19 May 2019

A Clash of Kings plot breakdown by character points of view

A Clash of Kings plot breakdown by character point of views

A Clash of Kings has fully dragged me into a world of only being able to talk about Game of Thrones at all times. And I have the BIGGEST book hangover from it. As soon as I put the book down, all I could think of is that no other book would ever compare to it and may never enjoy anything ever again (slightly dramatic, but I just have SO MANY FEELINGS about it).

There's only one way to cure the book hangover and that is by talking about the book until literally everyone is sick of it. And going on to immediately read the next one but I'm giving myself a few weeks' break because wow if I read them back to back I will have a breakdown when I finish the final one. 

This is a HEFTY book - I'm talking 900 pages of heft so I'm going to *try* to break it down into something a bit more doable for everyone who wants to read it but doesn't have a month of their life to spare to delve in to it. I haven't watched much of the TV series, just dipped in and out because I've always wanted to read the books first, so I won't be comparing the book to the series.

The story is told from the point of view of 9 characters with a prologue told by a tenth, and I'm going to work through character by character because I think it'll be a little less convoluted that way!

Maester Cressen (Prologue)

Advisor to King Stannis Baratheon (brother of [Robert]), Cressen is becoming increasingly concerned about the power the Red Lady holds over the King. The prologue documents him starting to air his concerns over Stannis marching into battle with the Red Lady's emblem rather than the Baratheon stag because he believes it will turn everyone against his cause as he has turned away from the Old Gods. Fearing Melisandre's (the Red Lady's) influence, Cressen tried to poison her, but she is protected by her own gods and when she drinks the poison, she is not affected. Cressen however has drunk it too in an effort to show her it is safe to drink, and dies.

Arya Stark

Daughter of [Ned] and Catelyn Stark, Arya is still on the run. She starts off disguised as a boy named Arry, moving North with a band of boys under a man called Yoren who's taking them to be part of the Night's Watch. With a whole load of different battles raging across the lands however, it's a much more difficult journey than they foresaw.

The band are set upon, and Yoren is killed, whilst Arya and her pals Gendry (*that* Gendry from the recent episode), Hot Pie and Lommy escape. Arya rescues three horrifying prisoners, one of whom is called Jaqen H'ghar. 

Trying to make their way on their own, the troop ends up captured, and Lommy gets murdered in the process. Arya's small sword, Needle, given to her in the first novel by her brother Jon, is taken. They're taken to Harrenhal to work as servants, and she becomes a maid of some variety. Jaqen offers her the opportunity to give him three names of anyone she'd like dead, and he will kill them. She's started to recite her list of names, including Joffrey and Cersei, but goes for two men in Harrenhall that aggravate her. Regretting her foolish snap decision, she asks Jaqen for help in rescuing some Stark supporters held captive in the castle. Impressed by her cunning, Jaqen asks her for her final name. She gives his own name in reply, and watches him change into a different person before her eyes. The old Jaqen is dead and a new man stands before her. Before leaving he hands her an old coin and a phrase to go with it, promising her that she will find friends in Braavos if she ever needs to. Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie steal horses and escape Harrenhall to go on the run.

Sansa Stark

Having now realised that Joffrey is actually not that great, Sansa is the sole Stark in King's landing. Despite the fractious relationship between the two families, her and Joffrey Lannister are still betrothed. She's learning to lie more and more effective to keep Joffrey sweet as his new power as King makes him more vile and dangerous by the day.

When Robb wins a battle against the Lannisters, Sansa is stripped naked and publicly whipped in front of Joffrey until Tyrion Lannister intervenes and saves her. Sandor Clegane covers her with his cloak, and later protects her during a riot in King's Landing.

Sansa gets her first period, making her realise that she must marry Joffrey soon as she's now able to give him an heir. Despite her best efforts to conceal it, Cersei finds out and uses it to mock her. 
She saves the life of Ser Dontos, a knight who turns up drunk to a tourney, whom Joffrey wants to kill. In return, Dontos promises to help her escape King's Landing, but it's a promise that never materialises, despite their numerous secret meetings.

During the Battle of Blackwater, Cersei and Sansa protect the high born women in the Red Keep, hoping to keep their spirits up. When things take a turn for the worse, Cersei flees and it's down to Sansa to keep the ladies strong. After the battle, Joffrey is persuaded to cast their engagement aside in favour of Margaery Tyrell (who was married to Renly Baratheon, never consummated). Sansa must pretend to be heartbroken, but inside is joyful. She now however worries about what her future will hold as a mere hostage, especially as Joffrey tells her he's still going to have sex with her, despite his betrothal to Margaery. 

Tyrion Lannister

Instructed to act as the King's (Joffrey's) hand by his father, Tyrion moves to King's Landing and tries to deal with the chaos Cersei and Joffrey have created. KL is in a bit of ruin: no food is coming in, people are rioting and it's making Joffrey's position increasingly precarious. 

