Upon Catelyn’s arrival in King’s Landing, she is brought to a secret meeting with Petyr Baelish, known as Littlefinger, a childhood friend and admirer who became “Master of Coin” or Treasurer of King’s Landing. He identifies Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of Cersei and Jaime, as the owner of the dagger used in the attempt of Bran’s assassination
While traveling back to Winterfell, Catelyn encounters Tyrion, returning from the Wall, and takes him captive. She changes her destination and takes him to the remote Eyrie, where her sister, Lady Lysa Arryn rules as Lady of the Vale. Lysa blames the Lannisters for Jon Arryn’s death and is eager to execute Tyrion, but he demands trial by combat and regains his freedom when his unlikely champion, hired-sword Bronn, wins the duel. In retaliation for Tyrion’s abduction, Tyrion’s father, Lord Tywin Lannister wages war. He is soon joined by Jaime, who angrily confronts Eddard in King’s Landing, killing a number of his men and crippling Eddard before he flees the city.
Eddard learns, as the murdered Jon Arryn had learned before him, that Robert’s legal heirs are in fact Jaime Lannister’s children since all of Robert Baratheon’s bastards had his features but Robert’s children with Cersei don’t. He confronts Cersei and offers her a chance to escape before he tells Robert the truth, but Robert is mortally injured in a hunt and Eddard cannot bear to tell Robert the truth as he lies on his deathbed. As Robert lies dying, his youngest brother Renly suggests to Eddard that they should use their combined household guardsmen to take control of the throne before the Lannisters can act. Eddard refuses saying that such a deed dishonorable. Renly flees Kings Landing with the loyal House Baratheon guards instead. Eddard recruits Littlefinger to have the city guards arrest and charge Cersei, but is betrayed by him, resulting in Eddard’s arrest, the death of all of his men, and Sansa’s capture. The Lannisters attempt to capture Arya as well, but she managed to flee. With Eddard imprisoned, Cersei and Jaime’s eldest son, Joffrey, is crowned as Robert’s heir and King of the Seven Kingdoms. Eddard is persuaded by Varys (one of the King’s councilmen) to confess to treason, and to swear fealty to Joffrey as the trueborn King, in exchange for Sansa’s life and his own. Eddard then makes a public confession, but Joffrey kills Eddard despite his council’s and his mother’s advice to spare him. Lord Eddard is then beheaded. Little did Joffrey know that Eddard was more useful alive than dead. A civil war erupts as news of Eddard’s arrest spreads across the Seven Kingdoms. Robb Stark, now Lord of Winterfell, gathers an army of northmen and marches south, joining with Catelyn to rescue his father and sisters in King’s Landing, but upon learning of Eddard’s death, goes instead to the Riverlands to raise support from his grandfather, Lord Hoster Tully. To reach Riverrun, he agrees to a marriage pact with House Frey. At Riverrun, Jaime Lannister is currently laying siege, while holding Lord Hoster’s heir and Catelyn’s brother, Edmure Tully, as hostage. Upon hearing of Robb’s march, Lord Tywin Lannister (The queen’s father) also advances his army to meet Robb’s. In a bold move, Robb covertly detaches his cavalry towards Riverrun, while his infantry under Lord Roose Bolton engages Tywin’s army. Tywin, joined by his son, Tyrion who has gained his own army of mountain clansmen defeats Bolton’s host, only to discover that they were a decoy. Robb’s forces then take Jaime’s army by surprise during the night, capturing Jaime himself after setting a trap for the reckless knight. Jaime’s host is scattered and Edmure Tully is liberated, joining the houses of the Riverlands to Robb’s army. Renly Baratheon is the younger brother to Stannis Baratheon, who is the next rightful heir to the Iron Throne. But Renly campaigns for the Throne and wins the support of Houses Baratheon andTyrell by wedding Lord Mace Tyrell’s daughter, Margaery Tyrell. Declaring himself king, Renly masses all the strength of the south and begins his march on King’s Landing. After extended discussion, Robb’s bannermen to House Stark and the House Tully bannermen, lords of the Riverlands, proclaim Robb King in the North, a title which had been long abandoned after the last King in the North swore fealty to the Iron Throne three hundred years before the events in Game of Thrones.
