Monday, June 11, 2007

A Clash of Kings

I don't usually put a lot of stock in the blurbs on the back covers of books. I've seen too many along the lines of

Not at all...what could be considered...[the] worst book I've ever read[!]
-- Johnny Nobody, Des Moines Central High School Gazette

But there's a quote inside the front cover of A Clash of Kings that couldn't be truer:
The pages seem to pass in a blur as you read
-- Albuquerque Journal

This review is pretty much exactly what I experienced.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I'm reading A Song of Ice and Fire this Summer. I read the first book A Game of Thrones, and started on the second immediately afterward. Even at almost a thousand pages, I read A Clash of Kings in record time (for me anyway).

The book picks up where the prequel ended (duh), with the kingdom in a bitter civil war, faction fighting against faction and everyone looking to get something out of it. The once unified kingdom now consists of kingdoms led by a fifteen-year-old King in the North, a thirteen-year-old King on the Iron Throne, both of the previous king's brothers laying claim to the kingdom from the South and East, a fourteen-year-old self-proclaimed queen living in the lands to the far East, and a swarm of treacherous backstabbers taking whatever they can get from whichever side will give it to them. As you can see, the title's pretty descriptive. There are a lot of kings.

The most interesting part of the book, for me, was the way it handled the topic of religion. The first book glossed over the role of the gods in the lives of men, but this one took a deep look at how each of Westeros' religions played into their believers decisions. Throughout the book, a red comet hangs in the sky, visible from every direction, and each king or queen who sees it considers it a sign from their god(s) that they're the true leader, the one that will come out of this alive and on top. It serves to sort of unify all the sides, even as they're fighting against eachother.

As with its prequel, A Clash of Kings was at times almost painfully difficult to put down. Almost every chapter kept me begging for more, often leading me to read into the late hours of the night. There's plenty of action, even if most of it isn't outright battle, and there's no shortage of twists. It was so good I hiked to no less than two Barnes & Nobleses this evening in search of the third book, A Storm of Swords (though they weren't even two blocks apart)

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