The beginning of time, but not recorded history, in Westeros was known as the Dawn Age (I: 616). This time period, of indeterminate length, found Westeros populated by the children of the forest, who for time-uncounted lived alone throughout the continent of Westeros, except perhaps for the giants (and maybe one other race, if the legend of the Seastone Chair on Old Wyk in the Iron Islands is true (II: 287)). They worshipped the gods of forest and stream and stone whose names were secret (I: 617).
No one knows how long it was that the children lived alone in Westeros, nor where they themselves came from. We do know, however, when they came in contact with the first outsiders. This was about 12,000 years ago, and these invaders were the First Men (I: 617).
The First Men crossed into what would be Dorne from the eastern continent, using the land bridge that connected the continents. The children shattered this land-bridge in a futile attempt to end of the invasion (I: 498, 617), the result being the Broken Arm of Dorne and the chain of islands named the Stepstones (SSC). The First Men brought with them bronze, great leathern shields, and the first horses. They also brought their own gods, but these they eventually put aside for the gods of the children (except in the Iron Islands, where the religion of the Drowned God was invented (SSC). They warred with one another at first, as the children fought the First Men for cutting down and burning the weirwoods to clear land for themselves. The First Men continued to cut them down after this, but for fear that the children could watch them through the eyes of the carved trees (I: 617).
After centuries of fighting, when it seemed all was going in favor of the First Men, a peace was forged (which we speculate to have happened 10,000 years ago, roughly in the same period as the raising of Moat Cailin (II: 674)). The Pact was commemorated at the Isle of Faces, where every weirwood was carved with a face and they were all guarded by the order of the green men. The Pact began 4,000 years of friendship between men and the children, and ended the Dawn Age to begin to the Age of Heroes, during which times legendary figures such as Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder were reputed to live. The Pact gave the coasts, high plains, meadows, mountains, and bogs to the First Men. In turn the children were given the deep forests, and the promise that no more weirwoods would be cut down (I: 617).
The Pact survived even the Long Night (I: 618), which took place some 8,000 years ago (I: 547). In this time night seemed to last for a generation, and there was terrible cold. The Others came from the cold landscape in the far north and nearly destroyed all men in the Seven Kingdoms. The Long Night was ended at the Battle of the Dawn (II: 242) when the Night’s Watch rode out to face the Others and defeated them. The Wall was raised at this time (I: 37), reputedly with the aid of giants and the legendary Brandon the Builder (III: 461). Brandon the Builder is also said to have given the Night’s Watch "Brandon’s Gift", a stretch of land 25 leagues wide, but maesters argue it was some other Brandon (III: 452, 453).
Possibly related to the Long Night and the founding of the Night’s Watch is the apparent founding of the Stark line (II: 552), with Brandon the Builder as part of the line (and perhaps even its founder) (I: 678). It is suggested that Winterfell itself is some 10,000 years old (I: 18), but this is likely an example of the Westerosi penchant for rounding roughly and we speculate that the raising of Winterfell began more or less at the same time as the beginning of House Stark. For many thousands of years the Starks were not the uncontested Kings of the North, and their primary antagonists the Boltons of the Dreadfort did not bend the knee until some 1,000 years ago (II: 530).
A notable event in the millennia of service of the Night’s Watch is the rule of the 13th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, known now only as Night’s King after all records of his name were destroyed. He had bedded a strange, pale "corpse woman" and proclaimed himself a king and her his queen. Terrible things were done at the Night Fort by his Sworn Brothers, who were enslaved with sorcery. For thirteen years he ruled this way until the Stark in Winterfell and the King-beyond-the Wall Joramun joined forces to defeat him (III: 629, 630). This same Joramun was reputed to have sounded the Horn of Winter, waking giants from the earth (II: 276).
During the Age of Heroes the Seven Kingdoms were supposed to have first been founded (I: 618). According to legend, Lann the Clever winkled Casterly Rock from the Casterlys (I: 231) and reputedly the kings of the Rock claimed descent from him even into the modern era (I: 680). Similarly the most famous king of the Reach was Garth Greenhand, from whom the ruling House Gardener (and many other houses besides) claim their descent (I: 686. III: 67). In the stormlands the Storm Kings arose, a line founded by Durran who supposedly constructed Storm’s End to withstand the fury of the gods of the sea and the wind, who hated him for marrying their daughter (II: 345). In the Iron Islands, the Grey King reputedly married a mermaid and ruled not only the western isles but the sea itself (I: 687).
Approximately 6,000 years ago (I: 360) , the Age of Heroes and the peace of the Pact ended when the Andals invaded from across the sea, landing in the Vale (III: 770) and bringing a new religion and steel with them (I: 432, 617-618). For centuries they warred with the First Men until the six southron kingdoms fell to them and they destroyed all the weirwood groves and killed the children of the forest wherever they could find them. The children of the forest may have hidden themselves beyond the Wall at this point, and were supposedly never seen again (I: 209). Only the Kingdom of the North remained ruled by the First Men (I: 618), although Dorne seems to have been more a confederation of petty lordships than a proper realm given what is said about Mors Martell defeating his rivals for sole rule (I: 690). The Seven of the Andals may be the reason that slavery has not existed on the Westerosi mainland for thousands of years (III: 264), although the ironborn practice it with their thralls and salt wives (II: 124, 132) and the wildlings still keep thralls beyond the Wall (II: 458).
