One of the reasons that I never gave a second glance to the A Song of Ice and Fire Series before the tv show came out was the awful, hideous, uber-stylized covers. Looking at the cover, you'd think it is a stale history, not a fantasy- and despite my trolling of the Barnes and Noble fantasy/sci-fi section, I never wanted to pick up that book. Because of the tv series, they changed the cover of A Game of Thrones to Ned Stark sitting on the Iron Throne, and that was the only reason I chose it for my bookshelf. The newer editions are a bit better- landscapes, but really? Why does this series have such ugly covers? To better camouflage its awesomeness?
A comet leaves a trail of fire in the sky, leading to a plethora of prophecy. Melisandre, a priestess of R'hllor, predicts it to be the first breath of dragons, and begins a plot to endear herself to Stannis, a potential claimant to the Iron Throne. Arya, continues her adventures masquerading as a boy in a group headed for the Wall. Sansa is now reluctant about her engagement with King Joffrey, and looks for ways she might escape him. Jon and Sam set off on an expedition beyond the Wall, led by the leader of the Night's Watch, Jeor Mormont (the Old Bear). The King in the North, Rob, continues his goal to overthrow Joffrey and exact revenge on the Lannisters. Dany, now in possession of the only dragons known to exist, struggles to keep her brother's dream alive, but will the cost be to high?
One thing that always gets me about the ASoIaF series is that you're constantly waiting for your favorite characters to catch up with each other, or better- stop trying to go somewhere when you know the character they're looking for is somewhere else. Mr. Martin has a way of making me grind my teeth at night after reading a few chapters, when I wanted to read all of these in one night each, because you can actually weep for the characters when he does something truly awful to them. This author can crush your dreams within a paragraph- that's all I'm saying.
I've noticed a lot of people don't like Sansa as a character. To be frank, I don't care for her much either, even though I'm sure if she were an actual person, she'd be perfectly lovely. But the reason behind it is more because compared to the rest of the Starks, she's rather dull. She's willing to bend the knee to her keepers, but in all reality, that's the only reason she's alive in this book. I think she's much like Sam in that she has very human qualities- she isn't the bravest, she isn't the brightest, and she isn't trying to challenge her position (and therefore make her life much more challenging). Realistically, we're talking about a teenage girl, and, not to say teenage girls can't be extraordinary, she acts more like a teen girl than the rest of the teen (and pre-teen) girls in this book. Her weapons in this book are her beauty and her unobtrusiveness, and she uses them very well.
Also, there are real dragons in this book. Real as in untamed and not
A Clash of Kings is an admirable sequel that maintains the conniving and plot-twisting qualities of its predecessor. This book keeps you on your toes, trying to predict the next dilemma the protagonist (or antagonist) will run into, or better who will live and who will die. I can honestly tell you, having read the series, the fun is not in predicting, it's in simply reading this book as it was meant to be read- late into the night, until the sun comes up and you realize you haven't slept. As you may be able to tell from that statement, I recommend this book to anyone willing to stay up late and wake up only to grab it and read some more.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars for a second book that only improves upon the depth of the series!
Content: It's the continuation of A Game of Thrones, and contains the expected objectionable content. Ages 18+
Page Count: 968 pages in my brick of a mass-market paperback.