A Clash of Kings, this is the most apt name for the second book in the series ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’, because this is exactly what happens. King Robert is dead. Ned Stark is dead. New kings are sprouting in the Seven Kingdoms and there is chaos everywhere. In this book, Martin describes what happens during this chaos.
The Stark family is separated due to unfortunate circumstances. While Arya has managed to flee from King’s Landing, Sansa is trapped and is now looked upon as a traitor’s daughter. Jon Snow is a man of the Night’s Watch and is forbidden to participate in the events of the Seven Kingdoms. Robb declares war on King’s Landing, he is only a boy of fifteen. Joffrey becomes king, Cersei, his Queen Regent. But, there is a battle simmering near the DragonStone and soon the rightful heir, King Stannis Baratheon, will be on his way to claim what is his by rights.
I am halfway through the third book, so I can understand how well Martin created the setup for it in the second book itself. But, while I was reading A Clash of Kings, it was difficult to stay engaged at times, because the pace of the story kept oscillating. Most times, he managed to get my attention but I was ready for more action and was constantly awaiting some kind of drama. Yes, there is a battle at the end and that too an important one, but I found some of the chapters to be exhaustingly long and unnecessary. He could have at least tried to keep it short for the readers. The good part is that I was connected to many characters on a deeper level and some of them have become my favorites even when they weren’t the heroes in the previous book.
Tyrion is literally the hero here and he owns the story till the last chapter. If Lannisters are known to be mean and cruel, Tyrion is kind and witty. In fact, despite being an imp and being treated miserably by his own father and sister, he will go to any extent to save the honour of his family and his House.
The other character that really stood out for me was Arya. She is nine years old, her father is dead, she is away from her family and has nowhere to go and no one to trust, but she still manages to surprise us and survive by being immensely courageous.
Last, but not the least, Daenerys Stormborn has three dragons now but no khalasar. She has only a few people around who still have faith in her. Weak, broken and helpless, will she find her way to Westeros with an army?
Martin’s writing is praiseworthy but the down-side is the pace of the book which could be considered really slow. I was hurrying through the pages just so I could reach the interesting parts of the story. My verdict? Don’t give up on this book if you plan on finishing the series. You will be able to understand the third book only if you finish this one.
Favorite Quotes from the book:
“People often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up.”
“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.”
“There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.”
“He who hurries through life hurries to his grave.”
“Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.”
“Perhaps that is the secret. It is not what we do, so much as why we do it.”
(Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are strictly my own and in no way influenced.)