Return of the White Wolf: Jon is Coming Back

This post is going to get into some really spoilery areas for both The Winds of Winter and Game of Thrones season 6. This is your final warning!

jonsnow

Jon Snow is coming back.

This post has three parts. First – Jon is dead at the end of both A Dance with Dragons and Season 5. Like so dead. Like OMG dayd. Second – Jon is going to be resurrected in TWOW/Season 6, and we can predict the mechanism pretty well. Third – Jon is not going to be the same old dude, and this death isn’t some cheap get-out-of-grave-free card for Jon.

Jon Died

Not everyone believes that Jon is dead at the end of A Dance With Dragons. Now, Season 5 made it pretty clear, I think, especially given that every actor under the sun has been saying that Jon is really dead, yes, he is dead. Even President Obama got in on the action. But the books are the books and the show is the show; some people still believe that Jon is just seriously wounded at the end of ADWD.

Let’s look at the scene in which he gets killed.

jon died

A Dance With Dragons Chapter 69, George R. R. Martin

That’s the whole passage. There’s a few key quotes there.

Jon twisted from the knife, just enough so it barely grazed his skin…blood welled between his fingers.

At the start of the next chapter (“The Queen’s Hand,” Barristan’s last chapter), Barristan is watching a sunset and has the following thought:

A thin red slash marked the eastern horizon where the sun might soon appear. It reminded Selmy of the first blood welling from a wound. Often, even with a deep cut, the blood came before the pain.

This comes less than six hundred words after Jon is slashed. It’s right away. It’s immediate. That’s about as blatant as GRRM can be: HEY! GUYS! LOOK AGAIN! Wick Whittlestick got a sucker-knife on Jon. Jon doesn’t feel the pain right away, but blood wells up from the cut when he puts his hand do it. This isn’t a scratch. That’s not “barely grazing the skin.” If blood is welling up immediately, that’s a cut. And if there’s no pain immediately, that’s a bad cut.

The next bit that’s important here –

Jon reached for Longclaw, but his fingers had grown stiff and clumsy. Somehow he could not seem to get the sword free of its scabbard.

Again – that’s not somebody who’s just been scratched. Nor is it just that suddenly it got cold outside. Nobody else is having motility problems, so to speak. Jon’s the only one who can’t get it up. So to speak.

George R. R. Martin even tells us straight up that Jon’s sensations can no longer be trusted. When Bowen Marsh stabs Jon in the gut, we’re told that:

[Bowen] punched Jon in the belly.

Obviously this is Bowen Marsh stabbing Jon with a dagger. Again, this is GRRM at work – he’s waving his hands, shouting LOOK GUYS, YOU CAN’T TRUST EVERY WORD I USE. As Syrio Forel would say – “Look with your eyes.”

Jon, at the end of A Dance with Dragons, is dead. But of course, GRRM still plays coy. Entertainment Weekly asked GRRM about this shortly after the release of ADWD:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So why did you kill Jon Snow?

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?

EW: Well, I guess. Yes. That’s how I took it. The way it was written, it sounded like he was mortally wounded – and, you know, it’s you!

GRRM: Well. I’m not going to address whether he’s dead or not.

Full interview here.

George R. R. Martin left it ambiguous on purpose. Yes, Jon is dead in the text. But that doesn’t mean he’s dead forever.

Return of The Wolf Man

Mmm lookit that juicy segue.

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Anyway – Jon happened to die at probably the best place in Westeros to die right now. The hip spot for impermanent death, as it were. We’ve got a Red Priest, potential Others, and a warg-able direwolf all relatively close by. In ADWD, Melisandre has a whole bunch of visions, including this little juicy nugget:

The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half- seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again. But the skulls were here as well, the skulls were all around him.

Okay, in light of Jon’s death, this one seems pretty clear: Jon is a man, then he dies and wargs into a wolf, then he somehow becomes a man again. I know what you’re thinking, skeptical one: this could easily just be a reference to Jon’s warging abilities in general, not specifically his death-defying future antics. To which I say – sure. Okay, yeah. But what about Varamyr?

varamyr

image property of Fantasy Flight Games. Also it’s stone-cold awesome and way cooler than a shitheel like Varamyr deserves.

