‘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 in the 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.’
As the Starks predicted, winter is here. Now, we should all be looking forward to spring, and the next season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Following my last Ice and Fire review, it is time to look back at A Clash of Kings to get us in the wintery mood.
So as we know (because we read the blurb, didn’t we?), the Seven Kingdoms are in a state of civil war. There are three main claimants to the throne: Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon and the sour Stannis Baratheon. We also have Robb Stark claiming to be King in the North and the unlikeable Balon Greyjoy as the king of the Iron Islands (seriously, I hate that guy). On top of that, Daenerys is coming from the East and SOMETHING is coming from the extreme North. There is bitching, there are battles and there will be blood.
In short, A Game of Thrones is to fantasy what Homicide is to true-crime writing: absolutely brilliant and unflinchingly honest. Lust for power, lust of the flesh and good old-fashioned raping and pillaging are all described with Martin’s characteristic blunt truthfulness. This is what I like most about the Ice and Fire series. No-one has miraculously good luck and no-one is safe, even if they are the most charismatic and beautiful character ever written. In fact, a character like that would have to be killed or raped quickly. FOR SCIENCE… or realism. Let’s go with that.