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A Clash of Kings: Book 2 of a Song of Ice and Fire

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

47 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

Complicated, Intense and Absolutely Epic

Many editorial reviews of book (or movie) sequels claim that the second is as good as, or better than, the original. I read the same thing about "A Clash of Kings", George R.R. Martin's sequel to "A Game of Thrones". I was a bit skeptical, I mean...how can one not quest...
Many editorial reviews of book (or movie) sequels claim that the second is as good as, or better than, the original. I read the same thing about "A Clash of Kings", George R.R. Martin's sequel to "A Game of Thrones". I was a bit skeptical, I mean...how can one not question whether Martin could duplicate what he accomplished in the first novel, let alone better it. "Thrones" is magnificently expansive and epic...how could book 2 match the energy and intensity?

Martin absolutely knocked the ball out of the park with "Clash". I don't know if it's better than "Thrones", but it's easily its equal. He takes the core set of surviving characters (Arya, Sansa, Bran, Catelyn, Jon, Cersei and the wonderfully rich Tyrion), and picks up almost immediately where "Thrones" left off. And I don't just mean in terms of plot, but also in building out his fantastic world of intrigue, adventure and politics.

"Clash" is complicated, intense and absolutely epic. It sprawls majestically over a widely varied physical and literary landscape. The politics within the plot, focused on four Kings battling over a land that's used to having only one, are intricate, but not difficult to follow. Martin's writing is clear, his dialogue is smooth and the interplay between characters is enjoyable and completely in sync with the overall tone and 'place' of the story. The book is very serious and heavy - at about 1,000 pages, the book is actually heavy, but I love the weightiness, with corresponding depth, of the story.

Like "Thrones", there's not a ton of fantasy in "Clash". It's very middle-ages-historical-fiction with a tinge of supernatural. There's more fantasy in this book than in the first, though, and it feels like it'll build into much more for the third book. There are dragons, but they set up a certain tone and act more as a plot device than anything else. There's no fire-breathing and attacking and destroying. There's further development around Bran's supernatural connection with his direwolf Summer, and we see that the bastard Stark, Jon, has a bit of the gift as well. There are a few more fantastical devices scattered throughout the book, which Martin develops slowly through his world's mythology rather than hammering in a slew of de facto dungeons & dragons.

The characters are Martin's true accomplishment. He feeds off a character's strengths and deficiencies, and each one is perfectly human and in some way relate-able. Individuals-as-'outsiders', is the base upon which the best characters are built. And he uses that foundation frequently. Tyrion, the dwarf prince, has become one of my favorite and most memorable characters in the series, and perhaps one of the most well-developed characters in any popular fiction. He's witty and smart, and sometimes obnoxiously flip. But his deep-seated insecurities which evolve slowly over the course of both of the first books make his chapters the most anticipated. Arya develops into a wonderfully three dimensional character as the tomboy princess cut off from her family, trying to survive and find a way back home. Sansa's princess-ly arrogance dissipates under the strain of trying to survive as a hostage, and finds friends in very un-princess-ly places.

I'm looking forward to seeing HBO's creation of Martin's world of Ice and Fire coming this spring. Until then, I'll start digging into book 3 - "A Storm of S

posted by JGolomb on February 3, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

Made me want to kill myself...

500 pages into it and still nothing had happened. 600...nothing. 700...nothing. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were exceptional, page-long descriptions of what was being served at the banquet and what the uniforms of the royal guard looked like (and people thought Tolkie...
500 pages into it and still nothing had happened. 600...nothing. 700...nothing. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were exceptional, page-long descriptions of what was being served at the banquet and what the uniforms of the royal guard looked like (and people thought Tolkien was long-winded). 800...nothing. 900...wow, some action! 975...end of book... If you're into this kind of story, lots of politcal intrigue and would-be kings manuvering into position, then this book is for you. Martin is a good enough writer that he'll keep you moving through the story, but I ended up skimming lots of paragraphs just to get to the end. If you like action - ANY action - then head somewhere else. Side note: I try not to buy hardbacks as I read just way too much to spend $30.00 a pop. I read Martin's first book of this series in Sep. of 1997 and had to wait THREE YEARS for the next! What a joke! (Book 2 came out in hardback in Feb. 99 and the paperback was released in Sep 00 - a year and a half after the hardback, and 3 years after the first paperback!) The book has so many characters that you constantly flip to the appendixes to see who's who, and we're supposed to remember them all from 3 years ago...right! Tell you what...I'm not waiting around for another 3 years. See ya later, Mr. Martin.

posted by Anonymous on December 13, 2000

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Complicated, Intense and Absolutely Epic

    Many editorial reviews of book (or movie) sequels claim that the second is as good as, or better than, the original. I read the same thing about "A Clash of Kings", George R.R. Martin's sequel to "A Game of Thrones". I was a bit skeptical, I mean...how can one not question whether Martin could duplicate what he accomplished in the first novel, let alone better it. "Thrones" is magnificently expansive and epic...how could book 2 match the energy and intensity?

