A Clash of Kings: Prologue to Chapter Ten Summaries
A Clash of Kings begins in Dragonstone, once the ancestral seat of House Targaryen but now the home and fortress of Stannis Baratheon, younger brother to the recently deceased King Robert Baratheon. There is a brightly burning red comet in the sky; Stannis’ advisor, Maester Cressen, ponders on whether the comet is some sort of omen, but finds no answers to his questions. Stannis’ daughter, Shireen, and Dragonstone’s fool, Patchface, have a brief encounter with Cressen, where the old Maester tells her that there has been news from Oldtown – summer will soon come to an end. Cressen then learns that Ser Davos Seaworth has returned to Dragonstone; he proceeds to make his way to Dragonstone’s throne room only to catch Ser Davos leaving.
When Cressen finally enters the throne room, Stannis repeats and confirms the result of Ser Davos’ mission: the stormlords, traditionally House Baratheon’s bannermen, will not rise up and join his cause. Stannis Baratheon now styles himself a King, the rightful heir of the Iron Throne after his elder brother’s death; he does not recognize the current Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert’s son, as the rightful King. There are two others who have claimed the title of King as well: Stannis’ younger brother, Renly Baratheon, and Robb Stark, with the latter styling himself King in the North. Cressen advices Stannis to combine forces with these two other Kings, but Stannis outright refuses, stating that he will not parley with men who have no right to proclaim themselves Kings. Stannis’ wife, Lady Selyse, enters the throne room, and tells her husband that Melisandre of Asshai has gazed into her magical flames and seen Renly’s death. Cressen is horrified at the suggestion of fratricide, but Stannis sends him away so that he can listen to his wife's counsel.
Cressen goes up to his quarters and prepares a very strong poison; he mistrusts Melisandre, her magics and the advice she offers Stannis – he is convinced that Melisandre’s madness must not spread beyond Dragonstone. The perfect opportunity to make use of the poison offers itself in the form of the feast being held at Dragonstone later that night.
The feast comes along, and Cressen puts his plan into action. After a humiliating start to the feast, where both Lady Selyse and Melisandre mock him and call him a fool in front of everyone, Cressen offers to make amends to the whole situation by offering to share a cup of wine with Melisandre.
As Cressen hands the cup of wine to her, Melisandre whispers to him that she knows what he intends to do, and suggest that he pour the wine away. Cressen refuses. Melisandre takes Cressen up on his offer; she drinks half the cup, and offers the rest back to Cressen. Cressen steels himself for the challenge and quaffs down the rest of the wine.
However, only one of them succumbs to the poison. The last thing Cressen sees as he dies is the face of Melisandre looking down on him in pity.
Chapter 1 - Arya
During her father’s very public execution, a Night’s Watch brother by the name of Yoren came to Arya’s rescue, smuggling her out of King’s Landing under the guise of an orphan boy, a new recruit to the Night’s Watch. With her short-cropped hair, no one recognized Arya as Yoren and his band of new recruits leave King’s Landing. Arya is initially troubled by two boys, Lommy and Hot Pie, but she soon shows them the error of their ways when she gives the latter a thrashing with her wooden sword. Arya also makes a new friend in the Bull, a well-built older boy so named for the horned helm he carries around but never wears.
Chapter 2 - Sansa
In King's Landing, Sansa attends the tourney held in honor of Prince Joffrey's name day. Because most of the best knights and warriors are taking part in the ongoing war, the list of combatants for the tournament is unimpressive. Such is the dearth of formidable jousters that the crowd bear witness to an incredibly drunk Ser Dontos the Red making a fool of himself by trying to mount his horse repeatedly but failing to find the stirrup every time. Prince Joffrey orders for Ser Dontos be drowned in a cask of wine, but Sansa manages to convince him to let the knight live instead, as a fool for the King's court. As the tournament winds to an end, Tyrion Lannister and his small retinue of men arrive at King's Landing.
Chapter 3 - Tyrion
Tyrion interrupts Cersei's meeting with the King's small council. All the old faces are there: Varys, Littlefinger and Maester Pycelle. And there's a new addition to the council - Lord Janos Slynt, the Commander of the City Watch who betrayed Eddard Stark, and in doing so, was amply rewarded by the crown with his lordship and dominion over the great castle, Harrenhal. Tyrion then presents the letter from his and Cersei's father, Tywin Lannister, which states that Tyrion is to be the Hand of the King, until he, Tywin, can assume the role himself. Tyrion then has a private meeting with Cersei. Cersei is furious that their father did not come to King's Landing himself and threatens to throw Tyrion in the dungeons but Tyrion convinces her to do otherwise by stating that he intends to come up with a plan to rescue their brother, Jaime Lannister, now Robb Stark's prisoner. Tyrion also admonishes Cersei for the bad decisions that have been made so far: executing Eddard Stark, giving Harrenhal to Janos Slynt and dismissing Ser Barristan from the Kingsguard. In the end, Cersei reluctantly agrees to accept Tyrion's help in ruling King's Landing.
