George R.R. Martin on 'Dance With Dragons' shocking twist (Spoilers)

If you’ve finished George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, you probably had at least one heart-stopping shock along with more than a few somewhat less cardiac-endangering surprises. Below, Martin answers a few of EW’s burning questions about the novel’s plot twists. But here’s a very serious warning: This post contains major spoilers from the fifth novel in the “Ice and Fire” series. Do not continue reading unless you have finished Dragons.

Also, be sure to check out our spoiler-free Q&A with Martin published a couple weeks back about Dragons and HBO’s Game of Thrones here, and see this week’s print edition for more on Martin. Also, if you happen to be in San Diego today, you’re already in line for Martin moderating the Game of Thrones panel, right? 

Okay, final final warning…

Here’s the interview, which was conducted after some copies of Dragons had leaked, but before the book was officially released:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So why did you kill Jon Snow?
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?

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!
Well. I’m not going to address whether he’s dead or not. But as to why — didn’t you think the text established why they would want to assassinate him?

The narrative made perfect sense. Looking back through the books, all the decisions Jon’s made, and all the foreshadowing that was there, yes, you played fair. At the same time, it was devastating and I suspect fans will howl, the most since–
The most since the Red Wedding, I suspect.

How long have you intended for that incident to happen?
For many years. Some of the stuff about Melisandre warning Jon of “daggers in the dark” was written 10 years ago.

It’s a harsh chapter in terms of fan expectations. You go from this total high of Jon giving this rousing speech about going after the evil Ramsay Bolton, to this utter low of his men turning against him. So fans are not supposed to draw that conclusion he’s dead?
What I’m seeing from early reactions, admittedly just a handful, I think fans are going to split and argue about it until the next book comes out.

I also wasn’t sure whether Ramsay was telling the truth in his letter when he said the battle had already been fought and won, whether we were supposed to take that as gospel.
My readers should know better than to take anything as gospel, unless they see it for themselves, and even then I do sometimes use “unreliable narrator.” No. They should not take that as the truth. What about Mance Rayder, did you think he was really dead?

Yes. And I liked the reveal that he’s the bard in Ramsay’s court at Winterfell, but I was so dense I didn’t realize it was him until I read Ramsay’s letter near the end.
Aside from the fact Mance goes south and says he’s going to take six spearwives, there’s a legend that Jon hears from Ygritte about Bale the Bard who was a King of the North who posed as a bard and infiltrated Winterfell. Mance is calling himself “Abel” which is “Bael” with the letters moved around. It’s amazing what people pick up on and what they don’t. The whole controversy over Renly and Loras, [viewers saying] “HBO made these characters gay!”

It was always firmly hinted
And many got that, but many didn’t. I’m still getting letters about it. They were oblivious when they read the books and [producers] made it explicit.

The one thing I must confess to being frustrated by is the first Tyion chapter where you set up this expectation that he’s going to meet Dany, and I got excited. Then about 600 pages later I’m realizing, “OK, that’s not gonna happen, at least not in this book.”
Yeah, it’s the “kind of bring ‘em together but don’t give them the confirmation.” In some ways it’s not so different than the sexual tension in TV shows — are Catherine and Vincent [on Beauty and the Beast] finally going to kiss? Same philosophy. This is the kind of stuff I wrestle with. I could have ended the next chapter: Tyrion gets off the boat and there’s Dany. But the journey itself has its own interest.

One of my favorite chapters, perhaps of the whole series, was Cersei’s walk of shame. I was riveted.
That was an interesting chapter to write, and based on actual medieval events. Jane Shore, mistress of King Edward IV, was punished that way after Edward died. It’s going to be a controversial scene when it comes out — is it misogynistic or feminist? It wasn’t a punishment ever inflicted on men. It was a punishment directed at women to break their pride. And Cersei is defined by her pride.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Q&A with Martin here and pick up this week’s print edition of Entertainment Weekly for a profile of the author.

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  • Michelle

    I’ll admit it; I cried when I first read that Jon died. But then I thought about it and have come to the conclusion that Jon’s not dead, at least not permanently.

    More importantly, why didn’t you ask about the Jaime/Brienne cliffhanger?!

