Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Clash of Kings is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series that began with A Game of Thrones. The book has a number of interrelated plots that follow various characters. It takes awhile to get going, but once it does there's plenty of excitement.

I found the story line around Arya (A ten year old tomboy who uses the innocence of her age to her advantage.), Theon (The son of a lord who was kept and raised by another lord and now is trying to prove his loyalty.), and Tyrion (A dwarf who realizes he needs to out-think others for his victories, but also demonstrates great bravery) to be the most interesting. The chapters covering Davos (A former smuggler who now fights for one of the brothers of the dead king.) and Daenerys (The last in the line of the family that once ruled the seven kingdoms, who dreams of winning back that throne for her heirs) also had some great moments. But I was disappointed in the plots covering Jon (A soldier who has sworn to spend his life protecting the seven kingdoms from the evil creatures in the north.), Sansa (The more traditional sister of Arya, who counted on the men in her life and has been disappointed.), and Catelyn (The mother of, among others, the current Lord of the North, Arya, and Sansa and who travels around the kingdoms trying to work for peace while protecting her family.).

These complex stories refer to each other and will probably come together eventually, but they didn't in this book. This is my principle complaint, A Clash of Kings doesn't resolve any plot lines. Instead it adds more. For some readers this is unimportant. But, although some lingering plot lines can draw the readers back, each book in a series should have its own beginning, middle and end. A Clash of Kings doesn't stand well on its own.

The world George R. R. Martin has created is a mixture of dark magical creatures with flawed humans in a setting that could pass for England during the time of King Arthur. His attention to detail is unsurpassed and all his characters have unique, fully developed personalities. I could feel what every character felt and understand all their actions, whether selfish, kind, or a mixture of both.

I've started the HBO series Game of Thrones, but I'm only halfway through the first season. I want to read before I watch, although I do think the series is exciting and faithful to the book.

Although I had some issues with this book and don't believe it is as good as the first book in the series, I'm still rating it with five stars. Because what is great about it far exceeds the few problems.

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