You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Clash of Kings

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is the sequel to A Game of Thrones. A lot happens in the time between the two books.

Following King Robert's death, his brothers Stannis and Renly have declared themselves to be kings. Stannis is on the island of Dragonstone, and has allied himself with a priestess for a new god of light. He is biding his time before sending his fleet against King's Landing. Renly, the youngest brother, is slowly marching north and holding tournaments. Between them, King Joffrey, and Robb Stark who has declared himself King of the North, there are now four kings in the land.

Arya travels north with a group of men and boys destined to serve on the Wall. They are attacked by Lannister men, and only Arya and a few boys manage to get away. They end up captured by more Lannister men, and somehow survive until they are forced to work at Harrenhal, a huge ancient castle rumored to be haunted. One of the men she frees tells her he will kill three people for her. She has him kill a knight and her evil boss. She gets him to help free imprisoned Stark allies, who take over the castle. When the new lord of the castle says they will leave and not take her, she manages to escape with two of her friends.

Arya's sister Sansa still has to deal with being engaged to King Joffrey, who has his knights beat her when he gets angry. She befriends a knight who was made into a fool, and who says he will try to help her escape.

Jon Snow travels with the night watch over the Wall into wildling territory. He is sent with some rangers to track the movement of a wildling army. He captures a young woman and ends up letting her go. He and the ranger end up on the run, and the ranger tells him to join up with the wildlings if he has the chance, so he can find out their plans. When they end up trapped, Jon ends up killing his friend to prove his loyalty.

Daenerys, the last queen of her line, travels through foreign lands looking for a way to get her throne back. She ends up in the city of Qarth, where she deals with rival traders and mysterious wizards.

Catelyn, Robb's mother, travels south to meet with King Renly. When he is mysteriously murdered, she runs away with Brienne, his closest guard. Back at her home of Riverrun, she tends her dying father and confronts Jaime Lannister, the queen's brother and true father of King Joffrey.

The central story is Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf. As the king's hand, he is in charge of running the kingdom. He connives with the other leaders of the city, mostly for his benefit. He vies with his sister Cersei for power. He comes up with brilliant plans to solidify the family's power, including plans for defending the city from Stannis. In the final battle, the city is narrowly saved, but Tyrion ends up injured and under the care of his vengeful sister.

Meanwhile, Theon Greyjoy, a twenty-year-old man who had been a ward of the Starks, returns to his home on the Iron Islands, where he finds a demanding father and conniving sister. His fathers sends him to attack the Stark's allies on the coast. Instead, Theon makes a sneak attack against the Stark's home of Winterfell, taking it over. When the young Starks Bran and Rickon try to escape, he rides after them, bringing home bodies that he claims are theirs. In truth, they hide in the crypts, and when they come out, Winterfell has been demolished by another northern lord who takes advantage of the situation. The boys are hiding with one wildling woman and a brother and sister from the swamplands. In the end, the boys split up and go separate ways.

This book is a fine sequel; it extends and expands on the first book. There are new characters and new intrigues. Tyrion is the most fascinating character. He shows sympathy and even concern for Sansa, but still fights for Joffrey, mainly out of family loyalty. The rivalry between Renly and Stannis is a driving force of the novel. If the two could combine forces, they could defeat their enemies, but their personalities are entirely at odds. Between Catelyn and her sons, we see the sad results of war. Arya is also a compelling character, and we root for her to overcome deadly obstacles. There is more mystery and magic in this book, and it paints an enchanting picture.

The author shows even more minor characters. Sometimes it proves overwhelming, but it creates a full world. The characters are varied and colorful. They prove resourceful, though many are ruthless. Everywhere are the terrible results of war. Arya goes through hell, as do many other characters. I am definitely interested in the next book, which is a big plus. It's also an A-. I look forward to finding out what else can happen to the characters.


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