A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

13 Mar

I do love discovering a new series, especially one that has me completely hooked and needing to read the next book. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is the first in a number of years to have captured my attention in this way. (NOTE: If you have not finished the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, you will find some spoilers in this post).

So we left the characters of A Game of Thrones in a variety of different states. The Starks of Winterfell are dispersed across the Seven Kingdoms, in shock and mourning the death of Eddard Stark. In King’s Landing, Eddard’s daughters are seperated; Ayra hiding from King Joffrey’s men and Sansa alone amongst the Lannisters. In the north, Bran and Rickon remain in Winterfell with their trusted Maester Luwin and their direwolves. Further north still, Jon Snow is growing into a man, about to leave the safety of the Wall and plunge into the unknown, icy lands beyond. And an exhausted and emotionally drained Cateyln Stark watches as her eldest son is hailed King of the North by his followers.

The most intriguing cliffhanger is kept until the very end, with Daenerys Targaryen emerging naked from the ash of her dead husband’s pyre, carrying three dragons. Well if that isn’t enough to make you run out and buy the second book in the series, I don’t know what is!

A Clash of Kings introduces new characters and different areas of the Seven Kingdoms. More depth is given to the characters we have already got to know; we explore the mind of Theon Greyjoy who is given a larger role, a different side of Sansa is shown and Bran becomes a much more complex character.

There are now four main Kings fighting for the throne; the young and violent Joffrey Baratheon, his two uncles, Stannis with a mysterious and sinister woman in red to hold his banner, and the handsome and charismatic Renly. Finally, from Winterfell Robb Stark has stepped up to demand the north as his kingdom.

Away on the Iron Islands, the Greyjoys have their own ideas and are planning their own attack. Daenarys is no closer to the throne but her courage is growing, along with her dragons. Meanwhile, things are not looking good in King’s Landing, with the public going hungry and constant plotting and backstabbing between the more influential characters in the castle. Among them, we have Tyrion, continuing to shine through the pages with his wit and intelligence. The reader also learns that the dwarf has a soft spot, which only makes him more likeable.

While battles are being fought in every storyline and the trust of the people is constantly wavering and changing, a more important war is brewing beyond the Wall. Finally the reader is allowed to enter the icy lands with Jon Snow and his brothers. And what a fascinating, terrifying place it is! This plot thread could have its own book. The characters are interesting, the tension is palpable and the reader is forever left wanting to know more.

As I said in my review of A Game of Thrones, I don’t normally read books in the fantasy genre, but I have enjoyed the way this series introduces the idea of magic gently. However, I was correct in guessing that the theme of magic would play a greater role as the series went along. A Clash of Kings definitely has more magic, but yet again it is realistic and makes sense within the world that has been created by George R. R. Martin. When there are dragons in the world once again, magic becomes stronger. The pyromancers notice as they make wildfire and the street ‘magicians’ are now able to perform tricks they had never dreamt of. A particularly subtle involvement of magic is brought to us by Bran and his strange dreams, which slowly become more powerful and real as the book goes on.

The theme of magic in some storylines did remind me with a jolt that I was indeed reading a fantasy book. There is a whole chapter where Daenerys is surrounded by a dreamlike, eerie and magical world, and I did not enjoy this at all. It seemed out of keeping with the rest of the book and, as far as I could tell, not necessary for the progression of the plot.

Although I am enjoying the A Song of Ice and Fire books, I did have a few problems with the second volume in this series. It is difficult to keep up the pace after such a wonderful opening book, and parts of A Clash of Kings certainly did drag. George R. R. Martin wastes an unnecessary amount of words and time on detail. In A Game of Thrones, the detail was fantastic, because a whole new world was being created and it needed to be realistic and believable. But there is only so much we need to know about what clothes characters are wearing or what food they are eating. Another thing that I began to notice, is the irritating repetition of certain words and phrases, such as “if truth be told”, sometimes as often as four or five times on one page. I am glad that I persevered through these slightly annoying moments because the good bits are really worth it!

If there is one place where George R. R. Martin uses his skills of description well, it is on the battlefield. I don’t usually appreciate a big battle scene, but the fighting in A Clash of Kings is always told from an interesting angle and in a way that is never boring. Although often lengthy, these scenes are from the points of view of characters such as dwarves, young girls or sailors, which brings a whole new light to a battle which in other circumstances, I might have found very uninteresting.

I’m not sure what to expect from A Storm of Swords, but I do know that I can’t wait to find out!

If you are ready for A Clash of Kings and don’t already have it, click on the picture below!

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20 Responses to “A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin”

  1. Veronica April 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    It’s my current favourite series and I can’t wait for the next book to be released (though it’ll probably take a couple of years at least). Good luck with them! :)

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    • bundleofbooks April 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

      I know, that’s why I’m trying to take it slow. I know I’ll still run out of books and be waiting like everyone else soon though!

