Examining my work to date I have been shocked to see that I failed to include an article on Jon Snow. How else can I begin than with a discussion on the most important character in ASOIAF. Jon Snow is the the central character, the protagonist, the hero. It is he who gives the story its name, literally.
Many people have been mystified over what Rhaegar is talking about when he mentions 'the song of Ice and Fire'. I find this confusion curious for the meaning is in the very name of the story - A(The) Song of Ice and Fire. The song referred to by Rhaegar is the very story we are reading. Jon Snow's story.
The confusion is perhaps understandable for we are being told the story from multiple perspectives at the same time. Think of the movie 300. You hear the narration of Dilios, giving you his (biased) perspective on the tale. But you are seeing it from the (biased) perspective of King Leonidas.
ASOIAF is being presented from multiple biased perspectives simultaneously. The most insidious of these is that of the narrator himself whom we are unconscious of because there is no voice-over proving his existence. Yet he is just as real as the Point-of-Views he is presenting. The overall narrator is Samwell Tarly.
And, as might be expected, as the author and narrator of the tale, he is presenting it in a blatantly pro-Jon way. This does not mean he is being dishonest, nor that he has altered the POVs of others. Assuming his character is as it is presented in the story it is safe to say Sam is being as honest as he can be with his presentation. Rather, it means he has, even if unconsciously, tilted the narrative in a way wherein Jon comes across as better than perhaps he was. The same is true of those who supported him. At the same time those individuals who might have opposed Jon for whatever reason come across more negatively than they perhaps truly were.
What helps make this complicated is that we are also seeing the story from the POVs of others. And not all these people were friendly with Jon or Sam. Exactly how did Sam know the POVs of people who died one might ask. He didn't. He made them up based on what he believed their thoughts to be. Thus the bias is compounded.
Of course, what is noteworthy are those characters who have no POVs. All we have are the perspective of those judging them.
Think of it more as a docudrama than as a fantasy story. It is probable that Martin wrote ASOIAF from the perspective of someone writing about events many years in the past. His choice of POVs are therefore based on those characters who survived the events of the story and lived long enough to relate their memories to others. And this shows you how bias can be passed on, even if unintentionally.
For example: Jaime Lannister is certainly going to die before the end of the story. Yet he has POVs. The reason is Brienne of Tarth, who was in his confidence, can reasonably be expected to have spoken to him before his death. So we are learning his point-of-view from her perspective. This is exibited by the fact that Jaime is initially presented in a strictly negative way by people who did not like him. But after Brienne is introduced Jaime is presented more fairly. Nor is it an accident that he receives his first POV after she enters the story.
Presenting the POVs of a character such as Ned is considerably more difficult. We do not know what sort of confession he would have been allowed while in the dungeons, nor whether Varys would have recorded his thoughts before his death. Given that Varys himself dies before the end of the story we have to assume that he records his own thoughts and observations at some point. This would explain why Ned's dream conveniently cuts off before any critical information can be presented.
There is Bran, of course. He can see anything. But we don't really know what his biases might be.
In answer as to why it is called a song we must remember that Westeros is largely an illiterate society. This tale is not meant to be hidden away inside the Citadel. It is meant to be relayed to the public. The form we are reading is likely that for the maesters, to be read. While the version that goes out to the public is written as a song to be performed, to be presented to the public and remembered. Think of the Iliad.
Now that that digression is over let's get back to Jon. In some ways Jon is the most easy to understand character in the story. He is the straight forward hero. There are hints that there are more layers to him, such as his hair-trigger temper, but the narrative downplays this. Even his mistakes are shown in the best possible light.
Exactly why is he the hero though? This is the cliché question. Despite Martin's reputation, he doesn't actually subvert that many tropes. Mostly he just gives explanations for why they are there. Yes, Jon is the secret Targaryen, the secret crown prince, the secret child who must be kept safe so he can save the world. But why?
