A Clash of Kings. PROLOGUE. The comet's tail spread across the dawn, a red slash that bled above the crags of. Dragonstone like a wound in the pink and. s1 Game of Thrones Clash of Kings. Read more Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Ice and Fire 02 - A Clash of Kings · Read more. THE BOOK BEHIND THE SECOND SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES, AN ORIGINAL SERIES NOW ON HBO. In this thrilling sequel to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. A Clash of Kings transports us to a world of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare unlike any we have ever experienced.

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A clash of kings [electronic resource (PDF eBook)] / George R. R. Martin. Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon are dead, both victims of royal treachery. A Clash of Kings is the second novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin expected to. Book 2: A Clash of Kings. • Book 3: A Storm of Swords. • Book 4: A Feast for Crows. • Book 5: A Dance with Dragons Part I. • Book 6: A Dance with Dragons.

Believing this ruse, Stark supporters besiege the castle, joined by a force from House Bolton. Theon has conspired with Roose Bolton's bastard son Ramsay Snow , and the Bolton soldiers turn on the besiegers. However, when Theon opens the gates to the victorious Boltons, they destroy Winterfell, slaughter its inhabitants, and take Theon prisoner.

Osha, a captured wildling turned castle servant, takes Rickon to safety while Bran, accompanied by Meera, Jojen, and his simpleton manservant Hodor, travels north.


Robb Stark wins several victories against the Lannisters, and Tywin Lannister advances against him, but receiving news that King's Landing is threatened, withdraws.

Arya Stark, posing as an orphan boy named Arry, is taken north by Yoren as a new recruit for the Night's Watch. The survivors are taken to Harrenhal and put to work as servants in the undermanned castle. For saving his life during the attack, a man named Jaqen H'ghar promises to repay Arya by killing three men of her choice.

For her three choices, Arya selects Chiswyck, a soldier in Gregor Clegane's forces; Weese, her servant overseer; and Jaqen H'ghar himself. The first two murders he carries out without question; in lieu of the third choice, Arya leverages H'ghar to help her slay the Lannister soldiers guarding Robett Glover, who had been taken prisoner by the mercenary company the Brave Companions.

After Glover is freed, the Brave Companions turn their cloaks and join with the North. H'ghar gives Arya a mysterious iron coin and tells her to find him in Braavos if she should ever desire to learn his secrets.

He then adopts a new identity and leaves. Control of Harrenhal is ceded to Roose Bolton, whom Arya serves as cupbearer, but soon escapes. The Baratheon forces vastly outnumber the Lannister defenders but, under Tyrion's command, the Lannister forces use "wildfire" similar to Greek fire to ignite the bay, and raise a massive chain across its mouth to prevent Stannis' fleet from retreating. Stannis's attack fails when Tywin Lannister leads his army and the remaining forces under Mace Tyrell to King's Landing.

During the defense of the castle, Tyrion is attacked by one of Joffrey's Kingsguard, and rescued by his squire, Podrick Payne, killing the Kingsguard. Stannis' fate is left uncertain. The Watch then continue to an ancient hill-top fortress known as the Fist of the First Men, whence Jeor Mormont sends Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand with others to the Skirling Pass, where they are hunted by wildling warriors.

Facing certain defeat, Halfhand commands Jon to infiltrate the wildlings and learn their plans. They are captured by wildlings who demand Jon fight Qhorin to join them.

Jon kills Qhorin with the aid of his direwolf , Ghost, and learns that Mance Rayder is advancing on the Wall with thirty thousand wildlings, giants, and mammoths. Two years past, he had fallen and shattered a hip, and it had never mended properly.

Last year when he took ill, the Citadel had sent Pylos out from Oldtown, mere days before Lord Stannis had closed the isle Pylos had come to replace him when he died. He did not mind. Someone must take his place, and sooner than he would like He let the younger man settle him behind his books and papers.

It is ill to keep a lady waiting. His flesh was wrinkled and spotted, the skin so papery thin that he could see the web of veins and the shape of bones beneath. And how they trembled, these hands of his that had once been so sure and deft When Pylos returned the girl came with him, shy as ever.

Behind her, shuffling and hopping in that queer sideways walk of his, came her fool. On his head was a mock helm fashioned from an old tin bucket, with a rack of deer antlers strapped to the crown and hung with cowbells.

With his every lurching step, the bells rang, each with a different voice, clang-a-dang bong-dong ring-aling clong clong clong. Hers was not a pretty face, alas. Across half one cheek and well down her neck, her flesh was stiff and dead, the skin cracked and flaking, mottled black and grey and stony to the touch. As if he would ever deny her. She had been denied too often in her time. Her name was Shireen. She would be ten on her next name day, and she was the saddest child that Maester Cressen had ever known.