    • Teaboo

      When did Jon Snow die? I remember him getting stabbed three times – he might die, but I don’t recall him actually dying in the book.

      • Michelle

        I meant to put died in quotes, my bad! Lol But on first reading, I really did think he was dead. Look what happened to Cat!

      • sarah

        i totally agree. don’t take anyone as dead until you see the body, like poor quentyn. the whole series is full of near deaths. oh no, tyrion drowned! brienne was hanged! asha’s skull was bashed in! except… not. and i’m 100% convinced the next book will have a chapter with jon waking up being tended to. his story is not done.

        i’m beginning to believe the whole rhaegar/lyanna theory about his birth. the hints are becoming stronger that rhaegar wasn’t that bad a guy, and truly loved her… but she died somehow asking ned to promise her something important…

      • aleksa

        I definitely do not believe he’s dead. Granted, I’m betting he doesn’t feel well, but not dead.

      • JormundsMember

        Jon’s definitely not dead. There is too much symbolism deriving from his character for GRRM to end him yet. Does anyone else see the symbolism of Ramsay Snow bearing the “false” Lightbringer facing Jon Snow, Azor Ahai reborn, bearing a true sword of fire. Ramsay, a true bastard who was falsely made legitimate by law. Jon, a bastard who is in fact the legitimate child of Rhaegar and Lyanna. The true steel vs the fake.

        As to how he gets out of his current stabbing related problem, take your pick between Bran, Melisandre, warg voodoo, blood transfusions, simple toughness etc. But he is definitely coming back (unless I misread everything).

      • Lilli

        OMG! i just read that they stabbed Jon over and over and over and my first thought was to fling the damn book at the wall!
        then i got my hopes up and thought ‘Melisandre is not going to let him die’, but then again: one can’t be too sure with the way Mr Martin plays us and our favorite (or not) characters.
        (was pretty frustrated with the way the little blondie died. much too fast it was! choking to death within a minute or two. tsts)
        i can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. and hopefully that won’t be too long to wait for.

      • Josh

        I’m sure Jon is dead, very very dead but he will come back to life as Azor ahai. Think about it people, if he’s dead his vows to the watch are over and he can become Lord of Winterfell also the legend is Azor Ahai is to be reborn again as The Prince that was Promised. Reborn being the key word.

    • eva

      in the prologue of the 4th book there is a secrative figure who purchases a key from Pate in oldtown. I thought at the time that the discription sounded like John Snow and I wondered what and how John was in Oldtown. Then at the end of the 5th book I didn’t think john was dead but that he was now released from his vows if he survived, he might want to go to oldtown to research to archives and maybe discover who he is. If there are any records to his birth anywhere surely they could be found at the Citadel. Its the line about the mans discription with the curly dark hair and the faint scar on his cheek, I thought of John Snow.

      • Lucian

        The events of book 4 happened before Jon ‘died’. It is unlikely that he would be in Oldtown. Jaqen H’ghar might. Also it dosen’t seem to me a priority for him to search his past. I mean he did just get stabbed, forsaken his oaths, sworn to go after Ramsay to save ‘Arya’. So my guess is…no way it’s him in oldtown!

      • B

        The man who got the key from Pate and killed him is the Faceless Man we knew as Jaqen H’ghar. He’s described identically to the new face that Jaqen puts on the last time that Arya sees him. Then Pate turns up alive at the end of the book, so Jaqen has assumed his identity.

    • Tasha Helphenstine

      I was so stunned when I read that last chapter with Jon. I really thought that he was goin gto rise and rise. I even saw him somehow leaving the wall and maybe taking back Winterfell in the name of his father. I wanted to see him finding out who his mother was. The very first book really starts with Catelyn and Robert talking to Ned about his mother. So It seemed important. I want Jon’s story to continue. I think that he has big things ahead for him.

