Jul 5 2011 5:49pm

Where Everybody Is Before A Dance With Dragons Begins

Only one more week to go until A Dance With Dragons is out on the shelves and the excitement in the SFF community (and then some) is quite substantial.

The years-long wait that makes the release of the fifth volume in the Song of Ice and Fire series so exciting can work against some fans of the books, though. It’s been over five years since we’ve visited Westeros and the lands beyond, and longer still since we’ve checked in with other characters that promise an appearance in A Dance With Dragons. One would need to reread the series just to remember what all the characters are up to!

For some, there’s not enough time to accomplish that, so we’ve put together a handy refresher as to where all the major characters are as of the end of A Feast For Crows!

For the sake of clarity, we’ve focused on the whereabouts of active main characters, along with some secondary. This isn’t meant to be completely exhaustive, rather, we’re aiming to restore a clear picture of status so one can enjoy A Dance With Dragons without having to paw through back volumes. If you think we’ve overlooked an area, freel free to include it in the comments below.

A quick note about spoilers: If you know of plot developments in the upcoming A Dance With Dragons, keep them out of your comments. This includes any developments from freely available chapter excerpts. So far, our Tor.com commenters have been very, very good about this, so we’d like to keep on with having the site be a safe haven for Song of Ice and Fire fans.

Okay, that’s enough of that. On with the updating!


As of the end of A Feast For Crows, what’s up with:

Daenerys Targaryen: Daenerys has conquered three cities on Slaver’s Bay and has halted her advance in Meereen, having determined that she needs time to learn how to be a good ruler as well as conquerer, and having deduced that her dragons need time to grow and mature. Ser Barristan, the old leader of the Kingsguard, having been disgraced by the now-deceased-and-good-riddance King Joffrey Baratheon, has become the Lord Commander of Daenerys’ Queensguard. Her longtime advisor Ser Jorah Mormont has been banished.

Unbeknownst to Daenerys, her court is about to receive a maester from Oldtown as an advisor.

Cersei Lannister: The Queen Regent went a little nuts in A Feast For Crows and went on an executing spree, fueled by paranoia at enemies both real and perceived. She is currently imprisoned in King’s Landing and awaiting trial by combat for various crimes. She refuses to yield and has sent for Jaime to be her champion.

Jaime Lannister: This former Commander of the King’s Guard spent most of A Feast For Crows mopping up the mess left over in the Riverlands from the Frey’s betrayal of the Starks. He was last seen burning Cersei’s plea for championship, leaving it unanswered.

Tyrion Lannister: Wed briefly to Sansa Stark, Tyrion is soon accused by his sister, Cersei, of having poisoned Joffrey. Although Tyrion fails a trial by combat, he is unexpectedly freed by his brother Jaime. Tyrion uses the opportunity to kill his father Tywin Lannister, and Shae, before fleeing for the Free Cities. It is expected he will somehow make his way to Daenerys’ court.

Varys: The eunuch was ordered executed by then-Queen Cersei for assisting in Tyrion’s escape, but fled King’s Landing. His whereabouts, actions, and ultimate motives are unknown.

Jon Snow: The newly elected Commander of the Night Watch. Repelled an invasion from Wildling king Mance Rayder — who is armed with the Horn of Winter, a horn said to be able to melt the Wall — with the help of the fortuitous arrival of Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre. Despite the victory, the mood on the Wall is very tense, as Stannis wants Jon installed as King of Winterfell and the wildlings relocated to land south of the Wall. (In exchange for accepting the Lord of the Light as their god.) Jon is determined to stay on the Wall and he and Stannis have yet to reach a comfortable arrangement with each other.

Jon has also developed a warg-like bond with his direwolf, Ghost.

Bran Stark and Summer / Jojen and Meera Reed: This band has reached the Wall and are now traveling farther north with “Coldhands,” a wight strongly presumed to be the lost Benjen Stark.

Hodor: Hodor.

Samwell Tarly: Samwell has been sent to Oldtown to train as a maester and has made friends with a boy named Pate, who may be Jaqen H’gar in disguise. He is in a romantic relationship with a wildling, Gilly who, along with her son (really Mance Rayder’s son), came to Oldtown with Samwell.

