I solemnly swear, on the house of my birth.Night gathers, and now my watch begins.The night is dark, and full of terrors.I forsake my name, and take the black as my house.
Samwell Tarly opts to say his oath in front of a weirwood tree with Jon Snow instead of a Sept, one of many signs that the two would form a strong bond.
Jon Snow is chosen to be the Lord Commander's personal steward, something he perceives as a slight until Samwell Tarly points out that he is being groomed for command. His original wish was to be a ranger, like his uncle Benjen Stark.
Maester LuwinSer Jorah MormontSer Barristan SelmyGendry
Jeor Mormont has a son, although they rarely speak of each other. The former war hero who was knighted for his valor during the Greyjoy Rebellion, Ser Jorah Mormont, was Lord of Bear Island, until his wife's expensive tastes got him into trouble. After selling slaves to try and cover his massive debts, he was sentenced to death by Ned Stark, the Warden of the North. Ser Jorah is now living in disgraced exile on the eastern continent of Essos.
He marries all of his daughters.He's been murdering members of the Watch.He's a Targaryen loyalist.He's giving some of his children to the White Walkers.
Jon Snow discovers Craster has been giving away all his male children to the White Walkers as some sort of offering. Unfortunately, the Lord Commander chooses to do nothing about this, mainly because Craster is a friend to the Watch and they need his hospitality.
The North remembers.Valar Morghulis.You know nothing, Jon Snow.Spear wives never run.
The tale of Jon Snow and Ygritte is just beginning.
The GiftWinterfellThe FrostfangsQueenscrown
The Gift is a large portion of land donated to the Night's Watch by House Stark in order to provide them with food and provisions.
When he breaks his oath.At his death.When he is an old man, no longer able to fulfill his duty.When he lays down his sword in surrender.
Once a Brother has sworn the oath, he is bound by it for life.
He heard rumors of dragons.Maester Luwin suggested they try to find and attack the White Walkers.To see what was going on with the free folk and rumors about Mance Rayder.It's just a routine status check on the lands north of the Wall.
The appearance of a Wight at Castle Black, coupled with rumors about an army gathering, left the Lord Commander unsettled about the future security of The Wall and the rest of Westeros.
The Lord Commander remarks that the name is suitable for both wolf and bear, when he gives Jon Snow the blade with a new wolf hilt.
Old TownHorn HillHarrenhalThe Twins
Samwell Tarly's father, Lord Randyll Tarly, is an accomplished military commander. Despite Sam's intelligence, his self-perceived cowardice and lack of combat skill got him sent away from his rightful lordship, to the Wall.
EastwatchShadow TowerCastle BlackQueenscrown
There are 19 forts along the wall, but Queenscrown is not among them. It's an abandoned town in the Gift.
House StarkHouse LannisterHouse TargaryenHouse Baratheon
Aemon Targaryen is a long forgotten uncle of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen.
One of the free folk the Watch encounters on their journey.The Warden of the East in Westeros.The Lord Commander before Jeor Mormont, killed in battle.The commander at Eastwatch.
Cotter Pyke was born a bastard on the Iron Islands, hence the surname 'Pyke.' But by taking the black, he was able to acheive the honor of commanding an entire fortress for the Night's Watch.
Mance RayderThe Lord of BonesTormund GiantsbaneTrick question: the free folk have no king!
The free folk do things quite differently than the people of Westeros. You can't be born a king. You have to earn it.
All images courtesy of HBO.