Like many people, I became addicted to HBO's television series Game of Thrones, named after the first book of George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. After I finished the first season I started reading the books. Normally, I advocate reading the book before watching its film adaptation; however, I found that having seen the TV show was extremely helpful in allowing me to keep track of who was who throughout the 700 or so pages of plotting, political intrigue and outright murder that make up the first book.
A Clash of Kings is even more brutal and bleak than its predecessor. George R. R. Martin does not shy away from the ugliness of war, and he isn't afraid to kill off main characters or innocent bystanders. His characters also grow and develop throughout the course of the book. Old friends become enemies, while a former enemy proves to be an unlikely champion and savior to a girl in need. Dragons have returned to the world, and magic along with them. In the Seven Kingdoms, five different men declare themselves to be kings and begin to fight against one another on several different fronts. Meanwhile, Mance Rayder (the King Beyond the Wall) is gathering the Free Folk (more commonly known as the Wildlings), and preparing an attack on the Night's Watchmen, who are sworn to protect Westeros from the dangers lurking in the far north.
The standout character in both the novel and the TV show is Tyrion Lanister. Peter Dinklage won an Emmy for his work in that role, and watching him it is easy to see why. Even though Tyrion is a member of one of the most powerful families in the Seven Kingdoms, he is scorned and mistrusted because he is a dwarf. He compensates for his lack of height by fine-tuning his wits, which he needs when he is (temporarily) named to the role of Hand of the King, the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms aside from his nephew, King Joffrey. Tyrion must work to protect the capitol, while fighting to control Joffrey's violent outbursts and the machinations of Queen Cersei (who is Joffrey's mother and Tyrion's older sister).
Jen @ Washington Park