Her sadness is my shame, the old man thought, another mark of my failure. If only he had more humor, more life in him; that was what was needed here. Grim places needed lightening, not solemnity, and Dragonstone was grim beyond a doubt, a lonely citadel in the wet waste surrounded by storm and salt, with the smoking shadow of the mountain at its back. A maester must go where he is sent, so Cressen had come here with his lord some twelve years past, and he had served, and served well.

Yet he had never loved Dragonstone, nor ever felt truly at home here.

Of late, when he woke from restless dreams in which the red woman figured disturbingly, he often did not know where he was. The fool turned his patched and piebald head to watch Pylos climb the steep iron steps to the rookery. His bells rang with the motion. Perhaps once he could evoke gales of laughter with a quip, but the sea had taken that power from him, along with half his wits and all his memory. He was soft and obese, subject to twitches and trembles, incoherent as often as not.

The girl was the only one who laughed at him now, the only one who cared if he lived or died. An ugly little girl and a sad fool, and maester makes three You should be snug in your bed. They were coming to eat me. They are carved of stone, child.

In olden days, our island was the westernmost outpost of the great Freehold of Valyria. It was the Valyrians who raised this citadel, and they had ways of shaping stone since lost to us. A castle must have towers wherever two walls meet at an angle, for defense. The Valyrians fashioned these towers in the shape of dragons to make their fortress seem more fearsome, just as they crowned their walls with a thousand gargoyles instead of simple crenellations.

Dalla and Matrice were talking by the well, and Dalla said she heard the red woman tell Mother that it was dragonshreath. He would have a stern word with Dalla, warn her not to spread such tales. A star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see. The white ravens fly only from the Citadel. In the pride of his youth, he had worn it easily, but now it seemed heavy to him, the metal cold against his skin.

This one came to tell us that the Conclave has met, considered the reports and measurements made by maesters all over the realm, and declared this great summer done at last. Ten years, two turns, and sixteen days it lasted, the longest summer in living memory.

Patchface rang his bells. I know, I know, oh, oh, oh. But not for years yet, I pray, and then not for long. Even Cressen had to admit the bird made an impressive sight, white as snow and larger than any hawk, with the bright black eyes that meant it was no mere albino, but a truebred white raven of the Citadel. The raven spread its wings, leapt into the air, and flapped noisily across the room to land on the table beside him.

Cressen nodded. The bird bobbed its pale head up and down, as if it were bowing. As I said, they are clever, these birds. The white raven screamed and went flapping away to perch on the iron railing of the rookery stairs. Shireen seemed to grow smaller. It makes me scared. Make him stop. Once I might have silenced him forever, but now Patchface had come to them as a boy.

Lord Steffon of cherished memory had found him in Volantis, across the narrow sea.

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The king-the old king, Aerys II Targaryen, who had not been quite so mad in those days, had sent his lordship to seek a bride for Prince Rhaegar, who had no sisters to wed. He juggles and riddles and does magic, and he can sing prettily in four tongues.

We have bought his freedom and hope to bring him home with us. Robert will be delighted with him, and perhaps in time he will even teach Stannis how to laugh. No one had ever taught Stannis how to laugh, least of all the boy Patchface. The storm came up suddenly, howling, and Shipbreaker Bay proved the truth of its name. The boy washed up on the third day.

A Clash of Kings

Maester Cressen had come down with the rest, to help put names to the dead. When they found the fool he was naked, his skin white and wrinkled and powdered with wet sand. Cressen had thought him another corpse, but when Jornmy grabbed his ankles to drag him off to the burial wagon, the boy coughed water and sat up.

No one ever explained those two days the fool had been lost in the sea. The fisherfolk liked to say a mermaid had taught him to breathe water in return for his seed. Patchface himself had said nothing. Whether Patchface had gotten any joy of that victory he could not say, not even today, so many years later. Bong dong, ring-a-ling, bong dong. On the morrow he may remember another song, and this one will never be heard again.

Pylos strode through the door. That was most unlike Pylos. They were talking of it in the kitchen. I thought you would want to know at once. Where is he? They have been together most of the night.

A Clash of Kings: The Graphic Novel: Volume One

Pylos, give me your arm. There are too many steps in this castle, and it seems to me they add a few every night, just to vex me. Castles are not friendly places for the frail, Cressen was reminded as he descended the turnpike stairs of Sea Dragon Tower.

