Wow. What more can I say? Book two of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire cycle and although this novel wasn’t as captivating as A Game of Thrones, it was still a fascinating and entertaining read. As with A Game of Thrones I am using A Clash of Kings for two challenges – checking in at over 750 pages it is book two in my 2012 Tea & Books Challenge and as I bought it in 2011 with birthday money I’m also tacking it on to my 2012 Mount TBR Challenge.
As with the first novel in the series, so much happens in A Clash of Kings that it is hard to summarize or even review. Suffice to say that enough happens within this one novel that could fill three or four novels. You never know who is going to die or switch allegiances next; you never know where the next chapter will take you; and you can never 100% feel like you know who is who they say they are or where they’re from.
THERE ARE (a few) SPOILERS FROM A GAME OF THRONES. So if you plan on reading the novels scroll down to the recommendation to avoid them.
After the death of King Robert Baratheon in book one, the Seven Kingdoms have succumbed to barely controlled chaos with various factions attempting to claim the Iron Throne (or their own). At the end of book one, there are three kings – King Joffrey Baratheon (the supposed rightful heir to the throne – but we all know this isn’t true), King Renly Baratheon and The King of the North, King Robb Stark (AWESOME ending to book one I must say); and there is also the exiled Queen Daenerys – the Mother of Dragons.
In book two, these kings and queen are joined by the King of the Iron Islands Balon Greyjoy (Theon Turncoat’s father – yes that’s a spoiler for you), and King Stannis Baratheon (King Robert’s oldest brother and ‘rightful heir’). So needless to say – the novel is truly about the clashes of kings throughout the kingdom. The details of the battles were rather lacking until the battle for King’s Landing in the final few chapters.
What Martin does better than any author I’ve read recently is switching between narrators. Although I would love to have a one-sided experience from the Starks (as mentioned in the last post), I can truly appreciate the jumping around of the narration. However, when Martin introduces a new character as he did in book two it is rather jarring – I wasn’t sure who Ser Davos was or what was going on until the second or third time the character narrated a chapter. Perhaps this was due to how fast I read, or to my not making a specific connection.
Aside from the sometimes jarring changes between narrators (the jarring are few compared to the exciting cliff hangers as he shifts point of view), the only other main complaint I have is the lack of action. After the non stop action in A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings seemed rather dull and quiet. I understand it was completely necessary to keep the story moving forward, but sometimes I just wanted to yell hurry up already and get to the end!
If there was one part I just didn’t get, it was the introduction of a new religion into the mix. We were already familiar with the Seven Septs and the Weirwoods, and even the Dothrakai legends, but now there’s the God of Light. I’m not sure if this was to hype up the return of magic to the world with the re-birth of dragons, but it was definitely one of those ‘wait a second, what just happened and where’d that come from’ moments. I’m also curious where it went as it just sort of disappeared in the end of the novel and hopefully we’ll find out in the future novels.
Recommendation: See previous recommendation. It is definitely an epic saga and I’m curious to find out where it is going. I spent the last half of the novel trying to figure out who was dead and who wasn’t because I’d something earlier in the novel for granted.
Opening Line: “The comet’s tail spread across the dawn, a red slash that bled above the crags of Dragonstone like a wound in the pink and purple sky.”
Closing Line: “So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I’m not dead either.“ (Whited out.)