November 22, 2013

Book: A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 6:06 pm

imageThe saga described in The Game of Thrones continues. This is the second book in the series called The Song of Ice and Fire.  

The book is as good as ever. Apologies up front because I am going to give quite a bit of plot away. There is no way to review this book without doing this, and in my mind, this takes nothing away from the pleasure of reading the book as it is the dialog and the descriptions that make the book. I will not give away plot twists that you have to read to find out, if there are any, but narrating major events should be OK in my mind.

If you are not happy with the fact that major characters die in the middle of the book, as you saw Robert, Khal Drogo, and, most shockingly, Eddard Stark, then you may have already given up on this book. Because you know, a lot of new characters come in that you do not know about. There are some people whom you love still there, like for instance, Arya, Sansa, Daenerys, and Tyrion (my favourite character in the entire series probably), and those that you hate (Joffrey, Jamie, and arguably Cersei) but for those of you who cannot stand to “lose” the characters you have invested a lot of time in, this may be small consolation.


For instance, the younger brother of Robert, the unbending and morally straight Stannis, plays a large part. He, we learn, is now supported by Melissandre, who considers herself servants of the God of Light. She forces the King’s entourage to abandon their old Gods and switch allegiance to the new God of Light. In fact, the wife of Stannis, the queen is a staunch supporter already.


Ser Davos, the Onion Knight, is a smuggler turned knight who lost his fingers as a punishment; Stannis inflicted this punishment since smuggling is wrong, even though the smuggling was done to save starving Stannis and his group! (See what I mean by unbending?) Stannis also then made him a knight in return for services rendered! He is now named Ser Davos or, by nickname, Ser Onion Knight. He also keeps his severed (and I guess mummified) fingers in a pouch around his neck for good luck and is fiercely loyal to Stannis as his king.


Not many others are loyal to him. He is reviled universally due to his course, unbending, annoyingly moral attitude. Stannis is convinced he is the rightful owner to the Iron Throne, as he is the eldest of the younger brother of Robert Baratheon, and given that (if the rumours he heard are to be believed), all of Robert’s sons are not Robert’s at all, but a product of incest between Jamie and Cercei, he is the only true hair of the Throne.


But people seem to like his younger brother Renly better. He seems courteous, even looks better, and, as if all this is not enough, his queen Margerie Tyrrell is beautiful and is universally loved as well. But he knows that Melissandre has the ability to see the future in flames (the God of Light is in the flames) and has told him that he is the true heir for the Iron Throne.


Melissandre says that she can fix the Renly issue. Just coincidentally, Catelyn has gone to Renly to discuss an alliance between him and her son Robb, the son and heir to Ed Stark’s domains. Catelyn meets Lady Brianne, a large, ugly woman with a warrior’s strength, attire and demeanor, who is secretly in love with the handsome Renly. When they are in the tent, a shadow comes in and kills Renly right before their eyes. Knowing that if anyone finds them with a bleeding and dead Renly, they will be the prime suspect, both Catelyn and Brianne go away secretly, with Brianne pledging eternal allegiance to Catelyn, now that her Lord is dead.


Jaime attempts to escape but is chained again. Winterfell is taken by Theon Greyjoy, who really grew up there as a ward (hostage) and bitter to prove that he is not useless as his father and sister Asha think. But before he could catch Bran, he and Ricken along with Hador the dimwitted giant-sized man are rescued by Osha. Bran now begins to see what the wolves see and has acquired the ‘third eye’ so to speak. Theon is assisted by a group of sellswords led by Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose Bolten. Note that name as you will meet him a lot later. In the rampage, most of Winterfell’s occupants are killed including Maester Luwen.  Afraid that he will be ridiculed more for letting Bran and Ricken escape, he finds the children of a mill owner who roughly resemble them, kills and hangs them tarred for the world to see, claiming he has killed the children. Better to be feared than mocked….


Robb claims yet another victory, killing a distant Lannister cousin in the meanwhile. Tyrion is now the Hand of the king, as Tywin trusts neither Cercei or King Joffrey not to ruin the kingdom with stupid decisions.


Daenerys and her visit to Qarch, a city full of traders, venal merchants and wizards is well told. She now wants to go back to King’s Landing to reclaim her throne and Illyris, the corpulent merchant who sent her earlier to Kal Drogo seems to want to assist her in her new quest too.


Jaquen Hagar grants Arya three wishes for saving three of his people – name three names and they will die. Arya gets two cruel masters killed. The third wish she exchanges for her freedom and escapes Harrenhal.


Petyl Baelish, who brought Tywin Lannister to save Kings Landing is given Harrenhall, his lifelong dream  Joffrey agrees to set aside Sansa and marry Marjorie Tyrrell,  Renly’s ex wife, who is still a maiden.


Political intrigue but Sansa is by now so filled with loathing of Joffrey, seeing him for what he truly is, that she rejoices at her ‘escape’. She is physically still a prisoner at the palace. Joffrey is as cruel and impetuous as ever and even Cercei barely seems to be able to control him.


Interesting. Dialogs as sharp as ever, story as interesting as ever. What is there not to like?


Let us say a 8/10


–          – Krishna



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