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Book Review: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martian (3/5)

16 May

I’m slowly buying into this trend. Slowly. I still haven’t seen the shows and I don’t think I’ll jump on the third book anytime soon. This isn’t my genre but the characters are great and that kind of makes up for it. Sorry for any big fans, you can’t please everyone!

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (Book #2 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Also reviewed on this blog: A Game of Thrones (Book #1 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Summary from Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held 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, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

I read this book over a three-month period when I would have and lose the audiobook for it. I think that detracted from my enjoyment a lot. I would lose track of what was happening to characters, especially the more minor characters like Theon and Davos. I wished there were more about Dani because she was one of my favorite characters from the first book, but she didn’t have as big of a role in this book. I know she’ll come into play in a large fashion but it will be a while first.  Oh well. I found this book slower than the first and harder to enjoy because of it. Maybe it was my pace, but it was hard for me to get into it.

Martin’s characters are what I love most about this series. The women are smart and the men are cunning. I like the play of magic and strength for power. I think there are a few too many characters, though, and it would be easier if we didn’t have to follow so many plot lines to stay with the story. There was never a time I remember thinking ‘WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?’ about a character. They were all motivated well, even the ones you didn’t agree with (Theon).

Tyrion was my favorite character. We saw a softer side of him with Shay this book and I liked that, though he had to be even more cunning than before as Cerci tightens her grasp on the crown. Because my other favorite characters are the Starks, I feel like I should really dislike Tyrion, but he’s so well written and he has so many good one-liners that it’s hard to dislike him.

I related to Catelyn, Sansa, and Arya in different ways. I related to Catelyn’s loss of control. I’m at a point in my life when I’m in over my head and I don’t feel like there’s a lot I can control going on around me. Sansa’s fear of being her true self reminds me of high school when I (and I’m sure many others) felt like I had to play the part another friend (Cerci) wanted me to, even if I didn’t like it. And I related to Arya’s resilience. That was one thing that stood out to me in this story. No matter how much hardship was thrown at Arya, she always found a way to get through it and survive. She’s very admirable for that and I think anyone who’s had to tough out a bad situation can relate to her.

George RR Martin Image via

George RR Martin
Image via

I thought Dani visiting the ghosts was a great scene. It was great that her dragons went with her on the quest and she was so smart in how she approached each of the puzzles. Martin had great imagery in this scene and I was able to picture the complicated setting with clarity. It was a bit more magical than I’m used to, but it was really fun to see what happened.

I’m not a fan of war and battles so the battle at King’s Landing was a big dull for me. Luckily I was in the middle of a seven mile run so I toughed through it! It felt drawn out to me, reminding me of the Battle of Helms Deep in the Lord of the Rings. I felt that could have been faster, too. I’m not a war person.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Roy Dotrice, the same narrator from the first audiobook. I still stand that he’s my favorite narrator I’ve listened to. He does an amazing job with voices for the minor and major characters. I never get confused about who is talking. He works in the mannerisms of each character, something I rarely hear in audio and I greatly enjoyed. Him narrating could get me to listen to the third sooner than expected.

A lot of the characters in this book had to be self-reliant. Arya, in particular, can’t trust anyone around her and I think the same can be argued  for Sansa and all the contenders for the throne. I have a feeling this will come into play later in the series when everyone will have to trust each other and count on one another to succeed but that’s just my conjecture. We’ll see how it goes.

Writer’s Takeaway: The build-up on this one was rough. A lot of you have said the third one is great and totally worth it, but I’m dragging a bit with this series overall. I need some big event to take place and the battle at King’s Landing didn’t do that for me. It didn’t affect the characters I cared about very much and I’m reading for something new.

Well written, yet again, but not for me. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Review: A Clash of Kings | The Literary Omnivore
A Clash of Kings: Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), George R. R, Martin (HarpurCollins, 1999){Random House Audio, Narrator: Roy Doltrice) | The Archaeologist’s Guide to the Galaxy.. by Thomas Evans