A Clash of Kings: Chapter Fifty-One to Chapter Sixty Summaries
Chapter 51 – Jon
It is night and Qhorin Halfhand's scouting party of five is in the Skirling Pass. They spot a fire against the side of the mountain, about two thousand feet up. The more experienced men know that the fire has been lit by wildlings, who are watching for any movement in the pass below. The best climber in Qhorin's party, a ranger called Stonesnake, volunteers to deal with the wildling watchers, and Jon is quick to volunteer as well. He leaves Ghost behind and follows Stonesnake up the mountain. Jon encounters some tense moments while climbing, but the two of them make it to the top, positioning themselves so that they are just above the wildlings.
Instead of the two wildlings they expected, Jon spots a third one, red-haired and asleep beneath a mound of skins. Their plans do not change though, and Jon and Stonesnake charge the wildlings, catching them by surprise. Stonesnake's wildling brings a scouting horn to his lips, but the ranger manages to kill the man before he can sound it. Jon finishes off the second wildling and is about to do the same with the third, who is just waking up, but he freezes in mid-action when he realizes that the third wildling is a young woman. Stonesnake tells Jon to kill her, but the wilding woman yields to Jon and Jon stays his hand.
The wildling tells Jon that her name is Ygritte; Jon tells her that he is Lord Eddard Stark's bastard. Stonesnake throws a burning branch over the pass, a signal for the others to make their way up the mountain. Ygritte then advices Stonesnake to burns the bodies of the two dead wildlings, but Stonesnake does not want to built that big a fire and throws them down for the mountain cats instead.
When the rest of the scouting party finally arrives, Qhorin tells Jon that they have no food to feed her, nor can they spare a man to watch her - and that Jon must do what needs to be done. Qhorin then leads the other three men up the trail, leaving Jon alone with Ygritte. He tries to kill her, but finds that he cannot bring himself to do so. He tells Ygritte to run away, and she does.
Chapter 52 – Sansa
The air in King's Landing is black with smoke and ash. When Sansa finds Dontos in the godswood, he tells her that the fires in the kingswood were started by Stannis to smoke out Tyrion's mountain clansmen. Tyrion has added to the smoke and ash by burning every structure outside the city walls. Stannis' vanguard has already arrived at the doorsteps of the capital, led by Ser Guyard Morrigen. Dontos then shares some good news with Sansa: a friend of his has hired a ship to take both of them to safety. When Sansa says that they must leave right now, Dontos replies that they can't - Tyrion has closed off the river. He asks her to be patient and wait for the battle to end, whereupon they will have their ship.
Sansa then bids Dontos good night and heads back to her chambers. However, she cannot bear to enter her room and decides to make her way up to the top of the holdfast. When she gets to the roof, she looks out over the city and its strong defences. As she does so, however, she feels a stabbing pain in her belly and is about to fall when suddenly someone grabs her arm and steadies her - it turns out to be Sandor Clegane.
The two exchange words, but like most of their conversations before, Sandor cruelly taunts Sansa's way of looking at the world, claiming that unlike the tales and songs she so loves, the real world has no true knights, no more than there are gods. Unable to deal with Sandor's cruel words, Sansa returns to her room.
That night, she experiences a nightmare in her sleep. When she wakes up, she discovers that there is blood all over her thighs and on the bed; she has had her first period. Knowing that the Lannisters will marry her to Joffrey and have her bearing him heirs if they knew, Sansa temporarily loses her wits and begins to burn her bed sheets, blanket and the featherbed itself, trying to destroy all bloody evidence of her period. The castle maids eventually come in and pull her away, They bring her for a bath and then give her new clothes to wear - they then bring her to break her fast with Cersei.
The Queen tells Sansa that Joffrey will show no devotion to her once she is pregnant with his child, but she knows that even if Sansa does not love Joffrey, she will be sure to love his children. Cersei then recounts how Joffrey would always cry when Robert Baratheon picked him up; Robert had not liked that. Cersei mentions that Robert wanted to be loved, the same thing that her brother, Tyrion, wants as well; she then contemptuously states that love is a sweet poison that kills.
Chapter 53- Jon
Qhorin, Jon and the rest of the five-man scouting party are traveling through the Skirling Pass. When they reach the highest point of the pass, Qhorin tells all of them to stop and rest. While the others sleep, Jon approaches Qhorin and tells him that he did not kill Ygritte. Qhorin is not surprised at all, and tells Jon that he now knows more about Jon than he did before Jon confessed. Qhorin also reveals to Jon that Mance Rayder used to be a brother of the Night's Watch, an incredibly skilled ranger but lacking in discipline.
