Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (audio)

Book Description:
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, 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 in the 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.

I don't have a whole lot to say about Book 2 in Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire Series that hasn't already been said, so I'll be brief.  A Clash of Kings continues the story that centers on the civil war and battle for the make believe world of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  The title is apt, for the book is based on the power struggle of several kings who all believe they are entitled to the rightful title and to rule over the Seven Kingdoms.  I can't say I totally loved this book, but it was engrossing.  I'm not a Game of Thrones nut, but the series has merit and the characters are memorable.

This was a long, long audiobook, 37 hours!  Roy Dotrice continues the narration of the unabridged epic and he's wonderful at all the voices and accents needed to bring the story to life.  The main point of view characters in A Clash... are Bran, crippled and living at Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy who I cannot stand, I hope he dies - soon.  Tyrion Lannister (my favorite) who is aces at dealing with his sister's diabolical schemes, Arya Stark is still trying to make her way back to Winterfell disguised as a boy.  Sansa Stark remains captive and under the thumb of the Lannisters at King's Landing, betrothed to the detestable Joffrey.  We don't see much of Robb Stark who's declared himself king of the North.  There's some of Jon Snow, but for the most part his part at The Wall was limited and confusing while fighting wildings and witnessing strange goings on north of the Wall.  What will happen to him next? An alarming turn of events takes place that will drastically change Jon's storyline. Tyrion, Arya, Sansa and Theon are front and center and most of what happens revolves around them.  Daenrrys' plotline dragged.  With her baby dragons, she is traveling in the East, hoping to find a way to regain her lost kingdom, but not a whole lot on her, disappointing since her storyline was so good in Book 1!  For such a large and long book, I didn't get the impression that the story moved forward a lot in all respects.  So many of the characters seemed to be in a holding pattern waiting for something big to happen.

By the end, the big climax is the battle at King's Landing between Stannis Baratheon and the Lannisters.  There is somewhat of a cliffhanger after the battle.  What will happen to Bran now that Winterfell has been torched?  No longer the Hand of the King after the big battle, Tyrion is wounded - what will happen to him now that his father is in charge?  Sansa Stark's future looks bleak, will she become the mistress to Joffrey, now that he's betrothed to Margaery Tyrell?  Or will she somehow wind up with the scarred Sandor Clegane!?

Another question, who is Jaquen H'ghar?  A mysterious criminal that winds up helping Arya.  She had a list of people she hated and he killed a few for her - nice of him.  He gives her a coin and a special phrase to say aloud.  I'm very curious about him and who he really is.  He must be somebody special and key to the whole series.

Overall, I liked the book, but I think of it as more of a transitional book, gearing up for what happens next in Book 3.  It will be a while before I get to it, I need a break, though I'm eager to see the next season of the HBO series.  It should be interesting to see how they sex up this war and battle driven second installment in the TV series, but I'm sure they'll find a way! ;)



Svea said...

Thanks for the review! I have has this series on my shelf for years and still haven't picked it up to read it. Good to know the two books build up the plot well for book #3.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Svea, until this was on HBO I didn't know much about these books. They have such a huge following, but I don't seem to be as ga- ga over it as many others. It's good, but in my opinion, I don't see the "greatness" of the series- yet.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Martin is brilliant at world building. I loved the first four books. Not sure I'm happy with the direction he's taken.

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