I had to read this book right away because of the imminent start of the second season of the HBO series. I wanted to wait until late March to begin reading, but I was hearing bits of what was going to happen, and didn't want to ruin anything about the book.
Basically, Joffrey's actions at the end of the first book throws Westeros into chaos as four kings emerge to claim the Iron Throne: Joffrey, Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon & his brother Renly Baratheon. Now while it seems Joffrey has made enmeies of the three other claimants, none of them are willing to bend knee to any of the others, and what ensues is a tale of backstabbing and changing loyalty. The major battle at the end is very well written and seems to settle the claims of who is king (for the time being). In the meantime, young Arya Stark is trying desperately to get home, her youngest brothers, Bran & Rickon, must try to defend Winterfell in the absence of their family, and Jon Snow, Eddard Stark's illegitimate son, travels into the wild North to face a growing threat to all that has been fought for in the South as the Wildlings gather their forces into one huge army. I already want to continue with book three, but will wait, at least, until the HBO series comes to its season finale in June.