A Clash of Kings   by George R.R. Martin
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 12 December 2011

A Clash of Kings

Author: George R.R. Martin

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi

In the second book of A Song of Fire and Ice George R.R. Martin takes us on a topsy turvy ride of fortune through fragmented story telling leaving us no respite as action is fast and fierce and tables turn like whirlwinds. The narrative kicks off straight on from A Game of Thrones after a mandatory prelude and focuses on the central characters from the first book as well as adding or exanding on others (most notably Stannis Baratheon).

The book has an epic scale and we begin to see the full tapesty of Martin's vision unfold in terms of setting, theme and plot. New cities are visiting as the globe expands from the plains of westeros, over the narrow sea and beyond the free cities as well as north beyond the wall. The author's imagination runs particularly wild through the chapters following Daenerys who looks to raise an army (and dragons) in the anchient cities.

It is clear from early on that the events in the first book are but a small spark which lights the epic fire to come in the rest of the series. King Robert's death so sudden and silly leads to the great fire of succession in A Clash of Kings. A fire cooled by loyalty and fueled by betrayal, central to the plot we aren't left waiting for this vicious cycle to begin its turn. Ambition and love of power find reasons for all the characters as the corruption of promised (or prophecised) power clouds true judgement from oath, blood or nobility. Martin has a gift for showing us how thin the foundation of power is as he builds his characters mighty and high, then pulls the rug from beneath their feet. Everything promised in A Game of Thrones comes delivered in A Clash of Kings, high drama, conflict, sorcery, alchemy and an ending which will have to picking up the third book instantly.
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