Author: George R.R. Martin
First Published: 1998
Page Count: 969
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Note: Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire series
With the addition of new characters, settings, and conflict, the second book in Martin’s epic series fails to disappoint.
*New alternative views to conflict *Character point-of-view chapters still effective *Good flow between plot and sub-plots
*Too many sigils *More minor character names to memorize (or ignore)
“Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.” Within the Seven Kingdoms, beyond a seemingly invulnerable wall, and even across the sea, many are rising up to win themselves a crown. It seems that fear, gold, and family are worth the sacrifice if it means a chance at sovereignty in these troubled times. Characters, whether innocent or corrupt, live and die as a result of this “clash of kings.” And yet, the troubles of man are small compared to the darkness and power that is finding new life within the bodies of creatures thought to be extinct.
A Clash of Kings seamlessly follows its predecessor, A Game of Thrones, with a book that does not deviate from the formula that made the first book so successful. What convinced me that this book had avoided the “curse of the sequal” was that Martin’s unique method of using different characters to give their perspective for each chapter still works in this novel. My fear was that one character’s story might become flat and this would make reading their chapter a trial each time it appeared. Luckily, that is not the case. Each character has a distinct journey that gives the reader something to look forward to and, along the way, major plot points help link all the characters of the Seven Kingdoms together. I also enjoyed the fact that the magic and mysticism that was hinted at in the previous novel is fleshed out more in this book. However, the focus of this book is mainly war.
The first book nicely lays out the groundwork for the readers so that we can understand the complex relationships between family members, lords, and the culture of the world Martin created. It is in A Clash of Kings that the conflicts take shape into an impressive battle between two warring houses. While the battle was well done, I found it difficult to keep track of the names of all the lords serving under the two main factions, as well as the name of boats and the symbols for each house. This is something that happens a lot in Martin’s series because he has so many characters and houses. While this does add to the depth of the world, it is more then a little confusing when you are trying to remember who is on whose side during the battle. And even though their is an appendix at the back of the book of the houses, I got tired of constantly flipping to the back during the first book. With even more new houses and characters, it’s not likely my lazy butt would choose to do that now or in the upcoming five books.
However, negatives aside, A Clash of Kings is another triumph for Martin. It is difficult to write a book where every word has meaning, and every character a prescence. Fortunately, Martin wrote two.
*TV Adaptation: (Game of Thrones Season 2 HBO 2012)