And so the saga continues. A Clash of Kings is the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series and a bigger monster than the first. Not that they're going to get any shorter as we go along.
It picks up literally right where the last book left off, exploring the aftermath of the conclusion of the first book. Can you tell I'm trying not to be spoiler-y? This is going to get harder as I go along. Although it seems odd to be worried about spoilers when this book was originally published in 1999. Oh well.
Anyway, the kingdom has become even more split as time goes on and now there are three/four/five (depending on who you count) claims to the Iron Throne. And most everyone has an army on their side. It's no surprise that the epic finale of this novel is a giant battle. It was only a matter of time.
Now, one thing that is very different in this book than the first is its focus. Game of Thrones was all about political double crossing and court rumors. Now that there are tons of people claiming the throne, it becomes a lot more focused around war. Which is to be expected. However, it did make it harder for me to read because, if I'm being honest, I get really bored with battle scenes. Although I know they're necessary, it's very hard for a writer to portray a battle scene with enough intensity and skill for me to actually be able to picture what is going on. If I can't picture it, I get bored and skim. To sometimes disastrous results, such as missing a major character's death.
I'm not saying that Clash of Kings isn't good. I definitely raced through it, although I did hit a point in the middle where I got a bit out of it. It's just that I'm not in it for the big battles. I'm in it for Jon Snow up at the wall, for the continuing adventures of Arya Stark (does she not have the best storyline?), for cheeky Renly and awkward Stannis face-offs and weird friendships between the Hound and Sansa Stark. All of that was in Clash of Kings and I'm grateful. I just want more of that and less of epic chapters depicting a battle I could only vaguely picture.
Although if you want to stick Dany in more confusing labyrinthine magic houses, I'm down for that. Because that was awesome.
Clash of Kings is definitely as intriguing as the first, just more about war than Game of Thrones. Which is understandable as they are heading (at?) war time now. And I know it will only get worse. I'm currently 100 pages into Storm of Swords and so far, so good. Characterization please, hold the battle scenes.