Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel.
Ned Stark becomes the new Hand of the King and realises that Robert Baratheon’s children aren’t actually Robert Baratheon’s children. Instead of doing the smart thing and turning Cersei Lannister (their mother) in, Ned messes up. Robert dies, his eldest child, Joffrey, becomes king and has Ned executed. This sets off a war between a tonne of people.
Up in the north, the Others and the wildings are becoming a threat. The Lord Commander decides to go and see what Mance Rayder is all about.
And, finally, in the east, Dany marries Khal Drogo, Khal Drogo dies, and Dany gets three awesome dragons.
what happened in A Game of Thrones (in the south)
- Ned Stark executes a guy who fled the Night’s Watch. That’s a huge no-no. Robb, Bran, Jon Snow, and Theon Greyjoy all watch.
- The Starks adopt some direwolf puppies. It’s adorable.
- Robert Baratheon arrives at Winterfell. He asks Ned to become the new Hand of the King due to the previous one – Jon Arryn – dying. Ned agrees. He travels south to King’s Landing and takes Sansa and Arya with him.
- Jon Snow decides to join the Night’s Watch. Tyrion travels with him because he wants to see it.
- Lysa Arryn tells Catelyn (they’re sisters) that the Lannisters had Jon Arryn murdered.
- Someone attempts to kill a comatose Bran, but his direwolf saves him. Catelyn realises that Bran must have seen something, and that he was pushed from the window of the tower. This attempt on his life was the culprits covering their tracks.
- Catelyn travels to King’s Landing and meets with Littlefinger. He tells her that the knife the would-be assassin used belonged to Tyrion.
- Catelyn returns north and meets Tyrion (accidentally) at an inn. They capture him and take him to the Eyrie – where Lysa Arryn lives with her creepy son. Tyrion is placed on trial for the attempted murder of Bran Stark. He chooses trial by combat, and chooses Bronn as his champion. Thankfully, Bronn wins and Tyrion is freed.
- Tywin Lannister attacks House Tully in retaliation for Tyrion’s capture.
- Ned is looking into Jon Arryn’s death. He learns that Jon Arryn and Stannis Baratheon discovered that Robert Baratheon’s children aren’t actually his – Cersei had three very blond children with her twin brother, Jaime.
- Renly Baratheon tells Ned to take Cersei into custody, but Ned is an idiot and tells Cersei to flee King’s Landing because people know what kind of stuff she’s into.
- Robert Baratheon dies in a “hunting accident”, and Joffrey is crowned. Ned doesn’t get a chance to crown Stannis Baratheon.
- Ned is about to turn Cersei in, but Littlefinger betrays him (he’s super in love with Catelyn and wants Ned out of the way). Ned signs a false confession in order to save Sansa and Arya from death. He is to be sent to the Wall.
- Joffrey Baratheon (Lannister) is a little twit, and has Ned executed in front of everyone. This has not gone to plan.
- Sansa is captured.
- Arya escapes King’s Landing.
- The War of the Five Kings begins.
- Robb Stark makes terrible decisions and leads his army south.
- Robb agrees to marry one of the Frey’s in return for their support.
- Tyrion joins his father, Tywin Lannister, at the front.
- Robb’s army captures Jaime Lannister, and defeats the Lannister army.
- Tywin tells Tyrion to go to King’s Landing and become Hand of the King 3.0.
- Renly Baratheon leaves King’s Landing and goes to Highgarden. House Tyrell and co. declare him king.
what happened in A Game of Thrones (in the north)
- The Others (White Walkers, for TV fans) are introduced. They kill a guy, the guy’s corpse comes back to life and kills a second guy. A third guy, Gared, runs back to the Wall. He’s the one who is executed at the beginning for deserting the Wall. He had a great reason, imo.
- Jon learns of Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall. He’s getting the wildlings to team up in order to take the south.
- Benjen Stark, Ned’s brother, goes missing beyond the Wall.
- Jon makes friends with Samwell Tarly and Maester Aemon. The latter is a Targaryen – the great-uncle of the Mad King Aerys (so Dany’s great-great-uncle).
- Lord Commander Jeor Mormont is attacked by a creepy corpse (called a wight). Jon saves his life.
- Jeor Mormont wants to lead his men beyond the Wall to fight Mance Rayder.
what happened in A Game of Thrones (in the east)
- In Pentos, Viserys Targaryen wishes to marry his younger sister to a Khal of the Dothraki called Drogo. Khal Drogo has a massive army and Viserys wants to use them to take back Westeros.
- Dany gets three dragon eggs as a wedding gift.
- She doesn’t enjoy her first evening with Drogo.
- Eventually, Dany falls in love with Khal Drogo (it’s gross). She gets pregnant.
- Jorah Mormont joins up with Viserys and Dany.
- Viserys gets impatient and wants Drogo to invade Westeros ASAP. He insults Drogo, which is a bad move because Drogo then kills Viserys by pouring gold on his head.
- Drogo refuses to invade Westeros for Dany until an assassin almost kills her and the baby. Drogo gets super angry and promises to invade the west.
- Drogo and his army raid Lhazareen and Drogo is wounded.
- Dany has a witch heal Drogo but the witch is angry with them for invading her home and imprisoning her, so she kills the unborn child and messes Drogo’s head up so that he’s brain dead.
- Dany burns the witch in a pyre. She puts the three dragon eggs in the fire as well and the eggs hatch, turning Daenerys into the Mother of Dragons.