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A Liveblog of Ice and Fire: Book 3a
Vampire Buddha

[table of contents]
Introduction
Following hot on the heels of my last liveblog, here's a description of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire book 3a, A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow. for those of you living in America (and, presumably, Canada), the third book was split in two for the UK/Ireland release due to it being freaking long. The fourth or three point fifth, depending on your perspective, will be done as soon as I finish this one. But first, the story so far.

Setting

A Song of Ice and Fire is set on a planet where, for as yet unrevealed reasons, seasons last for years, sometimes decades. Its fauna is pretty much the same as Earth's, though mammoths and direwolves are still extant, and giants exist. Dragons went extinct some time before the start of the first book, though three babies hatch at the end of A Game of Thrones.

Magic exists, though is for the most part rather downplayed and understated, and what magic there is seems to primarily involve making deals with Lovecraftian monstrosities. There are also prophetic dreams and long-range telepathy, but these are little-known and poorly understood. Dragons and direwolves are strongly linked to magic, so much so that when the baby dragons hatch at the end of book 1, magic immediately becomes more powerful.

Geography

The bulk of the series takes place in the Seven Kingdoms, an empire about the size of Britain whose society is essentially that of medieval England but with more incest and atheism.

Prior to around 300 years before the series begins, the Seven Kingdoms were, in fact, seven kingdoms. Then, prince Aegon of House Targaryen conquered five of the others with his gigantic awesome dragons. The last kingdom, Dorne, was annexed by the empire when one of its princesses married into the Targaryen family.

Society is modelled closely on that of fuedal England, though the religious structure is a mashup of England's transition from paganism to Catholicism, and the Renaissnce. More on that later.

Most of the fighting is apparently done by knights. These are men who have weapons, armour, horses, land, and castles, though there is mention of hedge knights, who presumably lack the land. There are also lords, who are mostly the same. Apart from the fact that there are a few lords who do not fight, there does not seem to be any difference between lords and knights as far as I can see. I guess it could just be that knights are supposed to obey lords, just as lords are supposed to obey the king. Yeah, that's probably it. OK, that's what I'm going with, though I think that lesser lords are also supposed to obey greater ones.

So anyway, the land is owned by the noble families. The greatest of the noble families is the royal family, currently Baratheon, sort of (it's complicated). The patriarch of the royal family is the king, who theoretically rules the entire empire except for the Wall (see below). In truth, the king must keep the most powerful nobles happy lest they decide to take their assets and turn against him. The primary symbol of the king is the Iron Throne, a very uncomfortable chair which Aegon the Conquerer made out of the swords of his defeated enemies.

The king is protected by a seven-strong personal bodyguard imaginatively called the Kingsguard, whose members dress all in white and swear vows of celibacy.

The king is advised by a group called the small council. A permanent member of this group is the Hand of the King, who runs the country when the king is unavailable. In the case that the king is too young or incompetent, the Hand rules the country full-time.

The Seven Kingdoms is divided into seven provinces, each of which corresponds to one of the original kingdoms. These are (some names are inaccurate):

Other places of interest include:

King's Landing is the capital of the empire, and it is here that one will find the guildhall of the alchemists. The alchemists claim to have all sorts of secret magic and occult knowledge, but really they just have very basic, trial-and-error-based chemistry and a whole lot of PR. Their make a living by making and selling napalm, which the books call dragonfire.

The northernmost boundary of the Seven Kingdoms is a bigass wall traditionally said to have been built by Brandon the Builder, legendary founder of the Starl family. Beyind the wall are the Free People, also called the wildlings, a loose association of Celtic-flavoured anarchists who believe in freedom above all else. There also also evil spirits called the Others up here, who have the power to raise zombies.

The Wall is guarded by the Night's Watch, a group of armed men who dress all in black and swear vows of celibacy, not that they bear those vows much heed. The Night's Watch is not officially part of the Seven Kingdoms, and while its members will honour any king that happens to be in the area, they answer to none. Their vows mean they depend on the good will of the nobles of the Seven Kingdoms to keep them supplied with men. The nobles have long since figured out that this is a good way to get rid of their undesirables, and so the Watch is supposedly populated entirely by the dregs of society plus the odd orphan and noble's bastard, though there are plent of heroic and honourable men among its ranks as well.

Arranged marriages are standard among the nobles, and children mostly hope their parents will choose someone good for them; what, if any, arrangement the peasants make is as yet unknown. Many arranged marriages do result in genuine love between the couple, though extramarital sex is also frequent. It is common practice among the nobles for a child to be fostered with another family for a time, both to get a new perspective on matters and to reinforce family ties and alliances. In some cases, it is not unknown for a fostered child to be completely adopted into the host family if they have no son of their own to carry on the legacy.

Bastards are a relatively common occurence in the Seven Kingdoms due to men's inability to keep it in their pants and predeliction to rape coupled with lack of contraception. Bastards are unable to inherit land or property from their parents, though some managed to make a living by learning a trade or taking up arms as mercenaries. Others are drawn to the Night's Watch. Bastards do not take their parent's surname(s); instead, they are given a surname based on the dominant geographical theme if the country in which they reside. If a bastard has children, those children also inherit his name, which presumably would have made things a bit confusin by now.

Women are seen as the natural inferiors of men, and do not get to inherit property or titles from their parents if they have any brothers. Most people view women as existing mosly to make more men with which to conquer more land.

There is another continent, based mostly on Asia, where maybe 8% of the story has so far taken place. The dominant power on this continent appears to be the Dothraki, a Mongol-like culture who eat only horse meat for some reason and whose men cut their hair only when they die. They have a prophecy that one day, there will be born to them a boy called the Prince who was Promised and the Stallion that Mounts the World, and he will do various unspecified awesome things.

A major trading area on this continent is the Free Cities. Think Renaissance Italy without the Papal States and you're basically there.

The other place that has been visited on this continent is Qarth, a rather weird and exotic place ruled by a group of bored hedonists, but actually run by a competition between pirates and sorcerors. Daenerys kicked a bunch of arse here and made a bunch of enemies. Other areas that have been mentioned are Asshai and Yunkai, and it's clear that Daenerys will be visiting both of them before the story ends.