  • James

    Jon’s not dead, or at least, he’s not staying dead. Martin has never shied away from saying, “Yes, so and so is actually dead.” Someone asked him ages ago if Aegon and Rhaenys were dead. He came right out and said that Rhaenys was, but he left Aegon open. And lo and behold, Aegon’s alive.
    My theory: Melisandre instigated the assassination attempt, using either a glamoured Jon (someone who looked like him but wasn’t) or some other magical intervention. She’s either controlling the assassination itself, or she foresaw it and took precautions (like making sure Jon stayed with Ghost, so he could warg into him if necessary).
    Jon in his right mind would never, ever give in to Ramsay Bolton’s goading, especially given, as Martin hinted, that he was probably lying. Martin has also used “fake” POV names before (Theon-as-Reek being the best example), why not now? The stirring speech is so unlike Jon that I dare say it was a different character entirely.
    And even if it was really Jon, did anyone notice the signs? Ser Patrek with a STAR sigil, BLEEDING? Bowen Marsh’s SALTY tears? Jon’s wound SMOKING?
    Dude’s Azor Ahai reborn. Or he will be.

    • tracy bluth

      I totally agree that Jon is Azor Ahai reborn.

      • sarah

        i disagree. arya encountered someone with a glowing sword… i forget who it was… but that is not jon.

      • meshakhad

        No. Jon is Lightbringer. MELISANDRE is Azor Ahai.

      • Lucian

        did you ever think that maybe “Ice” and “Fire” aren’t represented by actual notions of fire and ice. For example the white walkers are clearly forces of “Ice”, however Bran and Bryden are clearly against the white walkers, but Melissandre sees them as the main enemies. Maybe she is unknowingly worshiping the actual ‘enemy’ without realising his true nature. Thus Jon being his reincarnation wouldn’t be what you would expect now, would it?

    • Anthony

      I think Jon dies, but gets brought back to life similar to Dondarrion and Catelyn in the other books. Melisandre is a red priestess after all, she’s got to have that power right?

    • Heh

      Aegon’s not alive, this one is a mummer’s dragon. :)

      • Sara

        Varys was a mummer. That doesn’t mean he is a fake…just that he is Varys’s dragon.

      • Tracy

        Sara, i am completely confused by your comment… please explain!

      • Stef

        Oh I can help with this one, Tracy. It’s been a while. Varys was a “mummer” before he was gelded and became a eunuch. A mummer is like an actor or a circus performer. So basically Varys was like Cirque De Solei for slaves until he got sold and gelded, So he was a mummer.
        His great plan for the 7 kingdoms involved Aegon, a dragon. Therefore, many people consider Aegon to be the “mummer’s dragon.” It certainly could turn out to be wrong, but this is all we know at this point.

    • Heh

      But Jon WOULD go south for Arya, that much is known. He went south when Ned was murdered, and he was with the wildlings when Robb was killed so he didn’t know. But Arya… Read the part again when he repeats in his mind (3x) “I want my bride back… I want my bride back…”. He obviously wants to save Arya, he even sent Mance for her before. Now he knows she is doomed, so he lets his emotions get to him and consciously so – he even thinks “If this is oathbreaking, then I am one.”

      • James

        Actually he DOESN’T know she’s doomed. The letter makes it plain that “Arya” got away. He knows now that Ramsay doesn’t have her, and it’s too late to save Stannis. So why would he go down south? For MANCE? Please.
        I’ve reread the chapter over and over again, and something about it is NOT right.

      • beknownst

        it is known

      • Ygritte

        You know nothing, Jon Snow.

      • Hodor

        Hodor!

      • Leon

        Reek rhymes with trick!

      • Vijay

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    • Sasha Fierce

      When you think about the wound smoking, think about your breath in the cold. Think about a sudden influx of warmth to a cold atmosphere.

      • James

        Well duh. But he was also very careful to write the word SMOKE. It was a deliberate word choice. It wasn’t accidental. And when you have prophecies floating around that pertain to smoke, it’s not a word you throw around lightly.

      • Andie

        In which case, “steaming” would have been a far more accurate word choice. The wound was “smoking”- there is a reason that GRRM specifically chose the word.

      • RyanK

        That word choice was bothering me like crazy, along with the tears. I completely missed the prophecy reference. Martin isn’t one to overlook a word choice like that. He said smoke for a very deliberate reason, and I’m kicking myself for not realizing it sooner.

