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It was first published on August 8, in the United Kingdom, with a United States edition following in November Its publication was preceded by a novella called Path of the Dragon , which collects some of the Daenerys Targaryen chapters from the novel into a single book. To date, A Storm of Swords is the longest novel in the series.

It was so long that in the UK its paperback edition was split in half, Part 1 being published as Steel and Snow in June with the one-volume cover and Part 2 as Blood and Gold in August with a specially-commissioned new cover. In France, the decision was made to cut the novel into four separate editions. Significantly, it was the first novel in the series to be nominated for the Hugo Award , one of the two most prestigious awards in science fiction and fantasy publishing, although it lost to J.

Rowling's novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Meisha Merlin , who had previously issued limited, illustrated editions of both A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings , were planning to release a similar version for A Storm of Swords in two volumes. However, lengthy delays on the release of A Clash of Kings caused Meisha Merlin to lose the printing rights for the book, which were picked up by Subterranean Press instead.

This edition, fully illustrated by Charles Vess , was released in the summer of A Storm of Swords is also the name of the second expansion to the board game A Game of Thrones , released in July The novel has been placed as the number 1 rated book at the Internet Book List since a revision of the rating system in October This list is derived from the votes of Internet Book List registered users. A Storm of Swords is set in a fictitious world reminiscent of medieval Europe primarily on a continent called Westeros , except for the fact that in this world, seasons can last for years, sometimes decades.

Stannis's attempt to take King's Landing has been defeated by the new alliance between House Lannister backing Joffrey and House Tyrell , whilst House Martell has also pledged its support to the Lannisters. Meanwhile, a large host of wildlings is marching on the Wall under Mance Rayder , with only the tiny force of the Night's Watch in its path, and in the distant east Daenerys Targaryen is on her way back to Pentos in the hope of raising forces to retake the Iron Throne.

They are pursued by Tully bannermen, but evade them. Jaime spends most of his time insulting Brienne, despite her great size and strength with a sword. They are forced to abandon the Red Fork and take to the countryside of the riverlands. Near Maidenpool they are waylaid by mercenaries from Essos known as the Brave Companions in the service of the Starks , having swapped sides from the Lannisters and taken to Harrenhal , which is now under their command.

The Companions find Jaime's position as a captive to be highly amusing and their commander, Vargo Hoat , orders Jaime's sword hand to be hacked off to send a message to Tywin Lannister , on their way to Harrenhal. Roose Bolton arrives back at the castle and is unimpressed with the Brave Companions' activities. This strikes Jaime as a highly odd thing for a loyal Stark bannerman to do.

As he leaves, Jaime offhandedly says, "Send Robb Stark my regards. Hoat throws Brienne into the bear pit; from where she is rescued by Jaime with the help of Bolton's men, when he comes back for her. They head back for King's Landing. Robb Stark 's army returns to Riverrun in triumph, having smashed several Lannister forces in the westerlands and won great victories.

Robb's plan was for Tywin to come west and into a trap Robb was preparing, which would have kept Tywin from intervening at the Battle of the Blackwater. Catelyn is horrified when Robb reveals that he has married Jeyne Westerling of the Crag , violating his oath of betrothal to House Frey.

Robb claims he had no choice when Jeyne offered him 'comfort' after he learned of the capture of Winterfell and the supposed deaths of Bran and Rickon. The situation of the Stark and Tully armies is poor, with the combined Tyrell -Lannister host far outnumbering their own and the Greyjoys barring the way home, not to mention the loss of the footmen at Duskendale.

Nevertheless, Robb has a new plan to outflank and take Moat Cailin from the Greyjoys and allow them to return to the north. Unfortunately, the riverlords will have to fight on for themselves. Catelyn agrees to this plan, but it hinges on winning the support of the Freys once more, which they are now unlikely to give. Robb is angry that Catelyn let Jaime go, but cunningly uses her guilt at this in order to get her to agree to him naming Jon Snow , his half-brother, as his heir. Arya Stark and her friends encounter a group of outlaws known as the brotherhood without banners , who defend the smallfolk of the war-torn riverlands, led by Lord Beric Dondarrion and the red priest , Thoros of Myr.

Beric was originally sent out by Lord Eddard Stark to put down the Gregor Clegane 's raids, but they have a grander destiny now. The group encounters Sandor Clegane , Joffrey Baratheon 's former bodyguard who fled the Battle of the Blackwater in terror, and resolve to execute him, but he chooses trial by battle.

He wins, killing Lord Beric, and is set free. To Arya's amazement, Thoros is able to resurrect Beric using what he calls a gift from R'hllor , the last kiss. Arya eventually tires of following the brotherhood and tries to escape, but is captured by Sandor instead.

The Hound decides to take her back to her family in exchange for some kind of service, and they head north.

The Lord of the Crossing agrees to forgive Robb on the condition that Lord Edmure Tully weds one of his grand-daughters in Robb's place. Edmure's new bride, Roslin Frey , turns out to be an attractive and gentle woman, which Catelyn finds confusing. Walder Frey, known for his tetchiness, could easily have forced Edmure to marry a lackwit or an ugly girl instead. The wedding celebration is held and a great party takes place afterwards.

Suddenly, the musicians produce crossbows and proceed to fire into the Stark supporters. The Boltons and Freys produce arms and cut down many of the Stark bannermen present, killing Dacey Mormont and Smalljon Umber among them.

