Friday, January 18, 2008

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Just in case you can't tell by the length of time it took me to read A Clash of Kings, this book is quite an epic! It's the second book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and picks up where A Game of Thrones left off. I read A Game of Thrones last year and believe it or not, I actually got through this one faster. That's by no means attributed to it being a dull read, it's not a dull read in the least bit...but it's mighty involved.

This series is certainly considered high fantasy, but as I said in my review of A Game of Thrones, it broke the barriers of what I thought high fantasy to be. I've always seen high fantasy as focusing mainly on the quest or the war and not so much on the characters. Martin balances these aspects of the stories perfectly and creates an amazing cast of characters that are all intricately carved. He's created some of my favorite characters in modern fantasy, Daenerys, mother of dragons, Bran, a young heir to a king who is disabled and unable to walk, Jon Snow, a bastard child of a king removed from his siblings and serving with others who have been stripped from their families, and Arya, the daughter of a king who defies gender boundaries and seeks to make a name for herself. For those who have read this, can you tell I like the Starks?

A Clash of Kings picks up as a war between four kings is beginning. The war will decide who is the one true ruler of the Seven kingdoms. There are tensions between the many families involved and even tighter tensions within some of the families involved. There is treachery, betrayal, sorcery, jealousy. It really is a thrilling ride. Each family is willing to stop at nothing to claim what they think is their right to the throne and no family is willing to form a truce or share a throne. Whatever chance there was a peace is slowing being destroyed by the atrocities committed out of spite and anger for past crimes.

Each chapter begins with a characters name and the chapter focuses on that characters story line, though other characters' storylines' interweave within the chapters. I love this way of telling the story and it works perfectly for this series. His characters are created so well that there really wasn't a single character whose chapters I didn't look forward to. Though there were some that I would be more excited about than others.

I also loved the scenery, the battle scenes, the cultures, the history, the castles, the food, the palaces...all of this stuff that he created. He put so much detail, description and effort into this series. Really an excellent job.

Martin's writing just amazes me. As I read this book I just remained amazed by the enormous task of putting something of this scale together. He's a genius writer and this is really becoming one of my favorite series out there. And there's dragons in it now :) If you're a fan of fantasy books and haven't read these books, I highly recommend that you pick these up. I'd consider them a must read even if you don't think you like high fantasy...I certainly didn't think I would. I'll be reading book 3, A Storm of Swords soon, though not right away. I need a break from these massive books.


CdnReader said...

Oh, Chris, have I told you how much I love these books? I read the these three in 2003, the first two back-to-back (much like you've done) and then the third many months later. In my experience, this is one of the very few multi-volume stories that deftly continues the momentum throughout. Martin is truly a gifted and amazing writer to create such a vivid and engrossing fantasy world. The Starks were my favourite too! :) I still haven't read Feast for Crows (#4). Maybe when you get there, I'll pick it up as well. BTW, #5 (Dance with Dragons) is due out in April, and two more volumes (!!) to follow sometime after.

Chris said...

CDN, In April?! I better start reading quick because I'm going to want to pick that one up as soon as it comes out! And I love that title! Isn't this just an amazing series? Everyone I've talked to who's read it has loved it. I've heard a few people say that book 2 lags, but I didn't think that it did...I thought it had a great story. So I still have 5 books ahead of me, huh? That makes me happy :)

Scott said...

I just commented and my broswer crashed, so I apologize if you get a double-post...

Anyway, I started reading this a year ago and stopped for some reason, which was stupid because I was loving it. The only problem I had was that I couldn't distinguish between two characters... Littlefinger, I think was his name, and another one. I just couldn't wrap my mind around them. It's weird.

Any idea what's happening with the projected HBO miniseries what with the writer's strike and all? Last I heard they had a preliminary script in the fall. I'm really interested to see how they'll adapt an intricate story like this to the screen. Thank God it's not a movie.

DesLily said...

congrats on finally finishing this one baby boy! how many pages was it anyway???
I don't know how you can put off reading a series if you have the books! That would drive me nuts lol. I hate that right now I have a number of series that "new" books are due out, by the time I get to them it's not always easy to remember all the story that went before it!

I'm not buying anything new right now.. trying to back off some. Maybe not as much as you but still.. and I've been doing good! Everything just goes on the wish list lol.. (though I did send for 2 laurie R King books used. One was 2.50 the other 3.99 both hardbacks! the price was right, ya know?!)