Religion

The oldest religion in the Seven Kingdoms is a decentralised, personal, animistic faith characterised by individual devotion. It holds that there are gods all over the place, and followers tend to pray at special trees. This is the primary religion of the Free People and has some strength in the North, especially among the Stark family. In the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, most people follow the Faith of the Seven, though the old gods are commonly acknowledged in oaths alongside the new.

The Faith of the Seven is akin to a cross between Hinduism in its theology and Christianity in its ritual. It is a much more ritual-based religion, with lots of church services, ceremonies, and singing. The Faith posits the existence of seven gods, though all of these are actually individual aspects of a single entity: The Father, Mother, Maid, Crone, Smith, Warrior, and Stranger. Priests are called septons if male or septas if female, and houses of worship are known as septs.

The Iron Island have their own religion, which centres on a deity called the Drowned God. Water and drowning figure heavily in his veneration.

The Dothraki have a somewhat shamanistic faith with so far no named deities, though they do believe that the moon is a giant egg full of dragons. When a Dothraki dies, he is burned on a funeral pyre along with his horse so that he can ride freely in the afterlife. This is so far the only afterlife that has been described in the books, though followers of the Faith of the Seven sometimes use "seven hells!" as a curse and Sansa thinks that Sandor Clegane will go to a hell for being a big evil meanie-pants, so presumably they do believe in some form of tormentous afterlife for sinners.

Another religion which is starting to take hold in the Seven Kingdoms, and which is apparently common in parts of not-Asia, is based on Zoroastrianism. This religion worships R'hllor, the god of light and fire; its followers assert that shadows are also the servants of R'hllor, since shadows are cast by fire, and there can be no shadows in perfect darkness. They also believe in an evil deity of darkness, cold, and ice, and even alluding to his existence is bad luck. Fire and the colour red feature prominently in this faith, and its leaders make a hobby out of iconoclasm. The most serious followers have some freaky and disturbing magic power.

The maesters are a secular order of scholars in the Seven Kingdoms; I include them here because they are organised exactly like the Catholic Church. Maesters are to be found in the homes of most nobles and rich merchants, as well as many cities, and are the go-to people for knowledge of medicine, science, and history. They also swear vows of celibacy, for some unknown reason. Each time a maester completes a course of study, he fashions a new link for his chain of office, each link made of a different metal.

Characters

Characters are divided according to which side they took in the civil war. Characters marked with a ** are honourable mentions, characters who do not fit properly into any of the factions, but are most closely associated with one or another.

Team Robb

Eddard Stark** (RIP)

A heroic, noble, and rigidly honourable but compassionate lord of Winterfell. One of the series' good guys.

Catelyn Stark (nee Tully)

Eddard's wife. Loves her children very very very much.

Robb Stark

Oldest son of Eddard by Catelyn, currently king in the north. Very much his father's son, he is also heroic and noble in the modern sense, but lacks his father's experience and maturity. Has a pet direwolf called Grey Wind.

Sansa Stark

Oldest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn. Spent the first book thinking she was a fairy tale princess; in the second, she received a number of harsh lessons in how the world really is, as well as some rather kind and gentle lessons from, of all people, Cersei. Currently a hostage of Joffrey. Was previously bethrothed to Joffrey, but that pact was dissolved at the end of the second book. Had a pet direwolf named Lady, but Eddard had to kill her after Nymeria injured Joffrey and Cersei demanded retribution.

Arya Stark

Second daughter of Eddard and Catelyn, and the exact opposite of Sansa. Arya is an adventurous tomboy who wants to learn to use a sword, to fight and kill. Had a direwolf named Nymeria, but had to drive her off to keep her from Cersei's wrath. Currently unaware that she is bethrothed to one of Walder Frey's sons, whom she has met unawares, and was not impressed by.

Syrio Forel (RIP)

A man who was officially Arya's dancing instructor, and in truth, her sword teacher. Killed by the Lannisters.

Gendry

An experienced apprentice blacksmith and bastard son of Robert, currently travelling with Arya. Smart enough, but a little slow-witted.

Hot Pie

An orphaned son of a baker, currently travelling with Arya. Has a good heart, but is none too bright.

Bran Stark

Fourth of Eddard and Catelyn's trueborn children. Always wanted to be a knight, but was crippled when he walked in on Jaime doing Cersei and got thrown out the window, leaving him in a coma for a few days from which he emerged with amnesia. Currently learning psychic powers from Jojen. Has a good heart, but is upset that he will never walk again. Has a direwolf named Summer, with whom he shares a dangerously strong psychic connection. Believed to be dead.

Rickon Stark

Youngest son of Eddard and Catelyn, little more than a toddler. Has a direwolf called Shaggydog. Believed to be dead.

Howland Reed

Lord of the Neck, and saved Eddard's life once. Seen as an uncouth culchie, but is actually cool, or so the character say.

Meera Reed

Howland's daughter, and the sort of person Arya aspires to be.

Jojen Reed

Meera's younger brother, who has prophetic dreams. Has been coaching Bran to unlock his psychic powers.

Osha

A Free Woman who attached herself to Robb because she thinks he's awesome. A pretty badass action girl.

Old Nan

An old woman who helps Catelyn take care of her children, and was apparently a nurse to Eddard when he was a lad.

Hodor

Old Nan's grandson, a kind-hearted gentle giant. He is retarded, and can only say his own name.

Edmure Tully

Catelyn's younger brother, and heir to Riverrun. He is also noble and honourable, but somewhat weaker than the likes of Eddard. A master tactician, who actually managed to utterly trounce Tywin Lannister's army despite a numerical disadvantage due to careful positioning and use of traps. According to the Internet, he will have a rather unpleasant wedding in the future.

Hoster Tully

Father of Catelyn, Edmure, and Lysa. Currently on his deathbed, and delirious.

Lysa Arynn (nee Tully)

Sister of Catelyn and Edmure. Married to Jon Arynn, who was even older than Hoster; there was little love in their marriage. Is disturbingly close to Robert-chan.

Robert Arynn

Only son of Jon and Lysa Arynn. An incredible wimp who is still breastfeeding at age eight. I call him Robert-chan to distinguish him from Robert Baratheon.

Jon Arynn

The elderly former patriarch of the Arynn family, and Robert's former hand. Fostered both Robert and Eddard for a time. Discovered that Cerse's children were the product of extramarital incest, anc Cersei had him murdered for it.

