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The Sunland Lord

Is The Concept Of The Night's Watch Obsolete?

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The sworn Brothers of the Night's Watch are there for life.

Also, they are not allowed to marry, have children, or inherit. Seems like their only motivation to protect the realm on a constantly poor life conditions is only their life in its lowest form. And there are even people who don't have to choose between life and death, but still go to the Wall voluntarily.

But then again, how much can life be dear to them if the life itself has next to no personal meaning for a black brother? 

Would you defend a society which rejects you-for one reason or another? Would you defend people who generally look down on you? A realm that castrates you (not literally), and strip you of every natural right and desire? 

That being said, what would you change in the concept of the Night's Watch's functioning? Do you think that it actually will suffer some changes by the end of the story in order to be more productive and less rigid? 

Or, if you think that it is good to stay this way, would you elaborate?

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20 minutes ago, The Sunland Lord said:

The sworn Brothers of the Night's Watch are there for life.

Also, they are not allowed to marry, have children, or inherit. Seems like their only motivation to protect the realm on a constantly poor life conditions is only their life in its lowest form. And there are even people who don't have to choose between life and death, but still go to the Wall voluntarily.

But then again, how much can life be dear to them if the life itself has next to no personal meaning for a black brother? 

Would you defend a society which rejects you-for one reason or another? Would you defend people who generally look down on you? A realm that castrates you (not literally), and strip you of every natural right and desire? 

That being said, what would you change in the concept of the Night's Watch's functioning? Do you think that it actually will suffer some changes by the end of the story in order to be more productive and less rigid? 

Or, if you think that it is good to stay this way, would you elaborate?

The reasons the watch is so rigid is because men need to be as far away from the temptations of society in order to protect it; quite honestly, as flawed as how the watch is now(blantant nepotism to the nobility), we can't have the men entrusted defending civilization quibbling over politics or blood feuds(they have Targyens, Tarlys, former Lanister lackeys, Mormont, Tarths Starks),  or putting their efforts towards how to get land, or women. The watch must be the cornerstone of their life. Jeor tenure was already pressing the limits of leincy with him allowing the brothers to go to old town to get some booty-and even that may be considered too by some. If a brother's life is not tolerable for them self-extermination is an option.

The NW basic structure as it is as likely as good as it's going to get.

Edited by Varysblackfyre321

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2 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

The reasons the watch is so rigid is because men need to be as far away from the temptations of society in order to protect it; quite honestly, as flawed as how the watch is now(blantant nepotism to the nobility), we can't have the men entrusted defending civilization quibbling over politics or blood feuds(they have Targyens, Tarlys, former Lanister lackeys, Mormont, Tarths Starks),  or putting their efforts towards how to get land, or women. The watch must be the cornerstone of their life. Jeor tenure was already pressing the limits of leincy with him allowing the brothers to go to old town to get some booty-and even that may be considered too by some. If a brother's life is not tolerable for them self-extermination is an option.

The NW basic structure as it is as likely as good as it's going to get.

Yes

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The Watch has survived for thousands of years.  Longer than many kingdoms.  The reason they were able to do this?  Because of their neutral stance.  The Watch has never been a threat to any house because they don't take sides.  They never interfere with the business of the realm.  They protect everyone without discrimination and by always putting the best interest of the realm as a whole over anybody.  They have to give up family, the pursuit of wealth, and glory in order to have total dedication to their work.  This is the reason why so many fans condemn Jon for sticking his long chin into the affairs of the Boltons. 

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7 hours ago, The Sunland Lord said:

That being said, what would you change in the concept of the Night's Watch's functioning? Do you think that it actually will suffer some changes by the end of the story in order to be more productive and less rigid? 

Or, if you think that it is good to stay this way, would you elaborate?

I think @Texas Hold Em explained it best. Is the Night's Watch going to undergo changes "by the end of the story"? Lol they are about to undergo some major changes soon enough. In that it may not exist when the WW are through. By the end of the story, if the warm-blooded creatures do manage to put up a resistance, then the Night's Watch would be stronger than ever. They would have finally understood why the ancients set up the Night's Watch as it is. 

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The watch will be done in as soon as the weeping man and his army gets past the wall.  The wildlings will have a 3-1 advantage over the crows.  It's just a matter of time before somebody raises the gates to bring in more wildlings.  There will be changes alright. 