Stephanie said...

Wow. This series sounds fantastic!! But I have to say, I'm not at a point where I want to tackle it right now!! I don't have enough reading time to try anything this epic. One of these days!!

Dark Orpheus said...

I'm not so sure about the April release for "Dance With Dragon" -- I checked GRRM's blog earlier this year -- and he's not done with the book yet.

So, better not get your hopes up. Don't trust the dates on Amazon too much -- those are just estimates.

Becky said...

I'll have to put this series on my to-read list at some point. But I don't think it will be this winter. I am plenty busy with the books I've got piled up now :)

Chris said...

Scott, I know exactly what you mean...that was one thing that bugged me that I wrote about in another post...He has so many smaller characters that they get mixed up in your mind! It's impossible to keep track of all of them. I was wondering how they'd adapt this into a miniseries too...Are they going to do the entire projected series into a miniseries? That's going to be a lot of stuff into a few episodes! I mean this thing could easily be stretched out into one season per book. Great books though! I really enjoyed it.

Deslily, 762 pages which doesn't sound all that bad, but the print is not exactly large on these pages! Normally I can't put off reading a series for all that long, but this book was just way too big as are it's sequels...I couldn't just jump into the next one :p Though I can't wait too long, because I just found out the 5th book comes out in April! I have some catching up to do! Great job on the no buying :) I still haven't bought one this year! And awesome prices on the Laurie King can't beat that! (love those two sentences back to back...great job on the no buying, great deal on the laurie king!)

Stephanie, Definitely one of these days! I totally understand not wanting to tackle anything epic and epic these are! But they are fantastic! Maybe if you find yourself finishing Once Upon a Time really early and have time, you can squeeze the first one in :p

D-O, Oh, don't say that :( I already got my hopes up, lol...but if it doesn't come out then, that's ok. It would give me more time to read these other massive books!

Becky, I know the feeling! My pile is...well, laughable. It's ridiculous! But when you have a chance, I highly recommend them. They're great books!

Jeff S. said...

So glad hear you enjoyed this oneaswell. I think that the 3rd book ismy favorite so far out the four but I really just love them all.

I visit Martin's website often andhe hasn'tcompleted the next book yet. He hinted on his last update that book 5 may be out this fall but he made no promises.

As for the HBO series. The first season would just cover Book 1. As of now everything is on hold due to the writers stike. Some scripts have been turned in but nothing has been filmed at this point and no cast has been announced either. I think it's just stuck in preproduction right now.

I don't blame you for taking a break. They are huge books.

Debi said...

Was it really necessary for you to go and write such an intriguing review?!! These really do sound like a wonderful journey to embark on, but oh, there's just too many damn books on the pile as it is!

Bookfool said...

762 pages!! Too much for me (she says, picking up her copy of The Pickwick Papers - oops, over 700 pages long, hahaha).

Well, guess what I just finished? The Bleeding Dusk. I couldn't put that sucker down till I reached the end. It was so good - and will be miserable waiting for the fourth installment!!! Colleen has me completely hooked, argh!

Chris said...

Jeff, You do realize that you're making me want to go out and buy the third book right now, right? ;) I went over to his website too and saw that we'll have to wait til at least the fall. Unfortunately I got some minor spoilers too, but they were good spoilers as I found out that three of my favorite characters are still around in the fifth book! Can't wait for the series to come out whenever that will be. That's going to be absolutely amazing. It will definitely be the event of the year for me as far as TV goes!

Debi, :p I know the feeling. This series is a massive commitment, but I'd say to put it on the wishlist and get to it someday. It really is something that has to be read ;) It's amazing so far! And Jeff (the expert) says it only gets better!

Bookfool, It was quite the massive book! And it's one of those small print chunksters too *sigh* The Bleeding Dusk was great, wasn't it?? It started off a little slower for me, but I realized that was only because there was story to set up, but boy did it take off!!! I couldn't put that thing down either. Totally agree that Colleen just can't write these things fast enough. Now I'm just upset that there are only 2 more left in the series :(

Jeff S. said...

Expert? I don't think so. :) I'm just glad your enjoying the series so much. I'm really looking forward to the HBO series someday as well.

I hope you have a great weekend with Megan as well.