Tyrion spends most of this novel dealing with Varys and the King's council, trying to make alliances with other factions, often using Cersei's other children as bargaining chips. He looks to tame Joffrey, and saves Sansa when she is stripped and beaten. As the novel progresses, Tyrion starts to make King's Landing better prepared for the inevitable attack by Renly or Stannis Baratheon. He secures a whole lot of wildfire (like normal fire but more burny and easier to set fire to things with, including water. Regarded as a v dangerous weapon).

What Tyrion really wants to be doing is spending time with Shae, a whore turned Tyrion's lover. Desperate to not let Cersei get hold of her, he conceals her first in a house just outside of KL, and later as a lady's maid. 

When the Battle of Blackwater breaks out, it is Tyrion's wildfire that really saves the Lannisters from being beaten. He finds himself forced to head out to fight during the battle, and is shocked when one of his own men tries to kill him. He's certain that either Joffrey or Cersei arranged this, but hasn't quite worked out which. 

After a few chapters of not knowing if Tyrion survives or not, we're reunited with him in a hospital bed. He's adamant that he needs to stop taking the milk of the poppy and start becoming coherent again. When he comes round he realises he's not in the Hand's chambers as he imagined, but in a fairly squalid room. Tywin Lannister (his father) is back and has taken over his place in the realm. 

Bran Stark

As Robb (Bran's older brother) is off fighting to be King of all the North, Bran is now the ruler at Winterfell. He must play host to all the men coming to swear fealty to the Stark name, despite being a child. He is struggling to stay happy, and only really feels so in his dreams where he feels as though he's running in the woods as his direwolf Summer.

When Jojen and Meera Reed come to stay at Winterfell and pledge their allegiance, Jojen tells Bran about green dreams, which are sort of prophecies for the future. One of his green dreams helps him to realise that Bran is a warg, aka someone who can merge with the mind of an animal. Bran's night time adventures with Summer aren't just a dream, but he is actually there as part of Summer, hunting and running.

Bran dreams that Winterfell is going to be flooded, and that the sea is going to storm over the walls of his home and invade them. It's vivid, like his other green dreams, but Bran shakes it off: Winterfell is too far inland to be flooded, and the men he sees drowned in the dream are still alive in the morning. Soon after, Theon Greyjoy (who was a well-looked after hostage at Winterfell for 10 years) invades Winterfell, betraying the Stark family that raised him. His family believe in the Drowned God and do everything by sea, thus bringing Bran's dream to live. He drowns a couple of men in a well, and they die as Bran foresaw.

Bran escapes in the night with Hodor, his younger brother Rickon, a wildling named Osha, Meera and Jojen. They send the direwolves off in the (correct) hope that Theon will pursue their scent with his dogs, whilst Bran and the gang circle back. Whilst they're hiding out in the crypt under Winterfell, Theon kills a couple of local children and covers their bodies in tar. They look about the right size/shape as Bran/Rickon, and he hangs the bodies up in Winterfell, telling everyone he's killed the two Stark boys.

The book ends with Bran and Hodor on the run together still.

Jon Snow

Jon Snow is now firmly a man of the Night's Watch, and they're all concerned about the fact that his uncle Benjen Stark is missing beyond the wall. Jon and his best pal Samwell Tarly are part of a group that venture beyond the wall to see what's happened to Benjen. As they venture further out, they realise someone or something has been scaring the Wildlings enough to run away from their villages.

The group stop at Craster's Keep, where Craster hints at the existence of the White Walkers and Sam befriends Gilly, one of Craster's daughter-wives. Gilly is pregnant and worried that because it's a boy he'll be left outside to the unknown. The group are powerless to help any of Craster's daughters that he's impregnated, and Sam struggles to deal with this.

As they head further North, Jon heads out with Qhorin Halfhand's scouting party. They come across a group of Wildlings, and Jon finds himself unable to kill the woman Ygritte despite being instructed to. Qhorin tells him that he needs to infiltrate the Wildlings and act as a spy: he must do it as a sworn member of the Night's Watch. A group of wildlings catch up to Jon and Qhorin: Jon pretends to swear fealty to them and casts aside his cloak. They insist that he kills Quorin to pledge his loyalty to them, and with Qhorin's silent consent and the help of his direwolf Ghost, Jon does so.

Catelyn Stark:

Catelyn beings the novel at her oldest son, Robb's, side. He instructs her to meet with Renly and Stannis Baratheon to try and make an alliance with them against the Lannisters. Catelyn embarks on a dangerous journey to meet with Renly, but arrives safely. Here she meets Brienne of Tarth, a newly sworn member of Renly's Rainbow Guard, despite being a woman. She has vowed to always protect him, and it is clear that she loves Renly who's married to Maergery Tyrell.

Soon Stannis meets with them and offers Renly the chance to be his heir. Renly will not agree to these terms and Stannis will not budge, so they agree to fight the next morning. Catelyn tries to show them how stupid this is because they're allowing the Lannisters to become stronger by wiping out each other's forces, but neither will listen. 

The next morning, Brienne and Catelyn are with Renly in his tent. Catelyn sees a shadow in the shape of Stannis making its way along the wall of a tent, and it looks like it's attacking Renly. When Renly starts bleeding, Brienne and Catelyn rush over, but it's too late to save him. Catelyn forces Brienne to flee with her as she knows they're the only ones who saw him die, and that they'll be blamed for his murder.

