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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dwarf's tale
Where the first book belongs to Ned Stark, this second is owned by Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf lord who rises to the challenge of curbing his psychotic nephew's worst excesses (said psychotic nephew being King of the realm). Westeros is now at war, with kings lining up to stake a claim to the Iron Throne of the realm, and accordingly this is a war novel, packed with...
Published on 24 July 2012 by Richard Wright

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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but starts slowly
"A Clash of Kings" continues the epic saga begun in "A Game of Thrones". After the death of the previous king, there emerge 4 or 5 other characters who believe they have a valid claim to the throne.

Martin uses the same writing style pioneered in the first book where each chapter is written from the viewpoint of a key character. However, whereas in the first...
Published on 12 Sept. 2006 by Steven Baker


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dwarf's tale, 24 July 2012
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Where the first book belongs to Ned Stark, this second is owned by Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf lord who rises to the challenge of curbing his psychotic nephew's worst excesses (said psychotic nephew being King of the realm). Westeros is now at war, with kings lining up to stake a claim to the Iron Throne of the realm, and accordingly this is a war novel, packed with politics and intrigue to break up the battles. It is in watching the charismatic Tyrion discovering, at last, how he can best find a place in the game of thrones at which he excels. As the book builds towards the battle of King's Landing, he thrives on the chaos and preparation despite himself, and you can't help rooting for him despite his unfortunate ancestry. As ever with this series though, singling out this strand of the massive plot necessarily does disservice to others, and the way that they weave together to deliver an epic, captivating story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Clash of Kings: Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire (Harper Voyager Special Box Ed 2011), 2 Jan. 2012
I stumbled upon the HBO "Games of Thrones", and was immediately hooked. Finished season one and was left wanting more. I thought about buying the books but was not sure, because from past experiences the books are often a bit more tedious compared to the films as they could never satisfy the need for flowing imagery which had been securely planted in my mind by the time I saw the film version of them. Then I saw this edition A Clash of Kings: Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire (Song of Ice & Fire) and I thought why not. As I flip through the first few pages I found myself continuing to read for the rest of the day, neglecting everything that I had set myself to do that day. Luckily it is the holiday season. It is as if I had continue watching season 2 on TV. Perhaps this is a reflection of the writer's past experience with screen writing. And also with the fact that he seemed to have had some inputs in the HBO production of season 1. But I was amazed. My visual and visualization needs are not easy to satisfy, and I am often disappointed either by the book version even though the book inspired the TV interpretation (as I had with "True Blood"), or just could not withstand the pace of the book once I have seen the movie (like with Harry Potter). This book is a first. The person by person chapter unfolded in my mind in a way that TV series often switch scenes from one character's point of view to that of another. The transportation between the HBO season one and this book felt seamless. I could not put it down.

THOUGHTS ABOUT OTHER COMMENTS

(1)

One comment pointed out that the second book does not seem to pick up where the first book ended. When I first read the first few pages of this second book, I did find myself wondering where I was in the story, but this feeling disappeared very quickly. As I kept reading I realized that there had been a change of scene upon entering book 2, and you just have to go with it, and everything will make sense down the road, and it did. If you are used to watching TV series where scenes tend to jump from one character's point of view to another, and sometimes from one time line to another (flashbacks), this style of story telling will not bother you in the slightest.

(2)

I am very perplexed by some of the constant complaints about the number of characters (too many) and the length of the book(s) (too long), and that it is hard to keep track of who is who and that things are not happening fast enough. I can only suggest that this is a matter of expectations and taste. And perhaps a matter of attention and brain capacity as well. The same can be said about similar non-stop complaints regarding the "Millennium Trilogy" ([...]). For context, allow me to refer you to a 17th century Chinese classic called "Dream of the Red Chamber"[...]) with its 40 main characters, 500 minor ones, and about 120 chapters. Or the 14th century novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" ([...]) which contains nearly 1000 characters.

