20 June 2019

'A Storm of Swords Part One: Steel and Snow' plot breakdown by character POV

After having a mini break from the GOT series because wow A Clash of Kings was LONG, I got totally hooked again with part one of A Storm of Swords. This is a bit shorter than its predecessor, coming in at just over 600 pages. The second part (which I've just started reading and omg is SO good) is another 600 pages, which is why the book is split.

The timeline for A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow and A Clash of Kings has a bit of an overlap, which is mentioned in a paragraph at the start of the book, so it makes things a little tricky in knowing what's happening at any one time.

This story is told from 10 character points of view, with an eleventh just appearing in the prologue. Without too much faff, let's get cracking on this. Quick warning before we launch in that there will obviously be a load of spoilers because it's a plot breakdown of the whole book.

Chett (Prologue)

Chett is a man of the Night's Watch, who hates Samwell Tarly and Jon Snow. He and a band of 12 other men in the Watch have decided to murder their commander Lord Mormont, and his loyal men at midnight. Mormont is fearful that some men aren't keeping true to their vows, and makes everyone re-affirm them. Overnight it starts snowing, ruining the traitors' plans of attack. 

Chett instead considers murdering Sam, but on his way to him hears three horns blowing. This warning has not been heralded for hundreds of years, and it means that some of the Night's Watch's rangers have seen Others (men who have come back from the dead).
Jaime Lannister

Catelyn Stark releases Jaime as a captive at Riverrun to be returned to King's Landing in exchange for her two daughters, Arya and Sansa. Brienne of Tarth is entrusted with taking him, and makes a solemn vow to protect his life at any cost. The pair are pursued by Tully bannersman (as not everyone agrees with Catelyn's decision), but manage to start their escape on boat. 

The pair bicker a LOT, with Jaime calling Brienne an ugly wench and her only referring to him as Kingslayer. They are forced to abandon their boat and make their way to King's Landing by foot. Seeking a moment of momentary strength, Jaime seizes a weapon and tries to duel with Brienne. Whilst the pair are fighting, the Brave Companions seize them. 

Brienne and Jamie are taken back to Vargo Hoat, who cuts off Jaime's hand to send to Tyrion Lannister. They are then taken to lord Bolton, where Jaime starts to recover from the infection spreading from his hand. Him and Brienne share a bath, and he tells her that he killed King Aerys not for power, but rather because the King was about to set the city on fire, with all the citizens still in it. Brienne still can't overlook him breaking his vows.

Jaime is released by Lord Bolton, who wants to seek favour with the Lannisters. Knowing that he's affiliated with Robb Stark, Jaime tells Bolton to remind Robb that Lannisters always pay their debts. 

Catelyn Stark

Convinced that Rickon and Bran are dead, Catelyn is desperate to have Arya and Sansa returned to her side, but her decision to set Jaime free does not go down well. Edmure Tully, her brother, places her under house arrest for the treachery, and she spends the time caring for her sick father, Lord Tully. Looking after him until his death, Catelyn is shocked when he speaks of betraying her sister, and the last name on his lips is 'Tansy'.

When Robb returns to Riverrun he pardons Catelyn, but immediately tells her that he's married Jeyne Westerling. Robb was betrothed to one of Walder Frey's children, and Catelyn knows this marriage will be seen as a massive slight to the Frey family, who do not take humiliation lightly. However, having just been pardoned, Catelyn cannot argue against this. 

Envoys from the Frey family come to Riverrun, and ask for (the now Lord) Edmure's marriage to a Frey of their choosing. Very aware that it's going to be an unsavoury pick, Edmure reluctantly agrees to this to make peace between the two families.

Arya Stark

Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry start making their way North after escaping Harrenhal. Arya begins to dream of her direwolf Nymeria, as though she is in Nymeria's body and part of a wolf pack, but when she is awake she's convinced Nymeria's dead. 

The three are captured by the brothers without companions, and taken to Beric Dondarrion. There it is made known that Arya is one of the Starks and everyone is very keen to get their hands on any ransom that might be offered for her.