Jon then goes to sleep, but just before he does, he notices Ghost going off deeper into the mountains. As he sleeps, Jon finds himself in a wolf dream. He sees Bran's face in a weirwood tree - his brother now has three eyes, and is in a place of death and darkness. When the tree tries to open Jon's third eye, he is back in the mountains again, still in Ghost's body. He sees the vast wildling army in the Frostfangs; some are tearing great holes in the half-frozen ground, looking for something, while others prepare for war. An eagle appears out of the sky and attacks Ghost; the attack causes Jon to awake from his sleep.
Jon proceeds to retell his dream to the other four rangers. One of the men, Ebben, thinks the eagle is a skinchanger, a man who can put his soul or spirit into an animal. They decide to press on, to see the wildling army for themselves. When they stop climbing and begin to descend, they spot the eagle perched on a spine of rock far above them. Qhorin studies the eagle for a long time, then decides that they are to press on.
They then come across an injured Ghost, his neck raked by the eagle's sharp claws. After they dress Ghost's wounds, Qhorin tells the men that he has changed his mind and that they should all turn back instead. Jon is surprised by the decision but Qhorin tells him that the eagle has spotted them and warned the wildlings, who will soon come after them.
And so they go back in the direction they came, until they are near the place where Jon and Stonesnake killed the two wildling watchers. Squire Dalbridge, the man with the sharpest eyes in the party, agrees to stay behind, to take up a defensive position in that spot - he will use his sharp eyesight and arrows to hold off the pursuing wildlings.
When dawn comes, they hear the call of a hunting horn echoing across the mountains - the wildlings have now started coming after them.
Chapter 54 – Tyrion
Tyrion arrives at Cersei's chambers to have dinner with her. He hands her a letter he has just received from Varys - it is a letter from the North, reporting that Theon Greyjoy has killed Bran and Rickon Stark. Cersei is none too pleased with the grisly news; Cersei fears that Catelyn Stark will kill Jaime in retaliation if she thinks Cersei had something to do with Bran and Rickon's death. During the dinner, Tyrion tells her that he needs Sandor Clegane to lead sorties out into their side of the river - Ser Osmund and Meryn Trant can look after Joffrey just as well. Tyrion also mentions that Joffrey needs to be seen during the battle, to inspire the men. Cersei reluctantly agrees with Tyrion's plans but then says that, like every other man, Tyrion's lust is his downfall, and she has just the thing to make sure he no longer plots against her: his whore. Tyrion tries to keep calm and not reveal any of his emotions, even when Ser Osmund's brothers bring the captive woman before Tyrion and he sees that they have caught Alayaya rather than Shae. He lets Cersei think that she has caught his whore, but warns his sister that should any harm befall Alayaya, he will have the same done to Prince Tommen.
When Tyrion returns to his chambers, he is surprised to find Shae there. She mentions that Varys led her through a secret passegeway from her own maidservant's quarters, but she was wearing a hood the whole time, so she couldn't see the hidden door Varys used to enter Tyrion's chambers. Tyrion tries to search for it, but he can't find it. When Shae tries to make love to him, he is too stressed to perform and tells her to go to sleep.
Chapter 55 –Catelyn
Catelyn and Brienne eat their dinner alone in the Great Hall of Riverrun; the rest of the castle are celebrating Edmure's imminent return and Robb's conquest of the Crag. Unable to hold her grief in any longer, Catelyn decides to reveal the news that only she and the Maester of Riverrun know - Theon Greyjoy has killed Bran and Rickon. She mentions Ser Rodrik is now marching his forces back to Winterfell. Catelyn continues to speak, of her grief and her daughters and of how she wants Theon Greyjoy and each and every one of the Lannisters dead. She tells Brienne that she has sent wine to Jaime Lannister, and that she would like Brienne to follow her to see Jaime in his cell later that night.
Catelyn then pays a visit to her dying father, Lord Hoster Tully. Lord Hoster is sleeping, but Catelyn is content to just sit with her father and pour out her grief to his sleeping form.
At midnight, Brienne arrives and together the two of them make their way to Jaime's cell. Catelyn walks in and orders Brienne to stand guard outside the cell to see to it that she is not disturbed.
Jaime has not drunk the wine as he was suspicious over the sudden generosity. The Kingslayer is in chains, his hair and beard long, tangled and unkempt. They trade words and Jaime taunts her at first but when Catelyn makes to go, he apologizes for his behavior and asks her to stay; he also decides to drink the wine. He agrees to answer her questions if she answers his. He admits that he is Joffrey's father but denies hiring the man who tried to kill Bran. He also remembers the Valyrian dagger the man used in the attack - Tyrion had previously lost it to Robert in a wager. Catelyn tells him that Renly was murdered by some dark magic, and that Stannis is now marching to King's Landing.
