Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
A Clash of Kings: George R.R.Martin, September 11—October 4, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Following the incredible debut of A Song of Ice and Fire in A Game of Thrones, the sequel fails to deliver to the same extent.
Following the deaths of King Robert and Ned Stark, the seven kingdoms find themselves being pulled in numerous directions by a number of would-be kings: Robert’s official successor Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, and is cruel despite the best guidance Cersei is able to muster. With questions over the legitimacy of his birth, competition arises from Robert’s oldest brother Stannis, their younger brother Renly who just thinks he’d do a better job, while Ned’s son Robb becomes Lord of Winterfell and declares himself King in the North. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys continues on her quest to succeed her father and Robert’s predecessor by regaining the Throne for her family.
The plot is marvellously complex and the multiple storylines are weaved together with immense vision and skill. The problem with Martin’s use of POV characters is that chapters are only as good as the character and plot in that area. While there are some excellent ones, the likes of Bran moping about Winterfell bemoaning the arrival of their new wards, the Freys, is far from gripping. The action at the Wall is also of variable interest.
Other areas are consistently good, though. Pretty much anything that happens in King’s Landing is exciting, especially when it involves Tyrion who is utterly hilarious. His supporting characters, such as Varys and Baelish, are fascinating to watch at work and great fun to analyse.
This is still a great book, but compared to the genius of its predecessor it falls short. The writing lacks the same poetry as the original, which has near-parable qualities and deep symbology. Some entries appear to be fillers and takes away the breathless momentum that existed in Thrones. But the characterisation is still on point, and what happens next is anyone’s guess, Overall, it’s enjoyable but less likely to hook you.