Fangirls, this morning I finished A Clash of Kings, the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. And I loved it.
It picked up right after the first book with a comet flying through the air for the entire population of Westeros to see. Naturally, everyone who saw it interpreted it differently, each in favor to themselves. As of the beginning of the book, there are now four men declaring themselves king and one awesome kick ass woman declaring herself queen as long as she can get home to the Seven Kingdoms (can you guess who I am cheering for?). The book follows all the same characters as the last book (except those who died) and adds two new ones; Davos, a knight to the declared King Stannis, and Theon Greyjoy, a character we met in the first book who mostly comes into his own, for better or worse.
This book moved much faster for me than the first book did. There was more action, more intrigue, and the character chapters I thought lagged and lacked in the first book did neither this time. An example of this is Catelyn Stark. In the first book, though I enjoyed her chapters, I often thought they were too long with not as much forward moving as there could have been. This second book remedies that very quickly. Her chapters were full of forward moving and even some plot twists. I was even incredibly excited for her sections in the show after reading her chapters.
This book also introduced several new characters, including Brienne of Tarth and Ygritte of the wildlings beyond the wall. Both of these women were only introduced in the second half of the book, but so far I have a feeling I’ll love them both. We interact more with Brienne than we do Ygritte. Brienne is a fiercely loyal and it seems also a fiercely passionate woman. She is a knight and proud of it, always loyal to those she swears her service to.
Sadly, as I stated, we don’t see as much of Ygritte, but the couple of scenes she is in she is important. She tells Jon Snow some possibly true history of his family and comes back again towards the end of the book briefly. I’m excited to see her more in book three.
Book two did really well balancing the characters chapters and showing the story and the wars happening without readers having to always be at the battlefronts. I still love most of the characters, and I think my love of some characters deepened, just as my hatred of certain characters grew. Again, Martin had a lot to tell and keep track of, and I never thought that he lost anything with the amount of detail he had.
Something I’m really enjoying about the show, besides it staying close to the books still so far, is that they give insight into characters who aren’t chapter focuses in the books. For example, in the second book, Robb Stark and Stannis Baratheon – even though they’re both fighting for the crown – are secondary characters in the books. They don’t have their sides told in the story by themselves, their stories are told through others who have chapters focused on them. Yet in the show, there are scenes where we see Robb and Stannis without their chapter-focused characters. It really adds to the story, sometimes showing a scene that was simply detailed in the book or even proving true or false something that fans who read the book suspected but never had confirmed.
The show also moves a lot faster than the book. Scenes that happened about two-thirds of the way through the book are happening in early episodes of the season. It makes sense though; the writers and producers do have to fit 969 pages of material into ten episodes. The quick pace of the series sometimes throws me off until I remember how much material they need to show in only ten episodes.
A couple of things, however, I am somewhat not enjoying. There’s two changes I don’t agree with the creators on. One is the relationship between Lord Commander Mormont and Jon Snow. In the books, while the Lord Commander can be tough on Jon, he can also be very father-like, something Jon needed after he left his family for the Wall. In the show though, especially this season, Lord Mormont isn’t as fatherly as he was in the book, taking up more of a tough leader who sometimes doesn’t seem to care about Jon. I do wish the writers had kept their relationship at least similar to the books.
Another piece I’m not enjoying is the exclusion of two characters who Bran, acting young Lord of Winterfell, meets named Meera and Jojen. They are two children like Bran, and they teach Bran that his dreams truly are more than they seem. I loved these characters in the book. They were young but not entirely innocent of the darkness in the world. But season two doesn’t have them in it, instead letting Bran learn for himself what his dreams mean and even giving one of Jojen’s foresight dreams to Bran. I was worried the show had cut these characters completely, but luckily I discovered they come in season three. I don’t understand this change, but hopefully when I get to season three the characters will be introduced properly and will not be changed too much.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed season two. Yes, this is the season where they begin deviating from the books. Some of the changes I enjoyed, such as the interactions between Tywin Lannister and Arya. Some I did not, such as Daenerys’ entire time in the city of Qarth and Jon Snow’s entire story line. Both story lines were partially faithful to the book but still had some, to me, unnecessary changes. It also, again, went into book three, this time I fear quite a bit since I’m about one hundred pages in and didn’t know about some of the moments that were happening on my screen.
I guess we’ll see how the next book and season differs.
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