This is not to say that this kind of thing is for everybody, but simply to point out that gigantic story arc is a genre in itself. And that although I am sure there are legitimate reasons for saying that a book is simply too long and the characters confusing, I found that in cases like this, it may be a matter of readers not being a fan of this framework of story telling, rather than the quality of writing per se. (a bit like a historical fiction reader saying a fantasy book is a disappointment because the dragons don't make sense)

(3)

Those who shudder at the 'incest' scenario need to look back into history where royalties were obliged to procreate with their siblings and first cousins to preserve the purity of the blood line. In the real world, purity of bloodlines have always been a preposterous idea and have shown to be maladaptive to the longevity of biological survival, yet human ignorance continue to perpetuate this idea even after scientific advancements were suppose to shed some light into the flaws of the concept. This story is set in a fantasy world inspired by many ancient civilizations as well as many ancient myths. Obtaining the purest of pure bloodline fit the logic of this particular fantasy world.

MY SENSE ABOUT THE SERIES SO FAR:

I am only on book 2, so this comment may be a bit premature. But so far, it looks to me that this is not quite comparable to 'large' fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings (of which I am a HUGE fan), for its moral relativism and its grey shades of good and evil. I just re-watched the "The Return of the King" (last installment of Lord of the Rings) the other day and found myself feeling a little sad that no such clarity of victory of good against evil really exist in the world. You will not return to the real world feeling this way with this one.

When a favourite character of mine whom I have invested in emotionally died, I was certainly jolted into the reality of the my own world where good people are often defeated and people you love dies on you all the time. This can be irritating to some, as we do not want to read a fantasy book where the real world kept intruding in the most unsettling of ways. But so far, I say bring it on. This is what make this series so fascinating for me.

I found this story to be refreshing in its "post-christian" sense truth and justice. (There is something about this which reminds me of another large arc story that is far from fantasy, although fictional, the "Millennium Trilogy", where some readers complained about its lack of moral clarity). When non-fantasy stories (like the Millennium Trilogy) can be far too close to the real world for us to be entertained by, especially when morality is ambiguous, the fantasy world of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' seems to have freed the story from the baggage of the real world, not to idealize the black and white of life in order to make things much simpler than they really are, but to explore the very grey things in life in the most seductive and fantastic of ways.

This is certainly not a fantasy world into which you can totally escape the real world from, but one onto which reflection of it can be pondered, while having a hell of a ride as you do so.

ABOUT THIS HARPER VOYAGER SPECIAL BOX HARD COVER EDITION:

It is a good one! Not to travel with though. But very nice to read snuggling in your large chair, and lovely on the shelf. I am ordering book 3, 4 and 5 in this edition. Can't wait! Highly recommended as a gift for those you know are already a fan and will probably stick to the (bitter?) end of book 10.
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98 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality, 30 Oct. 2006
If you've read A Game of Thrones (book 1 in the series), you'll know what to expect. Hard and uncompromising prose like the world in which it's set. This is grown up fantasy for grown ups. There are no mincing elves or improbable wizards in these books. Just scheming lords, battle hardened knights, pampered aristocracy, etc. - all with realistic strengths and weaknesses. This second books ups the ante of the first. There's over 700 pages of dense text to keep you going and it's quite simply the best fantasy book I've read.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but starts slowly, 12 Sept. 2006
By 
Steven Baker "Reaper_FBB" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"A Clash of Kings" continues the epic saga begun in "A Game of Thrones". After the death of the previous king, there emerge 4 or 5 other characters who believe they have a valid claim to the throne.

Martin uses the same writing style pioneered in the first book where each chapter is written from the viewpoint of a key character. However, whereas in the first book, it really drove the story on, here it tends to be used as a cheap plot tool to make each chapter appear exciting, even when the only exciting part is the last paragraph. To be fair, this is only the case in the first half of the book, where very little seems to happen except a long list of lords and knights. After the midway point (the book is around 700 pages), it improves immeasurably, with every character's chapters becoming more and more exciting.