Among these fallen realms was that of House Mudd, who were Kings of the Rivers and Hills. They were the last of the First Men kings of the Trident and had ruled for 1,000 years before the Andals (III: 520. SSC). Perhaps one of the seven Andal kings who defeated and killed King Tristifer IV in his final battle was Erreg the Kinslayer who cut down the great weirwoods at High Heart and slew many of the children of the forest who tried to defend the ancient grove (III: 249). Elsewhere, the Andals established themselves as Kings of Mountain and Vale and from them descends House Arryn, one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility (I: 682), while Andal adventurers founded House Lannister and made themselves kings of the westerlands (I: 680) and Andals swept over the Iron Islands 4,000 years ago to end House Greyiron, the line of Urron Redhand which had ruled uncontested for 1,000 years (II: 137) but unlike in the other regions they were assimilated to the native beliefs of the Old Way and the Drowned God (I: 678).
Elsewhere in the world the eastern continent was dominated for the most part by the empire of Old Ghis which existed at a time when the Valyria in the Lands of the Long Summer (III: Map) was said to still be young and savage (III: 265). Five great wars were fought between Old Ghis and the Freehold (III: 307), wars which Valyria won with its dragons. At the last war some 5,000 years ago the Freehold finally conquered Ghis (III: 257). From here Valyria went on to conquer much other land as shown by the many straight roads (I: 193) that they made, although it seems to have focused primarily on coastal regions. The most westward holding of the empire was the cluster of islands about Dragonstone where they raised a citadel at an unknown time in the days of the empire (I: 692. III: 603).
The Nine Free Cities were clearly under Valyrian sway due to the bastard Valyrian they speak natively (I: 84), although Braavos, and perhaps others of the cities, did not exist at the time of the founding of the Valyrian empire (SSC). Interestingly, the Faceless Men have their origin in Valyria, although in a time prior to the existence of the Free City of Braavos (SSC). It is not impossible that this is related to the other major event so far written about: Azor Ahai and the prophecies about him.
It is not unreasonable to assume that Azor Ahai existed at about the same time as the Long Night, some 8,000 years ago, given the legend of his forging his sword to battle a darkness that was upon the world (II: 115). The fate of his Red Sword of Heroes and of himself is unknown, but it is said that he did win his war with the aid from others (III: 869). However, roughly at about the same time as the eclipsing of Old Ghis and the rise of Valyria, a prophecy dated to 5,000 years ago was made claiming that Azor Ahai would be reborn to save the world against a new darkness (III: 711).
At some point after the King-beyond-the-Wall Joramun there came other wildling kings, such as the Horned Lord and the brother-kings Gendel and Gorne (II: 276). 3,000 years ago the brother managed to evade the Night’s Watch and infiltrate the North in great numbers using a network of tunnels that extended under the Wall. With the aid of the King of the North and the Umbers the Watch was able to crush the wildling army, although the King of the North was killed by Gendel who in turn was killed by the new king. Wildling legend holds that Gorne and those who managed to escape the slaughter still wander the tunnels (III: 300).
Another notable King-beyond-the-Wall was Bael the Bard, who existed at some time when the Boltons were still hostile to the Starks. A song Bael wrote claimed that he seduced the daughter of the Stark in Winterfell and had a child by her, who grew up to be heir to his grandfather. The wildlings say that the son slew Bael in battle when he sought to break past the Wall. Never knowing that Bael was his father, he brought the head to Winterfell at which point his mother threw herself from the walls in grief at the kinslaying. His flaying at the hands of a Bolton was reckoned as the vengeance of the gods (II: 544-545).
The last major migration into Westeros would be the coming of the Rhoynar 1,000 years ago (II: 233). They were a people who lived in cities along the Rhoyne river on the eastern continent led by the warrior-queen Nymeria, and stories claim that Nymeria’s host were mostly women in a fleet of 10,000 ships (I: 59, 203. EHC). Taking Lord Mors Martell to husband, Nymeria gave him the strength to defeat all of his rivals and become the first Prince of Dorne (a title derived from the Rhoynar custom of not using king or queen). The Rhoynar married with the native people, leading to three distinct groups of Dornishmen living in the mountains, the deserts, and on the coasts (III: 430). The Rhoynar brought their own gods with them to Dorne, but they have largely disappeared in favor of the Faith. On the other hand, many Rhoynish customs, including inheritance regardless of gender, have been absorbed into Dornish society (EHC).
After this time no truly huge events happen until the Doom of Valyria approximately 450 to 500 years ago (I: 692. SSC: 86). The precise nature of the Doom is uncertain, but it was a cataclysm that destroyed the Freehold of Valyria and was powerful enough to shatter the Valyrian peninsula, leaving the strait through the ruin a smoking, demon-haunted place (III: 298). The survivors fled on ships to Dragonstone, where the Targaryens (descended from high lords of Valyria (I: 692)) took command and appear to have abandoned the old gods of Valyria in favor of the Seven (II: 109). Having few natural resources on Dragonstone, it is likely that they sold many valuable goods that they brought with them on the mainland, especially Valyrian steel swords, which are often dated to having been in Westerosi families for 400 to 500 years (I: 20, 225, 547). The only advantage they had over all other peoples in the world were the dragons that they had with them (I: 102).
Up to and after this time intermittent wars happened between Dorne and the kings of the Reach and the Stormlands (II: 233), and no doubt between many other realms (southron armies threw themselves at Moat Cailin for 10,000 years, for example (II: 674)). About 650 years ago the Storm Kings took control of the Trident up to the Neck (I: 684), Karlon Stark defeated sea raiders from the east and founded House Karstark some 1,000 years ago (III: 231, 232), and King Rickard Stark slew the Marsh King and married his daughter at some unclear date (I: 613). Also in this time, the Starks lost their strength at sea after Brandon the Burner burned his father’s fleet after King Brandon the Shipwright disappeared exploring the Sunset Sea (I: 613. II: 183). King Tommen II of the Rock went on a fool’s quest to Valyria and never returned, losing the Valyrian greatsword Brightroar (III: 359).
One of the major military forces in Westeros at this time were the kings of the Iron Islands, who terrorized all the western coasts. About 1,000 years ago an ironborn king butchered the captured sons of the River King, sending him the pieces (II: 133). In the time of King Qhored, Old Town, the Arbor, Bear Island (reputedly lost in a wrestling match to King Rodrik Stark, who gave it to the Mormonts (I: 613)), and many parts of the coast was under the control of the ironborn. His successors gradually lost many of these possessions over the centuries. Still, by the time of Harren the Black, 300 years ago, the ironborn controlled their isles and the whole of the Trident from the Neck to the Blackwater Rush after Harwyn Hardhand (Harren’s grandfather) defeated Arrec the Storm King and won the riverlands (I: 684, 688).
The only major event of note on the eastern continent so far, after the Doom of Valyria, was the coming of the Dothraki out of the Dothraki Sea. This took place 400 or more years ago and it can be assumed that the fall of Valyria and the chaos that followed it is what prompted (and perhaps allowed) the Dothraki to attack with such power. 50,000 Dothraki, at least half of them warriors, were led by Khal Temmo and they sacked and burned every town and city before them (III: 96). When they came to the Free City of Qohor, 3,000 Unsullied eunuch slave-soldiers awaited them. Temmo, his bloodriders, his kos, and all of his sons died with more than 12,000 Dothraki screamers. From that time Qohor has kept a standing guard of Unsullied to guard it, each carrying a black braid of hair on his spear in honor of the Three Thousand (III: 97).
Hardhome, the nearest thing to a town that the wildlings created north of the Wall, was destroyed six centuries ago. According to the tales, Hardhome was burned to cinders, with the fire allegedly burning so hot as to be seen from the Wall. Later reports claimed that the devastation was “nightmarish”, and that screams could be heard coming from the caverns that pockmark the great cliff above the settlement. Some claimed that Hardhome had been set upon by slavers, while others claimed it was an attack by cannibals (V: 522).
There is no strong evidence, in any direction, concerning what actually happened at Hardhome, only speculation. However, the alleged timing of this event—600 years before the present—is interesting, as it predates the Doom of Valyria. Some have wondered if there isn’t a link between these events. One theory that has been put forward is that the devastation of Hardhome may be evidence of its having been a sort of “trial run” for the later Doom, suggesting an outside agency caused it. The culprits, in this speculative theory, would be the Faceless Men; in A Feast for Crows, it is implied that the Faceless Men were involved in the Doom (IV: 322). As the Doom involved a massive volcanic eruption that shattered the Valyrian peninsula, it seems likely that magic would in some fashion be involved in causing such destruction. This leaves open the possibility that Hardhome itself may be, in some fashion, volcanically active.
Another possibility connects to the screams allegedly heard from the cave mouths: could they be home to firewyrms? Described by the kindly man as being akin to dragons, but “boring” through soil and stone (IV: 321), the caverns, the fire, and the screams could perhaps suggest Hardhome is home to a nest of firewyrms. What roused them? Perhaps it was Faceless Men. Perhaps the Horn of Joramun, which is said to be able to awaken “giants from the earth” (II: 276), actually summon firewyrms? It’s a very speculative sort of speculation, with only supposition and guesses behind it, but it’s an intriguing possibility. Bear in mind that chapters such as Jon’s and Arya’s, discussing Hardhome and the Faceless Men and firewyrms, were once intended to appear all together in a single book, a fact that might have made intended connections by Martin more obvious.
