Sunday, 16 April 2017

Game of Thrones Gossip #11 The Night's Watch part 2

Welcome to my Game of Thrones Gossip, where all of us fanatics get the chance to discuss everything we love about this amazing TV series. I did a few spoiler free posts about the series last year but I found that there were other bloggers out there who were also itching to talk more freely about favourite characters and events without spoiling things for those visiting the blog. So I decided to do a whole series of these discussion posts that let us say everything we want and enjoy every second of it! The topics may talk about a death, an event, a character or be season reviews and so on. Please feel free to comment fully and without restriction!

I have to warn you that it is important that you have seen all six seasons before reading any of these posts because these posts and blogger comments will be oozing and exploding spoilers all over the place. If you haven't watched the series and plan to, be warned that it's a bad idea to be here right now! I take no responsibility if you read on and things are spoiled for you nor do I take responsibility for any mistakes on the pages I link you to.

This is part 2 of my look at The Night's Watch and I'll be talking about the men who are responsible for the protection of the Seven Kingdoms. I have already done posts about Maester Aemon and Benjen Stark so they will not be featured.

The best place to start is with Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. He is a man of honour and integrity and holds the nickname The Old Bear. Having abdicated his command of Bear Island to son Jorah, he joined the Night's Watch and rose through the ranks to become Lord Commander. Respected by his men and his peers, he does everything he can to look after the northern border, though his frequent pleas for help generally fall on deaf ears in the south. In season one he is concerned about his lack of men and worried about rumours of White Walkers and wights beyond the Wall, asking Tyrion to take his concerns to King Robert. Tyrion does not get to deliver the message due to his arrest and Robert's death but I doubt it would have made a difference anyway. Few seemed to care about matters in the north.

Mormont is saved by Jon Snow from a wight attack and his affection for his steward results in him giving Jon the family sword. No doubt he sees Jon as the son he wanted Jorah to be. Seeing the wights with his own eyes confirms Mormont's fears and he leads a big patrol beyond The Wall to find out what happened to the missing Benjen Stark and discover the truth of what they are up against. The short stay with Craster alienates him from Jon who is angry that Mormont would allow Craster to abuse his daughters and hand his sons over to White Walkers. I don't doubt that Mormont hated having to keep Craster sweet as an ally and Jon will perhaps understand those difficult choices now given his leadership issues at Castle Black. 

After an attack by the wights, Mormont is forced to retreat with the rest of his troops back to Craster's Keep for sanctuary. Tensions between some of the men and their host spill over causing the end of Craster to Mormont's fury but Rast uses the chaos to murder his Lord Commander. It is a dreadful and sad end to a good man who always tried to do the right thing and I was anxious to see Jon deliver some payback. That was satisfying. Maester Aemon sents letters out about the murder and asks for urgent help but only Stannis Baratheon answers them by taking his army north. I guess it makes me angry that nobody else gave a damn about the murder or the mutiny. Jeor Mormont did not deserve that fate or lack of respect.

If Jeor Mormont is the hero of the Night's Watch, then Alliser Thorne is without a doubt the villain. He is a man who despite being forced to join after being on the wrong side of Robert's Rebellion, is dedicated to the Night's Watch and believes in its honour. He rises through the ranks to become Master-at-Arms, responsible for training new recruits. I can fully understand his disgust at seeing most of these recruits are now criminals with no love for the mission and it explains the anger he shows towards them in his rough training methods. He is a dreadful man when we meet him but I could understand that he needed to be hard on the men to toughen them up. However his hatred towards Jon is based on his hatred for Ned Stark and those who put Robert on the throne, and his horrific bullying of Samwell is beyond cruel. Jon believes that Thorne was responsible for him being denied a coveted position as ranger. When Jon returns to the Wall after infiltrating the enemy camp, Thorne is not ready to accept that his actions were justified but has to bow to the wisdom of Maester Aemon. He agrees to let Jon go to Craster's Keep to deal with the mutiny, probably hoping that he does not come back alive.

"Brothers! A hundred generations have defended this castle! She's never fallen before, she will not fall tonight! Those are Thenns at our walls! They eat the flesh of the men they kill! Do you want to fill the belly of a Thenn tonight!? Tonight we fight, and when the sun rises, I promise you, Castle Black will stand! The Night's Watch will stand!"