Jaime, tired of Catelyn calling him Kingslayer, decides to share a grim tale with her. He tells her how Eddard's brother, Brandon Stark, and his father, Rickard Stark, were killed by King Aerys the Mad during Robert' Rebellion - Brandon by strangulation, and Rickard by burning.
When Catelyn calls him Kingslayer yet another time, Jaime taunts her by saying that, in his own way, he has been truer to Cersei than Eddard Stark had been to Catelyn - and he brings up Jon Snow as proof. Catelyn calls for Brienne and asks for her sword.
Chapter 56 –Theon
Theon is having a nightmare but he is brought out of it when Wex and Reek enter his chambers. Reek informs Theon that Asha and her men have arrived and are breaking their fast in the Great Hall. Once dressed, Theon goes to see Asha, with two of his ironmen and Reek as his guards. He has guards around him at all times now due to the recent killings in Winterfell - three of his ironmen have been killed during the last few nights. Theon could not let the killings go unpunished, so he decided to pin the killings on Farlen the kennelmaster, and condemned the man to death; the killings stopped after Farlen's death. Which was Theon's plan all along. The three ironmen that were killed were the three who had accompanied him and Reek to the mill; not wanting the three men to reveal details of the killing of the two boys at the mill, Theon had Reek kill all three of them.
The castle-folk of Winterfell were horrified when had dragged the headless bodies back to Winterfell; he left their heads impaled on top of the castle wall. Maester Luwin had been the only one who had dared to inspect the bodies of the boys, but when he begged Theon to give him leave to sew the heads back on, Theon had refused.
Theon enters the Great Hall and is annoyed to find that his sister has only brought twenty men to help him hold Winterfell. Asha then informs him that she is only giving him ten of those men; the other ten are escorting her back to Deepwood Motte. He tells her that Ser Rodrik is riding with a sizeable army towards Winterfell and that he needs far more than ten extra men. Asha admonishes him for wanting to hold onto Winterfell, as it too far north from the shoreline, making it very difficult the ironmen to bring in supplies and fresh men. She also chides him for killing Bran and Rickon Stark. However, she takes pity on him and asks him to raze Winterfell to the ground and return to Deepwood Motte with her. When he refuses to follow her, Asha and her ten-men escort leave.
Reek then comes up to Theon and tells him that the extra ten men won't be enough to hold Winterfell. He tells Theon that he might be able to recruit another hundred or so men if Theon gave him a horse and some money. Theon agrees and Reek is gone before sunset.
That night, Theon has another nightmare. He refuses to take the sleeping draught Luwin gives him, fearing that the maester means to poison him. Instead, he takes a walk along the castle's outer walls. Looking at Winterfell, the forest around it and the weirwood, Theon realizes that Winterfell is no place for a Greyjoy and he begins to regret not going with Asha.
He looks at the heads atop the gatehouse. The miller's boys had been of the same age, size and coloring with Bran and Rickon. Reek had flayed the skin off their faces then dipped their heads in tar. Everyone had just assumed that the heads were Bran's and Rickon's.
Chapter 57 – Sansa
Sansa is in the yard, watching Joffrey being armed for battle; Joffrey has sent for her to see him off. Tyrion is in the yard as well; they talk for a while but Joffrey soon calls for her. He has her kiss his new sword, Hearteater, then tells her that he will be taking command of the Three Whores. He then rides off, flanked by Ser Meryn and Ser Osmund, while Tyrion rides side by side with Ser Mandon Moore, another member of the Kingsguard.
Sansa then makes her way to the sept, where it is very crowded and the singing has been going on all morning. She stays awhile to sing along, but leaves when the high septon calls upon the gods to defend and protect King Joffrey.
She then makes her way to the Queen's Ballroom in Maegor's Holdfast, where all the highborn ladies are to wait until the battle is over. She notices the king's headsman, Ser Ilyn Payne, standing against the back wall. When Cersei enters the Ballroom, Sansa asks her why Ser Ilyn Payne is there; Cersei tells her that, in case they lost the battle of King's Landing, Ser Ilyn Payne would protect them, from traitorous guardsmen and King Stannis' men.
Chapter 58 – Davos
Stannis and his forces are waiting on the south bank, waiting for their side's fleet of ships to clear the way on Blackwater Rush and then to ferry them over to the other side, where they can then launch an attack on King's Landing. Ser Imry Florent commands the fleet from Fury, Lord Stannis' own war galley. Davos and his sons are in the second line of ships; his sons think it a position of honor, but Davos thinks it a place of peril. Davos had earlier suggested that the fleet send several of its fastest ships to probe upriver, but Ser Imry Florent had seen no need for such caution since they have four times as many ships as Joffrey.
