Study Guide

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings Summary

Previously on A Song of Ice and Fire

At the end of A Game of Thrones, the Seven Kingdoms went a little nuts. King Robert Baratheon was killed by a boar, and Lord Eddard Stark was beheaded by orders of Joffrey Baratheon, the new king. Rightfully peeved at his father's death, Robb Stark rebelled and proclaimed the North a sovereign nation. Even Renly Baratheon decided to get in on the kingly action and left King's Landing to amass his own force to take the kingdom.

And that's pretty much where we come in with A Clash of Kings. If you feel you need a refresher course in what happened during the previous novel, then we've got you covered. But if you feel up to speed, then keep on reading here.

To keep this summary simple—well, simple as possible at any rate—we're going to start with the super-brief plot summary below that gives a big picture perspective. Following that, we'll have more detailed plot summaries looking in on the actions of individual characters and their more personal stories.

All right, here goes one thousand pages of highly-condensed, made-from-concentrate storytelling.

The Short and Sweet Version

In the east, Stannis Baratheon claims the Iron Throne as Robert's only legitimate heir, which, by the way, he totally is by law. But little brother, Renly, has already called most of the Baratheon lords to his cause in his bid to claim the Iron Throne for himself. The resulting popularity contest becomes a nationwide sibling squabble.

Elsewhere, Robb Stark continues to fume over his father's death and do battle with the Lannisters with the help of his mother's family, the Tullys. Despite his youth, Robb holds his own against the older Lord Tywin Lannister, resulting in several surprising victories for his cause.

At yet another elsewhere, the Greyjoy family decides to carve its own kingdom out of the north while the other families are too busy fighting each other to stop them—it's basically the warfare equivalent of Marty McFly's "What's that?" move.

The ensuing conflict becomes known as the War of the Five Kings, and A Clash of Kings tells the story of its major battles and political maneuverings. By the novel's end, Renly is dead, Stannis and the Greyjoys have suffered major setbacks, and the Lannisters and Starks remain the only true contenders.

(The war doesn't actually conclude until the third book, A Storm of Swords, and arguably not even then. So you'll have to keep reading to find out just how crazy things get. But anyway.)

Jon and Daenerys's tales also continue from A Game of Thrones. Jon joins Commander Mormont for the Great Ranging beyond the Wall, and Daenerys tries to gather support for her impending invasion of the Seven Kingdoms in the Essos city of Qarth. Each story sets up major events to take place in later books, and both characters' coming-of-age stories see them grow further into adulthood. With that said, each feels more like a side story as Jon and Daenerys have little connection with the politicking of the Seven Kingdoms.

Wow, and that's the super-short brief plot summary.

All Chaotic on the Westeros Front (The War of the Five Kings)

Tyrion Lannister comes to King's Landing on Joffrey's name day and surprises everyone with a letter proclaiming him active Hand of the King in Lord Twyin's absence. Not trusting Cersei's ability to rule properly as Queen Regent—on account of the fact that she's super bad at it—Tyrion immediately begins consolidating power around him.

He removes Cersei's men from key positions and replaces them with his own peeps. He prepares strategies for the invasion of Renly and Stannis's forces. To top it off, he must prevent the citizens of King's Landing from rioting as things like starving to death and having sociopathic Joffrey as king has put everyone on edge.

But Stannis is no slouch either. He tries to rally his bannermen to fight for his claim to the throne—which, again, is totally legit—but most of them swing over to Renly's side because Renly is a superstar by Seven Kingdoms standards. Also, Stannis proclaims to worship a new god called the Lord of Light and even allows his new priestess, Melisandre, to burn all the effigies of his old gods. Turns out, burning down someone's god is not the best way to make friends.

Robb Stark sends his mother, Catelyn Stark, to parley with Renly in the hopes that they can make the Lannisters a common enemy. Despite wanting to go north and be with Bran and Rickon, Catelyn agrees and reaches Renly's camp just as Stannis lays siege to Storm's End, Renly's castle.

When the two brothers finally meet up, they decide to duke it out rather than talk it out. Catelyn is present when Renly dies of mysterious circumstances conveniently before the battle, but she is positive that the shadow assassin that killed him looked like Stannis. Most of Renly's bannerbros go over to Stannis's side while Catelyn escapes with Renly's loyal knight, Brienne of Tarth.

Brienne swears fealty to Catelyn, and they spend the rest of the novel in Riverrun observing Edmure Tully, Catelyn's brother, battle the Lannister forces. Catelyn talks briefly with the imprisoned Jamie Lannister during this time, and she may or may not have straight-up murdered him (you'll just have to read the third book to find out).

Throughout all of this, Sansa Stark remains in King's Landing as Joffrey's kind-of betrothed, sort-of prisoner. She saves a weak knight named Ser Dontos from Joffrey's malicious ways, and the once-knight promises to see her safely home. In between bouts of being abused by Joffrey and Cersei, Sansa sometimes receives life lessons from Ser Sandor Clegane, a.k.a. the Hound. She also mopes about a lot. And… yeah, moving on.

Stannis finally attacks King's Landing, but Tyrion's preparations prove too much for his forces. Tyrion destroys Stannis's fleet with hulk ships filled with wildfire and leads a sortie that delays Stannis's soldiers from ramming down the King's Gate. During the battle, one of Tyrion's own men, Ser Mandon Moore, attempts to kill him.

When Tyrion comes to, he learns that his father managed to rout Stannis's forces with the help of the Tyrells. For their services, Joffrey takes Margaery Tyrell as his newly betrothed wife, meaning Sansa no longer has to marry him. For Tyrion's services, he is given a huge scar across his face and Tywin takes back the office of Hand of the King.

Everybody's story ends in a giant To Be Continued

Always Look on the Dark Side of Life (Arya's Story)

Arya Stark travels the King's Road a bit with Night's Watch recruiter Yoren, who plans to return her to Winterfell. They are eventually attacked by Lannister men lead by a Ser Amory. During the attack, Arya saves the lives of three men, but Yoren and most of the others die. With her friends Hot Pie and Gendry, Arya travels the wilderness for a while, but they are eventually captured by Ser Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. the Mountain, a.k.a. the last guy you want to capture you. He marches to castle Harrenhal to work for the Lannisters.

Unbeknownst to her, one of the three men she saved was an assassin named Jaqen H'ghar. He offers her three lives as payment for the life debt. Arya's first two kills are Weese and Chiswyck, pretty evil dudes in their own right. With her third death, she orders Jaqen to kill himself unless he helps her free Stark prisoners in the Harrenhal dungeons. Jaqen plays this "Get Out of Jail Free" card, and Ser Amory is displaced as Harrenhal's castellan.

Later, Lord Roose Bolton, one of Robb's men, takes Harrenhal as his own. He has Ser Amory executed by a bear—yes, you read that right—thus revenging Yoren's death in Arya's eyes.

So all is peachy for Arya then, right? Wrong. She learns Bolton is just as cruel as the other lords, so she, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape from Harrenhal with Arya's goal to get herself to Riverrun and back to her family. Arya's story is—you guessed it—To Be Continued…

The Prodigal Son Returns and Then Messes Everything Up (Theon's Story)

Theon Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands after being away from his home for ten years. He finds his homecoming less than celebratory as everyone finds his personality more Stark than Greyjoy. Theon tells his father his plan for them to join the Starks, but Lord Balon Greyjoy rejects it. He has his own goals, thank you very much.

Planning to carve a kingdom out of the north, Balon sends Theon to sack fishing villages up and down the coast while Theon's sister, Asha, takes the castle at Deepwood Motte. Seeing no glory in defeating fishermen, Theon disobeys his father and takes Winterfell instead. Afraid for his people's safety, Bran Stark yields the castle to Theon.

With the help of Osha, Meera, and Jojen, Bran and Rickon escape. Theon hunts them down but is unsuccessful. Fearing he will look weak, Theon lets a manservant named Reek convince him to kill two other boys and pass them off as Bran and Rickon.

Theon has difficulty controlling Winterfell with his skeleton crew and word comes that Ser Rodrik aims to retake the castle. Despite the warnings of his sister, Theon refuses to look like a failure and chooses to stay and fight for his prize. He gives Reek a bag of silver to hire men to help him fight.

Rodrik comes to retake the castle but is defeated by Reek and his men. Reek reveals himself to be Ramsey Snow, Roose Bolton's illegitimate son. Knocking Theon out cold with a gauntleted backhand, Ramsay sacks and burns Winterfell. And with that, Theon's fate is filed under To Be Continued… Shocking, we know.

As for Bran and company, they emerge a few days later, having been hiding in the crypts beneath the castle the whole time. They agree that Rickon and Bran must split up, so Osha takes Rickon while Bran travels with Meera, Jojen, and Hodor. Jojen says they will head north, seeking the three-eyed crow and an answer to Bran's dreams. Yet another To Be Continued

Essos Side Story (Daenerys's Story)

Unlike the royalty and regular folk of the Seven Kingdoms, Daenerys's life is peachy across the Narrow Sea. Just kidding. Things are pretty weaksauce for her, too.

Caught between mightier khalasars (killer rocks) and the Red Waste (deadly hard place), she chooses to enter the Red Waste. After a harrowing journey, she and her people make it to Qarth, city of wealth and unpronounceable names. Dany is welcomed with open arms: A wealthy merchant named Xaro Xhoan Daxos lets her crash at his mansion, she is showered with gifts, and word even reaches her that Robert Baratheon is dead.

But Dany's Yelp review of Qarth isn't five stars, since she receives no help in her quest to retake the Iron Throne. The Pureborn of Qarth sees her and her dragons as novelties only, and Xaro assists her because he super wants a dragon. Quaithe of the Shadow offers sage advice, but like any true oracle, her words are a riddle wrapped in mystery stuffed inside an enigma.

Dany eventually seeks the aid of Pyat Pree and the Undying. Upon entering the House of the Undying with her dragon, Drogon, Dany receives several visions of the past and the future. The Undying also lay some prophecies on her but then attack her in the midst of the vision. Drogon sets the Undying alight with his fire breath, and thousand-year-old people are apparently super flammable.

Tired of begging the help of others, Dany goes to the ports of Qarth to seek her own passage to the Seven Kingdoms. There, an assassination attempt on her life is foiled by two strangers, Whitebeard and Strong Belwas. They say Magister Illyrio sent them with three ships to aid her return to Pentos, as Illyrio believes Dany alone can heal the Seven Kingdoms from its current political turmoil. Dany rechristens the ships, naming them after the dragons of Aegon the Conqueror.

She sails east and into the lands of To Be Continued…

The Northern Fights (Jon's Story)

Jon Snow joins Commander Mormont and two hundred Night's Watch brothers for the Great Ranging. Mormont's goal is to discover the fate of Benjen Stark, King-Beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder's plans, and what is causing men to rise up from the dead. What can we say? Dude's a go-getter.

As they set out, the Night's Watch find several wildling villages abandoned as though everyone just up and left. They travel to Craster's Keep, and Craster tells them that Mance Rayder is gathering his forces at a place called the Frostfangs, which is no doubt as pleasant as it sounds.

