A Clash of Kings – Book Review

A Clash of Kings is the second novel in the truly epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The series is now a successful television show on HBO called a Game of Thrones.

This is a brick of a book. I take an average amount of time to read a book and this took me the better part of two months. The softcover that I own is a thousand pages.

I’ll try to keep this spoiler free but there might be a few that sneak in.

Characters

Complex mythologies and huge casts of characters go hand in hand with fantasy. Clash of Kings isn’t an exception. There are more characters than I could possibly keep straight. There are nine point of view characters and a plethora of others.

It would be easy with nice point of view characters, and a gazillion others, to make them bland or similar. Not going to happen in this book. I believe that despite the terrible things that happen to the characters, they are the best part of this book. Each and every one of them make you feel for them. The emotions vary as much as the characters but they’re their and strong.

That characters are great but they do drop like flies. The body count is as high as the emotions. Often the most likeable characters are the ones that die.

For the strength and consistency of the characters I give this book a five out of five.

Writing Style

This isn’t a quirky or flowery writing style. Martin has a way of making every word count and make you want to keep reading. It’s also a very easy style to follow. That means you won’t spend ten minutes reading a page only to realize you can’t remember what you read.

That being said I like quirkiness, I like flowers, and most of all I like a witty turn of phrase. Martin does it but it’s always through dialogue. If the narrative weren’t so well calculated, it would be dry.
It’s not your typical sword and sorcery fantasy. This is a high fantasy with low magic. It’s gritty and bloody.

For its efficiency I give the writing style a four out of five.

Story

I’ll say this right away. This isn’t one book with one story. Its one book with nine main characters and three times that many stories. It could have been split into 3 books with 3 characters and there would be little difference. With the exception of the wonderful bicep muscles I’ve developed.

Each book in this series builds upon the stories and even adds some. It’s all interlinked and brilliant. The stories are great and plentiful.

That all said I found the twists, high points, and low points subdued in comparison to the first one. I guess the first had a lot farther for the characters to fall on their faces. When the world has already turned to shit, it can’t get much worse. It does just not as dramatically as the first book.

It’s the second book in a series that could be just one large book it does a great job at what it needs to do but isn’t as awesome as the first.

I give it a three out of five for story.

Fun

In its own way this series is a lot of fun. It’s well written, intelligent, and keeps you on your toes. Clash of Kings felt long though. It could be that I wasn’t in the right mood for it or that it didn’t have the dramatic twists of the first. I found myself longing for the next book I’d read.

In fun I give it a three out of five.

Overall

Overall, if you have the upper body strength, patience, stomach, and love of high fantasy you’ll truly enjoy this book as part of the series. If you’ve read the first one and liked, keep going.

I think it’s a solid book by a master writer with an amazing talent with characters. For that I give it a final score of 75%.

Evil not Stupid

Word of the Day: sternutation

It was a lumbering hulk of a castle, built completely of black stone. The plans where drawn up by thirteen crazed wizards and at times it seemed like there was no way to if a corridor went to a bed chamber or a crocodile pit. Also there seemed to be a distinct lack of washrooms. This meant it was always empty until an attack when monsters and guard magically appeared in random and unexpected places.

“Sir” Said the small hunchbacked Dwarf. “I have the information you asked for about the prophesised hero.”

The Evil villain rose his long black cape billowed in anticipation. His eyes crackled with power and the Dwarf was forced to look away.

The response, in contrast to his movements, came slowly anger boiling behind each word waiting for an excuse to bubble over. “Yes, Dwarf. What is it that you have learned.”

Dwarves shouldn’t squeak they are a proud race with deep voices but this Dwarf shamed his people by almost mimicking Mickey Mouse’s voice. “Sir, he shall pose no… no, threat to you.”

“That is for me to decide minion. Don’t insult me with your petty assumptions.” His composed voice rose in a contemptuous crescendo; the last word causing the walls themselves to shake.  

Darting back and squeaking un-Dwarf-like once again he continued “Bu…But he is nothing master. A simple farm boy, with a rag tag group of friends. He is just lucky that he’s made it this far without killing himself.”

At the words “farm boy” the Villain jerked backwards his face contorted as if he was going to sneeze, but the sternutation never came and his face became more twisted in shock with every word.

“Sir…” the Dwarf stuttered before continuing, “his only advantage is that he wields his fathers sword”

The villain shuddered and sat back onto his throne. When he spoke again all power and strength had disappeared from his voice, “Is one of his companions not from around here? Were his adopted parents killed? Does he have a quirky talking animal sidekick?”

The Dwarf looked confused having never heard fear in his master’s voice before, “Yes Sir, to all your questions. But don’t worry Sir. I have good news. He’s been hurt. His wounds are most likely fatal and if he does survive he’ll be scarred for life.”

Now the villain looked three feet shorted and spoke slowly again but his words quivered in fear, “Scarred for life… Oh god it’s the end of the second act.” He got up running to his chambers he took out a large travelling chest and started to put anything around him into it.

The Dwarf watched him confused, finally working up the courage to ask, “Where are you going Sir?”

The Villain lifted the travelling chest and put a hand on the Dwarfs shoulder. “You’ve been a good lackey but I know when the full force or literary tripe is coming at me and I assume there must be other countries or worlds I can rule.”

Taking his black onyx crown off his head and placing it on that of the Dwarf’s, he said, “Good luck.” Before disappearing.