Sam tells Maester Marwyn (The Mage) of the threat of the Others, as well as the belief that Daenerys’ dragons are the only thing that can stop them. (Along with, on a hand-to-hand combat level, obsidian daggers.) It is revealed that the maesters of Oldtown have long been actively campaigning to rid the world of magic, and seem entirely unwilling to help the efforts at the Wall. Their motives remain mysterious beyond that, however, and evidence of schisms within the maester’s ranks further cloud the issue. Marwyn leaves to offer counsel to Daenerys but expects the Oldtown archmaesters to send their own emissary.

So. Sam’s having fun.

Arya Stark (Cat of the Canals): Arya is under the training of the Faceless Men in Braavos and has taken the name “Cat of the Canals.” She still carries Needle. She kills a deserter of the Night’s Watch, inadvertently helping Samwell Tarly get to Oldtown, and thus inadvertently aiding her beloved brother Jon, but is punished by the Faceless Men for clinging to her old life (i.e. not committing to being truly emotionally faceless), and is blinded as punishment. Since the blinding is chemical in nature (a tainted glass of milk) it remains to be seen if this will last.

Arya has shown that she has some warg-like connection with her direwolf, Nymeria, having dreamed through Nymeria’s eyes in A Storm of Swords and A Feast For Crows. Nymeria herself leads a large pack of wolves that roam the Westeros countryside.

Sansa Stark (Alayne): Now posing as the bastard of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, lord of the Vale, she is to be married to the next true inheritor of the Vale, a minor lordling, so that she may raise an army and take back Winterfell, according to Littlefinger. The current lord of the Vale, young Robert Arryn, is not expected to survive his early adolescence. Also according to Littlefinger, who busied himself in A Storm of Swords with pushing Lysa Arryn out of the Moon Door.

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish: In the Vale serving as the acting lord until young Robert comes of age, which he is determined to not let happen, preferring to install Sansa as the Lady of the Vale. He has transferred his romantic attraction of Catelyn Stark to the young Sansa.

Catelyn Stark (Lady Stoneheart): Inhabited with the spirit (“fire”) of the now deceased-for-real Beric Dondarrion, she leads the Brotherhood Without Banners with red priest Thoros of Myr, who is able to revive the slain. Their motives are vague. Last seen hanging Brienne of Tarth for Brienne’s seeming betrayal of Catelyn’s request to protect her two daughters, Arya and Sansa.

Brienne of Tarth: Last seen being hanged by Catelyn, having been given the choice to live and hunt down Jaime Lannister or die at Catelyn’s hands. Brienne utters one word, but we have yet to see if this word saves her.

Rickon Stark / Shaggydog: Taken by the wildling Osha to parts unknown in A Storm of Swords.

Davos Seaworth: Last seen having convinced Stannis to head north to the aid of the Wall (and thus, the entire realm). It is stated in A Feast For Crows that he was sent to negotiate with the Manderlys but was ordered executed by Cersei Lannister. His head now supposedly decorates the walls of White Harbour, but the source of that information is unverifiable.

Euron Greyjoy: Current king of the Iron Islands. Has a horn that can bind dragons to the will of whomever blows it and has sent Victarion Greyjoy with a fleet to Slaver’s Bay to marry Daenerys or take her dragons, whichever works. Victarion means to betray Euron and take the dragons/Daenerys for himself.

Asha Greyjoy: Made a bid for the Iron Islands throne in A Feast for Crows but was unsuccessful. Alive but currently inactive.

Theon Greyjoy: Rotting in a cell in the Bolton’s Dreadfort following his briefly successful taking of Winterfell. Currently inactive.

Quentyn Martell / Dorne: After the near-death of Myrcella Baratheon, the new ward of the Martells, it is revealed to princess Arianne Martell that she was once promised to marry Viserys Tararyen. Since that arrangement never came to pass, the eldest Martell heir Quentyn has gone to the Free Cities to hire swords and claim his right of marriage to Daenerys. Quentyn intends on bringing the dragons back to win the Iron Throne for Dorne.

