Analyze Jorah’s motives, and if his loyalty changes at some point in the novel, explain when and why. Does he serve the Targaryen children, or himself?
The knight Jorah Mormont is one of the most fascinating characters in A Game of Thrones, in part because readers must piece together their opinions about him without the benefit of any chapters written specifically from his point of view (POV). Does he serve the Targaryen siblings or himself? This short essay will attempt to determine Mormont’s loyalties based on information from the novel as well as the opinions of readers who discuss such topics in a variety of online forums.
When Mormon is first encountered in the book, he is a sellsword (mercenary) who is taken into service by Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, who desire to retake the Iron Throne in Westeros. In the book’s 12th chapter, the second devoted to Eddard of Winterfell’s POV who has agreed to be the King’s Hand to Robert Baratheon, Eddard notes that he sentenced Ser Jorah to death for participating in the slave trade but that the knight escaped first. King Robert informs him that Mormont is now trying to get a royal pardon by spying on the Targaryens for the realm’s master of whisperers, Varys (Martin, 2011, p. 93). The King clearly wants Daenerys to meet an untimely death before the pair can muster an army with her marriage to a Dothraki horselord. Eddard is shocked at the suggestion of murdering a 13-year-old child (pp. 93-94). Knowing the Mormont has pledge service to the Targaryens but is also spying on them for Varys generates the feeling that he’s primarily trying to find a royal pardon for himself to return home.
It is in the 23rd chapter, the third devoted to the POV of Daenerys, that Mormont begins to respect Dany as a queen. He not only compliments Daenerys on beginning to sound more queen-like (Martin, 2011, p. 191), he agrees and supports her decision to make her brother walk in stead of ride a horse on their journey after a particularly violent outburst towards his sister (pp. 194-195). But Mormont also admits his fervent desire to return home (p. 196).
In chapter 46, Dany’s 5th chapter, her friendship with Mormont continues to deepen, as does his respect for her, even to the point of not resisting when Dany’s horselord husband kills Viserys for his insubordination. Mormont clearly had no respect for Viserys. No one did, not even his own sister. In Dany’s 6th chapter, an attempt is made on her life, but Mormont is able to intervene in the nick of time to save her, and then informs her that he received a letter warning that the Westeros King has offered a lordship to whoever kills the pregnant Targaryen (p. 494). The question now raised by this passage is one of whether Mormont is only saving Dany in order to eventually kill him herself to get his pardon and lordship restored. There’s no feeling of that, but seems a logical possibility.
In Dany’s 7th chapter, Mormont continues to gain respect for Dany as she orders the stoppage of rapes after her husband’s success battle (Martin, 2011, pp. 557-558). In Dany’s 8th chapter, her husband is dying from battle wounds, throwing the tribe into chaotically violent grab for power. Dany is giving birth, and Mormont protects her from the violence. She made a deal with a godwife to save her husband with forbidden bloodmagic, the price of which is a life. In Dany’s 9th chapter, it is revealed that her child is born dead. When she recovers, she sees that her husband is alive, but he is a vegetable and she smothers him. There is nothing left of the tribe but the stragglers, the old, frightened and sick. And yet Mormont remains in her service. In Dany’s 10th chapter, the final chapter of the book, Dany places her three dragon eggs (among her many wedding gifts) with her husband in the funeral pyre. She suspects that a fire this hot will make them hatch. At the height of the blaze, she herself enters the fire. Mormont was afraid she was committing suicide. He is the first to make his way back to Pyre as the fire dies down. Dany is nursing 3 live dragons, naked but miraculously un-burnt from the fire. Mormont falls to his knees. Everyone present pledges fealty to her (p. 674).
From the passages cited above, it seems evident that something is happening to Mormont. He could easily clear his name back home by killing Dany, but his actions are always very clearly to protect her from any danger. What is edging out his desire to return to Westeros? Perhaps the most likely possibility is that he’s falling in love with Dany. But only the next books in the series will tell. However, to return to the question of whether Mormont serves the Tarygaryen siblings or himself, the answer at the end of the book is neither. He appears to be increasingly loyal to Daenerys, and probably in love with her as well.
This view is supported in several online forums where such matters are discussed. In one such forum (Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange, 2013), the exchanges are discussing why Varys would want Daenerys dead as one train of thought in his overall motivations is one of supporting the Targaryen claim to the Iron Throne. Several of the commenters note that it is Mormont’s growing love of Dany that prevents him from easily claiming King’s offer for himself…
ASIOAF. (2013). Character discussion: Jorah Mormont. Series of messages retrieved from http://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/2330xc/spoilers_all_character_discussion_jorah_mormont.
Martin, G. R. R. (2011). A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books (NOTE: This is the 2011 hardback edition, also carrying the original copyright of 1996).
Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange. (July, 2013). How is the murder attempt consistent with Varys’ plan? Series of messages retrieved from http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/37908/how-is-the-murder-attempt-consistent-with-varys-plan.