Tower of the Hand

Book 5, Chapter 8.
Jon orders Gilly to take Mance Rayder's child away from Castle Black for his protection, orders Sam to go to Oldtown to become a maester, and executes Janos Slynt for treason.
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Jon reads a letter over and over again and thinks to himself that he cannot sign it, but knows he must. His thoughts are interrpted as Dolorous Edd announces Gilly has arrived. Jon tells Edd to show her in and then find Sam so he can speak to him next.1 Jon tells Gilly he has hard news, and Gilly thinks it must be about Mance. Val begged Stannis not to kill him and even promised to marry a man of the king's choosing and not slit his throat if the king would acquiesce. Jon says the news is not about Mance, but about his son. Gilly is scared again and asks Jon to save the boy from being burned. Jon says only Gilly can do that. Gilly realizes that Jon wants her to take Mance's son away and leave her own boy behind, and she begs Jon to let her take both. Jon refuses, explaining that if she takes more than one boy the queen's men will know what she did and drag her back. He forces her to hold her hand to the candle flame to emphasize how horrible it would be to die by fire. Gilly retorts that Melisandre will burn her son then, but Jon is certain this will not happen because he has no royal blood and Stannis would not harm an innocent. When she still refuses, Jon says he will kill her son the same day the king burn's Mance's son if she refuses. Jon gives Gilly leave to go, and she flees the room crying.

Sam arrives soon after clutching several books.2 Jon sees Ghost stretched out between the anvil in the forge before he closes the door. Lord Commander Mormont's raven immediately flies at Sam and pecks at his hand, drawing blood. Jon hands Sam the document he was contemplating earlier, a letter to King Tommen asking for more men to defend the Wall. Jon does not believe the letter will have any effect, but he knows he must try. Sam asks after Gilly, and Jon lies that Val sent her to plead on Mance's behalf.

Sam tells Jon what he learned in the library.3 He then tells Sam that he will be accompanying Gilly, as well as Maester Aemon, to Oldtown. Aemon is going because his life my be at risk since Melisandre desires sacrifices of royal blood, while Sam is being sent to enroll at the Citadel and become a maester. Dareon will join them on their journey at Eastwatch to begin a life as a wandering crow. Sam tries to refuse out of fear, but Jon does not care and orders him to stop being a coward. At the end of the conversation, Sam flees just as Gilly did before him.

Jon is tired from staying up all night with Maester Aemon writing letters and making plans. Before leaving, Aemon gave him one last piece of advice, the same advice he gave his brother, Aegon V, when he ascended the throne. Aegon had been thirty-three when he took the throne, but he was still a boy in many ways and possessed a certain innocence and sweetness. Aemon told him that he must kill the boy within him and let the man be born because it takes a man to rule. He gave the same advice to Jon.

Jon makes the rounds of Castle Black and visits the top of the Wall with Ghost at his side. Kedge Whiteye, a ranger of thirty years who does not get on well with other people, has the watch on the Wall that day and tells Jon all is quiet except that Dywen saw two knights depart Castle Black and head south along the kingsroad an hour before. Jon asks Dywen himself about the incident and learns that the knights were Ser Richard Horpe and Ser Justin Massey, two queensmen high in Stannis's counsels. He figures they must be envoys, especially since Cotter Pyke had sent word that Ser Davos and Salladhor Saan had been dispatched to White Harbor to treat with Lord Wyman Manderly.

That night, Jon does not dream of being a wolf as he often does, but is wracked by nightmares related to sending Gilly away. Edd wakes him before dawn. As he leaves he tells the guard, Kegs, to have Bedwyck and Lord Janos come see him at first light. As he steps outside, he sees the escort for Sam, Gilly, and Maester Aemon already drawn up, a dozen rangers led by Black Jack Bulwer. Aemon is already seated in one of two wayns, and Sam and Gilly are standing nearby. Gilly is holding a baby, but Jon cannot tell if it is her own or Dalla's. Aemon tells Jon that he left the Jade Compendium in his chambers for him, a book written by Volantene adventurer Colloquo Votar about his travels in the lands of the Jade Sea, and that he has marked a passage that Jon should find particularly interesting. Gilly, eyes red from crying, tells Jon that he must find a wet nurse for Dalla's baby like he promised and not name him until he is past two years old. Jon remembers when he first saw Gilly after Ghost got into her rabbit hutch and laments that it was him she should have feared rather than the direwolf. Sam responds that Gilly has more courage than she knows, and Jon replies that Sam does as well.