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  2. kammartinez April 3, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    The good thing about this series, I think, is that the reader isn’t always forced to just stick it out with one character they don’t particularly like, since the cast is really enormous. Don’t care for Dany’s bit? There’s always Jon’s story, or Tyrion’s. The large cast might be a bit difficult to keep up with, but Martin, thankfully, writes in a way that makes it relatively easy for us to get to the bits we like, and dodge the bits we don’t :).

    Also, I’m glad you’re really enjoying Jon’s storyline in this book! It’s definitely one of the best threads in the entire novel, along with Tyrion’s, in my opinion.

    As for Storm of Swords, brace yourself. If Clash was a ride, think of Storm as being at the very front car of the longest, fastest, most stomach-churning rollercoaster in the world, and the engineers just decided to strap rocket boosters to the back because, oh gee, the current speed just isn’t enough ;).

    That’s just my opinion though. Your mileage will vary ;).

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    • bundleofbooks April 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      Yes, that’s one good thing about the different character point of view chapters. With this book, I did spend most of Dany’s chapters hurrying through so that I could read more about Tyrion, Arya and of course Jon Snow.

      I’ve finished A Storm of Swords and completely agree with you! I loved it and can’t wait to read the next book. I should have a review up in the next couple of weeks.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  3. engchick23 March 14, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    I hadn’t heard of these books before, but from your review, they sound well worth the reading! Thanks for sharing! :)

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    • bundleofbooks March 14, 2012 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks for the comment! Yes, you should definitely give them a go!

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  4. themisanthropologist March 14, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Good luck with the series. You have a long way to go before book 5, but don’t worry, the series is one hell of a ride. You will enjoy every minute of it! Don’t rush though, because after book 5, we may have to wait a few more years to read the continuation of the story in book 6.

    Of course there is a fair share of good characters and annoying characters (Dany, for me), but it’s just such an engrossing read. Enjoy!

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    • bundleofbooks March 14, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Thanks! Yes, I keep forgetting that there isn’t a book 6 yet. It’s going to be horrible waiting for the next book. I probably should try to slow down…

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      • themisanthropologist March 14, 2012 at 8:39 am #

        Yes, but it’s hard to slow down when you’re reading a book in that series lol.

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      • bundleofbooks March 14, 2012 at 8:41 am #

        I know! I’ve been trying to read at least one other book in between each Ice and Fire book, but it’s been difficult!

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      • themisanthropologist March 14, 2012 at 8:44 am #

        I know exactly how you feel. When I got through with book 5, I was both relieved and sad – relieved that I could finally move on with my life and read other books; and sad that I had run out of books from the series to read.

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  5. photosfromtheloonybin March 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    I have read the first three books and also watched the first season of the HBO series on TV (books are always better of course!). I absolutely love this series, but I am taking a break before I dive into the 4th book because they are very long and can become overwhelming after a bit. So, I am reading some different genres for a bit and then will return to the Seven Kingdoms for more adventures!

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    • bundleofbooks March 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      I’m so happy that I watched the series, it made the decision for me to read the book. I’m always a bit wary of hyped up books because they are usually not as good as I hope. This series definitely is though! I can’t wait to read number 3 and watch the next series – but I imagine I will get overwhelmed after a bit too and will probably take a break.

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  6. Grace March 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m planning on reading the third book later this year I think. I was a bit disappointed with the second book, mostly because Daenerys was so boring. Khal Drogo was my favorite character in the first book, and after the thing with the dragons, I thought Daenerys’ story was going to be awesome. Instead, she just kind of wanders around and doesn’t really do anything… However, most of my friends have read the series and have been telling me for a while now that the third book is the best one.

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    • bundleofbooks March 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Yes, I get a bit bored with Daenerys too. Apparently her storyline gets a lot more exciting – I hope so anyway! I’ve also heard the third book is really good, so I’m probably getting my hopes up… and I think it might be next on my list, I can’t wait for much longer! (I desperately want to know what happens to Jon!)

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  7. TBM March 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I still haven’t started this series but it is on my list.

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    • bundleofbooks March 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Not everybody likes it but I am addicted! I look forward to reading your thoughts on the series!

      Like this

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] many questions have been left unanswered! (NOTE: If you have not finished A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm if Swords Part 1: Steel and Snow or A Storm of Swords Part 2: Blood and Gold you will [...]

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  2. A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold – George R. R. Martin « Bundleofbooks - October 27, 2012

    [...] summer was coming, so this really is late! (NOTE: If you have not finished A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings or A Storm of Swords Part 1: Steel and Snow, you will find some spoilers in this [...]

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  3. A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow – George R. R. Martin « Bundleofbooks - April 30, 2012

    [...] (NOTE: If you have not finished the first and second books in the series, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, you will find some spoilers in this [...]

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