      • Mo

        I may be off here, but when Dany removes the spear from Drogon’s back, and it’s molten, doesn’t she say something like “his flesh is made of fire, and so am I”? I think the choice of the word “smoke” may be yet another hint that Jon is really Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son. I don’t believe he is dead. I hope he isn’t. I’ll throw the seventh book across the room if he is, and pick it up again a few days later. But I hope not.

      • Blackfish

        Prophecy will bite your prick off every time.

      • Rodrigo Liao

        And, dude, Jon is also a warg. Can he slip inside a dragon?

    • aleksa

      I don’t think Melisandre was behind the assassination; I think she even tried to warn him.

    • RyanK

      Martin had been hinting at Azor Azhai and Jon for a while in the 5th book. – Melisandre asking to see Azhai but seeing Jon instead. Jon dreaming of himself on the wall with a burning sword. But holy crap I was so confused why Martin said the wound was “smoking” instead of “steaming”. And the tears seemed weird too. Wow that’s brilliant!

    • squeakyDigs

      I want to believe all this Azor Ahai stuff but didn’t Jon’s hand get burned? I hope that doesn’t matter. I really, really do….this series is killing me

    • Schaer

      I thought Jon was Azor Azhai but maybe it is Dany…

    • Stef

      Seriously, RyanK whoever you are, you made my year whether you are right or wrong! I spent the entirety of DwD terrified that Jon was gonna die (Cersei just planted it in my head last book) that I barely paid attention to anything else. Just when I thought everything was gonna be OK… one more Jon chapter… just when I thought the cliffhanger was gonna be Ramsay’s threat…. JON GETS STABBED! 4 TIMES!!!! I’ve been in total misery, but your comment makes a lot of sense. I don’t know if it’s wishful thinking or whatever, but I feel better now, with George R R Martin’s comments and yours. I guess I will see in 5 years.

    • Koftroy

      Jon is not dead..and 2 things: he whispered for Ghost so he may live in him for a short time, and he heard men “screaming” as he fell over…so something really bad was happening. Otherwise it would be men yelling or fighting. But I just reread all the books an d am going back to ..ADWD. If you can read them all the way through it makes you see how amazing they are.

    • J.Mitch

      Yeah that was my first thought. Having him die and brought back by Melisandra free’s him up for the author.

      Also he’s Rhaegar’s son blah blah blah.

  • Hill

    I refuse to believe Jon is dead and I thought the Cersei was one of his best–definitely an example of how his characters have depth that forces a reader to think the evil or good actions are coming somewhere in between those two poles

    • Tim

      Is it wrong that I want Cersei to destroy the High Septon, solely so she can get killed by someone who deserves to off her?

      • thin

        If it is, then I don’t want to be right.

      • Jennifer

        As long as she dies a slow, horrible death, I don’t care who kills her. Hmmm, maybe the Queen of Thorns can get her hands on some more poison.

      • Nisha

        How does everyone keep from felneig caged up/ under-worked on rest days? Goats? : Not sure what this is? From the context I guess it is weakpoints or difficlut areas. So goats : proper running form, getting MWOD in, Muscle ups, timing for DUs, HSPU, and snatches (probably form on all Oly lifts) and resting on thursdays.:)

    • Dave

      I belives Melisandre changed Jon into Bowen Marsh much like she changed Mance into the Rattleshirt, thus the reason he was tearing up when “Bowen” stabbed “Jon”

      Cannot WAIT for the next book. Might as well start GoT over again.

      • jay

        I Did start GoT over again to pick up things i missed

  • Joe greps

    Annoyed by the Jon thing as even if he is alive the whole dead/magically not dead thing is already becoming extremely cliché within Martin’s work and grossly more so for the entire genre. Going forward I just don’t see any outcome being very satisfying.

    Conversely if Martin indeed does leave him dead it gets hard to remain excited for the series. The precedent would seem to offer little more than avoiding any attachment waiting for the next tragic death.

    • Sara

      He doesn’t have to be dead or return from life. He can survive a few stab wounds. The whole series has been full of cliffhangers like this.

    • daisy

      why does it have to be undead or magic? People survive stab wounds all the time. Just because people say “Well look at Catelyn and Benjen and Beric” does not mean that is what is happening to snow. I would say rather, look at Theon. He was thought to be dead. He didnt magically survive, he just survived, only to be tortured sure, but his survival wasnt because he is undead or something like that. People need to calm down.

