When I reviewed A Clash of Kings back in 2013, I said, “I thought it was every bit as good as A Game of Thrones.” Though I have Game of Thrones higher on this list because I think it probably stays with me a little more in terms of memorable moments, I think that statement is basically accurate.
This book was particularly great for two of my favorite characters Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. The Night’s Watch plotline really started to pick up and got me very intrigued for the future volumes. It was cool to see the difference in how Tyrion handled all the leaders at Kings Landing as compared to Ned Stark who clearly was not prepared for all the deceit. All the magic which was kept to the periphery in A Game of Thrones became more and more prominent.
GRRM continued to give us plot twists we did not see coming. He keeps readers on their toes throughout the book. Another special part of Martin is his ability to make us have complicated feelings about his characters. This book only had one scene with Jamie Lannister (to my recollection) and yet it set up so much of where his character was going and began to shift my view on a character that I hated in the first book. In 2013, I wrote (having not read beyond Clash at the time) “Jamie Lannister…has had his share of treachery and yet I have a grudging respect for his perverse sense of morality. A scene between him and Catelyn Stark to me was the highlight of this book.”
I stand by that. I loved that scene. It’s the scene from this novel that stays with me to this day. And Jamie went on to be the most compelling character in the series, at least from my perspective. The first three books in Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series are an absolute triumph in storytelling. It’s no surprise how great they translated to tv and how much mainstream audiences embraced this story.