Review: A Clash of Kings

This post will include my review of the book A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. It is the second volume of A Song of Ice and Fire series, released in November 1998.

The text below is taken from the blurb on the back of the book.

The price of glory.

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. As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky – a comet the colour of blood and flame – five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.

The shores of Winterfell? I thought Winterfell was hundreds of miles from the sea… but I won’t place too much value on the blurb, at least this one has no spelling errors.

There is something deeply satisfying reading a second volume in an epic series immediately following the first one. I consider myself lucky to be coming at this series late because it means I am not forced to wait (and forget) between books. I know that the series isn’t done but I at least for the first five novels I can read them back-to-back.

This second book was good. Not as good as the first one but still an enjoyable read.

The reason I felt that the first was better may be because I already knew the characters and the something about the world so it lacked a certain sense of discovery that was present in the first one but I don’t believe that is the only reason. Once again the stand-out characters of book one, Arya, Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion remain my favourites in this book. Catelyn, and Bran didn’t really grow as characters while Sansa did change. I was a bit disappointed in Sansa to be honest. After everything she’d been through in book one I thought she’d become a little less pathetic but she instead continued her role as the victim. Given her circumstances I can understand why that is the case, but it didn’t really make for interesting reading.

This book also introduced two new PoV characters. Davos, the smuggler turned knight in the camp of Stannis Baratheon, and Theon Greyjoy, the ward of Winterfell sent back to his home on the Iron Islands.

For me Davos wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. His back story was interesting and the events he was involved in were morally challenging which could have showcased a conflict between his duty and his beliefs. I think he was a little underdone and I wonder if he will feature in any of the other books. Theon Greyjoy, however, was an idiot. I hated him with a passion. I know that creating a character that the reader can feel strongly about is the goal of every author so I would like to congratulate GRRM for making me want to punch the pages, but by the end I just couldn’t stomach reading the Theon chapters and was sorely tempted to just skip over them completely.

I didn’t skip them this time, but I hope I never have to read any more of Theon’s story. I don’t think an author wants to create that kind of a negative reaction. To my mind his behaviour was completely at odds with his experiences. I can almost see why he did what he did, but even saying that is a stretch. Put simply, he’s too stupid to have lived this long in Westeros.

So Book two continued the threads created in book one nicely, drew some very few of them to a conclusion, and started new ones that have me curious. So far this series is living up to its promise of excellent epic fantasy, and the slow introduction and growth of magic has me looking forward to sinking my teeth into book three.


4 thoughts on “Review: A Clash of Kings”

  1. Just read the first chapter of Terraformers on Matt’s blog. Excellent. Hoping to finish it someday.
    Any more thought to going low tech: paper books?

    1. Thank you for that… I now need to get moving finishing the rest of that so that Matt doesn’t hurt me 🙂 I definitely have given it some more thought. My current WIP (which I will admit to having in WIP for a long time but progress is being made) will absolutely be printed as a real book, as will the two story-time stories when they’re done. Also Bonds of Honour may well go that route via createspace through amazon in the next few months… It’s the only thing long enough to warrant such treatment, So yes, the wheels are in motion.

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