    Martin absolutely knocked the ball out of the park with "Clash". I don't know if it's better than "Thrones", but it's easily its equal. He takes the core set of surviving characters (Arya, Sansa, Bran, Catelyn, Jon, Cersei and the wonderfully rich Tyrion), and picks up almost immediately where "Thrones" left off. And I don't just mean in terms of plot, but also in building out his fantastic world of intrigue, adventure and politics.

    "Clash" is complicated, intense and absolutely epic. It sprawls majestically over a widely varied physical and literary landscape. The politics within the plot, focused on four Kings battling over a land that's used to having only one, are intricate, but not difficult to follow. Martin's writing is clear, his dialogue is smooth and the interplay between characters is enjoyable and completely in sync with the overall tone and 'place' of the story. The book is very serious and heavy - at about 1,000 pages, the book is actually heavy, but I love the weightiness, with corresponding depth, of the story.

    Like "Thrones", there's not a ton of fantasy in "Clash". It's very middle-ages-historical-fiction with a tinge of supernatural. There's more fantasy in this book than in the first, though, and it feels like it'll build into much more for the third book. There are dragons, but they set up a certain tone and act more as a plot device than anything else. There's no fire-breathing and attacking and destroying. There's further development around Bran's supernatural connection with his direwolf Summer, and we see that the bastard Stark, Jon, has a bit of the gift as well. There are a few more fantastical devices scattered throughout the book, which Martin develops slowly through his world's mythology rather than hammering in a slew of de facto dungeons & dragons.

    The characters are Martin's true accomplishment. He feeds off a character's strengths and deficiencies, and each one is perfectly human and in some way relate-able. Individuals-as-'outsiders', is the base upon which the best characters are built. And he uses that foundation frequently. Tyrion, the dwarf prince, has become one of my favorite and most memorable characters in the series, and perhaps one of the most well-developed characters in any popular fiction. He's witty and smart, and sometimes obnoxiously flip. But his deep-seated insecurities which evolve slowly over the course of both of the first books make his chapters the most anticipated. Arya develops into a wonderfully three dimensional character as the tomboy princess cut off from her family, trying to survive and find a way back home. Sansa's princess-ly arrogance dissipates under the strain of trying to survive as a hostage, and finds friends in very un-princess-ly places.

    I'm looking forward to seeing HBO's creation of Martin's world of Ice and Fire coming this spring. Until then, I'll start digging into book 3 - "A Storm of S

    47 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Great Book and Series but dont read if you suffer from Depression

    Let me first state that I love this series. These books are wonderful for escaping on a snowy night. The characters, good or bad, continue to forge a place in your heart. The books have everything you would want from a work of fiction, except.

    This series is sad. Without any specific spoilers I can say that there is not one thing that has happened in this series that makes you feel good. Even when a character falls in love there is an underlying issue that makes the love a bad idea. The characters you care about are put through one horrific event after another and most of the characters are children. I know the series is far from finished but at this point, every single chapter you can rest assured that the characters you love will have nothing good happen to them.

    Read this series but take a break in between books. There is no rush as the author has very little interest in finishing the series quickly. Otherwise, the chapters begin to feel like a depressing grind.

    29 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic

    this is a good but very advanced series with many characters that you want to follow to find out more of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well as the others in the series, and again cannot wait to read the next one.

    24 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    A Great follow up to A Game of Thrones

    A Clash of Kings is a fantastic book abd a great addition to the Song of Ice and Fire series. A must read for Game of Thrones fans.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Great book in a great series

    I love this entire series. Just dont get attached to anyone

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    Good stuff but complicated!

    This is not easy reading! You might need a score card to keep track of who's who.

    I like his style of writing and I couldn't wait to start the next book!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2000

    Made me want to kill myself...