Roose Bolton

The evil member of Team Robb. Believes the secret to staying young is the regular application of leeches.

Ramsay Bolton

Bastard (in every sense of the word) son of Roose, who uses his father's surname because fuck you. Deeply twisted and evil.

Vargo Hoat

Leader of the Bloody Mummers, a peculiar group of mercenaries who pose as a group of travelling performers. Speakth with a pronounthed lithp.

Septon Utt

A member of the Bloody Mummers and a paedophile.

Rorge

A murderer and paedophile who is missing a nose and was imprisoned along with Biter and Jaqen H'gar, and was sentenced to death. This sentence was commuted to life with the Night's Watch, though he has managed to escape that. Currently a member of the Bloody Mummers.

Biter

A cannibal with his teeth filed to points, who was to be sent to the Night's Watch, but managed to escape and joined the Bloody Mummers along with Rorge. I don't recall him ever speaking.

Jaqen H'gar

An assassin, sorceror, and follower of R'hllor who was sentenced to death and imprisoned along with Rorge and Biter. Has an unusual way of speaking. When Arya saved the live of him and his two companions, he had to kill three others to balance R'hllors's accounts; in gratitude to Arya, he allowed her to choose the victims. Presently using a different name and face, and residing in an unknown location.

Walder Frey

Lord of an important river crossing who joined with Robb in order to expand his own power and influence. Currently on his seventh wife, and a firm believer in Screw The Rules I Am A Senior. Has a shitload of offspring, half of whom are also named Walder, and all of whom are scheming to get his inheritance.

Greatjon Umber

A lord in the North, and Robb's most fervent supporter. A friendly Boisterous Bruiser.

Wyman Manderly

A lord of the North, and the fattest man in the Seven Kingdoms. Smarter than people give him credit for.

Brienne of Tarth

A female knight, and apparently the ugliest woman in the Seven Kingdoms. Has a friendly and bubbly personality, but with a melancholic streak owing to the fact that she is ever an outsider. Was a member of Renly's Rainbow Guard after beating Loras Tyrell in a tournament; decided to become Catelyn's personal bodyguard after Renly was murdered.

Beric Dondarrion

A speedy knight and raider who has been harassing the Lannisters to great effect. Has been witnessed dying on at least four seperate occasions.

Dontos

An alcoholic former knight who Joffrey sentenced to death, but commuted that sentence to life as a jester due to Sansa's intervention. Currently working to free Sansa.

Team Renly

This group supported Renly Baratheon during the civil war. When Renly was murdered, about half defected to Stannis, and the rest were won over to Joffrey. Brienne decided to become Catelyn's personal bodyguard, and so is on Team Robb.

Renly Baratheon (RIP)

Youngest brother of Robert and Stannis. Rather like Robert, if Robert wasn't a jerk. Friendly, personable, and jolly, and always pragmatic. Killed by one of Melisandre's creepy shadow babies.

Margaery Tyrell

Renly's widow, though he never got around to consummating their marriage. A sweet woman, currently bethrothed to Joffrey.

Loras Tyrell

Margaery's brother, a dashing bishonen of a knight who ladies all adore, and leader of Renly's Rainbow Guard. Habitually wears a cloak and armour bearing beautiful, intricate flower patterns. The only person to have beaten Gregor Clegane in a tournament. Currently serving on Joffrey's Kingsguard.

Mace Tyrell

Patriarch of House Tyrell and father of Loras and Margaery. At one time a supporter of Renly. Took Highgarden't forces over to Team Joffrey after the young king's hand in marriage was offered to Margaery. Currently a member of the small council.

Brienne of Tarth

A female knight, and apparently the ugliest woman in the Seven Kingdoms. Has a friendly and bubbly personality, but with a melancholic streak owing to the fact that she is ever an outsider. Was a member of Renly's Rainbow Guard after beating Loras Tyrell in a tournament; decided to become Catelyn's personal bodyguard after Renly was murdered.

Team Stannis

Stannis Baratheon

Robert and Renly's other brother. Stiff, prickly, and honourable to a fault, but without the compassion of Eddard and Edmure, or the pragmatism and gregarity of Renly, to become popular with the people. A Hollywood Atheist who pas lip service to R'hllor to keep Melisandre on his side.

Selyse Baratheon

Stannis' cold and emotionally distant wife. Does not have much affection for her husband. A fervent follower of R'hllor.

Shireen Baratheon

Young daughter and only child of Stannis and Selyse. Scarred by icthyosis. Stannis and Selyse only have sex twice a year, yet still wonder why they don't yet have a son.

Patchface

Stannis' obese jester, who suffered profound brain damage after nearly drowning and is now retarded and insane, but Shireen likes him.

Davos Seaworth

A former smuggler who became a knight. In the past, Storm's End was besieged by the Tyrells and another force, and Stannis' garrison was close to surrender. Davs managed to sneak past their blockade and smuggle in just enough food, notably onions, to allow them to hold out until reinforcements arrived. In recognition of this, Stannis named Davos a knight, and also cut off the fingers of his left hand at the frontmost knuckle as punishment for his years of smuggling. Davos is thus one of Stannis' most loyal followers; for this reason, he isn't fond of Melisandre, seeing her as a bad influence on Stannis.

Melisandre

A sorceress and follower of R'hllor who has brought the faith of the Red God to Team Stannis. Hobbies include iconoclasm. Immune to poison. Shares Stannis' bed, in which she makes creepy shadow babies with which to kill her enemies.

Salladhor Saan

A pirate and trader from the Free Cities who would quite like Stannis to have the throne. Acts in a rather stereotypically homosexual manner.

Edric Storm

One of Robert's many bastards, though the only one that Robert ever personally acknowledged. His resemblance to Robert provides evidence that Joffrey is an illegitimate ruler. Currently a captive of Stannis.

Team Joffrey

Robert Baratheon** (RIP)

Leader of the rebellion against Aerys Targaryen, and the man who was crowned king in the aftermath. An alcoholic Toblerone who sticks his penis in any vagina he happens to come across. Only ever managed to stick it into that of Cersei twice, though he thinks he did it more often.

Cersei Lannister

Wife of Robert and mother of Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. A beautiful woman who became an evil, ruthless bitch due to trying to advance in a fundamentally unfair man's world. Engaged in an incestuous relationship with Jaime. Seems to have some sympathy for Sansa. Her surname is actually Baratheon, but everyone calls her Lannister, so that's what I'm going with.