As they approached the waterfront of King's Landing, mouth of the Blackwater, Davos notices that two stone towers have recently been built opposite one another at the mouth of the Blackwater. A flash of sunlight on steel below the dark water near the tower and Davos immediately knows why the towers have been built: they hold a chain boom. But he wonders why Joffrey has not closed the river against them.
The first few lines of Stannis' fleet sail forward into the river, past the chain boom. Davos can see Joffrey's ships, but the boy king's ships are backing away, not moving forward. He notices that several of Joffrey's bigger ships are not there - leading him to think that Joffrey has set a trap for them.
The defenders of King's Landing begin hurling pots of burning pitch over the castle walls, targeting Stannis' fleet. As his men prepare for battle, Davos can't help but be glad that Melisandre is not with them; Stannis had her shipped back to Dragonstone, along with Edric Storm. Stannis had wanted Melisandre to join in the attack, but later changed his mind when his bannermen told him that if he had allowed Melisandre to go with them, men will say that it was Melisandre's victory, rather than Stannis'.
Three of Stannis' fleet manages to reach the shore, and archers and men-at-arms start splashing ashore, only to be driven back by a group of knights from King's Landing, led by Sandor Clegane.
The Three Whores start hurling stones at Stannis' fleet. Lady Marya and Davos' Black Betha slam into one of Joffrey's ships, destroying it completely. The defenders on the castle walls then start to hurl something else: pots of wildfire. In all the black smoke and swirling green fire, Davos manages to ram and successfully board and take over one of the Joffrey's ships, White Hart.
But the joy of that victory is short-lived as Davos notices one of the ships from their own fleet, the one with the largest ram and aptly named the Swordfish, heading straight for one of the larger Lannister ships, sitting right in its path - Davos can see the green wildfire leaking from between the Lannister ship's boards. And the Swordfish doesn't stop.
Seconds later, Davos finds himself in the water; the Swordfish is no more and Black Betha is burning. He feels himself being swept out into the bay, where he then intends to swim to the shore. But then, to his horror, he sees that the chain boom has been raised - a dozen galleys have already crashed into it, and the current is bringing more ships out into the bay, crashing against those held captive by the chain boom. Almost all the ships are aflame, and since they are so close and pushing up against the chain boom, those who are not burning will soon be.
Davos sees the striped hulls of Salladhor Saan's ships, ordered to stay outside the mouth of Blackwater, but he fears that he will never reach them.
Chapter 59 – Tyrion
Standing atop the walls of King's Landing, Tyrion looks down upon the Blackwater - the river itself seems to have caught fire. There are hundreds of men in the river, drowning and burning. Half of Stannis' fleet is ablaze, and most of Joffrey's have gone up in flames as well. Joffrey complains that his entire fleet has gone up in flames but Tyrion knows that none of them can control how the wildfire spreads. He also knows that sacrificing Joffrey's fleet was necessary - if Joffrey's fleet had not come forth to meet them, Stannis' fleet would have sensed the trap.
However, Stannis still has half of his fleet. Many that were in the first two battle lines were upstream of the wildfire inferno and at least eight ships have already landed under the city walls. Tyrion soon receives news that hundreds of Stannis' men have landed on the tourney grounds and are bringing a ram up to the King's Gate. Tyrion hastily rides to the King's gate, accompanied by Podrick Payne and Ser Mandon Moore.
When he arrives, Tyrion tells the defenders there that they are to form up for another sortie outside the gates. Sandor Clegane, who had led a previous sortie, refuses to do so, claiming that he has lost many men to the inferno outside. Tyrion, seeing that Sandor is afraid of the fire, decides to lead the sortie himself.
Chapter 60 - Sansa
The atmosphere in the Queen's Ballroom is dark - there is music, jesters and food, but the thoughts and hearts of those in the hall are on the city walls instead. From time to time, Osney Kettleblack slips into the hall and updates Cersei on the battle being fought outside.
As the night goes on, Cersei continues drinking. She tells Sansa how her brother Jaime and her used to be mistaken for twins, but that as they grew up, their roles changed dramatically. She resents being born a woman because, while Jaime was taught the ways of war and battle and became heir to Casterly Rock, she received lessons in smiling, singing and pleasing, her future to marry some lordling or other. She tells Sansa that a woman has two weapons, tears and sex, and that Sansa had best learn how to use them.
Cersei then reveals that she knows Sansa has been going to the godswood. Sansa is horrified at first, thinking that Cersei knows about her meetings with Dontos. But it turns out that Cersei only accuses her of praying for Stannis' or Robb's victory.
Cersei then reveals that she had lied earlier when Sansa had asked the reason behind Ser Ilyn's presence in the hall. She then reveals the real reason: she does not intend to suffer Stannis' judgement should he manage to take the city and throne; should that happen, she means for Ser Ilyn to kill her, Sansa, and everybody else in the hall.