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A Clash of Kings (HBO Tie-in Edition): A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two Mass Market Paperback – March 6, 2012
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“[George R. R.] Martin amply fulfills the first volume’s promise and continues what seems destined to be one of the best fantasy series ever written.”—The Denver Post
About the Author
George R. R. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons—as well as Tuf Voyaging, Fevre Dream, The Armageddon Rag, Dying of the Light, Windhaven (with Lisa Tuttle), and Dreamsongs Volumes I and II. He is also the creator of The Lands of Ice and Fire, a collection of maps from A Song of Ice and Fire featuring original artwork from illustrator and cartographer Jonathan Roberts, and The World of Ice & Fire (with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson). As a writer-producer, Martin has worked on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and pilots that were never made. He lives with the lovely Parris in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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The main appeal of the books for me is actually two-fold. First, I love to read. Second, reading the book helps plug some of the gaps. Unfortunately, there are times when I get a bit lost watching the series. I have a hard time keeping up with who is who and what is exactly going on. The major characters I can handle, but the ones that are a bit more minor can get lost in my crowded mind. So when I read one of the books after I’ve watched one of the seasons, I come to such revelations as “So that’s where Stannis came from. He’s Robert’s brother. So that’s why he thinks he should be king.” And so on. I’m sure many can follow along better than I can, but this is an area where I struggle.
Now that’s not to say that the books can be a bit challenging as well. Especially when it comes to characters. Author George R.R. Martin seems to have some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder to list the name of every single minor character that he introduces. Even if they don’t stay in the story for very long. Is there anyone out there reading these books that can keep track of all the different “maesters”? It’s a bit of small sin, but a rather irritating one. Sure, the author provides a “who’s who” in the back of the book, but who really wants to flip back and forth that frequently? Especially when one is reading on an e-book.
Since the HBO series is so popular, I’m guessing that more have watched the series than have read the books. I would recommend all that have watched to read as well. It really is a great story. I must also say that the casting of the characters for the series seems impeccable. It’s really hard, for example, to read about Tyrian Lannister and not immediately see Peter Dinklage in the role.
From what I understand, the narrative in the books and the HBO series don’t exactly coincide, although after the second book, I would have to conclude that at this point the similarities are very strong, and I can’t see any real discrepancies. Perhaps this happens a bit later. If I’m not mistaken, the author has been stuck on book six for several years as I write this review, and the producers of the show got tired of waiting, so they just went ahead and started continuing their own version of the story without him. Probably a good thing. There are still those that are hoping the author finishes what he started, however. The books are still extremely rewarding, even if the story never gets officially “finished”.
But those are all part of Martin's masterstroke, which he carefully unfolds into a series of spectacular climaxes by the end. This book puts a lot of interest into the political maneuvering of the various rising powers in Westeros -- I loved that Tyrion's cunning gets plenty of time to shine. And the morality of most of these characters lands squarely in the grey region -- not all Lannisters are as bad as they seem, and not all of the Starks' allies are as noble as the late Ned Stark. This is a darker novel and world than its predecessor, no longer featuring mighty tournaments of knights, but full-blown wars and assassinations. And it's glorious.
You will have to invest some patience for Martin to work his magic, but it's absolutely worth it. He shows off his versatility as an author, pulling off a helluva juggling act to depict a volatile political landscape.
And as always, be wary of getting attached to characters. You may get your heart broken