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A Storm of Swords is the third of seven planned novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R.R. Martin. It was first published on August 8, 2000 in the United Kingdom, with an American edition following in November 2000. Its publication was preceded by a novella called Path of the Dragon, which collects some of the Daenerys Targaryen chapters from the novel into a single book.

To date, A Storm of Swords is the longest novel in the series. It was so long that in the UK its paperback edition was split in half, Part 1 being published as Steel and Snow in June 2001 (with the one-volume cover) and Part 2 as Blood and Gold in August 2001 (with a specially-commissioned new cover). In France, the decision was made to cut the novel into four separate editions.

A Storm of Swords won the 2001 Locus Award and 2002 Geffen Award for Best Novel and was nominated for the 2002 Nebula Award for Best Novel. Significantly, it was the first novel in the series to be nominated for the Hugo Award, one of the two most prestigious awards in science fiction and fantasy publishing, although it lost to JK Rowling's novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

A Storm of Swords is also the name of the second expansion to the board game A Game of Thrones, released in July 2006. The novel is expected to form the basis for the third season of the planned TV adaption.

Plot summaryEdit

ASoS UK Current Part I

Current UK cover for Part I, art by Larry Rostant

A Storm of Swords picks up the story where A Clash of Kings ended. The Seven Kingdoms is in the grip of the War of the Five Kings, with Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, Renly, Joffrey and Stannis fighting to secure their crowns, although Renly Baratheon has already been killed. Stannis Baratheon's attempt to take King's Landing has been defeated by the new alliance between House Lannister (backing Joffrey) and House Tyrell, whilst House Martell has also pledged its support to the Lannisters thanks to a dynastic marriage. Meanwhile, a large host of wildlings is marching on the Wall under Mance Rayder, with only the tiny force of the Night's Watch in its path, and in the distant east Daenerys Targaryen is on her way back to Pentos in the hope of raising the forces she needs to take the Iron Throne.

The novel begins in the final months of 299 After the Landing and carries on into the year 300 AL.

In the Seven KingdomsEdit

The RiverlandsEdit

ASoS UK Current Part II

Current UK cover for Part II, art by Larry Rostant

Brienne of Tarth escorts Jaime Lannister from Riverrun by boat, Jaime having been released at Catelyn's order. Brienne is to take Jaime back to King's Landing and ensure that Sansa and Arya Stark are returned in his place. They are pursued by Tully bannermen, but evade them. Jaime spends most of his time insulting Brienne, despite her great size and strength with a sword. They are forced to abandon the river and take to the countryside, but are waylaid by mercenaries from the eastern continent known as the Brave Companions (in the service of the Starks, having swapped sides from the Lannisters) and taken to Harrenhal, which is now under their command. The Companions find Jaime's position as a captive to be highly amusing and their commander chops off Jaime's sword hand and has Brienne tossed in the bear pit. Despite his wound, Jaime is able to lend aid to Brienne and kill the bear. Roose Bolton arrives back at the castle and is unimpressed with the Brave Companions' activities. He agrees to return Brienne and Jaime to King's Landing and sends them on, with compliments to Lord Tywin. This strikes both of them as a highly unusual thing for a loyal Stark bannerman to do. As he leaves, Jaime off-handedly says, "Send Robb Stark my regards."

Robb Stark's army returns to Riverrun in triumph, having smashed several Lannister forces in the Westerlands and won several great victories. However, Robb is furious with his uncle Edmure, who prevented Lord Tywin's army from marching into the west. Robb's plan was for Tywin to come west and into a trap Robb was preparing. Edmure's actions instead delayed Tywin long enough for word of the Tyrell alliance to reach him, allowing him to retreat to King's Landing and win a great victory there. Catelyn is horrified when Robb reveals that he has married Jeyne Westerling of the Crag, violating his oath of betrothal to House Frey. Robb claims he had no choice when Jeyne offered him 'comfort' after he learned of the burning of Winterfell and the deaths of Bran and Rickon. The situation of the Stark and Tully armies is not good, with the combined Tyrell-Lannister host far outnumbering their own and the Greyjoys barring the way home, not to mention the loss of the footmen in a suicidal attack on Duskendale. Nevertheless, Robb has a new plan to outflank and take Moat Cailin from the Greyjoys and allow them to return to the North. Unfortunately, the Riverlords will have to fight on for themselves. Catelyn agrees to this plan, but it hinges on winning the support of the Freys once more, which they are now unlikely to give. Robb is angry that Catelyn let Jaime go, but cunningly uses her guilt at this in order to get her to agree to him naming Jon Snow, his half-brother, as his heir. Not long after this, Lord Hoster Tully finally dies and Edmure becomes Lord of Riverrun.

