A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) by George R.R. Martin

Intrigues and politicking ... and why is this so freaking long?

About A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin: A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And 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.

My two cents

Remember I "sort-of-reviewed" the first book The Game of Thrones in this series? Naturally I couldn't stop at the first book and picked up the second soon after. I'm giving my general impressions here of this specific book but will do a round-up of the series after I've read them all (if I ever do).

I liked

Let's start with what I liked:

Cliffhangers and hooks. With so many characters and subplots, you're bound to root for a character or two, or are naturally curious to learn how matters take their course. (I personally found myself wanting to find out more about Arya who is such a spunky character, what made the evil Jaime tick, Bran to a lesser degree [poor boy], and I generally enjoyed the whole Stark family dynamic because so much of the first book dwells on this family.)

More fleshed out characters. I was vaguely dissatisfied with the first book because the characters never really took shape for me since everything felt so cursorily written out. So this second book was much better for me because the characters were better fleshed out. Unfortunately it takes two books for that to happen!

Politicking. Much more reminiscent of Lord of the Rings and of Philippa Gregory's books, I rather appreciated the intricacies of plotting and intrigues and politicking. It gives readers insight into human nature and what it takes to orchestrate events to work out to benefit a person, or a kingdom.


The "problems" with this series, I am finding thus far is:

So long! These books are long. Chunksters. It didn't help that I have the pocketbook version with thin pages and tiny print. I found myself taking this pretty slowly and it took me weeks (weeks!) to finish this! There are sections that dragged and I unfortunately found reading this slightly tedious at times.

I need the geneology, on hand at all times. Granted this book has some pretty good hooks but there there are so many characters and myriad sub-plots that it's hard to keep track or even remember people and their backstories. I remember towards about three-fourths into the book, I couldn't for the life of me remember who a specific character was; I ended up flipping back somewhere to the beginning, trying to figure out why this character's name seemed familiar ...

Ho-hum characters. I feel like I am waiting, waiting, still waiting for more interesting characters to show up. Despite the dizzying array of characters, I don't find anyone especially memorable. And how boring can Catelyn get? (yawn).

Copycat? I already felt that this was obviously inspired by Tolkien upon the first read. But really, this pales in comparison. Take this as popcorn high fantasy because I don't dare compare this to Tolkien's masterpiece of a LOTR.

Right now, I am in limbo with regards picking up the next book. I feel like I need to take a rest from all this popcorn reading. I need a decent meal.

P.S. By the way, I think I sorted it all out since I mistakenly thought the entire series was called The Game of Thrones. The entire series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, first book: The Game of Thrones, second book: A Clash of Kings.

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall