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Ser Hedge

Jon's Shield Hall Speech and Subsequent Plan

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Posted (edited)

The Shieldhall speech is generally seen as an intention to rouse the wildlings and call for an attack on Winterfell. Of course, perhaps it was just immaturity or an emotional overreaction on Jon's part to the taunts and threats made by the author of the PL whom he believed to be Ramsay, but I'm not convinced by that given how Jon's character had been developed up to that point. Compared to where Jon was before, if the letter were true, (f)Arya was actually free from Ramsay, so a search party was more appropriate than a war host and Jon had a better chance of saving her now than he did when she was at Winterfell/Barrowton. So what if Ramsay really had Mance - Jon could deny it was Mance since everyone at the Wall had seen Mance being burnt. Northern lords wouldn't know Mance by sight anyway.

If Ramsay was marching to the wall, Jon was better placed than at any time before to defend himself. Yes, castle black has no fortifications to the south, but he could choose his ground (the nightfort maybe), he had Tormund's 3000, the wildlings who surrendered to Stannis earlier, the Queen's 50 Knights and men at arms, the watch, a giant, a direwolf and a wargeable giant boar!

Further, he could have reached out to Northern lords - he was a son of Eddard Stark after all and the watch was being attacked by a Bolton without cause (he could have argued - and used the two clan chiefs at the Wall at the time as envoys). I agree between Robb, Stannis and the troops currently in Winterfell, there were few fighting men left in the far North, but a diplomatic offensive was worth a try. It could have at the least kept some lords from joining their strength to the Bolton attack on the wall.

I somehow don't think Jon actually intended to march his army on Winterfell to fight Ramsay straight away. I think he did want to rouse them and bind them to his cause, but he must have developed a more nuanced tactical plan with Tormund before the shield hall speech. What that is, I just cannot figure out :-(

-------------------------------------------

Please make sure you read Post #4 by @kissdbyfirefor the original text

Post #52 tries to summarize the main discussion so far, if you are just joining and are pressed for time, you can start there

 

Edited by Ser Hedge

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Jon was going to lead the wildlings savages to attack the Boltons.  That's why poor Bowen Marsh had little choice but to kill him.  Jon could not be allowed to do that.  The NW has a duty to protect the Boltons, not attack them over a sister.  

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1 hour ago, Widowmaker 811 said:

Jon was going to lead the wildlings savages to attack the Boltons.  That's why poor Bowen Marsh had little choice but to kill him.  Jon could not be allowed to do that.  The NW has a duty to protect the Boltons, not attack them over a sister.  

Don't disagree about Bowen Marsh & co, but what were Jon's intended tactics? Descend on Winterfell with 3000 wildlings   to free Mance and pick up (f) Arya on the way? It just does not make any sense. Jon has just seen how Stannis' army cut down the wildlings out in the open. Why would this smaller force fare any better this time? It wasn't an immediate emotional outburst either since Jon spent 2 hours taking to Tormund about it. I feel fairly sure there was a more elaborate plan.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Ser Hedge said:

Don't disagree about Bowen Marsh & co, but what were Jon's intended tactics? Descend on Winterfell with 3000 wildlings   to free Mance and pick up (f) Arya on the way? It just does not make any sense. Jon has just seen how Stannis' army cut down the wildlings out in the open. Why would this smaller force fare any better this time? It wasn't an immediate emotional outburst either since Jon spent 2 hours taking to Tormund about it. I feel fairly sure there was a more elaborate plan.

It doesn’t make sense because that’s not it. 

We have the things Jon say, and we also have his thoughts. He tells those assembled in the Shieldhall that he intends to make Ramsay answer for his threats. He says he’ll go to Winterfell, alone if necessary, and will anyone join him. The free folk make it clear he’s not going alone. And then he thinks... about asking Mel to “find” Ramsay for him. He doesn’t want to risk Ramsay knocking on CB’s doors, and as far as he knows, that’s what’s going to happen. Ramsay will be coming since he won’t meet Ramsay’s demands. So he will ride out to hopefully intercept Ramsay on his way to CB. 