To reach him they must cross the gallery, pass through the middle and inner walls with their guardian gargoyles and black iron gates, and ascend more steps than Cressen cared to contemplate. Young men climbed steps two at a time; for old men with bad hips, everyone was a torment. But Lord Stannis would not think to come to him, so the maester resigned himself to the ordeal. He had Pylos to help him, at the least, and for that he was grateful.

Shuffling along the gallery, they passed before a row of tall arched windows with commanding views of the outer bailey, the curtain wall, and the fishing village beyond. Guardsmen strode the wallwalks, peering between the gargoyles on the host camped without.

The morning air was hazy with the smoke of cookfires, as three thousand men sat down to break their fasts beneath the banners of their lords. Past the sprawl of the camp, the anchorage was crowded with ships. No craft that had come within sight of Dragonstone this past half year had been allowed to leave again.

The guardsmen outside the Stone Drum knew the maesters by sight, and passed them through. I have climbed these steps so often I know each one by name. He had stopped to catch his breath and ease the pain in his hip when he heard the scuff of boots on stone, and came face-to-face with Ser Davos Seaworth, descending.

Davos was a slight man, his low birth written plain upon a common face. A well-worn green cloak, stained by salt and spray and faded from the sun, draped his thin shoulders, over brown doublet and breeches that matched brown eyes and hair. About his neck a pouch of worn leather hung from a thong. His small beard was well peppered with grey, and he wore a leather glove on his maimed left hand. When he saw Cressen, he checked his descent.

My favorite time. Before Lord Stannis had knighted him, he had been the most notorious and elusive smuggler in all the Seven Kingdoms. They will not rise, Maester.

Not for him. They do not love him. Nor will they ever. He is strong, able, just It has never been enough. Only those that would see me. They do not love me either, these highborns. Bryce the Orange, of the Rainbow Guard. Each one has his own color. Even as a boy, Renly had loved bright colors and rich fabrics, and he had loved his games as well. Oh, Renly, Renly, dear sweet child, do you know what you are doing? And would you care if you did? Is there anyone who cares for him but me?

Lord Stannis and a small garrison had held the castle for close to a year, against the great host of the Lords Tyrell and Redwyne. Even the sea was closed against them, watched day and night by Redwyne galleys flying the burgundy banners of the Arbor. Then came a night when the moon was new and black clouds hid the stars.

Cloaked in that darkness, Davos the smuggler had dared the Redwyne cordon and the rocks of Shipbreaker Bay alike. His little ship had a black hull, black sails, black oars, and a hold crammed with onions and salt fish. Davos had submitted, on the condition that Stannis wield the knife himself; he would accept no punishment from lesser hands.

Afterward, Davos had chosen the name Seaworth for his new-made house, and he took for his banner a black ship on a pale grey field-with an onion on its sails. The onetime smuggler was fond of saying that Lord Stannis had done him a boon, by giving him four less fingernails to clean and trim. No, Cressen thought, a man like that would give no false hope, nor soften a hard truth.

Yet now He does not have the numbers. I told him as much, but you know his pride. Now I must add my voice to yours.

In the center of the chamber was the great table from which it took its name, a massive slab of carved wood fashioned at the command of Aegon Targaryen in the days before the Conquest.

The Painted Table was more than fifty feet long, perhaps half that wide at its widest point, but less than four feet across at its narrowest.

There was a single chair in the room, carefully positioned in the precise place that Dragonstone occupied off the coast of Westeros, and raised up to give a good view of the tabletop. Seated in the chair was a man in a tight-laced leather jerkin and breeches of roughspun brown wool.

When Maester Cressen entered, he glanced up. Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone and by the grace of the gods rightful heir to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, was broad of shoulder and sinewy of limb, with a tightness to his face and flesh that spoke of leather cured in the sun until it was as tough as steel. Hard was the word men used when they spoke of Stannis, and hard he was. Though he was not yet five-and-thirty, only a fringe of thin black hair remained on his head, circling behind his ears like the shadow of a crown.

His brother, the late King Robert, had grown a beard in his final years. Maester Cressen had never seen it, but they said it was a wild thing, thick and flerce. As if in answer, Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night.

His mouth would have given despair to even the drollest of fools; it was a mouth made for frowns and scowls and sharply worded commands, all thin pale lips and clenched muscles, a mouth that had forgotten how to smile and had never known how to laugh.

Sometimes when the world grew very still and silent of a night, Maester Cressen fancied he could hear Lord Stannis grinding his teeth half a castle away. Now you are old and sick, and need your sleep. The storm lords will not rise for me.