ADWD’s prologue puts us in the head of the always-charming Varamyr Sixskins, a skinchanger who hates fun and loves to eat babies. Varamyr’s prologue – besides being a great use of flashbacks to tell a quick story – is basically How to Warg 101. We get this wonderful foreshadowing about Jon Snow and Ghost:

He had known what Snow was the moment he saw that great white direwolf stalking silent at his side. One skinchanger can always sense another. Mance should have let me take the direwolf. There would be a second life worthy of a king . He could have done it, he did not doubt. The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it.

That’s a bit of a joke – “There would be a second life worthy of a king.” Given the fact that Robb legitimized Jon as his heir in Catelyn V ASOS – not to mention that R+L=J makes Jon the son of a Targaryen prince – a second life in Ghost really might be worthy of a king. And also, real quick: Ghost? Really? Really? Really, George? Not very subtle, is it?

Jon’s last word when he dies is “Ghost.” Moreover, we’ve seen before – with Orell – that a skinchange can leap skins at the point of death, shocked from their body into the body of a beast. But here’s what Varamyr’s teacher Haggon taught him about such second lives:

“They say you forget,” Haggon had told him, a few weeks before his own death. “When the man’s flesh dies, his spirit lives on inside the beast, but every day his memory fades, and the beast becomes a little less a warg, a little more a wolf, until nothing of the man is left and only the beast remains.”

By the way, who does this sound like? Anyone else who lived on after death?

“Can I dwell on what I scarce remember? I held a castle on the Marches once, and there was a woman I was pledged to marry, but I could not find that castle today, nor tell you the color of that woman’s hair. Who knighted me, old friend? What were my favorite foods? It all fades. Sometimes I think I was born on the bloody grass in that grove of ash, with the taste of fire in my mouth and a hole in my chest. Are you my mother, Thoros?”

That’s Beric “my God my God why have you abandoned me” Dondarrion. There’s something interesting going on with memory and un-life; a sort of entropy that pushes for the unnatural (people surviving after death) to return to the natural. That’s a fairly major theme when it comes to magic in this sort of book. I’ve talked before about how George R. R. Martin draws on Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series; in that series, the three titular swords are magical because they are created out of impossible materials. They are contradictions of the ways of the universe, and magic in that universe is the act of bending the natural order. So I absolutely think that’s something GRRM is also playing with in ASOIAF, particularly with this whole entropy thing.

But more on that in the next section. For now – Jon almost certainly wargs into Ghost at the end of ADWD. It’s likely he’ll spend a decent amount of time in a “second life” in Ghost, becoming a little more feral and a little more wolf-y. Then? Then, I think, he’ll be raised by Melisandre.I think she’ll say the prayer that Thoros said for Beric, and I think she’ll give him the kiss of life. And I think he’ll rise. I think his spirit will be ripped out of Ghost and shoved back into the body of Jon Snow. The show has already suggested this by having Melisandre meet Beric and Thoros, but the implication has been there ever since we met the resurrected Lightning Lord in A Storm of Swords. Red Priests potentially have the power to raise the dead, and I think that’s just what Melisandre will do to Jon.

But what will this wolfman do?

The Wolfman’s Bloody Purpose

wolfman

aoooooo wargmen of westeros aoooooo

To recap:

We learn from Varamyr and Haggon that a “second life” inside an animal slowly erodes the humanity of the person doing the skinchanging. We also know that the process of being raised in the R’hllorite ritual takes its toll, stripping away at the memories that held a person together.

We also know, however, one very very important bit of information. We know that death and rebirth focuses purpose.

When Catelyn Tully died, she was driven insane by her hatred for Freys and Lannisters alike, specifically Jaime Lannister. When Catelyn Tully returned to life, she was hyper-focused on revenge against the Freys and Lannisters (and anyone else complicit in the downfall of House Stark). When Beric Dondarrion died, he died in the service of Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon, sent to bring the mad dogs of House Lannister to justice. In undeath, Beric became single-mindedly focused on this purpose of justice and service to the king and the Hand. Heck, I’d argue that Victarion “dies” in the cabin on his ship when Moqorro gives him a sweet fire hand. And when Victarion emerges, he is so single-minded in his purpose to defeat Euron that he – like Euron! – begins to sacrifice and burn people to get favorable winds.

This is true for metaphorical deaths as well. Dany undergoes a sort of rebirth on the Dothraki Sea at the end of ADWD, and is “reborn” with a clear purpose: FIRE AND BLOOD.

The point is this: Whether literal or metaphorical, death in ASOIAF is often followed by a focusing of purpose.

