Martin is a genius, there seems to be no doubt about that.
A Clash of Kings, book two of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is the follow-up to George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.
Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark are dead; the crown rests with King Joffrey but Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon all lay claim. The comet in the sky is seen as a sign of war and incest, fratricide and murder discolour the landscape.
Winter is coming and the undead and Others are beginning to stir. Into this, from across the sea, comes the daughter of the Dragon King to add her name to the list of pretenders to the throne.
Second in what is believed to be a planned seven book series, ‘A Clash of Kings’ continues George R. R. Martin’s epic ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’ With the disastrous and literally heart breaking conclusion to its predecessor, this book only continues the strife raging across Westeros, providing a total lack of end in sight.
The Seven Kingdoms have been plunged heavily into civil war. Five are vying for contention and naming themselves king, with none abiding the others. Stories and alliances are fracturing alike, and the reader is helpless before the onslaught of new characters, new plot lines, and revelations and cliff-hangers that leave the mind reeling.
It is hard to fully explain the brilliance of a sequel like this in a review, without giving away its content. There is far too much going on that to even hint at some of it is to take away surprises that are part of the thrill of reading Martin’s work.
The characters allotted chapters is upped to nine, promoting one supporting character from book one to fully fledged lead, and introducing an entirely new character to introduce us to the inner workings of an entirely new plot thread.
Tyrion Lannister is once again one of the highlights of the book, providing a much needed breath of humour as well as an intelligence that is not hindered by personal greed, ambition or idiocy. This in no way means that any of the other characters are a chore to read, but rather act in ways that leave the reader entirely certain they deserve to be smacked upside the head with a shovel.
The sheer bastardry of some of the characters both introduced and returning is horrific at points. The loss encountered by some of the characters rends the heart, and the entire lack of instant communication between characters – so evident in other fantasy books, allowing for absolutely no miscommunications and misunderstandings – leaves you wishing just once that the author would provide a backdoor for you to whisper “it’s ok, she’s alive” to mum, sister or brother.
One of the story’s most tragic plot threads belongs to young Arya Stark. Nothing seems to go her way, almost to the point of absurdity. You are left at the end of each chapter pining for something good to happen to her. And even when a ray of light comes through, it is a dirty ray of light, tainted with worse news to come.
Arya, along with several other characters, provide the only hindrance to reading these books. I believe that it requires an understanding of human culture in medieval times, but it seems that the responsibilities of children aged between eight and eighteen are immense indeed. Marriage is commonplace in the early teens (soon after their first period), boys are kings before they’re allowed to drink (... you know what I mean) and young girls come to taking lives far too easily.
That is not to say it is unrealistic. More, it is a hard pill to swallow, with the knowledge that all of this was commonplace a thousand years ago and less. So once again, the only hindrance to the book is only in our inability as 21st Century humans to see beyond our own lives and into the lives of others less fortunate than us.
Martin is a genius, there seems to be no doubt about that. His gift with words and storytelling combine to craft a tale that will one day rival Tolkien’s as a fantasy tale for England. Make sure you are reading ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ today.
Joshua S Hill
I knew before I read this book that it was very highly rated by a lot of people and it was with real anticipation that I read the first pages. However, I did not enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. The characters are good and storyline itself cannot be faulted but I felt that it was overly long and more than a bit confusing in places. There are a lot of characters to deal with and at times it was overwhelming, difficult in places to keep track with who is who and what their role in the story was.
His sister’s arms dug painfully into his arms. For a moment she stared incredulous, as if he had begun to gibber in an unknown tongue. “Stannis and Renly are fighting each other?” When he nodded, Cersei began to chuckle. “Gods be good,” she gasped, “I’m starting to believe that Robert was the clever one.”
Tyrion: A Clash of Kings
After reading authors of the calibre of Robin Hobb and Steven Erikson I would have to say that George R. R. Martin is not quite in the same league as a storyteller and that the characters are not as well formed or as deserving of the readers emotions.
He turned over the glass, and he did not know whether to laugh or cry. The gash was long and crooked, starting a hair under his left eye and ending on the right side of his jaw. Three quarters of his nose was gone, and a chunk of his lip. Someone had sown the torn flesh together with catgut, and their clumsy stitches were still in place across the seam of raw, red, half healed flesh. “Pretty,” he croaked, flinging the glass aside.
Tyrion: A Clash of Kings
The character driven chapter structure is a positive and it keeps the book well structured and at times fast paced. The book starts rather slowly but gains momentum towards the end, which always seemed rather too distant. This is a very good book but there are finer examples of the genre available. If you are looking for a tale that features more sword than sorcery and enjoy the nuances of epic battles then this will be just your cup of tea. If you have read Game of Thrones and want more of the same then this will not disappoint but unfortunately I was rather looking forward to finishing the book and not for all the right reasons. A good book but too long.
13 positive reader review(s) for A Clash Of Kings
235 positive reader review(s) in total for the A Song of Ice and Fire series
Augustine from Lagos, Africa
Great book. Exhilarating and exciting.
Xavier from Vienna
A Clash of Kings maintains the high standards set in the series opener, A Game of Thrones. Characters that by now have become pleasantly familair: Tyrion, Cat, Jaime, Jon etc. are given time to further grow as we plunge further into a world ravaged by civil war. It's as hard hitting as ever, with Martin using tried and tested shock-factors (the killing of children, harm to women, treachery etc) to powerful effect even if they do sometimes leave a slightly bitter taste. The only area where I felt things slipped during this multiple point-of-view narrative was when Theon Greyjoy's story was being told - it just didn't work for me. But the book as a whole recieves my hearty recommendation. If you loved the first book, you will love this one too.
