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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, book no. 2) » User review

The magic is slow to build

  • Jul 16, 2001
"A Clash of Kings" got me through two long airplane trips in steerage class, plus several sleepless nights when I was trapped in a noisy Roman hotel with sixty Episcopalian choir boys.

For that I am grateful.

I won't admit to being addicted to Martin's epic medieval war fantasy, but I've already started Volume III,"A Storm of Swords," from his projected six-volume series, "A Song of Ice and Fire."

After finishing "A Game of Thrones (Volume I)," I wasn't sure how the author was going to extend his story to six, thousand-page volumes. However "A Clash of Kings" opens up many possible plot lines---there are five kings in Volume II as opposed to one king in Volume I, and they spend this book warring against each other. If you like to read about trebuchets that "turned living men into bone and pulp and gristle," and you know the difference between a mace and a morning-star, then you'll probably enjoy the battle scenes more than I did. Martin did his research on medieval weaponry and tactics, and his action scenes are totally riveting, even though ripped entrails, ichorous fluids, spastic colons, and roasting flesh are prominently featured.

I guess you can't scramble for thrones without breaking a few yokels.

Martin splits his narrative between ten different characters, eight of them continuing their stories from volume I:

· The Starks of Winterfell--- Lord Eddard of Winterfell's widow Catelyn, her daughters Sansa and Arya, her son Bran, plus Eddard's son, Jon. Catelyn's son Robb is crowned King of the North and spends much of volume II defeating the various armies fielded by Joffrey Baratheon's royal relatives.

· Daenerys Targaryen, daughter of the last Dragon-blood king and referred to as the 'Queen across the Water.' She spends volume II raising her three young dragons and outwitting the various and colorful folks who covet a flying lizard of their very own.

· Tyrion Lannister, the current Queen's dwarf brother and chief councilor to the under-age king, Joffrey Baratheon. Tyrion schemes with eunuchs, punishes traitors,defends his king, and dodges his sister-Queen's murderous henchmen. He has all of the best lines in the book and I love him dearly even if he does lose part of his nose.

· Theon Grayjoy (new) - once a ward of the Starks, now a scheming turncoat.

· Davos the Onion Knight (new) - a former smuggler who is loyal to the 'King in the Narrow Sea,' Stannis Baratheon. Davos and Tyrion Lannister are burdened with the main battle narratives, Davos from the sea and Tyrion from the besieged city.

Please don't try to read "A Clash of Kings" unless you've already finished "A Game of Thrones." You might be able to skip "A Clash of Kings" and go straight to volume III, although I wouldn't recommend doing so. Although there is plenty of action, not much happens to move the whole series forward in volume II. One of the five kings hooks up with a powerful fire sorceress, and in my humble opinion that is 'the' most important happening in "Clash".

However, we start to catch glimpses of the supernatural bones that support Martin's epic, e.g. the servants of the Drowned God, the followers of the Lord of Light, and evil sorcery beyond the Wall of ice. Martin is moving as slowly as the glacier beyond the Wall, but the first three volumes of "A Song of Ice and Fire" are compulsive reading.

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review by . June 16, 2011
In this second volume of the series (which I began because the quality of the recent HBO series enthralled me), George R. R. Martin carries his tale of discord, violence, magic and collapse in Westeros (the land of the Seven Kingdoms) forward from Book I. This is a huge story with no sign of its ending yet at hand (there are at least three more equally fat books to go). The incredible length and the complexity of the story line are finally beginning to weigh on me though.    I …
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Elaine Lovitt ()
Ranked #169
I'm a retired geek whose goal is to move to Discworld and apprentice myself to Granny Weatherwax. I have degrees in Astronomy and Computer Science, but was seduced by the Dark Side a few years before … more
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How does he do it?George R.R. Martin's high fantasy weaves a spell sufficient to seduce even those who vowed never to start a doorstopper fantasy series again (the first book--A Game of Thrones--runs over 700 pages).A Clash of Kingsis longer and even more grim, but Martin continues to provide compelling characters in a vividly real world.

The Seven Kingdoms have come apart. Joffrey, Queen Cersei's sadistic son, ascends the Iron Throne following the death of Robert Baratheon, the Usurper, who won it in battle. Queen Cersei's family, the Lannisters, fight to hold it for him. Both the dour Stannis and the charismatic Renly Baratheon, Robert's brothers, also seek the throne. Robb Stark, declared King in the North, battles to avenge his father's execution and retrieve his sister from Joffrey's court. Daenerys, the exiled last heir of the former ruling family, nurtures three dragons and seeks a way home. Meanwhile the Night's Watch, sworn to protect the realm from dangers north of the Wall, dwindle in numbers, even as barbarian forces gather and beings out of legend stalk the Haunted Forest.

Sound complicated? It is, but fine writing makes this a thoroughly satisfying stew of dark magic, complex political intrigue, and horrific bloodshed. --Nona Vero --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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ISBN-10: 0553579908
ISBN-13: 978-0553579901
Author: George R.R. Martin
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Bantam
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