A Clash of Kings is the second novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series by American author George R. R. Martin expected to consist of seven volumes. It was first published on 16 November 1998 in the United Kingdom, although the first United States edition did not follow until March 1999. Like its predecessor, A Game of Thrones, it won the Locus Award (in 1999) for Best Novel and was nominated for the Nebula Award (also in 1999) for best novel. In May 2005 Meisha Merlin released a limited edition of the novel, fully illustrated by John Howe.
The novel has been adapted for television by HBO as the second season of the TV series Game of Thrones.
A Clash of Kings is also the name of the first expansion to the Game of Thrones board game.
A Clash of Kings depicts the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in civil war, while the Night's Watch mounts a reconnaissance to investigate the mysterious people known as wildlings. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen continues her plan to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms.
With King Robert Baratheon dead, his son Joffrey Baratheon and brothers Renly and Stannis all claim the throne of Westeros. Robb Stark is declared 'King in the North' while Balon Greyjoy declares himself king of the Iron Islands and attacks the western coast of the North. Robb's younger brother Bran Stark finds new friends in Jojen and Meera Reed.
Stannis Baratheon, as Robert's eldest brother, declares himself King of Westeros, encouraged by Melisandre of Asshai, a priestess who believes Stannis the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, a messianic figure of her faith. The war is dubbed the War of the Five Kings. Catelyn Stark, under orders from her son King Robb Stark, meets Renly and Stannis to discuss alliance against the Lannisters; but despite Stannis offering to make Renly his heir over his daughter Shireen the ensuing parley ends in acrimony and Renly resolves to destroy his brother with his larger army. Renly has married the daughter of the greedy and arrogant Lord Mace Tyrell, who is therefore supporting his attempt to usurp the throne. However, without warning a mysterious shadow comes to life in Renly's own tent and kills him. Shocked, Catelyn and the only other witness, the warrior-maid Brienne of Tarth, flee the scene. Having lost Renly, the storm lords have no choice but to declare for Stannis. Storm's End itself only falls, however, when Stannis's loyal Ser Davos, a former smuggler, sneaks Melisandre below the castle in a small boat. To his horror, Melisandre gives birth to a shadow which enters Storm's End and slays its stubborn castellan Ser Cortnay Penrose.
Tyrion Lannister arrives at King's Landing as acting Hand of the King, the closest adviser to the monarch Joffrey. Whilst intriguing against Joffrey's mother, the Queen Regent Cersei, Tyrion improves the defenses of the city. Learning of Renly's death, Tyrion resolves on two courses of action. Knowing that the Tyrells will not be happy following Stannis, he decides to make them a better offer. He also resolves to bring the Martells of Dorne into the war on his side. He sends Littlefinger to treat with the Tyrells and sends other messengers to Dorne.The negotiations are solidified by marriage arrangements. Mace Tyrell agrees to wed his daughter Margaery to King Joffrey I, whilst Prince Doran Martell agrees to marry his youngest son Trystane to Joffrey's sister Myrcella.
To conquer the North and to impress his father Balon, Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell, taking Bran and Rickon captive; but Bran and Rickon disappear in the night. Rather than admit his failure, Theon murders two anonymous peasant boys similar in size to Bran and Rickon and mutilates their faces to enhance the resemblance. Believing this ruse, Stark supporters besiege the castle, joined by a force from House Bolton. Theon having conspired with Bolton's bastard son, Ramsay Snow, the Bolton soldiers turn on the besiegers and Theon opens the gates to the victorious Boltons, whereupon they destroy Winterfell, slaughter its inhabitants and take Theon prisoner. Osha, a captured wildling turned castle servant, takes Rickon to safety while Bran, accompanied by Meera, Jojen, and his simpleton manservant Hodor, travels north. Robb Stark wins several victories against the Lannisters, and Tywin Lannister advances against him, but receiving news that King's Landing is threatened, withdraws.
Arya Stark, posing as a boy named Arry, is taken north by Yoren as a new recruit for the Night's Watch. However, they are attacked by Lannister freeriders led by Ser Amory Lorch and Yoren is killed at a town on the shores of Gods Eye. The survivors are taken to Harrenhal and put to work as servants in the undermanned castle. For saving his life during the attack, a man named Jaqen H'ghar promises to repay Arya by killing three men of her choice. For her three choices, Arya selects Chiswyck, a soldier in Gregor Clegane's forces, Weese, her servant overseer, and Jaqen H'ghar himself. The first two murders he carries out without question; in lieu of the third choice, Arya leverages H'ghar to help her slay the Lannister soldiers guarding Robett Glover, who had been taken prisoner by the Brave Companions. After Glover is freed, the Brave Companions turn their cloaks and join with the North. H'ghar gives Arya a mysterious iron coin and tells her to find him in Braavos if she should ever desire to learn his secrets. He then adopts a new identity and leaves. Control of Harrenhal is ceded to Roose Bolton, whom Arya serves as cupbearer, but soon escapes.
