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A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two [Mass Market Paperback]

George R.R. Martin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (537 customer reviews)
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Product Description

From Amazon

How does he do it? George R.R. Martin's high fantasy weaves a spell sufficient to seduce even those who vowed never to start a doorstopper fantasy series again (the first book--A Game of Thrones--runs over 700 pages). A Clash of Kings is longer and even more grim, but Martin continues to provide compelling characters in a vividly real world.

The Seven Kingdoms have come apart. Joffrey, Queen Cersei's sadistic son, ascends the Iron Throne following the death of Robert Baratheon, the Usurper, who won it in battle. Queen Cersei's family, the Lannisters, fight to hold it for him. Both the dour Stannis and the charismatic Renly Baratheon, Robert's brothers, also seek the throne. Robb Stark, declared King in the North, battles to avenge his father's execution and retrieve his sister from Joffrey's court. Daenerys, the exiled last heir of the former ruling family, nurtures three dragons and seeks a way home. Meanwhile the Night's Watch, sworn to protect the realm from dangers north of the Wall, dwindle in numbers, even as barbarian forces gather and beings out of legend stalk the Haunted Forest.

Sound complicated? It is, but fine writing makes this a thoroughly satisfying stew of dark magic, complex political intrigue, and horrific bloodshed. --Nona Vero --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The second novel of Martin's titanic Song of Ice and Fire saga (A Game of Thrones, 1996) begins with Princess Arya Stark fleeing her dead father's capital of King's Landing, disguised as a boy. It ends with the princess, now known as Weasel, having led the liberation of the accursed castle of Harrenhal. In between, her actions map the further course of a truly epic fantasy set in a world bedecked with 8000 years of history, beset by an imminent winter that will last 10 years and bedazzled by swords and spells wielded to devastating effect by the scrupulous and unscrupulous alike. Standout characters besides Arya include Queen Cersei, so lacking in morals that she becomes almost pitiable; the queen's brother, the relentlessly ingenious dwarf Tyrion Lannister; and Arya's brother, Prince Brandon, crippled except when he runs with the wolves in his dreams. The novel is notable particularly for the lived-in quality of its world, created through abundant detail that dramatically increases narrative length even as it aids suspension of disbelief; for the comparatively modest role of magic (although with one ambitious young woman raising a trio of dragons, that may change in future volumes); and for its magnificent action-filled climax, an amphibious assault on King's Landing, now ruled by the evil Queen Cersei. Martin may not rival Tolkien or Robert Jordan, but he ranks with such accomplished medievalists of fantasy as Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson. Here, he provides a banquet for fantasy lovers with large appetites?and this is only the second course of a repast with no end in sight. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

A war for succession as king of the realm pits brother against brother in a battle of armies and politics. Caught in the struggle are seven noble families whose fortunes and lives depend on how well they play the game of intrigue, blackmail, kidnapping, treachery, and magic. Martin has created a rich world filled with characters whose desires for love and power drive them to extremes of nobility and betrayal. Fans of epic fantasy should appreciate this lavishly detailed sequel to A Game of Thrones (Spectra, 1996). Recommended for most fantasy collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In the sequel to A Game of Thrones (1996), Martin skillfully limns the complicated, bitter politics of an inbred aristocracy, among whom an 11-year-old may be a bride, a ward, or a hostage, depending on the winds of war. Each of four men pronounces himself the rightful king, and the land of Westeros shudders with battles and betrayals. The dark, crisp plotting will please fans of the layered intrigues of Dorothy Dunnett or Robert Graves, and Graves' Claudius is echoed by the character of Queen Cersei's dwarf brother, Tyrion. Other notable characters are crippled eight-year-old Bran; Melisandre, a beautiful, menacing priestess; and Ser Davos, who won knighthood breaking a siege with a boatload of dried fish. Over all hover the threats of decades-long winter and the rebirth of the loathsome, magical Old Powers. Aided by an appendix of kings and their courts, Clash can be enjoyed on its own, though many then may retreat to Game, reread Clash, and impatiently await more of Westeros. Roberta Johnson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Second installment of Martin's fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire, following A Game of Thrones (1996), that enormous yarn about the strife-torn Seven Kingdoms and the various powerful families that aspire to rule them. The rewards are considerable: a backdrop of convincing depth and texture; intricate, flawless plotting; fully realized characters; and restrained, inventive magical/occult elements. The drawbacks, though, also loom large: nonself-contained entries; a cast of thousands, and, as a result, the impossibility of remembering, especially after the passage of more than two years, who's who or what's been going on. Martin declines to supply a recap or synopsis; the list of characters, itself 28 pages long, doesn't help. Nonetheless, the inaugural volume was both admirable and eyepopping, so fans will certainly plunge right in. And since this one tips the scales at a gargantuan 896 pages, you can build up your biceps as you read. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'A Game of Thrones grabs hold and won't let go. It's brilliant' Robert Jordan 'Colossal, staggering... Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome in his imaginary world... one of the greats of fantasy literature.' SFX 'An extraordinarily rich novel... The book stands out from similar work by virtue of its superbly developed characters, accomplished prose and sheer bloody-mindedness.' Publishers Weekly 'I read my eyes out. I couldn't stop until I'd finished and it was dawn.' Anne McCaffrey 'Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads... Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias.' Guardian 'One of the all-time classic fantasy series, right up there with The Belgariad and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and, yes, with The Lord of the Rings.' The Alien Has Landed --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"Martin amply fuLfills the first volume's promise and continues what seems destined to be
one of the best fantasy series ever written."
-- The Denver Post