And what, then, was Jon’s purpose?

Well, at the end of ADWD, he makes it pretty clear:

“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.”

His purpose is to save Arya. To save the Starks. Heck, what’s the last thing he thinks before he dies?

Stick them with the pointy end.

Jon is beelining for Arya and Winterfell. You bet your pretty buns that when he comes back from the dead he’ll be beating tracks for Winterfell as well.

Now, there’s a few directions this can go. There’s the chance that he’ll run into Justin Massey and Jeyne Poole – who, as far as Justin knows, is Arya. And given what we just learned about second lives and memory loss, Jon might not actually realize that Jeyne isn’t Arya. How’s that for horrifying?

But let’s zoom out even further. Let’s say that it takes a little while for Jon to get rezzed. What’s happening in the meantime?

Well, if you’ve read my King Broken-Smile stuff, then you know that I think Stannis will take Winterfell, that Rickon and Davos are stashed near Winterfell by Wyman Manderly, and that Rickon is going to be a bit of a feral child. Heck, maybe he’ll take off more of Davos’ fingers. That’d be a gasser. Point is, I think Wyman Manderly is going to start pulling at his collar and looking around for the exit sign. He’s going to realize that he’s signed on to back an heir to happens to be a five-year-old skinchanging feral lunatic. After all, what did Varamyr and Haggon teach us? They taught us that spending too much time in a wolf’s body is NO GOOD. And who spent a ton of time in Shaggydog’s body as a small, impressionable child in his formative years? That’s right: Brendan Fraser.

brendan-fraser-2014

the last son of nedward stork

No, it’s Rickon! And wouldn’t it be convenient for Wyman “not as nice as the fandom thinks he is” Manderly if all-of-a-sudden there was another Stark heir in the North, a handsome young man with an army at his back and another direwolf as a symbol of his legitimacy?

And you know what would be just fucking incredible? If someone just happened to stumble across Robb Stark’s will, the will in which he legitimized Jon as his heir, way back in Catelyn V ASOS. And WHAT IF – (just listen now, and try not to soil your smallclothes) – WHAT IF THAT PERSON WAS HOWLAND REED WHO HAS ALSO BEEN COLLUDING WITH THE STONEHEART BROTHERHOOD?

Take a second.

Look, I know this sounds a little crazy. But I think George R. R. Martin has set up all these dominos perfectly. Like a chess master, he’s put all the pieces in line to execute an incredible coup in TWOW.

One of the things that’s going to happen in TWOW is the realization of Plot Gravity Wells. These are places/situations in which a whole bunch of POVs will all collide at once. It’s already happening at Winterfell and Meereen, and it’s going to happen in King’s Landing in the next book. I think Jon Snow is one of those plot wells, going forward. Everything, as they say, is coming up Jon.

Now, I know this sounds pretty hunky-dory for old Jonathan McSnow. But let’s revisit some of those quotes about death:

“They say you forget,” Haggon had told him, a few weeks before his own death. “When the man’s flesh dies, his spirit lives on inside the beast, but every day his memory fades, and the beast becomes a little less a warg, a little more a wolf, until nothing of the man is left and only the beast remains.”

and

“Can I dwell on what I scarce remember? I held a castle on the Marches once, and there was a woman I was pledged to marry, but I could not find that castle today, nor tell you the color of that woman’s hair. Who knighted me, old friend? What were my favorite foods? It all fades. Sometimes I think I was born on the bloody grass in that grove of ash, with the taste of fire in my mouth and a hole in my chest. Are you my mother, Thoros?”

Jon isn’t exactly going to enjoy life post-life. He will have been wolfed up a little by his stay in Ghost, made a little more dangerous and a little more, well, savage. And he’s going to lose some key pieces of himself. That’s a given. GRRM doesn’t believe in the resurrected superhero:

I do think that if you’re bringing a character back, that a character has gone through death, that’s a transformative experience. Even back in those days of Wonder Man and all that, I loved the fact that he died, and although I liked the character in later years, I wasn’t so thrilled when he came back because that sort of undid the power of it. Much as I admire Tolkien, I once again always felt like Gandalf should have stayed dead. That was such an incredible sequence in Fellowship of the Ring when he faces the Balrog on the Khazad-dûm and he falls into the gulf, and his last words are, “Fly, you fools.”

