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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review: A Clash of Kings (Book #2 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series) by George R. R. Martin

Right off the bat, I have to admit that while I thought that A Game of Thrones was quite possibly the best book that I had ever read at the point in time when I read and reviewed it, which was towards the very end of 2015; I unfortunately didn’t like A Clash of Kings very much at all. I should probably point out that after reading A Game of Thrones, I went on to read and review Jeff Zentner’s debut novel, The Serpent King, back in April of last year, and if I’m being honest, I loved that book even more than A Game of Thrones. The more time passes, the more I think that The Serpent King is quite possibly one of the best books, if not the best book, that I have ever read. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that A Game of Thrones is an amazing book, but my love for the book has definitely lessened a little bit as time has passed, and as I’ve read other books since then. Because I loved A Game of Thrones so much, I definitely went into reading A Clash of Kings with high hopes that I would really love this book a lot, too. Sadly, that ended up not being the case.

My thoughts regarding A Clash of Kings definitely ended up being incredibly mixed, and my enjoyment of the book often depended on which characters’ P.O.V. chapters I was reading. For example, I really enjoyed the P.O.V. chapters for Jon Snow, Arya, Bran, Daenerys, and at times I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on Tyrion. That being said, I have to admit that there were also times that I did get kind of frustrated and bored when I was reading the chapters that focused on Tyrion, too though. I was definitely really surprised by the fact that Bran’s P.O.V. chapters stood out, as a highlight of the book for me personally, because I liked his P.O.V. chapters in A Game of Thrones, but I definitely didn’t love them. It was really interesting to see Bran begin to discover the special abilities that he has throughout A Clash of Kings.

I also enjoyed Daenerys’ P.O.V. chapters in this book, mainly because she’s currently one of my favorite characters in the series, and her P.O.V. chapters in A Game of Thrones were one of my favorite things about that book. That being said, when it comes to Daenerys’ P.O.V. chapters in A Clash of Kings, one complaint that I have about them is that I felt like her storyline didn’t really go anywhere for the most part. Daenerys’ P.O.V. chapters in this book definitely left me wanting more, and for the most part, I don’t mean that in a good way. When it comes to George R. R. Martin’s writing for A Clash of Kings in general, the biggest problem that I have with this book is that for a book that’s as long as it is, surprisingly very little seems to actually happen throughout the book with a lot of the characters; as far as I’m concerned. That definitely made reading A Clash of Kings a very frustrating experience for me.

My least favorite P.O.V. chapters in the book were definitely the chapters that focused on Theon, because I absolutely hate the character Theon. While I’m not necessarily against the idea of a book featuring truly unlikable characters that have very few, if any, redeeming qualities; I think there still needs to be something about the character, or the plot that they’re involved in, that keeps the reader interested and engaged in both the character and the plot, and unfortunately, there wasn’t really anything that kept me genuinely interested in what was going on with Theon throughout the book. Theon’s P.O.V. chapters were ultimately a major low point of the book for me personally.

With the exception of Melisandre, the new characters that were introduced in A Clash of Kings didn’t really do very much for me personally, in terms of actually adding to my enjoyment of the book. Reading A Clash of Kings really made me wonder if perhaps one of the reasons George R. R. Martin is such a notoriously slow writer is because he keeps introducing more and more new characters into the series, which ultimately causes him to have a hard time tying everything together as the world that the series takes place in continues to expand. In the end, this is simply pure speculation on my part based on having read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, as well as various other people’s comments on the series that I’ve come across on the Internet over the years.

When it comes to my thoughts on A Clash of Kings and how they compare to my thoughts on the second season of Game of Thrones, I was honestly really surprised by the fact that I ended up being as frustrated and disappointed by A Clash of Kings as I was, because I really enjoyed season two of Game of Thrones, which used this book for its source material. I was especially surprised by how frustrated I was at times by Daenerys’ storyline in the book, given the fact that I enjoyed how her storyline was handled in season two of Game of Thrones. That being said, I think that’s probably because the show is obviously a condensed version of what happens in the books when it doesn’t deviate too far from the book; and one of the biggest complaints that I have with this book is that I felt like the overall pacing of the book dragged along too slowly at times.

All things considered, A Clash of Kings is sadly a very frustrating and disappointing book that was definitely a real challenge to get through at times. What made A Clash of Kings such a disappointment for me personally, is that for a book that’s as long as it is, surprisingly very little actually happens with quite a few of the characters throughout the book. A Clash of Kings definitely has some enjoyable aspects to it, though. The P.OV. chapters for Jon Snow, Arya and Bran were consistently enjoyable throughout the book. I also enjoyed Daenerys and Tyrion’s P.O.V. chapters at times, but unfortunately they did have a tendency to be rather hit or miss for me personally. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is definitely a book series that I plan on continuing to read, but so far it hasn’t been a series that I’ve really had a strong desire to burn through, and read the first five books in the series as quickly as I can.

While the fact that there’s still no publication date in sight for The Winds of Winter has pretty much always been, and continues to be the main reason I don’t feel a pressing need to rush through the series; the fact that I found A Clash of Kings to be a rather disappointing and difficult book to get through is now another reason I have for not feeling the need to finish reading the first five books in the relatively near future. Despite the fact that I found this book to be rather disappointing, I’m definitely still invested in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and I’m still looking forward to continuing with the series.

That being said, my final score for A Clash of Kings is 4 out of 10.

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