“The Night’s Watch takes no part in the wars of the Seven Kingdoms,” Jon reminded them when some semblance of quiet had returned. “It is not for us to oppose the Bastard of Bolton, to avenge Stannis Baratheon, to defend his widow and his daughter. This creature who makes cloaks from the skins of women has sworn to cut my heart out, and I mean to make him answer for those words … but I will not ask my brothers to forswear their vows.
“The Night’s Watch will make for Hardhome. I ride to Winterfell alone, unless …” Jon paused. “… is there any man here who will come stand with me?”
The roar was all he could have hoped for, the tumult so loud that the two old shields tumbled from the walls. Soren Shieldbreaker was on his feet, the Wanderer as well. Toregg the Tall, Brogg, Harle the Huntsman and Harle the Handsome both, Ygon Oldfather, Blind Doss, even the Great Walrus. I have my swords, thought Jon Snow, and we are coming for you, Bastard.

<snip>

“I will send for ale,” Jon said, distracted. Melisandre was gone, he realized, and so were the queen’s knights. I should have gone to Selyse first. She has the right to know her lord is dead. “You must excuse me. I’ll leave you to get them drunk.”
“Har! A task I’m well suited for, crow. On your way!”
Horse and Rory fell in beside Jon as he left the Shieldhall. I should talk with Melisandre after I see the queen, he thought. If she could see a raven in a storm, she can find Ramsay Snow for me.”

Edited by kissdbyfire

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5 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

It doesn’t make sense because that’s not it. 

We have the things Jon say, and we also have his thoughts. He tells those assembled in the Shieldhall that he intends to make Ramsay answer for his threats. He says he’ll go to Winterfell, alone if necessary, and will anyone join him. The free folk make it clear he’s not going alone. And then he thinks... about asking Mel to “find” Ramsay for him. He doesn’t want to risk Ramsay knocking on CB’s doors, and as far as he knows, that’s what’s going to happen. Ramsay will be coming since he won’t meet Ramsay’s demands. So he will ride out to hopefully intercept Ramsay on his way to CB. 

His melodramatic announcement that he would go alone is part of a carefully crafted sham to motivate the men assembled in the hall - black brothers and wildlings alike - to join him in his enterprise. This is not genuine. Jon isn't as stupid as to go alone down the Kingsroad to face Ramsay. That would be suicide. He cannot be as stupid as to believe that Ramsay would give him a chance to face him in single combat or something as ridiculous as that, no? Of course, he would have been finished, anyway, if the only response he had gotten from the men in the hall would have been awkward glances and slight coughing. After all, he had just forsworn his vows, so he could not longer pretend to be the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch or try to silently move back into that role after he realized that nobody gave a crap about his personal troubles with the Lord of Winterfell.

It is impossible to besiege Winterfell with a horde of undisciplined wildlings, but it is just nearly as impossible to try to ambush a man riding in the middle of hundreds or thousands of loyal Northmen. Ramsay would not come to the Wall alone to punish the treasonous Lord Commander. He would come with his army.

Even if Mel had had a vision where Ramsay and his army were at this or that point, that would not just magically imbue the wildlings with discipline or give them proper armor and weaponry.

It may have slightly increased Jon's chances of success, but it would have still been madness, and still a battle he would most likely lose.

After all, Ramsay had an agenda, too, when he wrote that letter. He likely expected Jon to do exactly the kind of thing he did, meaning that he would also have a plan to deal with him when he actually came down.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

His melodramatic announcement that he would go alone is part of a carefully crafted sham to motivate the men assembled in the hall - black brothers and wildlings alike - to join him in his enterprise. This is not genuine. Jon isn't as stupid as to go alone down the Kingsroad to face Ramsay. That would be suicide. He cannot be as stupid as to believe that Ramsay would give him a chance to face him in single combat or something as ridiculous as that, no? Of course, he would have been finished, anyway, if the only response he had gotten from the men in the hall would have been awkward glances and slight coughing. After all, he had just forsworn his vows, so he could not longer pretend to be the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch or try to silently move back into that role after he realized that nobody gave a crap about his personal troubles with the Lord of Winterfell.

It is impossible to besiege Winterfell with a horde of undisciplined wildlings, but it is just nearly as impossible to try to ambush a man riding in the middle of hundreds or thousands of loyal Northmen. Ramsay would not come to the Wall alone to punish the treasonous Lord Commander. He would come with his army.

Even if Mel had had a vision where Ramsay and his army were at this or that point, that would not just magically imbue the wildlings with discipline or give them proper armor and weaponry.

