A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin
Published: September 2000
Read: April 2005
Capsule: The sequel to George R.R. Martin's successful A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings is pretty much more of the same. The first 200 pages or so is stiff going, but the it's all investment for the last 800-plus pages of pageturning pleasure.
Paperback: 1040 pages
Random House Books
The second installment of medieval struggles between the honourable House Stark and the seedy House of Lannister, A Clash of Kings focuses largely on the misshapen imp Tyrion Lannister. Written off by his enemies and ignored by his family, Tyrion is nonetheless the smartest of them all. Despite being wracked by painful dwarfism in a time where the slightest scar belittles you in social circles, Tyrion schemes and plays power with the best of them. He wheedles his way from bedroom to dungeon, from whorehouse to control of the very throne of the Seven Kingdoms.
The arena in which the story is played out is widening, moving into bizarre, magical eastern lands and harsh northern climes full of threats both mortal and spiritual. Also entering the fray are shadowy forces under the guise of religion, that look to usurp steel as the power of choice. Brother fights brother, father fights son, and the fates of the Stark children are as variant as the landscape of the kingdom. One lies a cripple, unable to remember the Lannister prince who dropped him from a second story window; another walks the 30-metre ice wall at the northern perimeter of the kingdom; the eldest daughter is held captive by a merciless Lannister queen; the other daughter lives alternately as a soldier boy and a serving girl, using her samurai-style training to help her subvert the bad guys' war effort from within.
As mentioned in the capsule above, the first 200 pages or so are frustrating, a slow go at best. Stick it out to get to the good stuff. After Martin finishes setting up the board, he moves his pieces without peer.