Plot Overview: A Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones differs from most books because the readers see the world through the viewpoints of a huge cast of characters.
The closest thing the story would have in terms of a protagonist and an antagonist would be House Stark and the House Lannister. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are under the control of a handful of large and powerful noble houses, known as the Great Houses; House Stark and House Lannister are both Great Houses. Smaller houses pledge fealty to the Great Houses.
The story starts off in Winterfell, the ancestral home of House Stark, called Rulers of the North because they control the North. The body of a direwolf is discovered, its pups still alive and suckling on its teats. This is a bad omen for the Starks, as the Direwolf is the sigil of their House. The Lord of House Stark, Eddard Stark decides not to kill the pups; there are six pups in total, so each of his five children get one, including his bastard, Jon Snow.
Following that, King Robert Baratheon, comes to Winterfell. His entourage includes the Queen, Cersei Lannister, and her brothers, Jaime Lannister and Tyrion Lannister, the latter being a dwarf. The Starks are mystified as to the reasons for the King’s visit, but Eddard soon learns it is because King Robert wants to appoint him as the new Hand of the King, a position that would give him no small amount of power because the Hand is more or less the King’s right-hand man. Robert reveals that the previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, of Great House Arryn, has only recently passed away.
Eddard accepts the King’s offer. A feast is held, with many of the northern lords coming to celebrate. Before they set off for King’s Landing, Eddard’s bastard, Jon Snow, decides to follow his uncle, Benjen Stark, to the Wall, a humongous wall of Ice that stretches across the northern borders of the Seven Kingdoms. The second eldest Stark boy, Bran Stark, well-known for his climbing prowess, mysteriously falls from a tower, and falls into a coma.
On the way to King’s Landing, an altercation between King Robert’s son, Prince Joffrey Baratheon, and the two Stark girls, Sansa (elder) and Arya (younger) results in Sansa’s direwolf being executed, while Arya forces her own direwolf to run away.
When they arrive at King’s Landing, Eddard proceeds to dispense justice as the King’s Hand. His eldest daughter, Sansa, is betrothed to Robert’s Joffrey. After investigating further, Eddard discovers that Jon Arryn was murdered by a very rare, undetectable poison. The reason behind the murder shocks him: it was because Jon Arryn had been poking his nose into the Lannister’s affairs, or more specifically into Prince Joffrey’s real lineage. His suspicious grown when he is lead to two of King Robert’s bastards, a female baby and a young boy who works as an apprentice armorer – both have black hair.
Going further back into the Baratheon history, Eddard discovers that all previous Baratheons were black-haired, even if they married Lannisters, who are famed for their blonde hair. The only exceptions turn out to be Prince Joffrey and his two siblings, Princess Myrcella and Prince Tommen. Eddard arrives at the conclusion that the only reason Robert’s children have blonde hair, and not black, are because they are not his –- instead, the three royal children were born from an incestuous affair between the Queen and her brother, Jaime “Kingslayer” Lannister.
Meanwhile, Tyrion follows Jon Snow to the Wall. Jon Snow is disillusioned when he discovers that all sorts of men are recruited to join the Night’s Watch; he learns that some of his new brothers are rapists, cowards, thieves and scoundrels. But with some advice from Tyrion and a boy by the name of Sam Tarly, Jon finds contentment at the Wall.
Tyrion then leaves the Wall, stopping by at Winterfell before his ultimate destination of King’s Landing. At Winterfell, he offers a gift to Bran Stark, who has since woken from his coma but has forever lost the use of his legs: the plans and designs for a special leather saddle that would allow Bran to ride a horse.
Tyrion then leaves Winterfell and stops at an inn, where he is captured by Lady Catelyn Stark and her retinue of guards. Earlier on, when Bran was still in a coma, a man managed to successful reach his bedroom and tried to kill him; Bran’s direwolf foiled the man’s plans. Catelyn is surprised at the high-quality of the dead man’s dagger and goes to King’s Landing to present the dagger to Eddard. She shares her suspicions with her husband: she suspects that the Lannisters were behind the attempt on Bran’s life. Eddard then tells her to return to Winterfell to rally the Stark bannermen, and to prepare for war.
Catelyn does so, but by chance, happens to stumble across Tyrion at the inn, and takes him prisoner. With the help of some sellswords, she takes Tyrion to The Vale of Arryn, the ancestral home of Great House Arryn. She seeks to find the truth behind Lysa Arryn’s earlier message to her, warning her to stay away from the Lannisters – Lysa is her sister, and also the wife of the late Jon Arryn, the previous Hand of the King.
In the Vale, Lisa Arryn, driven nearly insane by the death of her late husband, agrees to offer Tyrion a fair trial, with her son, Robert Arryn, being the judge. Seeing that Lysa’s son would only issue one verdict, one that would end up with him being thrown down the mountain side, Tyrion requests for trial by combat and representation the trial by his brother, Jaime Lannister. Lysa refuses, saying that Jaime is too far away and that the duel would be happening on the same day. Tyrion looks on in despair, but he is saved when Bronn, the sellsword that accompanied Catelyn’s party to the Vale, agrees to be his champion.
In the ensuing trial by combat, Bronn defeats Lysa’s champion. Lysa releases Tyrion unwillingly, and Tyrion and Bronn head towards the Lannister’s ancestral stronghold, Casterly Rock. Along the way, they are ambushed by a pack of savage mountain clansmen. Tyrion convinces them not to kill him by offering to reward them with Lannister steel weapons and armor; they agree and follow Tyrion out of the Vale.
