Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: A Clash Of Kings by George R.R. Martin || This Is How You Write Multiple POVs



A Clash Of Kings by George R.R. Martin


Pages: 1010
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #2
Publication Date: November 1998

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel . . . and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
This review is for book 2 in a series. It's spoiler-free, but you might want to check out my review of A Game of Thrones.





OMG, guys, I finished this beast. It took me a whole month, and I’m way behind on my Goodreads challenge, but it’s done. When I fail all my reading challenges at the end of the year, remind me that it’s George R.R. Martin’s fault. This series is not ideal for slow readers.

Do you know what I did as soon as I finished A Clash of Kings? I went online and ordered the sequel, A Storm of Swords. That book is 1177 pages. I’m addicted guys. Send help. My poor reading challenges.

Anyway, I like this novel more than the first in the series because most of the setup happens in the first book. When this novel starts, we already know the major players and can get right to the chaos and murder. After the death of King Robert Baratheon, six people declare themselves ruler of the realm. They’re amassing armies and weapons by any means necessary. Only one person can rule Westeros, so this will be a fight to the death.



Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.A Clash of Kings
 
Power resides only where men believe it resides . . . A shadow on the wall, yet shadows can kill. And oftentimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.  - A Clash of Kings




George R.R. Martin is a master at using point-of-view. I don’t know how he juggles all of these different storylines. There are a lot of characters, and they’re all well-developed, and they’re all living their own lives. Martin must be the most organized author ever. I wonder what his notes look like. HOW DOES HE KEEP ALL OF THIS STRAIGHT IN HIS MIND? This series takes place on a massive scale—there’s an entire world at risk—but it’s still easy for readers to connect with individual characters. Each character is a unique person. Some of them are easy to love, and others are easy to hate.

Like I said, this book is long, but I could happily sit down and read big chunks of it. That’s because of how the author uses point-of-view. When one storyline starts slowing down, the author switches to a different character and pulls the reader back in. I was rarely bored while reading this 1000-page brick. The chapters are fairly short, so if you don’t like one point-of-view, you don’t have to wait long for it to change.

As the story progressed, I found myself looking forward to the chapters that involve my favorite characters. The anticipation helped me plow through some of the more “meh” sections. A book this big is bound to have slow parts, but those didn’t bother me because I knew I’d see my favorite people again soon.

The best POVs (in my opinion) are Tyrion and Arya. Tyrion is a genius and the ultimate underdog. I want him to be king. Arya’s chapters are surprisingly funny. She’s stuck in a depressing situation, but she has the fierceness and discipline to get herself out of it.



Gendry: If you need help, bark like a dog.”
Arya: “That's stupid. If I need help, I'll shout ‘help.’A Clash of Kings



I also appreciate the addition of Theon’s point-of-view. In the first book, you know he’s a sketchy dude, but you don’t fully understand his motivation until you see the world through his eyes. I don’t like him, but he keeps things interesting with his impulsive incompetence.

There are a lot of themes in this book, but the one that stands out to me is the danger of getting swept up in the quest for power. Some of these characters will sacrifice anything to become ruler of Westeros. I’ve seen the TV adaptation of the series, so I know that their behavior will continue to get more extreme, but this book is where the power-hunger really starts rolling. It kind of freaked me out. Probably because there are too many power-hungry people in real life.



When you tear out a man's tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you're only telling the world that you fear what he might say.A Clash of Kings



I’ve said before that I don’t love George R.R. Martin’s writing style. He has a few quirks that get on my nerves. First, the names. There are so many names! Even minor, unimportant characters who are going to be dead within the next few pages have names. How am I supposed to remember all of these people? To make it worse, Martin likes to introduce a bunch of characters at once, so there are these paragraphs that are just names and descriptions of what people are wearing. I skimmed them.

I was also slightly annoyed that the author likes to focus on the ugliness of certain characters. Maybe he does it because there are so many characters, and we need ways to remember who’s who? I don’t know. I especially noticed it with Tyrion and Brienne. The author constantly reminds us how physically unappealing they are. I guess it’s possible that I only noticed the ugly fixation because I watch the TV show, and the actors who play those characters aren’t ugly? I’m ashamed to admit that I pictured the characters as the TV actors while reading the novel. I know I shouldn’t do that. Still, I didn’t like that the ugly characters get tons of repetitive description, but we barely get any description of the pretty people.

Despite my irritations, I like this book more than the first one. I’m hoping that the series gets even stronger as it goes. Bring on the next book!



A woman's life is nine parts mess to one part magic, you'll learn that soon enough . . . and the parts that look like magic turn out to be the messiest of all.A Clash of Kings





TL;DR: Really long, but better than the first book. I will happily continue with the series.










29 comments:

  1. GRRM does a great job with switching POVS-probably the best author I've seen doing this. I agree with you that these books are never boring and you just wish you had more time to read bigger chunks each time you pick it up! A Storm of Swords is my favourite book. I read it in two books rather than the one big volume and I loved it! All the best stuff from seasons 3 and 4 are in it so you'll love it!

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    1. I’m less than halfway through A Storm of Swords, and I think it’s going to be my favorite. I’m irritated that I can’t sit around all day and read it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. These books are AWESOME. I always take the time to just slowly get through it and I read other books next to it, but man... The characters, worldbuilding, story, it's amazing!

