Clash of Kings, the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, wastes no time in tedious recaps or introductions. I was glad to have very recently finished Game of Thrones. The story picks up exactly where it left off… with Westeros in chaos and civil war.
We start with three declared kings, Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon and Robb Stark. Soon after there are two more: Balon Greyjoy declares himself King of the Iron Islands and launches and attack on the North, and Stannis Baratheon declares himself king of Westeros, and as Robert rightful heir, his claim is most worthy, despite the fact that he is entirely unsuitable.
All books in the series are narrated in alternating points of view, jumping back and forth between characters to tell whole story of what is happening in Westeros and beyond. Clash of Kings offers new narrators in Davos, (the Onion Knight), and Theon Greyjoy – who we new slightly from the previous book, but now learn much more about his character (little of it being complimentary).
For the most point, I enjoy this style and the variation it adds to the book, but the simple fact is that some characters are far more interesting than others (Jon, Arya, Tyrion, Catelyn, to name a few) and others either irritated me (Sansa, Stannis) or bored me (Daenerys).
Tyrion Lannister, plays a much larger and more interesting role in this novel and while I still like him more than I dislike him, there is definite evil in him, and I think he will continue to be one to watch as the story progresses.
Daenerys Targaryen, as mentioned above, has proved less interesting this time around. I can see where the plot line is going and why it is important to know this information about her, where she is, and what she’s doing. But aside from a few tantalizing hints at magic and dragons, there was little in her actions to get excited about through this book.
While originally bogged down in detail, by story’s end I became intrigued by Jon’s adventures as a member of the Night’s Watch, and especially the orders he receives at the end of the novel. I am also predicting that Sam Tarly will become more and more important as the plot progresses in further books. I am also interested in where the story of Brienne of Tarth will go. It is so rare to see a plotline involving an unattractive woman.
What I loved about the story continues to be true: no character is safe from a sudden and brutal death, and the reader cannot be fooled in to thinking that they really know any one character, as new revelations are on every page. There is no clear good and evil. Even the very bad can be redeemed, or at least have their moments.
As Clash of Kings ends, we have already seen the death of one king, and appear to be seeing the downfall of another, but the Lannisters still control King’s Landing and the throne. Overall, while not quite as interesting as the first book, I still very much enjoyed it, and continued right into book three, which I will review very soon.
Mass Market Paperback: 1040 pages
Publisher: Bantam; 1st MMPB edition (Sep 5 2000)