3.0 out of 5 stars
Lots of Flash..Less Substance...., Oct. 9 2000
I chose this book from among those available at an airport newsstand. It made for an entertaining read and helped to while away the hours I had to spend in the concourse and aboard my flights. However, when I say entertaining I do not mean that it was a great book or a fantastic story...merely entertaining. Mr Martin can write a fine character when he's of a mind to do so. Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Jon Snow and Catelyn Stark are complex and intriguing. But, in his rush to include everyone of import in Westeros, his characters suffer. Major characters like Stannis, Renly, and Joff Lannister become two dimensional shades...capable of only one response to any given situation. "A Clash of Kings" does distinguish itself when these characters are involved in the story lines. They manage to exhibit a wide range of human emotions and elicit an equally wide range of emotional reactions. But when he strays from Tyrion, Arya, Jon and Catelyn the story begins to drag. It's almost as if Martin seeks to give depth to his world by trotting the names of places and people before the reader. Most disturbing of all, is the cursory treatment given to the battles. It is obvious that the Machiavellian workings of the principles is the centerpiece of this work, but it would have been nice to see one of them get better treatment than the "X fought a battle and won/was vanquished" that is resorted to time and time again. Fantasy writers, as a rule, seem to be ignorant of war and it's sciences and tend to adopt a "less said the better" position. On the whole, I think Mr Martin has written a good book filled with good characters. It's nice to read a fantasy novel that's not filled with arcane magics and energies. But he fails to replace the magical with the mundane and his characters suffer for it. He'd have been better advised to write a shorter, more focused book. Then we might have been treated to a great book peopled with great characters.