Mance and Tormun have more sense than to let the situation turn to chaos.  They know what's coming and they know they have to work together to defend the wall.  It is an irony but the wildlings may end up becoming the defenders of the wall. 

 

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If I remember corectly, Jon Snow had idea where sons of noblemen would be fostered in Nightswatch so that in future they may support them or even decide to take the black.

I think it could be good solution to Nightswatch lack of manpower. People could serve at the Wall, but later come back to their families after certain period of time. I can't tell if this would be good solution in the long run, but I think it is quite good idea.

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1 hour ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

If I remember corectly, Jon Snow had idea where sons of noblemen would be fostered in Nightswatch so that in future they may support them or even decide to take the black.

I think it could be good solution to Nightswatch lack of manpower. People could serve at the Wall, but later come back to their families after certain period of time. I can't tell if this would be good solution in the long run, but I think it is quite good idea.

I don't think it's a good solution in the long run.  The Watch has had thousands of years to think on this.  A commitment to the Watch should be for life.  Maintaining connection to family and to your past life will be enough to compromise you on your job.  Having a future outside of the NW will be ever worse.  The NW is an order and as such, it depends on complete dedication to the mission.  Would Quorin Halfhand give up his life that easily if he had a family waiting for him at the end of his term?  I don't think so.  Look what family attachments did to Jon.  He was doing fine until he decided to rescue his sister from Ramsay.  It caused nothing but trouble for the NW in the end.  He had a track record of prioritizing his Stark family ahead of the good of the NW.  He will go down in history as the most traitorous lord commander since the Night's King.

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15 hours ago, Texas Hold Em said:

The Watch has survived for thousands of years.  Longer than many kingdoms.  The reason they were able to do this?  Because of their neutral stance.  The Watch has never been a threat to any house because they don't take sides.  They never interfere with the business of the realm.  They protect everyone without discrimination and by always putting the best interest of the realm as a whole over anybody.  They have to give up family, the pursuit of wealth, and glory in order to have total dedication to their work.  This is the reason why so many fans condemn Jon for sticking his long chin into the affairs of the Boltons. 

I thought Ramsay had threatened to attack Castle Black in the Pink Letter. And Castle Black has no defenses to the south, for some stupid reason.

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32 minutes ago, Mordred said:

I don't think it's a good solution in the long run.  The Watch has had thousands of years to think on this.  A commitment to the Watch should be for life.  Maintaining connection to family and to your past life will be enough to compromise you on your job.  Having a future outside of the NW will be ever worse.  The NW is an order and as such, it depends on complete dedication to the mission.  Would Quorin Halfhand give up his life that easily if he had a family waiting for him at the end of his term?  I don't think so.  Look what family attachments did to Jon.  He was doing fine until he decided to rescue his sister from Ramsay.  It caused nothing but trouble for the NW in the end.  He had a track record of prioritizing his Stark family ahead of the good of the NW.  He will go down in history as the most traitorous lord commander since the Night's King.

And in what state Nightswatch is now? They have only three castles and less than thousand men and New Gift is mostly abandoned. I am aware that Jon Snow's idea is not perfect, but given that if Stannis didn't arrived Mance Rayder would defeat Nightswatch, I think that at least some changes need to be made. Not necessary what I suggested, but something has to be done.

15 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

I thought Ramsay had threatened to attack Castle Black in the Pink Letter. And Castle Black has no defenses to the south, for some stupid reason.

Well, since Nightswatch always claimed to be neutral, they probably didn't expected that someone in future may decide to attack them from the south. It's still dumb, but it's consistent with their whole neutrality agenda.

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I don't see the Night's Watch changing their policies.  I could see it going one of two ways at the end of the story... (1) the Night's Watch is restored to glory and honor due to their valiant efforts in the war for dawn, likely with Jaime Lannister as their Lord Commander, and no actual changes in their rules or functions are instituted but because it is newly held in high esteem the recruiting numbers go up.  Perhaps the end of magic makes it a more livable place if it causes changes to the seasons and climate in planetos.  (2) After neutralizing the threat of the Others either through victory or negotiation, the Night's Watch is dissolved as the wall is destroyed and there is no need to men to protect against a threat that is no longer there.

A third, much darker option is that Stannis accepts his duty as Night's King as both reward for his service and punishment for his sins and leads a force of shadows which protect the realm.  I don't like this option or see it happening.