It seems they do not like me, and the justice of my cause means nothing to them. The cravenly ones will sit behind their walls waiting to see how the wind rises and who is likely to triumph. The bold ones have already declared for Renly.

For Renly! I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it. I built his fleet and did his work, dutiful as a younger brother should be to an elder, as Renly should be to me. Even with the sellswords he had brought across the narrow sea from the Free Cities of Myr and Lys, the host camped outside his walls was far too small to bring down the power of House Lannister.

Dragonstone had long been the seat of House Targaryen. What has Renly ever done to earn a throne? He sits in council and jests with Littlefinger, and at tourneys he dons his splendid suit of armor and allows himself to be knocked off his horse by a better man. That is the sum of my brother Renly, who thinks he ought to be a king. I ask you, why did the gods inflict me with brothers? Who maesters for Renly? Perchance I should send for him, I might like his counsel better.

What do you think this maester said when my brother decided to steal my crown? What counsel did your colleague offer to this traitor blood of mine?

In that, as in so much else, Renly was like his brother Robert, and utterly unlike Stannis. Dragonstone and a few rocks in the narrow sea, there is my kingdom. There he stood, brooding over the realm he sought to claim, so near at hand and yet so far away. Celtigar, Velaryon, Bar Emmon, the whole paltry lot of them. A poor crop, if truth be told, but they are what my brothers have left me. That Lysene pirate Salladhor Saan will be there with the latest tally of what I owe him, and Morosh the Myrman will caution me with talk of tides and autumn gales, while Lord Sunglass mutters piously of the will of the Seven.

Celtigar will want to know which storm lords are joining us. Velaryon will threaten to take his levies home unless we strike at once. What am I to tell them?

What must I do now? His lord was stubborn and proud; when he had set his mind, there was no changing it. Am I to accept a broken realm? The man was nothing to me. Oh, Robert loved him, to be sure.

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Loved him as a brother, how often did I hear that? I was his brother, not Ned Stark, but you would never have known it by the way he treated me. Did Robert thank me? He thanked Stark, for lifting the siege when we were down to rats and radishes. Did he take my hand and say, Well done, brother, whatever should I do without you? No, he blamed me for letting Willem Darry steal away Viserys and the babe, as if I could have stopped it.

I sat on his council for fifteen years, helping Jon Arryn rule his realm while Robert drank and whored, but when Jon died, did my brother name me his Hand?

No, he went galloping off to his dear friend Ned Stark, and offered him the honor. And small good it did either of them. The future may yet be won if you join with the Starks. There are others you might sound out as well. What of Lady Arryn? If the queen murdered her husband, surely she will want justice for him. Service as a page might have done him good, but that damnable Lannister woman had Lord Arryn poisoned before it could be done, and now Lysa hides him in the Eyrie.

Let her fool go with her, so she will have a familiar face about her. Lord Stannis scowled. Of anyone. Mind you remember that, woman. She plucked it daily and cursed it regularly, yet it never failed to return. Her eyes were pale, her mouth stern, her voice a whip.

She cracked it now. You are their one true king. It would not be fitting to plead and bargain with them for what is rightfully yours by the grace of god. The red woman had won her, heart and soul, turning her from the gods of the Seven Kingdoms, both old and new, to worship the one they called the Lord of Light. Stannis had always been uncomfortable around women, even his own wife.

His letters had been few, his visits fewer; he did his duty in the marriage bed once or twice a year, but took no joy in it, and the sons he had once hoped for had never come.

There is the sign you have waited for, blazoned on the sky. Red, it is, the red of flame, red for the fiery heart of the true god. It means your time has come, Your Grace. Nothing is more certain.

You are meant to sail from this desolate rock as Aegon the Conqueror once sailed, to sweep all before you as he did. They love my charming young brother, as they once loved Robert I call them treasons.

How he might win half a kingdom if he goes to the Starks on his knees and sells our daughter to Lysa Arryn? You are dismissed. By the time he reached the bottom of the steps it was all he could do to stand erect.

When he was safe back in his own rooms, Cressen sent the younger man away and limped to his balcony once more, to stand between his gargoyles and stare out to sea. He watched until she vanished behind a headland. Would that my fears could vanish so easily. Had he lived so long for this? When a maester donned his collar, he put aside the hope of children, yet Cressen had oft felt a father nonetheless.

Robert, Stannis, Renly Had he done so ill that now he must watch one kill the other? He could not allow it, would not allow it. The woman was the heart of it. Not the Lady Selyse, the other one. The red woman, the servants had named her, afraid to speak her name.