The answer is his blood. Jon is unique. He has the blood of both the dragon and the Children. A dragonrider and a skinchanger. Because of this unique combination he will be the most powerful dragonrider there ever was, Old Valyria included. He will have a power no other dragonrider ever had: the ability to ride more than one dragon at a time. I fully expect that he will bond with Drogon despite the fact Dany already has. When Drogon is injured he will switch to Rhaegal. More on that later.
Just how much of the situation does Jon understand? Quite a lot. He does have the singlemindedness of his dad, if not to the same degree. His acts, once he becomes the Lord Commander, are all geared toward preparing for the day when the Army of the Dead arrives
Simultaneously, Jon discourages himself from having any desire for children or marriage. The repeated efforts he makes to dissuade himself from family is strong foreshadowing of him having one. Just as Dany constantly telling herself she can't have children. It's all foreshadowing of the day when they do.
What he does not know, of course, is his Targaryen heritage. He will be very reluctant to believe it. The truth that Ned was not his father will be a fact he will reject out of hand. Being Ned Stark's bastard is so much a part of his identity that he will not be willing to surrender it. It will take a great deal of argument from Arya to get him to. This is important.
When Arya manages to get him to accept the truth is when he finally travels to see Daenerys. It is here where Daenerys will demonstrate the lengths she will go to restore her family to the Throne. Probably using whoever is left of the Bloody Mummers, she will trick Jon into a trap. (The Treason for Love.) She will then have Drogon burn it. Not to kill Jon, but to prove to all the thousands who will be watching that he really is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen. I'm guessing that she or Melisandre will cast some kind of spell to ensure his survival.
Naturally, neither he nor Arya will be too happy about all this. It could very easily have failed to work. But it will establish beyond all disputing that Jon is the rightful king. Jon will then marry Dany and Arya in a joint wedding. At least I think so. It is possible that he will marry only one of them. No doubt many would dispute this. But novelists, particularly of fantasy, have never been hesitant to push the envelope. And this is particularly true of GRRM, who has a reputation for it, though he has been criticized for his portrayal of homosexuality. See Preston Jacobs' videos on the 1000 Worlds. Regardless, Arya will be the Queen by the time the story is over, with them or without them.
The three of them will also each claim a dragon. Or, more accurately, Drogon will choose Jon. Arya will be Viserion's rider. While Dany will be left with Rhaegal, although she won't actually ride him much.
It needs to be mentioned that Jon does not dominate the narrative the way you would normally expect the central character to. His story line makes up only a quarter of the plot. So how do we know he is the main hero? It is because he is the one facing the primary villain. The tv show changes the focus of the story to the Iron Throne despite repeated statements that the Others are the biggest threat. This is due entirely to the attitudes of the show runners Benioff and Weiss.
There are four main story lines, which I go into in more depth in other articles. This one deals strictly with Jon's. In it we see Jon growing as a leader and being willing to see the 'big' picture. Something which no one else does. Twice now he has tried to leave the Night's Watch. Both times it was to abandon his greater obligations for loyalty to his family. Both times he is punished for choosing the smaller goal over the greater. In keeping with Martin's love of doing things in 3's, he will go south again. This time he will succeed.
So many of the patterns in ASOIAF are done in threes. This is not universal, but it does apply to most of the plot lines in the story.
How does Jon's story end? I discuss who the ultimate savior of Westeros is in another article. Suffice it to say, Jon is going to be involved with ending the threat of the Others forever. Daenerys, Arya, and Melisandre will be with him. So will the dragons.
I should mention here the significance of the dragons' names. I discuss the direwolves in their own article. People have been asking what the dragons' names mean. The answer is it has to do with their deaths. Basically each dragon will die in a fashion that mirrors the man he is named after:
Drogon - will die after receiving a poisoned wound from the Others
Viserion - will be killed by being encased in ice
Rhaegal - will be crushed to death (probably)
The scenario might play out like this: (Bear in mind this is just a guess.)
Jon learns, from Bran, that in order to end the Others he must destroy the Heartree which was used to create them. To do so is likely a suicide mission and the women in his life, Arya, Daenerys, and Sansa, all tell him not to go. He learns from something Sam discovered that the Heartree is located near the Fist of the First Men. (Maybe even the Fist itself. Not the Isle of Faces because then the question becomes: why didn't anyone destroy it thousands of years ago.) But it is covered by an illusion. Bran, who is now a Force Ghost, his body having been killed by the Others, offers to aid him in seeing it.