      • Marie Esbelin

        Well, there were quite a lot of knives, if you need visual aid, I strongly recommend watching the assassination of Julius Ceasar in HBO’s Rome, since I saw that, I have doubts when it comes to surviving multiple stabbing. But then again, who else read Robin Hobb series the assassin’s apprentice ?

  • Marianne

    If Jon is temporarily dead, won’t that get him out of his Night’s Watch Oath and still let him keep his honor ? It can’t last past death, and then he is free to leave the Wall and follow his destiny. He can still stay and fight the Others, but he will also have other options without becoming a criminal.

    • jinq

      Brilliant, Marianne… I think that’s it exactly!

    • Heh

      Yes!

    • sambodia7

      Oh that’s just genius.

  • NK

    Nothing about the amazing journey of Theon? One of the most riveting parts of the book, I thought.

    • James Hibberd

      Totally agree! And we talked briefly about that, but didn’t have anything that was informative for posting.

      • James

        From one James to another, I have to say, great way to approach the Jon question. If you’d asked straight up, “Did Jon Snow die?” I imagine Martin would’ve hemmed and hawed. Going on the assumption that he DID die forced Martin to back up and defend himself a bit. I don’t know if that was intentional on your part (“never ask a yes or no question”) but it was smart nonetheless.

    • PK

      I was frustrated by that. It’s hard to think of someone who killed two young boys while their mother screamed for mercy as redeemable, thought it seems clear that that’s what Martin wants to do with Theon.

      • Charlotte

        I don’t think we are meant to forgive the character of Theon for what he did to Winterfell or to those children. Nevertheless, I think it is possible to sympathize with his plight and to be glad that he was able to do something right in his life. In our modern American society even the most horrible murderers are not tortured like he was. I still would be ok if he is put to death in the story. But make it a nice, clean swift one like Ned.

      • thin

        I agree. I don’t think this is something that’s supposed to be easily answered. Theon is guilty of terrific pride and greed, which lead him to cause the deaths of a lot of innocent people. There’s no way we’re supposed to forgive him of any of that. But does that warrant the soul-shattering torture that he’s undergone? I don’t know if it does or not.

      • thin

        (When I say that I agree, I mean that I agree with Charlotte.)

      • aleksa

        I fully agree with everything Charlotte said. I’d never in a million years thought I’d ever feel sorry for Theon after what he did, but man….

      • RyanK

        I felt myself recalling A Clockwork Orange. I don’t think Martin intended for Theon’s story to be a tale of redemption so much as a tale of humanity and the cost of pride.

    • Dragon Piddle

      I agree completely, theon’s character developement (or regression) into reek was exactly what he needed to “find himself”.

    • Dani

      I’ve got to jump on the bandwagon with this one. When I started reading the Reek chapters I felt horrified. Then I kept thinking “no, he deserved this”. THen when they got to Winterfell and he was trying to help Jeyne deal with Ramsey it got even harder to hate him. Then at the end your like “Yay! he remembers who he really is! Oh wait, Theon murdered innocent children….” Talk about an emotional roller coaster! It’ll be interesting to see the kid who plays him on the show pull the whole thing off.

    • Margaret

      Manderly’s pies at “Arya’s” wedding cracked me up when I read that! Hilarious! The secret to getting some insight is to pay attention to all conversation about old Nan’s stories and all the casual prophecies and conversations about them! I will wait to see if Jon’s happenstance fit’s the rest of the book, for although it is science-fiction, it still has to be compatible!

  • Ben

    DIdn’t you guys read the prologue, where another skinchanger talks about all the different lives and deaths he’s had? No way is Jon dead, but by dying he’s no longer bound by his oaths to take the black.

    • Dragon Piddle

      He was referring to the many times he had died while in the skin of another creature. The true death is the death you suffer in your own skin, which unfortunately john was wearing at the time he was attacked by his black brothers

      • steve

        it say he didnt feel the 4th knife, so i was thinking, (hoping, PRAYING) that he either warged out or melisandre did something.

    • RyanK

      He had died as an animal many times. But said that when your body dies, you can still inhabit a creature, but your soul will eventually just fade away.