Jon and Sam meet Gilly, one of Craster's daughters/wives. She asks Jon to take her with them when they leave as she fears Craster will sacrifice her unborn to the cold gods. Jon refuses since they are heading to war and not the Wall.

The group travels farther north, eventually meeting up with Qhorin Halfhand and one hundred more brothers. Qhorin convinces Mormont to send three scouting parties to find Mance Rayder's forces. Qhorin agrees to lead one of the parties and requests Jon Snow join them. Jon accepts.

At a place called Skirling Pass, Jon kills his first wildling and captures another, a girl named Ygritte. That night, Jon and Ygritte go all getting to know you, and when Qhorin says to kill her, Jon lets her escape instead.

The scouting party draws closer to Mance Raider's forces. But an eagle, controlled by a warg—yep, that's a thing—spots them. Qhorin orders the retreat, but a hunting party kills the other crows in the pursuit. Cornered, Qhorin orders Jon to yield and become a double agent. To sell the ruse, Qhorin attacks Jon, forcing him to slay him. Ygritte vouches for Jon—isn't that lucky?—and Jon joins the wildlings. They travel to Mance Rayder's camp as the Wildlings prepare to assault the Wall and invade the Seven Kingdoms.

Thus ends Jon's story… for this novel at least. To be Continued… of course.

A note: If this all seems like a lot, well, it's because it is. With that said, the story is really easy to follow thanks to central point of view characters and a fair amount of exposition. It can be hard to tell where everyone's story is taking place in relation to everyone else's, but thankfully Martin's fans are a helpful community. Some thoughtful cartographers have even created maps to help fellow readers keep it all straight.

  • Chapter 1

    Prologue

    • Cressen is maester to Lord Stannis Baratheon, the late King Robert's brother and legal heir. The maester will be our prologue narrator.
    • He recently received a white raven from the Citadel. The raven carried a message: Summer is over and winter is coming.
    • Cressen allows Shireen, Stannis's daughter, to visit the rare bird—the white raven, that is.
    • He learns Ser Davos Seaworth returned in the night and goes to provide Lord Stannis counsel.
    • On his way to the Chamber of the Painted Table, Cressen encounters Davos, one-time smuggler turned lawful knight.
    • Davos informs Cressen that the storm lords will not support Stannis's claim to the Iron Throne as they have thrown their support behind his younger, more popular brother, Renly Baratheon.
    • Cressen advises Stannis to find a common cause with Renly or Robb Stark, but Stannis refuses as long as they call themselves kings.
    • Lady Selyse, Stannis's wife, enters and asserts that the red comet is a sign sent to them by R'hllor, the Lord of Light. She believes Stannis is destined to kill Renly.
    • Cressen insists this new god, the Lord of Light, is the cause of the current madness and blames its priestess, the red woman, Melisandre of Asshai.
    • Returning to his chambers, the maester plans to poison Melisandre at the evening's feast. (It was the maester, in the great hall, with the poison, right?)
    • During the feast, Cressen learns he has been retired as maester and replaced with his assistant, Pylos.
    • After Melisandre mocks him, Cressen slips the poison into his wine glass and proposes a toast.
    • Melisandre drinks from the cup and is unaffected. Cressen then drinks and dies in agony. And with that, our first narrator bites the dust.
  • Chapter 2

    Arya I

    • Arya pretends to be Arry the orphan boy while traveling north with Yoren and his Night's Watch recruits.
    • The hardest part of the journey is neither pretending to be a boy nor the company of cutthroats. It is two bullies, Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie.
    • Hot Pie tries to take Needle, Arya's sword gifted to her by Jon—so Arya knocks him off his donkey and throttles him bloody with a stick.
    • Yoren breaks up the fight, then taking Arya away from the others, he spanks her with the stick.
    • After the beating, he informs Arya that he was paid to take Lord Eddard Stark to the Wall so Ned could take the black.
    • Arya rightly assumes Joffrey is to blame for how things turned out and complains someone should kill him.
    • Yoren agrees with Arya, but points out it won't be either of them.
    • They continue to travel north with Arya dreaming of home and her family.
  • Chapter 3

    Sansa I

    • Sansa attends a tournament held in honor of Joffrey's name day, a.k.a. his birthday. She took special care to dress nicely, hoping to avoid displeasing the king and receiving a beating from one of the Kingsguard.
    • While watching, she thinks back to the tournament held in her father's honor and how much more magnificent it had been.
    • During a match, Ser Dontos appears for the joust, drunk and missing his pants and horse. Pro tip: A horse is kind of a requirement for jousting.
    • Joffrey orders him to be drowned in a casket of wine, but Sansa pleads for the knight's life—with the Hound's help, she convinces the king that it is bad luck to kill a man on one's name day.
    • Sansa convinces Joffrey to make Ser Dontos a court fool while making him believe it's his idea.
    • Tyrion Lannister arrives with an entourage of his mountain men. He makes his condolences to Sansa for the loss of her father, and Sansa feeds him her practiced lie of how loyal she is to Joffrey.
    • Seeing through the lie, Tyrion promises to not hurt her.
    • Sansa remembers Cersei being kind before and reminds herself Tyrion is a Lannister.
  • Chapter 4

    Tyrion I

    • Tyrion tries to enter the small council meeting, but Ser Mandon Moore bars his way.
    • Snagging his first political victory, Tyrion manages to talk his way inside. Tyrion: 1 Other Guys: 0. Boo ya.
    • He presents a letter to the small council proclaiming he is acting Hand of the King; the other councilors leave the two Lannister siblings to chat.
    • Cersei insists she can rule just fine without Tyrion as Hand, but Tyrion points out she'll have to take it up with their father—you know, the guy with the army defending them.
    • Tyrion promises to help free Jamie, who you'll recall was captured by Robb Stark's forces during the Battle of the Whispering Woods.
    • He also receives the truth of Eddard Stark's untimely separation from his head. Tyrion admits that their father wants him to bring Joffrey to heel.
    • When Tyrion questions Cersei on Lord Arryn's death, she says she knows nothing.
    • Leaving the Red Keep, Tyrion notes the heads of Eddard Stark and his people on the walls and orders them to be taken down and proper rites performed.
    • Riding through the city, he notes that the place has gotten pretty seedy of late.
    • He finds Varys drinking and laughing with Shae at the inn.
    • Varys lets Tyrion subtly know that no one enters King's Landing without his knowledge—even prostitutes Tywin Lannister forbade being there.
    • Equally subtle, Tyrion lets Varys know he can speak his political doublespeak.
    • In his room Tyrion reminds himself it is his coin Shae likely loves. Not him.
  • Chapter 5

    Bran I

    • Bran sits in his room listening to the wolves howl in the godswood and wondering for whom they mourn this time.
    • He starts howling, and a vexed Maester Luwin comes to see what is wrong.
    • They discuss dreams, and Bran admits to having vivid tree dreams and dreams where he is a direwolf.
    • When Luwin tells Bran the dreams are only tormenting him more, the young Stark takes up the howling again. Luwin leaves.
    • Bran thinks back to why the direwolves are corralled in the godswood. The Frey boys and Rickon were playing lord of the crossing, and when Little Walder struck Rickon with a stick, Shaggydog attacked the boy.
    • Luwin returns with a sleep draught that he claims will let Bran sleep without dreams.
    • The potion puts Bran to sleep but not a dreamless one—Bran dreams he is a direwolf in the godswood again, hearing the world beyond Winterfell calling him.
  • Chapter 6

    Arya II

    • Arya continues to travel the kingsroad with Yoren and company; the horrors of war flow past them, heading south to King's Landing.
    • She watches armed travelers and sickly travelers and even travelers driven mad by what they have witnessed.
    • Staying at an inn, Arya overhears tales of wolves with no fear of men. She wonders if one of them is Nymeria, her old direwolf.
    • When she hears one of the patrons tell a story of a wolf eating a baby, Arya speaks up and says it's a lie. Yoren takes her outside for making a scene.
    • One of the three men chained in the wagon, Jaqen H'ghar, asks for a drink of beer. The other two men, Rorge and Biter, don't speak as kindly as Jaqen.
    • The big lad Arya calls the Bull tells her not to go near their kind.
    • Goldcloaks arrive. Arya hides with the Bull, thinking it is her they are after.
    • They claim to be after a boy in the Night's Watch, but Yoren says they can't have him since his crimes are nulled once he took the black.
    • The Night's Watch recruits back Yoren up, making things a not-so-fair fight.
    • Turns out, the Goldcloaks are after the Bull, but Yoren scares them off.
    • The Bull reveals himself to be Gendry, one of Robert Baratheon's illegitimate sons.
  • Chapter 7

    Jon I

    • Jon visits Sam in Castle Black's subterranean library. Sam was sent to find maps for Commander Mormont and accidentally pulled an all-nighter as he got caught up in the minute details.
    • En route to bringing Mormont the maps, Jon and Sam talk with Donal, Castle Black's armorer. They discuss the growing roster of kings down south.
    • After handing Mormont the maps, Sam leaves, and Jon and the commander discuss Maester Aemon.
    • Aemon, it turns out, was offered the throne once as a member of the Targaryen family. He refused, as his vows required him to serve, not to rule, so instead Aemon's brother, Aegon V, took the throne. This eventually led to the Mad King taking the throne, so… wait… Is this a good thing?
    • Mormont points out a similarity between Jon and Aemon's royal brethren.
    • Like Aemon, Jon swears to keep his vows—words we are sure will in no way come back to haunt him.
  • Chapter 8

    Catelyn I

    • Catelyn watches her son present peace terms to Ser Cleos Frey to be delivered to the Queen Regent. She notices how he seems to have grown up with a crown on his head and a few battles under his belt.
    • After the audience, she recommends that her son offer sweeter terms, but Robb refuses. She then recommends they trade Jamie Lannister for Robb's sisters, but Robb shoots down that idea as well.
    • While she's making recommendations, she also advises Robb send someone other than Theon Greyjoy to parley with King Balon Greyjoy. But… nope.
    • Catelyn visits her father, Hoster Tully, who currently lays on his deathbed, mind lost to senility.
    • There she bumps into her uncle, Ser Brynden "Blackfish" Tully.
    • Brynden updates Catelyn on how bad Lannister men are sacking and pillaging their way through the Riverlands—Ser Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, is the worst of the bunch.
    • His scouts also bring word that another Lannister army is being trained at Casterly Rock; after their training, they will meet Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal.
    • Catelyn decides the best way to force Tywin's army away from Harrenhal is to have Robb team up with some other threat.
    • And King Renly's army could provide just such a threat.
  • Chapter 9

    Tyrion II

    • Janos Slynt enjoys a tasty meal—and even tastier wine—with Tyrion Lannister.
    • Tyrion keeps the conversation cordial, pretending to care whom Slynt would recommend for commander of the City Watch.
    • Then Tyrion abruptly changes subject to Slynt ordering his men to kill all of Robert Baratheon's illegitimate children.
    • Slynt says the king ordered it.
    • Tyrion wonders if Slynt drove the spear into Eddard Stark when he betrayed him or was simply given that order, too.
    • Slynt is insulted, but Tyrion informs him he can keep his life if he takes the black and sails for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea with the morning tide.
    • Ser Jacelyn Bywater, Tyrion's new commander of the City Watch, escorts Slynt from the room.
    • Varys enters, and Tyrion reveals to him that he believes Cersei really sent the gold cloaks to kill the children.
    • He orders the eunuch to no longer keep secrets from him. Varys will, of course, get right on that.
    • But first, he asks Tyrion to consider his little riddle from earlier and reveals the answer, "Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less" (9.Tyrion.102).
    • After finishing some work, Tyrion meets with Bronn. He asks his sellsword if he would kill a baby if ordered, no questions asked.
    • Bronn says no. He'd ask how much the job paid.
  • Chapter 10