Don't miss any of the novels in George R. R. Martin's saga
A Song of Ice and Fire
A GAME OF THRONES
A CLASH OF KINGS

and coming soon

A STORM OF SWORDS

About the Author

George R.R. Martin sold his first story in 1971 and has been writing professionally since then. He spent ten years in Hollywood as a writer-producer, working on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and television pilots that were never made. In the mid '90s he returned to prose, his first love, and began work on his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. He has been in the Seven Kingdoms ever since. Whenever he's allowed to leave, he returns to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives with the lovely Parris, a big white dog called Mischa, and two cats named Augustus and Caligula, who think they run the place.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

ARYA

At Winterfell they had called her "Arya Horseface" and she'd thought  nothing could be worse, but that was before the orphan boy Lommy Greenhands had  named her "Lumpyhead."

     Her head felt lumpy when she touched it. When Yoren had dragged her  into that alley she'd thought he meant to kill her, but the sour old man had

only held her tight, sawing through her mats and tangles with his dagger. She  remembered how the breeze sent the fistfuls of dirty brown hair skittering  across the paving stones, toward the sept where her father had died. "I'm  taking men and boys from the city," Yoren growled as the sharp steel scraped

at her head. "Now you hold still, boy." By the time he had  finished, her scalp was nothing but tufts and stubble.

     Afterward he told her that from there to Winterfell she'd be Arry the  orphan boy. "Gate shouldn't be hard, but the road's another matter. You got a  long way to go in bad company. I got thirty this time, men and boys all bound  for the Wall, and don't be thinking they're like that bastard brother o'  yours." He shook her. "Lord Eddard gave me pick o' the dungeons, and I didn't  find no little lordlings down there. This lot, half o' them would turn you over  to the queen quick as spit for a pardon and maybe a few silvers. The other  half'd do the same, only they'd rape you first. So you keep to yourself and  make your water in the woods,alone. That'll be the hardest part, the pissing, so don't drink no more'n you  need."

     Leaving King's Landing was easy, just like he'd said. The Lannister guardsmen on the gate were stopping everyone, but Yoren called one by name and their wagons were waved through. No one spared Arya a glance. They were looking for a highborn girl, daughter of the King's Hand, not for a skinny boy with his hair chopped off. Arya never looked back. She wished the Rush would rise and wash the whole city away, Flea Bottom and the Red Keep and the Great Sept and  everything, and everyone too, especially Prince Joffrey and  his mother. But she knew it wouldn't, and anyhow Sansa was still in the city

and would wash away too. When she remembered that, Arya decided to wish for  Winterfell instead.

