A Clash of Kings: The Second Novel Behind the Hit HBO Series

HBO’s hit series A GAME OF THRONES is based on George R R Martin’s internationally bestselling series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. A CLASH OF KINGS book is the second volume in the series.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard about this epic tale. While its hype and the sheer amount of books in the series may be daunting, we’ll take you through this novel in an easy-to-follow and approachable way for all the beginners out there.

Just a warning, there will be spoilers ahead!

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A Clash of Kings

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. 

A Clash of Kings is the second of seven planned novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin.

“There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it.”

George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

Our Overview

A Clash of Kings begins with a comet flying across the sky.

We begin again with Daenerys Targaryen who wants to claim the Iron Throne and rule all of Westeros and its seven kingdoms. However, in Westeros, the people are more concerned of rising civil war.

Rightful king, Robert Baratheon, is dead, and his sons (Joffrey, Renly, and Stannis) are fighting to claim it. With the support of the high priestess, Stannis is crowned king and makes Renly his heir, with his bodyguard, Brienne Of Tarth at his side.

However, Renly plans to steal the throne. Hearing this news, Stannis arranged Renly’s execution. Renly is killed, and Stannis is king. Joffrey wants the throne, but knows he is too young yet, so he bides his time and hashes out some plans.

The northern territories fight. Robb Stark is declared their new king. Another man, however, claims a part of the north for himself. The north is a fiercely independent place; they ask for no help and care not for what is happening on the Iron Throne.

The Queen Regent, Cersei, takes control of matters in the South. Her brother, Tyrion, is promoted to Hand of the King. Joffrey is then installed as king over Stannish, and Cersei plans to manipulate the young boy king with Tyrion’s help. Tyrion successfully arranged various noble marriages to cement alliances, and now the Lannisters secure the Iron Throne forever.

The Stark loyalists attack Winterfell because they want revenge for what they believe to be murders of some of the Stark family. For a time, it is unclear who rules Winterfell.

The Stark family know that it is in the north’s best interest to escape. Robb holds the line while others escape before drawing the Lannisters into numerous battles, to which he triumphs. Meanwhile his younger brother Bran Stark rules in his absence. And Robb’s sister, Arya, poses as a boy and learns to fight. Robb sends his friend, Theon Greyjoy to negotiate an alliance between the Iron Islands and the North but he is betrayed by Theon.

Daenarys has a group of loyal followers. She plans to use the followers and her baby dragons to convince more people to follow her. Daenerys doesn’t like that others are wanting her dragons to themselves, so she burns down various places. This earns her a reputation and increases her following, even if out of fear.

Beyond the walls of Winterfell, trouble brews. Wildings attack the fortress. Jon Snow leads the fight in their defence. As if this wild tribe wasn’t enough, a dangerous king with magical allies plan to attack Winterfell, and the time before he reaches the wall is only ticking.

Stannis disappears, the Lannister family confront the Starks in a gruesome battle. The Lannister palace falls and everyone is forced to flee.

A Clash of Kings: The Second Novel Behind the Hit HBO Series

Our Review

A Clash of Kings was a brilliant sequel that brought the spotlight of the series to one of the most well-written characters in fantasy: Tyrion Lannister.

Petrik, Goodreads User

Once again we tip off our hats to George R.R Martin, we never seem to be able to choose who to root for. Initially, we know that the defender is a cruel king, but the more I read the more I thought that the attackers also wouldn’t be a good king. We think not only about the king himself and who may be deserving of such a role, but also of the subjects whose lives may be in danger as a result.

Those who have watched the hit HBO series know all too well that this series is not one for the faint of heart. There are few happy endings to be found here. The gritty reality is one that mirrors medieval times rather than a typical fantasy series. We see illusions of happy times, but in the background there is always something dark and foreboding approaching.

The scope of the plot is ever-expanding. It’s a great feat to have such a wide scope of a novel and still not feel like any of the plots are unnecessary. Somehow, it’s surprisingly not difficult to keep track of the plot and the huge range of characters.

There may be some perspectives I preferred reading over others, but I was never tempted to skip chapters or breeze over the page.

Overall, this is an outstanding follow-up to A Game of Thrones.

Our rating: ★★★★☆

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the correct order of Game of Thrones Books?

The branching canons and miscellanies of genre fiction are commonplace to some fans but the unusual running order of A Song of Ice and Fire has been known to put off newcomers to the series. Have no fear though, the publishing order of the books is still the most sensible reading order.

Here are all the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series in (publishing) order:

  1. A Game of Thrones (1996)
  2. A Clash of Kings (1999)
  3. A Storm of Swords (2000)
  4. A Feast for Crows (2005)
  5. A Dance with Dragons (2011)
  6. The Winds of Winter (unreleased)
  7. A Dream of Spring (unreleased)

What is the theme of A Clash of Kings?

Through the central civil war plot of the novel, Martin explores the chaotic nature of warfare, showing that it destroys not only people and objects, but knowledge and certainty.

Is A Clash of Kings Game of Thrones?

Yes! A Clash of Kings is the second novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series, of which the HBO series Game of Thrones is based on.

How many long does it take to read A Clash of Kings?

The audiobook for A Clash Of Kings is around 37 hours. Check it out here!

How Does A Clash of Kings end?

By the novel’s end, Renly is dead, Stannis and the Greyjoys have suffered major setbacks, and the Lannisters and Starks remain the only true contenders. Note that the war doesn’t actually conclude in this novel! As with real life, war is ongoing and brutal. We barely see the war wrapping up until the third book.

What seasons does A Clash of Kings Cover?

The second season of Game Of Thrones roughly follows the plot of A Clash of Kings.

Have you read the second novel behind the acclaimed TV Series? Let us know!

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