Melisandre, whose madness must not be allowed to spread beyond Dragonstone. His chambers seemed dim and gloomy after the brightness of the morning.

With fumbling hands, the old man lit a candle and carried it to the workroom beneath the rookery stair, where his ointments, potions, and medicines stood neatly on their shelves. On the bottom shelf behind a row of salves in squat clay jars he found a vial of indigo glass, no larger than his little finger. It rattled when he shook it. Cressen blew away a layer of dust and carried it back to his table. They shone like jewels in the candlelight, so purple that the maester found himself thinking that he had never truly seen the color before.

The chain around his throat felt very heavy. He touched one of the crystals lightly with the tip of his little finger. Such a small thing to hold the power of life and death.

It was made from a certain plant that grew only on the islands of the Jade Sea, half a world away. The leaves had to be aged, and soaked in a wash of limes and sugar water and certain rare spices from the Summer Isles.

Afterward they could be discarded, but the potion must be thickened with ash and allowed to crystallize. The process was slow and difficult, the necessaries costly and hard to acquire.

The alchemists of Lys knew the way of it, though, and the Faceless Men of Braavos All the world knew that a maester forged his silver link when he learned the art of healing-but the world preferred to forget that men who knew how to heal also knew how to kill.

Cressen no longer recalled the name the Asshaii gave the leaf, or the Lysene poisoners the crystal. In the Citadel, it was simply called the strangler. And this very night Lord Stannis would feast his bannermen, his lady wife I must rest, Maester Cressen told himself. I must have all my strength come dark. My hands must not shake, nor my courage flag. It is a dreadful thing I do, yet it must be done. If there are gods, surely they will forgive me.

He had slept so poorly of late. A nap would refresh him for the ordeal ahead. Wearily, he tottered off to his bed. Yet when he closed his eyes, he could still see the light of the comet, red and flery and vividly alive amidst the darkness of his dreams. Perhaps it is my comet, he thought drowsily at the last, just before sleep took him. An omen of blood, foretelling murder When he woke it was full dark, his bedchamber was black, and every joint in his body ached.

Cressen pushed himself up, his head throbbing. Clutching for his cane, he rose unsteady to his feet. So late, he thought. They did not summon me. He was always summoned for feasts, seated near the salt, close to Lord Stannis. Whatever he did, Robert had done first, and better. Poor boy The maester found the crystals where he had left them, and scooped them off the parchment. Cressen owned no hollow rings, such as the poisoners of Lys were said to favor, but a myriad of pockets great and small were sewn inside the loose sleeves of his robe.

Where are you? That was queer; the young maester had his cell only a half turn down the stair, within easy earshot.

In the end, Cressen had to shout for the servants. They will be feasting by now I should have been woken. Truly, he did not understand. Again he had to cross the long gallery. A night wind whispered through the great windows, sharp with the smell of the sea. Torches flickered along the walls of Dragonstone, and in the camp beyond, he could see hundreds of cookfires burning, as if a field of stars had fallen to the earth.

Above, the comet blazed red and malevolent. I am too old and wise to fear such things, the maester told himself. The doors to the Great Hall were set in the mouth of a stone dragon.

He told the servants to leave him outside. It would be better to enter alone; he must not appear feeble.

Leaning heavily on his cane, Cressen climbed the last few steps and hobbled beneath the gateway teeth. A pair of guardsmen opened the heavy red doors before him, unleashing a sudden blast of noise and light. Cressen made his way toward the raised platform where the lords sat with the king.

He had to step wide around Patchface.

Dancing, his bells ringing, the fool neither saw nor heard his approach. As he hopped from one leg to the other, Patchface lurched into Cressen, knocking his cane out from under him. They went crashing down together amidst the rushes in a tangle of arms and legs, while a sudden gale of laughter went up around them. No doubt it was a comical sight. He had lost his tin helm with its antlers and bells. Trying to make the best of it, the maester smiled feebly and struggled to rise, but his hip was in such pain that for a moment he was half afraid that he had broken it all over again.

He felt strong hands grasp him under the arms and lift him back to his feet. Her hair was not the orange or strawberry color of common red-haired men, but a deep burnished copper that shone in the light of the torches. Even her eyes were redHers was not a pretty face, alas. His touch filled her with revulsion now, but she knew better than to show it. His lance was striped in the same colors, and his shield bore the grape cluster sigil of his House.

No, he went galloping off to his dear friend Ned Stark, and offered him the honor. If only he had more humor, more life in him; that was what was needed here.

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