*Contains some spoilers*
Like the first book, A Clash of Kings is told from the perspectives of different characters. Continuing from A Game of Thrones, events in A Clash of Kings are told from the eyes of Sansa Stark, hostage in Kings Landing, and betrothed to King Joffrey Baratheon; Bran Stark, Prince of Winterfell; Arya Stark, aka Arry, aka Nan, left to fend for herself in the company of outlaws and enemies; their half-brother Jon Snow of the Night’s Watch, ranging beyond the Wall to find their lost uncle Benjen Stark; their and mother Catelyn Stark, in Riverrun watching helplessly as her loved ones fall one by one; the new Hand and uncle of King Joffrey, the “Imp,” Tyrion Lannister; Mother of Dragons and Khaleesi to the Dothraki, Daenerys Targaryen.
In addition to the characters from the first book, two new voices are added in A Clash of Kings: The Onion Knight, Ser Davos Seaworth, knight to Stannis Baratheon, and Eddard Stark’s ward and turncoat, Theon Greyjoy.
Picking up where of Game of Thrones left off, A Clash Kings follows the lives of the 9 chapter characters. With the death of King Robert Baratheon, his firstborn heir with Queen Cersei takes the throne, but not without opposition. Three in Westeros claim his Iron Throne as well – Renly Baratheon, youngest brother of Robert Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, next in succession after Robert Baratheon, and Robb Stark, proclaimed King of the North by his bannermen and people. Across the sea on the island of Pentos, Daenerys Targaryen, last of the House Targaryen tries to get back to Westeros to claim the throne rightfully hers.
Outside the realm, the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder is amassing an army of wildling to attack the Wall and the men of the Nights Watch.
A Clash of Kings starts off slow, but gradually builds up to a bloody war towards the end which decides the fate of a lot of the main characters. As war breaks out all over Westeros, allegiances and loyalties are tested, as friends become traitors, and enemies become friends.
A Clash of Kings differs a bit from A Game of Thrones in that there is noticeably more magic and sorcery involved in the story. The first book’s lack of magic and sorcery sets it apart from most books of the same genre, yet, in this second book, magic and sorcery become an important element of the story.
Also noticeable are the changes the characters have undergone since the start of the first book. The events in the story have shaped the lives of each of the characters, turning them into different people – changing them to become stronger, weaker, nicer or meaner. Many of the characters in A Clash of Kings have truly come a long way from who and what they were in the first book.
As the second book ends and the third begins, one war is temporarily won, while another of a very different kind is about to start. Temporarily overcoming the struggles in their lives, the characters must strengthen themselves to face tougher challenges ahead.
If there’s one thing I have learned after finishing the second book in the series, it’s that victories and triumphs in Westeros are short-lived, and heroes die same as commonfolks.
Winter is coming.
(Book 3: A Storm of Swords)