I have one major complaint about this book. Tyrion Lannister doesn’t make an appearance 😦
However the author does give us access to one of the most dangerous character in the series; Queen Cersai who wakes up to the worst nightmare of her life. Her son is dead and she finds that her father is killed ingloriously while using the privy and to the shock of her life, she finds Tyrion’s mistress Shae in her father’s bed, naked and dead and the dwarf has vanished.
Cersai’s fears, paranoia and megalomania is very interesting to read, making one forgive Martin for banishing Tyrion from this book. We learn why she hates Tyrion so much and the prophesy that almost destroys her life making us wonder about the identity of this beautiful queen who would topple her out of that throne. Is it Margery Tyrell or Danearys Targerion?
Jaimie is haunted by Tyrion’s words about Cersai’s infidelities. He finds himself farther and farther away from her. Dismayed by the state of the once elite Kingsguard, Jaimie sets about to rectify his sister’s mistakes. Cersai is finally enjoying the power she had dreamed of but she has no head for politics and has no clue about how to rule a kingdom. She makes bad appointments, surrounds herself with sycophants and makes enemies out of allies.
Jaimie leaves her to go to Riverrun to put down the Tully rebellion but he is determined to do so without taking up arms so as to keep his oath to Catelyn Stark. Brienne of Tarth in the meanwhile is searching for Sansa everywhere. She meets up with Podrick, Tyrion’s erstwhile squire who joins her in the quest. Through her eyes we see the ravages of war and its aftermath. She meets with Gendry and is caught by Beric Dondarian’s knights and Lady Stoneheart who thinks that she has betrayed her oath. And just when she is about to be hanged, Brienne cries out a name. I wonder whose name she takes.
Sansa Stark in the meanwhile is hiding in Vale. We finally know that it was Lysa Arryn who had killed her husband and had blamed the Lannisters setting in process many of the events that happened in the first book. Petyr kills Lysa and becomes the lord of the Vale while Sansa is acting like his daughter. Caught yet again in a difficult situation, Sansa has no choice but to listen to him.
In the Iron Islands, a Kingsmoot is called though Asha insists that it ought to be called Queensmoot. Euron Greyjoy emerges as the King in the end and is resolved to conquer all seven kingdoms and to marry Danearys. He dispatches Victorian Greyjoy to woo Danearys but doesn’t realize that his brother has plans of his own for Danearys.
In the meanwhile, the author introduces us to some new characters from Dorne. Oberyn Martell, the house that was allied in marriage to the Targeryns. Honour bound to seek vengeance for their sister’s death and that of her children (Elia Martell who was the wife of Raghear Targeryn) Oberan Martell kills Gregor Clegane in the previous book. In this one, we are introduced to Oberyn’s brother the King of Dorne, Doran Martell and Oberyn’s eight daughters who want to avenge their father’s death. Doran’s daughter Arianne Martell tries to install Cersai’s daughter Princess Myrcella as the queen but her plans are foiled resulting in the disfigurement of the little girl’s face. And we also know that Doran’s son, Prince Quentyn is on his way to Danearys to win her hand in marriage.
In the east, Samwell Tarly is with the measter Aemon, Gilly and Mance Raydor’s son to learn more about the dragonglass that killed the white walkers. Arya Stark is in Bravos at the House of Black and White to learn to be a assassin. She briefly meets Sam Tarly in the city too but he has no clue about her identity.
I enjoyed reading through Cersai’s chapters; her fears, her insecurity and her mad passion for Rheagor Targeryn. She makes many dangerous mistakes and her downfall begins in this book.
Jaimie Lannister’s chapters lays bare his complex soul, heart-wrenching decisions that he took and the pain that he feels when he learns about his twin’s infidelities. Despite the incest, he had been faithful to his twin in his own fashion and her betrayal puts a lot things into perspective for him. And yet another cliffhanger about Jaimie’s and Cersai’s parentage is put forth by their aunt. Is Tyrion the only trueborn son of Tywin Lannister? I wonder!
Lady Stoneheart is on a rampage and no Frey is safe thanks to the brotherhood without banners. I wonder whether she would meet any of her children again.
Sansa Stark’s position is as precarious as ever. In king’s landing she was not safe from Joffery and his mad moods while in the Eyrie, she is prey to Petyr Bealish’s perverted moods. And she has no wolf to protect her. Will she die in vain, I wonder?
Victorian Greyjoy is on his way to Danearys with a horn that is supposed to control dragons while Quentyn Martell wants to marry her to honour an age old agreement between their houses. What will happen when the mother of dragons meets these two? I missed her the most in the book.
Plus Points: Addiction continues. Cersai’s chapters are very interesting
Minus Points: No Tryrion, no Danearys.
Verdict: Read this book slowly because there is just one more book after this one. And god knows when the next will be published.