     Yoren was wrong about the pissing, though. That wasn't the hardest part at all; Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie were the hardest part. Orphan boys. Yoren had  plucked some from the streets with promises of food for their bellies and shoes  for their feet. The rest he'd found in chains. "The Watch needs good men," he  told them as they set out, "but you lot will have to do."

     Yoren had taken grown men from the dungeons as well, thieves and poachers and rapers and the like. The worst were the three he'd found in the black cells who must have scared even him, because he kept them fettered hand and foot in the back of a wagon, and vowed they'd stay in irons all the way to the Wall. One  had no nose, only the hole in his face where it had been cut off, and the gross  fat bald one with the pointed teeth and theweeping sores on his cheeks had eyes like nothing human.

     They took five wagons out of King's Landing, laden with supplies for the Wall: hides and bolts of cloth, bars of pig iron, a cage of ravens, books and paper and ink, a bale of sourleaf, jars of oil, and chests of medicine and spices. Teams of plow horses pulled the wagons, and Yoren had bought two coursers and a half-dozen donkeys for the boys. Arya would have preferred a real horse, but the donkey was better than riding on a wagon.

     The men paid her no mind, but she was not so lucky with the boys. She was two years younger than the youngest orphan, not to mention smaller and skinnier,  and Lommy and Hot Pie took her silence to mean she was scared, or stupid, or

deaf. "Look at that sword Lumpyhead's got there," Lommy said one morning as  they made their plodding way past orchards and wheat fields. He'd been a dyer's  apprentice before he was caught stealing, and his arms were mottled green to

the elbow. When he laughed he brayed like the donkeys they were riding.  "Where's a gutter rat like Lumpyhead get him a sword?"

     Arya chewed her lip sullenly. She could see the back of Yoren's faded black  cloak up ahead of the wagons, but she was determined not to go crying to him

for help.

     "Maybe he's a little squire," Hot Pie put in. His mother had been a baker  before she died, and he'd pushed her cart through the streets all day, shouting  "Hot pies! Hot pies!" "Some lordy lord's little squire boy, that's  it."

     "He ain't no squire, look at him. I bet that's not even areal sword. I bet it's just some play sword made of tin."

     Arya hated them making fun of Needle. "It's castle-forged steel, you stupid," she snapped, turning in the saddle to glare at them, "and you better shut your mouth."

     The orphan boys hooted. "Where'd you get a blade like that, Lumpyface?" Hot  Pie wanted to know.

     "Lumpyhead," corrected Lommy. "He prob'ly stole it."

     "I did not!" she shouted. Jon Snow had given her Needle. Maybe she  had to let them call her Lumpyhead, but she wasn't going to let them call Jon a  thief.

     "If he stole it, we could take it off him," said Hot Pie. "It's not his

anyhow. I could use me a sword like that."

     Lommy egged him on. "Go on, take it off him, I dare you."

     Hot Pie kicked his donkey, riding closer. "Hey, Lumpyface, you gimme that  sword." His hair was the color of straw, his fat face all sunburnt and  peeling. "You don't know how to use it."

     Yes I do, Arya could have said. I killed a boy, a fat boy like  you, I stabbed him in the belly and he died, and I'll kill you too if you don't  let me alone. Only she did not dare. Yoren didn't know about the  stableboy, but she was afraid of what he might do if he found out. Arya was  pretty sure that some of the other men were killers too, the three in the  manacles for sure, but the queen wasn't looking for them, so it  wasn't the same.

     "Look at him," brayed Lommy Greenhands. "I bet he's going to cry now. You  want to cry, Lumpyhead?"

     She had cried in her sleep the night before, dreaming of herfather. Come morning, she'd woken red-eyed and dry, and could not have shed  another tear if her life had hung on it.

From AudioFile

Martin resumes his Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. Kings, queens, knights, and ladies carry the principal roles, with a smattering of whores and other unsavory characters adding spice to the story as members of House Stark and House Lannister struggle over the seven kingdoms of Westeros, while an even greater supernatural threat gathers on the horizon. Roy Dotrice rises to the challenge, providing each character with his or her own unique voice. Dotrice's range of vocal tones, from gravelly and commanding to silkenly dangerous, creates a mood of insistence that holds the listener captive throughout the epic story. S.D. Winner of AUDIOFILE Earphones Award © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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