A Storm of Swords is the third entry in George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. In Westeros, the War of the Five Kings is over, and it seems as though the Lannisters have won thanks to their alliance with the Tyrells of Highgarden. The King in the North, Robb Stark, has lost the north and his army is surrounded by enemies in the riverlands. The Greyjoys have taken the north but are willing to ally themselves with the Lannisters. Stannis Baratheon has lost all but a handful of his men and consequently has retreated to his seat, Dragonstone. The Lannisters have the most powerful army and they control the king, Joffrey Baratheon, as well. However, now that dragons have been reborn across the Narrow Sea, magical powers are returning. Stannis has his sorceress, Melisandre, at his seat in Dragonstone, and she casts spells to assassinate Stannis’ rival kings.
In the far north, the realm is protected from the wilderness by the Wall. Manned by the Night’s Watch, the Wall has protected the realm for thousands of years. However, for Jon Snow, it seems like the Wall is finally about to be defeated. The self-styled “King Beyond the Wall,” Mance Rayder, has assembled an army of wildlings and giants that ride on mammoths. Jon Snow is a member of the Night’s Watch, but he is pretending to have turned traitor in order to infiltrate Mance’s force. He breaks his vows to the Watch when he starts a relationship with Ygritte, who is considered lucky because of her red hair. Jon learns a lot, including that the true threat to the realm is the “Others,” or the undead. In fact, the wildlings only mean to attack the Wall so that they can escape the Others.
Ser Jorah Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, means to stop the wildlings and the Others with his own small army. Although the wildlings severely outnumber him, Mormont is counting on the Watch’s discipline to win the battle. However, before he can attack the wildlings, he is himself attacked by an army of Others. They overwhelm the Watch, and though Mormont leads a retreat, the Watch is severely demoralized. Soon after their retreat, members of the Watch mutiny against Mormont and kill him. Only a few brothers survive the attack and the mutiny, and they still must survive their return trek to the Wall.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys (Dany) Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne of Westeros and the Mother of Dragons, is traveling by ship with her subjects. She is to return to Braavos and the merchant, Magister Illyrio. However, her most trusted advisor, Ser Jeor Mormont, advises that she stop at the slave cities to buy an army. Slavery has long been outlawed in Westeros, but Dany agrees that she must gather strength if she means to take the Iron Throne. She stops in Astapor to buy the “Unsullied,” an army of utterly obedient, castrated men. Though she is disgusted by the slavers, Dany agrees to sell all of her possessions and one of her dragons in exchange for every Unsullied in Astapor. The slavers agree. When Dany has bought the army, she conquers the city and moves on, leaving a council to rule in her absence. As she travels by land, Dany battles other slaver cities, but she slowly gains strength as she journeys west, doing her best to bring justice as well as victory.
In Westeros, it seems that justice has left for good. Arya Stark is an eight-year-old girl who anyone would take for a beggar now. Arya, younger sister to the King in the North, is on the run with two other children, a baker named Hot Pie and a blacksmith named Gendry. They have fled the service of Lord Roose Bolton and are trying to make it to Riverrun where Arya will be able to reveal herself to her mother, Catelyn, and her brother, Robb. However, they are soon taken in by outlaws led by Ser Beric Dondarrion. When the bandits learn Arya’s true identity, they decide to take her to Riverrun where they will ransom her. After all, these outlaws are loyal to neither...
(The entire section is 1,747 words.)