Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Clash of Kings Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: George R. R. Martin
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire Book Two
Pages: 728

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(Spoilers for the first book, A Game of Thrones are mentioned below).

The second installment in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series had some big shoes to fill after the impressive debut of A Game of Thrones.   Expectations for the second book were high for many readers and so the question to the much asked question: could A Clash of Kings live up to its mighty predecessor … the short answer yes.

Martin delivers another great book, furthering the storylines and adding to the complexity and emotional drama that the first book introduced readers to.  New narrators, new lands and cultures, and more depth to the history of the Seven Kingdoms in this second installment increase the scope of the story and allow it to go further at times than A Game of Thrones.  Although it rivals the first book in terms of quality it is not quite as strong a story.

War has broken out in the Seven Kingdoms.  The war for The Seven Kingdoms occupies the primary set of storylines in this sequel.  Three people are now claiming to be king: Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, and Robb Stark with more soon planning to declare their claim over the throne.

Renly Baratheon has amassed a large army and is planning on invading Kings Landing with a newly formed alliance with the Tyrells.  His brother Stannis Baratheon, whom Eddard Stark declared should be the rightful heir to the throne, has been hiding on the island of Dragonstone where he is counseled by a mysterious red priestess.

Robb Stark continues to win victory after victory, further putting strain on the Lannister’s rule of the Seven Kingdoms.  He also works with his mother Catelyn and his best friend Theon Greyjoy to begin forming new alliances to wage war against the Lannisters with.

Tyrion Lannister, the new Hand of the King, is sent to try and keep Joffrey under control, and to keep Kings Landing from tearing itself apart, while preparing the city for war.  Not only must he contend with the king but he has to work with his hateful sister Cersei and the kings conspiring counselors Pycelle, Varys, and Littlefinger.  Sansa Stark remains the Lannister’s hostage there while she endures the cruel treatment of its sadistic king.

Bran and Rickon remain in Winterfell continuing the Stark rule in the north, while Bran’s dreams about the Three Eyed Crow become more and more prominent.  Arya Stark travels north with Yoren and the Nights Watch recruits disguised as a boy to conceal her identity.  Jon Snow joins the Nights Watch as they ride out in force to meet the growing threats that are north of the wall.  Daenarys Targaryen, now with the only three existing dragons in the world, begins to look for a way to rebuild her army and take back her kingdom.

A Clash of Kings offers more storylines and a lot more action sequences than its predecessors.  Violence fills the pages of this book as the hardships mount tenfold for the narrators and various other characters that are important to the story.

A common denominator in this series has been that the poor and working class people are the true sufferers while the rulers play the game of thrones with all of their fates.  This idea is really hit home in the second installment of this series, as lots of commoners and regular people’s suffering is depicted in all of its horrible details.

Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark get a lot more chapters in this book which will certainly be enjoyed by fans of their chapters.  The introduction of Theon Greyjoy and Davos Seaworth as narrators helps add new perspective to the story, with Theon Greyjoy’s chapters being particularly well written and full of pathos.  Other new characters like the giant lady soldier Brienne and the influential red priestess Melisandre further Martin’s reputation as an author who knows how to create great female characters, and great characters in general.

A Clash of Kings has a lot more action and violence than A Game of Thrones.  The battles and fights, will satisfy readers lust for general all around action.  The increase in violence doesn’t come at the cost of character and story development though, as Martin continues to grow the story in a most convincing and real way.   More magic is also introduced in this book with Daenarys Targaryen’s three dragons and the dark arts that Melisandre is bringing to the story, too.  The stakes are raised for all of the characters in this story and A Clash of Kings delivers on all of its storylines in this fantastic sequel.

Score: 9.7

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