    500 pages into it and still nothing had happened. 600...nothing. 700...nothing. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were exceptional, page-long descriptions of what was being served at the banquet and what the uniforms of the royal guard looked like (and people thought Tolkien was long-winded). 800...nothing. 900...wow, some action! 975...end of book... If you're into this kind of story, lots of politcal intrigue and would-be kings manuvering into position, then this book is for you. Martin is a good enough writer that he'll keep you moving through the story, but I ended up skimming lots of paragraphs just to get to the end. If you like action - ANY action - then head somewhere else. Side note: I try not to buy hardbacks as I read just way too much to spend $30.00 a pop. I read Martin's first book of this series in Sep. of 1997 and had to wait THREE YEARS for the next! What a joke! (Book 2 came out in hardback in Feb. 99 and the paperback was released in Sep 00 - a year and a half after the hardback, and 3 years after the first paperback!) The book has so many characters that you constantly flip to the appendixes to see who's who, and we're supposed to remember them all from 3 years ago...right! Tell you what...I'm not waiting around for another 3 years. See ya later, Mr. Martin.

    7 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Stirs the Passions of the Soul

    Martin pens a worthy follow up to his fantasy epic, "A Game of Thrones," with "A Clash of Kings." Mainly set on the land of Westros, several men fight for the crown of the seven kingdoms. Will there be a winner? In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons, seeks to find a way to return to Westros. The story opens with the main characters observing a comet in the sky. Each has their own personal interpretations of the comet - good and bad. What I liked about Martin's use of the comet was how he evoked "an impending sense" about what was going to occur and what was inevitable. This tone lingers in the reader's mind as the story enfolds. Stannis, the previous king's rightful heir, has turned to sorcery and believes the time is right to attack Westros and secure his throne. With his backers and sorceress, he sets out to accomplish his inevitable mission. In King's Landing, the 13-year-old king, Joffery, demonstrates cruel brutality and little concern for the subjects who follow him. It's up to his uncle, Tyrion Lannister, to defend the city and carry out justice. Tyrion has quite a challenge considering the obstacles in his path. Tyrion's father, Tywin, fights north of King's Landing, but is unable to defeat Robb Stark's forces or secure his son, Jaime's, freedom. Catelyn Stark journeys to Storm's End and has an adventure before returning to Riverrun where she is determined to support her son, Robb. An explosive confrontation with Jaime Lannister towards the end of the story settles several issues for her. In the south, Renly Barathron makes plans to attack King's Landing, but first he must deal with his brother, Stannis. In the far the far east, Daenerys leads her Khalhaser through barren land before finding hope in the city of Quarth. Martin's story is told from several perspectives, giving the novel its epic fantasy feel. The writing is sharp and never lingers, moving from event to event at a crisp pace. Martin's characters give the story its heart. For Daenerys, her character continues to grow in inner strength and resolve. Theon's deception is heartbreaking, while Tyrion's honest approach as the King's Hand had me rooting for him despite the darkness behind the Lannister's bright colors. "A Clash of Kings" stirs a passion within the soul, making the reader feel as if they're a knight in Westros. The only drawback, while minor for me, were the open plot points at the end of the novel. While several ends were tied up, new ones developed. There's no feeling of satisfaction at the end just a restless anxiety that promises to continue with "A Storm of Swords." Martin, though, has me hooked, so I'll read to find out what happens next. Some, however, may find the unresolved ending frustrating. Who will be the king of the 7 kingdoms? Joffery? Renly? Stannis? Balon Greyjoy? Robb Stark

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    in the process...

    I'm about half-way into this book. The first book in the series just blew me away! It's a long series and the second book so far is really creating a thick plot... Martin is truly the best of all the modern fantasy writers & one of the best ever!
    I already have book #3 & #4 and will buy #5... if he ever releases it!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    Good but not as great...

    This was a good book, but not as great as the first one. There were parts that I simply found boring and we were a little more behind the scenes in this book. However, there are plots within plots and schemes. We see who some of the characters really are in this book. Cant wait to read the next in the series.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    A Clash of Kings

    A Clash of Kings is one of my favourite books of all time. As I may have mentioned, I am greatly interested in The War of the Roses. This book series is a war between the Starks and the Lannisters of the Westeros, and is loosely based on the war which took place between the Yorks and the Lancasters of England.

    The books are rather long and I find, like most novels these days, that the beginning doesn't really grip me. Martin's prologues tend to be a little dry and rather long-winded. 29 pages in this case. But, once you get into the actual story, its gripping and there are so many twists and turns that I actually had to put the book down and rethink what had just happened. There are characters you will love and hate, Catelyn and Sansa tend to whine a lot, but their chapters are quite short.

    The other thing that I love about this series is that, instead of it being like "Chapter 1" and "Chapter 300," each chapter is written from the point of view of a character from the book. This book contains accounts from the perspective of: Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Bran Stark, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Theon Greyjoy, Catelyn Stark, and Davos the Onion Knight. Each character has multiple chapters, so you aren't given so much information at one time that it becomes confusing. I think that is an extremely unique quality about this book.

    I would definitely recommend this book and book series to those who love fantasy. As George R. R. Martin put it, "I wanted to focus less on the magic of fantasy, and more on the men."

