Thursday, November 20, 2014

Audio Book Review: "A Clash of Kings" by George R.R. Martin

This second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series takes right up where the first left off....  but I started this audio such a long time ago, I kind of already forget where exactly that was.  This is not a bad thing - the story lines flow seamlessly between the two books (and the HBO series is also confusing my memory slightly, though it follows the books pretty closely).  This audio is 30 disks - so, yeah, it is a time investment.  SO WORTH IT.

We are still in Westeros, and the seven kingdoms are still reeling from the deaths of King Robert and Lord Eddard Stark.  Young King Joffrey sits on the throne, though rumors of his parentage are running rampant and argue that he isn't the trueborn king.  Lord Stannis Baratheon and Lord Renly Baratheon are raising their armies to vie for the iron throne, as the King of the North Robb Stark fights Lord Tywin Lannister (and is winning).  Jon Snow is venturing north of the Wall and is discovering the threats from the Wildlings and the Others.  Daenerys Stormborn is creating a name for herself across the Narrow Sea as the Mother of Dragons and is trying to raise an army and passage to Westeros so she may also vie for the Iron Throne.  Arya Stark is becoming quite the chameleon as she escapes King's Landing and tries to keep her true identity secret while also trying to return to Winterfell, not knowing that Winterfell has fallen to Theon Greyjoy.  Sansa Stark is still in King's Landing, betrothed to Joffrey and trying to find her own secret escape.  Tyrion Lannister is in a tough spot as the King's Hand - attempting to uncover secrets and alliances while keeping his own and save the city from rebellious citizens and the advancing armies.

I think I just covered the majority of what is going on here - but I'm sure I forgot quite a bit because there are about 100 characters and every single one adds something to the overall story.  Even if they only appear for a short time, they are significant - whether their significance is shown just yet or not.  It is the beauty of Martin's writing...  yes these books are huge but there really isn't any fluff.  It is a huge story, full of strategies, violence, sex, and motives.  No character is one dimensional.  There are twists that you just do not see coming.

I am completely caught up with the HBO series, but instead of rewatching seasons, I am reading the books.  I am a little surprised with the little changes here and there that the TV production has made.  Though I wonder if the things that I think are changes are really scenes that I didn't fully understand and therefore forgot about (I'm thinking specifically of something that is revealed as a connection between Jon Snow and Bran Stark, and how it is revealed.)  But I love the foreshadowing that is "hidden" in the book but was not necessarily divulged in the show...  something that I don't think happens for another book or two (I'm not sure) but involves a vision that Dany had in the House of the Undead and speaks to something that will happen to Robb in the future (not that she knows that yet).

As for the audio - I did not listen to the first, so I wasn't sure what I was in for.  The huge box of CDs from the library was a little intimidating.  I was also nervous when I saw that only one narrator was listed considering just how many characters there are.  Roy Dotrice did such a phenomenal job though!  I have no idea how he performed all the different voices so that the characters were so easily differentiated in my head - but he did!  It was so fun and enjoyable to listen to this story.  I would not hesitate to continue listening to these books on audio, especially as he continues to narrate.

*****
A Clash of Kings
by George R.R. Martin
Bantam, 2011  First published 1999
761 pages; 30 CDs approx 37 hours
Series:  A Song of Ice and Fire #2
Source:  Purchased print copy new, audio from library
*****

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