17 March 2013

Review: A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2)

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R. R. Martin

Publisher: HarperVoyager (2011)
Format: Paperback, 913 pages
ISBN-13: 9780007447831
Originally published: 1998

SPOILER ALERT: If you intend to read or haven't yet finished reading A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) do not keep reading! As for A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2), the plot will not be spoiled for you, and I will simply tell you about my reading experience.

Synopsis: Winter is coming! With Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon dead, the Seven Kingdoms are left in chaos and without a king. However, pretenders to the Iron Throne there are enough: Joffrey Baratheon, Robert's heir and only a boy, sits the Iron Throne at King's Landing; Robb Stark, Eddard's son declares himself King in the North; Stannis and Renly Baratheon, Robert's brothers, both consider themselves his rightful heir; House Greyjoy makes its entrance and turns to conquest; and in the East Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, continues her quest to return home and claim her crown.

Martin brings us the second instalment of his series from the points of views of nine characters. Unfortunately only very few of them have an actual story, where things progress. Most of them just seem to be waiting around for the most part. For me, this was a very slow read. Sometimes I almost had to make myself read and I would force myself to read a certain number of pages each day, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. When I was reading A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) I felt like the first half of the book was spend setting up the world and its characters - which is fine for such a long and extensive series - and then we got lots of plot and action in the second half of the book. After not much happened in the beginning of A Clash of Kings, I was hoping the plot would soon pick up, but that never seemed to happen, until the very last chapters. It seemed like the whole book was just a means of setting up the final battle, which after all, I did not think to be that spectacular either. However, I have only heard fantastic things about A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3), and I really hope that the third book will make reading the second one worth it.

Here are some thought on the characters and their stories (in order of appearance):

Arya's chapter were the ones I enjoyed the most. There is both plot and character development. Yey! Arya is one of my favourite character and I loved that her chapters took up quite a bit of the book. Her story is both gripping and unpredictable. Facing the fact that she has to look after herself now, Arya matures enormously and shows what she is capable of.

Sansa: Not much development here. Sansa remains at court, has to face the fact that she is becoming a woman - and the threats that come with it, and mainly just waits around for her saviour to show up. I have heard many readers say that they quite dislike her for being whiny and a coward, which has some truth to it. Nevertheless, I do like her as a character and I understand why she acts like she does. 

Tyrion is another of my favourite characters. He gets the greatest share of chapter in the book. He is such an interesting character, and I loved getting so much insight into his plotting. I really liked the direction he was heading - until the final battle. The book ends in a bit of a cliffhanger for Tyrion and I am really eager to find out how his story continues.

I quite like Bran's story as well, although not much happens in the first half of the book. He does discover a very interesting part of himself, but without much consequence. However, his development is quite an intriguing preposition for the books to come.

Jon and the brothers of the Night's Watch go to explore beyond the wall. Despite all the potential for encounters with terrible creatures only known from stories and songs, again, nothing happens until his very last chapter. 

Catelyn spends the entire book being sad and scared. I don't condemn her for having these emotions, but I wish that something had come out of it. There is a major cliff hanger in Catelyn's last chapter, which gives me hope that after all there might be some meaning and consequence in her story. 

Davos gives us insight into the story of Stannis and Melisandre. I did not feel like he was much of an important character himself, but that he simply served this purpose. Again there is not much action and his chapters seem only to be designed to make us realize Meisandre's potential and get us excited - and scared - for what her capabilities will mean for the Seven Kingdoms in the future.

Theon's first chapters were quite entertaining but then I could just not get myself to care for him or his story anymore. The way he is treated by his family turns him into quite a despicable and sorry character. There is definitely some potential for him to become quite an interesting character in the future, however.

Daenerys' story was probably the most disappointing one of all. In the few chapters she gets - yes you might have guessed it - nothing happens. I loved Daenerys in A Game of Thrones, and I had anticipated to hear much more from her in A Clash of Kings. 

All in all, this book lacked action. I feel like the whole book was just a means of setting the stage for A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3). I could not really get into the book, I was bored and always waiting for more. I will continue reading the series, simply because I have heard so many good things about A Storm of Swords, and because A Clash of Kings did manage to create some great potential development for many of the characters. I give this book 3 out of 5 ships.

Other cover editions:

Bantam Spectra 1999
Voyager 1999
Bantam 2003
Voyager 2003
Bantam Spectra 2005

Harper Voyager 2011
Harper Voyager 2011 
Harper Voyager 2012


  1. I loved the first two books sooo much! By number four I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading by then, I had to know what happened with Daenerys! Have you ever watched the series? I haven't because I know they change things when books are made into movies.

    Do you know when book #6 is coming out?

    1. I don't know what it is with me, but I just have trouble getting into the books. No one else seems to have that problem. I love Daenerys, too, and I was so disappointed that ACOK didn't really devote many pages to her, but I'm excited to read on and hopefully get more of her story in the future.

      Did you keep reading after book 4?

      I have seen the first episode of the TV show and it was quite good, but I didn't keep watching, because I wanted to rely on my own imagination of how the characters and the scenery look like, and not have an image planted in my head. I have been contemplating starting to watch the show recently, but I haven't really decided yet.

      As far as I can tell from doing some research online the release date of The Winds of Winter (A Song of Ice and Fire #6) has not been announced yet. It seems like Martin is aiming to have it published in 2014, but there is no definite deadline.