In the Battle of Blackwater Bay, Stannis Baratheon's army reaches King's Landing and launches assaults by both land and sea. The Baratheon forces vastly outnumber the Lannister defenders but under Tyrion's command, the Lannister forces use "wildfire" (similar to Greek fire) to ignite the bay, and raise a massive chain across its mouth to prevent Stannis's fleet from retreating. Stannis's attack fails when Tywin Lannister leads his army (and the remaining forces under Mace Tyrell) to King's Landing. During the defense of the castle, Tyrion is attacked by one of Joffrey's Kingsguard, and rescued by his squire, Podrick Payne, killing the Kingsguard. Stannis's fate is left uncertain.
A scouting party from the Night's Watch learn that the wildlings are uniting under 'King-beyond-the-Wall' Mance Rayder. The Watch then continue to an ancient hill-top fortress known as the Fist of the First Men, whence Jeor Mormont sends Jon Snow and Qhorin Halfhand with others to the Skirling Pass, where they are hunted by wildling warriors. Facing certain defeat, Halfhand commands Snow to infiltrate the wildlings and learn their plans. They are captured by wildlings who demand Jon fight Qhorin to join them. Jon kills Qhorin with the aid of his direwolf, Ghost and Jon learns that Mance Rayder is advancing on the Wall with thirty-thousand wildlings, giants, and mammoths.
Daenerys Targaryen travels east, accompanied by the knight Jorah Mormont, her remaining followers, and three newly hatched dragons. Scouts find a safe route to the city of Qarth, where her dragons make Daenerys notorious. Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the leader of the Thirteen, a prominent group of traders in Qarth, initially befriends the outsiders; but Daenerys cannot secure aid in claiming the throne of Westeros, because she refuses to give away any of her dragons. As a last resort, Daenerys seeks counsel from the warlocks of Qarth, who show Daenerys many confusing visions and threaten her life, whereupon one of Daenerys's dragons, Drogon, burns down the warlocks' "House of the Undying". An attempt to assassinate Daenerys is thwarted by a fat warrior named Strong Belwas and his squire Arstan Whitebeard: agents of Daenerys's ally Illyrio Mopatis, who have come to escort her back to Pentos.
The tale is told through the eyes of 9 recurring POV characters plus one prologue POV character:Prologue: Maester Cressen, maester at Dragonstone.
Tyrion Lannister, youngest son of Lord Tywin Lannister, a dwarf and a brother to Queen Cersei, and the acting Hand of the King
Lady Catelyn Stark, of House Tully, widow of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell
Ser Davos Seaworth, a smuggler turned knight in the service of King Stannis Baratheon, often called the Onion Knight
Sansa Stark, eldest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark, held captive by Queen Cersei at King's Landing
Arya Stark, youngest daughter of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark, missing and presumed dead
Bran Stark, second son of Eddard Stark and Catelyn Stark and heir to Winterfell and the King in the North
Jon Snow, bastard son of Eddard Stark, and a man of the Night's Watch
Theon Greyjoy, heir to the Seastone Chair and former ward of Lord Eddard Stark
Queen Daenerys Targaryen, the Unburnt and Mother of Dragons, of the Targaryen dynasty
Foreign language editions
A Clash of Kings has been adapted for television by HBO as the second season of its successful adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire. Filming began July 2011, and the first episode of season 2 of Game of Thrones aired on April 1, 2012.
As with its predecessor, A Clash of Kings was positively received by critics. Dorman Shindler of The Dallas Morning News described it as "one of the best [works] in this particular subgenre", praising "the richness of this invented world and its cultures ... [that] lends Mr. Martin's novels the feeling of medieval history rather than fiction." Writing in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Jim Hopper called A Clash of Kings "High Fantasy with a vengeance" and commented: "I'll admit to staying up too late one night last week to finish off this big book, and I hope it's not too terribly long until the next one comes out." Danielle Pilon wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press that the book "shows no signs of the usual 'middle book' aimlessness". Although she found the constantly switching viewpoints "momentarily confusing", she felt that it "draws the reader deep into the labyrinthine political and military intrigues and evokes sympathy for characters on all sides of the conflict." Bradley H. Sinor of the Tulsa World praised Martin for "keep[ing] readers balanced on a sword's edge" and managing to do "three important things" with A Clash of Kings: "It grips the reader whether or not they read the earlier book, tells a satisfying story and leaves the reader wanting the next book as soon as possible." The Oregonian's Steve Perry called the book "easily as good as the first novel" and commented that the Song of Ice and Fire books were "so complex, fascinating and well-rendered that readers will almost certainly be hooked into the whole series." However, he cautioned that "if it were a movie, it would be rated "R" for sex and violence, so don't pick the book up for your 10-year-old nephew who likes Conan."Locus Award – Best Novel (Fantasy) (Won) – (1999)
Nebula Award – Best Novel (Nominated) – (1999)
Ignotus Award – Best Novel (Foreign) (Won) – (2004)