A Clash of Kings – Review

Publication Date : November 16, 1998

Hey, Nerdies!

To begin with, sorry for the slow update, right now, we’re in the middle of moving house, so I’ve been real swamped with packing and cleaning, and packing!

Anywho, I just want to pick up where we left off, and as I remember, we’re at book two in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. So, let’s jump right in!

In the previous volume, good men died, initially Robert, and especially the most upright Eddard Stark.

Briefly

Following Ned’s execution, Joffrey, Robert’s first son, sits the throne as his successor. However, he’s way young and immature to inherit the actual respect from his father’s people and not only the empty seat. The unjust nature of Ned’s beheading has angered the North, and its people decide that they should have their own king. Robb, Ned’s oldest son, is the most obvious choice to everyone, and swiftly his father’s subjects plead him the same allegiance they paid his father. The Young Wolf then marches south with his allies to declare their supremacy through the means of battles.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that before his demise, Ned managed to send a letter to Stannis Baratheon, informing that three of Cersei’s children aren’t Robert’s legitimate offspring. Which means that Robert’s direct brother is the rightful heir and not Joffrey. A following dispute then begins as to which brother should inherit the throne since Robert has two living brothers, Stannis and Renly. Should words not solve the dispute, both Stannis and Renly promise that blood will.

And absolutely not helping, the Greyjoys seizes this chance  to proclaim that they don’t care how the war would end. But whoever wins, he should give the Iron Throne back to ironborns.

Also happening, the Stark children are being spread out against their will. All the while Robb is playing King in Riverrun, Sansa is held captive in King’s Landing, and the young Arya is running for her life. With their lord father dead, even the ones at Winterfell, Bran and Rickon, are at a perilous situation. With or without them realizing, these youngsters are out beginning their search of identity, and have actually been for quite some time, including their half-brother at the Wall, Jon Snow.

Now, across the sea, after her three dragons miraculously hatched, Daenerys Targaryen has been reborn as the Mother of Dragons.

Discussion

To tell you the truth, I was surprised to see Ned’s death, because honestly, I thought he was going to be one of the big names in the series, but it seemed that I knew nothing about this series, or George R. R. Martin’s style per se. And not only was I shocked, but I also went through the roof that the maddening, absolute prick Joffrey was the one who single-handedly chose to put Ned’s death sentence into place. One, he’s just a f***ing immature kid who didn’t have respect for absolutely anyone. Two, he thought way waay too high of his dumb and useless self, and the only reason he wasn’t dead was because he was hiding under his mommy’s skirt. And this mommy’s scum dared to kill the honorable Eddard Stark just for the sake of entertainment. I wished I could just choke that rat to death myself.

But underneath, this slaying speaks volume about the series. I took this as the first warning for me not to root for anyone. Because of that incident, I quickly realized that in this series characters were going to be fleeting. I would no more expect to always see same names, so when they go, surely I pray for some to come back, but also I would be prepared for some others to be gone forever. Also I think, characters are the best thing about A Song of Ice and Fire. I feel like, they’re the writer’s ultimate weapon to convey his messages. From these personalities I learned very much about human, and how nastily when our greed comes to play. Cause a game of thrones is the kind of game that will bare us naked, as naked as our born day.

Only in A Clash of Kings that we’ll have one solid power map. Just as indicated in its title, the realms are heavily divided. The division is mostly based on regions, except Stannis and Renly Baratheon who almost practically vie for the same area of power. With Riverrun proclaims absence from the war, the Northern lords are currently fighting battles against the Southron incumbent. On the bleacher, ironborn audience is waiting out for a victor to step out and hopefully deal with them in peace. Everyone wants the same throne, and no one was willing to step back, hence blood is unavoidably going to flood.

Drawn in the book, the whole geography consists of Westeros and Essos, but up to this point, speaking for details, up to this point we haven’t seen much of the latter yet, only glimpses here and there. But the bowl is warmed up and feast is about to start. Daenerys is slowly but surely striding towards her throne, or in other sense, her home. One by one, she checks her items in her ruler’s shopping list, aides and councils, loyalists and guards, and most importantly, people. During this stage, we’ll see a bit of Dany’s leadership style. Her entourage comprises of freed slaves who call her Mother. This definitely gives a messiah wind to her, and in all fairness, even in glimpses, it’s hard to look away from her and her compassion.

Now, in King’s Landing, I took it as a bonus that the cunning Tyrion Lannister replaced the –in my opinion– too scrupulous Eddard Stark. In politics, having Ned’s kind of mindset will only get you killed. And I thought Tyrion would make a much better fit as the King’s Hand.

Now, let me close this on a high note. There was one character that stood out to me the most in book two and that was Catelyn Stark. She is no doubt an equally bad politician as Ned was, as she naively wants an out at every step of the game completely ignoring the fact that that’s not how all this works. But what’s most interesting about her character is that Catelyn is a mother who’s blinding herself to things except the unconditional love she has for her children. She could trade anything for her children’s safety even when it is her own ostracism. But that’s not what ticked my heart. To me, the thing that screams mother the loudest about her is the one-sided connection she feels towards Cersei. I mean, understanding that her nemesis’ want to kill her children as her attempt to protect her own children is one thing. But, empathizing with her and thinking that had she been in Cersei’s position she would’ve done the exact same thing is probably one thing that only a mother can give to another mother. It’s just way beyond my narrow mind.

Slipped along Lady Stark’s mental narration, there’s also a hint of where Martin himself stands on women empowerment. Through her perspective, he penned on how women are undervalued for staying at home and not trooping battles. How it is considered to be the ‘easy’ burdens to bear and rear children. Raising children will never make mothers warriors, even though, the risk of giving birth is always death, and for that very reason, in itself, isn’t birth labor a war?

2 Comments

  1. I think the killing of Eddard Stark was one of those moments that makes this series feel so real. Martin doesn’t flinch from killing characters if that’s the direction of the narrative. There are no heroes surviving against impossible odds, and characters can die at any time no matter how popular or important they may have been.

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