  • Jenn

    Jon is dead but he will warg into Ghost. Why else spend the beginning of the book focusing on someone who did just that? Now, the question is will he be Ghost forever until he loses his humanity or will he somehow get his/a body back. Based on the fact that Mel saw in the flames that he would be man>wolf>man, i’m going with the latter.

    • Laura

      Exactly. People are so dense sometimes. Although I have to admit the Renly/Loras thing shocked me but on my reread I felt so stupid for not seeing it. Renly’s kingsguard is called The Rainbow Guard for crying out loud!

      • Andy L

        I don’t think after Ned and the Red Wedding it’s all that dense to think that Martin would kill a character we cared about.

      • Kimmi

        that, my friend, is a total subversion of trope. it’s only called rainbow guard because renly likes bright colors. (and loras doesn’t seem to, terribly much, does he?)

        that said, martin really throws it out there, casually and quietly.

    • RJ

      Mel also mentions in the book that her powers are being magnified by her proximity to the wall. It’s not hard to imagine that she will use this to resurrect Jon to perfect life. Then the Wall will be destroyed to remove that plot device and to destroy the Watch, which makes Jon free to marry. Don’t forget the series is a song of ice (Snow) and fire (Dany)!

      • Michael

        I feel like that already happened though. If you accept the theory that Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen are Jon’s parents, then Lyanna is ice and Rhaegar is fire.

        A song of ice and fire = a story about jon snow. So there’s also no way he’s completely dead either.

    • kyrjar

      I don’t want Jon to warg into a wolf and then into a different person. Not really loving Bran’s supernatural journey. I like it when the supernatural is less overt, like in GOT and it is getting more and more the story itself.

      • Sara

        To each their own. I love that it is getting more supernatural. It is fantasy after all…and we already care about the characters that it’s happening to. This is what happens as the story get closer to it’s peak. Only thing I can really do without is the entire eastern continent. Westeros, please! I want Dany, Tyrion, Barristan, Arya…on Westeros! Meereen is annoying as heck.

      • Marie

        yeah let’s burn Meereen to the ground ! Burn Dani’s new husband with it, good riddance ! We even have dragons to do the job. I’d really like the last book to focus on the Starks again…

  • Teaboo

    What bothered me most was that this book set out to continue the narratives of Tyrion, Jon, Dany, Bran, Davos….. but halfway though the book Bran and the Onion Knight completely dissappear and the Reeds seemed to become a total afterthought in the limited time that Bran’s story was being told. I used to dislike Bran’s storyline early on, but just when he becomes interesting the real-life Tyrion stops writing about him. As for Davos, he’s awesome – one of my favorite characters – I guess I’ll have to wait 15 more years to find out more about him.

    • John

      I completely agree. Davos and Bran disappearing without explanation halfway through the book was probably the most annoying thing (though every scene with Daenerys and Daario comes close) about it. Considering that they weren’t in A Feast of Crows at all, it didn’t feel right. At the very least, Martin could have thrown in an additional chapter for each toward the end of the book or spaced out the chapters more.

      • ash

        I completely agree about Daario and Dany. I skimmed every scene with them. So boring.

      • Sara

        I would like more focus on the Starks. This might have something to do with GRRM having to catch up to their ages, since there was originally going to be a 5 year gap between Storm and Dance. I m hoping next book will bring the focus back to the main characters and stop introducing so many new threads.

      • Sara

        Oh, and about Daario and Dany…I think the problem is when you get so far in it’s hard to care about the newer characters. I don’t think anyone will care for anyone that Dany falls for unless it’s another character that has been around from closer to the beginning.

      • Michael

        I think the point of that was timing and tension. The fact that we don’t know what happened with Davos going to Skagos or Bran becoming a new greenseer is that the revelation of those things would affect our understanding of the events at the end of “Dance.” For example, if we knew Davos had already picked up Rickon and was heading back to Manderly at Winterfell, then Ramsay would be pretty much screwed and we’d be far less worried about the fate of Stannis and company.

        Just my thoughts.

  • Mosh

    I’m thinking he’ll hang out in Ghost for awhile, then take up residence in one of the dead wildlings he’s been keeping locked up.

