Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

ISBN: 9780553579901
Source: Purchased (e-book)
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #2
Release Date: November 16, 1998
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*This review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series*

A comet the colour of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.

To refresh my memory of A Game of Thrones, I re-read my review of that book and ended up kind of laughing at myself over it. In one of my closing paragraphs I said, "So if the next book is slow to some, it probably wont be to me...". Seriously, I said that. Apparently I underestimated Martin's ability to dig DEEP into this world. So, for the record: this book seemed slow to some. It was also slow for me.

That's not to say I didn't like or enjoy this book, because I did. There were some parts that I didn't enjoy reading, mainly because they were long and incredibly tedious, and to be completely honest, impossible for me to understand. For example, there is one entire chapter that is supposed to be describing a particular battle, but it is told from the point of view of someone on a ship. So this person goes on to talk about many, many ships, by name, and in the jargon of someone familiar with ships altogether. I, however, am not familiar with ships at all. So, while I read it and just barely managed to understand what was happening (for the most part), I was incredibly bored by the "ship-talk" because it went on foreverrrr.

I thought that because I didn't remember some of the minute details from season two of the show, it would be especially cool to read the book (such as it was with book one-season one) and have it answer some of the questions about things I couldn't quite grasp, e.g. Bran's little excursions into the brain of his wolf and who the hell Meera and Jojen were! While it did answer many, many questions that I had, I still had a hard time getting through this one. In fact, it took me an entire six months to finish reading this book. It was especially hard because by the second book, we have so many story lines going that by the time you get back around to reading a story line that began seven chapters ago, you've kind of forgotten what even happened before, especially if you had a hard time getting into that story line to begin with. Make sense?

I was told by many that this book was going to be one of the hardest and that it really served to connect books one and three. While I haven't read book three yet, based on what I saw of season three, I believe those statements wholeheartedly. I believe I am going to enjoy A Storm of Swords a lot more than I did A Clash of Kings.

The A Clash of Kings started to get more interesting around the 80% mark (I read these on my iPad because they are so long, and a book that big just won't fit in my purse with all the others), and I was able to sail right through the end while finally rekindling my eagerness to read this series. What I love most about this series - aside from the fact that I have never read a series as in-depth, fleshed out, well written, amazing, and GAHHHH - is that I find myself loving characters I know I should hate, or being annoyed at characters I know I should like. There is never a clear cut definition of "good and bad" in this series. A Song of Ice and Fire is one big gray area and honestly, I don't even know who to "root" for or if I can root for anyone. I'm basically content to sit back and watch it all unfold and though I know some of it will kill me (I speak from experience of watching the last few episodes of season three), I am ready because I know Martin won't steer us wrong... I hope. He should just keep writing until he runs out of material for this world. I say this because I have deemed it impossible to run out of anything for this world and that means he will have to write forever.

     RATING: ★ 1/2

All in all, I did find this book to be a lot slower and much harder to get through than the first book. It was long and tedious, but the world-building and development of this saga was wild. It's hard not to be in awe of it all and even if I didn't love this one, I am so looking forward to reading book three, A Storm of Swords, and genuinely hoping it doesn't take me six months to read that one.

Have you read A Clash of Kings? What did you think of it? Did you think it was long and tedious or did you enjoy every bit of the world building and development packed into that 700+ page book? Let's talk books!


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