Gregor Clegane: Last seen dying of poison from a trial-by-combat. His “head” is being delivered to the Martells. His death is not entirely confirmed in the narrative and it is hinted that the disgraced maester Qyburn is fashioning him into a mindless being that will serve at the will of others.

The Hound: Last seen dying of wounds at the end of A Storm of Swords. His death is not entirely confirmed in the narrative.


Summary and miscellany: The snows have begun south of the Wall and the Wall itself prepares to thwart the coming Long Night. The campaigns of Renly Baratheon/Highgarden, the Starks, and the Tullys in the Riverlands have petered out, while the still-fresh Dorne and Iron Island armies seem to have shifted their focus elsewhere. Tommen Baratheon is currently the King of the Seven Kingdoms.

There are now two magical horns in existence that could shift the current balance of power very rapidly.

Some minor characters from Riverrun are heading towards The Wall, along with a Kettleblack sent by Cersei to assassinate Jon. It is hinted that the Blackfish may also be headed to The Wall to confront Jon.

The Tyrell family is currently inactive, with Margaery Tyrell having been imprisoned by Cersei and Loras having been badly injured but not entirely out of the picture. Considering that the Tyrells were ultimately responsible for bringing down Joffrey, they bear watching.

Daenerys is going to have a lot of company, very soon, in the form of Quentyn Martell, Victarion Greyjoy, Tyrion Lannister, Maester Marywn, and an unnamed maester, all of whom are unknown quantities in a context outside of Westeros. The dragons’ dance card is very full.


This summary was culled primarily from the books and supplemented by chapters summaries available at Tower of the Hand, along with various Wikipedia entries regarding the series. For more in-depth information, visit Tower of the Hand.

Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and general voice of Tor.com. A summary of its own status would go like this: WHOOSH!

Corey McKinnon
2. CMcKinnon
This is great, thanks. I had totally forgotten about some of the things that happened. It's been over a year since I read the books.
3. Innbranna
Tiny correction: If my memory serves, the child that Gilly brings with her to Oldtown is not her son, but the son of Mance Rayder and his wildling wife Dalla (the children having been swapped by Jon Snow before Gilly and Samwell depart from the Wall).
4. TLS
Davos ended up convincing Stannis to go to the Wall. I think Melisandre wanted him to be executed after Davos came back from the battle of Blackwater and wanted to kill her, but Stannis instead named him his Hand.
Chris Lough
5. TorChris
Quite right, TLS. We got the order of events confused on that one. It's updated now!
6. brentodd
Re: Davos - I seem to recall a brief mention of him in a King's Landing chapter. IIRC, it was CLAIMED that the Manderlys (the fat lords from white harbor I think) captured and executed him... in an attempt to ingratiate themselves to the Iron Throne or some such thing. But it's all second-hand, probably lies.
Edward Morland
7. random_gerbil
@3 It definitely is Mance Rayder's child Gilly takes with her, part of Jon's get anyone who might conceivabley have a claim to king's blood as far away from Meli as possible plan.
8. Patrick C
Supposedly Davos was taken prisoner by one of the houses in the North (The Mallisters? The Manderleys? One of them.) and Cersei commanded they kill Davos. Cersei later received word that Davos's head and hands were mounted at the Northern castle... but this was all revealed by written word and if any of it is truth remains to be seen. Stannis did not order his execution.
9. mochabean
Thank you! w/r/t Gregor Clegane, not only is his death unconfirmed, but it is strongly suggested that the disgraced maester working for Cersei (the one who used to hang out with the Bloody Mummers) has him hidden away to be her champion. Her Zombie champion. Her Ginormous Zombie Champion.
10. Fenric25
A couple of corrections (sorry, don't mean to be pedantic but I can't help myself!): Jaime Lannister is not a former Hand of the King-son of one and brother to another, but not one himself-he is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. As for the maester seeking Daenerys, he is revealed in Feast For Crows as Marwyn the Mage, an Archmaester of the Citadel (of the ring, rod and mask of Valyrian Steel)-he was mentioned a couple of times in books one and three, likely to be an important character, IMO, (a Chekov's Gunman, if you will, to use the parlance of TV Tropes). Someone else already pointed out that Gilly's boy is actually Mance Rayder's, so don't really need to go over that one. Otherwise, all in all, a pretty excellent summary of the tangled weave of plots and people abundant in the series. I wish I'd be able to read Dance with Dragons along with the rest of you, but I'll be broke until at least the end of this month (if I'm lucky-rent, car repair bills, cable, food for my family and fat furry feline, the list goes on and on) The library's copy will be checked out for months, so I'll just have to wait a bit longer-the rest of you, enjoy!
11. AgingComputer
I think some of the Oldtown stuff is a bit in error... Sam was not seen by the archmaesters, but was taken directly to Archmaester Marwyn (called "the Mage") who believes his story of dragons in Mereen and the happenings at the Wall. Marwyn tells Sam that if he tells the other archmaesters his story, they will likely kill him. Marwyn immediately heads to the port (or so we are told) to travel to Mereen in order to advise Dany. Marwyn says that he thinks the archmaesters will send their one of their own to counsel her as well.
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
Very nice job but here are a couple of points:

