Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Clash of Kings



















A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R. Martin
Kindle edition purchased from Amazon.com
Description from Goodreads:

George R.R. Martin writes sword-and-sorcery which concentrates on the swords. A Clash of Kings is the second volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, the sequence which began with A Game of Thrones and will take another four volumes to complete. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud; beyond their Northern borders, the men of the Night Watch fight the coming of a great cold and the walking corpses that travel with it; on the other side of the ocean, the last of the Kingdom's deposed ruling house mourns her horseclan husband and rears the dragonets she hatched from his funeral pyre. This is character-driven fantasy—we see most events through the eyes of the sons and daughters of the Stark family, the once and future Kings of the North, whose father's judicial murder started the war. Martin avoids the cosy cheeriness of many epic fantasies in favour of a sense of the squalor and grandeur of high medieval life; there is passion here, and misery and charm.Roz Kaveney

My take:
While I really enjoyed the first  book in this series, I thought the story really took off in this, the second book of the series. We finally get to actually meet some of the important characters only referenced in the first book.  Stannis Baratheon and his family are introduced and we find out what he is really like. Turns out, what people said about him in the first book is pretty much true.  We are also introduced to the red priestess Melisandre, who plays a rather big part in events and seems rather powerful for a religious woman. Theon Greyjoy's family is also introduced and we find out that Theon really is as big of a jerk as he seemed. So many new characters are introduced, that it would be ridiculous to try to recap them all. But since these families are so important, I thought I'd mention them. I thought that Brienne of Tarth was a particularly sympathetic new character and suspect (hope) that she will continue to play an important role in the other books.

Once again, my favorite characters Tyrion, Arya, and Jon Snow. I loved how despite everything Cersei did to thwart him, Tyrion still did his best to fulfill his duty as acting Hand of the King. He was awesome. I liked the character development and he has become the only sympathetic Lannister.  Arya continues to grow up and remain the strong, tough, stubborn daughter of Ned Stark.  Jon Snow continues to be a favorite character as well. I find it interesting and wonderful that the most interesting, sympathetic, empathetic, brave, and intelligent characters in the series are underdogs, minimalized by others in society and sometimes their own families. Jon Snow, the bastard, a title he will live with his whole life, is discounted by much of society and especially by Catelyn Stark. Tyrion Lannister, "The Imp", is looked at in revulsion, disgust, amusement - many different reactions - by everyone, including or especially his own father. Despite how people see him, he continues to try to do what is right according to his own conscience and tries to keep his sister from killing him in the process. Arya, a young girl, is overlooked, bullied, discounted, but she continues to fight and to act as she thinks is best. Despite difficult situations, difficult decisions, and extremely hard conditions, she is a force to be reckoned with.

I am reading the third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, right now. I am very happy with the way each book takes up right where the last one left off.  Again, this is not a cheery, happy, sparkly fantasy world. It is very dirty, violent, and angry. It seems very real in a medieval setting.  I would highly recommend the book for mature readers.


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