Janos Slynt is the commander of the City Watch of King's Landing (also called the "Gold Cloaks"), with almost two thousand men under his command. He is charged with keeping peace and order in the city and quelling unrest.
Janos reports to the small council about the disruptions to the city caused by the tournament to celebrate Lord Eddard Stark's appointment. Lord Renly Baratheon suggests dismissing Janos in favor of someone more competent, but Janos angrily replies he doesn't have enough resources. Eddard offers him twenty of his household guard and commands Littlefinger to find gold to pay for an expansion of the City Watch by another fifty men.
After Eddard resolves to expose Joffrey Baratheon's true birth, he asks for the help of the City Watch. Littlefinger agrees to bribe them into supporting Eddard's plan. Janos tells Eddard that they are with him, but is then seen exchanging looks with Queen Cersei. During the confrontation, the City Watch turns on Eddard and kills his men, allowing him to be taken prisoner. Following Lord Stark's arrest, Janos is named the new Lord of Harrenhal and head of House Slynt by King Joffrey, as a reward for his loyalty. He also attends the execution of Lord Stark.
Lord Janos has been given a place on the small council. During a session that coincides with King Joffrey Baratheon's sixteenth nameday and the official announcement of the end of the longest summer in living memory, Janos expresses his concern over the influx of refugees fleeing the civil war. He is ordered by Cersei to bar the city gates to peasants. Later, Janos oversees the massacre of all of the late Robert's bastard children. He personally murders Barra, a baby girl, before the eyes of her mother Mhaegen, one of Littlefinger's prostitutes.
He also interrogates Tobho Mott, who is being tortured by one of the gold cloaks, about the whereabouts of Gendry and learns that he has left to join the Night's Watch and is heading to Castle Black. Janos sends a small party of men after Gendry.
Janos is present at a small council meeting when they receive a request for more men from Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. Tyrion later has Janos as a dinner guest in the Tower of the Hand. Tyrion dismisses his squire, Podrick Payne, after Janos begins to chastise the boy for spilling wine on his hand. The two exchange compliments and jokes. Tyrion asks about the incident in Littlefinger's brothel, which Janos calls a nasty business, but necessary.
Tyrion feigns agreement, saying that the peace must be kept. However, the discussion quickly turns sour when Tyrion brings up the subject of Janos's role in the murder of Robert's bastards, subtly accusing him of taking bribes from Cersei or Joffrey to carry out such a horrific crime, though Janos defends his position and hints that it was not Cersei who gave him the order. He also defends himself for betraying Eddard to the usurpers, claiming Eddard was a traitor who tried to buy his loyalty. Tyrion counters that Slynt had already been bought by Littlefinger and the Lannisters, and accuses Janos outright of being entirely lacking in honor. At this point, Slynt stands up and threatens Tyrion, but is interrupted by Bronn, who Tyrion claims is the new Lord Commander of the City Watch. Over Slynt's protests and threats that he has friends at court who will not stand for this, Tyrion has four Gold Cloaks seize Slynt, informing him that he does not trust him and is sending him to Castle Black to join the Night's Watch. Slynt is dragged from the Red Keep to board a ship bound for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
Janos Slynt has arrived at Castle Black along with Ser Alliser Thorne, who has taken temporary command of the castle. He joins Ser Alliser, Maester Aemon, and two other black brothers to listen to Jon Snow's testimonies (it is unexplained how Slynt was immediately high-ranking enough to join the panel). Slynt is dismissive of Jon's claims, referring to Jon as "the bastard son of a traitor" and argues for his execution. When Jon asks him if he has ever been North of the Wall, he boasts that he commanded the City Watch of King's Landing and grows angered when Jon sarcastically retorts he must have been bad at his job to have been sent to the Wall. Slynt clearly does not believe Jon's report as he laughs at his claims of giants in the Free Folk's army, but is somewhat mollified when he realizes that the other black brothers do.
Janos warns Ser Alliser Thorne that since Snow is popular amongst the Night's Watch, this will give him an edge over him when a new Lord Commander is elected. Slynt suggests sanctioning Jon's expedition to Craster's Keep so the mutineers may kill Jon.
Much to his disappointment, Jon survives and returns to Castle Black. Janos is later present when Jon urges the Night's Watch to seal Castle Black's tunnel because of Mance Rayder's superior forces.
