Title:A Clash of Kings
Author: George R. R. Martin
Page Count/Review Word Count: 742
A Clash of Kings is the second book in George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. You might be more familiar with it as Game of Thrones, especially if you watch the TV show.
I explained in my review for the first book in the series that I’ve been holding back on watching the TV show until after I’ve read the books. It’s a policy that seems to be serving me well, and whilst I have read, watched and enjoyed the first season (and the first book), I haven’t watched any further. I have, however, read the book, and whilst it wasn’t as mind-blowing as the first book in the series, it was still pretty damn good.
What’s interesting here is the character development – you start to learn a little bit more about some of the characters that you were introduced in the first book, and some of them, like Theon Greyjoy, develop so much here that they’re almost unrecognisable. I can’t tell you too much about that, though – I don’t want to ruin the surprises for you, and rest assured that there are plenty of them for you to discover along the way.
We also meet some new characters, and we see a lot more of the Baratheon brothers, Renly and Stannis. In fact, this book takes its title from the fact that there are four different kings who are all claiming the realm, and a large part of the action takes place on the battlefield as different armies march against each other in increasingly bizarre confrontations, including at one one point when Renly and Stannis march against each other, instead of turning their forces towards King’s Landing, and the Lannisters.
A Clash of Kings is still a top quality novel, and certainly up there with the best high fantasy on the market, but I could only give it a 9/10 because there’s just something about it that made it not seem as gripping as the first book, which I awarded a 10/10. That said, A Clash of Kings is still a mindblowing read, and definitely worth the time investment that it’ll take you to get through the pages. You’d be crazy not to read them in order, though.
One of the more interesting aspects to this book is that because there’s so much warfare, you get to learn more about the different flags and banners for the main houses. In the same way that the wolf sigil of House Stark and the lion of the Lannisters are symbolic, so are the other sigils, and learning more about them gives you a chance to delve deeper into Martin’s world. There’s also a handy appendix at the end which tells you more about each house, including their sigils and standards and the key players in their households.
At the time of writing, I’m on to the third book in the series, which is split into two parts – I’m on part one. It’s already clear to me that A Clash of Kings was an important book in the development of the history of Westeros – Martin continues to build on what happens here, and it’s here, about half way through A Clash of Kings, that he pours gasoline onto the fire and the plot really starts to take off.
And Martin writes in a trademark style that sets his work apart from his contemporaries, which makes his work a lot of fun to read through. As for me, I’ve read about 2,000 pages of his work in just over a month, and I’m not going to get bored of him any time soon. I can see why people always rave about Game of Thrones – it’s a cracking television series, and an even better series of books.
For me, it’s a no-brainer – if you like fantasy, or if you like good fiction in general, then you’re going to enjoy A Clash of Kings just as much as you’ll enjoy any of the other books in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Sure, it takes a huge time commitment, but it’s worth it – you’ll be absorbing a piece of popular culture, and discovering a whole new world along the way. So go out and buy not just this book, but all the books in the series.