Arya Stark and her friends encounter a group of men known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, who are a freeriding organisation defending the smallfolk of the war-torn Riverlands, led by Lord Beric Dondarrion and the red priest, Thoros of Myr. Beric was originally sent out by Eddard Stark to put down the Lannister raids, but they believe that they have a grander destiny now. The group encounters Sandor Clegane, Joffrey's former bodyguard who fled the Battle of the Blackwater in terror, and resolve to execute him, but he chooses trial by battle. He wins, killing Lord Beric, and is set free. To Arya's amazement, Thoros is able to resurrect Beric using what he calls a gift from R'hllor. Arya eventually tires of following the Brotherhood around and tries to break free, but is captured by Sandor Clegane instead. Clegane decides to take her back to her family in exchange for service, and they head north.

Robb Stark's host, now reinforced by Lord Roose Bolton's army from Harrenhal, reaches the Twins and Robb parleys with Lord Walder Frey. Frey agrees to forgive Robb on the condition that Lord Edmure Tully weds one of his grand-daughters in his place. Edmure's new bride, Roslin, turns out to be an attractive and gentle woman, which Catelyn finds confusing. Walder Frey, known for his tetchiness, could easily have forced Edmure to marry a lackwit or an ugly girl instead. The wedding celebration is held and a great party takes place afterwards. Suddenly, the musicians produce crossbows and proceed to fire into the Stark supporters. The Boltons and Freys produce arms and cut down many of the Stark bannermen present, killing Dacey Mormont and Smalljon Umber among them and taking the Greatjon captive. Catelyn takes one of Walder Frey's grandsons hostage with a knife and threatens to kill him should Robb be harmed, but a man in armor and helm, wearing the colours of House Bolton, cuts Robb down anyway, saying "Jaime Lannister sends his regards." Catelyn kills her hostage, but in turn is restrained and has her throat cut and her body thrown in the river.

Arya and Sandor are in the outskirts of the castle when the 'Red Wedding' takes place, and flee downriver. Many of the northern lords are either killed or taken prisoner, but there are two missing: Robb had sent Lady Maege Mormont and Lord Galbart Glover to win the allegiance of Lord Howland Reed of Greywater Watch for their planned attack on Moat Cailin, and both survive.

Arya has a strange dream that she is actually her long-missing direwolf, Nymeria, who now leads a huge pack of wolves in the Riverlands. She dreams of Nymeria finding a corpse floating in the Green Fork south of the Twins and pulling it ashore, only to flee as a group of men approach.

Arya and Sandor Clegane run afoul of some freeriders in the service of Sandor's hated brother, Gregor, in an inn. There is a fight and the freeriders are killed, but Sandor is wounded. Arya leaves him dying under a tree and goes to the nearby port town of Saltpans, on the Trident. She finds a ship from the Free City of Braavos there, but they refuse to take her north. She pulls out the coin Jaqen H'ghar gave her and the ship crew suddenly become more cooperative. They won't take her north, but do agree to take over back to Braavos beyond the Narrow Sea with them. She agrees.

