A Dance With Dragons is the fifth novel in George R. R. Martin’s ongoing fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Much of the novel’s action coincides with events from the previous novel, A Feast for Crows. However, A Dance With Dragons focuses on different characters, and while the previous novel focused on events around King’s Landing, the capital of Westeros, much of A Dance With Dragons takes place in the far north of Westeros and in the lands across the Narrow Sea.
Jon Snow is the 998th Lord Commander of the Men of the Night’s Watch. Snow is charged with command of “The Wall,” a massive barrier built in the far north of Westeros to defend the realm from the undead, known as the “Others.” Sadly, the true purpose of the Wall has long been forgotten, and most people feel that the Night’s Watch only protects the realm from wildlings. Now, few realize that the dead are returning to attack the realms of men. Though young, Jon sees the danger that the undead pose to the Night’s Watch, and his solution is shocking to his men: Jon offers the wildlings sanctuary south of the Wall. Though the wildlings are considered savage and undisciplined by the men of the Night’s Watch, Jon argues that they will serve as an asset to the Wall as fighters. And if they remain north of the Wall, they will die in the harsh winter and return as Others to attack the realm.
King Stannis Baratheon approves of Jon’s plan, though his approval is not of great help to the Lord Commander. Stannis claims the Iron Throne of Westeros, but commands few men and carries the allegiance of very few lords. In fact, Stannis’ castle is in the south of Westeros, but he has come to the north in response to the Watch’s call for help and in order to secure the North of Westeros for himself. When A Dance With Dragons opens, the North, which has long been justly ruled by the Starks, has been given by the Lannisters to the Starks’ ancestral rivals, the House of Bolton. Stannis and his Hand, Ser Davos Seaworth, begin to entreat the northerners to gather support.
Tyrion Lannister finds himself without any support. Having been found guilty of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, and having killed his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, Tyrion is forced to flee Westeros by ship. He spends his journey drinking as he recalls his final confrontation with his father. When Tyrion lands, he finds himself in Pentos, across the Narrow Sea. He meets with Illyrio Mopatis, an obese and wealthy Magister. Illyrio offers Tyrion food and shelter, though he does not immediately explain what purpose he has in mind for the disfigured and scarred dwarf. Instead, he takes Tyrion on a journey East and gives the exile over to three of his allies, who are led by “Griff.” Tyrion soon deduces the identity of these three soldiers: they are also exiles from Westeros. Griff is in fact Jon Connington, who was once Hand to the Targaryens before Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. However, the true discovery is Connington’s charge: Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. When Tyrion arrives, Connington and Aegon are journeying East, but Tyrion convinces Aegon to instead travel to Westeros, stake his claim, and gather support for him.
However, before Aegon can carry out this plan, Tyrion is abducted. At first, Tyrion thinks that his abductor means to return him to King’s Landing to collect the bounty on the dwarf’s head. Instead, his abductor, Jorah Mormont, intends to deliver Tyrion to a different queen, Daenerys Targaryen. Jorah and Tyrion travel by ship. However, their journey is interrupted when their ship is attacked by pirates. Both Tyrion and Jorah are sold into slavery. Their masters take them to Slaver’s Bay, where Daenerys rules Meereen.
Quentyn Martell is also seeking Daenerys. Quentyn is an heir of Dorne, a powerful kingdom in the far south of Westeros. Quentyn hopes to marry Daenerys, and then to return to Westeros to rebel...
(The entire section is 1632 words.)