Jon watches the column dwindle into the distance until Edd reminds him that Bedwyck and Janos will be waiting.4 Bedwyck is already at the armory when Jon arrives, and the Lord Commander tells him that he means to garrison more castles along the Wall and that Bedwyck will command Icemark. Bedwyck is shocked, as he is only a crofter's son on the Wall for poaching and cannot even read. Jon counters that he has been a ranger for twelve years, survived the Fist, and is admired by the younger men. Jon will give him two ravens for emergencies and hopes to have more maesters from Oldtown eventually. He also means to establish a series of beacon towers along the Wall to serve as an early warning system. Bedwyck will have twenty men from the Watch, including four City Watch officers that arrived with Janos, and ten men from Stannis, who will not take the black but will follow orders.

Bedwyck opines that thirty men will not be enough to halt an invasion, but Jon is more interested in intercepting climbers who could establish a foothold undetected, as happened when Raymun Redbeard invaded the North when Jack Musgood was Lord Commander and Lord Rickard's grandfather, William Stark, was lord of Winterfell. Raymun sent climbers to the top of the Wall right under Lord Commander Musgood's nose, known as Jolly Jack at the time but ever after known as Sleepy Jack, who constructed ramparts and then lowered ropes for thousands of wildlings to come up after them. Raymun's host was crushed on the shores of Long Lake, however, when it was caught between Lord William and Harmond Umber, known as the Drunken Giant. Lord William's younger brother, Artos the Implacable, slew Raymun. The Watch only arrived after the battle was over, and a furious Artos assigned them to bury the dead as he grieved over the headless body of Lord William.

Jon does not want a similar disaster to occur under his watch. He means to eventually garrison all of the forts, but he is starting with Icemark and Greyguard, which he means to give to Lord Janos. Despite his problems with the man, he figures he must have some ability since he rose from butcher's son to commander of the City Watch, a post he was elevated to by Lord Jon Arryn while serving as captain of the Iron Gate when the previous commander, Manly Stokeworth, died. Janos does not show up until several hours later in a sour mood. When Jon offers him command of Greyguard and thirty men, ten each from Stannis, Castle Black, and the Shadow Tower, Janos believes it is a plot to isolate and kill him and refuses. Jon responds that he is giving a command and not a request, but Janos does not yield. Jon realizes that Janos still sees him as a green boy easily cowed by angry words and decides to give him the night to reconsider.

The next morning, Jon comes to the mess with Iron Emmett, Edd, Mully, Horse, Red Jack Crabb, Rusty Flowers, and Owen the Oaf. Hobb is serving, while Janos is clustered with Alliser Thorne and several of their cronies. Jon sees Pyp and Grenn at one table and Bowen Marsh at another. Jon gives Janos another chance to follow orders, but the lord refuses and insults him by stating he has the mark of the beast upon him. Alliser smiles at Jon, while at another table, Ser Godry begins to laugh. Jon quickly mulls his options. He could confine Janos to a cell for a few days, but he would only resume his plotting afterwards. He could tie Janos to his horse and force him to go to Greyguard in a lower position such as the cook, but the man would probably just end up deserting. Therefore, Jon orders Janos hanged. Half the room comes to its feet as Bowen opens and closes his mouth in shock and Alliser's hand goes to his sword. After a moment of tension, Alliser backs down, and Janos is seized. Outside, most of Castle Black gathers to watch, including Val and Stannis in their respective towers, as Janos continues to babble that Jon would never dare hang a man such as him with his friends and influence. Jon decides he was wrong to order Janos hanged and calls for a block instead. Janos fights and protests all the way to the block until he is held down and Jon asks if he has any last words. Janos tries to beg for mercy and accept the command of Greyguard before Jon executes him. Afterwards, Stannis meets his eyes for a second and nods before going back inside his tower.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.
  • 1 - This chapter begins shortly before Sam's first chapter in A Feast for Crows, AFFC 6, then retells most of that chapter from Jon's point of view before extending beyond it to a new scene.
  • 2 - This scene as well as the next in which Jon sees Sam and Gilly off on their journey to Eastwatch were told from Sam's point of view in AFFC 6.
  • 3 - This section is nearly verbatim from AFFC 6 and will not be resummarized here. See that chapter for details.
  • 4 - The rest of this chapter is new material