On his way back to the inn where he is temporarily staying, Tyrion takes note of how conditions in the capital are at an all-time low: no food is coming into the city due to the war, and with more and more small folk coming into King's Landing for protection, the people of the city are becoming increasingly restless. When Tyrion finally reaches the inn, he is surprised to find Lord Varys there, chatting with Shae. Though the words that come out of Varys' mouth seem innocent enough, Tyrion knows that Varys is trying to tell him that he cannot keep any secrets from the eunuch. Varys then leaves. Later that night, Tyrion tells Shae that he plans to do justice in King's Landing.
Chapter 4 - Bran
Winterfell sees two new additions: Big Walder and Little Walder. Both of these young men are to be fostered at Winterfell, as part of the agreement Robb Stark made with Lord Walder Frey when Robb and his army sought to cross the Twins in order to attack Jaime's Lannister's army. Bran's and Rickon's direwolves are chained up in Winterfell's godswood, after Shaggydog bit Little Walder when the latter tried to hit Rickon during a rough game of "Lord of the Crossing".
Bran has been having many of what Osha, the wildling woman, calls the "wolf dreams", where he dreams of wolves and can almost understand their thoughts and actions. The chapter ends with Bran falling into another "wolf dream", this time dreaming that he is Summer, his direwolf, and coming to the realization that the true world out there, the world outside the castle of men, was calling for him, and that he must answer its call, or die.
Chapter 5 – Arya
Yoren is bringing the men he was given at King's Landing back to the Wall. Everyone they come across while traveling north is traveling in the opposite direction, seeking protection from the war within the walls of King's Landing. They stop at an inn to wash up and eat. Midway through dinner, Yoren sends Arya to the stables to see to their horses. Outside, Arya comes face to face with the only three men of Yoren's party that have to be chained inside a wagon: Jaqen H'ghar, a slender, fine-featured man from the Free City of Lorath; Rorge, a squat hairy man with a hole in his face where his nose would have been; and Biter, a large bald man with a mouthful of pointed yellow teeth. The Bull comes out and advices Arya to stay away from the three men. Arya challenges the Bull to a practice duel and the two of them are about to go at it until they see six men from the City Watch approaching the inn on horseback. One of the men is an officer and shows Yoren a warrant for the Bull, signed by the Queen. Yoren refuses to hand the Bull over to the officer, and a fight nearly ensues but the six City Watch men eventually back down against Yoren's superior numbers. As the six men ride away, Yoren warns the entire party that the City Watch men will be back, and there wouldn't be any talking next time; he tells all of them to pack up and move on. When Arya asks the Bull for his real name, the young man tells her that it is "Gendry."
Chapter 6 – Jon
Jon descends into Castle Black's vaults looking for Sam and finds his friend poring over old books. Lord Commander Mormont sent Sam down into the vaults to look for maps for the Night's Watch's expedition north of the Wall. Sam is part of the expedition, and is in charge of the ravens, a task normally reserved for Maester Aemon, who is too frail to make the journey north. Sam is doubtful about returning, but Jon tries to comfort his friend by telling him that Mormont will be taking two hundred veterans on the journey, and Qhorin Halfhand from the Night Watch's Shadow Tower will be bringing another hundred.
After they deliver the maps to Mormont, Sam is dismissed and Mormont then tells Jon how Maester Aemon was once the brother to a King. Jon already knows that the Maester was once a Targaryen but learns from Mormont that Aemon joined the Night's Watch because he didn't want his brother's enemies to manipulate him. Jon wonders why Mormont is telling him about Aemon, but then quickly realizes that it is because his own half-brother, Robb Stark, is now King in the North and Mormont wants to know how troubled Jon is by that fact. Jon admits that he is troubled, but promises to keep his vows as a man of the Night's Watch.
Chapter 7 – Catelyn
Robb Stark, the newly-crowned King in the North, gives instructions to one of his captives, a Ser Cleos Frey, to send an offer or peace to Cersei. The offer is conditional on Cersei accepting five conditions: (1) in exchange for two of her cousins, she releases both of his sisters (Sansa and Arya) (2) the remains of Eddard Stark and all the men of his household guard are to be returned to Winterfell (3) Eddard Stark's sword, Ice, will be returned to Robb (4) Tywin Lannister must release all his captives - when he does so, Robb will release his own captives, save for Jaime Lannister and; (5) King Joffrey is to renounce any claim of dominion over the lands of the north.
Later on, Robb and Catelyn have a disagreement about sending Theon to Pyke to treat with Lord Balon Greyjoy. Robb wants Balon's longships for the war, but Catelyn urges her son to send someone else. Robb refuses and insists on sending Theon.
