A Storm of Swords - George R. R. Martin

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A Storm of Swords - George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords is the third of seven planned novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin.


In the Seven Kingdoms:

The North / The Riverlands -

At Riverrun, Catelyn Stark strikes an unauthorized deal with her captive Jaime Lannister: his freedom in return for that of Catelyn's daughters. Jaime agrees, and is sent south, escorted by Brienne of Tarth.

Jaime and Brienne are waylaid by mercenaries known as The Brave Companions (now in the service of Roose Bolton) and taken to Harrenhal. Their vicious leader, Vargo Hoat, chops off Jaime's sword hand, and Jaime is sent back to King's Landing. Brienne, having little value as a hostage, is left to Hoat's mercies, but Jaime returns to rescue her. Robb's army returns to Riverrun, having smashed Lannister forces in the Westerlands. Robb reveals that he has married Jeyne Westerling of the Crag, invalidating his betrothal to a House Frey daughter, thus risking losing their support. Robb's forces are dwindling as his soldiers are caught between Lord Randyll Tarly and Gregor Clegane. The Greyjoys now hold Robb's home territory of Winterfell. Nevertheless, Robb has a plan to take Moat Cailin from the Greyjoys, but it hinges on winning the support of the Freys, which they are now unlikely to give. When Lord Hoster Tully dies, Catelyn's brother Edmure becomes Lord of Riverrun.

Arya Stark and her friends encounter a group of men known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Lord Beric Dondarrion and the red priest Thoros of Myr. Beric's group, originally sent by Eddard Stark to put down the Lannister raids, has devolved into defending the smallfolk of the war-torn Riverlands. The group encounters Sandor Clegane, former bodyguard of King Joffrey, known as the Hound, and offers him trial by battle, which he wins by killing Lord Beric. Thoros is able to resurrect Beric using what he calls a gift from his god R'hllor. Arya abandons the Brotherhood, but is captured by the lurking Hound. The Hound decides to take her back to her family to collect a ransom, and they head north.

Robb Stark's army reaches The Twins. Frey agrees to forgive Robb on the condition that Lord Edmure Tully weds a Frey daughter in Robb's place. At the wedding celebration, warriors disguised as musicians produce crossbows and fire at the Stark supporters. The Boltons and Freys kill many of the Stark bannermen. Catelyn is seized, her throat cut, and her body dumped into the river. Robb is beheaded and the head of his direwolf is sewn into its place. Many of the northern lords are either killed or captured.

Arya and the Hound arrive at the outskirts of the castle as the "Red Wedding" is taking place. Realizing that something is dreadfully wrong, Arya attempts to enter the castle, but the Hound knocks her unconscious and takes her downriver. Arya dreams, seeing through the eyes of her long-missing direwolf, Nymeria. In the dream, Nymeria finds the corpse of a woman floating in a river. Arya tells the Hound that her mother Catelyn is dead.

Arya and the Hound encounter his brother Gregor Clegane's men. They fight free, but the Hound is wounded. His wound becomes infected, but Arya refuses him the mercy of a clean death and leaves him. She finds a ship from the Free City of Braavos, but the captain refuses her passage until she offers him the coin that Jaqen H'ghar gave her and says "Valar Morghulis", as instructed. The captain replies "Valar Dohaeris", and they set sail for Braavos.

In the Epilogue of the book, it is discovered that a re-animated Catelyn Stark is alive with the Brotherhood Without Banners, eager for revenge against those who betrayed and murdered her and her son.

The South / King's Landing - 

Davos Seaworth washes ashore on a rocky island after the Battle of the Blackwater. He is found by King Stannis's men and taken to Dragonstone. Davos blames the red priestess Melisandre for Stannis's defeat, and he is immediately locked up for treason. Melisandre asks for Davos simply to be true to his king. Stannis releases Davos and asks him to serve as his Hand. Melisandre has performed blood rituals to awaken 'stone dragons,' which she thinks are the great statues that guard the castle, with Stannis' cooperation. (Chronologically, this happens shortly before the Red Wedding.)

King's Landing welcomes the Tyrells as liberators. King Joffrey agrees to set aside his betrothal to Sansa Stark and marry Lady Margaery Tyrell instead. Sansa is soon compelled to marry Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion treats Sansa gently and refuses to consummate the marriage against her will. Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands offers an alliance, but Tywin Lannister, Joffrey's grandfather and Hand, spurns it.

Word reaches King's Landing of the death of Robb Stark, followed by news that Balon Greyjoy has died as well, under suspicious circumstances. Margaery and Joffrey's wedding is held, but Joffrey suddenly chokes and dies. Cersei Lannister has her brother Tyrion arrested as a poisoner and put on trial. Meanwhile, Sansa is smuggled out of the castle and taken to Littlefinger, who admits responsibility for Joffrey's death. Littlefinger, with Sansa, departs King's Landing for the Eyrie with a new scheme: to woo Lady Lysa Arryn, Catelyn's sister, into marriage.

Davos Seaworth discovers a message from the Night's Watch, begging for aid against Mance Rayder and the Others. Melisandre convinces Stannis to sacrifice Edric Storm, a bastard son of Stannis's late brother, King Robert, to the flames to wake the dragons, but Davos smuggles Edric to safety. Stannis prepares to execute Davos for treason.

Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth reach King's Landing to find that Joffrey's younger brother Tommen has inherited the throne but is not yet crowned, Tyrion is on trial for Joffrey's murder, and the Tyrell bannermen blame Brienne for King Renly's death. Jaime becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard but refuses his father's offer to make him heir to Casterly Rock. He also refuses to believe Cersei's claims that Tyrion killed Joffrey. After a quarrel, Jaime rejects her advances.

