Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
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 appetitesand this is only the second course of a repast with no end in sight. Author tour. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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
Kirkus Book Review
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: non'self-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.