    • Emile

      If he’s going to “inhabit” a dead body, why not just go back to his own? I’m pretty sure the dead wildings had more horrific wounds than 4 dagger stabs.
      Any thoughts on Wick’s reaction (‘Not me, it was not me’) when Jon disarms him? Something’s amiss here.

      • Tracy

        My thoughts on the “it wasnt me comment” was that since Borroqs boar was not around, perhaps he was the one in Wicks body?

  • Mark

    Great interview.

    Also want to personally thank you James for your great work covering this series. You’re really leveraging your access in a great way for our benefit.

  • Emilee

    I wonder if Jon is dead, maybe he will come back as a helpful wight, like Coldhands? (Who is probably Benjen Stark, right?)

    • jinq

      Wow. I feel so totally stupid right now for never even thinking of that…

    • Heh

      I hope he comes back as nothing more or less human.

      • Amy

        I agree. I thought cold hands was Benjen Stark as well. I wonder if the greenseers somehow infused him with new life. I hope Jon comes back as something close to human. How else will we have a POV from the wall. Nobody wants to read Melisandre’s chapters for a big portion of the book.

    • Trent

      Are we sure it wasn’t a “wight” of some sort that was attacked, maybe glamoured by Mel? What if Jon had warged into another body (two handy corpses stored away, or maybe someone else) before the speech? It would explain Ghost’s strange response to him, and his slow reactions. And Martin would definitely still count that as a Jon chapter. Plus, the prologue chapter made it clear that the death of a controlled body counts as a death, so he could still potentially escape his oath. Or maybe it’s all just me trying to find a way he could be alive and in his own body yet!

      • Brian

        The chapter was from Jon’s POV. I don’t think he’s dead, but I do believe it actually was Jon who was stabbed. GRRM deals in unreliable narrators, but to label a chapter as one character and have it be a different character disguised as that character… I don’t think he’d go that far.

      • Dan

        That is actually interesting Trent. I don’t think that’s what he’ll do with Jon but I hadn’t considered that Jon could’ve warged into another person and Mel glammored that other person to look like Jon. That is the only way you could really say it wasn’t Jon who got stabbed. But since he never wrote that Jon died and only that he was stabbed, GRRM could write a bunch of more realistic ways of saving Jon. I hope it’s just something along the lines of other night watch guys, the giant, Mel, or wildlings come to his rescue and Mel heals his wounds.

      • Sara

        Jon was stabbed: it was from his POV. The only way for that to be a possibility was if it was from someone else’s POV.

      • RyanK

        Ghost is the one thing there I just really can’t wrap my hands around. Why did Ghost react like that to Jon? It’s one thing when Ghost growls and nips at others, but never Jon.

      • Emile

        Ghost’s strange response to Jon was most likely because Borroq had entered Ghost. I believe in one of Bran’s chapters it was mentioned that once an animal has been taken over by one warg, it’s easier for it to be taken over by another.

      • Kat

        I originally thought of course Ghost’s strange reaction to John was that Borroq had entered Ghost, but upon reading these threads here perhaps Jon was not Jon in this chapter hence Ghost’s reaction.

    • aleksa

      I’d always assumed that Coldhands was Benjen.

      • jaqen h’gar

        totally agree

    • Raf

      That’s exactly what I thought when it’s said that Jon feels the cold…he comes as a sort of Coldhands! Even though I’d rather believe the whole Jon Targaryen thing

    • B

      Probably not. One of the Children said “They killed him long ago”. Benjen’s only been missing a year or so, which is especially not a long time from the perspective of the Children, who live hundreds of years. Coldhands must be someone who died in historical times. Some people think he might be the Night’s King.

  • Matt

    Totally agree. EW’s coverage of ADWD has been great. But the thing I was most frustrated by was the end of Dany’s story. It just felt like a cheap way to prolong her journey to Westeros. I don’t want to sit through a book where she’s being held prisoner by the Dothraki when she could be doing something productive or interacting with other established characters.

    • Heh

      Dany’s story was really annoying, if GRRM wanted to establish the notion that SHE CAN’t RULE AT ALL, then he made it. I sincerely hope she doesn’t become a queen in her own right, maybe as Jon (the king’s) wife, but Elizabeth-like queen? No. Just no.

