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Held captive by Gregor Clegane and his Lannister raiding party, Arya sees other prisoners interrogated, tortured, and killed. Clegane is especially interested in information about Beric Dondarrion and his guerilla army, but no one knows anything. Arya learns the names of her captors and every night, along with the names of her other enemies, repeats them to herself so she doesn't forget them. Gregor takes them to Harrenhal, where they must work for Twyin Lannister and his forces. Arya, now known as Weasel, goes to work in the kitchens of the supposedly haunted castle.
Daenerys and her people arrive at the magnificent city of Qarth. Daenerys stays in the luxurious house of Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a wealthy merchant. Jorah goes to the docks and returns to Daenerys with a ship captain who tells her that Robert Baratheon has died and that the Seven Kingdoms are in chaos. Daenerys announces her plans to use her dragons to retake her family’s throne.
Jojen and Meera Reed stay on at Winterfell after the other lords and ladies depart. Ramsay Bolton has forced Lady Hornwood to marry him. Lord Manderly has seized Lady Hornwood’s castle and claims to be protecting it, so Rodrik has gone to sort matters out. The Reeds tell Bran that he should not stay at Winterfell. Jojen claims to have greensight, the ability to see future events in dreams. Bran appeared to him as a chained and winged wolf whom Jojen and Meera must free. Jojen believes Bran has special abilities, if only he would use them. He says that Bran and Summer are intertwined, but Bran gets angry and Summer tries to attack Jojen before Hodor shoos the wolf away. Luwin says that greensight used to exist, but he doubts that it still does, as the magic that may have once been in the world has disappeared. Meera tells Bran about another dream of Jojen’s, this one involving the Freys. Bran does not understand the dream, but Meera says he eventually will. Bran begins to think Luwin might be right.
Ser Lancel Lannister, a cousin of Tyrion and Cersei who serves as Cersei’s special assistant, comes to Tyrion and says that Cersei demands the release of Pycelle. Tyrion rebuffs him, pointing out that Lancel is Cersei’s lover and that Lancel’s role in Robert’s death could incriminate him. Lancel agrees to spy on Cersei in exchange for Tyrion’s silence. Tyrion secretly goes to visit Shae.
Arya cleans and run errands for Weese at Harrenhal. She hears a great deal of gossip about the activities of lords and ladies and the progress of the war. A group of Tywin’s sellswords known as the Brave Companions comes to the castle. Arya learns that Robb has his forces nearby at Riverrun. Ser Amory Lorch and his men arrive, with Jaqen H’ghar and the other two prisoners Arya freed in their company. Jaqen comes to Arya at night and says that he will take any three lives Arya requests, as repayment for the three lives Arya saved. Arya later overhears Chiswyck, one of Gregor Clegane’s men, bragging about a gang rape. She says his name to Jaqen, and three days later Chiswyck dies in a fall from the castle walls. People say that the ghost of Harrenhal has killed him, and Arya thinks that she is the ghost.
Catelyn meets with Renly and Stannis at Storm’s End, hoping to prevent them from fighting one another, but neither appears willing to compromise. Stannis tells Catelyn about Joffrey’s incestuous parentage. Catelyn suspects he might be correct. Renly and Stannis argue, and preparations begin for battle the next day. Catelyn goes to a nearby sept to pray.
The Hound takes Sansa to Joffrey and his men. Lancel tells her that Robb used an army of wargs (people able to enter the minds of animals and control them) to destroy and eat Stafford Lannister’s army near Casterly Rock. Joffrey orders his men to beat Sansa as punishment. Dontos beats her with a soft melon, but Joffrey’s knights pull him away and attack her. The Hound tells them to stop, but Joffrey insists they continue, and they strip Sansa. Tyrion arrives with his sellswords and furiously demands that they release Sansa. He threatens to have Joffrey’s men killed.
Sansa is taken to the Hand’s tower. There, Tyrion tells her about Robb’s crushing victory, which resulted in the death of Stafford Lannister, and says that the stories about Robb’s supernatural powers are just rumors spread by men embarrassed of how easily they were defeated. He does say, however, that Robb’s ability to sneak his army past the Lannister outposts is mysterious. Tyrion offers her his men as her guard, but she tells him that they scare her and that she wants to go back to her own room. Tyrion escorts her.
