A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire (Book 2) Summary

George R. R. Martin

Extended Summary

A Clash of Kings is the sequel to George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novel, A Game of Thrones. The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros have been united under one ruler for centuries. However, after Robert Baratheon dies, the lords of Westeros are quick to seize power for themselves. Robert’s two brothers, Stannis and Renly, both declare themselves king. In the north, Robb Stark declares himself “king in the north.” At King’s Landing, a port city and the capitol of Westeros, the child Joffrey Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne, but how long can he and his advisors hold it?

Tyrion Lannister is the second son of one of the most powerful families in the realm. However, although he is very intelligent, Tyrion is reviled, even by his family, because he is a dwarf. Nevertheless, Tyrion has been sent to King’s Landing to control the king, to subdue Queen Cersei Lannister, and to defend the city against invasion. Tyrion takes action immediately. He begins by cowing his political rivals, especially his sister the queen. He seeks out “pyromancers” and has them increase production of “wildfire,” an extremely volatile liquid. He also sets every forge in the city to work building a chain, though he refuses to explain why. Finally, he begins sending letters seeking political alliance, offering Cersei’s daughter and son as hostages or potential matches in marriage. However, although Tyrion relishes the power he wields, he has surrounded himself with mercenaries whose loyalties can easily be bought from him. Tyrion is doing everything in his power to save the city, which is slowly beginning to starve as the war continues, but the common people blame Tyrion for their hardships.

The greatest threats to Tyrion may be his family, but the greatest threats to King’s Landing are surely Stannis and Renly Baratheon and their armies. As Robert’s oldest living brother, Stannis has the stronger claim to the Iron Throne, particularly since Joffrey is actually born of incest, but the lords of the south have rallied behind Renly, who is much more likeable than stern Stannis. Stannis, however, has a “shadowbinder” at his disposal, one that soon begins using magic to assassinate Stannis’ rivals. The first victim of her dark magic is Renly. When Renly dies, the majority of his bannermen switch allegiance to Stannis, who quickly prepares to attack King’s Landing. However, the Tyrell family remains independent, choosing not to support Stannis’ claim.

King’s Landing is not the only stronghold that faces invasion. Robb Stark, King of the North, sends Theon Greyjoy to meet with his father, Lord Balon. Their plan is that the Greyjoys will attack the Lannisters in the west. However, Lord Greyjoy instead chooses to launch raids on the north. Theon, trying to impress his father, decides to betray Robb and launches an attack on Winterfell. Though Winterfell is the seat of the Starks, Robb has left only a minor garrison behind to defend it. When Theon attacks, he is able to take over quickly. When the people of Winterfell name him “Theon Turncloack,” Theon soon finds that his victory is not as sweet as he expected.

Unfortunately, Robb is unable to return to the north as he is fighting battles against the Lannisters in the West. His primary opponent is the experienced general and talented politician Lord Tywin Lannister. To the surprise of every lord in the realm, Robb, his generals, and his direwolf Grey Wind have won every battle, but despite his victories, Robb is expected to lose the war. Robb’s army is situated near the Tully stronghold, Riverrun, and Tywin has settled in a nearby castle, Harrenhal, which many believe to be cursed. What Robb does not know is that his youngest sister, Arya Stark is also at Harrenhal. Arya has fled...

(The entire section is 1567 words.)