I am pleased to report that there is an increase in magical occurrences and even though it is still quite subtle, it definitely seems that it will play an increasingly important role. Balancing this however, is that this book as a whole has a distinctly depressing flavour to it, with the "good" characters never really succeeding. Even at times when they appear to be on the up, something will happen to snatch it away. I am all for unhappy endings, but because it seems so endless, it does drag the pace down somewhat.

As I'm sure everyone would say, there are characters that are more enjoyable than others. Tyrion's chapters are consistently the most exciting and varied, although I also enjoyed the Jon, Bran and Catelyn sections. However, moreso than in the first book, there are character stories that never really rise above average, namely Davos, Theon and Sansa. Arya and Daenery's sections are somewhat divorced from the main story, but are both suitably entertaining, with promise of an exciting progression in the next book.

To summarise, I didn't enjoy "A Clash of Kings" as much as "A Game of Thrones", with there being more negative points than there were with the first book. Having said that, it did become very exciting and left a good number of cliffhangers to keep you wanting more. All in all, though, it makes rating the book a little tricky. I rated the first book as a 4, since I only give 5 stars to my absolute favourites. In the end, I have gone with a 3 rating because my ultimate rating guide is how much I enjoy something.

I don't mean this review to sound overly negative though, since it does have its strengths and as such, I will buying the next book, albeit in the hope that it is a little more consistent.
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77 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dark Tale Woven With Intricate Texture, 4 Jun. 2001
I have never been involved in delirious medieval battle, sword in hand, cutting down my nearest foes. My hands and arms have never felt warm blood spurting from inflicted wounds. I have never felt the impediment heavy armor brings to the natural movement of my body. I have not heard the cries of agony of those wounded and dying, yet within a few pages, George RR Martin envelops all my senses with the reality of ghastly battles of epic proportions.
"The battle fever. He had never thought to experience it himself, though Jaime had told him of it often enough. How time seemed to blur and slow and even stop, how the past and the future vanished until there was nothing but the instant, how fear fled, and thought fled, and even your body. "You don't feel your wounds then, or the ache in your back from the weight of the armor, or the sweat running down into your eyes. You stop feeling, you stop thinking, you stop being you, there is only the fight, the foe, this man and then the next and the next and the next, and you know they are afraid and tired but you're not, you're alive, and death is all around you but their swords move so slowly, you can dance through them laughing." Battle fever. I am half a man and drunk with slaughter, let them kill me if they can!"
Thus reads an excerpt from A CLASH OF KINGS, the mind-blowing sequel to A GAME OF THRONES. George RR Martin's seducing darkness of the bleak and torn Seven Kingdoms continues as we are presented with old and new characters in this startling but sinister tale of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Queen Cersei's son Joffrey ascends to the Iron Throne and continues with his sadistic reign of the King's Landing in the south following the death of King Robert. The grim Stannis and Renly Baratheon (brothers to Robert) believe themselves to be the legitimate heirs to the throne. This is the prequel and culminates to the final epic battle against Joffrey and the Lannisters. Stannis relies on the powers of his new faith in the God of Light and Lady Melissandre, yet not everything is what it seems, and darker powers seem to be at work in Stannis. Renly, in turn, relies solely on his charisma to draw and lead a vast army.
Rob Stark still battles to avenge his father's execution. Daenerys, the exiled heir of the former ruling family, continues the nurture of her three dragons. Jon, now part of the Nightwatch, travels further north to destroy the Wildlings and its leader, and hopes to gather more information on the evil that threatens the Kingdom, now that the dead seem to walk.
My favourite character is Tyrion Lannister, an evil but likeable character, who tries to tame his nephew, King Joffrey, and protect himself from the evil schemes of his sister, Queen Cersei.
Martin captures the horror of medieval battles, where survival was not only based on skill, but also on luck. There is nothing sweet, nothing heroic, but Martin leaves you tasting the blood and witnessing the gore of the battle between steel and flesh. The reader is not untouched by this, but is seduced by the pain and terror of these characters. The story is definitely graphic and aimed at the adult reader.
Martin is a superb storyteller (the best I have come across) and he infuses his characters with life, purpose and a sense of chaotic morality. The characters move between shades of grey, and are not strictly saints or sinners, but each is fallible in their beliefs. This is what makes the story so gripping and interesting. Be prepared for a roller coaster ride gone out of control. You never know what happens next, and it is hard to guess where Martin is going with this tale.
In A CLASH OF KINGS evil outwits good, if goodness can be found. Martin succeeds in disguising darkness as light, as it slays those who are deceived by it. The introduction of magic in this book is very subtle, but utterly believable.
The only complaint I have about this book, is that Martin is slow to reveal the grandness of the story, and I guess we will have to wait for A STORM OF SWORDS.
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71 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rotten to the core..., 16 Nov. 2001
If you want clean cut heroes, buy another book. Every character is more venomous than the last. You find yourself unwillingly fascinated by the depths of brutality and depravity that even the most amiable can reach. And for all that, I couldn't put the evil thing down. For every horror you suffer you're rewarded with a stroke of humanity that seems all the more poignant against the dark backdrop.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winter Is Approaching, 31 Dec. 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
I will readily admit that I am not a great reader of fantasy novels but this series by George R R Martin is something slightly different. Although there are fantasy elements here this does read quite a lot like historical fiction, and so you feel like you are reading more of a saga from ancient days than a modern piece of fantasy writing. This is probably why these books and the TV series have proved so popular with many people.

