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“He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold….”
Those words have haunted A Song of Ice and Fire readers ever since the final Jon Snow chapter of A Dance With Dragons, the fifth and still most recently published novel in George R.R. Martin’s planned seven-book saga. Sure, Game of Thrones viewers have already seen Lord Snow return from passing through death’s door on the show, and while he’s likely to return as well in written form, it’s still unclear when, how or why.
It’s even unclear what form Jon will take when Martin’s next novel, The Winds of Winter, eventually comes to light. There are those who believe Jon transferred his consciousness into his direwolf Ghost shortly before succumbing to that fourth knife from his traitorous brothers in black; earlier in the same novel, someone observes that Snow’s gifts as a warg are far more powerful than Jon understands. Clearly, the show went a different way, with Melisandre (Carice van Houten) responsible for breathing fire back into Jon’s lungs. But even if we assume that the book’s Jon will return in his same mortal vessel, it won’t be without some serious scars.
Consider the first wound Jon sustains in the novel, as Martin writes: “When Wick Whittlestick slashed at his throat, the word turned into a grunt. 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.” Moments later, another member of the Night’s Watch “punched Jon in the belly,” leaving his dagger exactly “where he had buried it.” A beat later, someone stabs Jon “between the shoulder blades.” Then comes the fourth knife, which he does not feel; its entry point is left to the reader’s imagination, as are all of the knives that presumably came afterward.
Compare the book’s violent realities and even worse possibilities with how Jon died on the show, stabbed multiple times in the chest, and nowhere else — fatal wounds to be sure, but not so grisly that Kit Harington would be unrecognizable when his character conquered death just two episodes later. Whenever Jon returns in the books (if he returns at all, which was already a good bet even before the show tipped off the likely outcome), he’s not going to be in such pretty condition, what with the neck wound and all the other presumed carnage wreaked upon his body. The resurrected Jon Snow is going to be worse for wear — and the wounds could extend beyond his physical form as well, if two other resurrected characters in Ice and Fire lore are any indication.
Game of Thrones returns July 16.