I reviewed A Game of Thrones a few weeks ago and I started the second book right away. A Clash of Kings is the instant continuation of A Game of Thrones; the minute the first ends, the second starts.
Sometimes with book series (and one as long as Song of Fire and Ice, which has 5 books published and two more planned), the first one is very strong to hook readers and then the quality goes down in the middle. This is not the case with A Clash of Kings.
We see old friends again and meet new ones; there is in fact one new character introduced in the novel to replace one who gets executed in the first book. Exceptional character development continues as we get to know Tyrion and Bran especially better. I quite like Tyrion actually, a man with a good heart born in the wrong family and in the wrong body. I would have liked to see him turn against his family but no, not in this volume at least.
I was a bit disappointed by how little we got of Daenerys. She is still on her journey of self-discovery and yet I don’t think she has advanced much–just got this new prophecy to ponder over. She is probably my favourite character; with all the hardship she has endured I certainly root for her. In an ideal world she would probably marry Robb!
The writing is still good, especially in battle scenes. Martin has a knack for expressing the heat and craziness of a battle and for giving several perspectives on the same event. The narrative structure, jumping from character to character, still works well for me.
In any case, the overall plot thickens and expands and I’m really curious to keep reading. Apparently the third volume ties some of the stuff up, but we’ll see. I’ve been kind of taken by the Comte de Monté-Cristo lately, so maybe I’ll be taking a break from Song of Ice and Fire for a while.