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    1. I have to read other books alongside it. These books take so long to finish that I wouldn’t have any new content for the blog if I binge-read them.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. Props to you for actually making it through! I know I've said it before, but I refuse to invest time in this series until it's finished! I'm glad you enjoyed this one and I hope you love the rest of the series!

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    1. Thanks! I know that Martin is going to break my heart by not finishing the series, but I’ll enjoy the books while I can.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. I'm glad your enjoying this lengthy series. I'm holding off on the slim chance that the series is ever complete. If I love it as much as everyone else I would be really pissed to be stuck in limbo for years.

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

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    1. Yeah, I know I’m going to be irritated when I finish the books and then get stuck waiting for the next one. I have 0 faith in the author, but I’m enjoying the ride so far.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I don't know how he makes the transitions between POV's so seamless, but it's a big part of his success I think. when I read these it's like I get sucked into just about every chapter, even though the characters might be SO different. No other series is really quite like that for me. I like that the chapters are fairly short too, that helps. And oh yeah, Arya is the best.

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    1. Yes! The POVs work so well. How does he do it?! I’m reading the third book right now, and I’m interested in every single POV character.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. Tyrion is absolutely my favorite character. He's hilarious and cunning, and way smarter than most characters in the series. I appreciate GRRM's world-building, but wow, it gets overwhelming. I mean, he basically has an entire history written for the world. I don't think I need THAT much info.

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    1. I’m also overwhelmed by the world building. I can’t keep up with all that stuff, especially the names. Tyrion is my favorite, too. I’m on Team Tyrion For King.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I've only read the first one, but this sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I did find the first one enjoyable but hard-going. GRRM is brilliant at creating realistic characters, all with different voices. I think maybe he draws attention to the ugliness of Tyrion and Brienne to show that appearance doesn't have any relation to character and capability. Both have to face prejudice from others but they are two of the strongest and most likeable characters.

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    1. That makes sense about the ugliness. I just wish it was less incessant. It seems like every time Tyrion is on the page, we’re reminded that he has mismatched eyes, a waddle-walk, and a scabby nose. I feel like I get the point.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. I have been curious about this series and want to thank you for the review. Hard to know if 1k+ pages of characters can be comprehended. Great to hear about an author who can write such an array of realistic characters and with multiple POVs.

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    1. For a 1k+ book, it held my attention remarkably well. It still took an entire month to finish, though.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. I read the first two two summers ago and agree with you about how overwhelming they are, but how well he keeps the reader engaged and invested in all these different characters. Years ago (before the TV show, I think?) a kid left book one in my class and I picked it up to take a quick look at, and just the preface, where you get all invested in this young soldier along the wall and then he gets totally brutally killed by scary things, set the tone for the whole thing. Maybe this summer I should tackle the third book too...

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    1. I had that same experience, but with the TV show! I was invested in the soldiers hunting scary things in the woods, and then the scary things slaughtered everybody, and the story moved on to something else. I guess that’s how GRRM rolls. Gets the reader invested and then kill everyone.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. Next year, maybe you better set a goal of a number of pages to read instead of books to read :)

    It wounds interesting. I've been working on a piece of writing that has a lot of dialogue both between me and another guy and within my mind... it's hard to pull off such parallels effectively.

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  11. Ahh I remember reading this one a few years back...and dying at the length...and then realising it's one of the SHORTER ONES IN THE SERIES. *laughs and then cries* But I listened to the audiobook so it took me like a bazilion hours but it was also a bit less daunting! I love love love this story and yes it isn't perfect or anything and I freaking LOATHE the way a lot of the women are treated, but it's very clever and complicated and I love the characters a lot! (I mean, not all of them lmao. I HATE THEON SO MUCH.)

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    1. I hate Theon, too. He just fumbles around and messes everything up. The length of the books is daunting, but I throw myself a party in my mind every time I finish one.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  12. I admire the dedication of people who can read books this long - knowing there's at least another five longer sequels in the wings! Thank goodness GRRM can keep your attention so well :-)

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    1. I’m pretty impressed with myself. Usually, if a book is over 350 pages, I get bored with it. I’m determined to finish this series.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  13. I've watched the first few seasons of GOT, but I've never read the books! I have thought about starting, but it seems like such a daunting task. Glad you're enjoying them and want to continue!

    L @ Do You Dog-ear?

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    1. Now following you via Bloglovin'! <3

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  14. It’s been a few years since I read this series, but I definitely remember Clash of Kings being my favourite. There just seemed to be the most happening in it (the battle of Blackwater, for example, was pretty epic!). Arya and Tyrion were definitely my favourite point of view characters too!
    I hope you enjoy A Storm of Swords! :)

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  15. I compare my total page counts on my end-of-year posts. I discovered that one year I read more books, but less pages. Heh heh. I bought my son A Game of Thrones for Christmas, and when he finished he bought the next one right away, but he still took a breather by reading a Dresden Files title inbetween. He only reads at work during breaks and lunch, so it takes him a while to finish the Fire and Ice books. I have GoT on my Kindle, but I don't know when I can start. 📚

    He was complaining about the name dumps, too. I'll have to ask him about the ugliness factor. It's killing me that I haven't read these books and I can't discuss them with him! He recently read the first three Dune books and our discussions were wonderful. 👍

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