King's Landing and DragonstoneEdit

ASoS US Original hardcover

US 2000 hardcover, art by Stephen Youll

Davos Seaworth is washed ashore on a rocky island in the Narrow Sea, having been nearly killed in the epic Battle of the Blackwater. He is found by bannermen loyal to Stannis and taken back to Dragonstone. Along the way Davos comes to blame the red priestess Melisandre for Stannis' defeat and resolves to murder her. Upon his arrival he is immediately locked up for treason: Melisandre saw his intent in her flames. Melisandre talks to Davos and reveals that Stannis was defeated because she was not at the battle (at his bannermen's request), and asks for Davos simply to be true to his king. She also tells him that there are not seven gods but two: R'hllor, Lord of Light and Fire, and his enemy, the Great Other, Lord of Darkness and Cold, and the war between them has raged since the dawn of time. Stannis releases Davos and asks him to serve as his Hand. Davos agrees and begins to learn to read and write to better fulfil his office.

The people of King's Landing are rejoicing for their deliverance from the threat of Stannis Baratheon and the Tyrells are welcomed as liberators. King Joffrey agrees to set aside his betrothal to Sansa Stark, daughter of a House attainted of treason, and promises to marry Lady Margaery Tyrell instead. Sansa's joy at this turn of events is short-lived when she is married to Tyrion Lannister instead. Tyrion was badly injured in the battle, losing his nose and suffering other wounds to his face, but he treats Sansa gently and refuses to sleep with her against her will. Tyrion himself is unimpressed with the turn of events, particularly as his father has taken up his role as Hand, reducing Tyrion to an advisory role, although he is later made master of coin to replace Littlefinger (who has been named Lord of Harrenhal for his role in securing the Lannister-Tyrell alliance). Despite the victory, the Tullys and Starks remain a threat in the north, but Robb Stark has erred in sending his footmen down towards Duskendale to threaten the capital. Lord Mace Tyrell's most seasoned and feared battle commander, Lord Randyll Tarly, leads an army against the northmen and destroy them, shattering more than a third of Robb Stark's strength. Balon Greyjoy, styling himself King of the Iron Islands and the North, sends an offer of an alliance to Tywin, but Tywin spurns it, as he has another plan that does not involve selling off half the realm. He refuses to tell Tyrion what he is plotting.

On Dragonstone, Davos meets Edric Storm, one of King Robert's many bastards whom Stannis is keeping safe from the Lannisters. Davos is horrified to learn that Melisandre wants to sacrifice Edric and his royal blood to her fires to awaken the 'stone dragons', which she thinks are the great statues that guard the castle. Stannis rejects this decision and instead gives some of his blood to the fires instead, naming the names of three men that he wants dead: Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey Baratheon and Robb Stark (chronologically, this happens shortly before the Red Wedding).

Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish, fresh from his diplomatic victory in gaining the alliance of the Tyrells and becoming the titular Lord of Harrenhal (although his castle is still in the hands of the enemy), departs King's Landing for the Eyrie with a new scheme, namely to woo the Lady Lysa Arryn into marriage and agreeing to support King Joffrey. Tyrion is suspicious of Littlefinger's growing power but is no longer in a position to challenge him.

Word reaches King's Landing of the death of King Robb Stark at the Red Wedding, closely followed by news that King Balon Greyjoy has died as well, swept over a bridge in Pyke by a strong wave. Joffrey is exaltant, particularly keen on the gory detail that Robb's direwolf's head was sewn on his body, and Catelyn's body was hurled naked into the Green Fork. Margaery and Joffrey's wedding is held, but Joffrey spends more time tormenting his uncle Tyrion than paying attention to his wife. Suddenly Joffrey starts choking and dies in a fit on the floor. Tyrion suspects poison and inspects Joffrey's goblet before realising he could be blamed for the crime. He throws the goblet away, but is seen by several witnesses. His sister Cersei has him arrested and put on trial. Sansa Stark is smuggled out of the castle by Littlefinger, who has been hiding in the city for days after he was supposed to have left for the Eyrie. He also tells her that he was responsible for Joffrey's death.

