Jon has some difficult decisions to make. He knows Melisandre will burn Mance and then burn Mance’s son because she wants to give king’s blood to her fire. He summons Gilly and tells her he is sending her away with Dalla’s son and that she will leave her own son at Castle Black in his stead. Jon says that Melisandre won’t burn him because there will be no advantage to her in that, and that he will raise Gilly’s son.
Next he summons Sam and tells him he will go with Gilly and Aemon. He needs Sam to go to Oldtown and become a maester. Jon thinks Sam will be pleased by this and doesn’t understand why he isn’t. When Sam explains his father’s feelings about that idea, having wanted to be a maester in the past, Jon reminds him that his father doesn’t matter, only his vows matter. Jon also knows this voyage will kill Aemon, but thinks this will be better than dying in Melisandre’s fires. Jon sleeps that night but wakes feeling unrefreshed. For once, he doesn’t dream of being with Ghost.
In the morning, he goes to see the little party off. He tells Dolorous Edd to have Bedwyck and Janos Slynt come to his chambers. Gilly weeps, Aemon tells Jon he has left something for him to read. When he returns to his chambers, Bedwyck is waiting for him. Jon is opening an extra castle and giving Bedwyck the command. The idea is to extend their watch, not for it to be defensible, and it is made possible by Stannis’ men.
Janos Slynt keeps him waiting. Jon offers him another castle command, giving him the opportunity to use his abilities and to have some status. Slynt takes it as an insult and refuses. Jon tells him it is a command and not for him to refuse. Slynt refuses again and storms out. He recalls that Aemon had given him some advice – kill the boy and let the man rule – which was the same as his last words to Egg. Jon gives Slynt the night to come around.
The next morning, the new garrisons are ready to leave. Bedwyck’s goes off but Slynt has not appeared. Jon finds Slynt in the mess room with Alliser Thorne and the knight who challenged him in the last chapter. He gives the man one last chance to follow his command and again Slynt refuses. Jon tells his men to hang him. As they are dragging him up the stairs to the top of the Wall he changes his mind, thinking “This isn’t right.” Instead, he bedheads him. Stannis has watched this scene play out.
Whew. Jon Snow is made of steel, isn’t he? He’s been killing boys left, right and centre. I’m glad he did something about Slynt; couldn’t have happened to a nicer chap and reduces some of his other problems. He beheads Slynt because that’s what Eddard would have done; it forces him to face the consequences of exercising his power. Dany, Tyrion and Cersei, take note.
He’s sent a message to Stannis, so what’s he going to do now? This Lord Commander Jon Snow will not be easily intimidated.
Also, I’m thinking there’s something significant in the fact that Aemon’s advice to Jon was the same as his advice to his brother, Aegon. Priming Jon as one of the three heads of the dragon here?
Jon is obviously a bit of a fan favourite, being the least obviously flawed as some of the other characters, but I find liking is turning to admiration a bit in this chapter.