Catelyn then goes to see her sick father. Her uncle, Ser Brynden is paying respects to her father (his brother) as well. They talk of the war, with the most important news being that there is a new Lannister army gathering at Casterly Rock, led by Ser Stafford Lannister. Lord Tywin sits in Harrenhal, and both Catelyn and Brynden agree that Tywin most likely wants Robb to move against him at Harrenhal, which would be a costly mistake, since Harrenhal is a huge castle and very well-defended. Catelyn comes to the conclusion that, in order to force Tywin to leave Harrenhal, there must be another threat on the battlefield - and that threat presents itself in the form of Renly Baratheon, or King Renly Baratheon now, another of the self-styled Kings.
Chapter 8 - Tyrion
Tyrion has invited Janos Slynt to his chambers in the Tower of the Hand to sup with him and share his wine. The meal is wonderful and Lord Janos gets quite drunk. Since Janos is now the Lord of Harrenhal, he presents the name of six men who can replace him as Commander of the City Watch, though he personally recommends a man by the name of Allar Deem, a man who is feared by the people and who recently killed a whore and her baby. Tyrion does not agree with Janos' choice and suggests a Ser Jacelyn Bywater. Tyrion also admonishes Janos for giving the command to go ahead with Eddard Stark's execution.
Janos is insulted by Tyrion's observations and speaks his mind, but Janos soon learns that a Lannister is not to be trifled with: Tyrion orders Janos to be sent to the Wall, to join the Night's Watch. His children will be given land, but Harrenhal will no longer be House Slynt's. On his way out, Janos comes face-to-face with Ser Jacelyn Bywater, the new Commander of the City Watch, who promptly escorts Janos away.
Varys, Tyrion's co-planner of the ousting of Lord Janos then enters. Tyrion is angry at Varys for not having told him that Cersei had ordered the killing of the whore and her baby: Varys offers some consolation by saying that he had another one of Robert's bastard, an older boy, removed from harm's way. They talk of things going on in King's Landing, and what steps to take against those heard participating in treasonous plans and table talk. The chapter ends with Tyrion wondering how Cersei will react to his ousting of Janos, and realizing that his henchmen, the deadly mercenary Bronn, is not that dissimilar to Janos' Allar Deem.
Chapter 9 - Arya
Citing safety concerns, Yoren has decided to take his party off the Kingsroad and to come up around the huge lake known as Gods Eye. Along the way, their supplies run short, and they have to live off the land. Upon scouting ahead and finding a camp of injured men, Yoren decides to go wide around them. Eventually they come to a village and holdfast that have been burned to cinders. Among the ruins they find a grievously injured woman and a girl who is no older than two. The girl cries all the time; the woman dies shortly thereafter.
During one of their nightly stops, Arya goes to make water in the woods, and comes across a pack of wolves. One of the pack pads out to and stares at her, but soon runs back into the darkness, along with the rest of the pack. When she returns back to camp, she tells Yoren of the wolves; Yoren then tells her that the only wolves she needs to fear are those who wear manskin and who burned the village they had come across earlier. Yoren also concedes that he should have taken them on a ship rather than braved the Kingsroad. Having said that, he tells Arya to go to sleep.
Chapter 10 - Davos
In Dragonstone, Davos and his sons Dale and Allard stand and watch as Melisandre burns the wooden statues of The Seven. Stannis and his wife, Selyse, are in attendance, as are several of the lords who have joined Stannis' cause. Melisandre chants prayers to her god, R'hllor, the Lord of Light and she also tells the story of a warrior who shall one day save the world by drawing a burning sword from fire; in doing so, he shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the burning sword he holds will be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes. Melisandre then calls out to Stannis to pull the sword that had been placed in one of the wooden statues. Stannis does so, and Melisandre proclaims the swords as Lightbringer. Davos takes note, however, that after the flames on the sword die out, all that remains is a burnt and blackened sword.
After the ceremony, Davos heads towards an inn near the port, where he meets up with Salladhor Saan, an incredibly rich pirate who styles himself The Prince of the Narrow Sea. It was Davos who had convinced Salladhor to join Stannis' cause, but the pirate has been complaining that Stannis hasn't paid him for his services yet. Davos assures Salladhor that Stannis will make payment once they take King's Landing. The pirate then shares news of King's Landing and then advices Davos that the capital is ripe for the taking.
Later, Stannis summons Davos to meet with him. Stannis has drafted a letter, where he declares that the crown children - Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella - are not Robert's but the result of incest between Jaime and Cersei Lannister. The letter also sets forth Stannis' rightful claim to the Iron Throne. Stannis reveals that he intends to use all the ravens at Dragonstone to send copies of the letter out to every corner of the realm. He held a meeting with his bannermen to discuss the plans, but he states that he would like to hear Davos' opinion about the letter.
Davos points out that there is no proof to the incest, but Stannis points to Edric Storm, one of Robert's bastards held up in Storm's End. Davos also mentions that people will not like it if their gods, The Seven, are replaced with that of a new one. Stannis replies that he cares nothing for gods, but he needs Melisandre; not for her god, but the fear she spreads among his enemies.