Davos Seaworth learns to read and write with the aid of the maester at Dragonstone, who gives him official letters for him to practice on. One of the letters he receives is from the Night's Watch, who sent missives to all the kings begging for aid against Mance Rayder and the wights. Davos is disturbed by the letter. Later, the success of Melisandre's spell convinces Stannis that he must sacrifice Edric Storm to the flames to wake the dragons. However, Davos smuggles Edric to safety. Stannis prepares to execute Davos for treason, but Davos is allowed to read the letter that lately arrived from the Wall. The news stuns Stannis and, more importantly, Melisandre.

Jaime and Brienne reach King's Landing to find the situation volatile. Joffrey's brother Tommen has been acclaimed king, but not crowned yet. Tyrion is on trial and the Tyrell bannermen blame Brienne for King Renly's death, particularly Renly's close friend Ser Loras Tyrell. She is thrown in a dungeon. Jaime takes up the rank of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and finds that his journey and the loss of his hand has made him more willing to fulfil his duties. He refuses his father when he offers to remove him from the Kingsguard and make him heir to Casterly Rock, and refuses to believe Cersei's claims that Tyrion killed Joffrey. He rejects her advances, deciding to remain true to his vows.

Tyrion decides to risk all in his trial. Oberyn Martell of Dorne, who is in the city representing his brother, Prince Doran, harbours a desire for vengeance against Gregor Clegane, who killed and raped his sister Elia (the wife of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen) and her children during the Sack of King's Landing. Tyrion chooses trial by battle and Cersei appoints Gregor Clegane as her champion. Oberyn takes Tyrion's part. The battle is fought and Oberyn apparently emerges victorious after knocking the giant Gregor down with a poisoned spear. Unfortunately, he spends too much time gloating and Gregor kills him. Tyrion is condemned to death, but escapes with the help of Jaime and Varys. On his way out of the castle, Jaime reveals that Tyrion's first wife had not been a prostitute, as their father had told him, but had actually been a crofters daughter as she appeared. Tyrion sees this as an unforgivable betrayal from both his father and his brother and stops at his father's chamber and coldly shoots him through the groin with a crossbow before leaving on a ship provided by Varys which takes him across the Narrow Sea.

Jaime frees Brienne, giving her the sword Lord Tywin had reforged out of Eddard Stark's Valyrian steel blade. He tells her to fulfil the oath he gave to Lady Catelyn, to find Arya and Sansa and return them home. He also tells her that the real reason he betrayed his oath and murdered King Aerys was because Aerys had hidden wildfire barrels all over King's Landing and planned to destroy the city during the Sack. He carried out his most infamous act to save the innocent, not that anyone would believe him. Brienne departs on her quest.

At the Eyrie, Sansa lives in fear of her increasingly psychotic aunt, who eventually tries to kill her, convinced Sansa is planning to steal Littlefinger away from her and inadvertently revealing that Littlefinger told her to poison Jon Arryn and blame the Lannisters, sparking the entire war. Littlefinger saves Sansa by throwing Lysa out of the 'moon door' of the Eyrie to her death hundreds of feet below and blaming Lysa's minstrel for the crime.

In the epilogue, Merrett Frey leads a small party to a parley with a group from the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have taken several Freys captive and are demanding a ransom. During the parley the Brothers reveal that they have hanged and killed the other Freys. They point out to the panicking Merrett that he was at the Red Wedding and helped in the murder of the guests. He demands that they prove it by providing a witness. In response a battered figure appears and points at him. Merrett Frey is hung next to the corpses of his family, whilst the broken form of Catelyn Stark watches, and broods.

On the WallEdit

ASoS UK Original

UK 2000 hardcover, art by Jim Burns

The bulk of the strength of the Night's Watch sits on the Fist of the First Men, awaiting word from Qhorin Halfhand and Jon Snow. Suddenly three blasts are sounded on a watchman's horn. Three blasts means something not heard in nearly eight thousand years: Others. The Watch comes under attack by wights and the ice demons of ancient history, but manages to withdraw in something approaching good order. Sam Tarly kills one of the Others with a strange blade Jon Snow fashioned for him from obsidian, or 'dragonglass', he found near the Fist. The Watch regroups at Craster's Keep, but some of the less respectable members of the Watch mutiny and kill Lord Commander Jeor Mormont. Sam escapes in the chaos with the help of one of Craster's daughter-wives, Gilly, and they make their way south towards the Wall. They are helped by a strange figure riding an elk named 'Coldhands'.