Alex from Washington
I understand what a lot of people see in this as a series; it's difficult to put down. My issue isn't with where it starts; it starts out as strong as any other series of its kind, and I quite enjoyed where it seemed to be heading. But out of nowhere it seemed like Martin got bored or pressure from the editors or... I don't know what happened, honestly, but soon enough the whole thing turned into gore porn, and with very shaky justifications. I've heard people use terms like 'realistic' and 'harsh truths' to describe this series. These are misguided claims. At least one character is killed off essentially in a Deus Ex Machina fashion that is so utterly out-of-the-blue and in such a poor way that I had to put the book down in disgust. Martin knew how to begin this series and get me hooked; he seems to have utterly no idea what comes next. After a while all the grimdark becomes more of a chore than anything else. See if you can count the number of rapes, almost-rapes, murders, mass murders, and instances of out-of-character sadism in this series, because I have lost count, and honestly at this point, it's not shocking, it's not titillating, it isn't exciting, hell, by now it's barely surprising at all. I really wanted to be more of a fan of this book and this series but I'm afraid I don't see how this is considered great writing. It isn't. Its twists are supposed to be dramatic, but they come off as forced and kind of dumb. I'm only on the second book and I'm already groaning and rolling my eyes at the murder and rape. Again? Really? If you're a little bit of a mixed-up sadist who loves plot elements that come from nowhere and then never show up again as the only reprieves from a litany of confusing motives, guards who will murder and rape anything so long as they're told, and writing that started strong but ultimately leads nowhere and pulls another slaughter and/or rape and/or out-of-character turn from openly good to outright evil every time it's bored, then by all means, pick this book up. Otherwise, keep your money, it's not worth the read. I don't understand where its popularity comes from; endless cliffhangers don't make a story good. What is shocking in the first few chapters becomes another Tuesday morning if you do it in every subsequent chapter; I can't be shocked forever. At this point, it would sincerely shock me if a character actually managed to retain their morals just to mix things up a little.
Michael from Australia
What I love about these books is that George R R Martin isn't afraid to kill of main characters. I am constantly scared that my favorite character could be killed off at any time and that makes the suspense all the more greater.
Marcus from England
I decided to get this book based on the reviews and it didn't disappoint at all. It will keep you hooked through every page. A breathtaking and exhilarating book. This is fantasy at its best.
Tom from America
This is one damn good book.
Bob from England
One word: AMAZING!
Alex from Alaska
Lord Eddard is dead, but his memory lives on in this book. He's referred to so constantly, I forgot he was dead at times. This book solidifies what makes ASOIAF a step above other fantasy (or even: fiction). There is no 'device'. Coincidences rarely happen. Sometimes characters make the blatantly wrong decisions. Sometimes good characters die, and they aren't going to come back like Gandalf. But moreover, the emotional drama is powerful. When Gandalf dies, everyone mourns, but then moves on. When Frodo is brought back to Minas Tirith, he really isn't surprised to find Gandalf back. It just... happens? Ned abounds in the memory of his family. And that is what truly happens. No one forgets. It's hard to move on. Arya's story is also fascinating. She is tossed from one obstacle to the next with no apparent end in sight. And when she does have a chance to end her suffering, she makes an especially poor decision. But it's a choice we'd all make in her position. No one considers the King - they just want their own life to be comfortable. The fantasy setting is great and well described, but Martin's grasp on humanity is utterly astounding. If you are confused about how the world operates, read these books. You'll understand international politics in a whole new light. And you won't be cynical. You'll understand. You'll hate it, but understand. That's the triumph here - we still hate some characters, but we understand where they're coming from.
Eddie from Los Angelas
This is a disappointment from its predecessor, Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones, which I give ten out of ten, was amazingly well written. All the characters were great, and each point of view was unique in their own ways. As for this, I can't say it for most of them. Jon Snow trudges around inside the wall, and nothing really happens until the last two or three chapters. And nothing really goes on in Daenerys' chapters, and nor does anything actually even happen in the end. A big shame as I was excited about her the most after reading Game of Thrones. As for Arya, she had some nice scenes but overall disappointing in what could have been more interesting turned into one slow end but to a good conclusion. Sansa was as I expected as it was slow, but it did not even pay off in the ending which disappointed me. Catlyn had fairly decent chapters from beginning to end, and I must say that Tyrion had fantastic chapters himself, same with Davos but he's not a character I'm interested in yet. Bran's chapters were more interesting here than the last book and Theon's were so perverted I could only enjoy bits and pieces. I would not say George R. R. Martin is a genius in storytelling as I once believed, but he is a genius in constructing war to a realistic extent. But his character development was so sloppy I almost didn't give this book a chance. But what I did like were the battle scenes and absorbing conversations between Tyrion and almost any other character. The book was a good read for the most part, but don't expect a genius as proclaimed here. Expect some realistic depictions here, and realism isn't always the best to make a good story but Martin seems to put it on a nice level at least.
Gary from Vancouver, BC
Clash of Kings was a very enticing do to the first material's content. I did not believe that it could be an improvement, but like many times before, I was proven wrong. Clash of Kings adds depth to the characters that were introduced and is much, much more explicit than the first novel. I had to clandestinely read it in my English class it was so enslaving. Read the first novel before this, it will totally be worth it.
Paul from Glasgow
Addictive and absorbing reading.
Ryan from Wisconsin
I agree with Russell 100%, Martin is a fantastic author with very in-depth characters. I would even dare to compare him to Tolkien in some respects.
Russell from Cardiff
Sorry, I have to disagree with this review. The book is as long as it needs to be and features just as many characters as it needs. I suggest you re-read it again, straight after Game of Thrones and you'll want to change your review. This is the best fantasy series around, even better than Erikson.
9.3/10 from 14 reviews