Man, it’s been a hot minute since my Game of Thrones review. Not the show Game of Thrones, I mean the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series of the same- oh, forget it.
A Clash of Kings picks up right where A Game of Thrones left off. After the death of King Robert and Ned Stark, the land of Westeros is divided into factions, all biding for the throne. While war brews across the kingdom, the daughter of the previous king, Daenerys, begins her long journey back to reclaim her family’s throne. Meanwhile, far to the north, Jon Snow and the Watch move beyond the Wall to look for their missing comrades.
If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that I left a lot out. I didn’t even touch on the plot threads with Arya, Sansa, Davos, and several other characters. I didn’t omit them because I forgot, let me assure you. But if I really took the time to analyze them all, we’d be here all day. These books aren’t just long, they’re as dense as a black hole!
George R.R. Martin is great at weaving interconnecting webs out of his stories, which is what makes this one so wildly enjoyable and engaging! Some of the threads are connected in obvious ways, mostly the ones regarding the Stark family and the war. Others feel so separate that they should be disconnected, but you can tell that they’ll tie in with the others sooner or later. It creates a strong sense of intrigue, as you wonder when or where they’ll converge.
Unfortunately, as with all stories of this nature, not all of them are as interesting as the others. Sansa’s story in particular is rather repetitive and infuriating. Thankfully, we have stronger characters like Davos and Tyrion to make up for it. The balance between good and bad is definitely skewed towards the former.
One of the biggest aspects about this one I adore is the skew towards the magical. In the first book, magic was considered something old and almost forgotten, so the book focused on making the world feel more realistic. More like a mid-evil story than a true fantasy. But now? Magic is stepping back into the world’s limelight! Not only does this make for an interesting shift in tone, but it also makes for some compelling drama. How is this new magic used? How do the characters react to it?
It also isn’t afraid of being dark. This is a horrible, fucked up world and Martin isn’t afraid to show it. It does a fantastic job of staying realistic and portraying a terribly grim, morally gray world. It makes Westeros and all the lands beyond feel all the more real and interesting.
Even if it goes into excessive detail way too often. I get it, George. You’re willing to portray pedophilia, rape, and sometimes both. Could you at least try to not do so so bloody often?
All in all, this is a rock-solid fantasy story and an excellent continuation of the first book. If you were a fan of the first book and, for whatever strange reason, you haven’t read this one, you should absolutely pick this one up. It, just like all the others, is a modern fantasy masterpiece.
Now if only Martin would get off his ass and write the last two. Not that it’ll ever happen.