Chett is a disenfranchised steward of the Night’s Watch, and he has decided to kill his commanders and flee the service. He was sentenced to the Night’s Watch after he murdered a girl named Bessa, who insulted him. Chett watches over the kennels, but he is tired of the cold and hard work, and he has a premonition that the ancient fort where they've set up, called the Fist of the First Men, will be attacked. He has conspired to desert with a number of others, and Chett is specifically assigned the task of killing Samwell Tarly, the clumsy and overweight keeper of the ravens. But before he can execute the plan, he hears three horn blasts, which signal an invasion by the Others. The Others are ghostly corpses that have not been seen for centuries. The Night’s Watch prepares for battle, and Chett’s plan is foiled.
Jaime Lannister is held prisoner in a boat, which is sailing downriver. According to an arrangement, Jaime will be traded for the Stark daughters, Sansa and Arya. Jaime’s guards are Brienne, a woman who wishes to be a knight, and a knight named Ser Cleos. Jaime is manacled and incapable of escape, and he consistently insults Brienne for being ugly and masculine. They find the site of a peasant massacre, and after some debate, decide to bury the corpses. Before they can finish, a warship floats down the river and the trio is forced to row away. Captaining the warship, Ser Robyn Ryger plans to take Jaime and bring him back to the Starks, but Jaime and his captors manage to escape.
Catelyn Stark released Jaime on condition that he send her daughters back when he gets back to King's Landing, but her family did not authorize the deal. Catelyn is dubbed a traitor and placed under house arrest. Catelyn is allowed to care for her sick and dying father, but she does not understand when he mutters “Tansy” over and over. Catelyn’s brother Edmure reveals that he plotted to capture Jaime back, ruining Catelyn’s deal. Catelyn fears she will never see her daughters again.
Arya has just fled the fortress of Harrenhal with her friends Gendry and Hot Pie. As they travel through the open woodland, they are vulnerable to ambush and abduction. The three companions argue about which direction to travel. Arya has a vivid dream about slaughtering members of the Brave Companions, a gang of mercenaries who are likely tailing them. Twelve-year-old Arya already has a list of people she would like to kill for past crimes against her family and friends, and she relishes this dream.
During the epic Battle of Blackwater, the dwarf Tyrion fought bravely for the House of Lannister, but he was critically wounded. His nose is grotesquely damaged, and much of his body is hurt. As he recovers, Tyrion believes he is under surveillance in his own home, and he asks fellow courtiers for updates on the war. Tyrion finally faces his father Tywin and seeks gratitude for his courage and strategy in battle. But Tywin disregards Tyrion, chastising him for his love of prostitutes and only promising Tyrion a vague reward.
After miraculously surviving the Battle of Blackwater, Ser Davos is stranded on a small island, hurt and barely alive. Davos swore to fight for Stannis Baratheon, one of the new kings of the Seven Kingdoms, but because of numerous tactical errors, their fleet was destroyed, and many of Davos’s sons drowned or were burned alive in wildfire. At first Davos expects to die, but then a passing ship rescues him. Luckily, the crew also owes allegiance to King Stannis.