As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must . . . and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark's family is split, and there is treachery at court. Worst, a vengeance-mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyond the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.