A Game of Thrones-Chapter 19
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After training, Jon Snow is attacked by several other recruits but saved by Donal Noye, who shows Jon the error of his ways. Then Jon meets up with Tyrion and later learns from the Lord Commander that Bran has awoken.
Jon is training with the other recruits under Castle Black’s master-at-arms, Ser Alliser Thorne. Jon is by far the most skilled swordsman and during a sparring match he accidentally injures Grenn. Disgusted with the recruits, Thorne calls an end to training for the day. Jon knows that Thorne dislikes him, but that he dislikes the other boys more. Thorne mercilessly berates them all and has given Jon the moniker “Lord Snow” in mockery of Jon’s bastard status. To Jon’s annoyance, everyone has taken up using the name.
Jon has found Castle Black cold and the people colder. He has no friends among the 20 recruits and finds that he despises them more as time goes by. Jon resents that nobody but Tyrion Lannister told him that the Wall would be like this. The fact that even his father never told him makes it hurt all the worse. Even Jon’s uncle Benjen seems to have abandoned him, becoming a very different man who spends all his time among the high officers. Three days after arriving at the Wall, Jon had pleaded to be allowed to come on a ranging with his uncle. Benjen had told him that he was just a boy who had yet to earn the right to go. Benjen also explained that, while he loved his family, the men of the Night's Watch are his true brothers. The next morning, Benjen had had smiles, but not for Jon, telling him that they would speak when he returns.
Jon goes to his sleeping cell to be with Ghost, thinking of how much he misses his family. His thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Grenn, Toad, and two other recruits. All of them are brutes and bullies sent to the Wall for crimes. After Grenn insults Jon’s mother, a short fight breaks out that soon has Jon on the ground. However, before the boys can hurt Jon, Donal Noye the smith intervenes.
After the others leave, Noye tells Jon that the Night’s Watch has need of every man and that there is no honor in killing boys like Grenn. When Jon insists that they insulted his mother, Noye points out that them saying it doesn’t make it true. When Noye reminds Jon that he is in the Night's Watch for life, Jon reflects angrily on the fact that Donal Noye had a life before taking the black. He feasted and wenched and fought in battles, only taking the black after losing an arm during the siege of Pyke.
Jon claims that the others hate him because he is better than them, but Noye insists that they hate him because he thinks he is better. Noye then calls Jon a bastard and a bully. Being called a bully surprises Jon because his attackers were all older and bigger than him. Noye explains that Jon has humiliated and shamed the other recruits, who have had no formal training in swordsmanship whereas Jon was trained by an anointed knight. Jon starts to feel ashamed but is still angry. Noye tells him to accept his life on the Wall and reconsider how he treats his companions, or else to sleep with a dagger by his bed.
As he leaves, Jon looks up at the Wall, a massive blue-white cliff of ice that fills up half the sky and dwarfs Castle Black beneath it. The Wall is the largest structure built by men according to Benjen and the most useless according to Tyrion. Older than the Seven Kingdoms, to Jon the Wall seems to represent the edge of the world.
Tyrion interrupts Jon’s look up at the Wall by commenting that it makes you wonder about what lies beyond. Since arriving, Jon has seen little of Tyrion, who has been an honored guest among the high officers. When Tyrion asks Jon if he is curious about what lies beyond the Wall, Jon replies that there is nothing special but inside wishes he could have ridden with his uncle Benjen on a ranging. When Tyrion calls him “Lord Snow” by mistake, Jon objects but Tyrion asks him if he would prefer to be called “the Imp" and reminds Jon to make his weakness his strength by accepting it.
Tyrion asks about Ghost, and Jon tells him that he chains the direwolf in the old stables during training but that the rest of the time he stays with Jon in his sleeping area in Harden’s Tower. Tyrion says he thought those buildings were abandoned but Jon explains that, since most of the undermanned castle is abandoned, nobody cares where a person sleeps. He continues on to tell Tyrion that he sleeps alone because the others are afraid of Ghost. Tyrion declares the others wise, then mentions that Benjen Stark is late returning from his ranging. Jon recalls that his uncle was supposed to be back by his name day, which is now a fortnight past. Tyrion says that he has heard that a great number of rangers have disappeared recently.
In the Common Hall, Jon gets food and chooses a spot away from the other recruits and Tyrion sits opposite him. Ser Alliser interrupts Jon’s conversation to tell him that the Lord Commander wants to speak with him about a message concerning his half-brother. Tyrion suspects the worst and gives Jon his sympathy. Jon races to the Commander’s Keep where Lord Commander Jeor Mormont gives him a message from Robb at Winterfell. The message explains that Bran has woken up, but is now a paraplegic.
Jon, overjoyed that Bran will live, rushes back to tell Tyrion. In his joy, Jon also apologizes to Grenn and offers to show him how to defend against the move that injured him. Ser Alliser sarcastically remarks that he would have an easier time teaching a wolf to juggle than training Grenn to fight. Jon replies that he will take the wager as he would love to see Ghost juggle. All the men in the hall, including Grenn, begin to laugh. As Ser Alliser clenches his fist in anger, Jon realizes that he has made himself a life-long enemy.
- Humorous review of the chapter
- Summary and analyses of the chapter by Leigh Butler.
- Summary of the chapter on Tower of the Hand.