Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
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Aug 13, 2011

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bookshelves: fantasy, epic-fantasy

Remember when we thought a trilogy made up of three books maybe 600 0r even 800 pages was a long tale? It's getting to the point where an 800 page tome is simply a chapter of a tale that can run 10,000 pages or more.

This is the second in the Song of Ice and Fire. I found the first book interesting and like so many others moved on with the story. I started it later than some. Having been burned by Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time I hoped to get some sign that this series wouldn't bog down and never be finished. With a toll of 6 years between the forth and fifth books, I wasn't encouraged, but girding up my loins I began and now have gone through 2 volumes.

Unfortunately the second book wasn't up to the firsts standard. While there is some wonderful writing here there are also periods of almost extreme tedium. AND yes, I must own up to some skimming. For me skimming can be a bad sign as it often precedes complete abandonment of a novel. When I was young I would slog through a book and never put it down, I would finish that book! Not so much now. My mortality is creeping up on me and I have so many books stockpiled on my own shelves (not to even consider the ones I borrow from the library) that if I finished a book a day I still might not get through them all before I shuffle off this mortal coil. So if a book bogs down, drags and doesn't recover, I don't waste my time on it.

This one did recover...after a fashion. It picks up, tells the story, gets us back into it, and then....bogs down again, over and over, rinse repeat. I got through it, plan to go on to the next, but oh how I hope the story picks up and flows better than it did here.

So, what's happening? Well as may be guessed from the title, Kings are proliferating. As a matter of fact they are becoming ubiquitous, you have trouble not tripping over them. And who rules what where? Well, that depends on when and where you are in the story. to keep track of who rules what where you almost need a program... oh well.

All our players are still here (unless they're dead) and they are still a nasty lot on the whole. That may be part of my problem with the books as I really don't like most of the players. I liked Lord (Eddard) Stark, if you read A Game of Thrones you know where I stand there. As for the rest of the Stark Clan, well, I like Arya pretty well, unwise as she often is (but she's young) and I like Jon Snow. The rest you can pretty much keep. I'm neutral about the other boys and as for Sansa and Catelyn, I just can't like them. Even though they are supposed to be "more sympathetic" here I just don't care for them. Suffer as they will I guess I'm burned.

Of course since I like Jon, you can probably see why I have trouble with Catelyn. Sansa, well, lets see ,(view spoiler)

Anyway between the Starks, the Lannisters, the Greyjoys, the Barathons, the Arryns, the Martells, the Targaryens, the Tullys, the Tyrells, and the rest of the merry band these people are on the whole...just not nice.

This novel moves the story along really very little from the end of the first book. The pieces on the board have all moved, but no end game is in sight. There are the changing fortunes of each house and each character. There are the misconceptions and hurts to each the book closes with but in the end if this were a multi-handed chess match none of the players would really be up or down all that much (Keeps lost, thrones changed hands and so on, but for most gains and losses end with it so far being a sort of zero sum game.

What I find interesting and what I suppose (and hope) he'll do something with is the obvious plot line involving the threat from north of The Wall. As these idiots scrabble around trying to get the upper hand on each other will the bigger threat eat them all?

So, good idea, good plot, pretty good story at places, but falls into the trap of stretching it's own details out ad nauseum. I give it a middle of the road 3 stars, lukewarm and hoping the next is a lot better.
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Comments (showing 1-9)

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Linette "As these idiots scrabble around trying to get the upper hand on each other will the bigger threat eat them all?"
LOL that's the question, isn't it? That's what I'm waiting to find out, and I suspect the answer will be yes. Despite the plethora of details, this is still one of my favorite series.

Mike (the Paladin) I live in hope.

Sath Hey Mike, have you tried watching the game of thrones tv series? it's entirely on the first book (next season will cover the second book). I think it's a little tiny bit more gratuitous on the erm.. naked scenes than it needs to be, but then it is HBO! But it's very good especially for condensing a large novel into 10 segments!

ASoIaF is another one of those books series that I love, so I would of course encourage you to keep reading! I think everyone has characters that are favourites and ones that they don't truly like, and with whole chapters from the POV of one char, I usually end up skimming a little bit on the chars that I don't like. But it's still good in the end :)

Mike (the Paladin) I do to. I plan to continue following them, at least for one more volume.

I don't have HBO, nor do I Netflix (my daughter does). I would note that if the first was a bit gratuitous in the sex department I'd be very wary of the second. There were several frankly disgusting scenes in this one and if HBO chooses to there could be some rape etc. for the audience to watch.

Mike (the Paladin) Found some typos...sorry. May be more I need to reread some of my reviews in detail I guess.

Ctgt I am current with this series and while I loved the first three books, the last two left me cold. I think after all the twists and turns (and deaths) of the first three, there didn't seem to be as much happening in the last two books. But what do I know? My wife loves all the books.

Mike (the Paladin) To each. I just finished The Wheel of Time... I'll save my take for my review but that series sets the bar for starting well and then leaving me with a "what happened" feeling. Here I threw in the towel after A Storm of Swords.

message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew I decided not to read these until he (or Sanderson) finishes it. I learned something from Jordan. When a new one comes out it becomes necessary to re-read the early ones to get refreshed on who's who. Martin's books may be even worse in that regard although Jordan was bringing in a lot of new faces with long names.

Mike (the Paladin) The one that just came out (and that I just read) is (finally) the last. Jordan died before he finished the series and Sanderson completed it. I'll say this, he seems to have been able to "channel" Jordan. But the series is complete...so to speak. I'm not saying that will keep it from rearing up and continuing to flail about. Sequels...prequels....bios of characters...side quests...who knows what might be out there in the future, waiting, preparing to leap out at unsuspecting readers and addicts who will struggle without the prospect of another Wheel of Time volume approaching?????

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