The story is an AU diverging at the end of Robert's Rebellion. After killing the Mad King Aerys, breaking his vows as his Kingsguard to save King's Landing, instead of being left off the hook to please Tywin Lannister, Jaime is instead forced to take the black. Partly to stop his father from restarting the war, and partly out of spite towards Ned Stark, Jaime accepts his punishment.
A life of tedium and misery seemingly awaits him, but he acclimates surprisingly well and finds an unlikely friend in Mance Rayder, which makes him realize the world doesn't end at the Wall and he can build a new life here. His new role also makes him question and think more deeply about the common Westerosi perceptions of honor, and seek his own definition of it.
But peace does not last forever, and very soon, Jaime and his new brothers have to face an otherwordly threat mounting far to the north...
Life and Honor contains examples of:
- Alternate Universe Fic
- Asshole Victim: The Weeper getting mauled to death by Lyuk.
- The Bard: Mance, an avid player of the lute.
- Big, Friendly Dog: Lyuk
- Canis Major: The giant dogs the Frozen Shore tribes raise to pull their sleds.
- Celibate Hero: What Jaime is by virtue of his vows both as a Kingsguard and as a man of the Watch.
- Child of Two Worlds: Mance being half-wilding is cause for mistrust amongst the Black Brothers, even if the Watch practically raised him.
- The Chosen One: Mance ponders over the similarities between Jaime and the last hero's tale. He concludes the three-eyed crow is actively grooming a hero to fight the Others.
- Cool Uncle: Gerion Lannister, for both Jaime and Tyrion.
- Damsel in Distress: Alysanne Mormont is abducted by the Weeper in order to provoke Jaime into walking in an ambush.
- Death by Adaptation: The Weeper.
- Decapitation Presentation: The Weeper impales the heads of slain Night's Watchmen in front of the Wall to send a message to Jaime.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: As per the course for the series.
- For Want of a Nail: The entire premise, which has for Point of Divergence Jaime being sent to the Wall for kingslaying instead of pardoned like in canon. Among other consequences, Cersei gives Robert a legitimate heir in Prince Steffon Baratheon.
- Going Native: Essentially Jaime and his companions for three months while they are prisoners of the Frozen Shore tribe. Jaime is even technically married to one wildling woman since she "stole" him. Mance is later forced to do so by circumstances, permanently in his case.
- Handicapped Badass: Jaime.
- I Gave My Word: After spitting on the Kingsguard's oath, Jaime is rather more stringent about the promises he swears.
- In Spite of a Nail: Despite the different timeline and circumstances, Jaime still loses his right hand.
- Mance still deserts the Watch, albeit for completely different reasons and reluctantly at that.
- Irony: The Seven Kingdoms look down on the wildlings, calling them savages and uncivilised. Yet the free folk offer nothing but validation and admiration for Jaime slaying the Mad King, while Westeros condemned him for breaking his oath.
- Knight In Shining Armour: Jaime is slowly growing into this. The whole thing with Aly Mormont really helped.
- Commander Mallister decided he would be this, as he wanted for honour to mean something. He's quite happy to see Jaime adopting the same behaviour.
- Large Ham: Tormund.
- The Oath-Breaker: Jaime, earning him the nickname "The Kingslayer" after killing the king who he swore to protect, and regarded comptemptuosly by the rest of the Seven Kingdoms for it.
- Later what the rest of the Night's Watch regards Mance as.
- Parental Neglect: Cersei completely ignores her infant son Steffon for being Robert's offspring. Still, at least she knows how old he is - something Robert can't be bothered with.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Jaime's punishment by being sent to the Wall.
- Rebuilt Pedestal: When Jaime was sentenced to the Wall, his reputation was in the toilet. Spending a whole winter searching for Aly Mormont and losing a hand to bring her home safe and sound redeems him a lot in the North.
- The Red Baron: "Kingslayer" for Jaime, a title which earns him scorn in Westeros, but fear and respect among wildlings due to their contempt of kingship.
- So Proud of You: When Jaime is promoted First Ranger, Commander Mallister warmly congratulates him for finding his honour back and holding so firmly to it.
- Title Drop: As shown in the page quote, "life and honor" are in the last line of the Night's Watch's vows as something the recruit gives in service of the Watch. When he first says them, Jaime curses the gods for taking everything from him, but he later reconsiders the words and finds that they actually fit him very well.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Over time, Benjen and Jaime develops this relationship over their initial mutual hostility.
- Walking the Earth: Dalla, Val, and their aunt Sefa before them, are druka, a term in the Old Tongue for wandering wise women, travelling all over the lands beyond the Wall, learning, keeping, and passing down knowledge orally, and providing (mostly medical) aid wherever they can.
- Warrior Poet: Mance can write songs as well as he can fight.
- Young Future Famous People: Jaime meets and befriends a young Ygritte, who is still a child at that time.