Arya and Dany won't be too happy to be left behind. They chase after him, taking the dying Drogon, who was poisoned earlier, and Melisandre with them.
When they find the Heartree it will prove to be the largest weirwood tree anyone has ever seen. And it will have thousands of bodies hanging from it. Thousands. They will naturally try to burn it, but it will be covered in a protective shield of ice.
This is when the real battle starts. The Others will appear. It is highly likely that they will use their magic to create an Ice Dragon. (Check out Ideas of Ice and Fire's video on the fourth dragon.) This is when Melisandre will sacrifice herself to the fire to protect them all from the ice magic. It has long been surmised that Mel has to sacrifice herself and this seems to me most likely. The Heartree will create a suitable opponent for Jon. It is suggested in the Forsaken chapter that this will be in the form of a woman. Bran will use his power to link the minds of Arya and Daenerys so that Dany will be able to fight. And so it will go.
Here I need to interject a comment on Dawn and Valyrian steel swords.
Like the direwolves these too are misunderstood by the show runners Benioff and Weiss. Understanding their symbolism is considerably more difficult however. I could easily write an article just on them. Unfortunately, I don't really know what their importance is yet. This is the limit of what I am sure of.
Dawn is 'Lightbringer'.
I explain this in the article on the weirwoods. To awaken its power requires a sacrifice. But this is an act Jon will be unwilling to make. Fortunately for the story, Quaithe isn't so squeamish. To spare him the trauma of choosing which wife he wants to lose, she will volunteer herself. Not that he will approve. Her reasons I relate in her own article. Suffice it to say, Dawn will become Jon's sword. Longclaw will be returned to the Mormonts. Arya will eventually receive Dark Sister and the Catspaw Dagger. Daenerys will get Blackfyre. Heartsbane I am sure will end up with Sandor Clegane, but that is irrelevant.
Ultimately the good guys do win, but it will cost the lives of all the dragons to do it. The Ice Dragon kills Viserion. Rhaegal probably dies by being crushed by the Heartree. Or at least one of its branches. The Ice Dragon is probably killed by Arya using the Catspaw Dagger. I think it was made specifically to slay magical creatures. There is no specific evidence of this. Only my intuition. Jon will kill the Heartree's minion. The Heartree itself though will be destroyed by Rhaegal. Jon will have strapped wildfire to his back and when he smashes through the ice shield, inflicting mortal injuries to himself in the process, he will ignite it. (Is that suggesting something about Rhaegar? Perhaps.)
With the battle over Jon, Arya, and Dany will ride the dying Drogon back to the ruins of Winterfell. I don't think Drogon will have much life left in him, so Bran will skinchange him. Martin said in an interview years ago that someone would warg a dragon. Drogon dies doing it. The three will search the Winterfell crypts and find dragon eggs, left by Rhaegar for his son and brought to Winterfell by Ned. It is the eggs which call out to Jon from the crypts.
And this is how the story ends. You might call it a 'happy ending', but I am not so sure. The dirty little secret of the story is - the weirwoods have already won. They won before the story even started. Some would argue that because the main characters all survived that means the good guys won. Nothing could be further from the truth. The weirwoods will achieve their goals. The death of individual characters is immaterial. The weirwoods don't care about human life, save one. And as I explain in the later article, Jon's death or his life, either serves their interest. Basically, what they are fighting for is their own survival. Nothing more.
The first time I watched the show, during the scene when Ned cuts off poor Will's head, I thought, I kid you not, 'this is your last chance. You will never have another chance.' Then Ned cut Will's head off. If Ned had listened to Gareth, called his banners, and marched north of the Wall, he might and its a big MIGHT, have stopped what was coming. But I doubt it. Truth is it was probably already too late when the Children plugged Bloodraven into the weirwood net.
But I suppose we will never find out.