It definitely fleshes out the characters of the first book more!
Tyrion - must keep the delicate juggling act he has started going smoothly. He not only has to deal with who he KNOWS the enemy is, but must wade through the deception at the Rock to see who he can trust and who he can't. When you think you know, you're dead wrong, and there IS a price to be paid.
Dany - not enough of her in this book, but what is there is jam packed. Now with her sun and stars dead, she must take the few that follow her and build them into an army that can reclaim her throne. Along the way, however, are the curious and the deadly - people who want to see the Mother of the Dragons, but also want to take those dragons from her! Just when you think this poor kid can not catch a break, she gets one in the end.
Jon - Jon FINALLY gets a plot, and it centers around his missing Uncle. He and the Watch must take on the deadly mission of going into the woods and beyond the wall to find where their Black Brothers went. What they find frightens them, and staying alive becomes a daily struggle in the harsh weather.
Arya- This little girl is learning some hard, fast lessons about life. Through out the book, she buils a piece of mental armor for herself, and at the end, you can almost hear the last piece click into place as this little child leaves the days of youth behind her and becomes a young adult who will do anything to get back to what little family she has left.
The Lannisters - Ah, how fickle is youth! Just when Cercei thinks she has the control she wants, she finds out that she can not control her young son as she thought she would be able too. Her father is not pleased with the way Joffrey rules his land, and the neither is the town in which they live. They find out that lesson hard. Slowly, oh VERY slowly, the wheel of justice starts to turn back towards them. Not quickly enough, but it does. Two brothers go to war over the crown, one aided by a scary new ally/enemy.
The Starks - Catelyn continues her hard road of justice and revenge. She has few allies, and is in constant worry of her remaining family as Robb marches into war. Bran finds an unexpected new side effect of his fall, some new friends to help him with it, and remembers the truth.
Towns burn, people die and stronghold's crumble in this book. Innocence is lost, brutality becomes common and hearts are broken. But the game continues on, because if you play the game, you win or you die.
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