    Arya III

    • Yoren and company are… still… traveling… north. Arya keeps waiting for the gold cloaks to attack them.
    • With little resources, they begin living off the land. To avoid running into unfriendly forces, Yoren takes them the long way around.
    • One day, Yoren returns from scouting a burned village with a little girl in his arms. Murch and Cutjack carry the mother, who dies soon after; Gendry and Cutjack dig her a grave.
    • That evening, Arya wakes up to "make water," but the thought of meeting wolves in the woods scares her back.
    • She talks with Yoren, telling him she wants to go home.
    • Yoren says it might have been safer had he left her in the city—for the first time in thirty years, he's not sure they'll make it to the Wall.
  • Chapter 11

    Davos I

    • Davos watches as Melisandre burns the effigies of the Seven from Dragonstone's sept. They are being burned as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light.
    • The gods never meant much to Davos, but he feels ill watching them burn nonetheless.
    • Stannis comes forward to pull a burning sword from the fire. Supposedly it is Lightbringer, the fabled sword of Azor Ahai, which sounds super important.
    • Stannis has to throw the sword on the ground and stamp out the fire that caught on his glove.
    • After the ritual, Davos heads to an inn and meets Salladhor Saan, a pirate Davos brought to Stannis's cause. Well, for Stannis's gold really, but same difference to a pirate.
    • Salladhor Saan says King's Landing is ripe for the taking, and they should sail for it now.
    • He also tells Davos that the sword was definitely not Lightbringer, warning magic swords are not so easily obtained.
    • Davos is summoned to the Chamber of Painted Table.
    • Stannis tasks Davos and his sons to deliver letters claiming Joffrey an illegitimate heir to the throne on account of him being the result of Jamie and Cersei's incest. They are to deliver the letters throughout the Seven Kingdoms and to the Free Cities across the Narrow Sea.
    • Davos wonders if perhaps the letter should be addressed as done in the sight of the Seven and not the Lord of Light.
    • Stannis says the old gods never answered his prayers, and he doesn't much believe in his new one. But Melisandre has power, and he will use it.
  • Chapter 12

    Theon I

    • Theon Greyjoy travels aboard the Myraham to Pyke, his family home, which he has not seen in ten years. While aboard the ship, he makes use of the captain's daughter's, shall we say, VIP services, and then promptly dumps her when they make port.
    • On the island, he finds no honor guard waiting for him, just his old uncle Damphair Aeron Greyjoy.
    • Before they leave, Aeron baptizes Theon with seawater and a prayer to the Drowned God, who, as far as gods go, is a total bummer of a deity.
    • As the two ride to the castle, it becomes clear to Theon that not only has his uncle changed but also all of Pyke; he is a stranger in his own home.
    • Lord Balon Greyjoy calls Theon to his solar.
    • Theon presents a letter to Balon, but his father burns it. He says his crown is nothing he will be given, but something he will pay the iron price for.
    • (The iron price, by the by, simply means that they will kill someone and take his things rather than trade for them. Now, we're not economists, but we're guessing this bartering system presents some rather unstable long-term exchange rates. A bloody market bubble, if you will.)
    • Lord Balon says he aims to carve out a kingdom for the Greyjoys, and it just so happens one sits undefended and ready for the taking.
    • Theon wonders where he aims to take… but then knows.
  • Chapter 13

    Daenerys I

    • Caught between factions of Khal Drogo's once mighty khalasar, Daenerys Targaryen decides she and her people will follow the red comet into the Red Waste.
    • True to its name, the Red Waste is pretty desolate. Several members of Dany's khalasar die crossing it, and life remains miserable for those who live.
    • During the journey, Dany names her dragons. The green one will be Rhaegal, the cream-and-gold one Viserion, and the black one Drogon (13.Daenerys.24-26).
    • Eventually they come to a ghost town, but Dany decides her people can suffer ghosts if it means food and fresh water.
    • Jorah tells Dany why he was exiled from his home: He went into debt trying to keep his second wife, Lynesse, happy—and when he took to selling slaves to make some extra scratch, Ned Stark came after him.
    • He and his wife fled to Lys, and she eventually shacked up with a merchant prince named Tregar Ormollen. It's the classic tale of boy meets girl, girl runs boy into debt, boy becomes sellsword in foreign land.
    • Dany realizes Jorah is totally in love with her, but she also realizes she can't love him in that way.
    • Two weeks later, Dany sends her bloodriders to see what lies beyond the Red Waste.
    • Jhogo returns with Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Quaithe of the Shadow. They hail from the city Qarth, and they have heard dragons have returned to the world.
  • Chapter 14

    Jon II

    • We reconnect with Jon during the Great Ranging. The Rangers have come to the village of Whitetree. It is the fourth village they have visited and the fourth to be deserted.
    • Mormont writes a message to update Maester Aemon and the others back in Castle Black.
    • Jon brings the message to Sam, who is in charge of the ravens. Jon learns that the self-proclaimed coward Sam has discovered a bit of his courage; he also taught the ravens to speak while he was at it.
    • The Rangers ride on. Mormont tells Jon they'll meet up with Qhorin Halfhand and his men and proceed to find whatever enemy awaits them beyond the Wall.
    • Jon wonders if the enemy might not find them first.
  • Chapter 15

    Arya IV

    • Yoren and company. Traveling. North. Still. Now they're heading for a town on the God's Eye lake.
    • The travelers explore the town and find it empty, so Yoren decides they'll stay at the holdfast and use the lake to gather resources.
    • During Arya's evening watch, Hot Pie asks her where she really got her sword. She says her brother gave it to her.
    • Arya dreams of a wolf howling and wakes up in time to spot a group coming toward them.
    • The riders address the people in the holdfast, and Yoren explains they are simply men of the Night's Watch bound for the Wall.
    • The leader, Ser Amory Lorch, demands they open the gates. Yoren refuses.
    • Ser Lorch says, "That's cool. Have a nice day" and rides off. Just kidding. He considers them traitors for their act of defiance and orders the walls stormed.
    • A fierce battle ensues, filled with pyrotechnics, spectacular stunt work, and loads of blood squibs.
    • When it becomes clear the Night's Watch has lost, Yoren orders Arya to gather all she can and escape under the barn.
    • Arya gathers Gendry, Hot Pie, a wounded Lommy, and the girl.
    • On the way out, Jaqen H'ghar calls for Arya as the fires spread toward the wagon.
    • She tosses the three men an axe to free themselves and then escapes under the barn with the others.
  • Chapter 16

    Tyrion III

    • Cersei is upset with Stannis's letter, mainly the whole incest accusation part.
    • The small council agrees to spread a rumor of its own because all you need to know about Seven Kingdoms politics you already learned on the playground.
    • Petyr Baelish creates a story that Stannis's daughter is a child born of an affair between his wife and his court jester.
    • After the council meeting, Tyrion meets with the blacksmiths of King's Landing and commands them to halt what they are doing and begin crafting him a giant iron chain.
    • He then heads to a brothel where he uses a secret door. Inside, a disguised Varys leads him to a stable.
    • Tyrion rides off to meet Shae at the manse. He confides that sometimes he feels Varys is his best friend and others his greatest enemy; Varys says he feels the same.
  • Chapter 17

    Bran II

    • As the newly minted prince of Winterfell, Bran prepares to take on the responsibilities of managing the North.
    • Bran rides on Hodor's back to his first meeting, and the Walders make fun of Hodor's simple nature.
    • They are scolded for it by Maester Luwin because Hodor is seriously awesome.
    • Bran listens to Wyman Manderly's request to enlist new customs officers and build a warfleet, and Maester Luwin and Ser Rodrik advise Bran on how to proceed.
    • The next day, Lady Donella Hornwood has an audience, telling of her problems with Ser Bolton's illegitimate son and asking Bran to arrange a new husband to aid her. There's even suggestion that Rodrik should wed her (wink, wink).
    • Bran is excused and has Hodor bring him to the godswood. There, they meet up with Osha bathing in the frigid waters, and they discuss Hodor's gentle nature.
    • Another day, another audience. This time Bran meets with Hothor and Mors Umber, who want ships to defend against wildlings coming down from the north through the Bay of Seals.
    • Other lords come for more audiences and still more send ravens saying they cannot make it. Bored lies the head that wears the crown, it seems.
    • One day, Cley Cerwyn rides to Winterfell and bumps into Bran. Cerwyn mentions the rumor that Joffrey is son of Jaime and Cersei.
    • The words jar Bran's memory, and that night he dreams of a golden man pushing him out of a tower miles high.
  • Chapter 18

    Tyrion IV

    • Tyrion meets with Grand Maester Pycelle over breakfast and asks the maester to send a messenger raven to Dorne.
    • Bronn updates Tyrion on conditions in the city and his efforts to recruit troops. The city has reached bakers-being-burned-in-their-own-ovens-for-overcharging levels of nasty.
    • He also lets Tyrion know that a Ser Alliser Throne from the Night's Watch is seeking an audience.
    • Remembering Thorne's contemptible nature, Tyrion decides to put off that meeting.
    • He meets with Petyr Baelish in the Tower of the Hand and proposes a deal. Petyr will go to Lysa Arryn with a message: For her fealty and her soldiers, her son, Robert, will marry Princess Myrcella. Petyr will get Harrenhal for his service to the realm.
    • Next on the meet-and-greet list is Varys. Tyrion tells Varys he plans to persuade Doran Martell to join the Lannisters in the war. He will do this by promising Doran a seat on the small council, his sister's true killers, and Prince Tommen.
  • Chapter 19

    Sansa II

    • Sansa receives a letter telling her to come to the godswood tonight if she wants to go home. She can hardly believe her luck.
    • When she gets there, she finds the letter was sent by Ser Dontos—and he's already drunk, but contends it was only enough for his courage, no more.
    • He explains he can't send her home tonight but he is making arrangements. He swears his life, which she saved, to her.
    • They agree to only meet in the godswood so as not to arouse suspicion.
    • On the way back to her room, Sansa bumps into a very drunk the Hound, who says one day he'll get a song out of her, the caged little bird.
  • Chapter 20