The Freehold of Valyria was apparently destroyed in a cataclysm. This disaster was dramatic enough that it is represented in art (I: 29). Given the "smoking ruins" (I: 374), the Smoking Sea (III: 98), and the shattered appearance of the peninsula that was Valyria, it is likely that the cataclysm was volcanic in nature. This parallels standard interpretations of the fall of Atlantis, which is the likely inspiration for the Doom.
Summerhall was a lightly fortified castle that Daeron II built on the Dornish marches, roughly where Dorne, the Reach, and the Stormlands come together (SSC). It is clear that some sort of tragedy happened to leave the castle ruined (III: 486, 492), and that this event was linked to the "dream of dragons" (III: 292). Rhaegar Targaryen in particular was deeply affected by "the shadow of Summerhall", because he was "born in grief". It is noted that he would sing of the death of kings there (III: 486). Finally, the Ghost of High Heart states that she "gorged on grief at Summerhall" and then demands to hear "my Jenny’s song" (III: 492).
Since Martin has unequivocally stated that the tragedy had nothing to do with Maelys the Monstrous and the War of the Ninepenny Kings (III: 752, SSC), the common interpretation of these facts is that the ruin of Summerhall took place in 259. Triggered by an unsuccessful attempt to raise a dragon, the tragedy likely includes the death of King Aegon V and possibly others while at the same time heralding or directly contributing to Rhaegar Targaryen’s birth. The Ghost of High Heart’s grief may be connected to the song of Jenny of Oldstones and the Prince of Dragonflies (III: 520). The Prince of Dragonflies was Prince Duncan Targaryen, the eldest son and (sometimes) heir (SSR) to King Aegon (SSR). A lyric from the song (III: 920) states that Jenny dances with her "ghosts", which suggests that the "grief" at Summerhall includes Duncan’s death and Jenny’s possible madness in reaction to her loss. Finally, it is possible that Ser Duncan the Tall, King Aegon’s friend and Lord Commander of his Kingsguard, also died there, given the fact that Ser Gerold Hightower was Lord Commander by 261 (III: 752).
Robert’s Rebellion, also known as the War of the Usurper (SSC), was sparked by the apparent abduction of Lyanna Stark by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (I: 36, II: 582). However, the roots of the rebellion were first planted at the tournament at Harrenhal in the year of the false spring when Eddard Stark was 18 years of age. Having won the tournament, Prince Rhaegar laid the winter rose crown of the queen of beauty in Lyanna’s lap rather than that of his wife, the Dornish Princess Elia (I: 526). The only Starks present at Harrenhal were Brandon, Eddard, Lyanna, and Benjen (III: 281). This action, which caused some scandal, was taken poorly by those who might be concerned about Rhaegar’s intentions towards Lyanna Stark. According to GRRM, he believed it took place a year or two prior to the beginning of the war (SSC), although he was clear about not being certain. Two years seem impossible, as the war itself lasted a year, meaning a span of three years would have passed; but Jaime Lannister was 15 at Harrenhal and either 17 or very nearly so at the time of the Sack. One year is not impossible, however, especially given the uncertainty as to when the beginning of the war is dated. Another notable event which would impact the war was the entry of Ser Jaime Lannister into the Kingsguard at Aerys’s command (to replace Ser Harlan Grandison, who died in his sleep [III: 128]), which had led Lord Tywin Lannister—his Hand for many years—to resign his office (III: 129).
At some point after the tournament (SSR), Brandon Stark’s impending marriage to Catelyn Tully is announced. Littlefinger challenges him for her hand, despite being "scarcely" 15 to Brandon’s 20 (I: 141). Catelyn herself would be late 17 or early 18, while her sister would be approximately 15 or 16 years of age (I: 314, 661). Brandon defeated Littlefinger, leaving him sorely wounded; Lysa Tully helped to tend to him until Lord Hoster could send him away (I: 141, 367). At some point, possibly immediately after the duel, Brandon swore he would return to Catelyn soon from some errand that would not keep him long (I: 581).
There is some gap following this point, possibly several months long, during which it’s probable that Rhaegar’s son Aegon was born some time prior to this, as he would be roughly a year old at his death (KLQ). The next we hear of Brandon is that he was on his way to Riverrun (possibly after having gone back to Winterfell, as it is mentioned that Rickard and two hundred of Winterfell’s swords had come south with him never to return [I: 401]) to wed Catelyn when he learned of Lyanna (II: 582). Having heard the news of Lyanna’s apparent abduction, Brandon rode south to King’s Landing with several companions: his squire Ethan Glover, Jon Arryn’s nephew and heir Elbert Arryn, Kyle Royce, and Jeffory Mallister (II: 582). Brandon and his companions shouted for Rhaegar to show himself and die not knowing that Rhaegar was not there. This lead the king to arrest them on the charge of plotting to murder Rhaegar (II: 582).