What power that had, how that grabbed me. And then he comes back as Gandalf the White, and if anything he’s sort of improved. I never liked Gandalf the White as much as Gandalf the Grey, and I never liked him coming back. I think it would have been an even stronger story if Tolkien had left him dead.

My characters who come back from death are worse for wear. In some ways, they’re not even the same characters anymore. The body may be moving, but some aspect of the spirit is changed or transformed, and they’ve lost something. One of the characters who has come back repeatedly from death is Beric Dondarrion, The Lightning Lord. Each time he’s revived he loses a little more of himself. He was sent on a mission before his first death. He was sent on a mission to do something, and it’s like, that’s what he’s clinging to. He’s forgetting other things, he’s forgetting who he is, or where he lived. He’s forgotten the woman who he was once supposed to marry. Bits of his humanity are lost every time he comes back from death; he remembers that mission. His flesh is falling away from him, but this one thing, this purpose that he had is part of what’s animating him and bringing him back to death. I think you see echoes of that with some of the other characters who have come back from death.

Full interview here.

So in case you thought I was just making all that stuff up about death transforming and death hollowing and the clinging to a purpose or mission – George R. R. Martin has literally said these things. I didn’t need this whole essay to tell you that Jon Snow is going to come back different – GRRM has said so himself. Okay, he hasn’t said that specifically about Jon Snow. But all the pieces are there.

Putting It All Together: Catharsis

You might be wondering what I specifically think is going to go down. I don’t like specific predictions because I know they’re probably wrong and honestly I’d rather talk about the thematic stuff going on here. But if I had to guess at swordpoint:

I think we will get no Ghost chapters. I think we will get more Mel chapters. I also think there’s an offchance that Catelyn is the one who raises Jon from the dead – it sort of depends on the role Howland Reed is playing. I could see a situation in which Jon’s body is chucked into an ice cell and preserved, and then later discovered by Catelyn/Howland/the Stoneheart Gang. But I find it equally likely that Melisandre will just raise Jon from the dead. This’ll happen late, though, probably after Stannis has won Winterfell. I’d also put pretty good money on the idea that there’ll be a conflict between Rickon and Jon, or maybe between Sansa and Jon. Hard to say. Sansa could go either way – north to Winterfell, as Littlefinger plans, or south to King’s Landing, kidnapped by Ser Shadrich the Mad Mouse. The core of it, though, is that I believe Jon will spend most of TWOW either dead or abandoning the Wall. I think TWOW will end in triumph for Jon as he fully realizes the dream of Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell and King in the North – only for the Wall to fall and Jon to learn – to his horror! – that he is not the son of Ned Stark, but rather the bastard of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The R+L=J reveal is only really potent if there’s a cost to it, and I can’t think of a better way for this to gut Jon than if it undercuts his greatest personal moment of triumph.

Oh, and for those of you who think he’d never ever betray the Starks like that, check out this dope stuff right here:

The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off.

That’s from Jon’s dream in ADWD. Now peep this long passage from A Storm of Swords:

Iron Emmett was a long, lanky young ranger whose endurance, strength, and swordsmanship were the pride of Eastwatch. Jon always came away from their sessions stiff and sore, and woke the next day covered with bruises, which was just the way he wanted it. He would never get any better going up against the likes of Satin and Horse, or even Grenn.

Most days he gave as good as he got, Jon liked to think, but not today. He had hardly slept last night, and after an hour of restless tossing he had given up even the attempt, dressed, and walked the top of the Wall till the sun came up, wrestling with Stannis Baratheon’s offer. The lack of sleep was catching up with him now, and Emmett was hammering him mercilessly across the yard, driving him back on his heels with one long looping cut after another, and slamming him with his shield from time to time for good measure. Jon’s arm had gone numb from the shock of impact, and the edgeless practice sword seemed to be growing heavier with every passing moment.

He was almost ready to lower his blade and call a halt when Emmett feinted low and came in over his shield with a savage forehand slash that caught Jon on the temple. He staggered, his helm and head both ringing from the force of the blow. For half a heartbeat the world beyond his eyeslit was a blur.

And then the years were gone, and he was back at Winterfell once more, wearing a quilted leather coat in place of mail and plate. His sword was made of wood, and it was Robb who stood facing him, not Iron Emmett.