    Arya V

    • Arya sits in a tree, scanning the first populated village she has come across.
    • Flashback: Arya and Gendry summoned the nerve to head back into the ruin the night after the attack; they found everyone, even Yoren, dead. In the tower, they found Cutjack, Kurz, and others who managed to hold out.
    • They all began traveling together, but the conditions were harsh, well, harsher—they had to scavenge frogs, insects, and acorn paste for food, and Lommy's injury made traveling slow.
    • Eventually, the adults left Arya, Gendry, Hot Pie, Lommy, and the girl, renamed Weasel, behind.
    • Back in the present, Arya climbs down and informs the group there are people in the village. They don't know if the people would welcome or kill them.
    • Lommy says they should yield, but Gendry decides he'll sneak in after dark, and Arya says she'll go with him on account of how he's a horrible sneak.
    • On the way to the village, Gendry admits he knows Arya is a girl, so Arya confesses that she is Arya Stark of Winterfell.
    • They sneak into the village, and Arya sees that the smell comes from men left to rot in gibbets.
    • Gendry is captured, but Arya returns to the others and recruits Hot Pie to help her mount a rescue.
    • They sneak back to the village, where a crow scares Hot Pie, giving away their position. He instantly yields.
    • Arya draws Needle, but a blow from an iron-clad fist knocks her down. Someone takes Needle.
    • The Mountain tells them to lead his knights to the others. They find Lommy, but Weasel runs off and disappears.
    • A spearman asks Lommy what is wrong with him, and Lommy says he can't walk, but rather than carry him, the spearman stabs Lommy with his spear.
  • Chapter 21

    Tyrion V

    • Tyrion travels deep beneath the Guildhall of the Alchemists.
    • Hallyne the Pyromancer shows Tyrion jars of wildfire, a substance that will burn basically anything—apparently, the alchemists have been discovering stockpiles of the stuff left all over the city, having been created for the late Mad King.
    • Hallyne says Cersei commissioned ten thousand jars, and the alchemist believes they can meet that goal.
    • After leaving the hall, Tyrion is summoned by Cersei. On the way, he learns Ser Cleos has arrived with peace terms from Robb.
    • Tyrion takes the peace terms to look over and sends Cleos to hang out until he needs him.
    • Traveling in his palanquin, he hears street-side prophets proclaiming the suffering of King's Landing as retribution for a corrupt city and court.
    • At the Tower of the Hand, Cersei accosts Tyrion over planning to send Myrcella to Dorne. Tyrion argues she'll be safer in Dorne than in a city about to go to war, though.
    • Cersei cries, and Tyrion tries to comfort her, pointing out their father is doing everything he can to protect them and win the war.
    • Tyrion hands her the letter from Ser Cleos. He senses Myrcella will now be sent to Dorne, and he also knows who Cersei's informant is as a bonus.
  • Chapter 22

    Bran III

    • The harvest feast is held at Winterfell. Luwin complements Bran on what a fine lord he will be one day, but Bran thinks how he'd rather be a knight.
    • The Lady Meera of House Reed and her brother, Jojen, of Greywater Watch arrive. Luwin informs Bran that their father, Howland Reed, was a friend of Eddard Stark.
    • Bran welcomes them to his hall, and the two pledge their loyalty to Winterfell.
    • After the feast, Bran goes to bed and dreams he is a wolf again.
    • In his dreams, Jojen and Meera sneak into the godswood to see the direwolves. Jojen asks Meera if she can feel him.
    • His sister warns him to be careful around the wolves, but Jojen states this is not the day he dies.
  • Chapter 23

    Catelyn II

    • Catelyn dreams about days with her whole family but wakes up on the road to Renly Baratheon's camp.
    • Although she is to parley with Renly, she does not know if it will go well since Robb will not bend the knee to another king.
    • They are escorted to Renly's camp by his sentries, where Catelyn is surprised by just how large her host is.
    • They arrive in time to see the conclusion of a tournament melee, which is what entertained people before they invented video games.
    • A knight in blue armor wins against Ser Loras Tyrell, and Catelyn is surprised to learn it is Brienne of Tarth, a woman knight.
    • Renly grants Brienne any favor she would wish of him, and she asks to join his Rainbow Guard; he grants the request.
    • Catelyn is received by Renly and updates him on her son's war.
    • She joins the would-be king for a rich feast and watches as the young knights enjoy the game of war.
    • Renly takes Catelyn out for a walk-and-talk. He explains to Catelyn that he believes Stannis would be an awful king.
    • He claims his right to the throne is one of might and support of the lords—or, as we call it, the I'm popular play.
    • A rider rushes in and informs Renly that Stannis has besieged Storm's End.
  • Chapter 24

    Jon III

    • The rangers travel through the haunted forest and Jon rides down the ranks telling everyone they'll be staying at a place called Craster's Keep.
    • The keep turns out to be less keep and more wattle-and-daub dump.
    • Craster informs Mormont he hasn't seen Benjen Stark in three years, although he does remember Waymar Royce swinging by.
    • He claims the empty villages are Mance Rayder's work.
    • Mormont gifts Craster a battle axe and wine, and Craster agrees to tell the commander what he knows. He also offers to let the crows stay on his land under the condition that no man touches any of his nineteen wives.
    • Jon leaves the keep to tell Sam to attend Mormont, and on his way, he finds that Ghost has scared one of the women by killing two caged rabbits.
    • Jon asks if she is one of Craster's daughters, and she tells him she once was, but now she is his wife. So that's a bummer.
    • Realizing she should not talk to the crows, the girl/wife runs off.
    • Jon and Sam eat one of the rabbits before Sam attends Mormont. They notice there are no sheep in the sheep pen, and oddly enough, no boys running about either.
    • The next morning, the same girl/wife, named Gilly, asks Jon if he'll take her away when the crows leave.
    • Gilly fears for her unborn child—if it is a boy, Craster will give him to the cold gods.
    • Jon refuses her request and later scolds Sam for giving her the idea.
    • On the road, though, Jon tells Mormont about the boys at which point he learns Mormont already knows
    • Mormont replies that although Craster is an awful man he has his uses for them.
    • Thanks to that depraved man, Mormont knows Mance Rayder is gathering the wildlings at the Frostfangs and aims to invade the Seven Kingdoms.
    • And Mormont plans to stop him.
  • Chapter 25

    Theon II

    • Theon admires his new boat—sorry, ship—when he hears a woman's voice behind him.
    • He and the woman, who calls herself Esgard, flirt; although she says she is married, he wants to take her for his own.
    • As they ride through Lordsport, Esgard knows the ironborn sailors better than Theon.
    • They ride to Pyke with Theon's squire wide-eyed at Theon coming on to Esgard. They discuss Theon's claim to the Iron Islands as well as his time in Winterfell.
    • At Pyke, it is revealed that Esgard is actually Theon's sister, Asha Greyjoy—she says she kept up the charade to see who he really was firsthand. Now that's an actress dedicated to her craft.
    • At the evening's banquet, Asha teases Theon for all that he told her in his flirtatious mood.
    • Theon realizes Asha has the respect of his people more than he does, and wonders why he waited half his life to return home only to be mocked.
    • In Balon's solar, Theon, Asha, and their uncles gather to hear Balon's plan. Theon is sent to raid the Stony Shore while Asha is tasked with taking Deepwood Motte.
    • Theon's uncle, Victarion, is given the main force to attack and take Moat Cailin at the Neck.
    • Balon explains that with the lords fighting in the south, the North will be easy takings.
  • Chapter 26

    Tyrion VI

    • Tyrion visits Cersei as she is being serenaded by Ser Lancel Lannister.
    • Cersei orders Lancel to leave them, and Tyrion presents his news: Stannis Baratheon has sailed, but has gone to Storm's End, not King's Landing.
    • The siblings share a rare joyous moment together, and Tyrion pours them wine, adding a little something something to Cersei's while he's at it.
    • They toast to Renly and Stannis's efforts in helping them win the war.
    • The next morning, Cersei is too unwell to perform her duties, so Tyrion sits before the audience in her stead.
    • He gives Ser Cleos their counter terms for peace, terms which are equally unlikely to bring said peace. He sends an escort of Lannister guards for Cleos.
    • Next, Alliser Throne busts into the room, demanding Tyrion see him. Tyrion listens to the man's story, but it turns out the proof of dead men walking rotted while Thorne waited.
    • Tyrion sends him away with spades to help bury the dead, along with his pick of the dungeons for new brothers.
    • After the audience, Tyrion lets Varys in on a little secret: Four of the men sent as Ser Cleos's escort have been assigned to break out Jaime.
    • That night, Tyrion and Shagga break into Maester Pycelle's room, and Tyrion says he knows Pycelle gave one of the letters meant for Dorne to his sister.
    • Pycelle admits he's been in the pocket of House Lannister for some time, although he does not know who killed Jon Arryn.
    • Tyrion has the Grand Maester thrown in a cell.
  • Chapter 27

    Arya VI

    • Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are marched to Harrenhal with the rest of the Mountain's captives.
    • The Mountain and his men rape, murder, and otherwise ill-treat the captives the whole way, all the while questioning them on the whereabouts of Lord Beric Dondarrion, as well as any caches of food or gold.
    • During the march, Arya begins creating a list of the people she hates so much she wants them dead—she says their names every night before sleeping like super-scary prayers.
    • When they make it to Harrenhal, the trio is separated.
    • Arya gives a false name, calling herself Weasel. She is given a position running chores for Weese, the understeward of the Wailing Tower.
    • Weese states he can smell the emotions of those in his employ. And all he wants to smell on them is fear.
  • Chapter 28

    Daenerys II

    • Dany enters Qarth, a city rich thanks to its ports and vast trade, and her benefactors proclaim how totally fab the city is.
    • Pyat Pree invites Dany to the House of the Undying, and Xaro promises Dany riches and presents aplenty—Dany desires ships to help her across the Narrow Sea and to Westeros.
    • Dany and her people take up residence in Xaro's manse. She sends Jorah and her bloodriders out into the city to get the down-and-dirty on Qarth.
    • Jorah returns with Quhuru Mo, captain of the Cinnamon Wind, who informs Dany that Robert Baratheon is dead and that civil war has come to the Seven Kingdoms.
    • Jorah advises Dany to be prudent and not let the news of Robert's death make her careless; he reminds her that even dragons can die.
    • She counters that so can dragonslayers.
  • Chapter 29

    Bran IV

    • Meera plays with Summer while Bran and Jojen watch.
    • Bran asks questions about their home, Greywater, and Jojen suggests it would be good if Bran left Winterfell.
    • Meera says her brother has the green sight, meaning he can see things that haven't happened.
    • Bran asks what will happen, and Jojen agrees to tell him if Bran shares his dreams, too.
    • Being on the same dream frequency, both say they are visited by a three-eyed crow.
    • Jojen pushes Bran to discuss his dreams, but Bran gets angry and that anger transfers to Summer, so Meera and Jojen scurry up a tree to evade the direwolf.
    • Hodor shoos the wolves away, and Bran apologizes and asks to be taken to Luwin.
    • Luwin confides in the boy that there is no magic in the world and dreams are just dreams.
    • Meera visits Bran later that night, and Bran admits the crow and her brother lied to him. He will never fly.
    • Meera suggests Bran decide for himself.
    • At supper, Bran decides Maester Luwin had the truth of it.
  • Chapter 30