- Isn't "boy named Pate" a substitute, per the FFC prologue? There are theories re who the substitute is in fact but I'll hold off on that speculation.
- There is a theory on the interwebs that "Cat" did not kill Daeron but directed him to go back to the Wall with a message for Jon. Instead of being a punishment, the blind-inducing milk is a sign that Arya was able to lie convincingly about killing Daeron and was advanced to the next stage of Faceless Man training. Not sure I buy it but there it is in all its glory.
- Don't believe there is any evidence that Varys remains "in service" in KL. He's gone to parts unknown.
- Sansa as "Queen Regent"????? Lady of the Vale/potential heir to Winterfell, maybe. Queen Regent, no.
- Perhaps add in that the Blackfish escaped Jaime's capture at Riverrun and could be headed anywhere, likely to cause trouble for Lannisters or Freys (or Jon Snow -- given that two senior Riverrun vets are taking the black and heading north and the Blackfish has opined that Jon got his post as a Lannister gift.)
- Probably best to add a word or two about the Tyrells. Margaery is also in jail in KL and really ticked off at Cersei, who put her there; and Loras was badly injured and burned in the siege of Storms End.
Mari Ness
13. MariCats
The disgraced maester serving Cersei is Qyburn, one of the creepiest guys in a series filled with pretty creepy guys.

In Feast of Crows, the Manderlys claim that Davos is dead, but I insist on seeing a body. More specifically, given this series, I insist on a seeing a body and seeing that body burnt to a crisp with no White Walkers or creepy red priests breathing fires into dead bodies anywhere nearby. I'm just saying, as someone convinced that Catelyn would never trouble me as a reader again. So, so, wrong.
14. DarrenJL
@13 Too right! "Death to Catelyn Stark" is almost a cry of mercy, these days. Which is too bad, because that's not how I mean it.
Nathan Rice
15. quazar87
There is no indication in AFfC that Euron is going to Slaver's Bay. He's sending Victarion, who does mean to betray him.
Nathan Rice
16. quazar87
Also, the Maester is not unnamed. It is Marwyn the Mage. I hope we see more of him in Dance.
17. Duvisited
14: Hey, whoa. Let her take out a few dozen more Freys first.
18. Paul1121
Maester Qyburn was working on a project to build an "undefeatable champion" for Cersei. He ordered a massive suit of armor, too huge to be worn by any human, for this purpose. His extended experiments on Gregor Clegane seem to factor into the size of his creation.
19. peachy
@17 - Popping Freys one-by-one Catelyn style will take forever, and I'm ready to see her shuffle off the stage for good. Better to leave 'em to the dragons... one quick pass and the Twins are crispy history.
lake sidey
20. lakesidey
Not Euron but Victarion is going to join Dany. Also, the Maester is almost certainly Marwyn. And I have a feeling that at some not-too-distant point, Arya will also join them (she isn't all that far away, right now)

As for Gregor, I agree that his body is being used by Qyburn, but wasn't his head cut off and sent to Dorne? (there is a mention of a VERY large skull somewhere...need to re-read...so I'd say he is dead as such)

Does anyone remember if Mance Rayder is alive or dead as of the end of aFFC?

Daniel Hoagland
22. danielrixy
A few more things:

- 2 maesters are headed towards daenarys, marwyn (with a vested interest in keeping dragons alive) and an unnamed one (with an interest in killing them).

- the hound is alive and well-ish as a silent, hulking brother on the quiet isle. his warhorse is in their stable and the head brother admits something along the lines of "the hound" is dead, but not sandor clegane.

- cersei sent one of the kettleblacks with 100 (?) men to falsely take the black and kill jon snow.

- you forgot hodor!

- it might be worth adding a "prophecies" section with "azor ahai" "the prince that was promised" and cersei's personal doom prophecy ("gold will be their hair and gold will be their shrouds" or something like that)

otherwise, awesome job!
Daniel Hoagland
23. danielrixy
oh, and not to be pedantic, but brienne was last seen being "hanged" not "hung". pet peeve.
24. L Lawson
@23: Yep.

Thanks for this update. I'm currently re-reading aFFC and thought I wouldn't pick up aDWD until I finished the re-read. I'll count this, and the re-read at westeros.org, as finishing the re-read. :D
Chris Lough
25. TorChris
Thanks, everyone! We've incorporated a lot more of your corrections and suggestions this morning.

One thing we left out was a prophecy section, as suggested by danielrixy. As cool as that would be, we prefer to limit the article itself to direct speculation. Feel free to gather up prophecies here in the comments, though!
26. scorpiknox
Wow, immensly helpful. Thanks Tor!
Kimani Rogers
27. KiManiak
Hey guys,

Thanks for this. I admit that in the 5 or so years since AFFC, my “fire” for this series has diminished significantly, and I was debating whether to even purchase this book for the first year or so.
(I agree that GRRM isn’t my bitch, but I’m not his either; and I think that if you wish to protest against an artist, for whatever real or perceived slight, you should just consider not purchasing any more of their work. Other than that, let go of the hatred… but feel free to be skeptical of any promises –like book release dates- until they are actually delivered upon. But, I digress…)

My increasing frustration with the delay led to a serious decline in interest in this series, and my last attempted reread was probably about 2.5 years ago (I do check in on Leigh’s first time read of the series, but its not the same). Anyway, I had forgotten a lot of where things were as we left them, which would have likely kept me from buying the book for an even longer period of time. Actually, I think that this summary/update (and additions by the commenters) has “stoked the flames” (last time I use the metaphor, I promise) of interest in ASoIaF. Maybe I won’t wait so long before checking out the new novel; and if I do, you’ve provided a nice way to jump back in to the series.

Well done, Tor.com.
28. Sean T. Collins
This was deeply useful. Thanks!

And now for me to join the Minor Correction Chorus. :) A couple of these have been addressed above but not fixed in the article just yet.

• Pate is not Pate at all -- Pate was murdered, and a Faceless Man whose description matches that of Arya's old friend Jaqen H'gar appears to have taken his place.

• Gilly is secretly carrying Mance Rayder's princely son, not her own.

• It's a KettleBLACK who's out to assassinate Jon, not a KettleFISH.

• In the final paragraph I think you meant to say Victarion rather than Euron.

• This isn't a correction per se, but it seems to me that Catelyn and company's motive is pretty clear: vengeance against the Freys and Lannisters.
Nathan Rice
30. quazar87
@22 No, the Kettleblack who was meant to go to the Wall and kill Jon was the one the Faith has strung up and will likely kill. He won't be going to the Wall any time soon.
31. Breda
Unfortunately, this is just confirming my suspicions that absolutely nothing of FEAST FOR CROWS stuck in my brain. It's like it never even happened. I could remember all the main events of GAME OF THRONES pretty easily (and most of the stuff from the Wall north, because that's my favorite part), but I think I need to reread the rest. I'll see you all in a month!
32. Ethan V.
Sandor Clegane is definitely not dead. He is described (although not explicitly named) as a very large fresh novice on the Quiet Isle.
33. Lighthill
A qualification: there are two allegedly magic horns that could allegedly shift the balance of power. I don't think that we have any confirmation about whether either horn would really work, do we?
34. Mark Temporis
"...mindless being that will serve at the will of others" seems like that was what Gregor was in life, anyway!

