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Clash of the Kings - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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August 2nd, 2012


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10:40 pm - Clash of the Kings
If you haven't read A Game of Thrones, then you probably shouldn't read my review of A Clash of Kings! But there seem to be enough A Song of Ice and Fire fans around to appreciate my general thoughts on this book.

At the end of A Game of Thrones, Westeros had become a battleground on which kings were primed to clash. And, oh boy, do they clash.

A Clash of Kings, by George R.R. Martin, carries over many of the strengths of the first book, although it's not quite as strong. The characters continue to be complex and interesting, but we are saddled with POV chapters from Theon, a vile misogynist whose chapters are uncomfortable to read, although they do sometimes contain his awesome sister. And the other new POV character, Davos, is good but incredibly underused. The returning characters are a mixed bag in some ways because there is very little overlap in their stories in this book, as they are scattered all over the continent to cover as much of the story as possible. Tyrion takes on the Eddard role in this book, and his chapters are perhaps the most consistently engaging, as he prepares King's Landing's defenses while trying to stay a step ahead of Cersei. Arya gets a considerable amount of character development through her adventures, but it does take a while for her story to really get going. Jon's adventures Beyond the Wall are disappointingly unexciting, although he, too, grows quite a bit by the end. Sansa is the big surprise, much more likable in this book. Catelyn continues to be a strong presence, but Bran is kind of boring and repetitive for most of the book. Daenerys finds some weird shit, but the ominous momentum of her march toward Westeros isn't as prominent here. One of the things I loved about A Game of Thrones was that Things Happened in every chapter. Not so with this book, which sometimes deploys a POV chapter to let us know that, actually, nothing much interesting is happening in this location.

Which is not to say nothing interesting ever happens because, hoo boy, while this book may have fewer shocking moments than the first book, it does have moments that are even more shocking and OMGWTF-y, thanks to the increased prominence of magic, which I know some readers disliked but I really loved. Especially after discovering how much of the basic plot comes directly from the War of the Roses, I want George R.R. Martin to bring more of his fantasy twist to the table! GRRM continues to be a master at surprising the reader with revelations, character deaths, and...and...whatever the hell that one scene was. Seriously, there is a scene in this book that caused my brain to melt, which the first book did not manage to do, so, bravo, GRRM. The man knows how to play with the reader's expectations and use the technique of differing POVs to deliver (or hide) information in clever ways.

It's impossible to truly judge each book until the end, however, when it becomes clear what stories were actually leading to the climax and what stories were taking their characters to a particular point over the course of this book to set them up for the next stage in their story. As I said before, the characters' stories are a little less intertwined, although everyone is touched by the conflict in Westeros: there are a great many people vying for the Iron Throne.

In many ways, A Clash of Kings feels like a transitional book. Though not as excellent as A Game of Thrones, it is nevertheless great.
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(9 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:soundingsea
Date:August 3rd, 2012 12:05 pm (UTC)
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I love Arya in this book, and Tyrion becomes far more relatable. Totally with you on Theon; he just gets ickier and ickier, ugh.

Now I'm trying to guess what the brain-melting was from!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 3rd, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
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There is a certain scene with Melisandre and Davos...
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From:chrryblssmninja
Date:August 6th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
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ahahahahahaha that scene
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From:lareinenoire
Date:August 3rd, 2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
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Very curious as to what scene it was that melted your brain--I have my suspicions. :) Also looking forward to seeing what you think of Book 3 (which has a moment where I and pretty much everyone else I know suffered massive brain meltage).
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 3rd, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
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Very curious as to what scene it was that melted your brain--I have my suspicions.
You are probably right, if you suspect this scene takes place in a cave.

Also looking forward to seeing what you think of Book 3 (which has a moment where I and pretty much everyone else I know suffered massive brain meltage).
Yeeeeeeah, I am anxiously waiting to find out what this moment is. I've heard a lot about it. I mean, I don't know anything about it (except that I believe it's referred to as the Red Wedding, unless that is only ONE of the awful events in this book), but I have no idea what happens at all.
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From:pica_scribit
Date:August 3rd, 2012 01:15 pm (UTC)
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Westeros had become a battleground on which kings were primed to clash. And, oh boy, do they clash.

Especially with Renly's Rainbow Guard. Nothing goes with that shit.

Not so with this book, which sometimes deploys a POV chapter to let us know that, actually, nothing much interesting is happening in this location.

Or possibly set up later mind-blowing revelations that don't seem like much yet? (I can't actually remember if this is true, but it seems like the sort of sneaky-bastard behaviour GRRM would engage in.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 3rd, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
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Especially with Renly's Rainbow Guard. Nothing goes with that shit.
Ha!

Or possibly set up later mind-blowing revelations that don't seem like much yet? (I can't actually remember if this is true, but it seems like the sort of sneaky-bastard behaviour GRRM would engage in.)
Possibly! But there seemed to be an abundance of wheel-spinning chapters here, which wasn't the case in the last book, which was full of forward momentum.
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From:catalyst2
Date:August 5th, 2012 12:00 pm (UTC)
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If you think this book decelerated the pace, it only gets slower from here. I really liked this story as I started reading it but it goes slower and slower as time goes on. I really think that Dances with Dragons could have been about 1000 pages shorter.

I saw a comment somewhere that it feels GRRM has fallen in love with this world and doesn't want to move on with it - I can only agree. If the next book is as padded out as DwD is, I'm done.
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From:finniscs
Date:August 5th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)

kings

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<<At the end of A Game of Thrones, Westeros had become a battleground on which kings were primed to clash. And, oh boy, do they clash. And oh boy how many of them! I've really taken a liking to Tyrion and I'm so afraid he's going to disappoint me, then again I think I would be disappointed if he didn't! I also love Arya's adventures and probably my favorite part of the whole book was the whispering of the third name. . .

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