Jon Snow is taken to Mance Rayder and is able to convince him that he has truly turned his cloak but making out that he was jealous of his lowly position at Winterfell and the Starks meant nothing to him. He learns that the Others have returned and are driving the wildlings south towards the Wall. Mance has been seeking the legendary Horn of Winter which will shatter the Wall when sounded, but has been unable to find it. Jon is unsure of this story. Eventually, Jon is sent south on a mission to scale the Wall, circle around, and attack Castle Black from the south to allow the wildlings through the gates. Jon instead flees from the wildlings and reaches Castle Black to warn them of the threat. With many of the other Watch members dead or missing, Jon is forced to command a skeleton defence against the wildlings, but nevertheless defeats them. Among the dead is Ygritte, who had been Jon's lover for a time.

Bran Stark, Jojen and Meera Reed, fleeing the ruin of Winterfell, are guided north by Bran's strange dreams of a three-eyed crow. They reach the Wall at the abandoned castle of the Nightfort, but cannot pass it. Suddenly the gate opens and they meet Samwell Tarly and Gilly. Sam guides them to Coldhands, who will take them north, whilst Sam returns to Castle Black, agreeing to keep the truth of their survival a secret, even from Jon.

The wildling army, over forty thousand strong, reaches Castle Black and assaults the Wall at that location. Jon leads a tenacious defence which sees thousands of wildlings killed, but it seems that the Watch must be overrun. Things get worse when Janos Slynt, the former commander of King's Landing's City Guard who was exiled by a suspicious Tyrion Lannister, arrives. As one of the betrayers of Eddard Stark, Slynt takes an instant dislike to Jon Snow and accuses him of being a traitor. He has Jon sent out to parley with Mance Rayder. Jon expects to be killed immediately, but Rayder is understanding of his situation and spares him for a time. Jon is shocked to learn that Rayder found the Horn of Winter after all and is preparing to use it to bring down the Wall, although he is reluctant to do so since the Others would then be able to invade Westeros as well. Suddenly horns are heard in the east and a great strength of cavalry attacks the wildling army, plunging it into chaos and putting it to rout. To Jon's disbelief, the surviving army of King Stannis Baratheon has arrived, responding to the letter read by Davos to Stannis and Melisandre. Rayder is captured and imprisoned. Stannis reveals that he received word of the Wall's dire straits and that Melisandre believes the wildling invasion to be the forerunner of the return of the Others, the sworn foes of the red god R'hllor. Stannis resolves to forge a new kingdom out of the shattered, leaderless North. The Night's Watch gathers to choose its new Lord Commander and Jon Snow wins by some margin, to the disbelief of Janos Slynt and his allies.

In the EastEdit

ASoS Meisha Merlin Unused

Meisha Merlin edition (unused), art by Charles Vess

Returning to Pentos by sea, Daenerys learns from Ser Jorah Mormont that large slave armies can be bought in the cities of Slaver's Bay: Meereen, Astapor and Yunkai. To Arstan Whitebeard's disgust - slavery has been illegal in the Seven Kingdoms for millennia - Daenerys buys the services of the Unsullied, the feared warrior-eunuchs of Astapor. When the slave lords of Astapor try to take one of Daenerys' dragons as payment, Daenerys has them burned alive. The Unsullied agree to serve her, whilst Daenerys has the slaves of Astapor set free. She leads a strong force north to Yunkai which compels the lords of the city to release their slaves into Daenerys' service. However, the lords of Meereen choose to antagonise Daenerys by killing 163 of their slaves and leaving each corpses staked at every mile along the road to the city. Daenerys besieges the city to no avail.

