Friday, February 5, 2016

Clash of Kings

Author- R.R. Martin
Lexile- not available
Page count-  784 pages
Genre- Fantasy
Awards: Locus Award for the Best Fantasy Novel
Rate: ☆☆☆☆/5
Warning: Book may possess offensive topics for younger readers.

“A Clash of Kings” is the second book in the “Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R Martin.  This book is a continuation of the dark fantasy filled war and violence.  The war between the North and and the South is slowly progressing.  The reader will discover how all of the subjects of Westeros are affected by the war–from Kitchen boys to King’s hands.
It is important to remember that Westeros is a complicated Medieval society, where people are killed just for amusement, Valyrian steel swords are the best weapon, and some dogs are treated with more respect than women.  It is also important to remember that the book is not told from only one point of view; each chapter focuses on a different character’s life and choices to emphasize that not one person is affected by society’s choices.  The interaction between the characters is also important because if a conversation is taking place between two people, one chapter will show one character’s thoughts, and another chapter shows the other character’s thoughts.
The story takes place right after “A Game of Thrones”, only there is more tension and bloodshed.  In the prologue, Maester Cressen is at Dragonstone watching over Stannis Baratheon’s only child Shireen.  Shireen tells Cressen about her nightmares where the dragons come alive and eat her.  Cressen tells her that dragons have been killed off.  Then Stannis and his wife Selyse come in and talk about the war.  They talk with Cressen about the Rainbow Guard, marrying Shireen to Robert Arryn, and Stannis’ lost birthright.  After their conversation Cressen meets with the “witch” Melissandre, and ends up selling his life to the Lord of the Light.  
The beginning of “A Clash of Kings” jumps right into characters’ lives.  Arya is with Lommy and Hot Pie and heading to the Wall, but they get caught.  Lommy is killed and Hot Pie and Arya are sent to the Towers.  Meanwhile, Robb and Catelyn are in battle while leaving eight-year-old Bran in charge of Winterfell.  Robb defeats Stafford Baratheon at Oxcross with a crushing victory.  Catelyn takes a trip to an enemy camp and tries to make peace with Stannis and Renly Baratheon, but all they do is bicker about how Renly was given all of the birthrights when in fact Stannis–who is the eldest of the three Baratheon brothers–should have obtained them.  The Baratheons continue to prepare for war against Robb Stark and Catelyn isn’t allowed to leave the camp.  Concurrently, Daenerys Targaryen is bringing her khalasar (similar to a tribe and army) back to the Seven Kingdoms to take the Iron Throne in the name of her late husband Khal Drogo.  She is finally informed that King Robert had been slain, which makes her quest a little easier, but she doesn’t know about the war between the King of the North and the Baratheons.  Even so, she has a weapon no one else in Westeros has: three living, breathing dragons.  As the armies move closer together, the more uneasiness between them.
Since this book is so complex, there are many themes and overall messages.  One major theme is time steals innocence when no one is looking.  The overall example of this is all of the children in the book.  They all maker such adult choices that you constantly have to remind yourself of their ages.  Robb leads an army, wins a battle, and captures the Kingslayer at 15 years old.  Daenerys leads a khalasar and mothers three dragons at 14 years old.  Bran is made Lord of Winterfell and hosts a feast.  In today’s society most kids don’t have to worry about being in charge of a large group of people.
It has been mentioned before that each chapter is told from a different character’s point-of-view –I happen to admire that part of the series.  I like how there are many perspectives on the same situations.  For example, Catelyn and Robb are mother and son going into battle.  Obviously, they have different thoughts in their heads: Robb is thinking about his army and what he could gain or lose by fighting, and Catelyn is thinking and peace, and who might want to kill Robb.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes multiple narrators and anyone who feels comfortable reading and thinking about about social issues that may not be talked about every day.  On that note, there are a few subjects that might be offensive.  If you are not ready or willing to think about offensive subjects, do not read this book.

Contributed by: Julia Monsey

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