Picking up where the first book left off, the Seven Kingdoms are in chaos. There are now three claimants to the Iron Throne and the North has declared something of a war of independence on the rest of the country.
This book has almost everything. Treachery, loyalty, conspiracies, conspiracies within conspiracies, turncoats, power plays, twists, turns, you name it. The only thing I find to be missing is a love story. I don't need much, but in a book this epic in scope, it feels like somebody should be in love with somebody else and want to talk about it. It's a small thing though, and I'm more than willing to overlook it since Martin does everything else so well.
I found it a little daunting when I realized that there are 28 pages of characters at the end of the book. That's right. Twenty-eight. But I found the main characters very easy to keep track of. It probably helps that I'm not someone who needs to know exactly how each minor character fits into which family. I found the cast of characters to be very manageable, and I don't think I have a huge tolerance for books with too many characters.
Speaking of characters, I loved watching how some of the characters grow throughout the book. As I recall, there wasn't a whole lot of character growth in the first book, but I guess the author was mostly worried about laying a good foundation for his story. So watching the sometimes surprising ways that some of my favorites developed was intriguing. And I was left with my heart aching for the path one character is forced to follow. I think causing that kind of emotional investment in your characters is one of the marks of a great author.
Another thing that keeps me reading is that no character feels safe. I never knew if a favorite was going to be the next to get killed off in some way. While it makes me a little nervous as I read (back to that emotionally invested thing again), it makes the whole book feel a little more real. There might not be a fairy tale ending to these books because this is the real world. Or at least it feels like it while I'm reading!
I just love this series. The size of the books is fairly intimidating, but I get so wrapped up in the story, I don't notice how long it's taking me to read them. I highly, highly recommend this series.
Reviewed April 17, 2009
The series premieres on HBO on Sunday! I am so excited! I'll gush in another post.
My review of A Game of Thrones, the first in the series.
Read an excerpt.
Find author George R. R. Martin on his website and his Not a Blog.
Buy A Clash of Kings at
Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore, and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.