A Song of Ice and Fire, book two
A comet the colour of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel…and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
Audacious, inventive, brilliantly imagined, A Clash of Kings is a novel of dazzling beauty and boundless enchantment—a tale of pure excitement you will never forget.
MY RATING: 4 STARS
One word: whew!
Overall, the sequel was every bit as good as A Game of Thrones. In fact, it was better! If I could give it a 4 1/2 star rating, I would. There was more action, more of my favorite characters, and more suspense than I was prepared for. Martin pulls no punches, so there really is no telling what’s going to happen next, and I felt compelled to stay objective and avoid getting too attached to anyone. It’s like being on safari; you can’t interfere under any circumstances, you just have to let nature take its course. My only complaints: the chapter length was infuriating (not enough time with my faves while other POVs seemed to never end) and there were a few–only a few!–red-light green-light moments when things seemed to slow down unneccesarily. Other than that, I’m only an amateur in awe of a master.
In regards to old characters, there was more of Arya (yay!) and not much of Dany, but Dany wasn’t up to anything that was all that interesting this time, so I was fine with that. There was also more Sansa, and I’m still holding my breath for that girl. As far as character arcs go, I’m ranking hers as one of the most interesting. She’s definitely not the hoity toity, castles-in-the-air little twit that first left Winterfell! She’s growing up, and while she’s still got a long way to go, I really hope she makes it through the series. Tyrion is still rolling strong, and was once again my favorite character, no contest. It’s weird how that happened, considering I’m in no way rooting for the Lannisters and Tyrion is doing his level best to keep that (unprintable) Joffrey on the throne. I skimmed a lot of Jon and Bran and Catelyn was stop-and-go through most of the book, but the scene at Riverrun with Jaime was excellent.
New characters! I really liked Davos, and I hope the cliff hanger he was left on is resolved *cough* properly. *glares at GRRM* Melisandre scared the hell out of me, I’m not going to lie. I’m predicting a lot of trouble out of that one farther down the road. Brienne of Tarth, while being rather minor so far, has enough promise that I hope to see more of her in the series. And then there’s Theon Greyjoy…hmmm. No sympathy on my end, buddy boy. You made your own damn mess! The general rule is that you don’t have to like a character, you just have to be able to live with them enough to get through the story, and Theon is a prime example.
I discussed themes and potential messages in my review for the first book, but I’m not going to do that here. I’m way too involved in the struggle and the turmoil to search for deeper meanings. Dare I commit fantasy-nerd heresy and say I like this BETTER than Lord of the Rings? You’re forced to question everything, second-guess everyone’s motives, and don’t you dare think someone is trustworthy! It bears repeating; I’m only an amateur in awe of a master!