I'm a big fan of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I love the gritty "fantastic reality" the story portrays and his reluctance to color his world in only black and white and good and evil. I'm also a huge fan of Dark Sword Miniatures. Looking back through this blog, it's easy to see how true that statement is. So I guess it's only natural that I'm a double big fan of Dark Sword Miniatures George R. R. Martin Masterworks line that came out a few years ago. I started collecting the miniatures right away but it has taken until now for me to finally paint one. And what better way to start than Jon Snow?
In the novels, Jon Snow is one of the characters that you absolutely love or absolutely hate. He is one of the few that remain firmly on the "good guy" side and seems to have a strong moral compass. Unfortunately, in Martin's extremely brutal and morally ambiguous world, those very traits are what makes him such a polarizing personality. Detractors say he doesn't fit the theme Martin created while others cling to him as one of the only shinning points of the light in the entire series. Though this post is not intended to start a debate about Jon Snow the character, I will say that I'm firmly on the "like" side of the argument and look forward to more of his story arc. Thus it was natural to me to paint him first.
When I began to plan out the miniature, I was thinking how easy it would be to paint. After all, I was choosing to paint him as he would have looked after he joined the Night's Watch. The colors would be easy...black, black, and maybe some more black to paint his set of blacks traditionally worn by the Night's Watch, along with a bit of metallic for the maile. Well, as I quickly learned, to get any kind of contrast with an all black miniature you have to blend several different types of "black". So in reality, after blending several different versions of gray-blacks and brown-blacks, and choosing where to place them so as to provide some type of contrast from the black next to it, the miniature became quite difficult to paint. In fact, it became so difficult that my plan to paint up an entire group of rangers for a bit of Night's Watch gaming is undergoing serious rethinking. Ha!
Despite my personal difficulty with the blacks, I very much admire this miniature. The sculpt is absolutely wonderful. Though he may differ from the Kit Harrington version of the character, I feel Tom Meier not only truly captured the essence of Lord Snow the character, but also the very personality of Martin's version of a ranger/warrior of the Night's Watch. The pose definitely creates a a sense of movement with the miniature that to me embodies the style and tactics of the Watch itself. It speaks of stealthy quick movements that the Watch has had to develop over the decades of long decline just to perform their duty and to survive.
In fact, I like the sculpt so much that I plan on purchasing and painting at least two more. For one version I'd like to paint Jon as he might have appeared when he was still at Winterfell. I'll have to reread A Game of Thrones to see if he was ever described as wearing the livery of House Stark to paint him that way or I could just paint him in those colors anyhow and let others argue over the question of a bastard being allowed to wear the device of a noble house. For the second version, I would like to paint up the miniature as just another fantasy-type ranger. I think the sculpt would look wonderful with a bit of color!
By the way, I'm also a fan of the HBO series. Even though I started with the books, and that is where my allegiance lies, I really have no qualms about the television version. For the most part, the show stays very near to the novels and only takes creative licensing when needed to adapt the extremely complex books to something even remotely viewable for television. Casting for the show was mostly spot on for what I had in my mind for each character....except for maybe Catelyn Stark. I pictured her as a bit younger in looks.
As for characters, I think Tyrion is wonderful and Sir Jorah (though depicted quite differently than the novels) makes a great knight. However, it's Arrya that not only stole the show but my heart as well. I'm definitely looking forward to Season 2!
Edit 10July2012: Jon Snow now has his faithful companion painted up to join him.