During the Battle of Castle Black, Janos accompanies Alliser Thorne atop the Wall and oversees the defenses. When Alliser leaves the Wall to help the black brothers under attack by wildlings from the south, he leaves Janos in charge of the Wall's defenses. Janos, having no true leadership experience, begins to break down at the sight of giants and massive wildling army. Grenn steps in by falsely claiming that Alliser needs Janos back down in Castle Black. Janos either believes him or pretends to as a pretext to flee, allowing Jon to take command. Once down below, Janos locks himself in the kitchens, where he discovers Gilly and her son. When Sam returns to Gilly, he discovers Janos still in hiding.
Janos supports Alliser Thorne during the choosing of the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and gives a speech on his behalf. When Sam stands up to speak for Jon, Janos mocks him for his relationship with Gilly, and Sam retaliates by revealing how Janos cowered in fear in the larder of Castle Black with Gilly and her baby, prompting everyone in the room to laugh at Janos while he denounces Sam's claims as lies. Jon ultimately wins the election.
During a meeting, as Jon assigns missions to various black brothers, Janos pats Thorne on the shoulder when Jon names him First Ranger. When Jon assigns Janos to take command of the castle of Greyguard in order to man and restore it as best he can, he takes it as an insult and rudely refuses before Jon is even finished speaking. Jon clarifies that this is an official command, not an offer, but Janos further insults Jon when asked to clarify if he is refusing direct orders, telling him that he can "stick [his] order up [his] bastard arse." Calmly, Jon orders Janos to be taken outside and calls for his sword. At first, Janos is dragged out to the courtyard believing that this is simply a scare tactic, but he realizes his mistake when Eddison Tollett forces him down onto the chopping block.
Terrified, Janos begs for Jon to give him another chance, admitting that he was wrong to question him and that he has been afraid for a long time, and breaks into tears. His pleas for mercy are ultimately futile and Jon beheads Janos with Longclaw - exacting a small justice for the deceased Ned Stark, as well as the Stark guardsmen who were slaughtered in the throne room, and Robert's murdered bastard children.
Janos Slynt was a disgraceful, arrogant, and corrupt man who would commit any action given to him by the king or queen, without hesitation, remorse or honor as long as he perceived to get benefit from it.
While he claims to be a loyal and faithful servant of the King and his main priority would be serving him and to defend the city, Janos's true drive appears to be to obtain power through political positions and to abuse such power to dominate his command over others by the use of immoral and cruel means, and later defend such actions by stating they were justified in the name of the King or otherwise. Amongst other things he accepts solicited bribes from criminals and other members of the City Watch.
Janos naturally enjoys authoritative positions, having found himself in them his entire life, including Lord Commander of the City Watch, member of the small council, head of House Slynt, and an unspecified high-ranking position in the Night's Watch. However, this is more of a compliment to his ability to squirm his way into the favor of other people with high-ranking positions by blind obedience and being outwardly sycophantic rather than his own accommodations.
Janos is not above treachery or hypocrisy at times. He would never have risked his position by doing the honorable thing and helping Eddard Stark remove Joffrey Baratheon from power, instead he betrays Eddard and his men on the spot and defends this to Tyrion by saying he was a traitor who attempted to buy him off, ignoring that he was already bought off by Petyr Baelish in the first place. A common mistake Janos usually makes is to believe himself to be an important or valued asset, despite usually being disregarded altogether. When being exiled to the Night's Watch, he proclaims he has "powerful friends" who would be upset about this but in reality, no one appeared concerned over Janos's exile (he uses this excuse again when about to be executed, unaware that Tywin Lannister was dead and he was making empty threats). Finally, when Jon Snow orders them to take Janos outside so that he can execute him, he stands staunchly as Alliser Thorne seemingly defends him, only to be shocked when Thorne moves aside and lets them have their way with him.