The fathers of those who stood accused were summoned and were killed with their sons, with only Ethan Glover surviving (II: 582). Rickard and Brandon were executed at the same time, Rickard being roasted in his armor by pyromancers (including the pyromancer Rossart [III: 418]) while Brandon strangled himself to death attempting to save his father while at least some of the Kingsguard (Ser Jaime Lannister and the Lord Commander, Ser Gerold Hightower) looked on (II: 582, 583). Brandon was only 20 years old at his death, placing it at less than a year after his duel with Littlefinger. He was to have married Catelyn only a few short days afterwards (I: 20).
King Aerys followed his murders by demanding that Lord Arryn give him the heads of Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark (I: 21), suggesting that they were present (or at least believed to be present) in the Vale at this time. Jon Arryn refused and raised the banners of rebellion, which touched off fighting in the Vale and other regions (SSC), which may be considered the official beginning of the war. It can be assumed that once able, both Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon departed the Vale for their lands to raise their own banners. The young Lord Eddard disappears for a time, and the next we hear of Lord Robert is his three battles in a day at Summerhall (III: 408, 606, 607), where he defeated the royalist stormlords Fell, Cafferen, and and Grandison in succession as they each came to Summerhall to join their separate forces. Robert slew Lord Fell in single combat and defeated his famous son, Silveraxe. Silveraxe and the surviving Lords Cafferen and Grandison soon became fast friends with Robert. It is probable that these battles took place little more than a month or two after his departure from the Vale.
It is likely that the efforts of these three minor lords were spurred on by Aerys’s Hand, the elderly Lord Merryweather, who had been chosen for that office after Lord Tywin Lannister renounced it. Lord Merryweather treated the rebellion as a minor matter and never stirred out of King’s Landing, only to see it boil over into a greater conflagration (III: 418. SSC). Believing Lord Merryweather so ineffectual as to possibly be doing it to aid the rebellion, he was stripped of his lands and titles and exiled (II: 41), where he was to die in penury. Lord Jon Connington, a companion of Rhaegar’s, was Aerys’s next Hand and would prove to be more active and a much greater threat to Robert’s rebellion (SSC). However, before Lord Connington’s forces appear on the scene, Lord Robert is next said to battle the Tyrells at Ashford (III: 211). He was defeated there for the first time, largely due to Lord Randyll Tarly and the van he led as the main host was slow arrive. The victory was indecisive, however, as Robert escaped the battlefield (although others, such as Lord Cafferen who was cut down by Randyll Tarly and Ser Quentin Tyrell on Mace’s side, did not [III: 408, 884, 963]).
It is an open source of speculation why Robert might have been so far afield from the stormlands. One possibility is that he was fighting to secure a firm border (in this case, the Cockleswent, whose fording Ashford commanded) against the Reach, suggesting that he intended to hold to his lands as his base of operations. If this is the case, there must have been a number of other battles between Robert and royalists forces in the stormlands. There is reason to doubt this, however, as the pace of events seems to suggest that there was no time for Robert to linger in the stormlands before he appears next at the Battle of the Bells.
Another possibility, which can be reconciled with the speculated timeline handily, was that he was seeking to delay coming to grips with the Tyrells forces by seizing Ashford and forcing them to march around the Cockleswent to engage him. This would allow him to continue westwards towards a crossing of the Mander with the intent of continuing northwards to join his forces with those of Lords Stark and Arryn, something which (by the Battle of the Bells) was clearly his objective (III: 327). This may have been motivated in part by the news that Lord Connington was gathering royal forces at King’s Landing and would seek to act in concert with the Tyrells to bottle Robert up in the stormlands. It’s unclear whether Robert actually held Ashford at the time of the battle, but he may have been besieging it when Lord Tarly’s van came upon him faster than he (and Lord Tyrell, it seems) expected.
It is unclear as to what the proximity of events are, but it seems probable that after this victory the Tyrell host advanced directly on Storm’s End, as we know that the siege of Storm’s End lasted roughly a year (I: 233); if there had been months more of battle in the stormlands before this this could not, in fact, be the case. Stannis Baratheon, Robert’s brother, was left to hold the castle against this besieging force led by Lord Mace Tyrell and his good-brother Lord Paxter Redwyne, whose fleet cordoned off Storm’s End from the sea (II: 8-9). Young Renly Baratheon was also present at Storm’s End during the siege (II: 365). That the Tyrell host went on to a siege suggests that Robert’s escape was one that they could not pursue, either because they were directed otherwise or because Robert’s force was merely too fast. Whatever the case may have been, it seems probable that Lord Connington and his host took up the chase. It’s possible that a sort of running battle was fought between the two hosts, which would explain Robert’s injuries by the time his forces reached Stoney Sept with Lord Connington nipping at his heels (III: 327).
