Written by George R.R. Martin
Published November, 1998 by HarperVoyager
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Medieval
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A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery.
Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night.
Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.
Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel… and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
A Clash of Kings takes off slowly, using 400 or so pages to really set up for some epic action. That being said, it’s a stunning follow-up to A Game of Thrones, so if you enjoyed the first book as much as I did, continue on with this one! Martin delves deeper into the Seven Kingdoms, his characters and forges new and unlikely alliances. Shocks and surprises are guaranteed.
As I mentioned, this one took a long while to set up. At first I thought I was alone in feeling like the pages were going nowhere as I read – but after checking on goodreads, I found I wasn’t the only one with those thoughts. The first chunk of the book introduces some new characters – mainly those related to Stannis – as well as focusing on the political side of the Iron Throne, such as Tyrion taking up office as the King’s Hand. After seeing from other reviews that the action DID pick up after a certain page mark, I decided to press on (I would have anyway, but it gave me a lot of hope!)
We have some new points of view in this one; mainly Davos Seaworth and Theon Greyjoy. While I was on the fence about Theon in A Game of Thrones, and found him a tad annoying in the show, my dislike for him as a character grew by leaps and bounds. I’m definitely not the biggest fan of the Greyjoys or the people of the Iron Islands after ‘staying’ with them for a while. His fate at the end of the book is something I’m eager to find out.
My favourite points of view continue to be Bran and Catelyn. The whole ‘warg’ and ‘green dream’ plots that are picking up with Bran and his wolf are adding a whole new layer to the story, I feel, and Catelyn continues to be provide an interesting voice for readers. I like Robb, too, but we don’t see a lot of him in A Clash of Kings, nor have we had a chapter in his POV yet throughout the series.
There are some new characters, too, most notably Brienne of Tarth and Melisandre. There’s a lot of argument on the use and portrayal of women in this series, but I try not to take it much to heart. It’s a story – and I plan to enjoy it for what it is. I also felt that the use of the comet throughout the book was fascinating – each character seemed to have their own idea on what the comet meant; whether it be victory, a representation of house colours, blood, or something else.
A Clash of Kings focuses mostly on the looming battle between three of the four kings – King Stannis, King Renly and King Joffrey. The ‘big epic’ of the book most certainly was Stannis’ assault on King’s Landing, which went on for many pages. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m female – but battle scenes in book or film just don’t intrigue me. Personally, I found those difficult to read although Martin did a spectacular job.
The storylines of Arya and Jon seem to be taking off in new directions, too. As the book closed, Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry are currently on the run from the Boltons and their service at Harrenhal while Jon has become one of the Wildlings in order to discover information for the Nights Watch. As for Daenerys, it seems she may be headed back to Westeros with the help of Illyrio, a character from the beginnings of A Game of Thrones.
A Clash of Kings masterfully equals its predecessor, though I deducted a star merely for the slow and lengthy start. I will most definitely be continuing on with the series!
Recommended to: Fans of the first book will be pleased with A Clash of Kings, as will viewers of the television show. New characters, new alliances and new plotlines for existing favourites make for a thrilling read.