I was ever so lucky to be gifted with a full set (to-date) of the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin last Christmas. I picked up the first instalment A Game of Thrones in March just before the release of series 3 of the TV adaptation Game of Thrones. I decided to wait to pick up the second instalment A Clash of Kings until the series ended because I didn’t think my mind could handle reading book two while watching series three at the same time!
A Clash of Kings is the second instalment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The next two paragraphs will contain spoilers for the previous instalment.
A Clash of Kings returns us to the action of the Seven Kingdoms to find them in chaos as five different fractions are vying for The Iron Throne. King Robert’s heir apparent Joffrey has been crowned but the kingdoms are filled with terrible rumours that he is not actually Robert’s. That instead he is the product of his mother’s incest. This leads to the rise of other claimants to the throne. Both Robert’s brothers Stannis and Renly raise armies to fight Joffrey and each other if necessary. There is also the rise of Robb Stark, King of the North, the eldest son of Lord Eddard Stark who seeks justice for his land and family. While across the sea Daenarys Targaryen the only remaining descendant of the Targaryen Dragon Lords still has her eyes upon the throne too. Meanwhile unbeknownst to them all evil is stirring beyond The Wall and there isn’t enough Brothers of the Night Watch left to hold it back much longer. Winter is coming. Oh that phrase sends a shiver up my spine! A Clash of Kings was another action and intrigued packed adventure which I needed my wits about me to keep up with. As you can see there is a lot going on in this novel. I could hardly be parted with it because I couldn’t wait to find out more.
The adventure of A Clash of Kings is peopled with a whole host of interesting characters too. So many I couldn’t possibly discuss them all here so instead I am going to focus on the five protagonists vying for The Iron Throne. First of course we Joffrey the apparent heir to King Robert and his wife Cersei Lannister. Joffrey is beautiful, cruel, and vain. I can’t say there is any winning feature about him. He really is a character you love to hate. Next we have Stannis Baratheon the brother of King Robert. Stannis is proud, loyal, fair, but not the most charismatic of characters unlike both of his brothers. Stannis has adopted a new god in his pursuit of power which has made him unpopular. Then of course we have Renly Baratheon the younger brother of Robert and Stannis. Renly is handsome, charming, and gallant with a beautiful young wife Margery Tyrell at his side. Renly is everything the common people think a King should be. Removed from this group we have Robb Stark whose father was King Robert’s closest friend. Robb is young, clever, brave, and yet humble. Unlike those named above he did not set out to be a King it was his men that proclaimed him King of the North because of their love for him. Finally over the sea we have Daenarys Targaryen the only remaining heir of the Targaryen Dragon Lords who were banished by King Robert. Daenarys is the only female claimant. She is young, beautiful, and ambition yet she is kind and fair with it. Of all the claimants the only two I truly liked are Robb and Daenarys. Actually Daenarys is still one of my favourite characters from the first book. Even though all five claimants are fascinating to read about.
While I have watched the television series, A Clash of Kings the book is new for me. What put me off reading this series for some time now has been the sheer length of these books. A Clash of Kings is over 800 pages getting on for nearly 900. This is one long book! My fear as always was that the story would be slow and drag but no fear on that count was needed. I couldn’t put this book down and had the reached the end before I knew it. Like the first instalment A Clash of Kings is jam-packed with action, adventure, intrigue, love, war, lies, fighting, secrets, and shocks! Martin’s writing is still detailed and compelling, and his choice to break these books up into bite-size chapters shown through the eyes of different characters is a great idea. As a reader I found myself completely immersed in the Seven Kingdoms as I got to explore different cities, castles, and lands from the view-point of the different characters. There are a lot of names, places, and events to remember in this series but I didn’t find it that hard to keep track especially as there is maps and a fantastic appendix to help.
A Clash of Kings is an excellent epic fantasy adventure. I highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy and historical literature. This series does contain sexual and violent content so not recommended for younger readers. I am eager to start reading the next instalment A Storm of Swords. As I imagine I still have a long wait for the release of Game of Thrones series 4.
Are you reading this series? Are you watching the television series?
Previous instalments of A Song of Ice and Fire series:
1. A Game of Thrones