      • jj

        seriously, just when you think she’s the smartest and most deserving of all the competing monarchs, she became a complete IDIOT. however, Martin loves to talk about how he tries to keep his characters realistic. And in light of that, to have a perfect ruler doesn’t really make sense. EVERYone is flawed in this series and maes mistakes. Some more than others.

      • Amy

        I agree. Dany’s story annoyed me the most. She was the character with the biggest decline in likability in my opinion. She couldn’t really make a good decision all through the novel and her love affair with Daario was such a nonstarter imo.

      • Kimmi

        Dany needs to learn you can’t compromise with zealots. In that, she is like other rulers I might mention.

      • Jennifer

        Dany’s narrative lost me the moment she chained up the dragons that she’d never bothered to train. Then she goes and sleeps with Daario, a character I found repulsive.

      • Dani

        I just didn’t understand why Martin made her so shallow in this book. Quentyn Martell crosses THE WORLD for her and she turns him down, not because of her impending marriage to Hizdar but really because she didn’t think he was hot. SERIOUSLY?!?! `I have never felt so bad for any character in these books as I did for Quentyn. He was trying to do the best thing for his people and for Dany and she turned her nose up at him cause he wasn’t pretty enough! Dany’s got a alot of redeeming to do as far as I’m concerned. (and it’d be nice if she got some better taste in men cause Darrio just sounded smarmy to me)

      • Mike

        Remember that Dany is only about 15 years old at the end of the book, so of course she comes off as shallow. She has no experience ruling, or with being in love. Her chapters make it seem like she has a handle on “what the girl wants” and “what the queen needs” but I think that just makes her one of the least reliable narrators in the series. I think that the ultimate meaning of the weird prophecy she gets from the mask lady (can’t remember her name) — Dany needs to go backwards, learn from her mistakes, and grow the hell up before she can become a proper ruler, and I feel like that is what is starting now that she’s back with a khalasar. The disasters in Slavers Bay — both the war and her love affair — will give her the experience to be queen of Westeros.

      • RyanK

        Well said Mike.

      • Son Jnow

        I’ve never actually like the Dany character. Her chapters have been the only “chore” to read.

        Unfortunately – it is obvious that she will become central to the resolution of the entire series- but I really think the story would be more cohesive and entertaining if there was a way to leave her out entirely.

        Between Dany and the whole “Dorne” chapters- it makes the story less solid- less robust… I know they are important overall- but for the story so far- they seem a sideshow and not a very interesting one at that.

    • Dan

      I don’t think she is going to be captured by anybody with a dragon that she can ride right by her side. She is more likely to take control of this horde. I like the idea of her bringing the dothraki together as one clan and coming back to Mereene with bells in her hair, all the dothraki following her, riding a dragon and ready to return home.

      • Anna

        Dani, you´re very harsh with Dany. She turns Quentyn down because she made a promise to Hizdar (she wold marry him if he gives her peace), and Hizdar delivers while Dornish forces are miles away. “Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando”

  • The War for Cersei’s C**t

    But it didn’t break Cersei. It made her stronger. Cleverer. ” A woman should know her place.”

    Methinks the Ironborn have something in their oath of, ‘what is dead never dies, but rises again, stronger.’

    Indeed.

    • thin

      You must have missed the end of her walk, when she collapsed into a broken, sobbing heap.

      • Mr. Flowers

        YOU must have missed her appearance in Kevan Lannister’s chapter at the end of the book — that, or misread it completely.

  • Mother Nature

    Am I the only one who thinks Jaime/Cersi may not have been Tywin Lannister’s children, but Prince Aerys’? Ser Barristan’s little story to Dany made me think the twins may have been born dragons, not lions.

    • James

      You’re not the only one at all. It would explain a lot. ;-)

    • tracy bluth

      I go back and forth- sometimes I really think Jamie and Cersei are Aerys’ while Tyrion is Tywin’s, sometimes I really think it’s the other way around.

      • Targaryen Supporter

        The only reason why I do not like this theory is that if Jamie and Cersei are Aerys then that means that Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella have very strong claims to the iron throne and although I love supporting Targaryens to the throne, I do not know if I can support those Targaryens.

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