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2012

    truly vibrant visuals that make your imagination go wild

    I truly can't put any of George R.R. Martin's books down once they're started. He keeps your mind constantly wondering and worrying about what's going to happen next. No character is safe.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    They just get better! I read this book to finish it before the s

    They just get better! I read this book to finish it before the second season of the HBO series ended. This is a great series to revisit. There is great world building and a rich cast of characters. Arya stands out for me in this book for her bravery in this book. In this book Arya's character really shines for someone so young. I definitely recommend this series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2012

    Great

    Loved it! Didn't want it to end

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Simply great reading!

    This author has the ability to take you to another world and make you believe in it. The rollercoaster ride that is A Clash of Kings has more twists, turns, betrayals and folks that were thought to be dead showing up alive than an episode of Dallas. Flawed redeemable characters keep you guessing what will happen next...and guessing wrong! Love it!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Great Series

    Be ready to spend many hours sorting things out in Westeros. Amazing writing, but takes a while to get used to sheer number of main plotlines and characters. Cant wait for this book in the HBO series in April.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Gay Rainbow Knights? Really? He's not kidding? Wow.

    First of all, the author is fantastically talented. Of that, there is no doubt. Martin's problem is that his world-view is tragically old-fashioned. In these books you will find the following cliches: The most beautiful and richest people in the world come from the blonde, blue-eyed faction. The most backward, uncivilized people have brown-to-black skin and live all-together, far away, in one big non-white clan. One of the blonde, light-eyed people ends-up ruling all of those backward non-white people, and suddenly, they organize an ambitious plan! There are gay people, but only the women have sex. Well, Martin only describes the lesbian sex. Here's the kicker - the gay knights form a new faction ... the Order of the Rainbow Guard. Yes, that's right. Rainbow. Gay. Gay Rainbow Knights. Not Kidding. Aside from those over-the-top over-used themes, the books are beautifully written and the plot is masterfully complex. I had to grit my teeth whenever I came across the cliches, but I made it through.

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    After writing such a smashingly successful beginning to a series

    After writing such a smashingly successful beginning to a series such as A Game of Thrones was, many authors would have had difficulty in meeting the expectations of the rabid fandom for a sequel. Happily, though, Martin is too good an author to drop the ball on us as A Song of Ice and Fire continues. This second book in the saga is every bit as good as the first ... better even!

    The dynamic use of multiple narrative perspectives ranging from the youthful voices to the older, more world-weary continues. New POV characters such as Davos are introduced while fast favorites like Arya and Jon from the previous story return. Not only do we have more people to hear from, but they are moving further afield from one another, expanding the influence of the story to demonstrate how the wars of lions, direwolves and dragons reach to all corners of the world. It is a staggeringly broad story with a vast list of characters and factions, but Martin's deft writing keeps the reader on-track. If there is confusion it is likely that it is caused by intentional misdirection on the author's part in order to work through an important story arc ... sit tight and let it work itself out rather than getting frustrated. It's worth it!

    I came to take more of an interest in Catelyn's narrative this time around, but still couldn't warm to Danaerys. Arya and Sansa continued to be absorbing in their different ways, and Jon was (of course) arresting as always. I must confess, though, that Tyrion's is my favorite POV to read because of his humor and ability to find and use his own personal strengths despite all of the humiliation and cruelty he suffers at the hands of those who should love and value him. Each character is significant both individually and as part of the whole. They have their personal quirks and vices, but their unique outlooks can allow a view which presents the good in some of the least-loved characters, and the darkness in the ones we love the most.

    Again, a wonderful trip through Westeros. Bravo!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2013

    This book is decent, but it has been out for how long? And you'r

    This book is decent, but it has been out for how long? And you're charging $9.99 for it? Way to exploit people, what a joke. Martin is borderline senile at this point, took him 5 years to write his last book .
    The show is all right, yet you can tell his books can't even keep up with the speed of the plot even though he is one of the producers. Shame on him. 

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Bloated and disappointing.

    I was impressed, but not starstruck, with Game of thrones. I thought hard before buying Clash of Kings and took the risk, but it didn't pay off. There are too many stories happening at once, and not enough of them are interesting. By the time we get back to a story thread, all its momemtum has vanished. Some characters do nothing but shuffle around as they wait for the plot to call on them. Many battles happen away from narration or are subverted by groan-inducing plot devices. GoT had interesting character development but nobody grows or changes much in this book. The prose is readable and I liked Arya and Tyrion's chapters, but the rest was dull and tedious. I can't bring myself to tackle the monstrous 1200 page Storm of Swords.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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