The Exiled Princess Across the sea in the Free City of Pentos, Viserys Targaryen lives in exile with his thirteen-year-old sister Daenerys. He is the son and only surviving male heir of Aerys II of house Targaryen, “the Mad King”, who was overthrown by Robert Baratheon during the War of the Usurper. The Targaryens had ruled Westeros as dragon-lords for about 300 years, but their dragons and power are now gone. Viserys negotiates a marriage contract and betroths his sister to Khal Drogo, a warlord of the nomadic Dothraki horse warriors, in exchange for use of Drogo’s army to reclaim the Westeros Iron Throne for House Targaryen. The wealthy merchant, Magister Illyrio, who has been hosting Viserys and Daenerys, gives a wedding gift to Daenerys of three petrified dragon eggs. A knight exiled from Westeros, Ser Jorah Mormont (son of Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch), joins Viserys as an advisor. Unexpectedly Daenerys finds trust and love with her barbaric husband; she conceives “the Stallion who will mount the world”, a child who is prophesied to unite and rule the Dothraki and will lead them to conquer the entire world. When Drogo shows little interest in conquering Westeros, the temperamental Viserys initially tries to browbeat his sister into coercing Drogo, but Daenerys, emboldened by her position as the Khal’s wife, begins to stand up for herself and refuses to be bullied by her brother any longer. Initially, Drogo endures Viserys and punishes his outbursts with public humiliation. When Viserys publicly threatens Daenerys, Drogo executes him by pouring a pot of molten gold on his head, giving him the golden crown he had been promised in return for Daenerys. As the last Targaryen, Daenerys takes up her brother’s quest to reclaim the Iron Throne of Westeros. An assassin seeking King Robert’s favour unsuccessfully attempts to poison Daenerys and her unborn child. Enraged, Drogo agrees to invade Westeros to seek revenge. While sacking villages to fund the invasion, Drogo is wounded. The wound festers and Daenerys commands a captive maegi to use blood magic to save him; the treacherous maegi sacrifices Daenerys’ unborn child to power the spell, which keeps Drogo alive in a vegetative state. As the leaderless Dothraki horde disbands, Daenerys takes pity on her once-proud husband and smothers him. Eager for revenge, she orders the maegi tied to Drogo’s funeral pyre and places her three dragon eggs on the pyre with Drogo. While she watches it burn, Daenerys is seduced by the beauty of the flames and walks into the inferno. Instead of perishing in the flames, she emerges unscathed and with three newly hatched dragons draped around her and nursing at her breasts. As a true Targaryen, she is suspected to be immune to flame. The few remaining Dothraki and Ser Jorah swear their allegiance to her as The Mother of Dragons.
On and Beyond the Wall
The Prologue of the novel introduces the out-kingdom Northern wilderness beyond the Wall, an ancient 700-foot-high, 300-mile-long barrier of ice, shielding the Seven Kingdoms from the North, manned by the order of the Night’s Watch. Men of the Night’s Watch (also called “crows”) swear an oath to serve on the Wall for life (once vowed, one can only leave the wall by death), wifeless, and they wear clothing only in black. In the lawless lands North of the Wall, a small patrol of Rangers from the Night’s Watch encounter the Others, an ancient and evil race of beings thought to be long extinct and mythological. All the Rangers are killed except a single survivor (who flees south, becoming the deserter whom Ned executes in the beginning of the story).Jon Snow, the bastard son of Lord Eddard and despised by Catelyn, is inspired by his uncle, Benjen Stark, the First Ranger of the Night’s Watch, to “take the black” and go to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch. Jon travels north to the Wall with the Queen’s brother, Tyrion Lannister, and other members of the Night’s Watch. He becomes disillusioned when he discovers that there wasn’t much honor in “taking the black” since it was a place for wrong-doers or people who can’t fit in anywhere else.
At the Wall, Jon unites the recruits against their harsh instructor, and protects cowardly but good-natured and intelligent Samwell Tarly. Jon hopes that his combat skills will earn him assignment to the Rangers, the military arm of the Night’s Watch. Instead he is assigned as steward to the Lord Commander of the Watch, Jeor Mormont, nicknamed “the Old Bear”. Jon was furious but Sam told him that the Lord Commander was grooming Jon for command of the Night’s Watch. Samwell Tarly became steward to elderly Maester Aemon. Meanwhile, Benjen Stark leads a small party of Rangers on patrol beyond the Wall but fails to return. Nearly six months later, the dead bodies of two of the Rangers from Benjen’s party are recovered from beyond the Wall, and their corpses came back to life as wights in the night. Swords can’t kill the wights but fire can. Jon and his direwolf, Ghost, save Lord Commander Mormont by destroying one of the wights with fire. For saving his life, Mormont presents Jon with the Valyrian-steel bastard sword “Longclaw”, an heirloom of the Lord Commander’s House Mormont. Lord Mormont has replaced the existing bear pommel with a pommel in the shape of a white direwolf’s head, representing both House Stark and Jon’s direwolf.
When word of his father’s execution reaches Jon, he attempts to desert the Night’s Watch and join his half-brother Robb in war against the Lannisters. His friends among the Night’s Watch catch up to Jon before he gets too far from the Wall and persuade him to return. Mormont convinces Jon that his place is with his new brothers, and that the war for the throne does not compare to the evil that winter is set to bring down upon them from the North. With Jon’s loyalty secured, Mormont declares his intention to lead a massive ranging north of the Wall, to find Benjen Stark—dead or alive—as well as to investigate the disappearance of many wildlings and the dark rumors circling the King-Beyond-the-Wall, a deserter from the Night’s Watch known as Mance Rayder./.