HBO's Game of Thrones has drawn critical and audience acclaim, but it'll be a long ten months until we get to see any new episodes. However, because the show is a tirelessly faithful adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels, literary viewers can simply pick up the second book, A Clash of Kings, to continue the story. And judging by the Amazon rankings, many have done just that.
But what if you desperately want to know what happens next, and don't have the time (or the patience) to flip through almost 800 pages of tedious fantasy? In that case, this article is for you. We couldn't get away with this for something like Dexter or True Blood, which differ from the source material.
If season 1 was any indication, Season 2 of Game of Thrones will be essentially the same story as A Clash of Kings (with perhaps a few cuts made in the name of time or budget).
So without further ado, here's what you can expect from Game of Thrones next year. It goes without saying that
The following contains MANY spoilers!!!
The Five Kings
The central conflict in the second season will revolve around no less than five different claimants to the iron throne: Joffrey Baratheon, who currently rules in King's Landing; Stannis Baratheon, Robert's younger brother who claims the throne after accusing Joffrey of being illegitimate; Renly Baratheon, Robert's youngest brother who is both more charismatic and better-armed than Stannis; Balon Greyjoy, the Lord of the Iron Islands (vikings, essentially) who rebelled unsuccessfully ten years ago, and Robb Stark, who's fighting the Lannisters to free his sisters from captivity and return to Winterfell to rule as King in the North.
Daenerys Targaryen is traveling across the eastern continent with her small band of loyal men and freed slaves, and three newly-hatched dragons, trying to secure an army to invade Westeros. Meanwhile, Jon Snow and an expeditionary force of the Night's Watch travel north of the Wall to investigate the White Walkers, scout out Mance Rayder's army, and learn what happened to Benjen Stark. Young Arya Stark is traveling north, posing as a boy in Yoren's party bound for the Wall.
Tyrion Lannister arrives in King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King in place of his father Tywin. He acts immediately and decisively to refill the crown's strained coffers and build up the city's defenses. His actions, while prudent and frugal, earn him the ire of Queen Cersei and most of the peasants as well, who are starving after the destruction of so much of the surrounding country.
Tyrion constantly plots to hoard his own power against Cersei's, making Littlefinger Lord of Harrenhall, imprisoning Maester Pycell, and putting in his own commander of the city watch. He commissions the construction of a gigantic iron chain and large quantities of “wildfire,” a napalm-like substance made by alchemists. He treats with various lords and knights to win their support and keep them from joining with Renly or Stannis.
Sansa Stark continues to suffer in her captivity. She is still betrothed to Joffrey, who constantly abuses her through his thugs in the Kingsguard. Sansa plots with disgraced knight Ser Dontos to escape. Cersei continues her tryst with her cousin Lancel Lannister.
The Iron Islands
Robb Stark sends Theon Greyjoy to treat with his father Balon, in the hopes of winning him and his men to his cause. Instead, Theon abandons Robb, never having forgotten that he was a hostage as well as a ward, and prepares to help his father rebel once again and conquer Westeros. Upon returning to the Iron Islands, Balon sends Theon, his daughter Asha, and the rest of his navy to raid the northern coast and punish the Starks for putting down the previous rebellion.
Stannis Baratheon stews in his castle, furious that his younger brother Renly has declared himself king. His wife's foreign priestess, Melisandre, performs cruel magic that convinces most of Stannis' bannermen to change religions to The Lord of Light, eventually turning Stannis himself to the new faith. The only holdout is Ser Davos Seaworth, a former smuggler and Stannis' most trusted advisor. At the urging of Melisandre, Stannis prepares both naval and ground forces and marches to war. He besieges Storm's End while Renly is away, and prepares to meet his brother in battle.