Much of the information characters learn in this section is relayed via rumors or hearsay, demonstrating how unreliable information becomes amid the turmoil of war. Arya’s chapters, for example, pick up a curious thread introduced much earlier: the mysterious actions of Beric Dondarrion. Gregor Clegane appears obsessed with gathering information about Beric, who is supposedly attacking Lannister forces and disappearing back into the forest. Gregor’s torturers, however, get nothing from the prisoners, as no one seems to know anything about Beric or his guerilla army. Rumors abound about Beric, but hard facts do not. In fact, at Harrenhal Arya hears he is rumored to have been killed several times over. Similarly, Arya also picks up the knowledge that Robb has his armies nearby at Riverrun, and she begins to think about escaping. As readers learn in Sansa’s chapter, however, this knowledge is false—Robb is not at Riverrun anymore, but no one seems to know that. Without hard information, stories and misinformation begin to fill the factual void.
The flow of information and misinformation extends beyond Westeros, affecting even Daenerys to the east. Daenerys finally learns of Robert Baratheon’s death, for instance, months after the fact, and the sailor who relates it points out that no one seems to agree on how he died. The sailor's statements about what has happened since Robert’s death please Daenerys, but these statements appear to be superficial at best, if not deliberately misleading. The sailor seems to think that Stannis and Renly are allies, and his information about the Starks extends only to Eddard being taken prisoner. About the murder of Eddard and the subsequent war with the Starks, he knows nothing. Yet Daenerys declares her intent to rush back and invade Westeros based on this flimsy information. Moreover, as Jorah points out, the sailor will now spread Daenerys’s plan everywhere he goes. As he will not return to the Seven Kingdoms for at least a year, it seems likely that Daenerys’s plans will get just as corrupted as they are spread by rumor and retelling.
Catelyn, meanwhile, finally hears a rumor that is true, and it is one that, had she heard it earlier, might have dramatically changed the course of events. Stannis presents her with no proof that Jaime Lannister is Joffrey’s father, or that he told Jon Arryn about Joffrey's parentage and that is why Jon Arryn was killed. But Catelyn nonetheless connects that story with her sister’s claim that the Lannisters had Jon Arryn killed. While she still does not have the full story, some of the pieces have begun to fall into place. Catelyn’s rash actions in Game of Thrones helped bring about the war, and now A Clash of Kings raises the possibility that she will eventually realize she acted in ignorance.
The corruption of fact into misinformation and rumor takes its most dramatic and explicit turn in Sansa’s chapter. While everyone believed Robb sat at Riverrun, in reality he marched part of his forces across the kingdom to the west and destroyed the Lannister army mustering there. This surprise attack spawned the rumor among the Lannister survivors that Robb used supernatural powers to earn his victory and that he and his men ate the bodies of the dead. Joffrey again shows his vileness and stupidity in his willingness to believe these tales, whereas Tyrion shows his intelligence in his explanation to Sansa about how and why a rumor like that could get started.
The Arya chapters serve another purpose beyond exploring the power of misinformation and uncertainty: it shows her growing into a vengeful killer. Since her first appearance in Game of Thrones, Arya has aspired to be a warrior, and she has shown a fair amount of skill and determination on that front. Although she has fought in self-defense several times in the books, up to this point she has not seemed capable of killing in cold blood. But with the depiction of her repeating the names of the people she wants to kill to herself every night before bed, the novel shows Arya starting to harden as she prepares herself to enact vengeance on those who have wronged her or her family. The arrival of Jaqen at Harrenhal furthers this development. For the first time, Arya can exercise the power of life and death over others, even if just by proxy. Arya consequently takes her first steps toward revenge, and the novel shows her unrepentant about being responsible for another person's death.
Bran’s chapter furthers his development as well and points to an interesting and enigmatic future for his character. Although Bran denies Jojen’s claim about his special abilities and his connection with Summer, readers have already seen this connection growing stronger. In a notable scene, as Bran grows angry, so does Summer, so much so that Bran cannot call Summer back to him. It is clear from this episode that Bran has an undeniable psychic connection with his wolf, but it is one he is as yet unable to fully control. Luwin’s sensible explanation may appear to satisfy Bran for the time being, but the foreshadowing regarding Bran’s abilities and destiny strongly suggests that the issue is not settled and Bran's supernatural link with his direwolf will play a great role in his future and in the novel.