A Clash of Kings begins dramatically just as the first book did. With Robb Stark declared as the King of North, the late king Robert’s brothers, Stannis and Renly have becomes as well. With one too many contender for the Iron Throne, the plot thickens.
Catelyn Stark wants to trade the Kingslayer, Jaimie Lannister for her daughters, Sansa and Arya but Robb is not too enthusiastic about it. In the King’s landing, Joffery proves himself foolish, arrogant and the worst kind of king that the realm can have. Tyrion arrives as the hand of the king and has to match wits with his cunning sister who wants to undermine him at any cost.
At Winterfell, Bran Stark is having his wolf dreams at increasing frequency and unexpectedly he gets friends who believe his dreams, Jojen and Meera Reed. He also discovers that he could inhabit his wolf’s body and hunt at night – a prospect that is exciting and also equally dangerous for him.
Robb sends Catelyn to parley with Stannis and Renly and to join forces with him to overthrow Joffery and avenge his father’s death. The talks fail and a shadow kills Renly – a black magic killer created by Melisandre, a priestess who accompanies Stannis. Fleeing from the murder scene, Catelyn takes away Brienne Tarth, a lady knight along with her, who swears fealty to Starks.
Theon Greyjoy who was introduced in the first book has individual chapters in this one, indicating that he has a bigger role to play in the later series. Sansa Stark is stuck between hell and high water in the King’s Landing. She has no illusions about Joffery’s character now yet she is forced to act innocent and loving towards him. Surprisingly it the imp, Tyrion Lannister who is kind to her.
A world apart, Danearys is in search of an army to take over the Iron Throne. She gets welcomed everywhere because of her exotic dragons but is largely unsuccessful in procuring an army. The house of undying beckons her with a promise and there she sees many visions of what the future might bring forth to her.
Stannis attacks King’s Landing and is defeated thanks to Tyrion’s wildfire idea. He also arranges alliance for Joffery with Margery Tyrell, who was wedded to Renly Baratheon, thereby securing their wealth and military help. But sadly he is cast aside despite his efforts as his father takes over the role of Hand.
Jon Snow in the meanwhile has marched with his band of Brothers to fight with the wildings. His progress is slow and full of surprises. The wildings are fleeing and many are rallying in the army of Mance Rayder, a self proclaimed king, who was once a brother of the night’s watch.
I liked Arya’s journey in this plot. She starts out as a boy, gets captured by the Tyron Lannister’s army and brought to Hallenhell where she changes her identity to a girl. Adapting to rapidly changing circumstances, she is one smart girl. It is through her eyes, we see the devastation that the country is going through thanks to the game of thrones. She meets an intriguing assassin whose life she saves. He promises her three lives and she names of her tormenters and later realizes that she could have named Joffery or the queen as well!
I loved the multi-dimensional characters that Martin builds here and he gives access to even the most vilest of characters in the book. The conversation between Jaimie Lannister’s and Catelyn Stark is most revealing and interesting, promising a deeper mystery. And Jaimie Lannister’s revelations about the mad king (whom he killed) brings forth a different angle to the story.
Plus Points: Addictive, Addictive and Addictive. Please don’t read this when you are cooking. You might just burn that curry to hell!
Minus Points: I was bored during the narrative of onion knight. But the author brings his perspective in to describe the war and I wonder whether he would play a bigger role in the series to come.
Verdict: Get ready for a long haul. You are not going to rest until you find answers to the following –
Who was Jon Snow’s mother?
Why did Jaimie Lannister slay the old king?
Who is the baby that Daenerys sees in her vision?
Will Arya Stark ever meet her family again?
Will Sansa ever get back home?