Chapter 78 Summary
Samwell accompanies Maester Aemon to meet with Stannis and Melisandre. The men running for Lord Commander are there as well. Stannis tells them that he needs them to pick a leader so that they can make plans to defend the realm from the Others. He also needs to begin dealing with the wildling prisoners, and he means to take the Gift: abandoned lands south of the Wall owned by the undermanned Night's Watch. The men are proud, but they leave. Aemon asks to see Stannis's blade, Lightbringer, and though it glows, Aemon tells Sam afterward that it does not burn. Sam wonders what they can do about preventing Slynt from taking command of the Wall, and Aemon tells him that a maester cannot influence the choosing but implies that Sam could. Sam goes to Cottor Pyke and encourages him to withdraw, but Pyke refuses. He does not wish to become Lord Commander but feels that he is a better choice than Mallister. When Sam goes to Mallister, he maintains that Pyke is too crass to be Lord Commander. Sam suggests that Jon might serve, given that he was born in a castle and is brother to a king. When he returns to Pyke, Sam suggests that Jon might serve, though it is true that he is bastard born, which pleases Pyke.