Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Book 67 of 2012: A Clash of Kings

Considering how popular my last book review of one of George R.R. Martin's book has caused such a spike in my blog views, I'm curious to see how this one affects it. This post will contain spoilers for the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, you have been warned.

A Clash of Kings is the second book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. It picks up more or less right where A Game of Thrones left off; King Robert is dead, his son Joffrey (who isn't really his son at all) has taken the throne, Ned Stark has been beheaded, Sansa is hostage, Arya has escaped, and Robb is leading an army in the north.

It's a story with such fantastic scope that it's easy to get totally drawn in. As much as I enjoyed the first book, reading this it feels as though it was all slowly setting things up for A Clash of Kings, so there's a lot more action and a lot less set up in this book.

Rather than chapter names or numbers, each chapter is given the name of the character whose point of view it is told through. I'll admit, at times this is a little frustrating because my copy is the Kindle version with the first five books/seven volumes in the series and a little glitch means there's no page numbers in this book, so it's hard to know how far through the book you are. But for the most part I like this approach, especially when I was reading late at night and wasn't sure whether to carry on going; if it was Theon or Davos's chapter I'd call it a night, Tyrion or Arya I would keep going.

The characters in this series are great, with so many it would be easy for them to become rather 2D (and while there are a few who kind of blur into one another - not helped by there being several names shares between characters and others who go by more than one name). As circumstances change, so do the characters. In the first book I wanted nothing more than to slap Sansa, in this one I actually put off turning out the light to read her chapters.

In this book the various religions of the world are explained a little more. I enjoyed that because it makes it feel more real somehow. The king adopting a new religion out of convenience or necessity made me think back to studying the Tudors at school.

My least favourite bits of the book are probably the battles, especially the one at the end. I prefer the character-led chapters rather than the ones describing fights and battles, part of it was probably because I wasn't feeling brilliant and it was late but I struggled to follow exactly what was going on at times and so I was quite grateful when the bits I'd missed we're explained to another character later on.

George R.R. Martin is really good at feeding you part of the story through one character's eyes so you find yourself believing one thing, then bringing back another character's point of view so you find out the truth or another perspective. It's quite clever and even though there were several occasions where I had it figured out, I kept on going to prove myself right (or wrong).

I'd recommend these books to anyone who likes a bit of fantasy, but also readers interested in political or historical-type stories. While there's an element of magic in these books, it's not been as prominent as in some fantasy novels. My one complaint? They're massive books, I'm very glad I went for the ebook version because they're not the most portable and my bookcase is already overloaded!

"The Wall stretched east and west as far as the eye could see, so huge that it shrunk the timbered keeps and stone towers of the castle to insignificance. It was the end of the world."Location 17030

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