Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

A Clash of Kings
A Clash of Kings, the sequel to A Game of Thrones, starts with many kings. Following the death of Robert Baratheon and the accusations that Prince Joffrey is not the rightful heir, there were claims to the Iron Throne by both Robert's brothers, and Robb Stark is proclaimed King of the North. And, as with its predecessor, A Clash of Kings follows far more than just one character (or these kings). There is Jon Snow (and gang) who venture beyond the wall, trying to find his uncle Benjen and some answers; Arya who managed to escape King's Landing with the help of the Night Watch, as a boy; Bran who must rule Winterfell in stead of Robb; Daenerys and her dragons (and her khal) who try to find a way to reach Westeros; and Tyrion who has been tasked by his father to serve as Hand to King Joffrey (and make sure he does not make more mistakes).

With so many storylines, it's easier to pick them apart and comment on each one. To start, Daenerys part was one that I least liked. There was not much going on, and what did happen did not strike me as very important (but I guess that's because she is so far away from the main action). But on the plus side, there were dragons. Not that they did much either.

Another storyline that I couldn't care much about (at least at first) was Theon's. I never liked him much, and he came across as spoiled and petty. But after seeing what his family was like, I couldn't help but pity him (and I did end up to respect him a bit later on, just because he stuck with his choices, no matter how wrong and stupid they were).

And now that the most disliked parts are done with, let's get on with the good stuff. Last book, I ended with a few favourite characters among the multitude that we have in A Song of Ice and Fire: Jon Snow, Bran and Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lanister. And in this book they did not disappoint (much). In the case of the Stark family (Jon included), I felt there were points the story dragged a bit, but in the end I ended up loving it anyway. That is not what happened with Tyrion's story. Most of the time, I was reading the other chapters as fast as I could just to get to a part where Tyrion made an appearance. I loved his plots and his backhanded way of doing things, and if there were more Lanisters like him, I could end up loving that House (as it is, I'll point his family as his biggest fault).

There were also a few surprises regarding some characters. First, the urge to slap Sansa Stark disappeared, I started to like her. It help that she lost her admiration for Joffrey and the Queen, and that she started to think a bit for herself (of course it helps to be reminded that she is only 12, still pretty much a child, but one can't help but compare her to Arya, who his 10 and kicks butt). Seeing Queen Cersei as a mother (who actually cares for her kids, not simply likes to use them as pawns) was also quite nice, and even if that does not help to clear her image, still gives her a bit of extra dimension. (Of course now I'm left pondering what kind of father Robert was, and if Joffrey could have turned out a bit better if there was a bit more love on his father's side).

And what of all these kings? For most part, I could care less who was going to sit on the throne (as long as it's not Joffrey), and there was a general feeling of waiting throughout the book (sure there were a few battles, a few key-deaths here and there, but still...). Between Stannis and Renly, the only thing that tipped the scales was one using the Red Lady as ally, and the other not caring much about religion (old, new or newer). As for Robb, I never really connected with his character and as his appearances grew farther and farther apart, I stop caring altogether about him.

But since the matter of the throne is far from resolved I can't help but read the next one the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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  1. The next book is... crazy awesome, I'll just say that. ;) So many things happened, that I kept my jaw hanging open. xD

    I don't care much for Daenerys's chapters as well, her story just never was that appealing to me. :/

    And I love to read Tyrion's chapters too, he has a very interesting and funny way of viewing things. :)

  2. I am looking forward for the next book :)

    I did like Daenerys's story on the first book, but on this one she didn't do much more than go from one place to another without a real plan.

    Tyrion is the best :D

  3. I agree with p7, for all of the waiting that sometimes seem to happen in this series, there are chunks where so much happens that it totally makes up for it.

    I also didn't care much about Robb the first time I read this series, but then after having watched the HBO series, I thought the actor playing him did such a good job with it that I found Robb's stories much more interesting on a re-read. :)

  4. In the first book I actually did like Robb, it was just that in this one, once he stopped appearing, I realized I wasn't missing his part of the story. But I expected that on the second season of the series they will give him a bit more air time (and maybe I'll start liking his part of the story).