This is a review of “A Clash of Kings” by George R. R. Martin. It is the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire and is the sequel to “A Game of Thrones“. Season two of HBO’s Game of Thrones is based on this novel.
And what a novel! First of all, this book was so long, I thought it would never end. But even better, I didn’t want it to end. I am so glad there are so many books left in the series for me to devour.
I must say: reading the novel and watching the beginning of Season 2 of Game of Thrones simultaneously was a little difficult to do. But I couldn’t pass up either! While this second season has deviated from the novel somewhat, I don’t have any problems with the changes (unlike the cringe inducing changes that occur in the Harry Potter movies) and they actually improved on the continuity of events.
The novel begins roughly where the first novel ended. We are introduced to new characters (in particular Stannis Baratheon and his followers), and characters who we already know are fleshed out (Theon Greyjoy for one).
SPOILERS: if you are an avid Game of Thrones viewer, I would suggest that perhaps this review is not for you. I do not want to inadvertently reveal something as yet unbeknownst to you. Same goes if you want to watch the first season of the show or read the first novel but never have. I would highly recommend averting your eyes, and leaving this review for a later date.
The book begins by describing events surrounding Stannis Baratheon, the true and “rightful” heir to the Iron Throne. Under the sway of the mysterious and somewhat sinister Red Priestess Melisandre of Asshai, Stannis appears to be a hard hearted and somewhat unlikable candidate for Kingship.
But never fear! As the the title suggests, there are plenty of Kings to choose from in this novel.
Renly Baratheon is not content to sit idly by and let his older brother Stannis take over the throne. While he agrees with Stannis and the late Eddard Stark on the illegitimacy of Prince Joffrey’s claim to the throne, he believes that he should be King and not Stannis.
After the death of his father, Robb Stark decides to march for King’s Landing. After gathering his forces in the North, his followers dub him The King in the North. Outraged by the death of his father, and fearful for his sisters safety, he wants nothing more than to defeat King Joffrey.
Joffrey and his mother, Queen Regent Cersei declare all of these “Kings” to be treasonous traitors. They hold Sansa Stark as a hostage to ensure compliance from Robb and Catelyn Stark. Unfortunately Joffrey had already beheaded their most valuable hostage in the last novel, and Arya Stark has disappeared from court and from Kings Landing.
Arya Stark, disguised as a boy, has been taken by Yoren, a Brother of The Nights Watch. Yoren intends to take her home to Winterfell. But war breaks out between the forces of the many Kings and the road to The Wall becomes a perilous place.
Jon Snow, the Stark bastard is at Castle Black on The Wall. Lord Commander Mormont of the Nights Watch decides that a large scale ranging north of the wall is in order after a man rose from the dead and tried to kill him. He gathers a large force of Brothers of the Nights Watch, and ranges north of the wall in an effort to learn more. He hopes to speak to The Wildlings, the free and lawless folk who dwell north of the wall, but each village they pass through while ranging is empty and void of people. News reaches their ears that Mance Rayder the so-called “King Beyond the Wall” is gathering all of The Wildlings…
Across the sea, Daenerys Targaryen is lost in the desert, thirsty, and trying to care for her newborn dragons. She wants nothing more than to travel by sea to claim her Iron Throne, but doesn’t really have the slightest inkling of how to go about it. Deserted by her Khalasar after the death of her husband Khal Drogo, she is left with only her blood riders and a few followers. Their numbers are dwindling due to thirst and extreme heat exhaustion; but Dany refuses to give up. She will sit upon The Iron Throne if it’s the last thing she’ll ever do.
So many details, so many new characters and plot lines to follow, but all of it comes together and pans out beautifully. The villains in this novel are truly vicious.
I really enjoyed this book!