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2 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

I thought Ramsay had threatened to attack Castle Black in the Pink Letter. And Castle Black has no defenses to the south, for some stupid reason.

I don't understand why people ignore this. Agreed.

20 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

The reasons the watch is so rigid is because men need to be as far away from the temptations of society in order to protect it; quite honestly, as flawed as how the watch is now(blantant nepotism to the nobility), we can't have the men entrusted defending civilization quibbling over politics or blood feuds(they have Targyens, Tarlys, former Lanister lackeys, Mormont, Tarths Starks),  or putting their efforts towards how to get land, or women. The watch must be the cornerstone of their life. Jeor tenure was already pressing the limits of leincy with him allowing the brothers to go to old town to get some booty-and even that may be considered too by some. If a brother's life is not tolerable for them self-extermination is an option.

The NW basic structure as it is as likely as good as it's going to get.

The nobility being privileged is kind of a side effect. It's understandable to a degree, while not being fair and it contradicts the very rules.

And I must agree on your point about neutrality, because in principle, this rule is very rational to exist in such an order. 

However, we see that as much as the Night's Watch members want to honor this rule, the order is so weak that it's compromised on so many occasions it is quite ridiculous. 

 

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3 hours ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

(1) the Night's Watch is restored to glory and honor due to their valiant efforts in the war for dawn, likely with Jaime Lannister as their Lord Commander, and no actual changes in their rules or functions are instituted but because it is newly held in high esteem the recruiting numbers go up. 

Currently glory itself is against the rules. "Win no glory" is in the vows. 

I understand the reasoning behind the rules that a watchman must give up family and all other ambitions (including sex!) to dedicate himself exclusively to the service of the realm. I understand the reasoning behind the neutrality principle, too. The only thing these rules do not take into consideration is human nature. Perhaps in the distant past serving in the Night's Watch was an honourable and respected vocation, and there were many noble volunteers to join. If it's true, then in those days either humans were significantly different from the current ones or there was some - by now forgotten - reward that they received, something that made it worth joining the Watch. 

What is there now? They will have no family, they will hold no lands (or have any significant material possessions), they will win no glory (to say nothing about wearing crowns). They do not even receive basic respect in the realm. The weather conditions are awful, living conditions are spartan, they have no power, any major lord's army may constitute a major threat to them, the realm in general doesn't care when they are in danger, and their ranks are filled with criminals who are sent to the Wall as punishment.

As for their famous neutrality, it is only important while it suits the powers that be. Look how Yoren tried to explain in the Riverlands that the Watch took no part in the local war and how much good it did to him. Notice how the only lord who was willing to help the Watch during the wildling attack - Stannis - expected and exploited the support of the Watch in exchange for his help. Neutrality sounds ideal, but it simply does not exist unless all the involved parties keep to it. Everyone is horrified by the idea of the Watch breaking the neutrality principle, but no one cares when outsiders forget it in their dealings with the Watch. It is a bit like a girl's virginity in the same medieval world - the girl is expected to keep it until she gets married and is considered soiled if she doesn't, but men can boast with their extramarital conquest and will not lose their honour for their participation. I also happen to think that this insistence on neutrality betrays a very ambiguous attitude towards the Watch. The realm needs them but is also afraid of them in case they should become too powerful. So which feeling is stronger? Well, guess what, they are prevented from being powerful at all. 

No wonder not many young men want to join voluntarily. Most of the recruits are either forced to join (to avoid a worse punishment or family threat, as Sam did) or choose the service as a sort of active retirement (like Jeor Mormont or Donal Noye) at the end of their lives. In the world of ASOIAF, most people are like the average human - they don't make a huge sacrifice if they cannot expect anything in return. There may be some people like that, but not enough to produce a significant army. The current rules are as counterproductive as they can possibly get. Just compare the Watch with other organizations requiring similar sacrifices. The members of the Kingsguard are respected by the public, their great deeds are recorded, they live in the comfort of a royal palace in the capital city, take part in "fun" activities, like tournaments. The maesters of the Citadel can satisfy their thirst for knowledge and can hope to have a comfortable and safe working life in a castle or in the Citadel. In contrast, the Night's Watch today is more like a prison camp where everyone is sentenced for life than an honourable organization where some of the most talented and noblest young men could find a meaningful vocation. 

Things will not get better until some changes happen which will make service in the Night's Watch a worthy occupation, and I think it must necessarily involve changing one or two clauses in the vow as well. Incidentally, it may even be a change towards the early days of the Watch, when it may not have been as punitive as it is now, and was apparently more popular.  

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3 hours ago, The Sunland Lord said:

I don't understand why people ignore this. Agreed.

It's clearly addressed with the tale of the Night's king; the lord Commander had turned heel due to being seduced by a wicked magical woman with connections to dark forced and in response turned his power south to wagewar upon the realm; he was such a threat a Stark king and a King beyond the wall had to come together to put him down; no matter how true the tale is likely key details did happen; the watch waged war upon the realm it was supposed to be guarding and the man who was supposed to be guarding it tried his hand at being it's master. The castles are defenseless from the south to give guarantee to the realm that should another lord commander goes bad, the realm could easily come put the mad dog down. It's an expression of good faith basically-the watch makes it's self vulnerable to the people it's supposed to be protecting to show they are not nor will they be the realm's enemy.

Such trust is tantamount to Watch's ability to function-I mean Hoare, the half-bastard brother of king Harren was able to operate as lord commander when the watch consisted of 10,000 members because at the trust. 

The nobility being privileged is kind of a side effect. It's understandable to a degree, while not being fair and it contradicts the very rules.

And I must agree on your point about neutrality, because in principle, this rule is very rational to exist in such an order. 

However, we see that as much as the Night's Watch members want to honor this rule, the order is so weak that it's compromised on so many occasions it is quite ridiculous. 

As best as they're going to get-anything else would literally have itself eating itself due to the various infighting that would erupt over which lands should belong to who, which member's family has some sort of petty grievance with which other member's family ect. As flawed the watch is now it's basic structure is as good as it's going to get. 

 

Edited by Varysblackfyre321

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7 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

I thought Ramsay had threatened to attack Castle Black in the Pink Letter. And Castle Black has no defenses to the south, for some stupid reason.

That was Jon's fault.  He started the feud with Ramsay.  Jon sent Mance Rayder and the women to get Arya, with the intent of getting Arya away from Ramsay.  That is an act of war. 

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4 minutes ago, Son of Man said:

That was Jon's fault.  He started the feud with Ramsay.  Jon sent Mance Rayder and the women to get Arya, with the intent of getting Arya away from Ramsay.  That is an act of war. 

Well someone was bound to bring this argument up again.

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9 hours ago, Julia H. said:

Currently glory itself is against the rules. "Win no glory" is in the vows. 

I understand the reasoning behind the rules that a watchman must give up family and all other ambitions (including sex!) to dedicate himself exclusively to the service of the realm. I understand the reasoning behind the neutrality principle, too. The only thing these rules do not take into consideration is human nature. Perhaps in the distant past serving in the Night's Watch was an honourable and respected vocation, and there were many noble volunteers to join. If it's true, then in those days either humans were significantly different from the current ones or there was some - by now forgotten - reward that they received, something that made it worth joining the Watch. 

What is there now? They will have no family, they will hold no lands (or have any significant material possessions), they will win no glory (to say nothing about wearing crowns). They do not even receive basic respect in the realm. The weather conditions are awful, living conditions are spartan, they have no power, any major lord's army may constitute a major threat to them, the realm in general doesn't care when they are in danger, and their ranks are filled with criminals who are sent to the Wall as punishment.

As for their famous neutrality, it is only important while it suits the powers that be. Look how Yoren tried to explain in the Riverlands that the Watch took no part in the local war and how much good it did to him. Notice how the only lord who was willing to help the Watch during the wildling attack - Stannis - expected and exploited the support of the Watch in exchange for his help. Neutrality sounds ideal, but it simply does not exist unless all the involved parties keep to it. Everyone is horrified by the idea of the Watch breaking the neutrality principle, but no one cares when outsiders forget it in their dealings with the Watch. It is a bit like a girl's virginity in the same medieval world - the girl is expected to keep it until she gets married and is considered soiled if she doesn't, but men can boast with their extramarital conquest and will not lose their honour for their participation. I also happen to think that this insistence on neutrality betrays a very ambiguous attitude towards the Watch. The realm needs them but is also afraid of them in case they should become too powerful. So which feeling is stronger? Well, guess what, they are prevented from being powerful at all. 

No wonder not many young men want to join voluntarily. Most of the recruits are either forced to join (to avoid a worse punishment or family threat, as Sam did) or choose the service as a sort of active retirement (like Jeor Mormont or Donal Noye) at the end of their lives. In the world of ASOIAF, most people are like the average human - they don't make a huge sacrifice if they cannot expect anything in return. There may be some people like that, but not enough to produce a significant army. The current rules are as counterproductive as they can possibly get. Just compare the Watch with other organizations requiring similar sacrifices. The members of the Kingsguard are respected by the public, their great deeds are recorded, they live in the comfort of a royal palace in the capital city, take part in "fun" activities, like tournaments. The maesters of the Citadel can satisfy their thirst for knowledge and can hope to have a comfortable and safe working life in a castle or in the Citadel. In contrast, the Night's Watch today is more like a prison camp where everyone is sentenced for life than an honourable organization where some of the most talented and noblest young men could find a meaningful vocation. 

Things will not get better until some changes happen which will make service in the Night's Watch a worthy occupation, and I think it must necessarily involve changing one or two clauses in the vow as well. Incidentally, it may even be a change towards the early days of the Watch, when it may not have been as punitive as it is now, and was apparently more popular.  

Ditto. The Wall is a labor camp and the members of the NW are doing a life sentence. Without Dostoyevsky, although credit to Maester Aemon who is also a great thinker.

14 hours ago, Lucius Lovejoy said:

I don't see the Night's Watch changing their policies.  I could see it going one of two ways at the end of the story... (1) the Night's Watch is restored to glory and honor due to their valiant efforts in the war for dawn, likely with Jaime Lannister as their Lord Commander, and no actual changes in their rules or functions are instituted but because it is newly held in high esteem the recruiting numbers go up.  Perhaps the end of magic makes it a more livable place if it causes changes to the seasons and climate in planetos.  (2) After neutralizing the threat of the Others either through victory or negotiation, the Night's Watch is dissolved as the wall is destroyed and there is no need to men to protect against a threat that is no longer there.

A third, much darker option is that Stannis accepts his duty as Night's King as both reward for his service and punishment for his sins and leads a force of shadows which protect the realm.  I don't like this option or see it happening.

I never thought of Stannis as an embodiment of the Night's King's legacy. Never went there. Jaime a LC of the Night's Watch and Kingsguard? Hard to happen, but when things come that desperate, and they will, who knows who will end up up there on the Wall and in what role. 

 

Edited by The Sunland Lord

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17 hours ago, Julia H. said:

Currently glory itself is against the rules. "Win no glory" is in the vows. 

I understand the reasoning behind the rules that a watchman must give up family and all other ambitions (including sex!) to dedicate himself exclusively to the service of the realm. I understand the reasoning behind the neutrality principle, too. The only thing these rules do not take into consideration is human nature. Perhaps in the distant past serving in the Night's Watch was an honourable and respected vocation, and there were many noble volunteers to join. If it's true, then in those days either humans were significantly different from the current ones or there was some - by now forgotten - reward that they received, something that made it worth joining the Watch. 

The rules are taken into consideration and human nature effectively addressed.  They have the solutions in place to mitigate the problems caused by human nature.  It's called rules, policies, procedures, laws, and oaths.  And when those are broken there is punishment.  Ice cells or in extreme cases, execution. 

These policies, rules, and oaths work very well in almost all cases.  That is why even a person who was once a criminal can be counted on to put his life on the line to defend the kingdom.  As far as reward, the fact that the brothers are fed, sheltered, and cared for is a good reward in those uncertain times before there was such a thing as the 401(K) and social security benefits.  It's a job for life and all you have to do is follow the rules. 

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What is there now? They will have no family, they will hold no lands (or have any significant material possessions), they will win no glory (to say nothing about wearing crowns). They do not even receive basic respect in the realm. The weather conditions are awful, living conditions are spartan, they have no power, any major lord's army may constitute a major threat to them, the realm in general doesn't care when they are in danger, and their ranks are filled with criminals who are sent to the Wall as punishment.

Most commoners called to battle in support of their lords win no glory.  The best they can hope for is plunder and spoils of war.  Oh, and the lords are no threat to them unless they do something completely stupid like Jon, who sent wildlings to get his sister away from her husband.

The wall has criminals on its roster.  That is true.  In most cases, those criminals accept their lot and serve the watch.  Most don't go running off and leaving their posts.  The few who do get executed.   They honor their vows.  They stay at their posts.  They put their lives on the line because they accepted it as their duty.  They don't try to interfere with business outside of the watch. 

