Here’s round two of this juggernaut-explosive dark fantasy epic tale “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin. Like in my review of “A Game of Thrones” I’m hoping to exclude spoilers, to give the curious a general idea of the progression of this massive story.
“A Clash of Kings” takes up where “A Game of Thrones” leaves off; anything and everything that happened in the first book goes on steroids in the second. Only a few of the characters that survive the first story remain in the same place. The intrigue escalates into brutal action of all-out war.
My continuous critique of this story is the incredible number of characters. If only a third were mentioned, it would still be more than required for this massive epic. Martin does list a series of the families at the end of the first two novels, but I didn’t find it particularly helpful in keeping up with all of them. About ten characters dominate the story and move the plot.
The Lannister family, to me, steals the show in “A Clash of Kings,” given the strong characterization of “The Imp” (my favorite character), and the “loving” twins Jaime and Cersei. They represent the extremes of a wealthy dysfunctional family, and the inter-sibling friction (some literal) gets outrageous enough to be humorous at times. The Lannisters have the most wealth, have the most bizarre inter-family problems, and have the best lines of dialogue.
The Stark family is not gone, however, though the situation changed, scattering the family members with them not knowing where the others are. Generally, the Starks represent the “good guys” but Martin exposes the details in most of the main characters, leaving no one flawless. On top of the war efforts made by pretty much everyone, the Starks suffer a severe blow by a trusted one who betrays the family.
The platinum blonde continues her journey to enter the western part of the world busy making war upon one another. Meanwhile, the ice wall guards find more happening north than thought, leading to an escalation of events in an almost unknown part of the world to the reader.
Overall, the second installment of this epic is the onslaught of battle over old/new scores to settle, and the quest for wealth, power, and property. As this layer peels back more details of the main characters, more paranormal events slowly make their way into this vast world currently in war and chaos. I still give it five stars but Martin makes sure you work for every inch of it. If you’ve got the energy to take in this grand epic, I highly recommend it.
So far, I get two broad messages: Too many “Kings” is a major problem, and you can’t pick your relatives.