Joffrey Baratheon

Eldest son of Cersei and Jaime, though is listed as Robert's son. Royal brat.

Myrcella Baratheon

Daughter of Cersei and Jaime, though is listed as Robert's daughter. A nice girl.

Tommen Baratheon

Youngest child of Cersei and Jaime, though is listed as Robert's son. A sweet boy.

Jaime Lannister

Half-identical twin brother of Cersei, with whom she is engaged in an incestuous relationship. A skilled knight, and served as captain of both Aerys' and Robert's Kingsguards. Was the one who actually killed Aerys, which earned him the rather unkind nickname Kingslayer. Smarmy git, but is apparently nice to Tyrion. When we saw him last, he was about to be executed by Catelyn.

Tyrion Lannister

Supposedly the good Lannister, though this is offset by the fact that he is known to rape prostitutes in their sleep, and that he works to support the Lannister family. A deformed dwarf and magnificent bastard who is fond of prostitutes.

Shae

A prostitute who Tyrion loves.

Lollys

A somewhat retarded lady who was gang-raped by 50 men during a riot in King's Landing. Shae is currently posing as her maid.

Bronn

A mercenary who serves as Tyrion's bodyguard.

Shagga son of Dolf, Timmett son of Timmett, and Chesa daughter of Cheyk

Mountain dwellers from the Vale of Arynn who follow Tyrion because they think he's awesome.

Tywin Lannister

Patriarch of the Lannister family, currently serving as Hand of the King. Rich asshole.

Lancel Lannister

A cousing of Cersei who she is shagging due to Jaime not being present.

Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish

The royal treasurer, and a manipulative wanker based on Niccolò Machiavelli. Obsessed with Catelyn.

Varys

A eunuch and the royal spymaster. He and Tyrion collaborate frequently, though neither trusts the other.

Grand Maester Pycelle

The highest of the maesters, and a Lannister man through and through. It was him who persuaded Aerys II to open the gates of King's Landing to the Lannister army, thus leading to the family's rape and murder.

Osmund Kettleblack

A mercenary who is working as a spy for Cersei, and a double agent for Tyrion. Not very bright.

Mandon Moore

A member of the Kingsguard who Cerse had try to kill Tyrion, but was himself killed by Podryk Payne.

Podryk Payne

Tyrion's squire. Gawky but a good lad.

Gregor Clegane

A gigantic knight, monstrous in appearance and personality, whose only joys in life are rape and killing. One of the few characters in all of fiction who truly deserves the moniker of Complete Monster.

Sandor Clegane

Gregor's younger brother, whose face is burned after he played with one of Gregor's toy soldiers and got his face shoved in a fire for it; as a result, he suffers from profound pyrophobia. Brutally cynical, but has something resembling a conscience, and is quite protective of Sansa. Was a member of the Kingsguard despite not actually being a knight, but fled the battle at the end of book 2 and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Ilyn Payne

The royal executioner. I think he's had his tongue removed.

Margaery Tyrell

Renly's widow, though he never got around to consummating their marriage. A sweet woman, currently bethrothed to Joffrey.

Loras Tyrell

Margaery's brother, a dashing bishonen of a knight who ladies all adore, and leader of Renly's Rainbow Guard. Habitually wears a cloak and armour bearing beautiful, intricate flower patterns. The only person to have beaten Gregor Clegane in a tournament. Currently serving on Joffrey's Kingsguard.

Mace Tyrell

Patriarch of House Tyrell and father of Loras and Margaery. At one time a supporter of Renly. Took Highgarden't forces over to Team Joffrey after the young king's hand in marriage was offered to Margaery. Currently a member of the small council.

Team Balon

Team Balon seeks to reestablish the Kingdom of the Iron Isles under Balon Greyjoy. Balon did try it once before, prior to the start of the series, but his rebellion was crushed and his youngest son taken hostage. Now, he sees the civil was as the prefect opportunity to seize some land.

Balon Greyjoy

Self-proclaimed king of the Iron Isles. Cranky and harkens after mythical golden age where his people ruled the seas.

Theon Greyjoy (RIP)

Balon's son, with a bad, chronic case of Shinji Ikari syndrome. Was held hostage by Eddard Stark for 9 of his 20 years; as a result, he doesn't feel at home either at Winterfell or among the Ironmen. Made a rather daring attempt to impress Balon, but it backfired quite horribly.

Asha Greyjoy

Balon's only daughter, and the best son he ever had. She freaking rocks; she's snarky, opinionated, and doesn't take shit from anyone. Also, she gave Theon an anonymous handjob just to mess with him.

Dagmer Cleftjaw

A highly honoured but rather past-it Ironman warrior, who acts all fun and happy, but would like to reclaim some of his glory days.

Aeron Greyjoy

Balon's brother, once a boisterous bruiser, but then he nearly drowned and thus found religion.

Euron Crow's Eye

Balon's other brother, a notorious pirate.

Team Daenerys

Team Daenerys' chapters take place on another continent, quite apart from the main action.

Daenerys Targaryen

One of only two surviving members of the Targaryen family (the other is Aemon, maester to the Night's Watch, and thus outside the succession). Has three baby dragons which she considers to be her children, as well as the loyalty of a ragtag group of Dothraki. Prophesied to give birth to the Stallion that Mounts the World, which seems to be Dothraki for Genghis Khan. Raising an army with which to retake the Seven Kingdoms. Unpleasantly Mary Suish, but gets a bit better in the second book.

Viserys Targaryen (RIP)

Older brother of Daenerys. Whiny brat.

Khal Drogo (RIP)

Khan of a Dothraki horde, and Daenerys' late husband. Never defeated in battle.

Jorah Mormont

A knight who was exhiled for slave trading to satisfy his wife's tastes. Harbours a deep hatred for Eddard and Robert. Madly in love with Daenerys.

Jhogo, Aggo, Rakharo

Dothraki warriors who follow Daenerys. With Jorah, they make up her Queensguard.

Mirri Maz Duur (RIP)

A pacifist woman from the gras sea whose religion resembles Nestorian Christianity. Brought Drogo back to life when he died, at the cost of Daenerys' ability to have children. However, Drogo came back wrong, and so Daenerys had to re-kill him and burn his corpse on a funeral pyre; Mirri jumped on the same pyre, for some reason.