With Robert being tended by friends in the town, Lord Connington’s large host stormed the walls and began to search house by house for him. However, before he could find Lord Robert, Lord Stark and Lord Tully led their forces and besieged the besiegers. The precise reason for Lord Hoster’s entry into the conflict is unclear, given that Lady Catelyn suggests that the betrothal of Lord Arryn and Lysa Tully was not arranged until after the death of his cousin (III: 32). It may be that Lord Arryn at least entered negotiations along these lines to recieve Lord Hoster’s temporary support, with Lord Hoster assuming that he could always turn royalist and recieve a pardon. Given Robert’s certainty that Lord Eddard won the battle for him, however, it may be that Eddard Stark played a more pivotal role—perhaps by asking for help on the basis of his intention to wed Catelyn Tully.
Lord Connington fought back fiercely, leading the septons of the town to ring their bells, from which the name the Battle of the Bells come from. Robert came out of hiding and killed half a dozen men that day, including Ser Myles Mooton, a famous champion and friend and former squire of Prince Rhaegar. Lord Connington gravely wounded Lord Hoster and slew Ser Denys Arryn, Lord Arryn’s cousin and and "the darling of the Vale" (III: 32, 327). Connington escaped without ever having come to grips with Robert himself, but was promptly stripped of his lands and titles and sent into exile as Lord Merryweather had been. In the aftermath, Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Jonothor Darry of the Kingsguard were dispatched from King’s Landing to gather what they could of Lord Connington’s scattered forces while Prince Rhaegar returned from the south to take up command of the royalist forces (III: 418). Prince Lewyn of Dorne was ordered to take command of the 10,000 Dornishmen coming up the kingsroad who had been sent grudgingly by Prince Doran, as the Dornish did not appreciate how Elia had been treated by Rhaegar (SSC). King Aerys used Lewyn’s niece, Princess Elia, as a hostage to insure his loyalty. Rhaegar convinced King Aerys to swallow his pride and summon Lord Tywin Lannister to his aid (III: 418. ).
All of these events likely took place not much more than within four or five months after the deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark. Retiring to Riverrun, it seems clear that Lord Arryn negotiated with Lord Hoster to win his full-fledged support in the rebellion, with the price being his marriage to the young Lysa Tully whose fertility has been proven when she claimed to be carrying Petyr Baelish’s child (III: 913) which Lord Hoster promptly made her abort (III: 32). With Lord Eddard fulfilling his brother’s obligation to Catelyn Tully, Lords Stark and Arryn became brothers through their marriages to Lord Hoster’s two daughters (I: 21). Lord Eddard stayed with his new bride long enough to see her conceive and then returned to the war (I: 54-55).
Following this there seems to be a great, lengthy undocumented period before the Battle of the Trident. This period may have lasted as much as seven months. Presumably, royalist forces—including riverlords who refused to follow Lord Tully in supporting Robert’s rebellion, such as Ryger, Darry (who would lose three sons of its lord in the war [I: 129]), Mooton, and Goodbrook (I: 241. III: 497)—continued to fight throughout the Seven Kingdoms (except Dorne, where the only fighting may have been minor border skirmishes [SSC], and presumably the Iron Islands which are never spoken of as having been involved to any degree) against those who supported the rebels). It may have been decided by the rebel leaders to await the coming of Rhaegar’s reconstituted force in one final, great battle. Some point during this time, King Aerys began plotting with the pyromancers to lay stocks of wildfire throughout the city so as to destroy it if all seemed lost, a brutal and petulant act that would kill hundreds of thousands for no better reason than to spite Robert; though the possibility is raised that Aerys, the Mad King, believed the wildfire would turn him into a dragon (II: 511. III: 418-419). When his latest Hand, Lord Chelsted, learned of these plans and objected so forcefully that he threw down his chain of office, Aerys had him seized and burned alive in wildfire. Rossart, one of Aerys’s pyromancers and complicit in the plot, was eventually made Hand and took the style of lord (III: 418) but only held that office for a fortnight.
Whatever the case may be, we know that near the end of the war Ser Gawen Wylde and three other men attempted to exit Storm’s End through the postern gate (II: 365-366). They were caught and, rather than being flung off the walls with catapults, they were held captive on the possibility that the garrison (already desperate for food after exhausting its supply of food, including horses, cats, and dogs [I: 8]) would be reduced to eating human flesh to survive. Fortunately, Davos Seaworth, a notorious smuggler, slipped through the Redwyne fleet’s lines and entered Storm’s End with a ship loaded with onions and salt fish. For his crimes, Lord Stannis removed a joint from each of the fingers of one of his hands, but for his great deed Stannis raised him to knighthood after the siege was ended and gave him lands and a small keep on the Cape of Wrath (II: 9). These events likely preceded the Battle of the Trident, or at least the Sack of King’s Landing.
The next major event was the Battle of the Trident, fought at what would come to be called the ruby ford. The rebel host was smaller than the royal host, which included contingents from the Reach and Dorne and was said to have numbered 40,000 strong with a tenth of them being knights and the rest archers, freeriders, and foot (I: 326), but the rebels were more "battle-tested" (SSC). There Robert and Rhaegar fought one another in single combat while battle raged around them. When Robert drove his warhammer through Rhaegar’s ruby-encrusted breastplate, members of both armies rushed to collect fallen rubies from the river while the rest of Rhaegar’s forces routed (I: 25, 36, 96).