    Tyrion VII

    • Ser Lancel visits Tyrion late at night on Cersei's behalf and demands he release Grand Maester Pycelle.
    • Tyrion tells Lancel he knows he killed King Robert and that Cersei has taken him to bed. Apparently, Tyrion can read her poker face.
    • Flustered, Lancel argues that he did not kill Robert; he simply gave Robert extra-strong wine—the boar did the actual killing part.
    • Tyrion agrees to keep it their little secret as long as Lancel becomes his informant on Cersei's plans. He also releases Pycelle.
    • Awake and restless, Tyrion has Pod summon Bronn and the horses.
    • They travel to the brothel, and Tyrion uses the secret door to sneak out. He spends the rest of the night with Shae.
  • Chapter 31

    Arya VII

    • Arya finds some good aspects to servitude at Harrenhal, namely a straw bed and regular meals. Hot Pie eats even better in the kitchen, and Gendry was sent to work as a blacksmith at the forge.
    • Her taskmaster, Weese, is a bit of jerk, though, as he hits at the slightest provocation, and his dog is even meaner.
    • One day, a group of sellswords called the Bloody Mummers arrive at Harenhal led by Vargo Hoat.
    • During their stay, she learns her brother's army, the part led by Roose Bolton, is nearby at the ruby ford of the Trident. The Bloody Mummers leave soon after.
    • Another party arrives days later, this time led by Ser Amory Lorch, and Arya is surprised to see Biter, Rorge, and Jaqen H'ghar with them.
    • That night in bed, Arya is awoken by Jaqen. He says that a man pays his debts, and since Arya stole three lives from the Red God by saving them, Jaqen owes her three deaths. Sweet, free deaths.
    • Later, the Mountain also swings by Harrenhal with his men. While Arya is serving the Mountain's men, she overhears Chiswyck telling a story about the Mountain raping a poor girl as though it were an uproarious joke.
    • She finds Jaqen and whispers Chiswyck's name in his ear.
    • Three days later, Chiswyck is found dead, having supposedly fallen from the wallwalk drunk off his butt.
    • That night, Arya has one less name on her list.
  • Chapter 32

    Catelyn III

    • Catelyn arrives at the meeting first, but Stannis soon joins her. Although Stannis admits to never being Eddard's friend, he swears Catelyn will have justice for his murder.
    • Stannis declares he needs the power of Renly's lords to take King's Landing and that he'll have no issue with Renly should he swear loyalty and obedience.
    • Renly arrives. During the parley, the two brothers bicker, each wanting the other to swear fealty; Catelyn tries to get them to see they have a common enemy.
    • Renly mocks Stannis with insults and a peach—not a euphemism, like an actual peach. Enraged, Stannis says Renly must strike his banners and come to him; otherwise he will destroy him.
    • Catelyn and Renly ride back. Catelyn points out that Stannis is the rightful heir to the throne, but Renly believes it is a fool's law—Stannis is not fit to lead, but Renly is because he's awesome like that.
    • Renly returns to camp to begin preparing for tomorrow's battle.
    • Catelyn heads to a nearby town to pray at the sept.
  • Chapter 33

    Sansa III

    • Joffrey summons Sansa to answer for her brother's victory over Ser Stafford Lannister's forces. Ser Lancel claims Robb used vile sorcery to seal the deal.
    • He commands the Hound to beat her, but Ser Dontos offers to do it, hitting her with a melon to make a joke out of it and not hurt her.
    • Joffrey is not satisfied and has Ser Boros and Ser Meryn beat her.
    • Tyrion shows up and stands up for Sansa, chastising Joffrey for his lack of grace and intelligence. Yay, Tyrion.
    • He brings Sansa to the Tower of the Hand to be treated for her wounds and to rest for the evening.
    • The next day, Tyrion tells her the truth of Robb's victory, the magic-free version of the tale.
    • Despite Tyrion's kindness, Sansa does not trust him because he is a Lannister and settles back on her usual placating lies.
    • Sansa returns to her own chambers with Tyrion escorting her back.
  • Chapter 34

    Catelyn IV

    • Catelyn prays to the Mother to protect everyone in the battle to come. She wonders if Cersei also prays to the gods…
    • She returns as Renly and his commanders are preparing their battle plans, and after the commanders leave the tent, Brienne begins fitting Renly into his armor.
    • Catelyn tries once more to council Renly. She says her son will put down his crown if Renly and Stannis will do the same and call for a Great Council to settle the matter—after the Lannisters are defeated, of course.
    • Renly says the time for talking is done.
    • Suddenly, a shadowy creature enters the tent and kills Renly where he stands by stabbing him in the throat. Irony.
    • Knights enter and blame Brienne. They attack despite Catelyn's cries to stop, and a candle is knocked over, catching the tent on fire.
    • Brienne kills two of the knights, and Catelyn manages to convince Ser Robar it was Stannis's doing.
    • With the tent aflame, Robar says he'll hold them back if Catelyn can get Brienne out of there.
    • Catelyn finds her entourage, and they ride away from Renly's camp, taking Brienne with them.
    • Catelyn knows Storm's End and its host now belong to Stannis.
  • Chapter 35

    Jon IV

    • Next stop on Jon's tour beyond the Wall is the Fist of the First Men.
    • Mormont orders the rangers to make camp and wait for Qhorin Halfhand to find them.
    • Jon serves hot wine while Mormont and his officers plan their strategy. The commander orders them to strengthen the defense of the Fist rather than meet Mance at Frostfangs.
    • After the meeting, Jon leaves and calls Ghost to him, but the direwolf leaves.
    • Jon follows. Ghost leads him to a hidden cache of obsidian daggers—or dragonglass, as it's called in Westeros.
    • In the cache, Jon also finds the cloak of a Night's Watch ranger.
  • Chapter 36

    Bran V

    • Winterfell receives a letter from Robb's camp informing Bran and the Freys of Robb's victory over Ser Stafford Lannister, but noting the Freys' uncle died in the battle.
    • Jojen visits Bran immediately after, and Bran acknowledges that this letter confirms Jojen's green dream to be true, metaphorically speaking of course.
    • Bran requests Jojen share his dream about Winterfell, and Jojen states that the sea will come to the castle and drown several of its people. This is a bit hard to swallow, though, since Winterfell is hundreds of miles inland.
    • A few days later, Rodrik returns with his new prisoner, the aptly named Reek. Bolton's illegitimate son, Ramsay, was killed, but not before he starved Lady Hornwood to death after their "legal" marriage. When they found her, she had eaten her own fingers.
    • Rodrik is honorbound to keep Reek alive until Robb's return, so the prisoner can account for Ramsay's crimes.
    • Later, Meera, Jojen, and Bran discuss how absolute Jojen's green dreams are. Meera thinks Bran and the others should fight the visions, but Jojen is resolute that what he has seen cannot be altered.
  • Chapter 37

    Tyrion VIII

    • Varys informs the small council of Renly's untimely demise. When asked who did the deed, he says he has heard different answers, meaning he has no answer at all.
    • Tyrion realizes his hope of the Brothers Baratheon destroying each other has come to naught.
    • Tyrion wonders if the small council can sway those lords who did not side with Stannis to swing on over to theirs. They decide to offer the Tyrells of Highgarden a wedding between Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell.
    • Unfortunately, due to a lack of Skype, someone has to deliver the message in person, so Littlefinger agrees to make the journey to the Tyrells.
    • After the meeting, Cersei compliments Tyrion, kissing him on the cheek while admitting he's not the idiot she thought he was.
    • Tyrion is surprised by his sister's sudden affection and also curious as to what plans she is hatching.
  • Chapter 38

    Theon III

    • Theon has Benfred Tallhart drowned at Aeron's behest, thus giving him to the Drowned God. That said, Theon really does it to shut Aeron up more than out of any sense of religious fervor.
    • Listening to the sounds of his victory over the fishing village, Theon admits to himself that slaughter is a more apt term.
    • In a foul mood, he shoots an ironborn named Todric for getting drunk and fighting over plunder.
    • He then visits Dagmer Cleftjaw aboard the longship Foamdrinker.
    • Theon tells the old ironborn he has a new plan, one different than his father's.
    • Dagmer appeals to Theon to not take his father's coldness to heart and to follow the plan.
    • Playing toward Dagmer's desire for glory, Theon convinces him to assault a keep called Torrhen's Square.
    • Dagmer points out that his force will never be able to take Torrhen's Square—but Theon says it is not the keep he is interested in.
  • Chapter 39

    Arya VIII

    • Lord Tywin marches from Harrenhal, and Arya considers sneaking away with them, but Weese threatens to hand any runaway over to Vargo Hoat to be maimed (not a figure of speech here), and this scares the prospect out of her.
    • Arya looks for Jaqen H'ghar to whisper another name before everyone leaves, but Weese sends her to the armory to fetch a sword for Ser Lyonel.
    • When she returns with the sword, Weese slaps her for being so slow and sends her on another task, promising to beat her if she isn't quicker.
    • Arya goes looking for Jaqen first and whispers Weese's name in his ear.
    • The next day, while watching Lord Tywin, the Mountain, and the others ride out for the battlefield, Arya is struck with the realization that she could have ended the war had she only whispered Tywin's name.
    • She runs to find Jaqen and ask for a redo, but she finds a crowd standing over Weese's dead body instead.
    • She spies Jaqen in the crowd, and he holds two fingers casually against his cheek.
  • Chapter 40

    Catelyn V

    • Catelyn returns to Riverrun and discovers her brother, Edmure, has the command, and her son has won a great victory over Ser Stafford Lannister.
    • Brienne suggests she'll go back to Storm's End to seek revenge on Stannis, but Catelyn convinces her that Robb's enemies and Renly's are the same.
    • Brienne swears fealty and enters Catelyn's service on account of the fact that Catelyn will let her kill Stannis when the time comes.
    • Edmure meets them and informs them that Ser Cleos's envoys tried to break Jaime Lannister out of his cell. They failed, though—evident by their current occupation as ornaments on the castle wall.
    • She also learns that Tywin's forces plan to cross the Riverlands.
    • Edmure and Catelyn head to the godswood to discuss his battle plans; obviously worried that Edmure is not ready for command, Catelyn questions his tactics.
    • Two silent sisters arrive bearing Eddard Stark's remains. Catelyn spends that evening wishing she could talk to the dead.
  • Chapter 41

    Daenerys III

    • Dany enters Xaro's palanquin upset—after requesting a fleet of ships from the Pureborn, the rulers of Qarth, she realized they were only curious about her dragons, not her cause.
    • She now understands how all the years of running and begging made Viserys so bitter.
    • Xaro proposes she marry him and forget the Seven Kingdoms; he says they can sail on his pleasure barge.
    • Dany turns him down—both because she will not be deterred, and also because she knows Xaro is not truly interested in her as a bride, or person for that matter.
    • The palanquin stops for a crowd that has gathered around a firemage. Dany gets onto Jhogo's horse to watch, observing the firemage's tricks and his cutpurses working the crowd.
    • Quaithe appears next to Dany and warns her that she must leave Qarth soon. To reach the west, she says, Dany must go east. Is it just us, or do vague oxymorons just make for the best advice?
    • At Xaro's manse, Jorah tells Dany of Xaro's scheme: When a Qarth couple weds, custom allows each spouse to request one token of love, and the request cannot be denied. Xaro could ask for a Nintendo 64 or, more likely, one of her dragons, and Dany would be honor bound to grant it.
    • Dany decides she will visit Pyat Pree and the House of the Undying.
  • Chapter 42

