A CLASH OF KINGS

I first want to open up with a side note to all my friends who are bragging about having been watching HBO’s A Game of Thrones: I offer you all a cheerful finger…you know the one.

Impressions & Opinions

The story picks up immediately with no gap in the timeline, simply another shifting of perspectives. I both love and hate this approach. I love it when I can put one book down and immediately pick up the next and I hate it when I’m forced to wait a year or more in between to pick up where I left off. Anyone who has had a similar reading experience, or even just had someone turn away mid-conversation can totally understand where I’m coming from here. As we keep reading, the places of the dead are effortlessly supplanted by characters both old and new.

Machinations. Plotting. Assassinations. Shifting allegiances. New-made kings. Betrayals. All this and a smattering of battles are offered in A Clash of Kings. But of justice, we see precious little.

Round about the halfway point of the book, I realized that not much has happened. A great deal of jockeying for position, planning and travelling sure, but of action there has been very little. No battles, no big betrayals or revelations. I would say that this book is much more cerebral than A Game of Thrones was. Incidentally, you can click here to be reminded of my review of that book. For all this laying of back story, I haven’t been bored yet. There’s still this feeling of building up a head of steam. It’s quite subtle, but you can feel that we are going somewhere. I couldn’t wait to hit the climax, and still can’t, even though I know that it isn’t going to take place until sometime into A Storm of Swords, the next novel in the series.

Uncouth wording, and unrefined phraseology abound in the book (as in previous and future ones of the series); but instead of being insulted or turned off the book by it – which some might argue a classy lady like myself should be – I find that uncouth and unrefined as it may be, the words are well-fitted to the tone of the story and the times. This is no tale of heroic knights of Camelot but of the dirty, hard truth of a military campaign, of everyday life in a society of medieval technology and mores. By its very harshness it feels more real and has a stronger impact on the reader and thusly makes the reader more invested in the story.

And there’s one thing that really bugs me: Where is Barristan the Bold? Where did he go after Joffrey stripped him of his position in the Kingsguard? There’s been not a single word about him since he left the audience hall that day and it’s driving me crazy!

Warning: SPOLIERS AHEAD!

Plot Review

The first significant thing of note that occurs is the confrontation between the brothers Baratheon. Both are claiming the same honour, although the argument could be made that neither is really entitled to it. They are equal in their stubbornness and inability/unwillingness to hear the other. Oh and Stannis (the elder brother) has forsaken one of the two traditional religions of the realm in favour of new ones; this is something that history has told us never goes well for the trailblazer. So far though, the new god seems to be helping Stannis’ cause, or perhaps it’s the red priestess, because before battle is joined, Renly is dead and Stannis therefore victorious.

Balon Greyjoy throws his crown into the ring. Theon, son of Balon and ward of Winterfell for a decade, returns to claim the castle for his own. Eventually, Bran and Rickon escape with their direwolves, the Reed siblings and Osha (the wildling woman) although by and large, thanks to Theon’s trickery, the world believes both Bran and Rickon to be dead.

Tommen, Joffrey’s younger brother and heir is spirited away from King’s Landing by Cersei for his protection…only to be spirited away from Cersei’s men by Tyrion’s. Again for the child’s protection. (Although I don’t believe the motives are so altruistic as that and for those who miss the subtleties, Martin points out the possibility that the overriding concern is not so much for the child’s safety as it is to control Joffrey’s heir in case of his death.)

Daenerys managed to kill the Undying Ones and piss off her other protector before finally ending up safe with some servants of Magister Illyrio (the guy who originally brokered her marriage to Drogo). She has yet to set out for Westeros. The dragons continue to grow and thrive.

Stannis, his fleet and army (nicely augmented by Renly’s host) attack King’s Landing. A mighty water battle is joined. At first it seems to be going Stannis’ way and then there’s Tyrion’s wildfire and the big chain across the river and things shift to the Lannisters. But it’s not an easy victory for them as the rest of Stannis’ host marched up the Kingsroad but the timely arrival of Lord Tywin Lannister, with his army and all the might of Highgarden eventually win the day in favour of the Lannisters.

Arya escaped Harrenhall with Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s bastard and Hot Pie, the son of a baker. They’re on the run.

Catelyn Stark sets Jaime Lannister free after making him swear to return her daughters to her upon his arrival back at Kings Landing. She sends Brienne of Tarth with him to get Jaime safely back to Kings Landing and return the girls.

So where are they now?

THE STARKS

Catelyn – at Riverrun, mourning the death of her younger sons, awaiting Robb’s return and her father’s death

Robb – languishing after winning yet another battle

Bran – dead as far as the rest of the world is concerned but travelling the forest with the Reed siblings

Sansa – at Kings Landing; no longer the betrothed of Joffrey

Rickon – dead as far as the rest of the world is concerned but travelling with Osha

THE LANNISTERS

Jaime – being escorted back to Kings Landing

Cersei – at Kings Landing

Tyrion – survived the battle grievously wounded; supplanted by his father as King’s Hand

Joffrey – at Kings Landing, unharmed

Tommen – location unknown; protected by Tyrion’s orders

EVERYBODY ELSE

Jon Snow – beyond the wall; with part of the wildling host

Renly – dead by the magic of the red priestess of R’hollor

Stannis – missing after the battle; presumed dead

Daenerys – safely in the care of servants of Magister Illyrio

And that’s my 2¢ for today.

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~ by leslies2cents on May 11, 2011.

2 Responses to “A CLASH OF KINGS”

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