George R.R. Martin’s fan favorite third book, A Storm of Swords, is bloody long — and packed with huge plot points for several characters. It is known that HBO’s Game of Thrones will use roughly the first half of that book for Season 3, so certain major events will have to be held for Season 4. But there’s still much and more we expect GoT to cover in the new season, which starts March 31. Ready to read about major events in the book that we may see on TV?
HUGE BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD!
This isn’t going to be a definitive rundown of everything in A Storm of Swords — that would take hundreds of pages in itself, just a look at some of the big stuff. Most of the episode titles have been released for Season 3, so they give us an idea of where the stories will end, but we’ll include most of the book in case the TV show decides to end some storylines later than others.
When we ended GoT Season 2, Sam was faced with an army of wights and Others. He manages to use some dragonglass to kill an Other, earning him the nickname “Sam the Slayer.” Lord Commander Mormont leads the group to Craster’s Keep, where he is slain by a Night’s Watch mutiny. Before he dies, Mormont tells Sam that his dying wish is for his son, Jorah (with Dany and her dragons) to take the black and join the Night’s Watch. Sam leaves Craster’s with one of Crasters daughters/wives, Gilly, and her son. They manage to find their way back to The Wall, thanks in part to Coldhands, who looks like a cold, dead wight but dresses and talks like a man of the Night’s Watch.
Bran, Hodor and Jojen and Meera Reed head north to try to find the three-eyed crow beyond The Wall, so Bran can understand his power as a warg/skinchanger. They end up meeting Sam at The Wall and he helps them pass through to the other side and leads them to Coldhands, who in turn leads them to a greenseer beyond The Wall.
JAIME & BRIENNE
Harrenhal just seems like an awful place to be, in the book even more so than on TV. Brienne is continuing her pledge to Catelyn Stark to take Jaime to King’s Landing to exchange for Sansa and Arya, even though Arya isn’t there and Sansa is no longer in a position to be exchanged. Unfortunately, The Kingslayer and The Wench are captured by The Brave Companions and taken to Harrenhal, where the vicious (and lisping) Vargo Hoat chops off Jaime’s sword hand and puts Brienne in the bear pit to fight for her life. Jaime is set free to go back to King’s Landing but he makes sure to free Brienne first, so she goes with him. Jaime now looks very different, and is missing a hand, which makes him less cocky and less valuable in a fight. He’s also “changed,” to his sister/lover, Cersei.
ROBB & CATELYN/THE RED WEDDING
Get ready to sobb for Robb. He was doing so well on GoT Season 2, winning every battle, but he sighs that he’s losing the war. Most of that is due to decisions-from-the-heart. When Catelyn Stark set Jaime free to exchange for Sansa/Arya, she ticked off the revenge-seeking Karstarks. The Karstarks went rogue and killed some Lannisters. Robb had to kill a Karstark to show you can’t just go against his word like that. However, in the book he married Jeyne Westerling (on the TV show he married Talisa from Volantis) thereby going against his own word to marry one of the Freys, to solidify his alliance with Walder Frey, The Lord of the Crossing, a prideful old fart who is basically described like Mr. Burns on The Simpsons. To appease the Freys, Robb suggests Catelyn’s brother, Edmure Tully, marry one of Walder’s daughters. The Stark/Tully group travels to The Twins for Edmure’s marriage to Roslin Frey. The wedding turns into a massacre, dubbed The Red Wedding (RW), and leads to several deaths, including King Robb and Catelyn Stark. GoT Season 3, Episode 9 is called “The Rains of Castamere,” so expect to see the Red Wedding in that episode, since that’s the name of the song inspired by Tywin Lannister crushing the Reynes of Castamere when they dared defy him — and the RW was a plot between Tywin Lannister and the Freys. However, at the end of the book, in something they may or may not show on GoT Season 3, Catelyn is reanimated ala The Lightning Lord. (See below.) The Red Wedding is huge and changes everything for all of the characters, ala Ned Stark losing his head on Season 1. But it’s not the only major king death of the book, just the biggest one in the first half.
