Tower of the Hand

Book 2, Chapter 7.
Lord Commander Mormont tells Jon about how Maester Aemon's vows were tested to see Jon's resolve to keep his own vows.
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Jon goes down into the vaults of Castle Black looking for Sam, whom Lord Commander Mormont had sent down there to find maps for the expedition into the far north. He finds Sam immersed in the collection of the Night's Watch, which contains thousands of volumes. Sam wishes he had time to organize the collection and study it, but Jon is indifferent to the history. Sam particularly points out an account written by a ranger named Redwyn during the reign of King Dorren Stark in which he traveled to Lorn Point on the Frozen Shore, fought giants, and traded with the children of the forest. Lord Commander Mormont is taking two hundred men on the expedition, three-quarters of them rangers, to be joined by one hundred men from the Shadow Tower led by Qhorin Halfhand. Sam is coming along to manage the ravens since Maester Aemon is far too frail to join the expedition.

They return to the surface with the maps and are joined by Ghost. They watch Ser Endrew drill a group of new recruits brought in by Conwy, a beggar,1 a brigand, a barber, two orphans,2 and a boy whore,3 none of whom are particularly suited to the job. Donal Noye tells Jon that they came from a dungeon near Gulltown. Jon and Sam continue on to Lord Commander Mormont's chambers, where Thoren Smallwood, the new acting first ranger, is arguing with the Lord Commander that the command should go to him and Mormont should remain at Castle Black. Lord Commander Mormont flatly refuses and dismisses him. On his way out, he shoots Jon and Sam a hard look, as he was a confidant of Ser Alliser. When Mormont turns his attention to Sam, he becomes so frightened he can barely speak. After Sam leaves, the Lord Commander states he was considering sending Sam to treat with Renly, but feels that a quaking fat boy will not make the right impression. He plans to send Ser Arnell instead, whose mother was a green-apple Fossoway.

Lord Commander Mormont tells Jon the history behind Maester Aemon's decision to come to the Wall and how he could have been a king. Aemon's grandfather was King Daeron II, the king who brought Dorne into the realm and married a Dornish princess.4 His father was King Maekar I, fourth son of Daeron. He was Maekar's third son and was named for Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, whom some said was Daeron's true father rather than King Aegon IV the Unworthy. Aemon was no good with a sword but had quick wits, so Daeron sent him to the Citadel at nine or ten. Aemon's uncle, the heir to the throne, was killed in a tourney mishap while he was away.5 His sons6 died soon after in the Great Spring Sickness. Daeron II died as well, and his second son, Aerys I took the throne. Aerys wed his sister7 and ruled for about a decade, in which time Aemon became the maester for a minor lord. Aerys died without issue, and Maekar became king. He summoned Aemon to court and wanted to make him an adviser, but Aemon did not want to usurp the role of the Grand Maester, so he served his eldest brother Daeron instead. Daeron died of a pox contracted from a whore, while Aemon's other elder brother Aerion, known as "the Monstrous", died drinking wildfire, which he believed would turn him into a dragon. About a year later, Maekar died in battle against an outlaw lord. A Great Council was called to determine who should now take the throne. Both Daeron's daughter and Aerion's infant son were passed over, as the daughter was a feeble-witted female and no one wanted someone with Aerion's blood on the throne. Aemon was secretly offered the crown, but he declined. Rule therefore fell to his younger brother Aegon V, thereafter known as "the Unlikely" because he became a king despite being the fourth son of a fourth son. Aemon knew that if he remained at court he could become a tool of those who might oppose his brother's reign, so he voluntarily joined the Night's Watch. Jon wonders at first why Mormont has told him all this until he realizes it is to test Jon's resolve to keep his vows now that Robb is a king. Jon promises that he will keep those vows.


Active Characters

  1. Arron - He is blonde and the twin brother of Emrick.
  2. Emrick - He is blonde and the twin brother of Arron.
  3. Hop-Robin - He is a raggy man with a clubfoot.
  4. Jon Snow - He has dark hair and a long face.
  5. Satin - He was a boy whore.
  6. Thoren Smallwood - He is sinewy and has a weak chin hidden behind a scraggly beard.


  1. Castle Black - There is a series of tunnels underneath Castle Black called the wormwalks, which connect the various keeps and towers. The tunnels are mostly used in winter, when forty to fifty feet of snow and high winds make travelling between various parts of the castle above ground impossible. The vault where the records of the Night's Watch are kept is situated underground adjacent to the wormwalks.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.


1.  Prologue 25.  Theon II 49.  Daenerys IV
2.  Arya I 26.  Tyrion VI 50.  Tyrion XI
3.  Sansa I 27.  Arya VI 51.  Theon IV
4.  Tyrion I 28.  Daenerys II 52.  Jon VI
5.  Bran I 29.  Bran IV 53.  Sansa IV
6.  Arya II 30.  Tyrion VII 54.  Jon VII
7.  Jon I 31.  Arya VII 55.  Tyrion XII
8.  Catelyn I 32.  Catelyn III 56.  Catelyn VII
9.  Tyrion II 33.  Sansa III 57.  Theon V
10.  Arya III 34.  Catelyn IV 58.  Sansa V
11.  Davos I 35.  Jon IV 59.  Davos III
12.  Theon I 36.  Bran V 60.  Tyrion XIII
13.  Daenerys I 37.  Tyrion VIII 61.  Sansa VI
14.  Jon II 38.  Theon III 62.  Tyrion XIV
15.  Arya IV 39.  Arya VIII 63.  Sansa VII
16.  Tyrion III 40.  Catelyn V 64.  Daenerys V
17.  Bran II 41.  Daenerys III 65.  Arya X
18.  Tyrion IV 42.  Tyrion IX 66.  Sansa VIII
19.  Sansa II 43.  Davos II 67.  Theon VI
20.  Arya V 44.  Jon V 68.  Tyrion XV
21.  Tyrion V 45.  Tyrion X 69.  Jon VIII
22.  Bran III 46.  Catelyn VI 70.  Bran VII
23.  Catelyn II 47.  Bran VI
24.  Jon III 48.  Arya IX