Every morning they had trained together, since they were big enough to walk; Snow and Stark, spinning and slashing about the wards of Winterfell, shouting and laughing, sometimes crying when there was no one else to see. They were not little boys when they fought, but knights and mighty heroes. “I’m Prince Aemon the Dragonknight,” Jon would call out, and Robb would shout back, “Well, I’m Florian the Fool.” Or Robb would say, “I’m the Young Dragon,” and Jon would reply, “I’m Ser Ryam Redwyne.”

That morning he called it first. “I’m Lord of Winterfell!” he cried, as he had a hundred times before. Only this time,this time, Robb had answered, “You can’t be Lord of Winterfell, you’re bastard-born. My lady mother says you can’t ever be the Lord of Winterfell.”

I thought I had forgotten that. Jon could taste blood in his mouth, from the blow he’d taken.

In the end Halder and Horse had to pull him away from Iron Emmett, one man on either arm. The ranger sat on the ground dazed, his shield half in splinters, the visor of his helm knocked askew, and his sword six yards away. “Jon, enough,” Halder was shouting, “he’s down, you disarmed him.Enough! ”

No. Not enough. Never enough. Jon let his sword drop. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. “Emmett, are you hurt?”

Iron Emmett pulled his battered helm off. “Was there some part of yield you could not comprehend, Lord Snow?” It was said amiably, though. Emmett was an amiable man, and he loved the song of swords. “Warrior defend me,” he groaned, “now I know how Qhorin Halfhand must have felt.”

That was too much. Jon wrenched free of his friends and retreated to the armory, alone. His ears were still ringing from the blow Emmett had dealt him. He sat on the bench and buried his head in his hands. Why am I so angry? he asked himself, but it was a stupid question. Lord of Winterfell. I could be the Lord of Winterfell. My father’s heir.

This is, of course, the last chapter in ASOS, before Jon refuses Stannis’ offer to become the Lord of Winterfell. Except he doesn’t get the chance to refuse.

Let’s look at that last chapter of ASOS again. Jon walks out beyond the Wall to think on Stannis’ offer, and he makes once decision…

He wanted it, Jon knew then. He wanted it as much as he had ever wanted anything. I have always wanted it, he thought, guiltily. May the gods forgive me. It was a hunger inside him, sharp as a dragonglass blade. A hunger … he could feel it. It was food he needed, prey, a red deer that stank of fear or a great elk proud and defiant. He needed to kill and fill his belly with fresh meat and hot dark blood. His mouth began to water with the thought.

…Just before he finds Ghost again, and changes his mind.

Red eyes, Jon realized, but not like Melisandre’s. He had a weirwood’s eyes. Red eyes, red mouth, white fur. Blood and bone, like a heart tree. He belongs to the old gods, this one. And he alone of all the direwolves was white. Six pups they’d found in the late summer snows, him and Robb; five that were grey and black and brown, for the five Starks, and one white, as white as Snow.

He had his answer then.

Ghost reminds him of his duty, so to speak, but more than that he reminds Jon of the old gods. The gods beyond the Wall. But it’s very interesting how GRRM plays this – that passage up there gets all wolf-y at the end as Jon’s wolf hunger becomes mingled with his hunger for Winterfell. This is one of the most important passages in Jon’s entire story. GRRM specifically ties the wolf hunger to the hunger for Winterfell. He specifically links Jon’s deepest desires to being inside Ghost. But he also has Ghost remind Jon of his outsider status. He is the white wolf, the bastard son, the one who didn’t belong.

Like Dany, he faces a choice at the end of ASOS: to stay and do his duty, or to follow his heart for home. Like Dany, Jon chooses to stay and do his duty. And then, at the end of A Dance with Dragons, Jon – like Dany! – chooses home after all. He chooses Winterfell, as she chooses Fire and Blood. In these scenes above, Jon struggles – literally – with Robb Stark. His impulses hurt Iron Emmett. In accomplishing what he’s always wanted, Jon is not going to soothe troubled brows. And he knows it. He’s going to do what Catelyn Stark always feared he would do: take Winterfell for his own. It’s going to be dark, and it’s going to be heartbreaking, in a way. That’s not to say he’ll be a monster – just that he’s going to give in to his Stark impulses at last. That tension has been present since the beginning of AGOT, and we’re going to see it finally break in TWOW.

One of the greatest tricks of writing is to undercut catharsis. At the end of A Storm of Swords, it’s a powerful and cathartic moment when Jon becomes the Lord Commander, but it’s also undercut by this thread of regret – Jon looks up at Val’s tower and thinks “I’m not the one to steal you away.” In un-life, Jon has the chance to realize that dream again. He has a second chance that he should never have gotten. That’s cathartic. That’s a release of pent-up energy. But George R. R. Martin likes to undercut catharsis. When Dany nails 163 Great Masters of Meereen to signposts, it’s cathartic – but undercut by the horror she feels. When we see Theon in A Dance with Dragons, our catharsis at seeing his comeuppance is undercut by how horrifying that comeuppance has been. So if we’re going to see Jon Snow become Jon Stark, you can bet that the cathartic release will be brutally gut-punched by a plot that cuts at the heart of Jon’s triumph.


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13 comments

  1. Overall good analysis, personally I think Jon is resurrected early in TWOW, but I have a question. You say that you think Stannis will take Winterfell(I agree), but then you say that Jon takes Winterfell. So does Jon fight Stannis? Does LF fight Stannis and take Winterfell and then Jon comes later and defeats Littlefinger? I think that Jon will eventually kill Ramsay and I have my own theory about Jon’s arc in TWOW, but I just wanted to ask about the sequence of events. I think LF and Sansa have to go North since going South is backwards in Sansa’s arc. Does Jon take Winterfell and Stannis runs back to the Wall after Stannis burns Shireen? Then Stannis dies with the collapse of the Wall?

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  2. Presumably Catelyn and Beric’s souls had nowhere to go upon their initial deaths and thus fully ceased to exist until resurrection. Do you think that because Jon has Ghost to use as a sort of refuge and thus never experiences a true mental death will keep his character mostly intact?

    I also think it’s important to note that a large part of the reason Beric is so removed from his past is because he was resurrected six (seven?) times.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the read, and agree that Jon will come back quite changed. However, I would argue that ghost will be a larger character influence than death and resurrection.

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    1. Great thread Bookshelfstud! And yes Phil, I agree with 100% – I think that a skinchanger or greenseer whose soul is stored in a tree or an animal for a short period of time would get put back in their body with the spirit intact – albeit merged with the animal (or tree). I do think Jon will be more “Jon” than Cat and Beric were themselves for precisely that reason – they were not skinchangers and their souls were not protected. What I think will happen is that the wold body of Ghost will have to be burned or slain to force the merged GhostJon spirit back in to Jon’s resurrected body. The resurrected unJon will be both Ghost and Jon. Jon’s consciousness won’t have lost what Cat’s and Beric’s did, but he will be wolfier for a certainty.

      BTW I am confident that Coldhands is a resurrected skinchanger or greenseer. I think this process effectively makes you immortal, although it doesn’t look like much fun if your job is to range about the North for 8,000 years as I think Coldhands has had to do.

      The advantage to being an undead skinchanger is that you don’t need to eat; you’re impervious to cold; and you can still do magic. Just the kind of thing you’d need to be able to journey into the cold dead lands and do a little Last Hero-ing.

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  3. Most excellent commentaries. I really like the idea that perhaps all the remaining starks could combine strengths and strategies to not only defeat the lannisters and other enemies and just maybe unite into a cohehesive union of loyal royalties to form a near invincible kingdom. But unlike GRRM, I am a hopeless romantic ala Lord of the Rings. I’m only sayin’.

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  4. OK, this is the best analysis of UnJon I’ve read. I am still clinging to the faint hope that he’s just really badly injured, and the Ides of the Watch is stopped by the wildlings rushing in to the defence of their king that they don’t officially call their king, and the deus ex WunWun going apeshit.

    But even if he is just “mostly dead” and still slightly alive, I am really hoping that he spends more time in Ghost while healing, and when he wakes from his coma/healing he is more wolf-y. Because shit is getting real, and the world needs a Wolf King of Winter, not a meek diplomat, or a Stannis the Grimly Devout. Someone prepared to raise hell to stop the Others, someone who is connected to the North by blood and being raised there. Someone who follows the old gods. And someone who is old enough to be DAKINGINDANORF!

    I love little Rickon, but he isn’t old enough to be a feasible king. Manderly is going to get burned by his plot to raise a puppet regent when the North realises that the Watch has failed, the Others are coming (and the Wall is falling? Another thing I think is a safe bet to occur in TWOW).

    Howland Reed and Maege Mormont can give Jon the legitimacy he needs to command the North with Robb’s will, and his wilding army gives him the military numbers to demand respect and to be heard by the Northern lords.

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