Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard Stark. He was born during the War of the Usurper and brought back by Eddard to live in Winterfell, to the distress of his wife Catelyn. Nothing else is known about Jon's mother, as Eddard refuses to speak of her to anyone, even Jon himself. There were many rumors regarding the identity of his mother, including that of a noblewoman by the name of Ashara Dayne, and the daughter of a fisherman who rode Eddard across the water during the War.
Jon Snow is raised among Lord Eddard's own children despite being a bastard, but Catelyn is cold to him and always makes it obvious that he is unwanted.
Jon is present with his brothers when his father executes the Night's Watch deserter and tells Bran not to look away. When the dead mother direwolf is found in the wood on the way back home, Jon convinces Lord Eddard that it is an omen and that the Stark children are meant to raise the pups, to Bran's delight. Jon does not think there is one for himself, but then he finds and adopts the silent albino pup which he names Ghost.
When King Robert Baratheon and the royal party come to Winterfell, Jon is relegated to a table with the squires, where he drinks more than he is used to (at dinner at his father's table, he is only allowed one cup of wine). The arrival of his uncle Benjen to the feast prompts Jon to suddenly ask to join the Night's Watch. Jon is angered when Benjen tells him to wait a few years and father bastards of his own first. Jon shouts that he will never father bastards. Outside he meets Tyrion Lannister, a fellow outcast in his own clan as a dwarf, who tells Jon to never forget who he is.
When Lord Eddard is to go to King's Landing to be Hand of the King, he knows that there will be no place at court for Jon, but Catelyn will not have him stay at Winterfell if Eddard goes. When Maester Luwin tells them that Jon had expressed a wish to take the black, Eddard is sad to be losing him, but knows a man can find position and honors at the Wall. Catelyn is overjoyed as neither he nor any children he sires will be rivals to her own children.
Joining the Night's WatchEdit
At the Wall, Jon is very disillusioned to find that it is a neglected ruin for the most part patrolled by criminals and rapists. The master of arms is Ser Alliser Thorne who takes an instant dislike to him. Ser Alliser was sent to the Wall after Robert's Rebellion. It was that or death, so he hates Jon for who his father is. Jon takes out his frustrations in training practice, and with the benefit of castle weapon training, beats the other recruits embarrassingly. Donal Noye a former blacksmith who works in the armory, opens Jon's eyes when he tells him that he has had advantages the others have not had and his acting superior is making him enemies. Jon begins training recruits himself, earning their respect and friendship.
A new recruit, Samwell Tarly, joins the Watch. Jon learns that despite the fact that he was true born and the heir to House Tarly, his treatment was even worse than Jon's was as a bastard. Feeling a sense of kinship to another fellow outcast, Jon arranges for the other recruits to go easy on the physically inferior Sam. In exchange Sam treats Jon with what approaches hero worship.
When news arrives first of Lord Eddard's arrest and then of his subsequent execution, Jon decides to desert to go and join Robb's army. He is followed by his friends and persuaded to return to Castle Black, to keep his vow to the Night's Watch. Ser Jeor Mermont knows he tried to leave, but forgives him and makes him swear not to try again. He gives Jon his Valyrian steel sword Longclaw for saving his life when a wight tries to kill him.
Beyond the Wall and Back AgainEdit
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont leads a ranging beyond the Wall taking 300 men to find Benjen Stark and learn where the Wildlings are going, once and for all. They travel to Craster's Keep and beyond to the Fist of the First Men. Jon is chosen to be part of an expedition, his group is lead by the legendary Qhorin Halfhand. They fight against a small group of Wildlings and Jon kills one of them, but refuses to kill another when he realizes that it is a girl, her name is Ygritte. He takes her as a prisoner instead of killing her. When Qhorin Halfhand forces him to kill Ygritte he decides to free her, because he is not able to kill this girl. Later on the group is discovered by another group of Wildlings, lead by Rattleshirt. Before they can take Qhorin and Jon captured, Qhorin orders Jon to join the Wildlings and find out what their plans are, therefore Jon should do everything to earn their trust. Ygritte is part of Rattleshirts group, too. After Jon kills Qhorin in order of Rattleshirt, she believes that Jon is from now on part of the Wildlings and turned his cloak to join the Wildlings.
While Jon searches for a way to escape, he travels with Ygritte, with whom he falls in love, and the others. They manage to scale the wall, however with unknowing help from Bran's Warging abilities, Jon is able to escape while taking a few shots of his own.
Jon arrives at Castle Black and is able to warn the Night's Watch of the impending attack. He and Donal Noye mount a defense of Castle Black. Donal is killed in the assault, leaving Jon to dutifully and skillfully lead them to victory, earning the admiration of the Night's Watchmen.
However, Jon is immediately arrested upon Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne's arrival, due to his involvement with the wildlings and assassination of Qhorin Halfhand. However, they release him and force him to lead an assassination attempt against Mance Rayder himself. However, when Jon meets with Mance, Stannis and his troops arrive before anything can happen. Stannis returns with Jon to Castle Black, where he and his men take station.
Later, when the election for a new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch seems to be favoring Lord Janos Slynt (who has it out for Jon Snow), Sam takes a role in convincing other candidates to drop out in Jon's favor. Thanks to this, Jon becomes Lord Commander, to his surprise.
A Dance with DragonsEdit
Lord Commander Jon Snow must contend with mutiny, as Janos Slynt attempts to cause uproar amongst the troops by disobeying Jon's orders. Ultimately, Jon doesn't put up with this and personally executes Slynt. Jon makes an attempt to unite the wildlings with a treaty, which sets in the beginning of the Night's Watch unrest with Jon Snow.