Janos seems to have a strong dislike of bastards and considers them beneath him even by the usual standards of people in Westeros, to the point where he has no problem even with killing a baby bastard when ordered to do so, as shown when he coldly killed Barra, on Joffrey's orders upon seeing another knight hesitate and also kills other bastard children of Robert's, never showing any sign of regret over it afterwards. While interrogating a man over Gendry's whereabouts, Janos sneeringly refers to Gendry as "the bastard" and also mocks Jon for being a bastard, never once showing him any respect and openly welcoming the idea of Jon being killed or executed despite the fact that Jon, who showed himself to be brave, compassionate, competent, resourceful, and always as reasonable as his circumstances would allow, is a better man than Janos in every way. All of this shows that the seemingly compassionless Janos lacks empathy for other human beings. Janos is also rather hypocritical, as he justifies his killing of Barra to Tyrion by saying "Orders are orders", but when then Jon gives him an order he doesn't like, he completely contradicts his earlier statement by telling Jon to "shove your order up your bastard arse" which ironically proves to be a fatal mistake as his disobedience causes Jon to execute him.
Janos's rise to power has been based almost only on his serving under corrupted people who needed someone willing to do any kind of dirty job for money and power. Unfortunately for him, being too arrogant and stupid to understand how his flattering attitude towards those he perceived as powerful wouldn’t have protected him forever, at some point he has always crossed the line, therefore other powerful people, who instead were able to see beyond his supposed usefulness, got a final confirmation on how far he is from being the valuable person he liked to think himself to be and therefore they got rid of him.
In fact, beneath his confident and defiant exterior, Janos was actually a coward. While other Lord Commanders of the City Watch were either knights or had some knowledge of the battlefield, he possessed none of these traits. He preferred attacking those who couldn't fight back, including Eddard's defenseless soldiers in the Throne Room and Barra. His cowardice was displayed during the Battle of Castle Black where he hid with the women and children and, when finally realizing Jon was serious about executing him, broke down in tears, begging and claiming, "I've always been afraid." He died begging Jon for mercy even though he didn't show any mercy to Ned Stark's men, Barra, or any of Robert's bastard children when he killed them, dying the pathetic and disgraceful person he always was.
|Game of Thrones: Season 1 appearances|
|Winter Is Coming||The Kingsroad||Lord Snow||Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things||The Wolf and the Lion|
|A Golden Crown||You Win or You Die||The Pointy End||Baelor||Fire and Blood|
|Game of Thrones: Season 2 appearances|
|The North Remembers||The Night Lands||What Is Dead May Never Die||Garden of Bones||The Ghost of Harrenhal|
|The Old Gods and the New||A Man Without Honor||The Prince of Winterfell||Blackwater||Valar Morghulis|
|Game of Thrones: Season 4 appearances|
|Two Swords||The Lion and the Rose||Breaker of Chains||Oathkeeper||First of His Name|
|The Laws of Gods and Men||Mockingbird||The Mountain and the Viper||The Watchers on the Wall||The Children|
|Game of Thrones: Season 5 appearances|
|The Wars to Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother's Mercy|
- Tyrion Lannister: "Tell me, when your men slaughtered Ned Stark's men in the throne room, did you give the order?"
- Janos Slynt: "I did, and I would again. The man was a traitor. He tried to buy my loyalty."
- Tyrion Lannister: "The fool. He had no idea you were already bought."
- — Tyrion Lannister interrogates Janos Slynt.[src]
- Janos Slynt: "I was charged with the defense of King's Landing when you were soiling your swaddling clothes. Keep your ruin."
- Jon Snow: "You mistake me, my Lord. That was a command, not an offer. Pack your arms and armor, say your farewells, and ride for Greyguard."
- Janos Slynt: "I will not go meekly off to freeze and die. Give it to one of the fools who cast a stone for you! I will not have it! Do you hear me, boy?! I will not have it!"
- Jon Snow: "Are you refusing to obey my order?"
- Janos Slynt: "You can stick your order up your bastard arse!"
- — Janos shows his contempt for Jon despite his ascension to Lord Commander.[src]
- Jon Snow: "If you have any last words, my lord, now's the time."
- Janos Slynt: "I was wrong! You're the Lord Commander! We all serve you! I'm sorry! Not only for this, for all I've done and said! I was wrong! (Jon raises Longclaw) My lord, please, mercy! Mercy! I'll go, I will! Please... I'm afraid... I've always been afraid... (Jon beheads him)."
- — Janos Slynt's final words before he is executed by Jon Snow for insubordination.[src]
- "(...) I executed men who refused to follow orders (...)"
