Earlier in Season 6 of Game of Thrones, we saw

Jon quite disaffected with his duties

and essentially walking off the scene for some soulful reflective rest and relaxation. Sansa had to really work hard (well, sort of) to get him to go along with her plan to

mount an attack on Winterfell.

As we see


coming before the heads of prospective supporters, he does not seem very enthusiastic or passionate - and he doesn't even describe the White Walker Zombie Army threat as a central motivation (although



Then comes the scene in Episode 8 where he essentially decides, against the counsel of Sansa even, that the time has come to make their attack.

So the questions are:

  1. Why the sudden change of heart, with him now clamoring for an attack?
  2. Assuming he does not know something that we don't, no ace up his sleeve or anything (which seems like a reasonable assumption considering his behavior so far) - why would he prefer attacking immediately rather than in a few more weeks, after possibly securing Tully or maybe Manderly forces?
  3. Under the same assumption, what makes him believe he stands a good chance of winning this battle?
  4. Even if Jon wins, an open-field battle - rather than some sort of combination between a siege and guerilla tactics - will at the very least exact heavy losses on both sides. How is that reasonable considering

they're expecting to be faced with White Walkers and Zombies later on? I realize they can't take on the WWZ army anyway, but may well be able to mount some kind of defense at the wall, say.

So what's the deal here? Am I missing something?


1 Answer 1


You are forgetting about the "come and see" letter...

Ramsay is threatening action against Rickon, Sansa, Jon, the Wildlings, and even the Watch itself.

There is no getting around confronting Ramsay.

If they do not gather forces and march south, Ramsay is going to march north.... This was the turning point for Jon, he knew he had no other option and waiting around was not going to do him any good.

Let us also not forget... WINTER IS COMING.

Seriously, the snow was one the reason Stannis' army was slowed down. The deeper the snow gets the less likely Jon will be able to mount a successful attack because it would be more likely that Ramsay would just hole up in Winterfell. Ramsay wanted to meet Jon in the field because he did not want to appear weak, but the more winter comes the more foolish it is to venture outside the walls.

Jon also has no idea when the White Walkers and Night's King will attack the Wall. He needs to have the North reunited by that time to have any hope of a defense against the army of the dead (as Davos reminded Lady Mormont).

  • Ah, but is it me who's forgetting the letter and Rickon, or is it John and Sansa (or the writers)? I mean, after the letter, neither John nor Sansa seem to mention Rickon. Also, attacking earlier rather than sooner does not obviously increase his chances of survival (perhaps even the opposite) - and Sansa does not suggest they should attack sooner despite being as concerned with Rickon's well-being as John is, if not more.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 18, 2016 at 13:01
  • "attacking earlier rather than sooner" doesn't that mean the same thing? The letter is clearly the turning point in Jon's motivation. He must act before Ramsay does.
    – Skooba
    Jun 18, 2016 at 13:15
  • Sorry, I meant "later than sooner". As for the letter - Ramsey is trying to get John to act. If Ramsey wanted to take his army up north he would not have sent a letter.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 18, 2016 at 13:53
  • The other important element was the weather. One of the things that doomed Stannis was waiting in the building snow and suffering heavy attrition. Jon would need to attack before the next blizzard. As the Stark words go: "Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today."
    – Liesmith
    Jun 21, 2016 at 9:31
  • If you muster a bunch of people for an attack, how do you keep them together, long-term, in the field, without well-established logistics and supplies for war? How do you keep them motivated? How do you shelter them? A long-term wait would only diminish their chances, if waiting does nothing to improve their situation (more troops joining them, etc). Jun 21, 2016 at 20:05

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