Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Clash of Kings Review


Just quickly I wanted to speak about the second in the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings. This will definitely include spoilers.

The novel begins in the midst of the chaos, with the characters all trying to deal with the events of the last novel. After the death of King Robert, there are now five kings in the realm – Joffrey, Renly, Stannis, Robb and Daenerys. 

I liked this book. It’s definitely not the sort of book you can just pick up on a bookshelf. Although Martin does reference the events of the last novel, I imagine it would be incredibly disorientating to pick up A Clash of Kings without having any sort of background on the previous book. Martin is truly a master of his craft, and with so many interwoven plot lines, it would make for very tough reading if you had no idea what was going on. 

There were two new characters whose perspectives joined the other characters from the first book: Davos and Theon. Both were necessary to give views on what was going on around Westeros, although I have to say I didn’t enjoy their perspectives as much as the other characters. I feel like Dany's arch was smaller in A Clash of Kings compared to the first novel, mostly down to the fact that the majority of the action was happening in Westeros rather than in the East where she was. I feel like she’ll come into play more in the next couple of books. 

I think out of all the perspectives, Tyrion’s perspective was my favourite in A Clash of Kings. I know he’s technically ‘the enemy’ – or at least, he’s directly implicated with them – but I can’t help but like Tyrion. As a character I think he’s been incredibly well constructed by Martin, and I like that you can emphasise with him without Martin ever making you pity him. He’s a very well rounded character, and I like his wit; Tyrion is a character who recognises his flaws and does his best to outwit his opponents at every stage – I would say he is one of the smartest characters in the series. 

I have to admit, when it was revealed that Bran had ‘died’, I couldn’t quite believe it. I know Lord Eddard died in the last book, which obviously was no joke on Martin’s part, but something didn’t seem quite right about Bran’s death. So eventually I couldn’t help myself, and flicked through the remainder of the novel to see whether his perspective came back up again. Lo and behold, his perspective is what finishes off the novel – I suppose I ruined Martin’s great climax. But I think even if I hadn’t spoiled it for myself, I would have been doubtful anyway. Whether Martin wanted to convince the reader of Bran’s death or not, I couldn’t say: all I know is that it didn’t sit right with me. 

Overall it was a good novel. It isn’t so much a stand alone as very much part of a series. You get that feeling all throughout the novel; you can tell that this book was not made to be a one off. I don’t have any particularly burning questions I want answered from A Storm of Swords, but I’ll definitely read it. I imagine I’ll get my hands on it in the next couple of weeks. So all in all, a good effort by Martin, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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