    Tyrion IX

    • Myrcella begins her journey to Dorne, and Tyrion sends some of the king's most powerful ships to escort her.
    • When the ships depart, the court heads back to the Red Keep as throngs of starving citizens line the street to watch the procession.
    • A woman runs into the middle of the street, displaying her dead child for them to see. Cersei proclaims they can do nothing for her, and this causes the woman to scream insults at the queen.
    • Dung is flung into Joffrey's face, and he demands the thrower be executed and sends the Hound to cut through the crowd to find the perpetrator.
    • The crowd—really more of a mob at this point—attacks, chanting for bread.
    • Weaving their way through the belligerent people of King's Landing, the members of the court rush back to the Red Keep,
    • Behind its safe walls, Tyrion slaps Joffrey for being stupid enough to order the crowd attacked.
    • A head count reveals Sansa Stark to be missing, but Ser Sandor Clegane rides in, carrying an injured, but otherwise unharmed, Sansa with him.
    • Fire breaks out in Flea Bottom—the riots are on.
    • Tyrion sends his Mountain Men to protect Shae.
    • Later that evening, Ser Jacelyn Bywater informs Tyrion of the damage: The High Septon was murdered, several knights died, and Lady Tanda's daughter was raped, amongst several other horrifying events.
    • After the report, Bywater notes that Tyrion ordered him to always speak true, and so here it goes. Many in King's Landing still remembered when Lord Tywin sacked the city during Robert's Rebellion, so they have little love for House Lannister; even those proclaiming loyalty will likely turn when the chance arrives.
    • Tyrion particularly receives little love as the citizens think he is a monster who has influenced the court.
  • Chapter 43

    Davos II

    • Davos joins Stannis's party to parley with Ser Cortnay Penrose, who currently commands Storm's End.
    • Stannis demands Penrose to surrender the castle to him, and he'll pardon him and his men.
    • When it becomes clear that Edric Storm, Robert Baratheon's illegitimate son, must also be surrendered, Penrose refuses the offer. Instead, he counters with an offer of single combat between champions.
    • Stannis promises no mercy should he be forced to storm the castle.
    • Davos and Stannis ride back to Stannis's camp. They discuss the predicament with Penrose as well as Renly's fate; Stannis admits to having nightmares where he is present at Renly's death.
    • Davos recommends Stannis strike for King's Landing immediately, but Stannis emphasizes that he will not have people say he was defeated at Storm's End, which is a little like saying you'll forego certain victory in the finals in order to focus on your preseason record.
    • He orders Davos to land a boat beneath the castle as he once did to aid Stannis during Robert's Rebellion. Davos suggests cleaner ways of accomplishing the goal, but Stannis maintains he must have Edric Storm.
    • That night, Davos does as he is ordered and brings Melisandre beneath the castle and behind its supposedly magically protected walls.
    • There, Melisandre undresses, and Davos realizes she is pregnant. She gives birth to a shadow assassin, and it slithers its way into the castle.
  • Chapter 44

    Jon V

    • A horn call wakes Jon in the middle of the night, and since it is only one blast, Jon knows brothers of the Night's Watch are approaching.
    • Qhorin Halfhand and his men arrive, and Mormont has Jon send Qhorin directly to speak with him.
    • Qhorin says their lateness is the result of a run-in with Alfyn Crowkiller—although Crowkiller will be killing no more crows in this life.
    • Jon sits by the commander's tent while Mormont and Qhorin continue the conversation.
    • Jon overhears Chett and Lark Sisterman sharing mutinous thoughts but thinks it the empty talk of afraid and exhausted men.
    • He then serves food to Qhorin and Mormont. Qhorin tells the commander that Mance's goal is not to climb over or burrow beneath the wall—he aims to go all Reagan on it and tear it down.
    • Qhorin also believes Mance gathered his forces at the Frostfangs to search for something, although he does not know what.
    • He convinces Mormont to send three scouting parties of five men: one to the Milkwater, one to Skirling Pass, and one to Giant's Stair.
    • Mormont gives Qhorin pick of his men, and Qhorin picks Jon Snow.
    • Jon accepts the task.
  • Chapter 45

    Tyrion X

    • Ser Lancel informs Tyrion that Cersei plans to send Prince Tommen away from King's Landing.
    • Tyrion schemes with Bronn to have Bywater cutoff Cersei's men and replace them with his own—this way, Tommen will still be safe. Make that safer, since Tyrion will surround him with less cowardly, more loyal soldiers.
    • Tyrion rides to Chataya's brothel to use the secret passage but loses patience and goes straight to Shae's mansion.
    • Tyrion and Shae enjoy some skoodilypooping, and then Varys shows up to inform Tyrion that Ser Cortnay Penrose is dead. Stannis is now RSVPing for an invasion of King's Landing.
    • Shae wants to go with Tyrion and be his lady, but Tyrion believes that impossible, so instead, he plans to sneak her into the Red Keep to work as a scullion.
    • Shae isn't fond of the idea, and the couple has a fight. Tyrion explains that he married a prostitute once, and his father nullified the marriage and then did something awful to Tyrion and his one-time bride. Let's just say it was pretty heinous.
    • While riding out with Varys, the eunuch suggests that Tyrion put Shae in the service of Lady Tanda as a maidservant—she'd be safer than in the kitchen and less likely to come across a spy, too.
    • While everyone is sharing past secrets, Varys gets in on the action.
    • He tells Tyrion how he was part of a traveling actors group when his master sold him to a conjuror. The man removed Varys's manhood and fed it to a fire to summon some daemonic creature.
    • Left in the streets to die, Varys swore he'd do anything to survive. To this day, he still doesn't know whether that presence in the fire was real or imaginary.
    • Tyrion asks Varys if their father will make it to battle Stannis, or if Littlefinger was successful, but Varys doesn't know.
    • Tyrion laughs. When it's all said and done, the only thing that can protect the crown and people of King's Landing from Stannis is the dwarf they all despise so much.
  • Chapter 46

    Catelyn VI

    • Edmure rides off to battle.
    • Catelyn does her duty and prays for the safe return of her family, then she and Brienne discuss the differences between men and women's social battles, as well as their courage.
    • Lannister riders approach the Red Fork, and Brienne and Catelyn watch the ensuing battles from the battlements. Brienne gives a play-by-play worthy of John Madden.
    • Catelyn wonders if Edmure is wiser than she thought.
    • She pays a visit to Ser Cleos in the dungeon. The knight confesses he knew nothing of the escape attempt, and Catelyn interrogates him about her daughters. Ser Cleos reveals he saw Sansa in court that day, drawn but alive—he did not, however, see Arya.
    • Brienne and Catelyn take their supper away from the merrymaking of Edmure's victories.
    • Lord Tywin's strong attack comes three days later, and Edmure sends a letter to Catelyn promising that they shall not cross.
    • Although the Tullys appear to be winning, Catelyn remains dreadful of the future.
  • Chapter 47

    Bran VI

    • Bran has one of his wolf dreams, and Summer can smell danger.
    • When the wolf falls trying to climb a tree, Bran wakes up screaming for his furry companion.
    • He calls for help, but instead of Osha or Luwin, Theon enters to inform him he has taken Winterfell.
    • Theon explains that Bran will make an announcement in the Great Hall telling the people that Winterfell has been yielded.
    • Maester Luwin comes to dress Bran, detailing how Theon managed to take the castle; he reminds Bran that a lord's first duty is to protect his people.
    • In the Great Hall, Bran yields Winterfell to Theon. Mikken, the blacksmith, refuses to serve and one of the ironborn spears him through the neck.
    • Witnessing the violence, Hodor has a freak out moment and is beaten until subdued.
    • Reek swears loyalty to Theon if he'll release him, and Osha also bends the knee and swears loyalty.
  • Chapter 48

    Arya IX

    • Arya sits with Hot Pie in the kitchen, trying to convince him to give her a tart, when she hears the war horn signaling someone approaching the castle.
    • She runs outside and sees the Bloody Mummers returning with their plunder, prisoners of war, and a bear.
    • Ser Amory sends the captives to the great cell under the Widow's Tower.
    • As she heads across the bailey, Arya hears Gendry working the forge. She tries to convince him to hatch an escape plan with her, but he thinks it's ill-advised. Plus, he enjoys working the forge and doesn't care for whom he works it.
    • She goes to the godswood and finds her makeshift practice sword. As she practices, she is taken by the sudden urge to pray.
    • As if in answer, Jaqen H'ghar appears behind her, requesting a final name.
    • Arya requests he open the cell and free the captives, but Jaqen states the debt is for three men, and two have already been killed.
    • Arya names Jaqen H'ghar as her third death but says she'll name another if he helps her.
    • Jaqen tells her to come with him and obey.
    • Arya goes into the kitchen and has the chef prepare broth. Then Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter come to bring it to the guards guarding the great cell, Arya included.
    • They heave the hot broth onto the guards and kill them in the confusion.
    • Now free, the captives strip the guards of their weapons. Robett Glover wonders if they are Hoat's men—this suggests that Hoat smuggled them in the castle to usurp Ser Amory in the first place.
    • Arya agrees the debt is paid and unsays Jaqen's name.
    • Jaqen decides it is time for Jaqen H'ghar to die—and he changes his face before Arya, becoming a completely different person.
    • He gifts Arya an iron coin, telling her that if she ever wishes to find him again she need only give the coin to any man from Braavos and say, "Valar morghulis."
    • Come dawn, the fighting has ended and Ser Amory has lost Harrenhal.
    • Lord Roose Bolton enters the castle and both Hoat and Glover present it to him.
    • Arya is brought before Bolton, and he gives her the job of being his cupbearer. She provides another fake name, Nymeria, or Nan for short.
    • The Lannister banners are replaced with Stark and Bolton ones.
    • Later, Ser Amory is put in a pit with the bear and mauled to death. While pouring wine for Bolton, Arya thinks the bear looks especially like Yoren.
  • Chapter 49

    Daenerys IV

    • Dany visits the House of the Undying, a large ancient structure in ruin.
    • Pyat Pree greets Dany at the entrance and gives her instructions for passing through the interior's labyrinth. He also has her drink a drug called shade of the evening. Basically, Pyat is the Timothy Leary of Essos.
    • Dany enters the derelict interior with Drogon.
    • Within, she sees several visions of the past and the future; among them are a dead man with a wolf's head and an iron crown, her childhood home in Braavos, and a Targaryen man proclaiming his son's song shall be the song of ice and fire.
    • She comes to a great hall where beautifully dressed wizards and kings claim to have waited for her a thousand years and sent the comet to show her the way.
    • Doubting the image, she follows Drogon to another door and discovers the Undying behind it, all ancient, mummified corpses.
    • The Undying prophesy Dany's future, and the images center on the number three (three trials, three mounts, three reasons).
    • Dany has several more visions before the Undying attack her. Drogon saves her with his fire breath—thousand-year-old bodies are, it seems, highly flammable.
    • Dany and Drogon push their way outside of the House of the Undying. Pyat rushes at her, knife drawn, but Jhogo stops the warlock with his whip.
  • Chapter 50

