Tuesday, December 15, 2009
A Clash of Kings
The book picks up where the last volume ended. We are once again embroiled in the great wars that rage in the land of Westeros. No fewer than four kings are struggling for control of the Seven Kingdoms: Robb Stark (son of Eddard and King of the North), Joffrey Lannister (bastard son of Robert the Usurper), Stannis Baratheon (enthralled brother of Robert the Usurper) and Renly Baratheon (Stannis' younger brother). As in the first novel, the point of view changes between figures surrounding the men vying for power.
The book concludes with a climactic battle at King's Landing for control of the Iron Throne. I kept thinking that finally the devious Lannisters were going to get what was coming to them, but the 'wildfire' defenses put in place by Tyrion Lannister (and the forces marshaled by his father Tywin) are too much for Stannis Baratheon to overcome. In the end, the Lannisters retain control of the throne, though Tyrion Lannister lies on the verge of death from a mortal wound suffered during the battle.
The other major plot point is the attempt by Theon Greyjoy to insert himself into the picture by capturing Winterfell, the bastion of the Stark family. The main host of Starks left in the North (most of the Stark knights and bannermen are fighting in the South) converge on the castle to reclaim it and give Greyjoy his due justice. At the last moment they are tricked by House Bolton and decimated. These would-be saviors of Greyjoy betray him in the end and raze Winterfell to the ground. I'm not really sure where this thread of plot will lead.
I find that Tyrion Lannister is a rather likeable character. He seems to be the only one in the Lannister bunch that has any sort of moral compass. Now that his father has shown up, I fear that the more overbearing members of his family are going to marginalize him. I'm hoping that this sort of treatment will remove his blinders, and he will finally realize that he is fighting for the side of wrong. Perhaps in the next book he will come over to join the Starks? I'm probably asking too much.
I'm definitely enjoying the series. As I said in my review of the first novel, it is definitely a fresh take on a rather tired fantasy genre. I'm looking forward to immediately starting the third installment, A Storm of Swords.