Pro: Engrossing, exciting; I love Tyrion and Arya
Con: Only if you can't handle long books or oodles of characters
The Bottom Line: The second installment in the series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and well worth the library hold line wait.
A few months ago I finally jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon. I haven't read good, solid fantasy in a long time, so to be immersed in a world full of knights, kings, direwolves, giants, Others, poison, intrigue, armies, and the last three dragons in existence is a good thing. Initially I was worried that there would be too much court politics stuff going on, there are plenty of other places to visit and other characters to follow to worry about it. Oh, and if you haven't read the first book yet, you really, really need to.
Everyone seems to have declared himself king. No one seems to like Joffrey - and with the people starving within his gates and his severe lack of a conscience, it's no wonder why. Tyrion Lannister is sent to King's Landing to try and rein in the young king and figure out a way to stop Stannis Baratheon and Renly Baratheon from taking the city, while in the north Robb Stark wins battle after battle with Lannister forces. Who will sit on the throne in the end? Will Stannis's dark sorceress grant him victory? Or will Tyrion's wits save his sister and nephew? And everyone seems to have forgotten about Jon Snow and the masses gathering in the North beyond the Wall...
Each chapter is given to a different character just as in the last book, only since we're missing a few character this time, there are a couple of switches:
Each of these characters has a different side of the story to show, and what stories they are. Despite the fact that Tyrion is a Lannister, I knew from the very first moment that I would really enjoy him. And I do. It's as though he's the only one in King's Landing with any sense. I look forward to seeing what more he has to offer. Heh, maybe he'll be king at some point. And why not? He'd do much better than Joffrey (that kid really needs to be eaten by a dragon or something) and everyone else has crowned themselves king around here...
Arya is my second favorite character to follow. She's such a spunky, strong little girl. I'm still waiting for her to start howling or something and to meet up with her direwolf again. Maybe that will happen in the next book. Bran's narrative almost ties Arya's this time because of his dreams and what happens to Winterfell while Robb is away. Perhaps Robb should have listened to his mother?
Davos made for an interesting look at things from the other side, as he works for Stannis. He's seen things...oh yes, he has. Everyone else offers a little something special, though I'm still relatively bored when Catelyn comes onto the page. Sansa is interesting; I worry for her, though I'm starting to get slightly bored when she comes on the page as well. However, her little dynamic with the Hound is intriguing. I keep wondering what happened to Theon, though I think he's a fool and whatever he got, he deserved, but I suppose I'll have to wait until I get my hands on the next book. And Daenerys...she gets ever closer to her goal of taking back the Seven Kingdoms for herself...
Though the book starts off at a relatively relaxed pace, things wind up - albeit slowly - to a war full of ships, men, horses, weapons, plenty of fire, desperation, and some serious treachery. Sometimes the skipping around of characters from chapter to chapter was frustrating - mostly because I wanted to see what happened next with that particular character. I'd be lying if I said I didn't skip ahead a few times to Tyrion's next chapter, Arya's, or even Bran's just to see what might happen.
Martin does throw out a few little red herrings when it comes to certain characters and their deaths, but I wasn't fooled. Others might be though. But hey, that'll just make things all the more exciting when you find out the truth, eh?
Now I'm on the library's wait list for the third book, A Storm of Swords, which just sounds like it's going to be a party. I look forward to it. I noticed that as I progress, the wait list gets shorter and shorter as well. Are fewer people getting this far in the series? Are they slower readers? Whatever the case, lucky me. Have I mentioned how much I look forward to seeing HBO tackle this particular book? It's going to rock so hard! Whoo hoo! Go fantasy!
Notes from the playlist: "The Orgy" by Basil Poledouris