    Tyrion XI

    • Tyrion sends his Mountain Men into the Kingswood, where they will engage in guerilla warfare with Stannis's forces.
    • Also in preparation, Tyrion has Bronn's men burn the structures between the city's walls and the waterfront.
    • He then attends a ceremony where new knights vow their service to the Kingsguard—it's ridiculously long.
    • Hallyne meets Tyrion to report that the alchemists have created way more wildfire than they expected.
    • Tyrion feels he's being swindled at first, but Hallyne contests that their spells seem to be working better these days—it's as though magic has started returning to the world.
    • CSPAN-Seven Kingdoms continues as Lord Jacelyn enters next to report that Tommen is safe and well.
    • Then Varys comes in with news that a group of rebels has taken Stannis's side and named themselves the Antler men. Tyrion writes the arrest orders.
  • Chapter 51

    Theon IV

    • Theon wakes up to a disturbing sound. More specifically, what disturbs him is the lack of the wolves howling through the night. It's freaky because it's completely not freaky…?
    • He sends his men to check on Bran and Rickon. When Black Lorren returns, he says Theon should see what's at the Hunter's Gate.
    • They find two guards killed, likely by the direwolves and a lady accomplice.
    • They round up the Winterfell denizens and see that six are missing: Bran, Rickon, Meera, Jojen, Hodor, and Osha.
    • Theon orders a hunt.
    • During the hunt, Luwin asks Theon to be merciful when he finds his quarry.
    • They follow Summer and Shaggydog's trail, but the party eventually loses the scent.
    • When the hunt seems lost, Reek comes to Theon and suggests they try the old mill—he shows him a wolf's-head brooch, and Theon takes his meaning.
    • Luwin wonders if Theon will remember his promise of mercy; Theon says mercy was for this morning.
  • Chapter 52

    Jon VI

    • Jon, Qhorin, and the others see fire on the side of a mountain, signaling sentries.
    • Qhorin sends Jon and Stonesnake to climb the mountain in the dark and to take care of them.
    • After some serious cliffhanger shenanigans—minus the guns and music—Jon and Stonesnake discover three wildlings beside the fire.
    • They quickly kill two of the sentries, and Jon turns to dispatch the third when he discovers it's a woman.
    • Rather than kill her, Jon has her yield and takes her prisoner.
    • Stonesnake signals the other rangers to climb, and Jon questions the wildling, named Ygritte.
    • Ygritte tells the story of Bael the Bard, which suggests that the Starks have wildling blood in them.
    • Qhorin and the rest arrive at dawn. Halfhand orders Jon to kill Ygritte and has the men leave him to the task.
    • Ever the chivalrous type, Jon lets her escape.
  • Chapter 53

    Sansa IV

    • Sansa meets Ser Dontos in the godswood and asks him to take her away from King's Landing before the fighting starts.
    • Dontos says he has talked to a man who will hire a swift ship, but the time must be right. He and she have decidedly different opinions on what time qualifies as right.
    • Sansa returns to her tower and heads up top. Looking across the soon to be besieged city, she feels the urge to fall, but the Hound prevents her.
    • She apologizes for not thanking him for her rescue, but he says he did not need courage to fight off those rats.
    • When Sansa asks why he is so harsh, the Hound informs her of his survival of the fittest worldview.
    • That night, Sansa has a nightmare about the riot and wakes up to the realization that she has had her period.
    • She tries to burn the mattress and sheets to remove the evidence, but it proves fruitless as she is still bleeding when they pull her away from the fire.
    • Cersei has Sansa invited to her solar for breakfast.
    • The Queen Regent opens up to Sansa about womanhood and childbirth, and she confides that Robert was not there when Joffrey was born.
    • Sansa may not love the king, Cersei asserts, but she will love his children.
  • Chapter 54

    Jon VII

    • Qhorin orders the rangers to stop during the day, so they may proceed under the cover of night.
    • Jon speaks with Qhorin, confessing he let Ygritte escape—when Qhorin asks why he spared her, Jon says there was no evil in her.
    • Qhorin confers in Jon that the execution was a test. To lead men, Qhorin believes you need to know them and now he knows Jon better than before.
    • Jon sleeps and dreams he is Ghost. Ghost finds the camp at the Frostfangs but is attacked by an eagle.
    • He wakes up, and Qhorin questions him about the dream.
    • The rangers ride on and discover Ghost wounded; they patch up the wolf.
    • After discovering the wounded wolf and noticing an eagle spying on them, Qhorin decides they are to ride back.
    • Squire Dalbridge opts to stay at the place the wildlings died to hold off any pursuers.
    • As the rangers ride on, Jon hears the sound of a hunting horn.
  • Chapter 55

    Tyrion XII

    • Pod dresses Tyrion for battle, a.k.a. dinner with his sister.
    • Varys enters with a letter bringing news from the north.
    • Tyrion goes to tell his sister. Cersei is not as pleased to hear of Bran's death as Tyrion anticipated; she states it was Jamie who pushed the boy off the tower.
    • The Lannister siblings dine. They discuss the role Joffrey is to play in the forthcoming battle, and Cersei threatens that no harm will come to Tyrion's lady friend so long as her son is not harmed in the battle.
    • A girl is dragged into the room, but it is Alayaya, not Shae. Tyrion plays it up, making Cersei think she has the upper hand.
    • He threatens that one day he'll repay her for this, and she gives him the boot.
    • Tyrion finds Shae in his room, accompanied there by Varys through a secret passage.
    • They sleep together, and Tyrion wonders if he really is a fool.
  • Chapter 56

    Catelyn VII

    • Having received word of Bran and Rickon's deaths, Catelyn is depressed in Riverrun.
    • She tells Brienne, sadness becoming icy hatred as she swears Robb will avenge all her family's wrongful deaths.
    • At midnight, Catelyn and Brienne visit Jaime Lannister in his cell. Jaime welcomes them to his abode—although after about a year of imprisonment, he's not looking so hot.
    • He agrees to answer her questions if she will answer his. Jaime admits to being the one to push Bran off the tower, but he swears he did not send the assassin to kill the boy—he may have attempted child murder, but that's just not his style.
    • During their conversation, Catelyn realizes Littlefinger lied about Tyrion's dagger, too. Frankly, we're surprised she's surprised that Littlefinger's a gamer and a schemer. But anyway.
    • Catelyn wonders how Jaime could consider himself a knight after all the vows he's forsaken, but Jaime contends that it is impossible to maintain all those vows when they come into conflict with each other.
    • Drunk on wine and getting talkative, Jaime tells Catelyn the story of how Rickard and Brandon Stark, Eddard's father and elder brother respectively, were executed by King Aerys.
    • The tale shows that Aerys was aptly named the Mad King. Jaime may be named Kingslayer, but he'd argue the king might have needed some slaying.
    • When Jaime brings up the topic of Eddard's illegitimate son, Catelyn asks Brienne for her sword.
  • Chapter 57

    Theon V

    • Theon thinks back on killing the boys, dipping their heads in tar, and all the other lovely details associated with child murder.
    • He goes to see Asha, who waits for him in Great Hall, sitting in the high seat of the Starks.
    • At Theon's request to help hold Winterfell, she has brought twenty men with her, but only ten are staying; the rest are beating feet with her.
    • Asha asks to speak with Theon privately. She tells him that his "prize" will ruin him as the Greyjoys receive their strength from sea and ship, not holding land and castles.
    • She requests he return with her, but he refuses, saying he'll hold the castle.
    • Reek comes to Theon and reminds him ten men won't be enough to hold back Ser Rodrik. He suggests that Theon provide him a bag of silver and a horse, and he'll give his prince men to fight for him.
    • Theon agrees even though he thinks Reek is just going to bail on him, too.
    • That night, he dreams of the feast Eddard Stark held for King Robert at Winterfell. Only in this dream, everyone is dead and mutilated.
  • Chapter 58

    Sansa V

    • Sansa has heard the sept's parishioners signing hymns to the gods ever since the first reports spotting Stannis's fleet.
    • Joffrey calls Sansa over and has her kiss his new sword, which he has named Hearteater despite it having eaten zero hearts.
    • Sansa goes to the sept and sings a hymn praying for those of King's Landing and her family far away. She adds a second prayer for the Hound.
    • She even prays for Joffrey, albeit she requests he doesn't make it back.
    • Sansa goes with the other ladies to Maegor's Holdfast, a castle within the Red Keep; the Queen's Ballroom is packed with women, children, and the elderly.
    • Sansa notices Ser Ilyn Payne among them.
    • Cersei enters and has Sansa seated by her. Sansa wonders why Ilyn is there, and Cersei says he is there to protect them in case the guards turn on them.
    • Sansa says a true knight would never harm a woman or child, and Cersei agrees. A true knight would not. But there isn't exactly a surplus of true knights during war.
  • Chapter 59

    Davos III

    • Davos brings his ship, Black Betha, up Blackwater Bay.
    • He thinks back to the strategy meeting: Davos suggested a more cautious approach with scouts checking things out first, but Ser Imry's plan calls for a knock-out blow; when Davos expressed his concern, he was given the old we'll get back to you on that treatment.
    • Ser Imry sounds the attack. As they sail forward, Davos notices a chain boom in the water and wonders why they did not raise it in defense.
    • The battle begins. Rocks, arrows, and spears rain down on Stannis's fleet, and Joffrey's tiny fleet engages them.
    • Davos orders ramming speed, as does his son's ship, and the two slam into Lady's Shame. The enemy ship falls to pieces.
    • Wildfire begins to fall upon the ships.
    • Fighting through, Davos and his crew board the White Hart and kill the crew, taking the ship.
    • Surveying the battle, Davos notices the Swordfish has caught aflame and is drifting toward a Lannister hulk, which is bleeding wildfire into the river.
    • Davos screams for a retreat as the ships collide. The explosion knocks Davos off the deck and into the bay.
    • As he's being swept down the current, he sees that the chain boom has been raised. Stannis's fleet is trapped in the wildfire hell of Blackwater Bay.
  • Chapter 60

    Tyrion XIII

    • Atop the wall of the Red Keep, Tyrion watches wildfire destroy both fleets. He thinks the destruction is as much Stannis's fault as his.
    • Seeing the men coming ashore, he gives the order for another sortie before they can properly regroup. He also orders the catapults turned thirty degrees, but Joffrey whines that he was to command the catapults.
    • Tyrion relents if only to keep Joffrey occupied and away from the fighting.
    • Word comes that the enemy force is ramming the King's Gate, so Tyrion heads for the gate and commands the commander to form the ranks. Ser Clegane refuses to go back out with the fire and abandons his post.
    • Tyrion takes the command himself. The soldiers are reluctant at first, but Tyrion realizes that if he—the "halfman"—goes out, then the others must follow or else be shamed.
    • Tyrion unsheathes his axe and charges through the gate.
  • Chapter 61

