Review: Martin’s A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2)
A Song of Fire and Ice Series Book 2
George R.R. Martin
Spectra Reissue, 704 pages

The second volume in Martin’s massive series of books about conquest and intrigue in his imaginary world of Westeros is even more of a soap opera than the first volume. More dialogue and less battle set pieces. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. There’s still plenty of blood and violence, but more than anything else, more machinations for power among the main characters while the poor of the lands suffer horribly.

It’s a dark piece of work, possibly darker than the first volume, yet no less as captivating.

I wonder what kind of academic work has been done on the appeal of fantasy novels. While getting into a series like this is, of course, escapist, it’s a specific type of escapist appeal. The plot pulls you along and the pages go by very quickly, but this is isn’t a happy world gnomes where the princess is saved. Here, no one is saved. Martin’s books are extremely dark. His strong female characters are often subject to horrific violence, and his heroes are rarely true heroes. Those who are heroic often end up dead. It’s all very pessimistic. Our heroes are killed regularly and the ones with the most intellectual skill and the least moral compunctions are the ones who (so far) do the best.

What does it say about me that I enjoy this sort of thing? That I choose to escape into a world of violence and machinations where the more conniving characters are the ones who do the best?

Probably nothing good.

Recommended for the Enthusiast.

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