Catelyn takes Jinglebell , one of Walder's grandsons, hostage with a knife and threatens to kill him should Robb be harmed, but a man in armor and helm, wearing the colors of House Bolton, cuts Robb down anyway, saying "Jaime Lannister sends his regards. Arya and Sandor are in the outskirts of the castle when the " Red Wedding " takes place, and flee downriver. Many of the northern lords are either killed or taken prisoner, but there are two missing: Robb had sent Lady Maege Mormont and Galbart Glover to win the allegiance of Lord Howland Reed of Greywater Watch for their planned attack on Moat Cailin.

Arya has a strange dream that she is actually her long-missing direwolf, Nymeria , who now leads a huge pack of wolves in the riverlands. She dreams of Nymeria finding a corpse floating in the Green Fork south of the Twins and pulling it ashore, only to flee as a group of men approach.

Arya and Sandor Clegane run afoul of some of the Mountain's men within the inn at the crossroads. There is a fight and the freeriders are killed, but Sandor is wounded. Arya leaves him dying under a tree and goes to the nearby port town of Saltpans , on the Trident. She finds a ship from the Free City of Braavos there, but they refuse to take her north. She pulls out the coin Jaqen H'ghar gave her and the ship crew suddenly become more cooperative.

They will not take her north, but do agree to take her with them to Braavos beyond the narrow sea. Davos Seaworth is washed ashore on one of the spears of the merling king in Blackwater Bay , having been nearly killed in the epic Battle of the Blackwater. He is found by Salladhor Saan 's men who are loyal to Stannis Baratheon and taken back to Dragonstone. Along the way Davos comes to blame the red priestess, Melisandre , for Stannis's defeat and resolves to murder her.

Upon his arrival he is immediately locked up for treason: Melisandre saw his intent in her flames. Melisandre talks to Davos and reveals that Stannis was defeated because she was not at the battle at his bannermen's request , and asks for Davos simply to be true to his king.

She also tells him that there are not seven gods but two: R'hllor , Lord of Light and Fire, and his enemy, the Great Other , Lord of Darkness, whose war has raged since the dawn of time. Stannis releases Davos and asks him to serve as his Hand of the King. Davos agrees and begins to learn to read and write to better fulfill his office. King's Landing rejoices for their deliverance from the threat of Stannis, and the Tyrells are welcomed as liberators.

King Joffrey I Baratheon agrees to set aside his betrothal to Sansa Stark , daughter of a House attainted of treason, and promises to marry Lady Margaery Tyrell instead. Sansa's joy at this turn of events is short-lived when she is married to Tyrion Lannister instead. Tyrion was badly injured in the battle, losing his nose and suffering other wounds to his face, but he treats Sansa gently and refuses to sleep with her against her will. Tyrion himself is unimpressed with the turn of events, particularly as his father, Tywin Lannister , has taken up his role as Hand, reducing Tyrion to an advisory role, although he is later made master of coin to replace Petyr Baelish who has been named Lord of Harrenhal for his role in securing the Lannister-Tyrell alliance.

Despite the victory, the Tullys and Starks remain a threat in the north, but Robb Stark has erred in sending his footmen down towards Duskendale to threaten the capital.

Lord Mace Tyrell 's most seasoned and feared battle commander, Lord Randyll Tarly , leads an army against the northmen and destroys them, shattering more than a third of Robb Stark's strength.

Balon Greyjoy , styling himself King of the Isles and the North , sends an offer of an alliance but Tywin spurns it, as he has another plan that does not involve selling off half the realm. He refuses to tell Tyrion what he is plotting. Davos is horrified to learn that Melisandre wants to sacrifice Edric and his royal blood to her fires to awaken the 'stone dragons', which she thinks are the great statues that guard the castle.

Stannis rejects this decision and instead gives some of his blood to the fires instead, naming the names of three men that he wants dead: Balon Greyjoy , Joffrey Baratheon and Robb Stark. Petyr Baelish, called Littlefinger, fresh from his diplomatic victory in gaining the alliance of the Tyrells and the titular Lord of Harrenhal although his castle is in the hands of Roose Bolton , departs King's Landing for the Eyrie with a new scheme, namely to woo the widowed Lady Lysa Arryn into marriage and agreeing to support King Joffrey.

Tyrion is suspicious of Littlefinger's growing power but is no longer in a position to stop him. Joffrey is exultant, particularly keen on the gory detail that Robb's direwolf's head was sewn on his body, and Catelyn Stark 's body was hurled naked into the Green Fork.

Margaery and Joffrey's wedding is held, but Joffrey spends more time tormenting his uncle Tyrion than paying attention to his wife during the wedding feast.

Suddenly Joffrey starts choking and dies in a fit on the floor. Tyrion suspects poison and inspects Joffrey's goblet before realizing he could be blamed for the crime. He throws the goblet away, but is seen by several witnesses. His sister, Queen Cersei Lannister , has him arrested and put on trial. Sansa Stark is smuggled out of the castle by Littlefinger, who had secretly returned to the crownlands.

He also tells her that he was responsible for Joffrey's death. Davos learns to read and write. One of the letters he receives is from the Night's Watch, who sent missives to all the kings begging for aid against Mance Rayder and the wights. Davos is disturbed by the letter. The success of Melisandre's spell has convinced Stannis to sacrifice Edric Storm to the flames to wake the dragons.

However, Davos smuggles Edric to safety. Stannis prepares to execute Davos for treason, but Davos is allowed to read the letter that lately arrived from the Wall.

The news stuns Stannis and Melisandre. Jaime and Brienne reach King's Landing to find the situation volatile. Joffrey's brother, Tommen , has been acclaimed king, but not crowned yet. She is thrown in a tower cell, at Jaime's behest. Jaime takes up the position of Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and finds that his journey and the loss of his hand has made him more willing to fulfill his duties.

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