Review: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Posted May 31, 2012 by Carmel in / 13 Comments

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Title: A Clash of Kings
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #2
Author: George R. R. Martin
Publisher: Bantam Books
Format: Paperback, 761 pages
Published: May 28, 1999
ISBN #: 9780553381696 / 0553381695
Genre: Fantasy
My Copy: borrowed
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A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an 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. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

The second installment of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is even bloodier than the first. Although, this book is very different than A Game of Thrones it’s still just as spellbinding. All hell has broken loose in the seven kingdoms and there are now five kings fighting for the Iron Throne. I found that HBO didn’t stick quite as closely to the original story this time around so if you want the real scoop you’ll have to bite the bullet and read all 761 pages of A Clash of Kings. I expect that this will continue to be the case for future season’s because Martin’s books keep getting longer and longer. Discouraged? I hear that the audio books are quite good and help make the descriptive writing and old school language easier to digest.

I immensely enjoyed all of the war games that are played in book 2. Battle tactics aren’t as straightforward as you might think. I was especially impressed by Tyrion Lannister’s cunning. He sets the beginnings of his plan in motion early on and at first you can’t help but wonder what the heck he is doing. When his elaborate scheme finally comes together towards the end it only makes his actions all the more clever. I never thought that my favorite A Song of Ice and Fire character would be a dwarf but there you have it! It’s still early in the series to say for sure but I’m really diggin’ Tyrion’s wit and sly ways. Plus, he tells Cersei and Joffrey where to stick it on several occasions. There’s just something hilariously funny about a dwarf not only standing up to his royal family but actually winning his arguments and making them look bad. I can’t wait for the rest of his story!

The format of this book is consistent with that of its predecessor. Each chapter is named after a character and follows their role in the war. In my opinion, there’s good things and bad things to be said about this style of writing. I like that readers get inside of each character’s head and that the point of view is constantly changing. There’s never a dull moment! However, it can also cause quite a bit of confusion; especially when a character hasn’t made an appearance for 50 chapters. After a while you start to forget where you last left them which caused me to feel frustrated at times. I hate having to backtrack while reading. The lengthy descriptions and old dialect are also trying at times. This isn’t a book to read when the kids are screaming for dinner and the TV is blaring. It requires your full attention otherwise you’re going to miss a few crucial details and ultimately end up lost.

A Clash of Kings isn’t for the faint of heart. This story is overflowing with betrayal, violence and rape. These are the realities of war after all. I’m hoping that the next book focuses more on what’s happening beyond the wall. I’m dying to learn more about the paranormal aspects of this fantasy series. War and politics make for a great story but I want to know about the Others, white walkers, dragons and the children of the forest. Let the kings fight amongst themselves for a while and bring on the big bads!

Books in this series:
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
My Review
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Recommendation: If you love being knee deep in details, epic tales and enjoy a wide array of character types then this one’s for you.
Like this, like that: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and the Inheriance series by Christopher Paolini.

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About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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13 responses to “Review: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

  1. Excellent Review Carmel!!
    Even though I’m enjoying the show tremendously, I can see the differences with the book, that was exactly my fear when I decided to listen to the book- that I would be constantly making comparisons. Lucky for me, I still love the show, but I wish I would have waited until this season was over before I listen to the book.

  2. I loved everything you said here about A Clash of Kings. My boyfriend and I watch the show and the abundance of differences are so frustrating to me that every scene, he looks at me and asks “So what really happened?” I still enjoy the show, like most, but the inconsistencies are a little absurd. Not to mention, what future repercussions could there be on the rest of the series? Could change the whole outcome of… everything. But I digress…

    I also agree with your misgivings about the writing style. Bouncing back and forth can get cumbersome. And what bothers me is the lack of perspectives from other characters (which gives the HBO writers some leg room, true). Why not Robb? Or Osha? Or Joffrey? I realize that given the vast cast of characters, the books would be just that much longer but still. I wish I could be in the heads of other characters, all the same.

    Anyway, great review!

  3. @Jessie Marie Luckily my guy’s already read the book so I’m not in the same situation as you. But yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how the TV series plays out with all of the changes. Then again, the way that they blew up the ship in the last episode was cool to watch on TV even if that’s not how it really happened…

  4. I just finished up with this series, well at least the books that are out so far. I absolutely agree 100% about Tyrion. He’s still my favorite character. These books are amazing.

  5. Great review, Carmel. Honestly, you are the second person I know of who have not given up on these series. My hubby being the avid reader couldn’t mutter through them. He threw the towel out on the fourth book. I’d like to see the second season only because it was filmed in Dubrovnik and me being Croatian am naturally curious what they made of the city. I’d hate if that ancient town now bears the name of King’s Landing just because of it. That being said I’m sure there are many who love these books, but they are not for me. I’m not too keen on head hopping. Not many writers can pull this off successfully. I find it difficult to follow the plot.