In King’s Landing, Jaime Lannister, on hearing of his brother’s capture, loses his cool and flees the city, but not before killing several of Eddard’s men. Eddard breaks his leg in the encounter with Jaime; when he recovers, Robert makes him King again. King Robert then goes hunting while Eddard tries to do his duties as best as he can.
Shortly thereafter, the King returns from the hunt, grievously wounded after being gored by a boar. On his friend’s death bed, Eddard cannot find it in his heart to tell Robert the secret that he’s uncovered, that Prince Joffrey, Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella are not Robert’s children, but Jaime’s. However, before his death, Robert proclaims Lord Eddard as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm until Prince Joffrey comes of age.
Eddard then confronts Cersei, revealing the secret of her three children being Jaime’s instead of Robert’s and offers her the chance to flee King’s Landing with the three royal children. He then makes arrangements to convince the 2000-strong City Watch to arrest the Queen and her children if they decide not leave King’s Landing.
The Queen, with the aid of her advisors, has her own plans up her sleeves, however, and bribes the City Watch to switch to her side, and they do, taking Eddard by surprise. They take him captive, put him behind bars and declare him a traitor. The City Watch then proceeds to kill every member of Eddard’s household that followed him to King’s Landing. Sansa is held in her room, but Arya manages to escape, and goes hiding the city’s slum area.
When news of his father’s capture reaches Winterfell, the eldest Stark boy, Robb Stark, calls the Starks’ bannermen. At first, some of the Northern lords cast doubts on Robb’s ability to lead, considering his youth. But through his skilled leadership, he soon commands their loyalty. When faced with a two-pronged Lannister attack, one led by Tywin Lannister (the father of Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion) and the other led by Jaime, Robb sends a small decoy force against Tywin’s army and wins a resounding victory against Jaime’s army, capturing Jaime Lannister in the process.
Meanwhile, on the Wall, Jon Snow is now an official brother of the Night’s Watch, and personal steward to the Commander of the Night’s Watch himself. He distinguishes himself in duty by protecting the Commander in a battle against a deadly wight, using fire to destroy the undead creature; the Commander rewards him with a sword made from Valyrian steel. However, upon hearing the news of his father’s capture, Jon decides to ride off to join Robb’s army, but is stopped by his fellow Knight Watch brothers.
Upon his return to the Wall, Jon Snow makes a promise to the Commander that he will no longer run. The Commander then proceeds to lead a sizeable party of Night Watch brothers, including Jon, north of the Wall, with a mission of finding Benjen Stark, who never returned to the Wall after a ranging that took place several months ago.
Back in King’s Landing, Lord Eddard does as he is told, in order to save Sansa’s life. In front of the public and the King, he pleads guilty to charges of treason; in doing so, he intends to protect Sansa from the Queen and her advisors. He has also been advised beforehand that the Queen would allow him to join the Night’s Watch if he pleads guilty. However, Prince Joffrey, totally unaware of the dire consequences of doing so, orders Eddard to be executed. Sansa is nearly driven mad at the sight of her father’s execution. Arya bumps into Yoren, a man of the Night’s watch, during the execution; Yoren, who considers himself a brother to Eddard Stark due to Benjen Stark being in the Night’s Watch, smuggles Arya away from the city.
Upon hearing the news of his Father’s death, Robb Stark vows vengeance upon House Lannister. The Northern Lords proclaim Robb Stark as King of the North.
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Meanwhile, as all this is happening in Westeros, there stirs other events across the sea, on the eastern continent of Essos.
The Great House Targaryen once ruled the Seven Kingdoms. However, King Robert rebelled against the Targaryen’s cruel reign. The last two Targaryens, Viserys and Daenerys, elder brother and younger sister, fled to the east when they were small, and ended doing most of their growing up in the Free Cities. Upon Daenerys’ 12th birthday, Viserys offers her as a bridge to the great Khal Drogo, a Dothraki chieftain who has never lost a battle – he offers his sister in exchange for an army, one that he hopes will help him overthrow King Robert’s rules and once again return Westeros to the Targaryens. Before the wedding, Viserys and Daenerys meet an exiled knight from Westeros by the name of Ser Jorah Mormont.
At her wedding, the most expensive gifts she receives are 3 dragon eggs, long since fossilized. The eggs are said to be very valuable; each egg can pay for a sizeable army.
The marriage between Daenerys and Khal Drogo is awkward at first, but she soon learns to love him and starts enjoying Dothraki life. She eventually gets pregnant. Her brother, Viserys, is eventually killed by Khal Drogo because of his arrogant manner, threatening Daenerys, and his blatant disregard for the sacred customs of the Dothraki.
An assassin from the Seven Kingdom tries to assassinate Daenerys but fails. Enraged by this attempt at his wife’s life, Khal Drogo makes a proclamation in front of the entire tribe: he will take the entire tribe, all 40,000 warriors, to the Seven Kingdom on ships, to tear down the castles of the Seven Kingdoms, and to do it so that his son can sit on the Iron Throne.
However, in a battle with the Lamb People, Khal Drogo suffers a battle injury that eventually kills him; almost all of the warriors then depart, for in Dothraki society, women cannot lead a tribe. Grieving for her loss, Daenerys prepares a funeral pyre, placing the 3 fossilized dragon eggs next to Drogo’s body. She then sets the pyre on fire, and proceeds to walk calmly into the blistering inferno. The next morning, Ser Jorah Mormont discovers Daenerys, alive and well, now with three magnificent baby dragons under her control. In awe, Mormont and all the other remaining Dothraki drop to their knees to swear fealty to Daenerys.
And so the story ends.