Sunday, 25 March 2012

George R. R. Martin- A Song of Ice and Fire 02- A Clash of Kings

I'm unabashedly a worshiper of fiction, and it doesn't have to be a book or a comic book, I love films, TV shows and computer games too (although less and less of the latter as I get older). As a result I kind of swing between spending more time on each particular medium every so often, often to the extent where I leave one entirely, and true to that I hadn't seen a film in months. However, the three-headed pendulum has swung in the other direction and I'm back on the motion picture bandwagon. All of this is my long-winded reason for why I haven't written one of these in a short while, so here's a short but simple one to get me back into the swing of it. Get it? Swing, pendulum... I'll get my coat.

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings
Harper Voyager
George R.R. Martin

“I will hurt you for this. I don't know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you'll know the debt is paid."

With only a month or so to go until the second series of Game of Thrones arrives on television, I gave into the temptation to spoil the plot events somewhat by reading through the very long source material, A Clash of Kings. For me this was somewhat of a risk, because I have to admit that I enjoyed the TV version of A Game of Thrones more than I did the printed original. In hindsight, perhaps it was inevitable that the fantastic plot twists and turns that gave me so much enjoyment on screen would lose their luster once witnessed for the second time, effecting my ability to become emotionally invested in the characters when I already knew their fate. Then again, after reading this book I'm very tempted to settle on the alternative idea that A Game of Thrones just wasn't as good a book as it could've been, and that George R.R. Martin just needed more time to really get to grips with the huge universe he created. I suggest this because I think A Clash of Kings was far, far better than it's predecessor.

The second book in the saga takes the characters, plots and scenery from the first, and turns the intensity up a notch, making for an immensely more satisfying novel. Despite being a huge text, and despite containing its own fair share of page-padding (through the typical Lord of the Rings-esque inclusion of details about characters and places that have no bearing on anything), it was easy to get through in a relatively short amount of time. Martin's choice to focus each chapter on one particular character at a time is essential to this, as it constantly keeps things fresh by catapulting the reader back and forth over the fiction universe, adding layers of depth with each new development, and creating tension and anticipation as the reader waits for different characters to cross paths.

Ultimately this is a massive, bloody and brutal fantasy soap opera, full of adrenaline and it's own fair share of mystique. In this installment Martin advances the many plot threads of the first book to varying degrees, bringing forth the fantasy aspect of magic and mythology that was somewhat lacking before, but without going over the top. It's not exactly high-literature, but it is high-octane, and I can safely say that I've been fully converted to the series and will be reading it until the very end, whenever that might be.