Jon Snow is the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark. He was raised at Winterfell, alongside his half-siblings, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark. At age fourteen, Jon decided to join the Night's Watch, where he earned the nickname Lord Snow.
Appearance and Character
Jon resembles more of a Stark than any of his half-brothers, who tend to favour their mother. He has a long face, dark brown hair, and grey eyes, so dark that they seem almost black. Of all his siblings, Jon most closely resembles his youngest sister, Arya, who also favours the Stark side of the family. He is described as being graceful and quick, and possesses a lean build.
Jon looks solemn and guarded. Some consider him sullen, and quick to sense a slight. Due to his castle training, some of the lowborn members of the Night's Watch initially consider him to be arrogant, though this later changes as he learns more of his privilege. Jon is observant, a trait that came from his standing as a bastard. He resents his position, and strives to be considered as honourable, and wishes to prove he can be as true as his half-brother, Robb. He has a firm stance against fathering a bastard of his own, due to his own experiences.
Jon was born in 283 AC, at the end of Robert's Rebellion. One story says that he was named for Lord Jon Arryn, Eddard's second father figure and close ally. The identity of Jon's mother is unknown, though some possibilities have been rumoured. Eddard refuses to speak on the identity of his mother. When Eddard returned from war, he brought Jon with him to Winterfell, insisting that he be raised with the rest of his family. When his new wife, Catelyn Tully, and newborn son and heir, Robb arrived at Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already been installed in the castle, which upset Catelyn.
As part of being raised alongside his siblings, Jon was educated by Maester Luwin and trained by Ser Rodrik Cassel. He was closest to his brother, Robb, and sister, Arya. Due to their close resemblance, Arya once became convinced that she was bastard-born, until Jon convinced her that wasn't the case. Catelyn would grow annoyed whenever Jon bested Robb in training or in classes. Once, Jon and Robb piled a great mountain of snow up on top of a gate, hoping to push it onto someone passing below. They were discovered by Mance Rayder, a ranger of the Night's Watch, visiting Winterfell with Lord Commander Qorgyle. He promised not to tell of their plan, and so they succeeded, and were chased around the courtyard by Fat Tom, the victim of their prank. Another time, Jon covered himself in flour and hid in the crypts, jumping out to frighten Sansa, Arya, and Bran, who had been lured down there by Robb.
A Game of Thrones
Jon is part of the party that rides out with Lord Stark to attend the execution of Gared, a deserter of the Night's Watch, where Jon insists that Bran should not look away, or else their father will know. On their return to Winterfell, Jon and Robb race ahead, and discover a litter of direwolf pups, nearby to their dead mother. Though Lord Eddard suggests that killing them now would be a mercy, and would save them a longer death, Jon points out that there are five, the same as Ned has trueborn children, and that it must be a sign. After Eddard agrees to allowing his children to keep them, Jon finds another, an albino, and the runt of the litter, who he takes as his own, and names Ghost.
During the royal visit of King Robert I Baratheon, Jon is not permitted to sit with the noble children, and so sits with some squires instead. During the feast, Jon speaks with his uncle, Benjen Stark, who comments that they could use someone as observant as Jon at The Wall, causing Jon to ask him to allow him to join, knowing that a bastard can rise high in the numbers of the Watch. Hesitant about his age, Benjen and Jon argue, causing Jon to storm from the hall. Outside, he encounters Tyrion Lannister, the youngest brother of the Queen, Cersei Lannister. Tyrion offers Jon some advice, reminding him to never forget what he is, before returning to the celebrations.
Benjen then approaches Maester Luwin about Jon's request, who in turn speaks with Lord and Lady Stark. After Ned accepts the role of Hand of the King, and agrees to travel to King's Landing, Catelyn says that she will not have Jon remain in Winterfell. Unable to take him south, Ned agrees to allow Jon to join the Watch. prior to his departure, Jon commissions Mikken to make a braavo's blade style sword for Arya, who names it Needle. On the way north to the Wall, he grows disillusioned with the idea of the Night's Watch after meeting Yoren, a wandering crow, and two of his recruits, who are rapers who chose the black over castration. He also befriends Tyrion Lannister, who rides north with them to see the Wall.
Upon arriving at the Wall, Jon is placed into a class of recruits, serving under the watchful eye of Ser Alliser Thorne, the master-at-arms at Castle Black. Not long after his arrival, his uncle Benjen leaves to go ranging north of the Wall, refusing to take Jon with him as he is still a boy. Jon chafes in his class, easily beating each of his fellow recruits, and earning both the ire of them and Ser Alliser. After being attacked in the armoury, and lectured by the castle blacksmith, Donal Noye, Jon realises he has been too arrogant, and so commits to helping his fellow recruits improve. Although an ill-timed jape during this decision earns him the hatred of Ser Alliser. After that, Jon is often assigned night duty, as revenge from the master-at-arms. On one of these, he meets Tyrion Lannister taking one last look at the Wall, and the two part as friends.
Jon is training with Dareon when Samwell Tarly arrives at Castle Black. He watches uneasily, as Sam fights Halder, who Jon knows to be brutally strong. He intervenes, and Ser Alliser sends Albett and Rast after him, but, with the help of Grenn and Pypar, Jon beats them easily. That night, instead of sitting with his friends, he chooses to sit and talk with Sam. They go outside, where Jon tells Sam about dreams that he has of an empty and deserted Winterfell, and Sam tells Jon about his life at Horn Hill, and his relationship with his father, Lord Randyll Tarly, who threatened to have him killed if he did not join the Night's Watch. After that, Jon convinces and cajoles the other recruits into going easy on Sam in the training yard, to the anger of Ser Alliser. Rast refuses, but changes his mind after Jon, Grenn, Pyp, and Ghost break into his cell and threaten him.