The brotherhood have also captured Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, who killed Arya's friend in the first book of the series. He's on her list of people she wants to kill, so when he goes in hand to hand combat with Beric to gain his freedom, she's hoping this is the end of him. The Hound however wins, killing Lord Beric. Beric's priest is on hand, and gives him a kiss of life, filled with light from the god R'hollor. Here we learn that this is the sixth time Beric's been brought back to life.

Gendry decides he wants to stay with the brotherhood, working as a smith for them. We finish another book with Arya escaping from a different set of captors, hoping to reach Winterfell in safety.

Tyrion Lannister

After the Battle of Blackwater in A Clash of Kings, Tyrion is not in a great state. He is being fed milk of the poppy to keep him docile whilst he recovers from the injuries he sustained (most of them being on his face). Discovering that he's lost most of his nose, as well as gaining a deep scar across his face, he's concerned that he may be more unattractive than he'd already considered himself.

When Tyrion is lucid enough to face company, he finds that his father has taken over the role of the Hand of the King. He asks Tyrion instead to become the Coin Master, as Petyr Baelish (who held that role) is being sent to try and woo Catelyn's sister Lysa into marriage. Tyrion knows this role has been passed to him because of the extreme debt the crown is in: Twyin is setting him up to fail.

Tyrion is sent to welcome envoys from the Tyrell family ahead of Margaery's marriage to his nephew Joffrey, and the book closes with him realising that perhaps it might not all go as smoothly as planned.

Davos Seaworth

Davos is rescued from Blackwater Bay, where he lays starving/dehydrating on his deathbed on a spiny rock. After he is nursed back to health somewhat, he is to be taken to be reunited with Stannis and his men. However, on his way, he hatches a plan to kill Melisandre, whose influence he mistrusts, especially as the Battle of the Blackwater was lost because of wildfire (and she is strongly associated with fire). Melisandre sees his plan in her flames, and he is imprisoned in Stannis' dungeon by Ser Axell Florent.

Stannis releases him because he seeks Davos' counsel on whether to attack Claw Isle. Melisandre and most of Stannis' men encourage him to, but Davos steps up and defies the King's wish to be appeased by telling him it would be unjust. Davos is named the new Hand of the King in return for his honesty, but is quite uncomfortable with the lofty height of this new title.

Davos discovers that Melisandre and Stannis are putting leeches on Edric Storm (Robert's bastard) in the hope of using his King's blood for magic. Melisandre wants to kill him as a sacrifice, but has agreed to the leeches as a compromise. She fills three with Edric's blood and throws them into a fire, naming them the usurpers Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey Baratheon and Robb Stark. By doing so, she intends that they will all die.

Sansa Stark

Free from her betrothal to Joffrey, Sansa is encouraged to spend time with Margaery Tyrell and her grandmother Olenna Redwyne. At a dinner, with a fool singing to cover up what they are saying from any potential spies, Olenna asks Sansa what Joffrey is really like. Initially she lies, but eventually lets loose that he is cruel and tells Olenna some of the things he has done.

Olenna plans to have Sansa marry her grandson Willas Tyrell. Though this is meant to be a secret, Sansa tells Ser Dontos, who she doesn't think would betray her, yet word soon gets back to Cersei and Tywin Lannister of this marriage plot. Seeing an opportunity for the Lannisters to inherit Winterfell and the North, Tywin hatches a cruel plot.

Sansa thinks she is to leave for Highgarden, and is to be married to Willas within a couple of days, but when Cersei gifts her a new gown she eventually realises it comes with a price. She is to be taken to marry Tyrion immediately. Horrified, Sansa realises too late the worth of her potential as a Stark just moments before her marriage.

She refuses to bow down for Tyrion during the marriage ceremony, meaning he is shamed in front of everybody as he cannot reach to put a marital cloak around her shoulders. She shuns him in their marriage bed and he (somewhat reluctantly) agrees they won't have sex until she wants to do so. Sansa lets him know that it's likely to never happen.

Jon Snow

After proving to the Wildlings that he's turned his back on the Night's Watch (though of course he really hasn't), Jon is embraced by some members of the community. He learns that Mance Ryder, leader of the Wildlings, intends on gathering all of the free folk together, and voyaging south of the wall to attack the Night's Watch. The Others are growing in number, and Mance is desperate to protect his people from them.