Arya and company are trying to get to Riverrun to reunite with her mother and family, when they come upon The Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Lord Beric Dondarrion — aka The Lightning Lord — and the red priest, Thoros of Myr. Dondarrion was dispatched by Ned Stark, back on GoT Season 1, to punish The Mountain and the Lannisters for their raids in the Riverlands. Now he’s been dead six-times over, brought back to life every time by Thoros. They find Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, and brother of The Mountain. They offer him a trial by battle, which he sort-of wins. Arya ends up kidnapped by The Hound and he plans to take her to The Twins to hand her over to her mother and brother, who are headed to the Freys’s stronghold for the wedding of Edmure Tully to a Frey. Unfortunately, when they get to The Twins they see a battle has happened, so they escape and the Hound considers what to do with Arya next. At the end of the book, although possibly not shown on Season 3, The Hound is seriously wounded and Arya leaves him, taking a boat to Braavos.
TYRION & SANSA
Sansa with her innocent princess-and-puppy dreams is put through some serious ups-and-downs this season. First, now that she’s free of her betrothal to King Joffrey — and Joffrey is pledged to the late Renly’s ex-queen, Margaery Tyrell — she’s open to marry someone else. The Tyrells take her under their wing, wanting to marry her to one of their own. At first, Sansa gets excited, thinking they mean her beloved Ser Loras, but he’s in the Kingsguard and can’t marry. They plan to marry her to another brother, Willas, who is said to be crippled but kindly. Sansa is OK with this, but it doesn’t happen for her. Instead, the Lannisters step in to claim Sansa for their own and force her to marry Tyrion, who also doesn’t want to marry Sansa, since she’s just a child and completely repulsed by him. Their wedding is painfully awkward and their post-wedding life together even more so. But Sansa is heir to Winterfell if anything should happen to King Robb, and of course something does happen. Later in the book, in a section that will surely be saved for Season 4 — so stop reading now if you don’t want extra info — Sansa manages to escape King’s Landing, thanks to Ser Dontos (aka the drunk guy who became Joffrey’s fool) and he leads her to a ship where she’s taken by Petyr Baelish to The Vale. Petyr marries Sansa's aunt Lysa Tully, and they disguise Sansa as Petyr's "natural" daughter to keep her identity secret. Meanwhile, Tyrion never gets the credit he deserved as The Hand, and for helping to save the kingdom in the defeat against Stannis’s army on Season 2. On top of that, he’s blamed for … something we’ll leave for the end of this, since it’s a big deal and probably held for Season 4, along with some other good stuff.
Theon Greyjoy, one of the most fascinating love-to-hate characters of GoT Season 2, is only mentioned in the book. Same with his sister, Asha/Yara, and father, Balon Greyjoy. But you can’t just bench the Iron Islands for Season 3! We learn some important things in the book, including that Theon is captured by Ramsay Bolton, aka the sadistic bastard son of Roose Bolton, and “flayed,” with a piece of his skin being sent to King Robb and Catelyn Stark as justice for what they think Theon did to Bran and Rickon at Winterfell. We also learn that Balon Greyjoy, who had styled himself as a king, was killed while walking on a bridge during a storm. His death leads to several family members wanting to take his place, including Balon’s brothers and Theon’s sister.
Hopefully Jon Snow will not have to hear “You know nothing, Jon Snow” quite as many times as he does in the book. Jon is forced to play double agent as Night’s Watch turncloak — so he can fool King Beyond the Wall Mance Rayder and his new g-friend Ygritte — and also true brother of the Watch. Jon and Ygritte get very close, and Jon is no longer a blushing virgin after a while. However, the wildlings find a way to get over The Wall, at an undefended area, and plan to attack from the south. Jon is torn between staying with Ygritte and returning to warn Castle Black and help them defeat the wildlings. He manages to get away from the wildlings, although Ygritte shoots an arrow into his leg. He returns to Castle Black and helps them defeat the wildlings. He is actually given command of The Wall during the fight. Ygritte dies, although she’s not killed by Jon. This part may be saved for Season 4, but Jon is eventually arrested for desertion, and forced to try and kill Mance Rayder while “treating” with him. Stannis Baratheon and his army arrive to defeat the wildlings, taking Mance prisoner. Stannis offers to un-bastardize Jon and make him The Lord of Winterfell but Jon stays with the Watch and is even elected the new Lord Commander, thanks to Sam.