Illyrio Mopatis

A merchant from the Free Cities who supports Daenerys' claim to the Iron Throne.

Strong Belwas

A gladiator from one of the cities on the other continent, hired by Illyrio.

Whitebeard

An old man of the Seven Kingdoms, posing as Belwas' squire.

Irri and Jhiqui

Daenery's Dothraki handmaidens.

Doreah (RIP)

A handmaid of Daenerys from the Free Cities. Was once a prostitute, and thought Daenerys some nifty moves to satisfy Drogo.

Quaith

A mysterious masked woman from the city of Asshai, which is also where Melisandre originates.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos**

A gay trader and pirate from Qarth who wants to ge this hands on one of Daenerys' dragons.

Pyat Pree** (RIP)

A sorceror who posed as Daenery's ally, then tried to kill her to get his hands on her dragons.

The Night's Watch

The Night's Watch (no, not that one) are a group of men dressed all in black who patrol the Wall. Officially, they are there to protect the Seven Kingdoms from zombies, but their primary duty is to keep the Free Men out. We are told they are composed primarily of the dregs of society, but most of them are good, heroic, and self-sacrificing men. Woefully understaffed. They foreswear all titles and inheritances and take vows of celibacy, though few bother with upholding that last one. The Watch is set apart from the empire and, though it depends on the nobles for men and supplies, the Watchmen do not answer to any lord or king.

Jon Snow

Bastard son of Eddard Stark and a woman he happened to shag during Robert's Rebellion. Very much his father's son, holding to honour and virtue in all areas. Was appointed squire to Jeor Mormont. Has a pet silent albino direwolf called Ghost. Currently infiltrating Mance Rayder's army.

Samwell Tarly

A fat, cowardly son of a lord, who was packed off so that his father's lands could legally pass to his younger brother. While at the Wall, he was apprenticed to Maester Aemon, and disocvered a passion for books, as well as a talent for tending messenger ravens.

Jeor Mormont

Lord Commander of the entire Watch. A grizzled old veteran of many skirmishes, nicknamed Old Bear. Has a pet raven.

Aemon Targaryen

The maester of the Night's Watch, and who was almost made a king, but turned the offer down out of a sense of duty. A very humble and gentle man who sees his role in life as one of servitude to others. Old and nearly blind, and is training Sam to be his successor.

Qhorin Halfhand (RIP)

A veteran ranger who lost half his hand fighting against the Free Men. Rattleshirt really wanted to kill him. Gave his life to persuade the Free Men that Jon was indeed a traitor to the Watch.

Benjen Stark (RIP)

Eddard's brother, and a skilled ranger who inspired Jon to sign up for the Watch. His disappearance beyond the Wall led the Watchmen to mount an expedition to find his party.

Dolorous Edd

A gloomy man who always looks on the dark side of life.

Alliser Thorne

Jeor Mormont's squire prior to Jon, and the one-time instructor of new recruits. Bears Jon a grudge, as he considers Jon to have robbed him of his rightful place by the Old Bear's side.

Yoren

A travelling recruiter and admirer of Eddard's.

The Free Men

The Free Men live beyond the Wall. They are a somewhat Celtic-flavoured people who have no long-term kings or chiefs; the closes they ever come to a ruler is a charismatic badass who manages to beat up anyone who says they won't follow him.

Craster

An evil man who bows to nobody, yet treats his wives (who are all also his daughters) like slaves. Leaves his sons as sacrifices for the Others.

Gilly

One of Craster's daughters and wives, who wants Jon to take her south so that her son won't have to die.

Ygritte

A wildling woman who Jon was told to kill, but he let her her live. She persuades Rattleshirt not to kill Jon.

Rattleshirt

A guy who wears armour made of the bones of his enemies. Does not life Jon.

Mance Rayder

So-called king beyond the wall, who has united all the Free Men except Craster into one huge army. Intends to use a magic nuke to blow a hole in the Wall. Was once a member of the Night's Watch.

Jon Snow

Bastard son of Eddard Stark and a woman he happened to shag during Robert's Rebellion. Very much his father's son, holding to honour and virtue in all areas. Was appointed squire to Jeor Mormont. Has a pet silent albino direwolf called Ghost. Currently infiltrating Mance Rayder's army.

The story so far

A Song of Ice and Fire is divided into three mostly independent plot threads: the main one, concerning a civil war in the Seven Kingdoms, and two minor ones, focusing on Daenerys and Jon, which are more important to the world in the grand scheme of things.

Note: Several events in this summary are described out of the order they are seen in the books. I am aware of this, as I was going for something that would flow better as a (relatively) short web page. I do believe that each event is described after whatever events led up to it.

Backstory

In the past, there were seven kingdoms on this island called Westeros. About 300 years ago, Aegon Targaryen launched an invasion of the mainland. Since he had dragons, he was able to conquer five of the seven kingdoms and add them to his own. Later on, the kingdom of Dorne was annexed when one of its princesses married into the House of Targaryen. Then, dragons went extinct.

Years later, marriages were arranged between Brandon Stark and Catelyn Tully, and Robert Baratheon and Lyanna Stark. Lyanna was taken prisoner by king Aerys II, and so Brandon stormed the castle to demand she be released. Brandon and his party, as well as Lyanna and a few other prisoners, were all executed in quite creative and cruel ways.

With Brandon dead, Catelyn was married to his brother, Eddard, played by Sean Bean, instead. Eddard, Robert, and Jon Arynn then led a rebellion against Aerys II. When they started winning, House Lannister entered the war against the Targaryens. The Lannister army arrived at King's Landing, and Grand Maester Pycelle persuaded Aerys to open the doors to them. Gregor Clegane led a marauding army into the castle, and Eddard and Robert arrived not long after.

Gregor killed the infant Aegon, and then raped his mother, Elia, to death without bothering to wash his hands. Jaime Lannister, captain of the Kingsguard, killed Aerys, an act which earned him the rather unkind nickname Kingslayer. He then sat down on the Iron Throne, but got up off it when Eddard beat him at a very high-stakes staring contest.

