October 27, 2003

A Clash of Kings, by George R.R. Martin

This is the second volume of Martin's epic fantasy "A Song of Ice and Fire", the first being A Game of Thrones, which I've just re-read in preparation for reading the third volume, A Storm of Swords.

In this volume, the Seven Kingdoms, long united under the Targaryen and Baratheon dynasties, is beginning to splinter into its component pieces as different lords vie for kingship over the whole realm or just their own neighborhood. The effluent hit the fan in the previous book, and in this one we get to watch it spatter.

Enjoying this series, I've decided, requires that you carefully manage your expectations, and that you be patient. Each volume has something like eight or ten major viewpoint characters, with the corresponding number of simultaneous plot lines, which mingle and separate and entwine in the most intricate possible way. He's telling a big story, and a political story, and he wants to work in all of the details. And that means it takes forever for anything to actually get resolved. If you try to read it too quickly it becomes tedious and boring, and you'll begin to wonder why you're bothering.

This time through, though, I've made it a point to take it slow, and to read it at its own pace, and I'm enjoying it considerably. Yes, the broad sweep of the story takes far longer to progress than I'd like, but the incidents along the way, the roadside scenery as it were, easily holds my attention. And at the end of every chapter, I want more.

It's a lot like reading Anthony Trollope, really, only with sex and violence and walking corpses.

Posted by Will Duquette at October 27, 2003 07:31 PM

Deb said:

I think that the last line of this post is possibly the funniest thing I've read of yours--Anthony Trollope, sex, violence and walking corpses?????

Craig Clarke said:

Insightful as always, Will. Now I know why I couldn't get into Trollope!


Will Duquette said:

Well, OK, it's not really all that much like Trollope--except in the sense that) it's long, and you need to be willing to surrender your patience and take the book at its own speed.

Actually, that also applies to Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, both of which have a certain amount of sex and violence but also lack walking corpses.

Deb said:

I'm sorry, I still get a huge chuckle out of that line. I might just have to type it up and hang in in my office at work.