It may have slightly increased Jon's chances of success, but it would have still been madness, and still a battle he would most likely lose.

After all, Ramsay had an agenda, too, when he wrote that letter. He likely expected Jon to do exactly the kind of thing he did, meaning that he would also have a plan to deal with him when he actually came down.

And yet Jon is not mad. And is a very capable strategist as Martin has been at pains to point out repeatedly.

So the original question remains. What was his actual plan? Besieging Winterfell even with all the power of the wildlings and Watch combined would be foolish.

Or was it another “Wex Pyke” moment, where George was just rushed to push the plot in a certain direction (Jon’s assassination as oppossed to getting Davos to Skagos in the Wex plotline) and mashed together a chapter to force the event, leaving logic behind?

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6 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And yet Jon is not mad. And is a very capable strategist as Martin has been at pains to point out repeatedly.

He was mad then. If Ramsay had won, Jon and his guys are dead. They can decide how they will die - and Jon apparently decided to die with his sword in hand, but he would have still died.

A smart man and proper strategist would have ignored the Pink Letter and would have first done some reconnaissance and research before telling the people around him what had allegedly transpired. Doing something that could get you killed when there might be no need for it is foolish, as is doing stuff that causes a great uncertainty in your surroundings. 

Jon makes solitary decision upon solitary decision in ADwD. Him breaking that pattern shows that Ramsay's poison did exactly what it was supposed to do. And it worked brilliantly. Jon is, in the end, just a fifteen-year-old boy, and easily provoked. He is actually lucky that Marsh killed. The pieces Ramsay would have left of him would have been too many for a resurrection, most likely...

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15 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

He was mad then. If Ramsay had won, Jon and his guys are dead. They can decide how they will die - and Jon apparently decided to die with his sword in hand, but he would have still died.

A smart man and proper strategist would have ignored the Pink Letter and would have first done some reconnaissance and research before telling the people around him what had allegedly transpired. Doing something that could get you killed when there might be no need for it is foolish, as is doing stuff that causes a great uncertainty in your surroundings. 

Jon makes solitary decision upon solitary decision in ADwD. Him breaking that pattern shows that Ramsay's poison did exactly what it was supposed to do. And it worked brilliantly. Jon is, in the end, just a fifteen-year-old boy, and easily provoked. He is actually lucky that Marsh killed. The pieces Ramsay would have left of him would have been too many for a resurrection, most likely...

Not answering the question. Jon is not crazy and he is a good strategist. Martin has estabslished this. So that chapter did not conform to that reality. You are merely reiterating that. 

The question is why? Was there another hidden plan? Or did Martin just toss logic aside to fasttrack the assassination which is a key milestone of his overall plot?

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2 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Not answering the question. Jon is not crazy and he is a good strategist. Martin has estabslished this. So that chapter did not conform to that reality. You are merely reiterating that. 

Man, he is not a great strategist in that chapter. Him being more competent in earlier chapters doesn't mean he is competent when he obviously sucks. And he sucks there. Because is in an impossible situation and acts emotionally, the way a 15-year-old does act. There is no secret plan there, no hidden agenda.

I mean, what is your argument, here? Tywin is a good strategist, meaning he cannot be murdered by his own son? Robb is a great general, meaning he cannot be lured into a trap and be killed by his own vassal? Sure they can. Just as Jon can make mistakes, too.

Hardhome is a stupid plan, too, never mind that it is Jon's plan.

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Jon to Stannis: “Fifty men inside a castle are worth five hundred outside.” I'm not so sure he forgot that.

During Stannis' march they discuss the problem of getting Ramsay to come out of WF...and wonder how that would ever happen. Jon sending Mance was a gift that helped by drawing Ramsay's forces out.

Once that happens, there is no reason why he couldn't pull a Theon AND a House Toland. At the Wall, guerilla warfare is his best option. He could disperse his forces along any empty castle along the Wall, and move to a different one every time Ramsay attacks.

While Ramsay is away, he could infiltrate WF and close the gates, now he's got 300+ men on the other side of WF, with Ramsay's host far away in the snow attacking a diversion. Wildlings and clansmen could continue to harry Ramsay's supply lines.

This is Jon's main problem, later on, however: “Your Grace, leave the wildlings here. Taking them will only serve to turn my lord father’s bannermen against you.” 

 

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20 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Jon to Stannis: “Fifty men inside a castle are worth five hundred outside.” I'm not so sure he forgot that.

He obviously did forget that since there is no reason whatsoever that the victorious Boltons would ever risk losing Winterfell. They would never repeat Rodrik's mistake and leave a sufficient garrison inside, no matter what. Jon cannot launch a siege nor even a proper pitched battle with his wildlings.

20 minutes ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

This is Jon's main problem, later on, however: “Your Grace, leave the wildlings here. Taking them will only serve to turn my lord father’s bannermen against you.” 

That would seal his doom, in any case. If Stannis had lost and the Boltons won, then the Karstarks, Glovers, Umbers, Mormonts, clansmen, and Manderlys are either all dead, too - because their treason was revealed - or they have suffered major losses. They and their houses would be neither able nor willing to continue a war against the Boltons.

And those few Northmen who might be willing would be horrified by the idea to fight alongside the wildlings. The Boltons might be treasonous bastards, but they are Northmen still, and the wildlings are just raiders and rapists in the eyes of the North.

This could only go wrong. If Stannis did actually lose, then they are all fucked. Regardless what Jon does. They are basically done. Which is likely the reason why Stannis did not, in fact, lose.

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51 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Man, he is not a great strategist in that chapter. Him being more competent in earlier chapters doesn't mean he is competent when he obviously sucks. And he sucks there. Because is in an impossible situation and acts emotionally, the way a 15-year-old does act. There is no secret plan there, no hidden agenda.

I mean, what is your argument, here? Tywin is a good strategist, meaning he cannot be murdered by his own son? Robb is a great general, meaning he cannot be lured into a trap and be killed by his own vassal? Sure they can. Just as Jon can make mistakes, too.

Hardhome is a stupid plan, too, never mind that it is Jon's plan.

You are arguing from personal bias. Martin’s intention has never been to portray Jon as an idiot. And in an interview he directly disputes a statement that calls Jon’s actions to let the wildlings through the Wall a mistake. Much of your longstanding argument in favour of Marsh’s actions is that Marsh was right and Jon was wrong about the wildling situation. And yet, Martin questions that, saying it is a complex choice.

Anyway, besieging Winterfell would be idiotic. Ambushing Ramsay’s forces in the snow along the way may be a better plan.

What did Jon and Tormund discuss at length in the hours preceding the assassination? A conversation Martin mentions, but does not reveal the contents of?

We don’t know.

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Jon doesn’t have just the one giant nor does he have 3000 wildling fighters, this is not the show. In the first 1000 wildlings captured He had what, 200-300 men of fighting age including the criplles? And fewer than a hundred spear wives. Double the proportions for Tormund’s 3000 and he has ~1500 fighters. Of giants and Mammoths he has dozens or more headed towards east watch so they can pass.

As for his battle plan, we’ve seen what mammoths can do in battle.

Quote

The mammoths had shattered the center column, but the other two were closing like pincers. On the eastern edge of the camps, some archers were loosing fire arrows at the tents. He saw a mammoth pluck a knight from his saddle and fling him forty feet with a flick of its trunk. 

 

Now think if Jon used them against men on foot.

 

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I think Stannis has lost, he's just not dead but will be soon in Winds. But the Boltons have also suffered a major loss in losing their key to North. So they have to rely on force and fear to hold it. That will ALWAYS lead to overreaching and stupid mistakes. The Boltons arent infallible and will eventually lose. They exist to drive Jon to darker places as he brings them down. Sansa/Vale will probably do most of the heavy lifting to help with that too. 

It's tiring to read how Jon was stupid in every scene in Dance, when Jon is exists to be Robb and Ned's foil. He is willing to play dirty, forsake honor, lie, plot, deceive, and cheat to get what he wants to defend the realm. 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

I have my swords, thought Jon Snow, and we are coming for you, Bastard.

 <snip>

“I will send for ale,” Jon said, distracted. Melisandre was gone, he realized, and so were the queen’s knights. I should have gone to Selyse first. She has the right to know her lord is dead. “You must excuse me. I’ll leave you to get them drunk.”
“Har! A task I’m well suited for, crow. On your way!”
Horse and Rory fell in beside Jon as he left the Shieldhall. I should talk with Melisandre after I see the queen, he thought. If she could see a raven in a storm, she can find Ramsay Snow for me.”

Thank you @kissdbyfire

 

15 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

We have the things Jon say, and we also have his thoughts. He tells those assembled in the Shieldhall that he intends to make Ramsay answer for his threats. He says he’ll go to Winterfell, alone if necessary, and will anyone join him. The free folk make it clear he’s not going alone. And then he thinks... about asking Mel to “find” Ramsay for him.

Agree.

 

14 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

His melodramatic announcement that he would go alone is part of a carefully crafted sham to motivate the men assembled in the hall - black brothers and wildlings alike - to join him in his enterprise. 

Agree with this as well.

Putting it together, Jon and Tormund have the outline of a plan, but from Jon's thoughts we see that he might have overlooked a few points like approaching Selyse and Melisandre first (an omission probably required by the storyline and one that fits in with his youth), which doesn't necessarily make the plan a bad one. I think he always expected some to join him, but was overwhelmed by the support.

When Jon thinks 'he has his swords' and is 'coming for' Ramsay though, I don't think it was an assault on WF he meant, perhaps an ambush, which the wildlings are better suited for, especially in current conditions.

11 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

This is Jon's main problem, later on, however: “Your Grace, leave the wildlings here. Taking them will only serve to turn my lord father’s bannermen against you.” 

Good point, but the bannermen have already marched with Stannis and presumably died or are broken according to the PL (which Jon takes as mostly true) or like the Karstarks have now declared for Bolton (from what Jon had learnt from Alys), so it doesn't make a difference any more.

9 hours ago, Corvo the Crow said:

Jon doesn’t have just the one giant nor does he have 3000 wildling fighters, this is not the show. In the first 1000 wildlings captured He had what, 200-300 men of fighting age including the criplles? And fewer than a hundred spear wives. Double the proportions for Tormund’s 3000 and he has ~1500 fighters. Of giants and Mammoths he has dozens or more headed towards east watch so they can pass.

As for his battle plan, we’ve seen what mammoths can do in battle.

The mammoths and the other giants are a very interesting thought, but the Hardhome expedition was still on the cards as well, so I'm not sure how the forces were going to be split. But a herd of mammoths ridden by giants is a pretty good backup to have.

8 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

It's tiring to read how Jon was stupid in every scene in Dance, when Jon is exists to be Robb and Ned's foil. He is willing to play dirty, forsake honor, lie, plot, deceive, and cheat to get what he wants to defend the realm

Exactly, if it hadn't been for the ides of March and Ser Patrick's doomed and totally pointless 'heroics', I think this was really going somewhere, but unfortunately, given now that how far the plan has been overtaken by events, I wonder if we will ever get to find out what the plan was. It's good fun to speculate though -and there's a lot of evidence scattered around.

10 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Anyway, besieging Winterfell would be idiotic. Ambushing Ramsay’s forces in the snow along the way may be a better plan.

Yeah, I'm really leaning towards that.

12 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

A smart man and proper strategist would have ignored the Pink Letter and would have first done some reconnaissance and research before telling the people around him what had allegedly transpired.

The trouble is Jon needs people signed up to the cause and he needs to get out of the well publicised mission to Hardhome that he has already committed a lot of resources to. So, maybe that's what he will use some of the wildlings for - reconnaissance and gathering Stannis' broken men. If it should turn out that Stannis was not really defeated, then even better, obviously. 

Edited by Ser Hedge

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, SFDanny said:

@Ser Hedge is this theory tied to your thinking?

@SFDanny

This is an intriguing theory that I re-read again recently when quoted in one of the recent PL threads. While perhaps Jon and Tormund recognized the Bael parallel here that would help rouse the free folk, I guess I'm more intrigued by what exactly Jon intended after winning the FF chiefs over.

 

From his thoughts, it looked like he was headed to meet Selyse, but that seems to be more to inform her of Stannis' supposed demise ( he can't really request her to seek refuge across the narrow sea since all the ships at East Watch are at Hardhome, so he's stuck with her and the Queen's Men).

 

It looks like he's going to Mel next to get Ramsay's GPS coordinates. He's got 2 clan chiefs who should be his allies in this endeavour and he has a proper castle that he could now retreat to if he had to - the Karhold. As was pointed out, he has giants and mammoths at East Watch and longer term, if the HH mission was successful, more FF.

 

If he eventually openly renounced his NW vows and announced himself to the north as Lord Stark (as Stannis intended), he actually loses little except the NW and could gain some support across the North. He would still have Karhold, the FF and possibly the clan chiefs for no other reason than they would be pragmatic enough to know without Jon, the truce with the FF breaks down (though there is the question of the hostages) and you have chaos. From Asha's POV chapters, the mountain clans really do seen to hate Bolton and see dying for Ned's girl as a worthy cause, so I'm not sure whatever clansmen are still left in the mountains will turn away from Jon.

I'm not saying an open renouncement of his NW vows were imminent btw, just that there are quite a few options available down the line.

Edited by Ser Hedge

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Ser Hedge said:

Good point, but the bannermen have already marched with Stannis and presumably died or are broken according to the PL (which Jon takes as mostly true) or like the Karstarks have now declared for Bolton (from what Jon had learnt from Alys), so it doesn't make a difference any more.

I think it will, although I'm not sure how yet. I just see it as an obstacles later when Jon does try to rally the North, he'll face difficulties because of his wildling policies. I think it's just GRRM trying to be realistic and also make it harder for Jon. Another thing I think will happen is that the women will have to run most of the Houses Jon would ally with, and although they will have a standing army, it will be greatly reduced. If the male Manderlys are dead, for instance, I bet the Manderly daughters are in the queue. It doesn't mean the houses are "done" though. 

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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On 3/8/2019 at 3:25 PM, Ser Hedge said:

The Shieldhall speech is generally seen as an intention to rouse the wildlings and call for an attack on Winterfell. Of course, perhaps it was just immaturity or an emotional overreaction on Jon's part to the taunts and threats made by the author of the PL whom he believed to be Ramsay, but I'm not convinced by that given how Jon's character had been developed up to that point. Compared to where Jon was before, if the letter were true, (f)Arya was actually free from Ramsay, so a search party was more appropriate than a war host and Jon had a better chance of saving her now than he did when she was at Winterfell/Barrowton. So what if Ramsay really had Mance - Jon could deny it was Mance since everyone at the Wall had seen Mance being burnt. Northern lords wouldn't know Mance by sight anyway.

It is indeed an emotional reaction.  It is illegal for a member of the watch to even contemplate an attack on people.  Jon got caught doing something illegal.  There was no deniability when Mance Rayder got caught and tortured.  The Boltons and their allies now know of the lie told by Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow.  They killed Rattleshirt instead of Mance Rayder in order to use Mance to get Arya out of Winterfell.  Mance spilled his guts to Ramsay.  Too bad it wasn't literal but he told all.  

If Ramsay was marching to the wall, Jon was better placed than at any time before to defend himself. Yes, castle black has no fortifications to the south, but he could choose his ground (the nightfort maybe), he had Tormund's 3000, the wildlings who surrendered to Stannis earlier, the Queen's 50 Knights and men at arms, the watch, a giant, a direwolf and a wargeable giant boar!

Jon was more concerned about Arya than he was about the Wall and his job.  He wants to get Arya to safety as soon as possible even it that meant betraying his duties.  He already dragged the Watch into unnecessary conflict.  

Further, he could have reached out to Northern lords - he was a son of Eddard Stark after all and the watch was being attacked by a Bolton without cause (he could have argued - and used the two clan chiefs at the Wall at the time as envoys). I agree between Robb, Stannis and the troops currently in Winterfell, there were few fighting men left in the far North, but a diplomatic offensive was worth a try. It could have at the least kept some lords from joining their strength to the Bolton attack on the wall.

Oh well, that is so very far from the truth, no one would believe it.  Everybody knows it was Jon who provoked the Boltons.  What northern lord would support a lord commander who violated their customs.  Don't forget.  Jon arranged a marriage between a lady of the north (landowner) to a wildling.  That will not receive acceptance anywhere in the realm.  So now her lands are under the hands of a wildling.  That's the worst PR in the book.  The northern lords already bowed to the Boltons.  They lost the war and reswore fealty to the crown.  They're not about to break that for a bastard who violated the laws of the night's watch.

I somehow don't think Jon actually intended to march his army on Winterfell to fight Ramsay straight away. I think he did want to rouse them and bind them to his cause, but he must have developed a more nuanced tactical plan with Tormund before the shield hall speech. What that is, I just cannot figure out :-(

He roused the wildlings.  That he did do.  Tactics do not matter.  Attacking anybody who isn't a white walker and wildling is illegal.  Jon was no longer thinking safety.  He wanted to get his sister and take her away from Ramsay regardless of the consequences.  

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tour De Force said:

It is indeed an emotional reaction.  It is illegal for a member of the watch to even contemplate an attack on people.  Jon got caught doing something illegal.  There was no deniability when Mance Rayder got caught and tortured.  The Boltons and their allies now know of the lie told by Stannis Baratheon and Jon Snow.  They killed Rattleshirt instead of Mance Rayder in order to use Mance to get Arya out of Winterfell.  Mance spilled his guts to Ramsay.  Too bad it wasn't literal but he told all.  

Assuming the PL is true, what most Northern lords see is that Jon sent an agent to Winterfell to free his sister. Given her treatment at the hands of Ramsay (recall Lady Dustin's advice to Theon in the crypts to tell the 'Bastard' to teach Ned's girl to laugh and stop crying), most would not really blame Jon for it. Of course, they are still bound by their oaths and by Realpolitik to stick with the Boltons, but when a viable Stark alternative arrives (Rickon with Manderly's backing, Sansa with the might of the Vale behind her or Jon himself with an army not exclusively or dominated by wildlings), most of them go over if they see it as having a chance of winning. The fact that Jon tried to steal Ramsay's bride by using a wildling the Boltons allege was Mance Rayder whom actually the entire watch and Stannis' army saw burn is a non-issue when compared to the Red Wedding and Lady Hornwood and likely just Bolton propaganda.  Jon breaking NW neutrality and leading an attack on the Boltons is difficult to digest, but it was the Boltons he was attacking. If the PL was true, any surviving Mormonts, Glovers, mountain Flints, Wulls and Norreys would see Jon as avenging their kin who fought with Stannis and are not going to turn against Jon because of his breaking NW neutrality.

If Harrion Karstark is ever released and hears his sister's story, while he might not be happy about who her husband is at first, he should appreciate Jon protected her when she sought his help and did the best he could. If Harrion doesn't make it back, well guess what, the current (acting) Lady of Karhold is now firmly in the Jon camp. Any swords and spears she can still raise from her lands are duty bound to serve her, whether they like her husband or not.

We know from Davos' POV that Manderly is ready to turn his cloak on the Boltons at the first opportunity because of the RW. Like the Mormonts, they seem to have a deep loyalty to the Starks. Lady Hornwood was their kin, so this Mance business is nothing to them. Breaking NW tradition is problematic, but as a non first men house, it might matter a bit less to them than the others.

(And this where Rob's will could act as a Deus ex machina, but I think we can still discuss this realistically without having to make assumptions about the will)

1 hour ago, Tour De Force said:

Jon was no longer thinking safety.  He wanted to get his sister and take her away from Ramsay regardless of the consequences 

Ok, this is the thing: When the wedding is announced, while Jon is shaken, he does not actually do anything on his own initiative. Mel offers Mance to him and Jon accepts. Now, according to to the PL, 'Arya' is free from Ramsay. She needs to be rescued, which could be done without obviously breaking NW vows. Jon could break off from the HH ranging and head south without everybody at CB knowing about it. He is the LC, if he just rides out for a weeks, so what really? It's not an obvious and immediate breach of his vows until he takes 'Arya' into his custody and if he can get her on a ship, he can still deny he had anything to do with her disappearance.

Why did he go public and why did he go big? Just because he lost it and only cared about his sister? I don't think it was just that. Yes, Ramsay did get under his skin ("I'm coming for you, Bastard"), but I think his character development implies more to it. Jon was basically assuming there was a very good chance Stannis had died in battle and was taking steps to ensure the survival of the Jon-Stannis coalition, which if the PL was true now no longer had the southern host that had sailed with Stannis and only consisted of the watch (kind of), the northern houses that declared for Stannis and the wildlings. A mad dash for WF to fight a pitched battle against the entire army of Boltons, Freys and other houses was likely not going to achieve that purpose of survival. I think the aim was to intercept Ramsay in a Teutoburg Forest-style ambush, pick up Arya if she can be found, return to the wall and see what can be salvaged corresponding with Lord Bolton and other northern houses. It could be that with winter upon them, Lord Bolton decides not to repeat his son's mistake and that buys Jon more time.

Edited by Ser Hedge
Modified the ending, added a couple of sentences

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