Title: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire Book 2)
Author: George R. R. Martin
Published: Bantam Books/Reprint 2011
Length: 1009 pages
It’s so hard to sum up the long-winded books in the A Song of Fire and Ice series in a few paragraphs, especially knowing that most of you haven’t read them (yet!). Just know that they’re phenomenal and worth all the time it takes to read them. Book 1, A Game of Thrones, ended with a lot of momentum and I immediately started reading A Clash of Kings. It started off a bit slow (even though the prologue was awesome) and it’s even longer than Book 1, so I didn’t get very far very fast. But like A Game of Thrones, it gained momentum and I flew through the second half of the book. (Don’t read on if you haven’t finished either book!)
In accordance with the title, there are several kings fighting for the thrones of the Seven Kingdoms, most importantly the Iron Throne, now that King Robert is dead. Currently, young (and loathsome) Joffrey Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne, though, he was born out of Queen Cersei’s incestuous relationship with her twin brother Jamie, so he’s not the true-born son of the deceased King Robert and therefore not the rightful king. Robb Stark, the new King of the North and the dead King Robert’s brothers Stannis and Renley Baratheon, all want to claim the throne for themselves, and have engaged in a war to do so.
Like in Book 1, the Stark family is at the heart of the story, though the family members are spread across the Seven Kingdoms. Their story lines (all 6 of them) had me the most on the edge of my seat, wondering if/when any of the them will reunite…right now only Bran and Ricken, the youngest boys, are together. Tyrion Lannister is one of the other main characters and continues to be one of my favorites. He has the potential to be good, but is slyly battling the rest of the evil Lannister family for power. Another story line involves the members of the Night’s Watch, including the Stark bastard John Snow, who are hunting the wildlings, a people living off on their own north of the Wall. I think we’ll see more of them in future books. On the other hand, I thought Daenery the Dragon Queen’s story line was the dullest in this book, even though I was captivated by her in Book 1.
There are two new character perspectives in A Clash of Kings, Theon Greyjoy, who grew up as a ward of the Stark family and friend of Robb’s and returned home in hopes of taking over his father’s throne, and Ser Davos Seaworth, who is now a knight to King Stannis. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Theon meets a woman he wants to go to bed with and takes her back to the castle after groping her, boasting about his intent to rule the kingdom and bad-talking his family to her, only to find out she’s his sister, who he hasn’t seen since they were children. We get to know Theon and Davos as well as the characters that surround them, almost as an introduction to story lines that will continue to grow as we read further into the series.
I love how A Clash of Kings ends. Martin isn’t always clear about whether or not characters live through battles or are killed by another characters at the end of their chapters. For a while, he makes you think that Bran and Ricken may have been killed by Theon, Tyrion died in battle and John Snow’s direwolf Ghost died…and I’m still not sure if Catelyn killed or at least hurt Jamie (though I doubt it) or if Lord Stannis lived through the battle for King’s Landing. You can’t help getting really wrapped up the story lines and once again, I’m excited to start the next book, A Storm of Swords.
My friend Kandravy and I were talking about the books (though he’s a few ahead of me and keeps almost giving things away from the “future”) and he reminded me of the symbolism (something you won’t find me talking about much) at the beginning of A Game of Thrones when the Starks find the direwolf puppies with their dead mother, killed with a deer’s antler. The Stark family’s banner features a direwolf and the Baratheon’s features a stag—foreshadowing anyone? My co-worker Andrew just started A Storm of Swords as well, so I’m excited to have impromptu book club chats with him at work as we read on–if he can keep up.
Good thing Martin is so long-winded or I’d already be impatiently waiting for him to complete the series!