Posted by : Wendy B Monday, 31 October 2011

I've been hesitant to start A Clash of Kings after finishing A Game of Thrones some time ago, despite loving both that book and its TV series, but with many friends picking it up and the second season pending, I've had sufficient motivation to do so, despite my dread of the brain power and time investment required.

Now that I've started it, I've realize that, despite the grandiose scale of the entire series, these are surprisingly easy reads. I assume that, having watched the series, it makes it much easier for me to keep track of the characters, but even then, there is still the immense history and the political intrigues to deal with - and really, there are A LOT of characters. Yet, I know them all. No Wiki or legend necessary. I've read, or tried to read other epic fantasies like the Shannara or Wheel of Time series, where the pacing is ridiculously ponderous, or the characters and events are so many and so confusing that I need to keep notes. Not so with this series.

I believe a key to this is George R.R. Martin's style choice to have each chapter told from the point of view of any one of many characters. Not every character earns POV status, but those that do easily cover those that do not. Martin also does not waste time with preamble. Descriptions are pithy and never out of place. He even provides histories to certain characters or events, yet does not take up a lot of space doing so.

I found myself exhausted after reading Game of Thrones and took a break before starting the series again, but I realize now that my mental weariness was not due to the writing itself, but the ideas the book inspired and how much time I spent yelling at Ned and Catelyn Stark.

So now that I'm on A Clash of Kings, I am going to unleash my thoughts as I go along. Considering I've barely made it one hundred pages in and have managed this much already.....

Jon Snow
It is my suspicion that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark's son, but instead, the son of Ned's sister Lyanna by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.

The exact nature of her relationship with Rhaegar is not presently clear, but shortly thereafter Rhaegar apparently abducted her. Robert and Brandon Stark believed that Lyanna had been taken against her will. Their anger over the event triggered Robert's Rebellion. After the sack of King's Landing, Eddard and six companions went to retrieve Lyanna at the building Rhaegar had named the Tower of Joy. They fought three Kingsguard knights stationed there, who killed all but Eddard and Howland Reed. Eddard found Lyanna dying in a "bed of blood" and clutching a withered wreath of blue roses. She forced him to make a promise to her, the contents of which are unknown, but which haunted Eddard for the rest of his life. She was sixteen years old at the time of her death. ~ A Wiki of Ice and Fire

I believe that part of the promise Ned made to his sister on her death bed (which, I suspect occurred because of child birth), was not to tell anyone of Jon's true heritage and to keep him from becoming a part of the game of thrones. Ned's honour to maintain his sister's promise trumped his honour to his wife, causing him never to tell even her the truth, even if it meant that Jon would grow up, not only mocked for the belief that he was Ned's bastard, but absolutely loathed by Catelyn.

I came to this conclusion during A Game of Thrones, and, reading Mormont confirming and expanding on Maester Aemon's story enhanced my suspicions. Aemon was a potential king whose vows prevented him from becoming so. Jon, too, could have claim to the throne as a member of House Targaryen, albeit a bastard member, but, now that he has taken the Black, as was Ned's plans, it cannot come to pass.

ETA: Blue roses! Blue roses! On an ice wall!!

The Three Mothers
Cersei Lannister by Pojypojy
The HBO series gave Cersei Lannister a few extra scenes to help soften her character and make us more sympathetic to her, but I don't believe they were necessary. I do not condone her actions, but I do believe she, like Catelyn Stark and Lisa Arryn, loves her children dearly and does what she feels she has to to protect them. She is also an ambitious woman, but, being a woman, there is only so far she can go with her ambition. And of course, there is her love for Jaime, her twin brother.

Lysa Arryn is most certainly crazy, but her greatest concern is her son, whom she too loves dearly and would protect with her life, if needed and, rather than outright accuse anyone of murdering her husband, she takes him to the safety of her own lands.
No Mother of the Year Awards for either of you.
Catelyn Stark? I believe she loves her children, but compared to the other two mothers, her decisions are not the wise or even blind love conditions of a woman trying to protect her children. Her decisions are just foolish and even tainted by vengeance, spite and stubborness. The result? An entire war caused by her and her alone, though she has yet to realize this (she's currently blaming herself for Ned, at least, but she hasn't gotten to the rest of the war). Certainly Cersei's scheming to kill off Robert and put that horrid Joffrey on the Irone Throne did not help, but without Catelyn's capturing of Tyrion Lannister based on highly circumstantial evidence, nothing would have escalated to the heights that they have and Ned might still be taller. Now she's busy trying to boss around her son, the freshly crowned King of the North, and ignoring his subtle commands to get lost. He did what she told him to: lead the northmen, but now that he has earned his crown, she's not liking the idea of him making all the decisions. Well, mom, the decisions you've made have started the war that your son has to deal with. You need to be steppin' to let him do his thang (and by "thang," I mean clean up the huge war his mom started.) But, since you won't leave and you tend to make lots of poor decisions with the misguided belief that they are for your childrens' well being, I'm guessing you're about to make things worse for poor Robb, aren't you.

WHAT IS THIS?

This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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