For weeks now I’ve been trying to write my thoughts on this book but haven’t been able to do so until now. I read A Clash of Kings back in October. It took me two months to complete it. Why? Well, I wasn’t gripped by the story as I was when I first read it.
I’m currently rereading the Song of Ice and Fire series; it’s my way of dealing with the slow publishing process for the books. I’ve decided to reread a book every few months until (hopefully) the next in the series is published. My plan is that by the time another book is published, I would have completed all the books leading up to it.
It’s the first time I’m rereading these books so I didn’t hope for much. Because of that I was surprised to find myself anticipating the turn of every page when rereading A Game of Thrones. I thought the same would happen with A Clash of Kings but no such luck. I wasn’t hypnotized by the words or fascinated by the unfolding of events. I was still interested, yes, but I didn’t miss the story when I broke from it to do other things. So it took a while for me to complete this book and I didn’t read as closely as I wanted to. Still, I noticed more this time than I did on my first read. That’s one of the many reasons why I enjoy rereading books.
Spoilers abound beyond this point.
The narration stood out to me this time. I thought it interesting, the character perspectives chosen, especially for Theon and Stannis’s stories. I think Martin chooses characters who, though invested in certain events, can also provide a critical eye on what’s going on around them. I think that’s why Catelyn is kept at Riverrun though she should return to Winterfell to be with her babes — Bran and Rickon. I mean, she’s hardly with Robb the majority of the time, but she’s needed in that part of Westeros to relay the story and critique what’s going on.
But it’s a bit different when it comes to Theon. Though he relays the story, I think it’s us readers who look at it with a critical eye and realize what he fails to notice most of the time (or maybe I think this because I already know what happens next). He doesn’t notice his faults and when others point them out to him, he doesn’t listen. I felt sorry for him sometimes. Like when his sister advised him that he was fighting a losing battle by trying to hold Winterfell with a handful of men or when he had the opportunity to get out of his thorny situation by “taking the black” but turned it down to save face in front of his men. Yea, I felt sorry for him at those times because he was in a desperate situation but the feeling quickly passed when he allowed his pride to turn him from the right decision. He would never get the respect, or crown, he wants.
Then there’s Stannis. We are distanced from him a bit by having Davos as a narrator. Though loyal, Davos notices and points out where Stannis’s decisions are faulty. He’s also privy to both the opinions of the nobles and commoners like himself, thus giving us a better perspective of Stannis as a leader. Because of him, we question Melisandre’s motives and (with input from Catelyn’s perspective) I began to question what Stannis really wants. I don’t think he really wants to be king as much as he wants to be loved and respected like his brothers. He’s another frustrating character because, to me, all he does is whine like a baby about what should be his.
Catelyn was also a frustrating character because I wanted her to go back to Winterfell and be with her children. Plus, I blame all that happened to the Stark family on her, which is probably harsh but if she had never pushed Ned to be the Hand, would all this have happened? I also blame her sister Lissa and Littlefinger too, of course.
Speaking of Littlefinger, I guess Ser Dontos, the drunk knight, is his spy. I don’t know for sure but from what later happens and from what Ser Dontos keeps promising Sansa, I believe so. I guess I’ll find out in the other books. It’s not something I noticed the first time I read.
Thinking of Sansa makes me think of Sandor Clegane, “The Hound,” one of my favorite characters in the series. He’s such a tortured soul. For a while there, I thought he was attracted to Sansa but didn’t know how to express his feelings. Why else does he try to get her alone and talk about how he feels? Maybe he gets a kick out of trying to scare her. Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think he’s a good guy, Sandor, but he allows what others think of him to consume him. He’s similar to Theon in that way. They’re both concerned with what others think of them. But while Theon tries to live up to the image he thinks others have of him, Sandor takes on the one given him and fights against it.
I don’t intend to talk about all the characters in this reflection. I’m just mentioning those who pop in my mind as I write this and Daenerys just popped up, which reminds me — I read bits of The World of Ice and Fire while reading this, which helped because it provided some…perspective on Daenerys’s journey and development. It also provided some background on other characters who are mentioned in passing and identified others who are alluded to like the king who thought that if he drank wildfire, he would become a dragon. The same goes for events like the “sudden plague of holy men” that the comet brought out.
The World of Ice and Fire is a good supplemental text to the novels but it’s dry so I don’t read it as often as I would like. I appreciate the tips it provides and I love the art work in it but I doubt I’ll complete it any time soon.
My reread of A Clash of Kings wasn’t as great as the first time. I didn’t have the same enthusiasm for the story and wasn’t eager to return to it whenever I took a break from the book. However, the story is good so I recommend it to all who haven’t yet read the books.
A Storm of Swords (book 3) ->
Quotes from the book:
“Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.”
“Schemes are like fruit, they require a certain ripening.”
“Power resides where men believe it resides.”
“Sorcery is the sauce fools spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.”
“If you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can.”