Clash of Kings, George R R Martin

A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin is the second book in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire. I have already reviewed the first book, HBO show and the finale and before moving on to the next book, I would like to talk about the second.

In true essence of its name, A Clash of Kings depicts the head on collision of the wannabe Kings of Seven Kingdoms. There are no less than four kings featured here, Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon, Renly Baratheon and Joffrey, not to mention the growing ambitions of Daenerys Targaryen to claim Iron Throne!

However, I am running ahead. The sad concluding events of the first book; death of King Robert, execution of Ned Stark, killing of Viserys and Khal Drogo, indeed paved path for the story to take a dramatic turn. While the TV show and the first book were almost similar, barring a few details; the second book is much much different.

Here, Tyrion Lannister is portrayed as courageous on battlefields as sarcastic and witty, he is in the Court. He is the Hand, Joffrey hates, but has to accommodate. He is the bane Tywin and Cersei suffer, but have to endure. And he is the one who makes a difference in the monstrous world despite his bad looks.

And then there is Stannis Baratheon, the serious somber just and cruel man, who has an excessive sense of hurt and entitlement. Stannis has a deep rooted sibling rivalry with his younger brother Renly. He feels that Robert did him grave injury by making Renly the Lord of Storm End, and after the death of Robert, he is the rightful king. His ambition is further fueled by Melisandre, a priestess of Lord of Light. She proclaims him the chosen one and aided by her magical dark powers, Stannis plans to take on the world.

Renly, on the other hand considers himself as the right candidate on account of his popularity. He is also able to sway a prominent rich House Tyrell by marrying their maiden daughter, Margaery. With money, resources, swords and beauty rallying behind him, he is ready to face both Joffrey and Stannis.

In the red waste, Daenerys is moving the Dothraki clan to claim the Iron throne, being the last Targaryen. Her adventures in different cities and her mighty dragons make for an engrossing story, with Martin ably switching the plot between the land, sea and river with ease.

I had noticed a few limitations in Martin’s prose in the previous book, however, he has improved by leaps and bounds in this volume. His description of nature is more vivid, expressions more lively and his creation of battle scenes fantastic. The Blackwater battle is narrated in the most engrossing manner. Reading the description, I could imagine every scene and it was way more impressive than what I saw on the show. It is always easier to create war scenes on visual medium, words often fail to communicate finer nuances of the high adrenaline action. However, here Martin proved me wrong. He was able to devise new strategies and then able to create the dramatic effect of Wildfire on ships.

My second objection was that Martin only talked about using different languages, but didn’t use any different words. Here he did create a few new ones, for the Braavosi and Valyrian tongues. But, even more interesting was his twist on the usual words, coining new words out of the existing ones, such as mayhap, happenstance etc, quork, turncloak etc. And so was his ingenuity in naming the places. Oxbridge, Dreadfort, Storm End, Red Fork are few among the many, these are nothing but an extension of their locations or use and make for an interesting read.

In short, I am more than satisfied with Martin’s narration in the present book. The storyline is extensive, characters are interesting and the plot is building up with each turn of the page. Super excited to begin the third now.. Anupama Sarkar

Complete set of Song of Ice and Fire on Amazon

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