A Storm of Swords picks up the story slightly before the end of its predecessor, A Clash of Kings. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are still in the grip of the War of the Five Kings, wherein Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey Baratheon, and Stannis Baratheon compete for the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, a large host of wildlings approach the Wall under the leadership of Mance Rayder, the self-proclaimed King Beyond the Wall, with only the undermanned Night's Watch in opposition. Finally, Daenerys Targaryen approaches Pentos. At Riverrun, Catelyn Stark offers the captive Jaime Lannister his freedom in exchange for Catelyn's daughters, Sansa and Arya, who Catelyn believes are held by the Lannisters in King's Landing. Jaime is sent south, escorted by Brienne of Tarth. Catelyn makes this deal without the approval of her son Robb, the King in the North, and is taken prisoner upon its discovery. Robb's army returns to Riverrun, having vanquished Tywin Lannister's armies in the Westerlands, and Robb reveals that he has married Jeyne Westerling, invalidating his promise to be wed to a daughter of House Frey. Jaime's release infuriates Lord Rickard Karstark, whose two sons Eddard and Torrhen had been killed by Jaime in battle and in revenge, Karstark kills two young Lannister captives. To secure his authority and atone for these deaths (thus preventing the Lannisters from executing Stark prisoners), Robb executes Lord Rickard, losing the support of House Karstark as a result.Jaime and Brienne are waylaid by the Brave Companions (now in the service of Roose Bolton) and taken to Harrenhal. Their captain Vargo Hoat orders Jaime's sword hand cut off, hoping the blame will be placed on Bolton, but Jaime is sent to King's Landing after he assures Lord Bolton he will absolve him to his father. Brienne is thrown into a bear pit by Hoat, and Jaime risks his own life to rescue her. He also tells her that he had killed the former King Aerys II Targaryen because he planned to burn the city and its inhabitants with wildfire to spite Robert Baratheon....A fantasy classic. Locus Prize for the best Fantasy novel. Adapted on television by HBO. Locus Prize for the best Fantasy novel.