A Storm of Swords picks up the story slightly before the end of its predecessor, A Clash of Kings. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are still in the grip of the War of the Five Kings, with the remaining Robb Stark, Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey Baratheon, and Stannis Baratheon fighting to secure their crowns. Civil war is destroying the common people, the ruling House of Baratheon and the major houses of Westeros: House Arryn of The Vale, House Baratheon of Storm's End, House Greyjoy of the Iron Islands, House Lannister of Casterly Rock, House Martell of Dorne, House Stark of Winterfell, House Tully of Riverrun, and House Tyrell of Highgarden. Stannis Baratheon's attempt to take King's Landing has been defeated by the new alliance between House Lannister (backing Joffrey) and House Tyrell. House Martell has also pledged its support to the Lannisters through the forces of Dorne, while House Arryn of The Vale have yet to take the field or declare their allegiance. Meanwhile, a large host of wildlings are marching toward the Wall under Mance Rayder, with only the tiny force of the Night's Watch in its path; and in the distant east, Daenerys Targaryen is on her way back to Pentos, hoping to raise forces to retake the Iron Throne.