Meanwhile, the pregnant queen fled with her son, Viserys. While sailing to not-Asia, she gave birth to Daenerys in the middle of s storm, and died of the shock. Viserys and Daenerys lived in the free cities for about 13 years, never staying in oneplace for long lest one of Robert's assassins find them.

Robert took the Iron Throne, and Eddard returned to rule the north with somewhat more autonomy than the other wardens. To keep the empire from another civil war, Robert was married to Cersei Lannister, though he never got over his grief at losing Lyanna.

At some point, Mace Tyrell and some allies went into rebellion against Robert, and laid siege to Storm's End, where Stannis was holed up. Davos Seaworth managed to break the blockade and bring enough food, mainly onions, to allow them to survive until Eddard and Robert arrive with reinforcements. The siege was lifted, though Mace apparently managed to get off scot-free. For his efforts, Davos was knighted by Stannis, and he chose an onion in a ship as his symbol. Other knights look down on him as a frightfully common upstart.

Jorah Mormont, of Bear Island, won the hand of Lady Lynesse by doing well in tournaments. When he took her back to his home, however, he found that he could not afford to keep her in the lifestyle to which she was accustomed, and resorted to selling his criminals as slaves. When Eddard found out about this, he attacked Bear Island and forced the two into exile. Lynesse left Jorah and entered the harem of a rich trader. Jorah travelled around the other continent, eventually joining up with the Dothraki.

While the empire was weak, Balon Greyjoy tried to break away and establish his own kingdom. Eddard crushed his rebellion and took his youngest son, Theon, as a hostage.

And this brings us up to about the start of the series proper.

The main plot

The main plot begins when Eddard goes out to execute a deserter from the Night's Watch (who was fleeing zombies), accompanied by Jon, Robb, Bran, and Theon. On the way back, they come across a dead direwolf with six puppies, of which Eddard decides to give one to each of his children.

Back at Winterfell, Catelyn receives a coded message from Lysa that Jon Arynn (who was the Hand of the King) was murdered, and Eddard will likely be next. They receive a visit from Robert and his family and retinue; during the feast, Sansa is bethrothed to Joffrey. Also attending the feast is Benjen, who inspires Jon to join the Night's Watch. Tyrion also takes a trip to see the Wall, because hey, why not?

Robert tells Eddard that, with Jon dead, he wants Eddard to be the new Hand of the King. Eddard is reluctant, but Catelyn persuades him to go along with it so he can investigate Jon Arynn's murder.

The men go on a hunt, during which Jaime stays behind to shag Cersei. Bran, who is climbing on the walls, sees them at it, and though he doesn't understand what they're up to, Jaime throws him out the window anyway. However, Bran survives, and spends several days in a coma.

Robert and his retinue pack off for King's Landing, taking Eddard with them. Sansa, Arya, and their direwolves also accompany them. During the journey, Nymeria gives Joffrey a nasty bite. Cersei demands she be killed, but since Nymeria is nowhere to be found, Eddard is forced to kill Lady instead. Arya then has to throw stones at Nymeria to drive her off. Later, Jaime tries and fails to kill Eddard.

While they're gone, an assassin tries to kill Bran and Catelyn, but he himself is killed by Summer. Catelyn decides to go south and see her husband about this. On the road, she is waylaid by a disguised Jaime, but survives. Meanwhile, Bran has coma dreams about a three-eyed raven pecking at his forehead.

At King's Landing, Littlefinger reunites Catelyn and Eddard, and they discuss matters. Eddard investigates Jon Arynn's murder, during which Robert holds a tournament in honour of the arrival of his old friend, above Eddard's protests that meny is stretched as it is. During this tournament, Loras defeats Gregor in a joust.

Meanwhile, Bran wakes up from his coma, and finds he is unable to walk. Robb has a special saddle made that will allow Bran to ride a horse, and the two brothers go on a hunt with Theon. They are attacked by wildings and they manage to kill the men; a woman, Osha, is spared, and she decides she will be Robb's wife, or something like that.

Sansa moons over Joffrey while Arya secretly takes swordfighting lessons, arranged for her by Eddard. Eddard finds some evidence that Robert isn't the father of Cersei's children. Robert hears that Daenerys is up to something, and puts a bounty on her head.

Then, Robert goes on a hunt, where one of his attendants, who is an agent of Cersei's, ensures he is even drunker than usual, and he suffers a serious injury from a boar. On his deathbed, he regrets a lot of the decisions he made in life, and declares that he wants to let Daenerys rest in peace. Unfortunately, everybody present forgets to note down that particular order.

Robert's death sends King's Landing into a turmoil, and Catelyn flees to the Eyrie. Somehow, she gets in into her head that Tyrion was responsible for the attempt on Eddard's life, and takes him prisoner with the aid of the some mercenaries and mountain tribes. On the way to Catelyn's acnestral home, Tyrion impresses the mountain men with his sharp tongue, and also wins the loyalty of a mercenary by the name of Bronn.

At the Eyrie, Lysa imprisons Tyrion and gives him a show trial, intending to kill him by throwing him off a cliff. Tyrion insists on trial by champion, choosing Bronn to fight for him. Bronn wins against Lysa's knight, and Tyrion returns to King's Landing with Bronn and the mountain men. Catelyn returns to the Eyrie.

Eddard comes up with conclusive evidence that 'Robert's' children were made with Jaime's sperm, and thus Joffrey is ineligible for the throne; for the moment, he keeps this to himself. Robert's advisors advise him to support Renly as king due to his pragmatism, compassion, popularity with the peasants, and overall being better king material. Eddard, however, decides to support Stannis, as that is the right thing to do. Meanwhile, Cersei's agents conspire to prevent the truth from emerging.

Eddard, thinking it is the right thing to do, confronts Cersei about this and gives her the chance to flee, dooming herself.

Skirmishes break out between supporters of Joffrey, Renly, and Stannis. The Starks, following Eddard, support Stannis; they ally with the Freys and manage to win a major victory over the Lannisters in a wood. Jaime is taken captive and held at Riverrun.

However, Joffrey's faction ultimately emerged victorious from these battles, and Eddard is to be exiled on trumped-up charges of treason. The courtesans agree that he should be sent to the Night's Watch, but Joffrey has him executed. Arya, who had been living in the slums for a few weeks, is taken in by Yoren, disguised as a boy, and taken on a journey north.