They flee to Riverrun, home of the Tullys (Catelyn's own family), where Catelyn struggles to voice how Renly died. Here, she receives word that Theon Greyjoy has murdered Bran and Rickon. Mad with anger, she interrogates Jaime Lannister, who is imprisoned at Riverrun. He confesses to loving Cersei and to pushing Bran off the wall after Bran saw them together (which happened in Book 1). Her story in this book ends with her walking out of Jaime's cell.

Ser Davos Seaworth (the Onion Knight):

Davos is present in the prologue, and witnesses Maester Cressen's death. He's sent by Stannis to sail to deliver letters telling everyone that Cersei's children are not heirs to the throne, but actually incestuous imposters (the truth). Suspicious of Melisandre, he attempts to persuade Stannis not to go ahead with fighting under her banners, but doesn't push the point. 

After winning his battle against Renly through some shady (ha) methods, Stannis marches on Storm's End, and is determined to gain access to it. When Ser Cortnay Penrose (in charge of SE) suggests hand to hand combat between himself and Stannis over it, Stannis sends Davos into the grounds with Melisandre to solve the problem. Davos sails in, unsure how him and the Red Lady will have any success. That is, until she births a shadow demon from her swollen belly in front of him, which then goes and kills Cortnay. 

We leave a v shocked Davos for quite some time until we get to the Battle of the Blackwater; the major battle of the book. Davos has misgivings about the entire endeavour, but isn't of a high enough rank to have the power to call things off. Instead, he captains one of the ships that attempts to sail in to King's Landing to take down the Lannisters.

The battle is a big disaster, mostly due to Tyrion's wildfire, and Davos loses four of his sons in it. He eventually washes up, very bedraggled on a shore at the end of the battle.

Theon Greyjoy

Robb sends Theon, his trusted ally who grew up at Winterfell with him, albeit as a sort of hostage, to Balon Greyjoy (Theon's father) to seek his alliance in fighting against the Lannisters. Nervous of meeting his family after ten years away from them, Theon soon realises he has forgotten most of their traditions. He finds a sea wench on his way there, and takes her with him to his father's home. Only when he arrives does he realise that it's actually his sister he's been fondling, and that she's been playing a trick on him.

He expects to be rejoiced in his return to the family, but everyone views him as an outsider. He discovers that Balon intends to take the North whilst Robb is busy fighting elsewhere, and is disappointed to find that his father won't trust him with any major invasion, but instead places this in his sister Asha's hands.

Robb successfully fights a couple of skirmishes, but wants more glory, and thinks he can find this in Winterfell. He invades with a handful of men, shocking everyone at Winterfell who saw him as a friend and ally. He realises he won't be able to hold Winterfell forever, and sends a message to Asha. When she reaches him, she shows him how pointless this all was, as his family are masters of the sea, and Winterfell is so far inland. Refusing to offer him any help, she leaves.

Realising that he's in a pretty weak position, when Bran and Rickon flee he decides to make examples of them. This is when he tars and hangs two local boys in place of the  two Stark children after failing to track them. 

When he first came to Winterfell, a prisoner called Reek (because of his smell) says that he can go back to his clansmen at House Bolton and find help. Eventually Theon is desperate enough to agree. When Reek returns however, him and the other men attack Theon's group and take Theon prisoner. Reek then reveals that he's actually Roose Bolton's bastard, Ramsey Snow. 

Daenerys Targaryen

Meanwhile Daenaerys is trying to secure support to lay her own claim to the iron throne. She is now the khaleesi and takes her men across the Red Waste to the town of Qarth. There she allows people to come and see her dragons in exchange for gifts or gold which she intends to use to buy support. As time passes, Daenerys begins to mistrust those who are helping her in Qarth, and realises that all they want is her dragons, and she will not be able to persuade them to help her without handing one over, which she will never do.

She eventually accepts an invitation to the House of the Undying, the home of warlocks who can see into the future. Sir Jorah Mormont, her right-hand man, attempts to persuade her against this, but she feels as though it's her only chance to find out what she needs to do next. Inside the temple (aka the HotU), Daenerys must only go upstairs and move through doors on her left hand side, or she will be trapped inside forever. When she finally reaches the warlocks they warn her that she is the child of three, and as such must light three fires, ride three mounts and have three treasons committed against her. The warlocks try to trap her inside the temple, but Drogon (one of the dragons) rescues her, setting fire to everything.

She is determined to leave Qarth by boat, and spends some time trying to trade for ships. Before she leaves, she is given a box which contains a deadly manticore. A man named Arstan Whitebeard saves her before she is bitten, and Daenerys realises that someone is sending assassins to attempt to kill her. Arstan is there with a eunuch named Illyrio and an ex-gladiator called Strong Belwas. They have three ships to take her across the sea.

Right, so that's the big breakdown! Please let me know if I've missed anything glaring, but I hope it's a helpful rundown.
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A Clash of Kings plot breakdown by character point of views

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