A Clash of Kings
by George R. R. Martin
Welcome to the second instalment of A Song of Ice and Fire series. King Robert Baratheon is dead. Long live the King! but which one?
The young brat Joffrey Baratheon was declared king de facto, but the rumor is spreading among people that he is a bastard born out of incest and has no claim to the throne. Renly Baratheon, the youngest brother to Robert, had escaped Cersei's clutches in order to declare himself the rightful king and is supported by the House of Tyrell, the second most powerful family in the kingdom. Stannis Baratheon emerges from the Dragonstone to claim the Iron Throne for himself. Stannis is supported by the Red Woman, priestess Melisandre, who uses her magic to defeat his foes.
Now that we have three family members fighting each other for the Iron Throne, Robb Stark had declared himself the King in the North and continues to battle Tywin Lannister and his armies, leaving Winterfell undefended. We join Arya on her adventure out of the King's Landing toward Winterfell. Through Catelyn's eyes, we witness a mysterious assassination of a king-claimant. We journey beyond the Wall with Jon Snow. We chuckle at Tyrion's witty remarks, and of course, we want to slap Cersei many a-times. The author also introduces us to the minor characters from the first book - Theon and Davos - and allows them to play important parts in the battle for the throne.
George R.R. Martin ruthlessly takes us on the adventure through the clash of kings without asking us if we are comfortable in our seats. I wouldn't blame you if mid-book you'd want to shake your fist at the imaginary shape of the author and yell, 'Damn you, Martin!' when he leaves you on the cliffhanger for a character and does not bring them back into the view almost close to the end of the book.
Why did I like the book? A sage once said, 'A good book invites on the adventure. A great book leaves you no choice.' In the Clash of Kings, George R. R. Martin leaves you no choice.