Title: Clash of Kings
Series: Game of Thrones/A Song of Fire & Ice #2
Author: George R.R. Martin
Read via: Purchased
Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.
As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.
The second season of Game of Thrones was, in my opinion, fabulous. I thought it built nicely on the first season, and I loved all of the character development. I knew going in that A Clash of Kings and season 2 of Game of Thrones had many more differences than book 1 and season 1. I must agree that the changes were definitely more pronounced when comparing this book to season 2, but I also found A Clash of Kings to be even more engaging than the first book.
Most of the characters that I loved (and hated) in book 1 return in A Clash of Kings. The loss of Ned (Eddard Stark) is deeply felt, and his loss has caused ripples throughout the land. Those who are most affected by his death are definitely his children. Sansa remains trapped in King’s Landing without any allies, and develops a strange but oddly interesting relationship with the Hound. However, she continually suffers physical and emotional abuse at the orders and hands of Joffrey. I know many people consider Sansa to be a weak, female character, but I think this book truly shows otherwise. To remain in such a hostile environment and manage to keep her life is truly remarkable. With the help of Yoren (a man of the Night’s Watch), Arya manages to escape King’s Landing after her father’s execution. Thus begins a long and twisting journey for Arya, and also allows her to form some fantastic new relationships. The bond between her, Gendry, and Hot Pie is both heartwarming and hilarious, but I must say I was most intrigued by the relationship between her and Jaqen H’ghar. However, I think my fascination with Jaqen stems from the actor who plays him in the series (who did a brilliant job!). Daenerys’ story in the book was slightly disappointing compared to her story in season 2. I do understand both plots, but I just love how kick a** Dany is with the Qartheen leaders on the TV series. Catelyn continues to be a compelling character, and her journey also introduces us to Brienne of Tarth. Brienne is an incredibly sympathetic character, but at the same time, she is exceedingly strong.
Of all the male characters, I think Jon and Tyrion had the most interesting tales to tell in this book. Though I must admit that my enjoyment of Jon’s storyline is at least partially driven by the introduction of Ygritte. She consistently challenges both Jon himself and his beliefs. Plus, as Jon travels beyond the wall, the stakes for everyone in the series rise. Winter is coming, and it has a bite. While Jon faces physical trials in the North, Tyrion must deal with the deathly dance also known as courtly intrigue. Tyrion is truly a brilliant Hand. He has no problem standing up to both Cersei and Joffrey, which is something that is desperately needed. Plus, Tyrion thrives on playing the game of thrones, and he is unarguably one of the smartest, most cunning leaders King’s Landing has had in a time. Stannis, Robb, Bran, and Theon all have stories of their own to tell as well, but I must admit theirs were not the best for me.
The plot of A Clash of Kings is intricate and contains even more action than its predecessor. The nation is at war, and this, of course, leads to many battles. The highlight is certainly the Battle of Blackwater Bay. This battle is not only a brilliant example of Tyrion’s great skill as a strategist, but it also proves a game-changer in many ways. In the North, the most chilling “battle” is Theon’s capture of Winterfell, and the subsequent destruction of the Stark’s home. My heart broke as I read of the deaths of the people of Winterfell.
Overall, A Clash of Kings was a heartbreaking, incredibly fascinating read. It builds upon the set up from the first book, but it also introduces many new characters while also reminding readers that no one is safe in this world. I was very impressed with A Clash of Kings, and I would highly recommend this series. After reading this book, I am even more in love with this series and its characters.
Overall: 3.8 out of 5