    Sansa VI

    • Osney Kettleblack slips into the Queen's Ballroom to give Cersei an update on the fighting and her son's safety.
    • Cersei explains to Sansa that she would rather be fighting the battle than in the company of the "hens."
    • Sansa points out that the queen invited them, but Cersei says it was expected of her and that Sansa should learn what is expected of a woman if she is to wed Joffrey.
    • Cersei receives word that some servants attempted to sneak off with stolen goods, so she sends Ser Illyn to put their heads outside the stables as a warning.
    • During the next course of their meal, citizens gather outside the gates seeking refuge, and Cersei orders Kettleblack to send them away, by force if necessary.
    • During the final course, Kettleback returns with word that Stannis's troops have landed and are assaulting the gates. Cersei orders that Joffrey be fetched back to the castle's holdfast.
    • She then demands Sansa to drink so that she might have the courage to deal with the truth of her situation for once.
    • She tells Sansa that she lied about Ser Ilyn: The real reason he is present is to kill them should Stannis win.
  • Chapter 62

    Tyrion XIV

    • Tyrion rushes to meet the enemy with Pod behind him. Despite Tyrion's protests, the squire rides on.
    • A lot of people die.
    • Tyrion's adrenaline kicks in, and he enters battle mode—the horrors of war and his own pain seem distant.
    • Looking over Blackwater Bay, he notices that the wrecked ships are packed so closely together that the enemy soldiers are using them as a bridge.
    • Tyrion calls for another push, and his horse breaks a leg. He puts the creature down and continues afoot.
    • Taking an arrow in the shoulder, Tyrion gets turned around during the madness of the battle.
    • Ser Mandon Moore offers him his hand, and Tyrion goes to take it before noticing the knight is offering him his left hand.
    • He reels back at the last second and there is a blaze of pain.
    • Ser Mandon raises his sword to finish Tyrion off when he struck from behind and knocked into the river.
    • Tyrion wonders if Jaime has saved him, but it is Pod's voice that reaches him through the darkness.
  • Chapter 63

    Sansa VII

    • Ser Lancel informs Cersei the battle is likely lost and her brother dead, so Cersei orders the drawbridge raised and Joffrey brought to safety.
    • Lancel protests that the absence of the King will be devastating to morale, but Cersei just strikes his wounded side.
    • Sansa comforts those gathered by reminding them they are in the safest place in the city. Ser Dontos whispers in her ear that she should lock herself in her room.
    • She does so and finds the Hound waiting for her. He tells her he is leaving, going somewhere away from the fires.
    • He promises he'll keep her safe if she comes with him, but when she can't look at his face, he settles for that song she promised she'd sing.
    • He leaves her.
    • The next morning, Ser Dontos brings word that the battle is over. Stannis has lost.
    • He tells her Lord Tywin Lannister routed Stannis's forces with the Tyrells and Renly leading the vanguard—well, someone in Renly's armor at any rate.
  • Chapter 64

    Daenerys V

    • After destroying the House of the Undying, Dany finds herself no longer welcome in Qarth.
    • Xaro finally asks her to flat out trade for one of her dragons, but there is no price Dany is willing to accept for one of her children. He requests she leave.
    • Dressed as a Dothraki and not a Qartheen, she heads to the port to see if she can find passage to the Seven Kingdoms; each captain either sets the price too high or laughs at the prospect.
    • Jorah notices two men following them. Dany and Jorah pretend to look at a merchant's wares while trying to observe their tails.
    • A Qartheen offers Dany a jewel box as a gift, but the box contains a poisonous manticore—which is like a scorpion insect in Martin's world.
    • One of the followers kills the beast and saves Dany's life.
    • After some confusion, they introduce themselves. The old man's name is Arstan, but he goes by Whitebeard; the large one's name is Strong Belwas.
    • They have been sent by Magister Illyrio (remember him?)—Illyrio wants Dany to return to Pentos as the Seven Kingdoms have need of her.
    • In addition to Whitebeard and Belwas, Illyrio sent three ships. Dany renames the ships Vhagar, Meraxes, and Balerion, naming them after the dragons of Aegon the Conqueror.
    • She does this to remind everyone that the dragons have returned.
  • Chapter 65

    Arya X

    • Arya goes to fetch water for Lord Bolton's basin and passes beneath the heads of the former Lannister host.
    • Gendry bumps into her, and he admits to hating the Bolton bunch more than Ser Amory's men. Even Arya wishes she'd gone with Jaqen H'ghar now.
    • She brings the water to Bolton's bedchamber while Bolton is receiving his routine leeching—and he's not even consulting a licensed barber.
    • Arya overhears Ser Aenys discussing Bran and Rickon's deaths.
    • Bolton decides he will go hunt wolves.
    • After the lord leaves, Arya tidies his chambers and notices a map. She quickly figures out she is not far from Riverrun, then she's off to train in the godswood.
    • After Bolton orders his supper, Arya asks if he will take her with him when he leaves Harrenhal. Bolton excuses her insolence for asking a question and answers just this once: She will remain at Harrenhal with Vargo Hoat.
    • That night, Arya goes to Gendry and tells him about her escape plan—Gendry will steal the weapons, Hot Pie the food, and she'll borrow some horses.
    • Arya tricks the stable boy into giving her the horses by pretending they are for Lord Bolton, then she meets up with Gendry and Hot Pie; both have completed their tasks.
    • Arya goes to the gatehouse and pretends to give the guard a silver coin from Lord Bolton. She drops it, though, and when he bends over to pick it up, she slits his throat. Cold blooded.
    • She whispers, "Valar morghulis" and then signals Gendry and Hot Pie.
    • Together, they ride away from Harrenhal.
  • Chapter 66

    Sansa VIII

    • Sansa watches from the crowd as Joffrey heaps rewards and titles upon Tywin, the Tyrells, and the knights who came to King's Landing's aid.
    • Joffrey agrees to marry Margaery Tyrell after the High Septon says he may annul his betrothal to Sansa for her father and brother's traitorous actions; Sansa tries to look sullen despite the swelling joy inside her.
    • For bringing the message to the Tyrells, Littlefinger is granted titles and the castle of Harrenhal.
    • The battle's captives are brought into the hall and given the chance to change their allegiance and swear fealty to Joffrey.
    • One knight decries Joffrey as an abomination, and while Joffrey is busy throwing a tantrum, a simple hand gesture from Tywin has the knight executed.
    • That night, Sansa slips into the godswood to meet Ser Dontos.
    • She's excited that Joffrey is done with her, but Dontos warns her that Lannisters will never be done with her.
    • Dontos says he has a friend who has arranged safe passage for him and Sansa out of King's Landing, but she must wait until the night of Joffrey's wedding because… reasons.
    • Dontos gifts her a hair net adorned with black amethysts.
    • Sansa thinks it is a ship she wants, not jewels, but Dontos tells her these are magic jewels—jewels that will not only bring her justice but home as well.
  • Chapter 67

    Theon VI

    • Maester Luwin comes to Theon to offer him a way out of his current predicament, but Theon exclaims he is ironborn and has his own ways.
    • He assembles his men and tells Black Lorren to find the girl, then he rides out to meet Ser Rodrik.
    • Rodrik's terms are simple: Winterfell and Theon's life. The other ironborn may go free if those conditions are met.
    • Theon counters by having Black Lorren prop Beth, Rodrik's daughter, on the castle wall; a noose dangles around her neck.
    • Rodrik calls Theon a coward for using children. Theon agrees, arguing the Starks put a similar noose around his neck when he was ten.
    • He threatens to hang Beth if Rodrik and his host stand before his gate when the sun sets. He returns to the castle, knowing Rodrik's duty as castellan and a knight means an attack is coming.
    • While they wait, Luwin returns to counsel Theon—he suggests Theon take the black and join the Night's Watch.
    • Theon considers the notion, even imagining how high he could rise among the crow's ranks, but just then, he is told that Rodrik's forces are under attack.
    • After the battle, Ser Rodrik and all his men are dead.
    • A man in red armor comes to the gates proclaiming friendship; Theon opens the gates.
    • Theon is surprised to see the man is Reek, but the man laughs and says Reek is dead.
    • He is Ramsay Snow, illegitimate son of Roose Bolton—he switched places with Reek when Rodrik came to hunt him down, and had his manservant killed in his place.
    • Ramsay claims Kyra as his prize for saving Theon, and when Theon objects, he hits him across the face with his gauntleted hand.
    • As Theon passes out, he watches as Ramsay's men kill and burn their way through Winterfell.
  • Chapter 68

    Tyrion XV

    • Tyrion lies in bed, drifting in and out of consciousness. He tries to piece together what has happened to him, but thoughts and memories are too distant.
    • He dreams he is with his first wife, Tysha, at their seaside mansion.
    • Tyrion begins to wake, and a Maester tries to give him milk of the poppy, but Tyrion slaps it away and demands the bandages be removed.
    • Reluctantly, Maester Ballabar does so and hands him a mirror.
    • Tyrion's face has a gnarly scar and three-quarters of his nose is missing; everything is stitched together with catgut.
    • He thinks back to the battle and believes Cersei must have paid Ser Mandon to kill him.
    • Maester Ballabar informs Tyrion that he is in Maegor's Holdfast and that he is no longer Hand of the King—Tywin Lannister has taken on the job.
    • Tyrion requests Pod sent to him, since the boy is the only person he can trust.
    • Pod reveals that he killed Ser Mandon, and Tyrion orders him to say nothing of it.
  • Chapter 69

    Jon VIII

    • Qhorin tells Jon to build up the fire, and as Jon does so, he thinks back to Qhorin ordering Stonesnake and Ebben to make for the Fist to warn Mormont.
    • Qhorin asks Jon to recite the vows of the Night's Watch with him.
    • Afterward, he tells Jon that if the wildlings catch them, he is to yield and become a double agent.
    • Jon argues at first but agrees.
    • The two try to escape but are eventually cornered by a wildling hunting party led by the Lord of Bones, or, as Qhorin calls him, Rattleshirt.
    • As ordered, Jon yields. Rattleshirt says they have no need of cravens, but Ygritte comes to Jon's defense. One good deed, right?
    • Qhorin attacks Jon for turning "traitor," forcing Jon to slay him.
    • Watching Jon kill Qhorin, the wildlings, except for Rattleshirt, accept him into their ranks.
    • Ygritte tells Jon they'll meet with Mance at Milkwater as the King Beyond the Wall is marching on the Wall.
  • Chapter 70

    Bran VII

    • Through the eyes of Summer, Bran wanders through the destruction of Winterfell.
    • He is woken by Meera, and Jojen reveals he was in his wolf dream for three days; he warns him that he might starve if he stays for too long.
    • Bran tells them of his dream, and the group considers taking a look.
    • Osha lights a torch, revealing they have been in the crypts beneath Winterfell the entire time. Clever girl.
    • Based on what Bran saw during his dream, they agree to go take a look.
    • Outside, the castle has been destroyed and no one is left; the direwolves emerge and reunite with their guardians.
    • Surveying the castle, Summer darts into the godswood, so the group follows, and they find Maester Luwin mortally wounded.
    • Luwin is relieved to see the boys safe and advises them to separate since they are Robb's heirs. He tells Bran to be strong.
    • All leave except for Osha, who, at Luwin's request, finishes off the dying maester.
    • Jojen and Meera agree to travel with Bran while Osha says she'll take Rickon; Hodor will go to be Bran's legs.
    • They scavenge the castle for supplies and then part ways.
    • Jojen announces that their path is north.
    • Bran observes that Winterfell castle still stands—it's just broken—and he thinks about how he's broken but not dead either.