Fantasy is a hard sell for me. I loved the first book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series (aka Game of Thrones for those watching the HBO series) because it was the start of an epic war story. The fantasy elements are there, but definitely secondary to the war elements of the story. The second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, picks up where the first book left off and continues with mounting intensity as several characters fight to overthrow the king and claim the throne for themselves.
It took me nearly a year to finish this book. I kept picking it up, reading couple hundred pages and then abandoning it. It took time for it to grab my interest, but once it did, I finished it in a matter of days. I was also reading it while watch season two of the series, trying to keep ahead of the episodes. I always like to read the book first. My interest level in the book was uneven. I couldn't wait to read the Daenerys, Tyrion and Sansa chapters. I trudged through the Davos, Stannis and Jon sections. It was much the same with watching the TV series. I did find that my interest in individual characters was not really with regard to the actual characters, but with the plot development of the book. I really love the character of Jon Snow, but his whole plot line in second book was painfully dull. One of the aspects of the series that I enjoy the most is the strong character development. If anything, Martin might be accused of being too verbose, but I would rather he overwrite than skimp on creating fully realized characters. I felt like reading the book filled in a lot of gaps that would have been left had I only watched the series.
The series does differ from the books and this drove me nuts. In many cases, the changes made sense. I didn't mind the characters that they added.The book is epic and changes will obviously need to be made to squeeze it into a ten episode season.
I was really irked at how they did the chapter of Daenerys and the House of the Undying Ones. In the book, it was extremely creepy and unsettling. I was looking forward to seeing how the series would interpret this particular chapter. It was so tame compared to the book! A big let down! The war sequence at the end was also really mild compared to the book. I love the series and think that they mostly do a very good job and handle the source material with care, but everything tends to be several notches gentler than the book.
Having the book and season two fresh in my mind, I am planning to start the third book and read it a timely manner. It seems like the perfect light, summer beach read to me!