A Clash of Kings
“The shadows come to dance my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord. The shadows come to stay my lord, stay my lord, stay my lord” (Patches, 6).
Judging from the first book, A Game of Thrones, I thought this book would open with Theon. I was not expecting a prologue at all. I didn’t read that extra chapter in the back of the first book. I had other books I wanted to read and this series has so many pages, I just couldn’t bring my self to take on another long read. So as not to be tempted, I decided not to give in to the teaser. Plus, I wanted to take my time reading the books. I usually read the book(s) of a movie or show before watching, but I got into this series before I found out about the books and then when I read the first book, I used it as a companion to the show. I would read a few chapters then re-watch an episode. I found that I enjoyed that better. I also didn’t have that anger at the changes between the two mediums like I usually do. So I intend to keep that up and not read ahead of the show. I like my ignorance so please don’t spoil me if you have read all the books?
“In the end words are just wind” (Davos, 11).
The prologue was longer than a majority of the chapters. Being 29 pages makes it a monster in its own right. I have to admit I enjoyed it anyway. It is from Maester Cressen’s point of view and he provides back story of the Baratheons that we didn’t get in the first book, as well as introduces us to the God of Light religion, Stannis, Ser Davos, and other occupants of Dragonstone. We get to meet Selyse and Shireen who are not introduced in the show until season 3. So, “yay!” for meeting them early.
What I found interesting is that Maester Cressen speaks of Robert, Stannis and Renly’s father, Lord Steffon Baratheon, who died on his way back from Volantis along with his wife. Robert and Stannis watched as the ship broke within sight of the castle. That’s a harsh way to lose your parents. To watch them die and not be able to help them. But that would explain away why Robert was so boisterous. He seemed to really enjoy life when he was younger. Stannis is the opposite of Robert. He is a stickler for the rules. He whines throughout this prologue about being passed over and voices his displeasure with Renly for basically trying to repeat history.
When Stannis took Dragonstone for Robert during the war he was not expecting to keep it, or at least have that be the only territory under his control. He expected to have his home of Storm’s End because he is older than Renly. Instead, Robert gave Stannis the poorer and grimmer island of Dragonstone. Robert made sure Stannis would have a low income and gave the youngest brother a land with plenty of income and men who could one day form a decent army. That’s like having your older brother become the owner of a chain of restaurants and he gives your younger brother the bustling Las Angeles location while you get to manage the restaurant out in Cleveland while he sits fat and happy in the New York headquarters. It just doesn’t seem fair.
“Grim places needed lightening, not solemnity, and Dragonstone was grim beyond a doubt, a lonely citadel in the wet waste surrendered by storm and salt, with the smoking shadow of the mountain at its back” (4).
I did notice that Melisandre is closer to Lady Selyse than Stannis. In the show we see her with Stannis and she counsels him to have faith in the Lord of Light. Here, it is Selyse who sways Stannis to take the red woman as his counsel and you see a change in him even though this is the first encounter we have with him. I must say I do not like Stannis any better in the book than I do the TV version. I like him less. The cruelty he shows to Maester Cressen is left out of the show, but it reveals how much Stannis has been changed by his poor circumstances and poor counsel. He is ignoring the people who make sense and, instead, has begun listening to the twisted tongue of Melisandre in the form of his wife’s whisperings. Why doesn’t Stannis listen to reasonable advice? If he did then this story would have worked out differently. Instead, he wants to kill Renly who, according to Maester Cressen, is just playing the same games he did as a boy. Seeking attention, but not realizing the amount of responsibility that comes along with it.
In an attempt to save Stannis from making a horrible mistake, Cressen tries to kill Melisandre and fails. I was wondering if this attempt influences Davos later on or if the scene I’m thinking of even happens in the books. Don’t tell me either way. I want to read it on my own.
After reading, I was left with a few questions:
What’s up with Patchface? Was he affected by lack of oxygen while under the water for 3 days? Does his ramblings actually have a meaning?
Do you think this alliance with the red woman will work out in favor of Stannis?
Leave your comments below, and please, no spoilers.