Monday, 18 July 2011

Books I Should Have Read by Now: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

"Power resides only where men believe it resides."

It's official: I am absolutely hooked on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. To echo similar sentiments of my reading experience with A Game of Thrones, the writing is not challenging or profound, albeit, as far as fantasy fiction goes Martin is a superb story-teller and surprisingly, infuses plenty of metaphorical devices and even irony to enrich the narrative. He is capable of handling a large host of interconnecting subplots, creating memorable and well-rounded characters (Tyrion Lannister is now a personal favorite) and is prone to wily undermining archetypal conventions of the genre where everything is not always black and white. A sense of moral ambiguity along with suspenseful intrigue that is unpredictable proves to be a refreshing aspects of these novels. Above all else, at 1000 pages, the story flows smoothly and never drags; if nothing else, this series has proven to be immensely entertaining. 

Martin creates such a fascinating and vivid world with a rich tapestry of many characters. Each chapter revolves around a specific character's perspective and now, civil war begins to unfold amongst the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros over the rightful heir of the Iron Throne. Initially, Martin's epic narrative scope proved to be disorienting with the first installment but with A Clash of Kings as the second novel in the series, Martin's style is now easy enough to follow. My earlier ambivalence towards the melodrama of the noble gentility has drastically subsided and I now find court life and the political strife to be most captivating to follow.

My only concern with this series is that the story is so colossal that it will eventually lose steam and end up in a perpetual state of limbo much like the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. For now, I am willing to give Martin the benefit of the doubt since he has allowed the narrative to take many unexpected turns but at the back of my mind, I can't help but thinking: Where does the series go from here? Only time will tell. Excuse me, while I continue to devour the third novel in the series, a 1000+ page monster entitled A Storm of Swords, which is already proving to be highly addictive like its predecessors.

Rating: ****

Read from July 04 to 10, 2011 


  1. I was planning on starting this series next year but I have a rule that I don't start a series until it is finished. Still, everyone I know says I really should. I read a short story by Martin that takes place in his Sword and Ice world which I thought was great. Do you know how many books there will be in total in the series? Once I know that I can plan my reading of the series better. (Rather like how I am putting off reading The Wheel of Time books until next year. I learned the hard way with Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books and repeated history with the Harry Potter books. I refuse to suffer years of waiting ever again. I'm stubborn like that.

  2. Thanks for commenting Satia. :)

    If it wasn't for the new HBO series or Gabriel's challenge, these books would still be sitting on my self. I am not sure how many books Martin has planned but it is somewhere around seven or eight according to my co-worker who is obsessed with this series. I'd be curious to read some of his short-stories to see how they compare in contrast. I can't imagine Martin embracing brevity, haha.

    I understand your apprehension of starting a series of books with a prolonged waiting period in between new releases. Considering there was a span of 5 years or so in between the last novel and the new one that came out recently, who knows when he will finish. Now that I have started the series, I am finding it difficult to stop reading and wait for all of them to come out. It is so addicting! :)

  3. We seem to be progressing through this series at a similar speed, I just posted my review today!

    I really enjoyed this book. How fantastic is Tyrion?! Also, I want a direwolf as a pet!

  4. That's awesome Kayleigh. I'm glad you are enjoying the series so much! Tyrion is easily my favorite character and Peter Dinklage is just perfect casting. Have you watched the HBO series yet?