Picking up from where the last novel finished we follow the characters still alive from there, and with some new ones the story continues. One great thing is that Martin will quite happily bring a character down or kill them off without a second thought, if it means that the story can progress more logically and realistically, which is always a boon. In the last novel the Kingdom had been thrown into chaos with threats of the breaking up of different areas into how they were in the past, and with different nobles wanting to take up kingships and grasp more power and lands. As this book progresses we see that there are even more wanting power and glory, but who will be able to grasp a foothold strong enough to be able to keep others at bay?

With the troubles going on, full of treachery and double dealing there is also definite movement beyond The Wall, and of course there is always the threat of Daenerys with her dragons from across the sea. Full of action and Machiavellian plotting this book like the first will draw you in and in many ways will make you think of the power struggles throughout Medieval Europe, including those of religion. I must admit that I loved this book as much as the first and I still have the others to get through as I have become slightly addicted to these.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The epic continues... (and its just as good as the first), 5 Jun. 2012
I've just finished reading A Clash of Kings for the second time, this reading co-inciding with the series finishing on Sky Atlantic. There's lots to get your teeth into with this rather huge installment. While it may look around the same size of A Game of Thrones, the font is much smaller and in reality, this is a much bigger book. And where the opening to Martin's epic series has to contend with setting the scene and world building, the story here really takes off and plunges us deep into the machinations of an empire gone mad.

We have several Kings, lots of cut-throats, an inordinate amount of political manouvering and backstabbing, and a few weighty battles thrown into the mix. For sure it's a heady brew, one which is made all the more powerful by Martin's persecution of his characters, and willingness to dispense with people we've come to love, or at least empathise with. Good characters do bad things, bad characters do worse and overall you begin to get the sense of the greyness of the characterisation. There's barely any black and white, good guy/bad guy characters here, as everyone is so grey and dare I say it...authentic. And this is the true strength of Martin's writing in my opinion.

Everyone is so believable, the writing feels so real. And as you progress through this installment you really do get a sense of everything descending into chaos. It's fabulous, fabulous stuff, and certainly at this stage in A Song of Ice and Fire, I can honestly say Martin has no equal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More fantasy and more food than the first - making the second installment in A Song of Ice and Fire even better, 29 Mar. 2012
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
George R.R. Martin has certainly not lacked for scope or ambition, when conceptualizing the series. The book continues the gripping tale introduced in A Song of Ice and Fire (1) - A Game of Thrones, and follows a myriad of characters and events, happening semi-concurrently. It is certainly not something for the less concentrated, and perhaps not best enjoyed during the commute or in 15 minute stints before going to bed, due to all the balls the author keeps in the air at the same time.

If there is a series that definitely needs a list of all the houses and their main players appended, this is certainly it (and one of the few instances, where I felt that looking through it was helpful).

Still, if you are prepared to dedicate longer stretches of time, and some concentration to the book, the story makes your patience worthwhile. It is relatively lively and dynamic on the one hand, and continues with the very back stabbing political environement from the first book. In addition to all the elements present in the first book, the magical / sorcerous element, battles and salivating descriptions of every single dish consumed by the entire list of characters (if you ever read anything by Frank Tallis - i.e. Deadly Communion, you will know what I mean) are new / much more prominently present. Both the newly hatched dragons in the South and the re-invigorated Others in the North, as well as the occassionally appearing servants of the Light God R'hllor slowly transform the series from a primarily medival society into something with a true touch of fantasy.

With so many kings in the land, all interested in the less than comfortable Iron Throne, there is butchery and Borgia-like scheming aplenty. On top of this, the characters luckily have some very human vices, making even some of the more unsavory ones more likeable.

Unlike in the first book, none of the main characters are killed off, so one still follows many, with chapters following and being named after the most prominent players within them.

The ~700 tightly typed pages may deter some but overall the book reads very well and quickly. And if you like long books / sagas, there is three more volumes available immediately, with the sixth installment being just around the corner (fifth book but the third is split in two).

Last but not least, it is somewhat explicit both in terms of violence and sexuality - not like Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself: Book One Of The First Law (Gollancz S.F.) - but more than one would preferably expose early teens to.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping but...., 19 Jun. 2008
Picking up right where 'A Game of Thrones' left off, 'A Clash of Kings' is just as gripping as its predecessor and is a very captivating book. The series main strength is the presence of some fantastic characters, most notably Tyrion Lannister, one of the best anti-heroes I've come across in fiction. One thing that must be made quite apparent though is that one should utterly ignore the ridiculous quote on some versions of his books that George RR Martin is 'the American Tolkien.' Other than the fact that they both have two 'R's' in their name and have books on sale in the 'Fantasy' section of your local bookshop, there is no call for comparison. Tolkien invented modern fantasy and set out a template which far too many authors have simply ripped off (the unlikely hero, the quest, the band of heroes etc.) Martin deliberatley ignores or subverts these conventions and indeed his work is much closer, in the main, to historical fiction. To sum up; there's no reason to suppose a fan of Tolkien's will enjoy Martin's style.

On the positive side: Martin is a very good writer. The plot is intricate and epic, and the dialogue is far beyond the vast, vast majority of fantasy novels. As well as that he's writing for the adult market; there's plenty of adult humour and situations, while there's a goodly, but not gratutious amount of swearing. It all adds to the realism of the book. You really get the sense that you're reading a warts and all account of a bygone era. Too often fantasy writers aim for the young adult end of the market and end up offering up incipid novels in which nobody (even the most hardened warriors) ever curses, has sex or uses the toilet.

On the negative side: Martin is far better at the 'swords' end of the 'swords and sorcery' business, to the extent that the 'magical' elements of the story (such as they are), feel out of place. It's rather like reading a blood and guts account of the Wars of the Roses when all of a sudden a warlock shows up. The sections that involve magical elements are by far the weakest parts of the book.

And one MAJOR gripe I have is that for all his skills with words, Martin's characters seem utterly incapable of using more than two words to describe the male and female genitals (a hint, they're both 'C' words). It's not a matter of prudishness, it's simply that the English language contains an unbelievable wealth of words for human anatomy and yet Martin can't seem to get away from those two terms. In every intimate scene between two characters whether higborn or peasant, male or female etc. they all talk like sailors. Indeed none of the sex scenes in the first two books are very appealing. Rather than offering a tender riposte to the savagery on display in the rest of the book, sex is rough and unpleasant throughout.

That said the good parts far outweigh the bad, and it's a fantastic series of books so far; captivating, well plotted, and well worth investing time in.
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A Clash of Kings: Game of Thrones Season Two (A Song of Ice and Fire)
A Clash of Kings: Game of Thrones Season Two (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R R Martin (Paperback - 29 Mar. 2012)
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