Stannis gets all pissy about losing the Battle of the Blackwater, which we saw at the end of GoT. He’s especially irritated when people claim the ghost of his late brother Renly Baratheon was partly responsible for the Lannister victory. Davos, who is washed onto a rock at the end of the battle, mourns his lost sons and vows to kill Melisandre, blaming the red woman for the defeat. She sees his plans in her flames and has Davos locked up. Stannis frees him and, for his wise council, elevates him to King’s Hand. Melisandre wants Stannis to send one of the late King Robert’s bastard sons, Edric Storm, into the flames, thinking his king’s blood will help create dragons to help Stannis win. She keeps thinking all her Lord of Light signs point to Stannis, but she really needs to meet Dany. Davos gets word that The Wall is under attack and needs help from one of the many kings out there. Stannis decides to head to The Wall, and connects with Jon Snow and company.
Dany has her dragons back (not that she lost them in the book), and she decides to sail to Slaver’s Bay to buy an army to help her conquer Westeros. Disgusted with the slave trade, she does some clever bargaining and ends up with an army of Unsullied while also freeing the people of Astapor. She also marches on the city of Yunkai, and does even more clever scheming and is aided by a charming mercenary named Daario Naharis. (New love interest alert!) The freed slaves cheer for her, calling her “Mhysa,” which means “Mother.” She marches on the slave city of Meereen, but learns that one of her new aides, Arstan, is actually Barristan Selmy, a former knight of the Kingsguard. Selmy was kicked out of the Kingsguard by Cersei and Joffrey, so he went across the Narrow Sea to find the true Targaryen ruler. Dany feels betrayed by his deception, since he kept defending the “Usurper” King Robert after the death of Dany’s father, The Mad King Aerys. She also feels betrayed by Ser Jorah Mormont, when she learns he had been spying on her for King Robert. She sends them on what could’ve been a suicide mission into Meereen, but it succeeded. She pardons Ser Barriston, but Ser Jorah refuses to apologize and she banishes him. However, all is not smooth sailing in Meereen, since she learns the two cities she previously freed — Astapor and Yunkai — are falling apart again. She feels like she can’t just leave Meereen for Westeros, as she had hoped, so she stays in Meereen to try and learn how to rule and maintain peace. Considering the final episode of Season 3, Episode 10, is named “Mhysa,” it’s possible Dany’s storyline will stop before she even gets to Meereen.
This will probably be held for Season 4, but it’s major stuff from the end of the book, so...
Cersei and Tyrion spar through most of the book, but Cersei is also charged with planning the wedding of Joffrey to Margaery Tyrell. In the second half of the book, there’s another wedding disaster — or in this case, the greatest thing that could ever happen — when Joffrey is poisoned and dies, right after marrying Margaery, during the wedding feast. Huzzah! However, Cersei blames Tyrion for the murder, and Sansa is suspected to be involved as well, since she’s his wife and they both hate Joffrey. Sansa is able to flee, thanks to Petyr, but Tyrion is jailed. When Joffrey is gone, his sweet little brother, Tommen, is put on the throne.
Cersei names Ser Gregor Clegane champion, for Tyrion's trial by combat. However, there’s a whole subplot with the Martells in the city, and they want justice for the murder of Elia Martell and her children, from when Robert took the throne from the Targaryens. Oberyn Martell, aka The Red Viper, is Elia’s brother. He decides to champion Tyrion to fight Ser Gregor, aka The Mountain, who was responsible for raping and killing Elia. Oberyn is killed in the duel, and Ser Gregor is fatally wounded. All of this Martell stuff will be more important later in the books, especially since Myrcella — Cersei’s daughter and Tommen’s sister — is down in Dorne, with the other Martells.
Tywin Lannister is actually killed by his son, Tyrion — so Tyrion is a murderer, just not of Joffrey. When Jaime frees his brother Tyrion from prison, he also tells him Tywin made Jaime lie about Tysha. Tysha was Tyrion’s first wife, long ago. Tyrion loved her, but Jaime told Tyrion that she was really a whore who had been bought to make Tyrion a man. After Jaime freed Tyrion, he revealed that it was a lie; Tysha was not a whore, she really did love Tyrion. Tyrion is furious with Jaime for the lie, and heads to his father’s rooms to confront him. Tyrion sees Shae in his father’s bed, and realizes his beloved whore is sleeping with his father. He kills Shae, then confronts his father about Tysha, then kills him with a crossbow. Varys helps Tyrion flee King’s Landing on a ship that heads across the Narrow Sea. Cersei puts a high price on Tyrion’s head. So there’s really no love left between the Lannisters, who aren’t doing that much better than the Starks.
Catch up on other Game of Thrones stories here. GoT Season 3 premieres Sunday, March 31 on HBO.