LOL at entry for Hodor. Hodor Hodor.

Letting the Faith arm up was Cersei's worst move in a litany of worst moves.
35. Lethean Bliss
Also, the Tyrells aren't entirely inactive, with Willas (and Oldtown and the Arbor) trying to contend with the ironmen and Mace Tyrell lifting the siege of Storm's End to march on King Landing.
36. FranklinLadd
Hodor: HODOR!
Susanne Zur Freiheit
37. Susanne
Oh, this is great, thank you. Hodor!
38. Mouette
Shaggydog. Hodor hodor!
39. Neisha
Oh, and I wonder if we'll ever find out what happened to Maege Mormont and the other folks that Robb sent into the Neck with a message for Howland Reed . . .
40. zentao01
"cersei sent one of the kettleblacks with 100 (?) men to falsely take the black and kill jon snow."

That was tha PLAN... but it never happened. Kettleblack was supposed to seduce Margeary and THEN be sent to the Wall, kill Jon and get a pardon (yeah right!)

Instead, when he lied about sleepin with Margaery he was tortured and gave up the real plan. Hence why Cersei is in trouble. He was last seen hanging in the cell, half-dead
41. Dan Snow
Another correction: Harry the Heir, who Littlefinger plans to marry Sansa to, is not the heir to the Vale but the heir to the Iron Throne.
42. Ken Fire
@ Dan Snow- Actually exact words - "When Robert dies, Harry the Heir becomes Lord Harrold, Defender of the Vale and Lord of the Eyrie." - pg 896 aFfC

The Horn that was sounded by Euron does not specify dragons are contolled by the one who blows the horn, as the man who did blow it died hours later. It simply says "With this horn, ironmen, I can bind dragons to my will."

And just to clairify - "Arya has shown that she has some warg-like connection with her direwolf, Nymeria, having dreamed through Nymeria’s eyes..." - Arya is not yet aware of being a warg, nor does she realize these dreams are real. The only hint that she had of it was at the Red Wedding when Nymeria guarded Catelyn on the river edge in a dream.
43. Bodye
Currently rereading all and half way through feast. Ready to pick up dance tomorrow :D the hbo series got me really fired up again. If you haven't seen it you definitely should. Fantastically done.
What interests me the most is who the other 2 heads of the dragon will be. I have a strong suspicion one will be jon snow. Ned kept remembering a promise he'd made his sister. I actually think he found her pregnant/dying in childbirth by rhaegar targeryon and took the baby as his own, claiming he was a bastard to spare him from Robert. Just my theory but I think it would be bloody fantastic if it was true!
44. Lizzypoo
I recall an interview in Australia last year where GRRM was asked about the hound, and he stated that, "The hound is dead." I guess that doesn't include Sandor? I don't know;>
45. BruceH
I thought Ygritte said that Mance didn't have the Horn of Winter.

Something along the lines that they dug up all those dead and didn't find no horn.
46. Fenric25
Just posting here to thank the random person who, in an act of kindness, sent me the money to get A Dance with Dragons after reading my post here. Thank you very much, this means a lot to me, would be nice to return the favor some day :) I am currently 300 or so pages into it, enjoying it immensely!
47. Dvallej
"Considering that the Tyrells were ultimately responsible for bringing down Joffrey"

where is that ? is that a theory or something that i missed? did he meant by bringing down that the tyrells poison joffrey?
48. talaper
@Dvallej - I believe this was revealed to Sansa the night Joff died, after she was taken to the ship where Littlefinger was waiting to take her to the Vale. I don't recall the specifics exactly, but it may have been Littlefinger himself who told her.

IIRC, the poison was hidden in the jeweled hair net she was wearing (which was given to her by the old lady Tyrell, and which she was urged again and again to wear the night of the feast by that drunken knight-made-fool whose name I forget). at some point, the old lady "fixed" Sansa's hair, and supposedly picked the poison out and somehow dropped it into Joff's wine.

this is, of course, all 2nd hand. and if it was indeed Littlefinger telling the story, then who knows how much it can be trusted. the only thing I think we know for sure is that Tyrion *didn't* poison his nephew, even though at this point he likes to take credit for it.

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