Game of Groans

It's times like these that I'm glad this blog is just my little file cabinet in the corner of the internet, and not some kind of ultra-linked phenomenon. Who knows what hellstorm of nerd rage I would bring upon myself after this?

After finishing the first Game of Thrones book for the Pop Culture Homework Project, I was confused as to why it was so popular. I gave it a B, thinking that while the sprawling story wasn't great as a standalone property, I could envision it laying some promising groundwork for the books ahead. I went ahead and dove into the second book of the series, A Clash of Kings, hoping for some better story development instead of all that exposition.


Instead of focusing the story down onto the important characters of the first book, this one sprawls even wider. Character after character is introduced, then abandoned so we can move on to the next one. What to do with all these new faces? Kill them, of course! I've read several comments intimating that Martin is a fearless writer for having the guts to kill off so many characters, but I can't agree. In order to make death have any kind of resonance with the reader, be it to horrify them or provide a vicarious thrill from seeing a bad guy get his comeuppance, you have to develop a character first. People are constantly getting gutted in this story, but since Martin hasn't bothered to give them any personality, I never care one way or the other; it's hard to get worked up over someone abusing a paper doll. When Joss Whedon killed off a character in the Buffyverse, it had weight, because he put in the time to make them an actual character with feelings and motivation. Here, so many people are killed so offhandedly, the deaths don't earn any emotional response, either positive or negative.

Add to this some almost laughable flaws in the writing itself. In one scene, two characters at odds with one another reluctantly trade information. It's played up as a tense confrontation, like a super-villain and James Bond feeling each other out. Except that since chapters have followed both of these characters' stories, we the reader already know all the information being traded.

When I first began this book, I was looking forward to seeing how a struggle for power among several factions would play out. By the time I was halfway through, slogging through this story became more homework than Homework Project. At some point, I may pick up the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, but for now, I need a break from Westeros. A long one.

A Clash of Kings: C-


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