I have nothing to say about A Clash of Kings tonight – but when good old Aunt Flo visited Sansa in the chapter I was reading before I went to bed last night, I knew that at the very least I had an idea for a title.
Reading A Clash of Kings is like running in a dream. No matter how much time passes and how much energy is expended, I never seem to get anywhere. Often I stare straight through the pages without even registering that they’re there. Of course this is a factor of my own state of mind – and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been distracted. I actually do care about some of the characters, and I definitely want to know what will happen when winter (finally) comes and when various other plot threads come to their fruition – but sometimes this novel just feels like a long, straight highway of death. I’ve said this before – and sometime soon I really do want to put together a good post that supports this idea with evidence – but this series is all written in exactly the same tonal register. In other long novels (and even in many short ones), the author hits a wide variety of notes over the course of the book. Portions may be satirical, others mournful. Comedy, tragedy, history, and romance may all compete for dominance. This novel tries to incorporate all of these elements, but mostly it just plods along at the same steady pace, chewing its homogenous sentences like cud. Even the dialogue among the characters is monotonous. A few characters have voices of their own: Tyrion, Joffrey – maybe Arya, sort of, and those Dothraki women who are always saying, “It is known.” But when a nine year-old paraplegic, a reclusive mountain man who is married to nineteen of his own daughters, and an embittered claimant to the throne with a bad case of middle-child syndrome who may or may not be having sex with the priestess of what may or may not be a sex cult all speak in exactly the same voice, the narrative as a whole becomes monotonous. The alternative can be annoying as well – think Diana Gabaldon and the bonnie-wee-lassies every three sentences – but at least Gabaldon’s novels have pulse rates and vital signs.
But again, this series is not as bad as I am making it sound. I will probably take a couple of months off from George R.R. Martin after I finish this installment, but I have no doubt that I will finish the series. And I will be back soon to tell you more about the final third of this novel, in which – slowly, very slowly – things are sort of starting to happen.