I bought the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books because of the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Going into it, I was expecting another “Lord of the Rings,” a perilous, yet in the end pleasant, trek through a wonderful and imaginative world with memorable characters, magical creatures and a quest to defeat some kind of evil.
Well, I got my imaginative world and memorable characters, and eventually I got my magical creatures, at least. And I was so entranced by the politics (there’s something I never thought I would say) and the intricate plot in the first book, I couldn’t wait to move on to “A Clash of Kings,” which served as the template for Season 2 of the TV series, returning April 1.
I was not disappointed. “A Clash of Kings” continues and expands on the themes, events and characters of “A Game of Thrones,” all while showcasing Martin’s masterful world and diving into full-on siege warfare. New characters are introduced, old ones meet brutal ends, and others start to change — in more ways than one.
What makes this installment different from the first is the introduction to Stannis, the middle Baratheon son between the late King Robert and Renly. The differences between the two surviving brothers, each proclaiming himself the rightful king, makes for a fascinating confrontation once their paths finally cross before the Battle of Storm’s End.
Stannis has the help of a terrifying sorceress named Melisandre, who right from the prologue displays her abilities and both an ally and a villain. Her true intentions are never known, as are her true loyalties, leaving the reader dying to get to Book 3, “A Storm of Swords.”
Melisandre is just one of a host of new characters readers (and viewers, once the show comes back on) will grow to love. The events surrounding Stannis are mostly told by one of his loyal knights, Davos Seaworth, whose back story and take on events is unique. Martin also introduces a lady knight named Brienne, a pair of marsh-dwellers who help Bran Stark discover a hidden talent, and the family of Theon Greyjoy, through whom Martin also tells parts of the story. Each of these new faces brings something new and refreshing to the table, and they meld exquisitely with the existing cast and goings-on.
If you enjoyed “Game of Thrones,” you’ll only get more from “Clash of Kings.” And fans of the TV series should expect another stellar season and start looking forward to what’s sure to be an epic season finale.