- ―Jon Snow refers to Janos Slynt and his execution
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Janos Slynt was a commoner, a butcher's son, who joined the City Watch and rose through the ranks first to captain of the Iron Gate and then to become its commander at the death of the former commander, Manly Stokeworth. The City Watch, or "Gold Cloaks", is one of the few institutions in Westeros to permit promotion of non-nobles from the ranks. He is a somewhat humorless man who is arrogant and proud of his achievements. He is bald, stout, and heavily jowled, often described as frog-faced and shaped like a keg. He is the father of Morros, Jothos, Danos, and a daughter.
Arya sees Slynt at the Sept of Baelor throw her father down on his knees for Ser Ilyn Payne to behead him and later triumphantly holds Ned's head up for all to see. Tywin is indignant that he was raised to Lord of Harrenhal, due to his low birth and Harrenhal having been the seat of a King. He vows that Slynt will never take up his seat if he has any part in it. Slynt's elevation is one of the many questionable decisions by Cersei and Joffrey that prompts Tywin to send Tyrion to King's Landing to be acting Hand, and rein them in. When confronted about Slynt's appointment, Cersei admits to Tyrion that Slynt is not as competent as could be wished (as he was stupid enough to believe he could arrest as skilled a knight as Barristan Selmy with only two men, not thinking that Selmy might choose to fight rather than come quietly).
The books also establish that Slynt had amassed wealth by taking bribes, selling positions, and selling promotions. By the end of his tenure, over half the officers were paying him part of their salaries. Jon Arryn discovered this and had two men who were willing to come forward to testify against Janos, but both were found dead a short time later. Jon still wanted to dismiss Slynt, but Robert preferred a known thief over someone who might be worse. According to Stannis, these were Littlefinger's words, which Robert was merely repeating. Littlefinger managed to successfully convince Robert that Janos was no worse than past Commanders who took bribes now and again, when he was in fact one of the most corrupt in the history of the City Watch - according to Stannis, outright selling positions and promotions in the City Watch is actually very unusual, even in their jaded history. Stannis also believes that Littlefinger not only knew of Slynt's corruption, but also made sure the crown profited from it: Janos was probably on Littlefinger's direct payroll for years, though at what point he sided exclusively with Littlefinger is difficult to say. Stannis also comments that were he King, Slynt would have lost more than his position for such corruption. If Janos wasn't already an active agent for Littlefinger, as soon as Robert died he certainly sided with Littlefinger in the coup against Ned Stark, simply for more bribes - Littlefinger seems to have been laying the groundwork of his schemes for years, buying out men in positions of authority in the capital.
Sansa deeply hates Slynt, remembering how he had thrown down her father for Ilyn Payne to behead. She wishes she could hurt him, or that some hero would throw him down and cut off his head. When she hears Tyrion sent him to the Wall, she carelessly says in Joffrey's presence "I hope the Others get him" and gets beaten.
In A Clash of Kings, Janos doesn't personally kill Barra, but instead sends one of his subordinates, Allar Deem. Tyrion is still disgusted with Slynt (as he is in the TV series) because he happily passed on the orders to a man under his command, and was thus ultimately responsible for it. Deem is exiled to the Wall with Slynt, though Tyrion gives orders for Deem to be killed and thrown overboard before he arrives at Eastwatch.
In A Storm of Swords, Tywin receives the distress message from Castle Black, and is angered by the opening sentence "To the five kings". In order to teach the Night's Watch who is their only lawful king and bring them under his control, he decides to force them to choose whoever he tells them to choose for a new Lord Commander, otherwise they will receive no reinforcements. Pycelle agrees with Tywin, and suggests Slynt for the office. Tyrion objects, knowing that Slynt is a very poor choice for a Lord Commander; he reminds his father that the black brothers choose their own commander, and Slynt is "a hollow suit of armor who will sell himself to the highest bidder" (a very accurate description of Slynt), but his protests fall on deaf ears.