Daenerys discovers two traitors in her camp: Ser Jorah Mormont and Arstan Whitebeard. However, the nature of their treachery is very different. Mormont was selling information about her to Robert Baratheon up until they reached Qarth. Arstan Whitebeard is actually an alias of Ser Barristan Selmy, late of King Aerys and Robert's Kingsguard. Barristan wanted to right the ancient wrong of accepting Robert as his king by finding the true Targaryen heir to Westeros, but wanted to make sure the taint of madness had not affected her as it had her father and brother Viserys. Daenerys offers both men the chance to make amends: by sneaking into Meereen through its sewers and opening the gates. They succeed and Meereen falls to Daenerys' armies. She forgives Barristan Selmy and makes him Lord Commander of her Queensguard. However, she finds she still cannot trust Mormont and has him banished from her presence. Learning that Astapor has fallen under the control of a brutal dictator who moved to fill the power vacuum she left behind, Daenerys decides she cannot allow that to happen to Meereen and resolves to stay, and rule, and learn to be the queen that Westeros needs her to be.

Viewpoint charactersEdit

The tale is told through the eyes of 10 main characters, a one-off prologue POV and a one-off epilogue POV character :

  • Prologue: Chett, a brother and hound-keeper of the Night's Watch.
  • 7 chapters: Catelyn Stark, of House Tully, widow of Lord Eddard Stark.
  • 7 chapters: Sansa Stark, eldest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark.
  • 13 chapters: Arya Stark, youngest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark.
  • 4 chapters: Bran Stark, son of Eddard and Catelyn Stark, Prince of Winterfell, heir to the North.
  • 12 chapters: Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark. A sworn brother of the Night's Watch.
  • 5 chapters: Samwell Tarly, son of Lord Randyll Tarly and a sworn brother of the Night's Watch.
  • 10 chapters: Tyrion Lannister, youngest son of Tywin Lannister, a dwarf.
  • 9 chapters: Jaime Lannister, eldest son of Tywin Lannister.
  • 6 chapters: Davos Seaworth, a smuggler turned knight in the service of King Stannis Baratheon.
  • 6 chapters: Daenerys Targaryen, Stormborn, of the Targaryen dynasty.
  • Epilogue: Ser Merrett Frey, a member of the numerous Frey family.

NotesEdit

ASoS UK Original Part II

UK 2001 paperback, Part II, art by Jim Burns

George RR Martin did not write the Red Wedding chapters until the very end of the book and having completed every other chapter, as he felt it was a painful experience to write.

George RR Martin lost the 2001 Hugo Award for Best Novel to JK Rowling. Afterwards he made this comment about his fans: "Eat your heart out, Rowling. Maybe you have billions of dollars and my Hugo, but you don't have readers like these."[1]

The Brotherhood Without Banners, introduced in A Storm of Swords (although referenced earlier), also lends its name to the official George RR Martin fan group. The name was adopted in the first half of 2001 and the group held its first major gathering at the 2001 World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia.

EditionsEdit

BritishEdit

ASoS Sub Press II

2006 Subterranean edition, Part II, art by Charles Vess

A Storm of Swords was published by Voyager, the SF imprint of HarperCollins, in August 2000, ahead of its American publication. The cover art was by Jim Burns. The book proved too large to publish in one volume for mass-market paperback, so the book was split in half and published as Steel and Snow, in June 2001 (with the hardback cover illustration), and Blood and Gold, in August 2001. The latter had a new cover by Jim Burns. Both books were reissued in 2003 with new covers by Larry Rostant (depicting a helmet and a shield), and are the current UK editions.

AmericanEdit

The novel was first published by Bantam Books in hardcover in November 2000 with a cover by Stephen Youll. The mass-market paperback edition was released, as one volume, in May 2002. The American editions were reissued in 2005 with a new cover depicting a stylised representation of a sword.

Meisha Merlin, who had previously issued limited, illustrated editions of both A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, were planning to release a similar version for A Storm of Swords in two volumes. However, lengthy delays on the release of A Clash of Kings caused Meisha Merlin to lose the printing rights for the book, which were picked up by Subterranean Press instead. This edition, fully illustrated by Charles Vess, was released in the summer of 2006.

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