George R.R. Martin’s second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings, is a very successful follow-up to the huge hit with me that was A Game of Thrones. It continues the politics, and the stories, it introduces new characters and sets us up for future books to come. But is it completely flawless?
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, this means that if you choose to purchase products via any of the links below then I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These affiliate links do not affect my final opinion of the products.
A Clash of Kings picks up quite soon after A Game of Thrones so if you’ve not yet read my review of that, you can do so here. If you have then we know that Danaerys has just essentially given birth to three dragons (they hatched after she went up in flames with them and survived) and that Joffrey is now King after Robert was killed during a boar-hunting incident and the Starks have been scattered across Westeros after their father, Eddard, was deemed a traitor and beheaded.
So, after that little catch-up, how does A Clash of Kings continue the story? Does it pick up with the same level of intensity as the ending of the last book or does it do what A Game of Thrones did and slowly build up again?
A Clash of Kings plot – 4.5/5
I would have to say straight off the bat that A Clash of Kings has a slightly weaker plot than A Game of Thrones. There aren’t as many big moments as in the first and this makes the book feel more like a stepping stone for the rest of the series.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still absolutely heaps to enjoy here including the introduction of new characters, the advancement of all of the stories we experienced in the first book and some big developments politics-wise. But there just wasn’t that one “shock” moment for me like there was in the first book.
This book focuses on the building turmoil between different factions with new leaders proclaiming themselves King and deciding that maybe Joffrey’s right to be King isn’t as solid as the people think. We see some battles, we hear of some fighting and we see the peace of the seven kingdoms fracture as other leaders begin to take back what they believe to be theirs. It’s good fun!
A Clash of Kings characters – 4.5/5
Once again, A Clash of Kings, like the first book does a fantastic job of making us love or hate the characters. George R.R. Martin has clearly decided he isn’t going to write many mundane characters – they’re either going to be so wonderful you can’t help but love them or feel for them or they’re going to be so dire, you wish them dead. Then I have no doubt later in the series he’ll do a 180 and make us love those we hated and vice versa.
There are a couple of weaker characters – Jon Snow is one. Despite clearly being kind, he’s got a bit of an attitude and not enough of an opinion. Catelyn Stark was also more interesting in the first book than she is here; though that could be more down to the fact her story isn’t as interesting.
Other than a couple of weak points though, Tyrion is fantastic, Bron is likeable in a badass kind of way and I still detest Joffrey and have a couple of new characters to hate too (no spoilers) so I came away feeling fully invested and ready to read book three.
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin final rating – 4.5/5
A Clash of Kings is George R.R. Martin continuing what he does arguably the best in the business – writing deeply political stories, deeply enjoyable characters and developing a deeply interesting world.
A Clash of Kings is a success of a sequel but it does fall just a tad short of the masterpiece that was A Game of Thrones; the story isn’t quite as explosive and some of the characters did drop off a tad for me. But overall, still, an absolute must-read if you’ve read the first book.
If you liked my review of A Clash of Kings, you’ll probably like these books too:
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (obviously)
- Malice by John Gwynne
- Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson