Review 5: George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Clash of Kings’

The second book in Martin’s famous fantasy series is ‘A Clash of Kings’. The form is the same as the first novel in the series, an interweaving, multi-perspective, chaotic, but somehow ordered narrative which is very easy to get lost in it. Personally, I love Martin’s writing style. I love having plenty of perspectives to read from, it’s as if he wrote the characters’ stories separately and managed to fit them all together in one big epic jigsaw puzzle.

This is the book in which things really start to get moving, civil war grips the Seven Kingdoms and other factions from across the sea look across with massive ambition. The sheer number of tense moments and instances of frighteningly well described action just seems to keep on increasing as the series goes on so far. Simply put, it’s an intense read.

However, it’s not all action in the fantasy world. A lot of thought has gone into the well written, intellectual dialogue. It’s not hard to see when one of the characters is under stress, is using sarcasm, or is just annoyed. Martin’s plethora of characters (and I don’t use the word plethora lightly) are so well-rounded and realistic that I sometimes find myself thinking things like this:

“Joffrey you bastard! What have you done?”

“Aww, poor Sansa.”

“I hope Dany pulls through this.”

Etc, etc….

The text also raises similar issues as before: whether one man has the right to rule a whole kingdom, whether women should be subjugated my men; whether money triumphs over honour; and whether your heritage gives you right to rule. The answer to all of the above, is no. Sometimes however, life isn’t fair, and that is what this book seems to drive home with every chapter. Some rulers aren’t fit to rule, women are subjugated in certain ways and in certain countries more than others, honour and love do not always win over money, and some people are born into power.

If you’re interested, I will be covering each book in the series over the next few weeks so make sure you come back next Monday, if you subscribe you’ll get an email every time I post so you won’t miss a thing. Thank you for reading.

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Review 4: George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’

To celebrate my (not so) epic 50th follower and 200th like coming in the same week, I thought I would review George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. However, I have only read the first novel, ‘A Game of Thrones’ and will only be covering that this week. I will try my best to finish a new book in the series by Monday each week so that I can post my thoughts and opinions on each novel separately; though due to the looming shadow of an exam in a fortnight, I may be delayed by one week.

‘A Game of Thrones’ tells the interweaving story of many characters, all who have at least some power (be that magical or that which comes with status and ‘good breeding’). These characters all are aiming to achieve something: Robert wants to keep his throne; Eddard wants to protect his honour; Jon wants to earn a better place in the world; Dany and her brother want to regain the throne; etc, etc, etc… It is a dark and bitter tale, one which tells the reader more about the nature of humanity than most fantasy novels I have ever read. At times it discusses how the rulers of the world can live in such affluence while others starve, how diversity can lead to cruel prejudice, how our sexuality affects our judgement and morality, and whether we would rather help ourselves than save others.

Among all these uncertainties and questions however, the most prominent is this: are our rulers fit to rule us? Robert, the king at the beginning of the novel, “drinks and whores” himself while others do his work, he is almost an absentee king. Even worse however, when Robert dies and Joffrey, his son, takes over the throne, he is wicked, cruel, and detestable. It is revealed in the narrative that Joffrey is not the true heir which begs the question, is this why he is a bad ruler? Personally, think the novel is, in part at least, a frank discussion about the disadvantages of dictatorship over democracy. Battles, murder, subterfuge, anger, selfishness, and struggles centred around who rules the kingdom and why pay testament to this theme and though on the outside it may seem glorified and honourable, the blood, grief and strife begs to differ.

So, if you’re a fan of long, interweaving fantasy narratives (believe me there are a lot of them), give ‘A Game of Thrones’ a try. If not, give it a try anyway, you may be pleasantly surprised. If my persuasive argument has failed, and you really don’t want to waste money buying a book you don’t think you’ll like, try the TV series. It’s very close the novel itself, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Next week I will be reviewing ‘A Clash of Kings’, if you’re interested, subscribe and you’ll receive an email when I post next Monday, and one each day for my other segments. Thank you for reading.