Tyrion arrives in King’s Landing to take up his role as Hand of the King. Joffrey is busy rounding up Robert’s other children and having them killed. Cersei is keen to find Arya to use as a bargaining chip with Robb Stark. Stannis Baratheon announces his intention to become King despite his brother Renly having already gathered a lot of support for his own claim. In Winterfell young Bran gets used to leading while north of the wall John Snow learns to follow. Across the sea Daenerys nurtures her young dragons while searching for a way out of the Red Waste.
Tyrion replaces Slynt as commander of the City Watch (with Bronn) and questions his sister about the murder of children. Cersei rejects Robb’s peace overture. Theon arrives home in the Iron Islands to find that his Father has turned to his sister in his absence. Men from King’s Landing catch up with Arya and Gendry who learn more about each other. Davos recruits a pirate fleet to support Stannis’ bid for power while his son tries to convert him to the new religion. Melisandre seduces Stannis with promises of a son. Daenerys’ situation grows worse when one of her scouts is killed. Sam tries to help one of Craster’s wives and is rebuked by Jon Snow. Snow then follows Craster at night as he leaves one of his babies in the woods.
Craster bloodies Jon’s face and kicks the men of the Watch out. Tyrion sends Shae to be Sansa’s handmaiden to keep her presence a secret. He also lays a trap with the men of the Small Council to see which of them is loyal to his sister. Pycelle is soon revealed to be loyal to the Lannisters and is thrown in a cell. Balon is committed to attacking the North and Theon has to choose between his adopted and blood families. At the camp of Renly Baratheon we see Brienne of Tarth become a member of the royal guard after besting Loras Tyrell. Tyrell’s sister Margaery is Renly’s new wife and knows about his homosexuality. In Winterfell Bran continues to dream like a Direwolf. On the road Arya confides to Yoren that she is haunted by her father’s execution. The new recruits are then attacked by Lannister men who kill Yoren.
Robb completes another successful attack on the Lannisters and a beautiful nurse catches his eye. Tyrion prevents Joffrey from torturing Sansa in retribution. Bronn suggests distracting Joffrey with sex but he tortures the prostitute that Tyrion sends. Little Finger arrives at Renly’s camp with an offer to help and Ned’s remains. Stannis offers Renly a last chance to give up before war begins. Arya and the other captives are taken to Harrenhal where torture and executions continue until Tywin Lannister appears to put them to work. Daenerys leads her people to Qarth, the greatest city that ever was or ever will be.
The shadow creature kills Renly. The guards burst in and assume it was Brienne. She kills them and flees with Catelyn who she then swears loyalty to. Renly’s men switch allegiance to Stannis although Loras and Margaery leave. Davos begs Stannis not to take Melissandre to Kings Landing. Tyrion prepares for the defence of the city and is interested to see the massive quantities of Wildfire which Cersei has stockpiled. Arya begins life as Tywin’s cupbearer and runs into Jaqen H'ghar. He says that she owes death to three people and when she nominates the torturer he is soon found dead on the floor. At Winterfell Bran dreams of the sea coming to Winterfell. Theon meanwhile leads an attack on the coast nearby. North of the Wall the men of the Nights Watch plan to assassinate the leader of the Wildlings and Jon volunteers for the mission. Across the Sea Xaro proposes to Dany but Jorah argues they should go back to Westeros instead.
Theon takes Winterfell and has Ser Rodrik executed. Robb dispatches men to remove him while continuing to pursue Talisa. Osha distracts Theon and helps Bran and Rickon escape. In King’s Landing Joffrey gets hit with a cow pie and a riot ensues. Sansa is saved from a horrible fate by the Hound. Arya has to hide her face from Little Finger when he comes to meet Tywin. She is then caught with a message she stole and has to quickly find Jaquen before she is discovered. Jon Snow is left to execute a Wildling prisoner but can’t do it. She escapes and in tracking her down he loses contact with his men. Daenerys does the rounds at Qarth trying to find someone willing to loan her some ships. She returns to Xaro’s home to find her retinue slain and her dragons stolen.
Ygritte continues to tease Jon until the Wildlings find them. Theon chases after Bran and Rickon but can’t find them so he turns to torture. Alton Lannister returns from King’s Landing and delivers Cersei’s message to Robb. He is locked in with Jamie who kills him and escapes. Jamie is caught though and Catelyn considers taking his life after several of her men state their desire to do so. Tywin sees through Arya’s act but can’t find the man who tried to kill him. Sansa has her period and Cersei gives her some advice about being a mother. Xaro and the Warlock enact a coup and kill the other members of the thirteen after admitting that they had taken the dragons.
Jon is taken prisoner and Ygritte argues that he shouldn’t be killed. Qhorin Halfhand has also been captured and suggests that Jon should pretend to work with the Wildlings. Yara arrives at Winterfell to tell Theon that he must give it up. He refuses and Yosha sneaks the boys back into the crypts. Robb has Catelyn put under arrest for letting Jamie go. He then sleeps with Talisa after spending more time with her. Stannis’ fleet nears King’s Landing as Joffrey prepares to fight. Cersei tries to stop this by capturing Ros (thinking she is Shae) and threatening to hurt her if Tyrion lets Joffrey fight. Daenerys asks Jorah to take her to the House of the Undying.
Stannis’ ships arrive at King’s Landing and Davos is surprised to see only one ship coming to meet them. Tyrion has loaded it with Wildfire and blows a chunk of the fleet to pieces. Stannis is undeterred and disembarks to assault the gates. Inside the city Cersei has gathered all the noble women and Ser Ilyn is standing by to kill them should it be necessary. The Hound leads the King’s Guard out to fight on the beach but retreats after losing many men and being spooked by the flames. Joffrey takes an excuse to flee and Tyrion is forced to lead the men out through a secret gate. They take the besiegers by surprise but are then swamped by more of Stannis’ men. Ser Meryn takes his chance for revenge and caves in Tyrion’s skull. Tywin and Loras Tyrell arrive in the nick of time to save the city. The Hound offers to take Sansa to Winterfell. Stannis is forced to retreat.
Robb breaks his vow and married Talisa. Brienne refuses to break hers and kills Stark men in order to keep Jamie safe. Stannis returns to rant at Melissandre but she soothes him with promises of future glory. Tyrion is relieved of his duties as Hand as Tywin takes the position. Joffrey is delighted to break his betrothal to Sansa and accept the proposal from Margaery Tyrell. Little Finger takes control of Harrenhal but promises to help Sansa escape. Shae is determined to stay by Tyrion’s side. Varys asks Ros to work for him. Jaqen offers to take Arya home with him but she insists on journeying north. He gives her a coin, changes his face and leaves. Theon gives a speech inspiring his men to die for him but they tie him up, kill Maester Luwin and burn Winterfell. Daenerys is taken prisoner at the House of the Undying but her dragons burn her way to freedom. Qhorin forces Jon to kill him while Sam is left alone as an army of zombies led by White Walkers approaches the Fist of the First Men.