A Clash of Kings, book two of George R. R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, is yet another epic fantasy novel where Martin hurls your mind into a land with amazing characters, fantastic descriptions of settings, clothing, and food. Martin focuses on many themes, such as warfare, society and class, family, manipulation, power, mortality, coming of age, gender, and duty. The characters are so well-written that I cannot choose a favourite. Daenerys is among the top five, because she is the mother of freaking DRAGONS. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid reading fantasy novels I always wanted to grow up to be a dragon-riding-wizard Queen.
Daenerys Targaryen is struggling to find a way back home to revenge her fathers death, and take her rightful place as Queen.We also have four kings fighting to claim the same kingdom: The King on the Iron Throne – Joffrey Baratheon, the King in the North – Robb Stark, the King in the Narrow Sea – Stannis Baratheon, and the King in Highgarden – Stannis’s brother, Renly Baratheon.
A red comet hangs in the sky for all to see. The Prologue introduces us to Maester Cressen at Dragonstone admiring the comet, wondering what it means. We know that Summer is over, a long, cold Winter is coming. We meet Ser Davos Shorthand, AKA Davos Seaworth, who had the fingertips on his left hand cut off by Lord Stannis. Despite this, Davos is extremely loyal to Stannis, yet is leary of the sorceress Melissandra. Maester Cressen agrees with Davos that Melissandra is dangerous, and attempts to poison her.
Arya Stark hears The Bull, a boy with shaggy black hair, call the comet the red sword. Under disguise of an orphan boy named Arry, she is traveling to The Wall with Yoren, and a group of boys and men, among them Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie. She’s anxious to reach The Wall to be reunited with her half-brother, Jon Snow.
On King Joffrey’s name day Sansa Stark hears servants call the comet Dragon’s Tail. Those loyal to Joffrey call it King Joffrey’s Comet, proving he will triumph over his enemies. While watching a jousting match Tyrion Lannister, Joffrey’s Uncle, returns from battle. He is kind to Sansa, and she wishes she could trust him. “Once she had loved Prince Joffrey with all of her heart, and admired and trusted his mother, the queen. They had repaid that love and trust with her father’s head. Sansa would never make that mistake again.” p.52
Tyrion Lannister, dwarf brother of twins Cersei and Jaime Lannister, is sent to replace his father as Hand of the King, finds himself in love with Shae, an 18 year old whore he met on the battlefield. Varys tells Tyrion the comet is the Red Messenger. Tyrion is making clever plans to outwit those who underestimate him.
Osha tells Bran Stark the comet means “Blood and fire, boy, and nothing sweet”. Septon Chayle says the comet “is the sword that slays the season”. Old Nan tells Bran that the comet means Dragons. Bran continues to have wolf dreams, and starts to wonder if they are real, and what they mean.
Jon Snow, is a bastard and brother of the Night’s Watch, while his half-brother Robb is King of the North. Jon will join his friend Samwell Tarly, and brothers of the watch to head North of the wall, searching for his missing Uncle, and find out what the army North of the wall are planning.
The Greatjon tells Catelyn Stark, widow of Ned Stark, that the comet is a red flag unfurled by the old gods symbolizing vengeance for her husband’s death. Catelyn thinks the comet warns of Lannister success, because red is a Lannister color. She is attempting to council her son, Robb, King of the North, to make a truce with the Lannisters. Robb, however, is a stubborn teenager, deciding his sisters lives, Sansa and Arya, are not worth letting Jaime Lannister go free.
“The Dothraki named the comet shierak qiya, the Bleeding Star”. Daenerys believes this burning star is showing her the way to go. She is now a widow, and mother to three dragons; Rhaegal, Viserion, and Drogon. She travels with a small Dothraki group with Ser Jorah by her side. After many days suffering with hardly any food or water, they take refuge in an abandoned city. Daenerys sends Aggo, Rakharo, and Jhogo in different directions to see where they should go. Jhogo returns from Qarth with Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Quaithe.
Martin’s decision to use multiple viewing angles instead of a narrator enables him to tell this story through the minds of Arya, Sansa, Tyrion, Bran, Jon, Catelyn, Davos, Theon, and Daenerys. Each chapter shifts from one perspective to another, with no pattern, driving the plot forward. The disappearance of the author made me forget that I was reading a novel.
I recommend this book for anyone age 16 and up, who enjoys epic fantasy stories such as Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, or Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth.