Chapter 53 Summary
Jon and the others do not march during the day, hoping that they will go unnoticed if they march in the shadows. Quorin commands the men to sleep, but he talks to Jon. Jon tells Quorin about Ygritte and her tale of Bael the Bard. Quorin knows the tale from Mance Rayder, who used to sing it when he was still a brother of the Night's Watch. Jon wonders why Rayder left. Quorin explains that Mance was a wildling child, though he was raised by the Watch. He would have been their best ranger except that he never learned to obey others. The wildlings are as courageous and as clever as anyone else, Quorin tells Jon, but they lack discipline. Jon admits that he also struggles with orders and tells Quorin that he let Ygritte go, which does not surprise him. The Halfhand explains that he needs to know the men he commands. Stonesnake is a climber, Squire Dalbridge may be the best bowman in the Watch, Ebben can make men give up their secrets, and now Quorin knows more about Jon than he did before. That night, Jon has a wolfdream. In it, he talks to Bran, whose face is shown in a three-eyed weirwood. After, he sees the wildling army with Ghost's eyes. It is huge, but it is more a village than an army. He sees giants riding mammoths. The dream ends when an eagle strikes from above, slashing at Ghost's neck. Quorin commands Jon to tell him of the dream. When they find Ghost with his neck slashed, Quorin commands the party to turn around. They leave Squire Dalbridge behind to defend the pass when they return to the place that Jon met Ygritte. Jon realizes that they have left him to die. Jon hears Squire Dalbridge blow his horn in warning, and Quorin announces that the wildlings are coming for them.