The review assumes you have read 'A Game Of Thrones' and contains spoilers from it. Fair warning.
If you watch television, then you have undoubtedly heard of HBO's latest hit series, 'A Game of Thrones'. While bringing some great ratings for HBO, it has also brought millions of new readers to George R.R. Martin as well. I am one of those new millions and after the amazing climax of the first book, it was impossible for me not to rush to get the rest of the books.
After the end of Ned Stark's story in 'A Game Of Thrones', the aptly titled 'A Clash Of Kings' explores the consequences of his beheading and the war of succession after the death of King Robert Baratheon. Martin begins with an introduction to Robert's younger brother, Stannis Baratheon, rightful heir to the throne (Joffrey isn't a Baratheon) and lord of dragonstone through the viewpoint of Ser Davos Seaworth, a smuggler who rose to become the 'Onion knight'. Seaworth's character serves as our eyepiece for the events around the Lord of Dragonstone and Melisandre, the red priestess of R'hllor. Theon Greyjoy, who operated on the fringes in the previous book, becomes more prominent as he sails off to the Iron Islands to claim his birthright as theier prince. His subsequent meeting with his sister and their banter is one of the highlights of the book, don't miss it.
Our old characters are not forgotten either. Daenerys Targaryen, who went through one of the most brilliant character development arcs I have read in a long time, has to fight to survive after Khal Drogo's death and rebuild her army to retake the throne. Arya Stark journeys with Yoren, disguised as a boy and heading back to Winterfell. Unfortunately, Winterfell is not a safe haven anymore, as Bran finds out ruling as the crippled lord in his brother's stead. Jon Snow goes out as part of the Night Watch's expedition beyond the wall where they investigate dangers to the realm which may be far more perilous and important than infighting going on in the seven kingdoms.
Thanks to the rebirth of dragons, magic is stirring again in Westeros. Asshai priests, Others in the north, sorcerers of Qarth, pyromancers in King's Landing, throughout the book you can see the rise of magic and it's influence. So far, this is the only fantasy series I have read where the extraordinary creeps in so slowly and has yet kept me hooked. Martin keeps instilling the sense of Chaos in the his world after the king's death while adding to it's rich history exploring backstories, clan histories and legends beyond the wall. He's been called a masterful juggler by many and you can see why as you follow the characters, switching between nine different viewpoints. It's easy to develop favorites in a novel filled with fully fleshed characters as Martin's, but even in the chapters of other characters, the twisty events leave you wanting more.
My expectations and impatience for this book were sky high, amped up by watching HBO's adaptation, but Martin delivers in every chapter. Taking everything one step at a time, new characters, deaths, grisly wars and magic, book felt even better than it's predecessor and that's saying a lot. Unconventional, without any black and white characters and exceptionally well-written, George R.R. Martin's work is already set to become one of my favorite book series.