Up north, Robb inherits Eddard's lands. His supporters, looking at the situation to the south, say "Bugger that!" and decide to start their own kingdom.

While Melisandre indulges in a little light iconoclasm, Stannis figures out that Joffrey is the product of extramarital incest (the worst kind!) and has Davos spread the message far and wide while he raises a navy.

Renly gains the support of Highgarden and begins marching north, slowly, and making sure to make a good show in the lands he passes through.

Cersei asks Tywin to come and be Hand of the King; Tywin, who is building up an army, refuses, and sends Tyrion instead. Cersei is not pleased.

Joffrey holds a crap tournament for his nameday. The highlight is Ser Dontos, an alcoholic knight, utterly humiliating himself. Joffrey orders that he be executed, bu Sansa persuades him to spare the man's life; thus, Dontos is demoted to jester. Out of gratitude, Dontos arranges to have Sansa escape.

Sansa endures physical and sexual abuse from Joffrey, though Tyrion steps in to prevent her from actually being raped. Cersei starts planning for Stannis' impending invasion; Tyrion intervenes here, scaling back the defensive buildup so that the people will have enough food and thus be less likely to start a rebellion inside King's Landing. He also deploys the existing resources much more intelligently, doing more with less.

Yoren travels north with a group of boys orphaned in the fighting in King's Landing, plus a disguised Arya. They come under attack by Lannister soldiers in some village, and most are massacred. The only survivors are Arya, Gendry, Hot Pie, a little girl they found who Arya names Weasel, plus Jaqen H'gar, Rorge, and Biter, the last three of whom Arya saved the lives. Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are taken captive in another village a bit further north and brough to Harrenhal, currently held by the Lannisters, as servants.

Robb offers Cersei and Tyrion a peace settlement, which is rejected. Tyrion sends a Lannister force of men to Riverrun allegedly to discuss terms, but actually to free Jaime. They fail and are hung off-screen.

Robb sends Theon to ask for Balon's support in the war; in exchange, he offers to formally recognise Balon as king of the kingdom of the Iron Isles. Balon blows him off, intending to take a maritime kingdom by force, because he's, like, a Viking.

Catelyn goes south and meets with Renly, hoping to secure an alliance with Robb. Renly refuses, saying he will not rule half a kingdom. Renly also meets with Stannis, who insists that it is his right to be the king; Renly counters that by that logic Daenerys is the rightful ruler, and the true king is whoever can take and hold the throne by force of arms. Catelyn makes a last-ditch effort to get the two to ally with Robb against the Lannisters, but neither will have anything of it. Back at Renly's camp, Renly is murdered by one of Melisandre's creepy shadow babies. Catelyn, who was with him at the time, flees to Riverrun, thinking that if anyone sees what happened, she will be blamed. Brienne accompanies her, thinking that without Renly, Catelyn is the person most deserving of her devotion.

Meanwhile, Renly's cavalry mostly defects to Stannis. His infantry, which was a way back, does not make a decision yet. Loras and Margary flee back to where the infantry is camped.

Meanwhile, Robb leads a successful campaign in Lannister country. Bran takes his place as lord of Winterfell, and meets and greets various followers and allies. He starts learning a bit about lordship, though spends most of his time upset that he will never get to be a knight, and most of the administration is done by Robb's confidant. Ser Rodrik Cassel. The most notable thing that happens here is that Meera and Jojen Reed reswear an ancient oath to the Starks, one that ends with "We swear by ice and fire", meaning that IT IS IMPORTANT! Jojen at this time starts training Bran to use his psychic powers. After a while, Bran figures out how to mind meld with Summer, but soon starts preferring wolf to human form.

Also, the maesters makes some astronomical obervations and conclude that autumn is officially here. With that being the case, everyone in the North is advised to out a portion of their harvest aside for the coming winter.

The Bloody Mummers, who were under Lannister command, defect to the Starks and work with Roose Bolton on a plan to take Harrenhal.

Stannis captures Storm's End thanks to Davos sneaking in another of Melisandre's shadow babies. This gives him access to Edric Storm, a bastard of Robert's that will prove Joffrey is an illegitimate king.

At Harrenhal, Jaqen tells Arya that, since he, Rorge, and Biter are still alive, R'hllor will need three deaths to balance his budget. In gratitude for saving him, he will let her choose the victims. Arya has him kill two people who were making her life miserable, then realises she should save the third for someone more important.

Roose Bolton and several other Stark-supporting lords are brought into Harrenhal by the Bloody Mummers, apparently as captives, but actually as part of a daring plan to take the castle from within. Arya, not aware of what they are doing, uses her final death to free the lords, who capture the castle in the name of the Starks and place it under Roose Bolton's command.

Meanwhile, the ironmen launch an attach on the coastal towns of the North. Theon, annoyed at being given a lowly post in Balon's military operation, launches a crazy but effective attack on Winterfell, conquering it with just a few men. He gains the support of a disguised Ramsay Bolton, but nobody else present. Bran, Rickon, Osha, Meera, Jojen, and Hodor go into hiding in the crypt. Theon fakes the deaths of Bran and Rickon.

Theon has trouble holding Winterfell, and while Asha is impressed by what he has achieved, aid from her and Balon does not come. Eventually, Ramsay takes it out from under him and burns the place to the ground, killing Theon in the process. Osha takes Rickon off somewhere; Bran goes in a different direction with Meera, Jojen, and Hodor.

Tywin attacks Edmure's fortifications along the rivers, and gets utterly pwned, ultimately being forced back. Catelyn hears about the deaths of Bran and Rickon and descends into despair. She interrogates Jaime, and decides to kill him.

Littlefinger goes off to Renly's infantry, hoping to secure their loyalty by arranging a marriage between Margaery and Joffrey.

Sansa has her first period, meaning she is officially a woman now. Cersei starts teaching her the ways of womanhood.

Stannis attacks King's Landing. He is defeated in no small part by Tyrion's brillian tactics. Since Tyrion is using several metric fucloads of napalm, Sandor flees in terror. Tyrion then leads the army into battle, shaming everyone present into proving they are no less brave than a dwarf. In the fighting, Mandon Moore tries to kill Tyrion, but is himself killed by Pod Payne. Tyrion is seriously injured, and ends the book drifting in and out of a coma.