My opinion of Thorne did change somewhat in season four as they prepare for battle. In this we see Thorne and Jon lock heads over blocking the tunnel but it was a genuine mistake that any commander could make. I liked seeing Thorne the soldier as he leads from the front with bravery and determination throughout the battle. He rushes towards danger, he inspires the men he leads and he chooses the toughest men to fight. He was fearless and even when injured badly his only thought is that the Castle must not fall, and Jon steps up to get the job done. I think Thorne might even respect Jon as a fighter even if they are enemies and they share a few poignant moments before the action. When Jon wins election as Lord Commander, Thorne is surprised and pleased to be named First Ranger, a title that a man of his experience would be good in. I did have hopes that this would signal a change in relations between the two men. They could've been a good team!!!

"We've committed treason, all of us. Jon Snow was my Lord Commander. I had no love for him, that was no secret, but I never once disobeyed an order. Loyalty is the foundation on which the Night's Watch is built, and the Watch means everything to me. I've given my life, we've all given our lives to the Night's Watch. Jon Snow was going to destroy the Night's Watch. He led the wildlings through our gates as no Lord Commander has ever done before. He gave them the very land on which they reaved and raped and murdered. Lord Commander Snow did what he thought was right, I've no doubt about that, and what he thought was right would have been the end of us. He thrust a terrible choice upon us, and we made it."

But in the end as a long serving member of the Night's Watch, Thorne views the wildlings as the enemy who murder innocent civilians and nothing Jon says will sway him from that opinion. He feels betrayed by Jon when he brings wildlings through Castle Black, and feels it is also a betrayal of those who died in the battle. I can see his point on this and understand that he feels everything the Night's Watch stands for is under threat. The murder of Jon Snow by Alliser and his group is shocking to watch and I'm glad I was binge watching the dvds so it only took a few minutes to get season six started! I could not have waited a whole year for that! I loved the episodes after the murder for the sheer tension, and the new look Jon discovers the ruthless streak that he needs as a leader. It sounds weird but I almost respected Thorne for standing his ground over his actions as he explained his position to the men and again as he was about to hang. He really did think he was doing right. I hated him for most of the six seasons but I liked seeing him as a more complex and somewhat sympathetic character in season five. 

Qhorin Halfhand is a senior ranger, close friend of both Mance Rayder before his defection and Alliser Thorne. He spends most of his time beyond The Wall and meets Mormont there to discuss tactics. He takes Jon as part of his scouting party to locate and stop a wildling patrol but when Jon fails to kill Ygritte, both men are captured by wildlings. Qhorin knows the wildlings will kill him but thinks Jon has a chance to infiltrate if they think he is a traitor. He sacrifices himself, instructing Jon to kill him. It has the desired effect and Jon is accepted into the enemy camp. Despite his feelings for Ygritte, Jon obeys Qhorin and betrays the wildlings, taking valuable information to Castle Black about what Mance is doing. We don't see a lot of Qhorin but he is a brave man who sacrificed himself for the Night's Watch.

" We are the Watchers on the Wall.."-Qhorin's final words. 


  1. I agree so much about Jeor. I don't remember if they did this in the show (and forgive me if this is too spoilery) but in the books they fall back to Craster's after a battle at the Fist of the First Men. It leads to one of the best sequences where Sam has a chapter detailing his flight and he comes face to face with a walker in a blizzard. So intense.

    Your thoughts about Thorne are spot on. They did a great job showing how he absolutely believed in his point of view, even to the point of killing Jon. He's still alive in the books by the way... :):)

    Qhorin. wow. such a badass in the books. You spend a bit more time with him in the books as he and Jon and a few other guys sneak around spying on the wildlings before they are captured. One of the guys when they all split up never returned- I think his name was Stonesnake- never showed up and I always wondered if he would pop up again. :)

    1. Poor Jeor! I was so upset by what his men did to him. I also felt so betrayed by Thorne when he killed Jon because I was liking him at that point! I'm pleased to hear that we get more Qhorin in the books as he looks like an excellent character. I might need to do some ongoing posts about the books when I get to them-hopefully that will be next month.

      Don't worry about spoilers...I'm happy for everyone to talk freely as there are plenty warnings posted for newcomers!