Tyrion is seemingly doomed, as Cersei has recruited many people to give evidence against him, including Varys the spymaster, and Shae, Tyrion's whore. Tyrion is approached by Lord Oberyn Martell of Dorne, who offers to fight for him in a trial by combat against Cersei's champion, Ser Gregor Clegane, "the Mountain that Rides." Oberyn nearly emerges victorious, but a mortally wounded Gregor kills him. Tyrion is again condemned to death, but escapes from his dungeon with the help of Jaime and Varys. Jaime reveals that Tyrion's beloved first wife had not been a prostitute as their father Tywin had told him, but had actually been a crofter's daughter. Tyrion sees this as an unforgivable betrayal and swears vengeance. Entering Tywin's chamber, he discovers Shae in his father's bed and kills her. He confronts Tywin as he sits on the privy. When taunted, Tyrion shoots Tywin through the bowels with a crossbow and leaves.

Jaime frees Brienne, and gives her a sword reforged from Ned Stark's sword of Valyrian steel. He tells her to keep her oath to Lady Catelyn, to find Arya and Sansa and return them home. He also tells her that the real reason he betrayed his oath and murdered King Aerys many years back was that Aerys had planned to destroy the city and everyone in it, rather than let Robert Baratheon take the city. He carried out his most infamous act to save the innocent.

At the Eyrie, Littlefinger and Lysa are now married, and Sansa remains hidden in the guise of a base-born daughter of Littlefinger's named Alayne Stone; only Littlefinger and Lysa are aware of her true origins. Sansa lives in fear of her increasingly psychotic aunt Lysa, who threatens to cast her from the Eyrie for a mistaken attraction on her part to Littlefinger. Littlefinger intervenes, unceremoniously pushing Lysa out of the 'Moon Door' to her death. Sansa learns that Littlefinger instructed Lysa to poison her husband Jon Arryn and blame the Lannisters for the crime, which is a catalyst to the events of A Game of Thrones.

On the Wall:

A detachment of the Night's Watch awaits word from Qhorin Halfhand and Jon Snow. The Watch comes under attack by wights, but manages to withdraw. Samwell Tarly kills one of the Others with a strange blade of obsidian, or "dragonglass". Some of the men of the Watch mutiny and kill Lord Commander Jeor Mormont at Craster's Keep. Sam escapes with the help of one of Craster's daughter-wives, Gilly, and they make their way south towards the Wall. They are helped on the way by a strange figure riding an elk, whom Sam calls 'Coldhands'.

Bran Stark, along with Jojen and Meera Reed, fleeing the ruins of Winterfell, are guided north by Bran's strange dreams of a three-eyed crow. They reach the Wall and meet Samwell Tarly and Gilly. Sam guides them to Coldhands, who will take them north, and returns to Castle Black, agreeing to keep the truth of Bran's survival a secret.

Jon Snow is taken to Mance Rayder and is able to convince him that he is a deserter from the Night's Watch. He learns that the Others are driving the wildlings south towards the Wall. Mance seeks the legendary Horn of Winter which will shatter the Wall when sounded, but has been unable to find it. Jon escapes from the wildlings and reaches Castle Black ahead of Mance Rayder's army.

The wildling army, over forty thousand strong, reaches Castle Black and assaults the Wall. Jon leads a tenacious defense but it seems that the Watch must be overrun. Rayder now has the Horn of Winter, but would rather cross the Wall than destroy it, as the Wall is the only thing that will keep the Others at bay. The surviving army of King Stannis arrives, and Rayder is captured and imprisoned. Stannis reveals that Davos Seaworth convinced him that a true king would protect the Seven Kingdoms' northern boundary from invasion. Melisandre believes the wildling invasion to be the forerunner of the return of The Great Other, the sworn foe of her red god R'hllor. Stannis offers Jon Snow Winterfell in exchange for his support, but Jon is chosen by the Night's Watch as its new Lord Commander through the cleverness of Samwell Tarly, and refuses Stannis in favor of keeping his oath.

In the East:

Heading for Pentos by sea, Daenerys Targaryen learns that large slave armies can be bought in the cities of Slaver's Bay. Daenerys agrees to give up one of her beloved infant dragons to entice the Slavers to sell her the entire host of the Unsullied, the feared warrior-eunuchs of Astapor. After Daenerys is declared their new mistress, she immediately orders her new army of Unsullied to turn on their former masters and sacks the city. She then frees all the slaves of Astapor. Daenerys' combined Dothraki/Dragon/Unsullied horde then advances on the slaver city of Yunkai. Many Yunkai mercenaries are killed, the remainder switch sides to Daenerys' growing horde, and Yunkai easily falls. However, the lords of Meereen antagonise Daenerys by killing child slaves and burning the land to deny her resources. Daenerys besieges the city to no avail.

Daenerys discovers two false persons in her camp, but the natures of their deceptions are very different. Ser Jorah Mormont was spying for Varys the spider, informant to the late King Robert Baratheon; Arstan Whitebeard is actually an alias of Ser Barristan Selmy, the humiliated former Lord Commander of Robert Baratheon's Kingsguard, who has come seeking the true Targaryen ruler. Daenerys offers both men the chance to make amends: by sneaking into Meereen to free the slaves and start an uprising. Meereen soon falls. She forgives Barristan Selmy and makes him Lord Commander of her Queensguard; however, Mormont still insists that he did nothing wrong, and thus she banishes him for his betrayal. Daenerys decides to remain in Meereen and learn to be the queen that Westeros needs.		
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