After finding the first book in this series entertaining (if unnecessarily bloated with needless gratuity) I was a little disappointed with this second book and really couldn't ever get into it. I've been reading bits and pieces alongside my other novels and the act that this is not the type of fantasy that I like.
I'm one of the few individuals who read fantasy who think these books are slightly overrated. I personally cannot find the things in these books that I like in fantasy. Instead they seem to me like historical soap operas, though I've been informed that the third book is better and I will move onto that.Love
: Martin in my eyes exemplifies modern views on love perfectly. I find the quote when Tyrion says, "Can a whore truly love anyone, I wonder?" to be a major indicator of this when compared to the rest of the book's ideas. It seems to me he equates love with sexuality automatically. In the first book Daenerys 'falls in love' with . However if there is anything that observation indicates to me it's that sex is the superficial indicator of lust rather than love. Otherwise why would so many relationships break up if sexuality was the sign of love? No, I think that love is so much deeper.Gratuity
: Martin seems to love over detailed description. Which is fine. Only what he wants to describe over the top is gore, sex and blood. Which is not fine! I see Martin as writing a fantasy that I don't like as much. I think, from the interviews I've seen that he basically jumped into fantasy because he saw the potential to tell the type of story he wanted. Only it's not exactly fantastical in the way I like!
What did this book focus on? Well the title says it all, a clash of kings. With the death of the old king there are now several kings claiming lordship of the land. As a result there are plenty of battles being fought over the throne. Which is of course in the hands of an illegitimate king anyway. Apart from the meandering of armies and so on (which was done in a way which didn't really entertain me) there was some weird things going on with Daenerys which I didn't really get and Arrya was hiding as a boy. I really think I'll just try and move onto book 3...
My major issue overall with these books is that while they may be fun for a little bit there's nothing deep enough to draw me in. Or, to be fair, I don't see anything rewarding or redemptive in the novel. The heroic characters end up dead (Ned Stark in the first book for instance), the vile characters end up in command and the in between characters are all scheming for power. There's no one who acts with real integrity or with any sort of characteristic that I like. Perhaps the loss of Ned Stark is what really meant I didn't like this as much as I don't see the hero in Tyrion and Jon really hasn't done much at all. Although people say they get better later on...
My verdict? Personally I'm not really into this book but I'll see if I can get more into book 3. I skipped a lot of the detail in this book but I caught enough story to understand it all. I want redemptive aspects in my fantasy, I want magic and I want depth. I see this book as shallow fun that seems like it has a lot of depth on the surface. But really, Tolkien wrote fantasy better. Steven Erikson's [b:Gardens of the Moon|55399|Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #1)|Steven Erikson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1355144064s/55399.jpg|2646042] is a better example of how to write gritty fantasy in my view. Brandon Sanderson is also liked by me so much more because he writes inventive magic systems. Gormenghast has a magical environment. What has Martin got? A cast of characters I don't care for, that don't reflect on the world through disassociation and really instead seem to reflect the increasing nature of our society's need to get entertainment which is more about gratuitous elements and 'realism' than having skill and depth.
To boil it down: my problem is that I think these (first two) books are given much more acclaim than their quality deserves. They're more soap opera than fantasy and I do not like soap operas (I really don't like sex and violence being used as part of author's whims to titillate). I'd rather read other more redemptive and interesting fantasy novels that are less known. The entertainment just doesn't cut it with me.