Jim's Reviews > A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
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's review
Nov 10, 2009

really liked it
Read in February, 2010

A Clash of Kings by author George R.R. Martin is the sequel of the fantasy epic A Game of Thrones and continues the story where its predecessor left off.

The Seven Kingdoms have erupted in anarchy with the death of their king, Robert Baratheon. The various lords of the kingdom have gone to war to each lay their claim on the throne, each one believing that his claim is better than the next. Robb Stark, son of Eddard, and self-proclaimed King of the North, wages war in the West against House Lannister to avenge the execution of his father and captivity of his sisters and defend his mother's homeland. Stannis and Renly Baratheon, brothers of Robert, gather their strength against one another, each believing they are the rightful heir to their brother's throne. All while House Lannister keeps its hold on the royal city of King's Landing through control of Robert's son, Joffrey. Allies betray one another. Old friends become new enemies. And the Northern lands swell with a forgotten, looming threat. Meanwhile, the mysterious Daenerys Targaryen continues on a mystic journey through strange lands and is gaining power and wisdom.

This book is better than the first of its series, and has some genuinely brilliant moments, but still falls short in other ways. A Clash of Kings bucks the traditional goofy fantasy nonsense that's rampant in the genre, like Terry Brooks or the Dragonlance garbage. It is genuine literature and can actually be taken seriously, more like Tolkien. The characters are extremely developed, the world is believable, and the story delivers a wide range of emotions. This story begins to dabble a bit more with the fantasy aspect of Martin's world, entering into more esoteric traditions and magic, which I love. However, this must all be taken with a grain of salt. Martin's writing is still insanely frustrating to read because of his annoying idea of bouncing from one main character to another each chapter without fail, while having no central protagonist or antagonist. I have no character that I identify with or live the story through, nor any significant villains to be interested in. It is truly a story of all side characters, and some of the side characters are very dull to read about. And just like the first book, Martin prattles on and on with inane details about clothing, armor and food. These are things he clearly finds interesting and must believe it puts on a display of his prowess of descriptive writing. But they are truly mind-numbingly boring.

With all of that said, I'd still recommend this book to fantasy enthusiasts. I'm hoping the series continues to grow in its fantasy sense, and that a strong main protagonist and antagonist emerge, because without them it's a bit of a hodge-podge of directionless story. Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives and I'll continue reading this series.
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