Arya, disgusted by Roose Bolton, takes Gendry and Hot Pie and fleed Harrenhal, hoping to get to Riverrun.

And that's about it for the main plot of the first two books.

The Jon plot

The Jon plot is strictly speaking the first to begin, when three Watchmen flee from zombies in the prologue. Eddard goes to behead the survivor, accompanied by Jon, Robb, Bran, and Theon. On the way back, they come across a recently-deceased mother direwolf with a litter of pups that provide all sorts of foreshadowing. Eddard decides to give one pup to each of his kids; Jon, being a bastard and thus somewhat outside of society, takes a silent albino puppy that had wandered off from the rest, which he names Ghost.

Robert and his family pay a visit to Winterfell, and Benjen Stark also attends. Jon accidentally talks to Tyrion, which results in both characters' general awesomeness cancelling each other out and causing both to become sad and angsty. Jon decides to join the Night's Watch, because it's the best he can hope for in life.

Up at the Wall, the sword training Jon received due to being a scion of Eddard allows him to excel in the exercises. He also arranges some personal after-hours lessons for the lads who are falling behind, which makes him something of a leader among the rookies. This also earns him the disdain f Alliser Thorne, the master at arms and squire to Jeor Mormont.

Later on, Samwell Tarly arrives, and for the most part proves to be useless and incompetent at everything. Alliser takes great delight in bullying him, but Jon for some reason takes pity on him and, with the help of several of the other rookies, gives Alliser a good scare one night. Jon and Sam become friends. Jon also arranges for Sam to be made apprentice to Aemon, maester of the Watch, a role at which Sam excels.

Some time later, some rangers return from a scouting mission with two of them dead. That night, the dead rise as zombies. Ghost, being all magic and stuff, warns Jon, who alerts the other Watchmen. They successfully double-kill the zombies, though Jon get a burned hand for his troubles. In the aftermath, Alliser Thorne is sent south to try and garner some support from whatever kings happen to be in power, and Jon is appointed as Jeor's new squire.

The Watchmen receive news that Mance Rayder has taken his army up into some mountains to dig up a magic nuke of some sort, and set out in large numbers to see what's what. The forces of Castle Black, where Jon is stationed, meet up with those of the Shadow Tower led by Qhorin Halhhand, so called because he lost half his hand to the axe of a Free Man, at an old ringfort called the Fist of the First Men. While the main body of Watchmen builds up a fortification, Qhorin takes a small recon party, including Jon, to scout out the Free Men. On the way, they kill two men, one of whom sticks his sould into an eagle. Jon spares the life of a woman named Ygritte, because he's all chivalrous and stuff.

The Free Men discover the scouts via magic psychic eagle, and the scouts retreat. Jon and Qhorin are cornered by a group of Free Men led by Rattleshirt. Jon tries to join them, and kills Qhorin to show that he's really serious, honest he is! Rattleshirt wants to kill Jon anyway, but Ygritte, who is also there, persuades him to let Mance make the decision. Also, the Free Men have left the magc mountains are are moving south towards the Wall.

And that's there the Jon plot ends.

The Daenerys plot

Viserys marries Daenerys (age 13) to Khal Drogo, intending to use the Dothraki forces to retake the Seven Kingdoms. Daenerys (age 13), while reluctant at first, eventually gets used to Dothraki society thanks to the efforts of Jorag, Irri, Jhiqui, and Doreah, and even comes to enjoy aspects of it. She gets three dragon eggs as a wedding present, which will be important later.

Daenerys (age 13) has sex with Drogo, and becomes pregnant. Viserys is a whiny brat, so Drogo kills him. Drogo himself is killed in battle, so Daenerys begs Mirri, who she had adopted during her travels, to resurrect him. The spell is botched, and Drogo returns with profound autism. Also, Daenerys loses her unborn son as part of the spell. Daenerys kills Drogo a second time and burns him and his horse on a funeral pyre. Mirri is also burned here.

Most of the Dothraki abandon Daenerys, save three warriors plus assorted children, women, and old men. Daenerys puts her dragon eggs on the pyre and they hatch after her clothes burn off; they then start suckling at her 14-year-old breasts.

A comet appears in the sky, into which people throughout book 2 read all sorts of meanings. Daenerys follows it south, bringing her followers to an abandoned city where they can rest and recuperate. She is visited by Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Pyatt Pree, and Quaithe, who say various vague things and bring her to the city of Qarth.

Daenerys tries to persuade the rulers of Qarth to lend her a navy, but they refuse. She then visits the vampire phantom sorcerors in a place that runs on non-Euclidean geometry and gets various prophecies, after which one of her dragons burns the phantom vampires to death. The most notable prophecy is that she will be betrayed three times, once for blood, once for gold, and once for love. Also, her late brother, Aegon, apparently was assigned the song of ice and fire, WHICH IS IMPORTANT!

Daenerys emerged and Pyatt is killed. She doesn't exactly flee, but wastes no time in leaving Qarth. At the harbour, an assassin tries to kill her, and she is saved by Whitebeard and Strong Belwas. Magister Illyrio has sent three ships to take her to the Free Cities, and so she and her party board them.

Thus endeth the first two books.

Right, now on to book the third, part I.

First impressions

The map has been redrawn. Lines are more sharply defined, and there are more featured marked out. Nice.

They're also been rearranged. The first two books showed the north first, and then the south. This one, however, begins with a map of the south, and then does the north. In addition, there is a map of the lands beyond the Wall, and also of the Summer Sea, which lies between the Seven Kingdoms and the place where Daenerys spent th eprevious book adventuring.

As well, there is a note by Martin stating that the events of various chapters often overlap, and so the opening few chapters will take place at about the same time as the final battle of book 2 was raging.
6th Feb '12 3:54:49 AM flag for mods
comments
Long summary is long.
Arilou 8th Feb 12
Lannister country = The Westerlands
80.99.1.34 13th Feb 12
Jaqen is from a guild of assassins that worship the Many-Faced God, not R'llhor. Otherwise, a quite competent summary, which for ASOFAI is a lot.
Aenima 25th Sep 12
There's a good few mistakes in here... Like, Westeros is about the size of South America, not Britain. It's Arryn, not Arynn. (Sorry for the grammar fascism). The land of the Lannisters' is called the Westerlands. etc... It's good though. Nice bit of info.
EOMK 5th Aug 13
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