Monday, 11 April 2011

Book #22 A Clash Of Kings by George R.R Martin

A Clash Of Kings

So, onto book two of A Song Of Ice and Fire saga. It is frustrating to write a review of a book within a series because I don't want to spoil things for those who haven't read A Game Of Thrones yet. I will keep things practically spoiler free, don't worry you can keep reading!

A Clash Of Kings is exactly that, following on from the first book six different people have declared themselves the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Four of these are each aware of the others, but two have yet to be revealed. Who is a mere pretender and who has the strength to be King? Let battle commence!

Again Martin tells the story from third person point of view, the majority of narrators returning from a Game Of Thrones are joined by Theon Greyjoy, Ned Stark's ward and Davos a low-born knight of the household of Stannis Baratheon. Thinking about these narrators it occurred to me that Martin has not chosen to tell his story through the voices of powerful, the Kings or the would be Kings, or those with money or influence. He has chosen women, children, a bastard, a dwarf, a ward, and a man in service.
These individuals are pretty much powerless when it comes to changing the course of events but are directly affected by their consequence. There are bigger characters. When I read I want to know more about Cersei and Jaime Lannister, Lord Varys "The Spider" and Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, but I think in choosing the characters he does to narrate, he makes these bigger characters who they are, sinister, elusive and enigmatic and to be feared. It is a great trick on behalf of Martin, and a commendable one, if we entered their world-view and knew what they were thinking they might lose their mystique.

It occurred to me whilst finishing this book, and getting the next that epic is the word which truly defines this saga. The next book coming up is A Storm Of Swords. A Storm Of Swords is 984 pages long, just 36 pages shy of the Penguin Edition of Ulysses, and the first three books combined are longer than War and Peace. Make no mistake these books are LONG, but they fly along at a cracking pace, are compulsive, addictive and worth the effort.

In terms of the blog, I did worry that people will stop checking it out if I'm just writing about The Song Of Ice And Fire, but although there are to be seven novels only four are currently released so that's only two more posts after this one! I would take a break and do some others first but I CAN'T I NEED to know what's next.

In terms of the book I went up and down with this one. Obviously as with any novel you have favourite characters and so prefer "their" chapters (in my case Tyrion and Arya) over others. The books' main flaw is that it's over populated there are too many Ser So and So and Lord Such And Such and they all blend into one, particularly as their few purposes seem to be to do well in battle, be a turncloak (i love that word) or die in place of a main character. They are like all those dudes in the background at Helm's Deep in Lord Of The Rings whose sole purpose is to fall off the top of the castle. It's like how all Jack Bauer's colleagues die and he miraculously survives. They make up the numbers is what I'm saying and don't effect the overall narrative of the plot. I appreciate however that Martin is building a picture of a real land in his description of Westeros and real lands are populous, and need to be portrayed as such...

Is it as good as A Game Of Thrones? No. Has it succeeded in making me desperate to keep up with the fates of the all characters? Yes. See you on the other side of 984 pages! Wish me luck! 7/10

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