A Clash of Kings was a brilliant sequel that brought the spotlight of the series to one of the most well-written characters in fantasy: Tyrion Lannister.
A Clash of Kings is the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire saga by George R. R. Martin. The main story in this sequel mainly revolves around the multiple kings of Westeros battling in full force for the right to sit in the Iron Throne. This, however, is just scratching the surface of the story. Martin built upon everything he has established in the first wonderfully and with that, the scale of the story has become much bigger than before that I found it quite a difficult task to review this tome without spoiling anything, but spoiler-free review as always it is. Just like my review on A Game of Thrones, I’ll be doing some qualities comparison between the book and its TV series (Season 2) adaptation.
Picture: A Clash of Kings by Marc Simonetti
Continuing immediately from where the story left off in the previous book, Martin implemented a lot of incredible elements into the story such as shifting alliance, utterly engaging politics, intricate world-building expansion, and most importantly, compelling morally grey characters. There were new POV characters introduced in this installment and a lot of great character developments imbued. Although a lot of events happened in this book, this doesn’t mean that A Clash of Kings was a fast-paced read, honestly I found it even slower than its predecessor. Regarding pacing, in my opinion the TV series offered a better experience. However, unlike the first season where it pretty much adapted the book scene by scene, there were a few changes done for the second season of the TV series; some for better, some for worse, but overall I still think that the TV series did a spectacular job once again on adapting another installment of this series for the wider audience.
“There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.”
The devil lies in the details, and Martin delivered intricacies not only on world-building but on every aspect of the book/series. I can make this review longer than it should be by talking about each character’s merits and cons to highlight Martin’s awesome characterizations, but I’ll refrain from doing that here and instead focus on one main character, Tyrion Lannister.
“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”
It doesn’t matter whether it’s the book or the TV shows, Tyrion Lannister is my favorite character of the series and having finally read the two books of the original material, I can already vouch that he’s one of the most well-written characters in fantasy. He’s witty, cunning, smart, and despite all the physical disabilities he has as a dwarf, he never gives up and knows how to use the one thing he’s best with: his brain. Reading the book, I can feel that Martin had a lot of fun writing his character. Martin’s characterizations in this book shined the most when Tyrion’s POV came to play and luckily there were a lot of them. Don’t get me wrong, many of the other characters and events were crucial in making this book as good as it was, but overall, more than anything, I genuinely think that A Clash of Kings is a magnificent book about Tyrion Lannister and if you love his character as much as I do, you’re most likely going to have a good time reading this worthy sequel. Also, I personally think Peter Dinklage did a super terrific job in portraying this complex character, and it has been repeatedly proven as the series progressed.
“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
World-building wise, the novel provides insights into more magic and setting of the series. Martin is an amazing world-builder, it gets even more evident the more I progress through the series. The politics of King’s Landings were meticulously written, the dialogue between characters was immensely enjoyable, and the world he created is brimming with mysteries and revelations; they all made up for the slow pacing of the tome. There was only one big action piece happening within this book, The Battle of the Blackwater that happened at the final section of the book. Action sequences aren’t really Martin’s strongest talent as an author, The Battle of the Blackwater was the only big action sequence and it happened for more or less 50 pages; that’s out the two books (1,800+ pages) I’ve read so far combined. However, the battle itself was finely written. Martin’s prose has a strong immersion and vivid power that during this battle, the frantic situation, the swirling flame, the madness of the river, the vanishing of the deck, and the chaos were so easily imagined in my head.
“So many vows… they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.”
Admittedly, there were a few sections of the book that were simply too slow. I’m speaking specifically on Bran’s POV, which I found to be extremely boring. Remember, I’m reviewing this based on my experience as a first-time reader of the series who watched the TV shows first; I already know the major plot twists and events happening within the series. Because of this, Bran’s POV probably ended up becoming even more boring than it should be.
“He who hurries through life hurries to his grave.”
Although I loved A Game of Thrones more, safe for a few hiccups in pacing, A Clash of Kings is a worthy sequel that expands the world, histories, characterizations, and conflicts of the series fantastically. I truly enjoyed reading this one, and I have no doubt that I will enjoy the next one too. It goes without saying that I highly recommend this series to epic fantasy reader.
You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)