A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Yoren and the boys he took for the Night Watch are pursued by Cersei's men he leaves the Kings Road. They have been sent to kill Gendry (King Robert's bastard). While they are holed up in a deserted fort they are attacked by Lannisters and Yoren orders Arya to take as many boys as she can and flee through a tunnel they discovered earlier. When she realizes the three men chained in the wagon will be burned alive she goes back to free them. After the survivors are captured by Ser Gregor and forced to serve at Harrenhal, Jaqen H'ghar offers to kill three times for Arya to repay the three lives she saved. By naming him she gets him to help her free the Northmen in the dungeon. Lord Roose Bolton (one of Robb's men) takes over the castle, Arya (known as Nan) is made one of his cup bearers for her part in freeing the Northmen. Jaqen H'ghar leaves but gives Arya a coin that will help her find him if she needs him. Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie escape and head North.
Robb is betrayed by Theon Greyjoy, who attacks Winterfell in order to impress his Father. Rickon and Bran escape with the help of Osha, Meera, Jojen and Hodor. In order not to look incompetent Theon at the urging of Reek (Ramsay Snow) kills the miller's sons and passes them off as Rickon and Bran. Theon sends Reek off to gather men. Everyone believes Rickon and Bran to be dead. Ser Rodrik Cassel attempts to retake Winterfell but when Theon threatens to hang his daughter Beth he hesitates. Ramsey Snow returns with the men, believing them to be allies Ser Rodrik and his men are taken by surprise and defeated. Before he can celebrate his victory Theon is attacked by his supposed ally Ramsay Snow and left for dead. Bran and his followers come out of hiding and find a dying Maester Luwin he insist that Robb's heirs split up. Osha sets off with Rickon and Hodor, Meera, and Jojen head to The Wall with Bran.
Stannis has aligned himself with Melisandre and her "god". Using dark magic he killed his brother Renly, and claimed his men for his own. But when he attacked King's Landing after sending Melisandre away they betrayed him. Tyrion Lannister was hurt holding Stannis' army back but still lives. Joffrey broke his betrothal to Sansa but she is still held prisoner at King's Landing and The Hound has left after being made to look a coward by Tyrion.
Lord Commander Jeor Mormont leads a scouting party beyond the wall to find out what has happened to his Rangers who have gone missing. He meets up with Qhorin Halfhand and his men. Halfhand takes Jon Snow on his reconnaissance of the Skirling Pass, Jon captures a wildling girl (Ygritte) and let's her go instead of killing her. Jon see's through Ghost eyes and Halfhand realizes that the Eagle is reporting back to the Wildlings. He and his men attempt to flee but when he realizes they will be captured he tells Jon he must YIELD and do whatever is asked in order to join the Wildling band. Jon is forced to kill Halfhand.
Daenerys Targaryen and her three Dragons are making their way home, with a ragged band of followers.
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