Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (spoilers)

     Reading the first couple of books in the Song of Ice and Fire series has just been a ton of fun. I love the show despite my general dislike of adaptations and think they've done a brilliant job with the story. But it's got nothing on the books. I love the writing, there's something about the flow of it that hooks you. The cast of characters is a giant, delightfully diverse, and unique group you can't help but either love or love to hate. And the world is pure genius, somehow familiar but still fresh and full of surprises.

     I read the first book, Game of Thrones, some time last year and absolutely adored it but was hesitant to start the second. The second season of the show is my least favorite and after seeing just how close of an adaptation season one was to the book, I was honestly dreading it. I saw it as a (gigantic) road bump in the series that I'd just have to get over. But I was nearly as wrong about it as Thorin's initial opinions of Bilbo. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would and it was completely due to the characters. The actual plot of this one was slow, but I love the characters so much I didn't mind. I like just sitting in the world with them and seeing them grow.

     There are so many small characters, though I can see why they were left out of the show, that really filled out the story for me. Arya's story line was full of extra little creeps from Harrenhal that made it so much darker and much more interesting than it was on screen. Arya as a character is phenomenal and you can start to see what a badass she's going to be in this one. She starts her list which simultaneously breaks my heart and makes me love her even more. She's never going to be a damsel  and makes sure everyone knows it. Even though she has pretty twisted side I still think she has a noble heart underneath. She also meet Jaqen, who is one of the most interesting characters in the series to me. He's so mysterious and dangerous and I'm a little obsessed with him.
     Davos is one of  my favorite characters in the series and reading from his point of view was incredible. His dedication is unrivaled and he's not afraid to tell Stannis the truth. Melisandre is an insane but interesting part of his story that is one of the people I love to hate. Her faith is so strong but some of the things she does are just disgusting.
     Speaking of disgusting, Theon is one of the worst. I hate his character through the first two books
and I don't think he has any redeeming qualities. He molests his own sister, his ego is even more
repulsive than his sense of entitlement, and he doesn't have a shred of loyalty. You could argue that he's loyal to his father and the islands but he just wants the power. He constantly disrespects his father's god and clearly doesn't believe in any of the things the people of the Iron Islands do. He's not one of them. The Starks raised him like family and he should have held some value to that. I despise him and don't feel bad about what's about to happen to him.
     Jon's story was one of the slower ones to me but still one of the most interesting. I love seeing beyond the Wall. I feel like his story with Ygritte isn't going to be as cute in the books but I still ship it. She's tough and stubborn and makes his life hell but I love it.
     Tyrion is my favorite character. He's brilliant and refuses to let anyone stop him. He proves over and over just how valuable he is. Cersei is the devil but watching them battle it out is one of my favorite parts of the series. The way he manages to manipulate and work the people around him proves that he was made for politics. Kings Landing is a jungle but he jumps right in like its nothing. I love watching him with Varys and just Varys in general. I think they're only two in Kings Landing that care about the people they're responsible for.  His bravery and ingenuity both before and during Stannis's attack was inspiring. I just wish he was working for the good guys.
    Dany's story wasn't as slow as it was in the show but it still wasn't my favorite. I thought it dragged and even though I love her I had to push myself through a decent chunk of her story line.
     I'm so happy that Bran's story is really starting. Jojen and Meera are amazing. I love all the strong females in the book and Meera is up there. I love that Bran is learning about magic, he and Jojen's abilities are so cool. Jojen is so odd but you can't help but adore him. I can't wait to see what all happens with this group.
     I'm not always sure how I feel about Sansa. I hated her in the first book, but she grows in this one. She's matured in this one, but how couldn't she? She's handling everything as well as anyone could. I just want to see her get more aggresive. She's strong, the fact that she can keep her head around Joffrey and control herself despite how petrified she understandably is proves that she's a Stark. I know she can't really do anything without getting killed but I hope we get to see her come into her own by the end of things.

    Overall I was pretty happy about where the story went throughout this one. It did seem a little slow at times but I think that was just because of the amount of POVs we get. Each chapter was around ten pages, which isn't super long but when there are this many people going it can be over 70 pages before you get back to somebody. So it's not really that it's slow so much as spread out. But, for the most part, I felt like everything was still necessary. I loved the big battle at Kings Landing, it was brilliantly done. I really adored seeing it from both sides with Davos on the other end, it added so many layers to it.You weren't just rooting for one side to win or lose, there are amazing and terrible people in both armies.
    Even though I feel like a lot of this book served as set up for the next one it was still an enjoyable time. I think Westeros is one of the most twisted places with some of the most twisted people that I've ever read about. If you haven't picked up the series, I don't know why you've read this but go pick it up. This story is unlike any other and you won't regret it.

4.5/5 Stars