Top critical review
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Boring, soulless and full of holes
on 14 August 2011
Despite my lukewarm review of the 1st book, A Game of Thrones, I did feel that there was a great story waiting to burst out and so I bought "A Clash of Kings" with that hope in mind. Sadly I was to be left extremely disappointed and my hope turned out to be very misplaced.
This second book reminded me of one of those cheap chicken breasts you see in supermarkets, it seems very fat and meaty but in reality it's really just pumped full of water to make it seem a better piece of meat that it actually is. This book is just so over inflated with pointless side stories and repetitive words that the pace has come to a standstill, and it wasn't that fast to begin with. If you were to gut both the first and second book of the series to 50% and combine them into one book you'd end up with a good book, instead of two very average books.
The author is obsessed with repeating his characters lines and stories. One has to wonder if it's just done to over inflate the book and get another book out of the series. How many times do we need to read about "Old Nan's tales' or Lord Mormont's crow repeating the words `corn, corn, corn', or the character Hodor repeating his name over and over again, whilst being told that this is the only word he knows as if the reader could somehow forget this. Then there's Bran's dreams of the crow and his third eye which seem to get mentioned as a storyline every time Bran pops back up in the book.
The storyline is just as repetitive as the character's lines. We have at least four different stories involving varying degrees of incest.....what's with this obsession?! Jaime & Cersei Lannister, brother and sister who have had 3 children, and then later on Cersei replaces Jamie (as he's captured) with her cousin Lancel. Then there's Theon & Asha Greyjoy, the sister allowing the brother to grope her and returns the favours although he is unawares to who she really is. Then there's Craster, who lives in the woods over the wall, who has a house full of wives and daughters, and seems to sleep with them all. Finally there's Daenerys Targaryen who expected to wed her own brother Viserys and whose family line is borne from the marriages of brothers & sisters and then breeding. Slight over use of the incest angle to a story?!
Other complaints would be the pace is very slow, annoyingly so in fact. The majority of the characters are dull with the exception of the Imp and his sellsword Bronn. There interaction is very humorous and the best part of this book. We need more characters like this though. The problem with this book is just when a character starts to get interesting he/she gets killed off.....whilst way too much of the book is devoted to the characters Arya & Sansa, who are both so dull and annoying. The storyline with Arya is particularly tiresome and is just a loop of escape, capture, escape, capture, trying to make friends, failing, and hating more and more people. And the notion that an 8 year old girl could use a sword to kill people whilst surviving in the middle of a realm at war with itself is very hard to believe. There's also the issue of Daenerys being only 13 or 14, yet she's hatching Dragons and trying to build an Army to take back the Iron Throne. Again this all seemed a bit too hard to believe and this lack of being able to believe in the plot at the heart of the story greatly lessens any enjoyment to be had from it.
I don't also understand why the author devotes so many words and chapters to pointless parts of the story yet when there's important parts of the story, that are fundamental to the plot, the author likes to only give part of the story and allow you to fill in the blanks. Various battles only get mentioned in messages from ravens to various people, so much so that you wonder if there is actually any fighting going on in this book. Or when Renly is killed, the manner of how it happens, who was it, who caused the shadow to appear, is all left up in the air, and only part of it comes out. When Ser Cortnay Penrose is killed and Storm's End goes to Stannis, the part of how Penrose died and the Red Lady was involved is all too brief, almost like the author doesn't know how to explain it in the storyline, he just wants it to happen. . There's more as well and it all combined to make it an unenjoyable, unbelievable read for me. Certainly not the great amazing book that so many others seemed to find it.