Lord Slynt is not present during most of the Battle of Castle Black. He arrives with his crony Alliser Thorne at a very late stage of the battle, both of them contributing nothing to the battle, only interfering. They seize command of the castle and interrogate Jon roughly. They accuse him of oathbreaking, cowardice, and desertion. Maester Aemon assures them that Jon has already explained his deeds to him and Donal Noye, but they either do not believe him or do not care. Jon repeats what he said before, that he was acting on Qhorin's orders, but his explanations are rejected. Slynt taunts Jon by claiming that Eddard Stark died a traitor. Hearing these lies about his father, Jon's patience runs out and when Thorne grabs Jon, Jon attacks him. The Eastwatch men pull Jon off Thorne and he is locked in an ice cell. Four days later, he is released (as Aemon in that time has rallied several senior members of the Night's Watch to testify to Jon's loyalty, preventing Slynt and Thorne from executing him). Slynt and Thorne order Jon to go to Mance Rayder under the pretext of parley and assassinate him. Jon knows well that the wildlings will probably kill him on the spot, but he has no other choice but to do as he's told, knowing that a refusal will confirm the false accusations against him and give Thorne and Slynt an excuse to kill him. Jon also grudgingly acknowledges that the plan to assassinate Mance at the cost of his own life is the only viable plan they have left for saving the Night's Watch - though ultimately his meeting with Mance is interrupted by the arrival of Stannis Baratheon's army.
Slynt puts himself forth as a candidate to succeed Jeor Mormont as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, with the support of Ser Alliser Thorne and later on of Bowen Marsh as well. Slynt also tries to persuade Stannis to support him, but Stannis's personal dislike for Slynt over his corruption scandal and his distaste for the man's sycophantic flattery puts an end to that. Stannis describes Slynt's aforementioned vile deeds in detail, putting Slynt in the worst possible light he can (going so far as to imply that in Robert's place, Stannis would have had Slynt executed for his corruption), but comments that if Slynt is chosen - he will accept that. Due to the rivalry between Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys Mallister, Slynt's chances improve. In the end, he is defeated by the efforts of Sam, who persuades Pyke and Mallister to support Jon as a compromise candidate.
After being chosen, Jon knows he must deal with Slynt and Thorne, who have done their best to get him killed, for they will undoubtedly undermine him. Jon knows about Slynt's part in his father's downfall, but suppresses his personal feelings, reminding himself that whenever someone joins the Watch his criminal record is erased clean. He decides to send Slynt away, and keep Thorne - whom he considers as the more dangerous of the two - close to him.
Jon orders Slynt to take command of Greyguard and aid in restoring it, but Slynt refuses his direct order three times - both in private and in public, in an extremely obnoxious and disrespectful manner. Initially, Jon was going to have him hanged, but then commands his men to bring him down - only to reveal that he meant that hanging him was wrong, because his father taught him that "the man who passes the sentence must swing the sword". Desperately, Slynt claims that he has friends in King's Landing - unaware that those "friends" are either dead, stripped of power, or simply do not care about him. Jon then personally beheads Janos, unknowingly fulfilling Sansa's wish (making her wish a foreshadowing of Slynt's fate).
Ned Stark's own son beheading Janos has one more layer of narrative resonance in the novels: though the TV show doesn't show it, in the books Janos not only betrays Ned to his eventual death, but also gives the command to the Gold Cloaks to fling Ned to the marble, to be beheaded (this is the scene from Arya's POV; Sansa recalls that Slynt did it himself). Moreover, after Ilyn Payne beheads Ned on the steps of the Great Sept, Janos personally lifts up Ned's severed head by the hair, and proudly holds it up to display it to the crowd, even as Ned's blood splattered out of it onto the steps; this detail is not given from Arya's and Sansa's POV, but is revealed in a flashback that Cersei is experiencing, while she performs the walk of atonement.
It is unclear whether Slynt's death has anything to do with the curse of Harrenhal (which has not been confirmed yet, and can be dismissed as a superstition): it has allegedly harmed Lady Whent, Tywin, Amory Lorch, Vargo Hoat, the Mountain, and Polliver - all of whom have been physically present at the castle and served as its castellans. Slynt, however, never set foot in Harrenhal after receiving the lord title.
- HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Baratheon of King's Landing - Janos Slynt entry
- "Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things"
- "You Win or You Die"
- "The Pointy End"
- "The North Remembers"
- "The Night Lands"
- "Two Swords"
- "The Watchers on the Wall"
- "The Children"
- "The Wars to Come"
- "The House of Black and White"
- "High Sparrow"
The Night's Watch
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