Tuesday, February 21, 2012

REVIEW: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A CLASH OF KINGS

A comet the color 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 in the 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.
 
  As mentioned in my post on A Game of Thrones, at the end of A Game of Thrones, book 1 in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, the Seven Kingdoms are no longer in harmony, or under rule of one King. At the end of book 1, we have four crowned rulers: King Joffrey Baratheon (*cough* Lannister *cough*), King Renly Baratheon, King Robb Stark and Queen Daenerys Targaryen, all having their eyes on the power seat in King’s Landing. A Clash of Kings starts off with King Stannis Baratheon declaring Joffrey Baratheon a bastard born of incest, sending this declaration throughout all the realm, and stating his intention to lay claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros. The clash of Kings intensifies when Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands also proclaims himself King. All these Kings, only one throne…

In A Clash of Kings we find the Stark family separated. Patriarch Ned has been killed, and a mourning Catelyn must be strong as she supports King Robb in his cause while Brandon and Rickon are stuck at Winterfell, feeling abandoned and alone. Sansa is trapped in Kings Landing, in an abusive relationship, and her betrothal to the boy King who had her father killed. Strangely, Joffrey’s hound, Sandor Clegane, seems to be ever so slightly protective of Sansa - this strange dynamic ensures some interesting scenes. Lastly, Arya escapes King Landing by masquerading as an orphan boy and making the journey North with dangerous captives meant for the Night’s Watch. At least she finds a friend in Gendry, King Robert’s illegitimate son (though they don’t know this) – the smith’s apprentice Ned met in A Game of Thrones (voluntarily joining the Watch). This friendship was by far my favourite storyline to follow, and Arya and Gendry were responsible for most of my favourite scenes.

Other storylines follow Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch as they march North of the wall to determine the cause of mysterious disappearances of Rangers, most especially that of Jon’s uncle, Benjen Stark. Tyrion Lannister takes his new job as Hand of the King very seriously, and actually tries to do some good in King’s Landing – a pity he is as surrounded by malice and deceit as Ned Stark was. Lastly we follow Daenerys Targaryen while she and her Khalasar try to survive the merciless Dothraki Sea, as she tries to find a way to return to Westeros to lay claim to her birthright.

In this new installment we meet a significant number of new characters. We finally meet Robert and Renly's brother, Stannis Baratheon and his army, including the mysterious Red Priestess, Melisandre.
 
We meet Theon Greyjoy’s family, including his pirate sister Asha – one of my new favourites.




We meet Renly Baratheon’s new bride, Marjorie Tyrell; Brienne of Tarth, the newest member of Renly’s Rainbow Guard; Tyrion Lannister’s new page, Pod; and Bran Stark’s new friends, two more of my new favourites, Meera and Jojen Reed.




In A Clash of Kings the lines between friend and foe shift so suddenly it makes your head spin. The thirst for power corrupts souls as quickly as coins of silver buy allegiances, and the only thing that is certain, is that nothing is certain. No character is safe, no character is too important – as Arya says, "Anyone can be killed".




As was the case with A Game of Thrones, this second installment of the A Song Of Ice And Fire series is just as unpredictable as the first. Any lovers of the fantasy genre will love this series. It is as huge and epic as J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy - perhaps even more so. The people of the realm are not only faced with the harsh realities of war, but also a looming threat from beyond the wall, the dangers of sorcerers, and the return of the undead white walkers, direwolves, dragons and giants. Will the people of Westeros stop fighting each other long enough to realise that it is not each other they should be fighting at all?



Product information:
Title: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Clash Of Kings
Author: George R.R Martin
Number of pages: 752
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 1998
ISBN: 0553579908


Season 2 of HBO’s series Game of Thrones will start airing April 1st. Season 2 is based on book 2, A Clash of Kings.




* All the fan art featured in this post was found in a Google image search. Any possible copyright infringements are completely unintentional. I am not responsible for creating these beautiful drawings, and ALL credit goes to the talented artists who created these works.








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