 

Quote

As for their famous neutrality, it is only important while it suits the powers that be. Look how Yoren tried to explain in the Riverlands that the Watch took no part in the local war and how much good it did to him. Notice how the only lord who was willing to help the Watch during the wildling attack - Stannis - expected and exploited the support of the Watch in exchange for his help. Neutrality sounds ideal, but it simply does not exist unless all the involved parties keep to it. Everyone is horrified by the idea of the Watch breaking the neutrality principle, but no one cares when outsiders forget it in their dealings with the Watch. It is a bit like a girl's virginity in the same medieval world - the girl is expected to keep it until she gets married and is considered soiled if she doesn't, but men can boast with their extramarital conquest and will not lose their honour for their participation. I also happen to think that this insistence on neutrality betrays a very ambiguous attitude towards the Watch. The realm needs them but is also afraid of them in case they should become too powerful. So which feeling is stronger? Well, guess what, they are prevented from being powerful at all. 

Neutrality is very important.  No military outfit like the watch can expect to go unmolested and untouched by the conflicts between houses without maintaining a long tradition of neutrality.  If the watch could not be counted on to maintain its neutrality they would have been disbanded a long time ago.  The NW has to stay neutral and avoid getting itself entangled in the games that the lords play.  It is fair to expect them to forget the families they leave behind. 

Quote

No wonder not many young men want to join voluntarily. Most of the recruits are either forced to join (to avoid a worse punishment or family threat, as Sam did) or choose the service as a sort of active retirement (like Jeor Mormont or Donal Noye) at the end of their lives. In the world of ASOIAF, most people are like the average human - they don't make a huge sacrifice if they cannot expect anything in return. There may be some people like that, but not enough to produce a significant army. The current rules are as counterproductive as they can possibly get. Just compare the Watch with other organizations requiring similar sacrifices. The members of the Kingsguard are respected by the public, their great deeds are recorded, they live in the comfort of a royal palace in the capital city, take part in "fun" activities, like tournaments. The maesters of the Citadel can satisfy their thirst for knowledge and can hope to have a comfortable and safe working life in a castle or in the Citadel. In contrast, the Night's Watch today is more like a prison camp where everyone is sentenced for life than an honourable organization where some of the most talented and noblest young men could find a meaningful vocation. 

The world of fire and ice is not full of opportunities like ours is.  A bastard has few prospects in life.  A fifth son of a minor noble has limited options.  He's not going to work the land and farm.  That's beneath his station.  He's not going to inherit much if anything at all.  To such, the Night's Watch is a good option. 

The comparison with the Kingsguard is unfair.  Those men are renowned for their fighting prowess.  At least they were historically before Robert took the throne.  The Night's Watch asked nothing in the way of a prerequisite.  They accept the recruits, give them basic training, and place them where they can do the most good.

The Night's Watch shows favoritism towards the noble born and noble bastards.  It's not the same as the democracy and equal opportunity that we enjoy today.  But by their standards, it is a place where a farmer's son can rise to the ranks and become an officer.  It's a place where a man gets what he deserves in the end. 

Quote

Things will not get better until some changes happen which will make service in the Night's Watch a worthy occupation, and I think it must necessarily involve changing one or two clauses in the vow as well. Incidentally, it may even be a change towards the early days of the Watch, when it may not have been as punitive as it is now, and was apparently more popular.  

There were more recruits in the past because there were more conflicts in the past when the land was all separate kingdoms of minor kings who never stopped fighting among themselves.  The Targaryens brought about long periods of peace between wars.  Stability.  The Targaryens brought stability.  A great lord chosen by the Targaryen king can expect to remain the gl and nobody challenged him because everyone followed the king's laws.  Stability.  The lords are no longer constantly pushing and shoving for a place on the high table.  With a unified kingdom, each person had a place.  There was no need to punish sons of the losing houses by sending them to the wall.  Conflict was less common between the houses, thanks to the Targaryens. 

We may also infer that perhaps the living conditions are slightly better now.  Long periods of peace allowed the farmers time to actually bring their crops to harvest instead of having his hard work ruined by fighting.  Farmlands are no longer the battlefields of every lord who wanted a larger share of the pie. 

Edited by Skahaz mo Kandaq

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