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.
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.
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