay, and that fate was apparently confirmed in the pink letter

  Hide contents

and in the Theon spoiler chapter from Winds, the events of which were confirmed to have occurred before Jon received the pink letter,

and foreshadowed in The Dornishman's Wife

Interestingly, one of the spearwives, Rowan, seemed to hold Theon in great contempt. This alone would not have been suspect, but she also took great umbrage at Theon’s use of House Stark’s words, suggesting she was actually a daughter of the North rather than a native of the Free Folk, although there did seem to be a grudging respect, or awe, for House Stark among the Free Folk. Rowan, tall and skinny, too lean and leathery to be called pretty, but attractive with auburn hair, could very well have been the daughter Mors lost during a wilding raid. 

Perhaps Mance stoped at Last Hearth with Rowan on his way to Winterfell. Perhaps Rowan convinced her father that he should not be demanding Mance’s skull for a drinking cup after all. 

Mors later arrived at Winterfell. He did not attack, but he started blowing war horns, presumably to instill fear in the defenders, but possibly to alert agents on the inside, and notice that was precisely when Mance decided it was time to bug out.

Go ahead and try all you want to make the situation appear convoluted but you cannot excuse Jon's decision.  Mellissandre could not send Mance on her own to Winterfell.  Mellissandre could not order Edd the Toilet Man to Mole's Town to get those women.  Only Jon could and did.  Jon not only agreed to the mission.  The mission was Jon's decision.  He could have said no.  But he didn't.  He fully planned the mission with Mance, sent for the women, and provided Mance with what he needed.  Jon sent Mance Rayder loose with no leash.  Mance is acting for Jon.  They are on a mission from Jon.  That's why they went to Winterfell.  That's why the wildlings were willing to risk themselves to help a northern girl because Jon ordered them to bring Arya back to the Wall.  Jon didn't say, "Winterfell is off-limits, Mance.  Don't go in there and break guest rights.  Don't provoke the Boltons."  Jon sent them on a mission to get his sister and that is what they did.  Jon is responsible for that mission. 

 

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