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A Clash of Kings is the second novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, a fantasy series by George R. R. Martin which is planned to consist of seven volumes.
A Clash of Kings depicts the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in civil war, the Night’s Watch investigates the wildlings and Daenerys Targaryen continues her plan to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms.
In the Seven Kingdoms, after the death of King Robert, his son Joffrey and brothers Renly and Stannis all claim the throne of Westeros. Robb Stark, Ned’s eldest son, is declared ‘King in the North’ while Balon Greyjoy declares himself king of the Iron Islands and attacks the North.
The war is named the War of the Five Kings. Catelyn Stark, Ned’s wife and Robb’s mother, meets Renly and Stannis to discuss alliance against the Lannisters but fails. A mysterious shadow kills Renly. Brienne of Tarth, a member of Renly’s bodyguards, and Catelyn Stark are incriminated in Renly’s murder. Most of Renly’s supporters defect to Stannis, except the Tyrells. Renly’s stronghold, Storm’s End falls to Stannis.
Tyrion Lannister, at King’s Landing as acting Hand of King Joffrey, improves the defenses of the city and negotiates with the Tyrells through Littlefinger. Lord Mace Tyrell agrees to wed his daughter Margaery to Joffrey, which forges an alliance between the Lannisters and the Tyrells. Tyrion also betroths Joffrey’s sister Myrcella to Trystane Martell, thereby forging an alliance with House Martell.
Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell to impress his father, Balon. Bran and Rickon, Robb’s younger brothers, are taken captive but escape with the help of Osha and Hodor. Theon murders two anonymous boys to mask his failure. Believing that Bran and Rickon are dead, Stark forces besiege Winterfell, joined by House Bolton. Theon conspires with Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay Snow. The Bolton forces turn on the Stark forces and beats them. Theon opens Winterfell to the Boltons. The Bolton forces, upon orders by Ramsey, destroy Winterfell, slaughter its inhabitants and take Theon prisoner. Osha takes Rickon to safety. Bran, accompanied by Meera, Jojen, and his servant Hodor, travels north. The Stark forces win many victories against the Lannister forces. Tywin Lannister, who was advancing against Robb, receives news that King’s Landing is threatened by Stannis’ forces and decides to withdraws and go back to the capital.
Arya Stark, Ned’s youngest daughter, travels with new recruits for the Night’s Watch. They are captured and taken to Harrenhal. Jaqen H’ghar, saved by Arya, offers to repay her by killing three men of her choice, Arya selects two Lannister bannermen and threatens Jaqen unless he releases the Stark supporters, who overtake the castle. Having paid his debt, Jaqen gives Arya a coin and a phrase, “Valar Morghulis”, to be used in asking help from his compatriots. Lord Roose Bolton occupies Harrenhal, and Arya escapes.
Stannis Baratheon’s forces arrive at King’s Landing and launches assaults by both land and sea. Called the Battle of Blackwater Bay, the Baratheon forces outnumber the Lannisters defenders. Under Tyrion’s command, the Lannister forces use “wildfire” to ignite the bay, and raise a massive chain across its mouth to prevent Stannis’s fleet from retreating. Stannis’s attack fails when Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell arrive at King’s Landing. Ser Davos Seaworth, Stannis’ Hand, is nearly killed when his ship is destroyed by wildfire. Stannis’ fate is left uncertain. Tyrion is attacked by one of Joffrey’s guards, and rescued by his squire, Podrick Payne.
On the Wall, the Night’s Watch scouting party learn that the wildlings are uniting under ‘King-beyond-the-Wall’ Mance Rayder. They went to an ancient hill-top fortress known as the Fist of the First Men. Jeor Mormont, the Night’s Watch commander, sends Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand to the Skirling Pass, where they are hunted by wildlings. Being certain of defeat, Qhorin commands Jon to infiltrate the wildlings and find out their plans. They are captured by wildlings who demand Jon fight Qhorin to prove that he really wants to join them. Jon kills Qhorin and later on learns that Mance Rayder is advancing on the Wall with thirty-thousand wildlings, giants, and mammoths.
In the East, Daenerys Targaryen travels to the city of Qarth, accompanied by the knight Jorah Mormont, her remaining Dothraki followers, and three newly hatched dragons. Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the leader of the Thirteen, a prominent group of traders in Qarth, initially befriends the new arrivals. Daenerys, refusing to give away any of her dragons, cannot secure aid in claiming the throne of Westeros. Daenerys seeks counsel from the warlocks of Qarth, who show Daenerys many confusing visions and threaten her life. Drogon, one of Daenery’s dragons, comes to her aid and burns down the warlocks’ “House of the Undying”. A fat warrior named Strong Belwas and his squire Arstan Whitebeard save Daenerys from an assassination attempt. They turn out to be agents of Daenerys’s ally Illyrio Mopatis, who have come to escort her back to Pentos.
I strongly suggest that you read this book. It will make you understand the TV series better as there is more development on why the War of the Five Kings happened. The switching viewpoints could be a little bit confusing but the reader will still remain attached and will wish to continue reading. The political intrigues and the military conflicts attaches the reader to the characters, making you want to choose sides. You can read this on its own, but I guarantee you that you will go read the first book. You will rush into finishing this book to go to the next one. So read the book now!
Other books in the series: