The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore


6.1.10. Is Jon dead?

At the end of A Dance with Dragons, Jon Snow is set upon by disaffected members of the Night’s Watch—led by Bowen Marsh—who believed he was leading the Watch to ruin:

Jon twisted from the knife, just enough so it barely grazed his skin. He cut me. When he put his hand to the side of his neck, blood welled between his fingers. “Why?”

“For the Watch.” Wick slashed at him again. This time Jon caught his wrist and bent his arm back until he dropped the dagger. The gangling steward backed away, his hands upraised as if to say, Not me, it was not me.

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 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 . . .

For many, this is inconclusive: he might only be very injured. However, our own view is that Jon Snow has died at the end of the scene. So, in short, yes, we believe he’s dead.

But we do not believe this is a permanent state. The series has already revealed several characters who have been resurrected from death. Two, Beric Dondarrion and Catelyn Stark, returned to life through the apparent intercession of R’hllor, or at least Thoros of Myr’s fire magic (directly, and repeatedly, in Beric’s case; indirectly, through Beric, in Catelyn’s case). With Melisandre of Asshai’s proximity to events, it does not seem impossible that she, too, might achieve a similar affect. However, we believe Jon’s case will be complicated by the fact that he is a warg. His last uttered word—the name of Ghost—seems too open to the possibility that Jon (described as a powerful skinchanger by Varamyr Sixskins [V: 12]) reached out to the direwolf at the moment of death. As the Varamyr prologue reveals, skinchangers can live a “second life” when they die, pushing their minds into one of their beasts, and something like this might explain why Orell’s eagle retained such a hatred for Jon, because Orell was still in the eagle’s mind when he was killed.

The complication may be that even if Jon’s body is revived, his spirit may be within Ghost, leaving his body a shell. It may be coincidence that one can foresee a situation where a revenant Jon Snow is as much a vegetable as Khal Drogo, but there may be something quite purposeful about this parallel. The question would then lie in how Jon Snow’s spirit might be restored to his revived body… and that, we suspect, is a problem for the last greenseer or, perhaps, Bran Stark.