Review: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
On a spoiler scale where 1 is no spoilers, 10 is cliff notes, this is probably around a 3 where I discuss broad themes and attempt to convey why the book excites me. If you enjoyed the first book, the second is well worth a read. If you haven’t I’d start there before either reading this review or A Clash of Kings.
I wrote, in my review of A Game of Thrones that the book bounced around between feeling like a soap opera, a murder mystery or some strange political beast. This book is all about war. Some clashes occur “off screen.” Battles are meticulously prepared for. Dangerous enemies are scouted. Assassinations happen. Castles change hands. Deception.
The strong B plot across the narrow sea, with the dragons continues to progress. It’s suggested that there’s a link between the maturing dragons and the general resurgence of magic in the realm, but I’m not convinced if they are the cause or just another symptom, like the wolf dreams and the more potent than expected wildfire. In any case, dragons == cool. Glad at least one of them got to do something more interesting than just sit around and be awesome.
Just as magic is coming into it’s own, 2 of the 3 major religions show off a bit of their power. In the first book, we had the old gods which were associated with the heart trees and the children of the forest. There was also the newer 7 gods which were more of a Greek or Roman pantheon. Clash introduces a third which involves worship of the “lord of light.” This new religion seems to have power over poisons and shadows and such things that seem a bit at odds with the whole “lord of light.” There seems to be a strong connection between the old gods, the wolf dreams, ancestors in general and the Stark clan in particular. All in all I like the tone that 3 distinct (and mostly distinct from our world) belief systems bring to the world.
I like that we got new point of view characters (was it just the two?), both new to the story and minor a minor character elevated to PoV status. Chatting with a friend that just finished book 4, I’ve been made aware that the PoV cast continues to expand. It’s also been brought to my attention that book 3 is sort of the close of Act 1. Clash added more threads than it tied off, but it built some strong foundations for the story to build on in future books. It also had a spectacular battle and significant peril for all our favorite PoV characters.
I composed this review in June and totally forgot to post it. I may have had some more in depth thoughts at the time that I was trying to get out, but I’ll try and pull a more coherent review together after the 3rd book which I seem to have stalled at about 3%.