Ygritte, a wildling with bright red hair, takes a shining to Jon and asks him to share her furs with her each night. Jon doesn't want to break his vow of celibacy with the Night's Watch, but if he keeps refusing her, the Wildlings will know that he's not turned his back on his vows. Jon ends up sleeping with Ygritte repeatedly, and enjoying it more than he ever thought possible. They grow close, and Jon begins to love her.

When the Wildings start heading South, and making their battle plans, Jon is asked to kill an old man to prove that he really has changed sides like he says he has. Unable to bring himself to kill an innocent person, Jon is saved by Ygritte who slits his throat instead. The Wildlings with him realise that maybe he's not as honest as he insisted, and Jon realises it's now or never for him to escape.

With the help of a wolf that enters the scene (that Jon rightly thinks is Bran's direwolf, Summer), Jon escapes the Wildlings so that he can warn the Night's Watch of the attack. As he flees the scene, Ygritte looses an arrow into his leg. He feels torn about betraying her for the Night's Watch.

The last scene of the book is Jon riding away with an arrow in his leg.

Daenerys Targaryen

Having secured the ships she needs to sail to Astapor, Daenerys and her followers head out. The Dothraki are very keen to be off the ship as they do not trust the water, but agree to journey with Daenerys as she is their khaleesi. Once at Astapor, Daenerys wishes to buy the Unsullied, and is horrified to find out the methods of training them.

The Unsullied are made eunuchs at a young age so that they will stay true to their masters, and not be tempted by women. They are given puppies to look after and kill after one year. The final part of their cruel training involves them killing a slave baby in front of its mother (and paying the owner for the loss of revenue). Any trainee who fails any one of the horrific tasks set for them cannot make it into the ranks.

When Daenerys meets with the owner of the Unsullied he does not realise that she can speak his native language, and insults her repeatedly when talking to his translator, who passes an amended version of what he is saying on to Daenerys.

Despite having a great wealth of saffron, silks, silvers and a whole host of other goods, the Astapori slave owner demands one of her dragons in return for the Unsullied (as well as all her goods of course). Daenerys is torn: her dragons are her children, but she knows she cannot conquer Westeros without the Unsullied.

Finally agreeing to their demands, Daenerys meets with the slavers, She is handed a long whip, signifying her ownership of the Unsullied, and gives Drogon, her favourite dragon, to the slavers. As she does so, she whips the slaver across the face, and shouts 'dracarys' - a signal for Drogon to breathe fire. He burns the slaver, and she lets everyone know that nobody can own a dragon. She is now leader of the Unsullied.

Bran Stark

After escaping from Winterfell, Bran, Hodor, Meera and Jojen Reed are making their way North in search of the three-eyed raven. For most of the book the group are making their way across different lands, trying to avoid seeing anyone and surviving on very little food. Towards the end, they reach the Gift, an area of land owned by the Night's Watch. The group end up on a rocky island sheltering from a storm, and are concerned when they see people that they will be killed. Bran wargs into Summer and sees his brother Jon, who he saves from being killed.

Samwell Tarly

Sam and the rest of the Night's Watch come under attack by a group of wights, dead men who have come back to life. The men of the Watch make their way back to Craster's keep, seeking some kind of shelter. When Sam, Small Paul and Grenn become separated from the group, Sam uses a piece of dragonglass given to him by Jon Snow to kill it, earning himself the title Sam the Slayer. This mostly gets used to mock his craven nature. 

When the Night's Watch reach Craster's Keep, they're offended that they're only offered the most paltry of fare. When the men demand that Craster shows them all of his sausage meat and proper ale. Craster insists he has none, all his finances are used up feeding all of his wives/daughters. 

Sam can hear Gilly giving birth, and she has a son (another mouth for Craster to feed briefly). Some of the Night's Watch threaten to look in Craster's storekeep for the food they want themselves. When Mormont, Lord Commander of the Watch, tells them to sit down and be grateful, a mutiny erupts (containing the men considering an uprising in the prologue). Mormont is beheaded, and his head ends up in Sam's lap. Sam is shocked by what's happened, and status out of the mutiny.

And that's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this - I'm almost finished reading Part Two now so hopefully I'll have the next one up fairly soon!
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