Game of Thrones resurrected Jon Snow, but will The Winds of Winter?

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

Three months after the first season of Game of Thrones premiered on HBO, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons, hit store shelves. At the time, six years had past since the release of the last book in the series, A Feast for Crows. But since Feast only concerned itself with part of the large cast, it had been 11 years since fans had read about characters like Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and the newly-elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow.

Jon had a tall order leading the Night’s Watch. He understood that the threat to the North represented by the Others meant that he had to bring the wildlings through the Wall and unite with them to fight a common enemy, but that didn’t sit well with some of the more traditionalist Night’s Watchmen who had been fighting against the wildlings all their lives.

"‘M’lord? The wildling princess, letting her go, the men may say—’‘—that I am half a wildling myself, a turncloak who means to sell the realm to our raiders, cannibals, and giants.’ Jon did not need to stare into a fire to know what was being said of him. The worst part was, they were not wrong, not wholly. ‘Words are wind, and the wind is always blowing at the Wall.’Chapter 39, Jon, A Dance With Dragons"

And the final straw came when Jon Snow decided to support Stannis Baratheon in his bid to unseat the Boltons of Winterfell, violating a long-held rule that the Night’s Watch not get involved in the affairs of the realm. This famously leads to Jon getting murdered by a group of his own men:

"Men were screaming. Jon reached for Longclaw, but his fingers had grown stiff and clumsy. Somehow he could not seem to get the sword free of its scabbard. Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. ‘For the Watch.’ He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed there where he had buried it. Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. ‘Ghost,’ he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold . . .Chapter 69, Jon, A Dance With Dragons"

And that’s where we leave Jon in the books, but the story continued in season 6 of Game of Thrones. After Jon Snow dies at the hands of the mutineers, he is brought back to life by Melisandre and the Red God.

Game of Thrones
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

Is Jon Snow dead in A Song of Ice and Fire?

But will she follow suit in The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in Martin’s series? While it’s true that the Red Woman is at the Wall at the time of Jon’s death on the page, readers don’t have a definite answer.

Technically, we don’t even know if he’s really dead, which Martin underlined during a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly.

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

Martin said he’s “not going to address whether [Jon Snow is] dead or not.” In the 10 years since, that answer has predictably sparked countless theories as to what’s going on. Some fans will tell you Jon Snow warged into Ghost and will live out the rest of his days as a direwolf, others that he died and will come back like Lady Stoneheart, hellbent on revenge. Still others will ramble on about funeral pyres and dragon-king’s blood.

Jon Snow will come back changed

Especially with the TV show behind us, it’s probable that Jon Snow will be back. But he won’t be the same. As Martin told John Hodgman in a 2011 interview:

"My characters who come back from death are worse for wear. In some ways, they’re not even the same characters anymore. The body may be moving, but some aspect of the spirit is changed or transformed, and they’ve lost something. One of the characters who has come back repeatedly from death is Beric Dondarrion, The Lightning Lord. Each time he’s revived he loses a little more of himself…Bits of his humanity are lost every time he comes back from death."

Would it be better for Jon to come back as a shade of his former self, or to die? Maybe the best we can hope is that he wasn’t completely dead when we left up up there at the winter wall. They’ve done studies on the benefits of hypothermia in bleeding patients, you know.

Next. Why did George R.R. Martin split up A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons?. dark

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