Among the dead on the royalist side were two of the three Kingsguard present (Ser Jonothor Darry [SSC] and Prince Lewyn Martell [SSC]) and numerous bannermen (including three cut down by Lord Jason Mallister [I: 247]). Ser Barristan Selmy was so grievously wounded that he might have died of his wounds had Robert not sent his own maester to treat him, even though he had cut down a dozen lords and knights at the battle and men like Lord Bolton argued that his throat should be cut (I: 295). Lord Grandison, who had once fought against Robert, was wounded at the Trident while fighting for his cause and died of that wound a year later (III: 884). Having been wounded by Rhaegar, Robert gave command of the pursuit of the routing forces to Lord Eddard, with the goal of his beginning the siege of King’s Landing which was believed to be held by several thousand men (I: 96). Lord Walder Frey’s host joined the rebels well after the battle was won, after having spent the previous year aloof from the war (I: 241).
When news of Rhaegar’s death and the defeat of the royalists reached King’s Landing, the newly-pregnant Queen Rhaella and her son Prince Viserys were sent to Dragonstone (I: 25). Princess Elia and Rhaegar’s children, including his heir Prince Aegon, were kept at King’s Landing by King Aerys, however, due to his paranoid belief that Prince Lewyn must have betrayed Rhaegar on the Trident and that if he let them go out of his grasp Dorne would do the same to him (III: 419).
Before Lord Stark’s host could arrive outside of the city, a host 12,000 strong led by Tywin Lannister appeared outside of the city. Lord Tywin claimed to have finally answered Aerys’s summons after ignoring it for a year (I: 96). Grand Maester Pycelle convinced the paranoid King Aerys to throw open his gates, even though Lord Varys argued against it (II: 301. III: 419). What followed was the brutal Sack of King’s Landing, as the Lannister troops slaughtered, looted, and burned their way through the city while Lord Tywin rode for the Red Keep with the intent of taking hold of it (II: 96). The king ordered the pyromancers to destroy the city and commanded Ser Jaime to bring him his own father’s head, but he decided to refuse the order (III: 130). Instead, Ser Jaime sought out and killed Rossart as he tried to slip out of the Red Keep to carry out the king’s orders, and then he came upon the king in the throne room and murdered him. The final moments of this deed were witnessed by several Lannister bannermen who had burst into the room, as the Lannisters had somehow (perhaps through treachery) gotten into the Red Keep with little delay (III: 130, 418-419).
Ser Jaime seated himself on the Iron Throne to await who might come to the throne room (III: 130). He was unaware of the fact that Princess Elia and her children, whom he had sworn to keep safe before Rhaegar departed the city, were in mortal danger. Ser Amory Lorch and Ser Gregor Clegane were scaling the walls of Maegor’s Holdfast, following Lord Tywin’s command to find Rhaegar’s children and murder them (III: 130, 594-595). Princess Rhaenys was found hiding under a bed by Lorch. When he dragged her out, she kicked him and would not stop screaming, which led to his stabbing her half a hundred times (I: 531. III: 130, 594-595). Ser Gregor was even worse, when he found Princess Elia with Aegon. He pulled the child away and dashed his skull against a wall before raping, and then murdering, the Dornish princess (I: 263). Lord Tywin later claimed that he not thought to give any orders regarding Elia, and had not intended for her to die (III: 594). It appears that even as this was taking place, Lord Stark’s host had arrived and he himself appears to have entered the Red Keep only a short time after Aerys’s murder (III: 131). Riding through the city and even into the throne room, Lord Eddard confronted Ser Jaime, who laughed about his being seated on the Iron Throne and removed himself from it (I: 97). In the following days, Ser Jaime later hunted down and killed the other two pyromancers, Belis and Garigus, who were principals in the wildfire plot (III: 419). To those knights who had defended the city, Lord Tywin offered the choice of death or joining the Wall—many men, such as Ser Jaremy Rykker and Ser Alliser Thorne, took the latter option (I: 172).
When Robert arrived in the city, he formally seized it and preparations began for his coronation. At his coronation, which preceeded Dragonstone by many months, Robert had Grand Maester Pycelle, Lord Varys, and Ser Jaime kneel before him and asked Robert’s forgiveness before they could enter his service (II: 583). Lord Eddard had argued that Ser Jaime be made to take the black for his crimes but Lord Arryn prevailed on Robert to retain him (III: 411). Ser Barristan Selmy was made the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (III: 752). Then, Lord Tywin submitted himself to him. As a token of his fealty, he displayed the bodies of Elia and the dead Targaryen children (I: 93, 403-404). Robert was glad of their deaths, causing a quarrel with Lord Eddard which briefly left the friends estranged from one another. Ultimately, Lord Eddard departed the city in a cold rage, to lift the siege of Storm’s End and fight the last battles of the war (I: 93-94).
The reachlords bent the knee when Eddard arrived (I: 355), and it seems likely that not long after this Lord Stannis joined his brother, as he was to be given command of raising a new royal fleet and using it to take Dragonstone, the last Targaryen stronghold (I: 25. II: 10-11). From here, it seems Lord Eddard went to the place that Rhaegar called "the tower of joy" near the Red Mountains of Dorne where Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, Ser Arthur Dayne, and Ser Oswell Whent were waiting. Lord Eddard had brought only his close companions—Ser Mark Ryswell, Lord Dustin, Theo Wull, Howland Reed, Martyn Cassel, and Brandon’s former squire Ethan Glover (I: 354-355). Only Lord Eddard and Howland Reed survived the fight that ensued (I: 356). Entering the tower, Lord Eddard found Lyanna Stark in her "bed of blood", dying (I: 354). She begged him to make her a promise, which he did (I: 35, 355), although what that promise was is still open for speculation; many believe it related to a child that Lyanna may have had. Lyanna’s death reconciled Eddard and Robert in their shared grief (I: 94).
Pulling the tower down so that the stones could be used for cairns for the fallen (I: 356), Lord Eddard rode to Starfall, the seat of the Daynes, to return the legendary greatsword Dawn to Ser Arthur’s sister, Lady Ashara, whom it was rumored Lord Eddard had fallen in love with at the Harrenhal tournament (I: 55. III: 495-496). Lady Ashara is said to have leapt to her death from the Palestone Sword, a tower of Starfall, after this but her body was never recovered (III: 495. SSC). All that remained to close the war was to take Dragonstone, which harbored Aerys’s queen and her son. However, Queen Rhaella died giving birth to Daenerys during a terrible storm almost precisely nine months after the death of Rhaegar and the Sack of King’s Landing. With the remnants of the Targaryen fleet destroyed outside of Dragonstone by the same storm that heralded Princess Daenerys’s birth and Lord Stannis approaching with his fleet, guardsmen of the citadel were ready to sell the Targaryen children to Lord Stannis (I: 25). However, Ser Willem Darry (master-at-arms of the Red Keep and the brother of the late Ser Jonothor Darry [III: 91. SSC]) and four loyal men fled with them to Braavos and its safety (I: 25). Afterwards, Stannisb was rewardedy Robert with Dragonstone for his own seat, perhaps because it needed a strong hand to rule it, and clearly with the intention of indicating that Stannis was Robert’s heir until he had a son. However, Stannis took this as a slight instead, denying him the far grander and richer Storm’s End that he believed ought to have been his (II: 11, 294).
Lord Eddard would eventually return to the North after his reconciliation with Robert, a few months after they last saw one another, now that they were united in their shared grief at Lyanna’s death (I: 94). Startlingly, he would bring with him a child, Jon Snow, whom he claimed as his son. The child was born eight or nine months prior to Daenerys Targaryen (SSC), and Lord Stark seems to guard the identity of his mother (I: 55). However, to Robert he has apparently claimed that Jon Snow’s mother is named Wylla, who appears to be a serving woman and nursemaid for the Daynes (I: 92. III: 494). Jon Snow and his wet nurse were already installed in Winterfell by the time Lady Catelyn came there with her firstborn, Robb Stark (I: 55). Benjen Stark, Lord Eddard’s only surviving sibling who had stayed in Winterfell throughout the war (based on Eddard’s maxim that "there must always be a Stark in Winterfell"[I: 53]), joined the Watch shortly afterwards (SSC and SSC).
Lord Jon Arryn had become Robert’s Hand (I: 37)—possibly immediately upon Robert’s coronation—and at some point convinced him to wed the beautiful Cersei Lannister to bind that powerful house to him (I: 260). Robert’s youngest brother Renly, who was still a child, was given the ancestral lands and rule of Storm’s End (II: 11). In Dorne, Prince Oberyn Martell plotted to raise a revolt to avenge the murders of Elia and her children, but a visit from Lord Arryn to the Red Viper’s elder brother Prince Doran put an end to that (III: 593). Some loyalist houses such as Darry, Connington, and Merryweather found themselves greatly reduced in wealth, lands, and influence—the Darrys were stripped of more than half their lands and most of their wealth (III: 918), the Conningtons were given back their castle but little more (SSC), and the Merryweathers were restored their lands and titles but not their sizable treasury (SSC). Lord Goodbrook’s son, who had ascended to the rule of his ancestral lands, reconciled himself with Lord Hoster (III: 497).
Despite the disasterous way in which Tyrion’s marriage to Tysha ended, Tyrion has always believed that Jaime procured her and set the scene of her being chased by brigands as a kindness to him, and he loved his elder brother because of that. However, Jaime tells him, "She [Tysha] was no whore. I never bought her for you. That was a lie Father commanded me to tell." (III: 873)