An In-Depth Analysis of A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

*This Post is Dark and Full of Spoilers*


Baby Bookmoon Read #4: Luke and I expecting our first baby in May 2021! I’ve decided to embark on a baby bookmoon where until our baby girl arrives I’ll be rereading my favorite books in audiobook format so she can listen along. My first two series up are Red Rising and A Song of Ice and Fire, with the plan is to yo-yo back and forth between the series. I’m excited for this literary journey!

What would you pick for your baby bookmoon reads?

Current Baby Bookmoon TBR/Read List:

  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • Golden Son by Pierce Brown
  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  • Morning Star by Pierce Brown
  • Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  • Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
  • Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown
  • Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Original Post:

I’m honestly falling even more in love with this series during my reread! I’m currently attempting to convince my husband that a reread is well worth his time.  When we first started dating I was in the middle of my make or break second year of graduate school, which lead to many, many late nights studying in the Chemistry Building. After work, Luke would bring me dinner and read A Game of Thrones series while I studied, since I wouldn’t stop talking about the books. When I finally got through the final hurdle of my second year  and life went back to normal, Luke was 3/4ths of the way through A Dance with Dragons, whereupon he promptly put down the book and I’ve seen him pick up maybe one or two others since.  We still laugh about the fact that he picked a rather difficult, and dense series to read to attempt to woo me, and didn’t even finish the series, despite being so close! At least he gets to hear about the series daily now from me! In my reread of ACoK, the personalities of the big players begin to be developed and flushed out.  We are treated to a few shocking deaths, a major battle, as well as true magic returning to the realm.  As when I reviewed The World of Ice and Fire, which  was broken up into four components, Ancient History,Seven KingdomsFree Cities, and the world beyond the Free Cities and my in-depth analysis of AGoT, I will be formatting the posts in bullets containing the topics that catch my interest during the reread. Of note, I’ve highlighted in RED several of my theories, as well as interesting insights garnered from the novel. Please let me know what you think! I’m really looking forward to hearing your theories, however you’d better be able to back them up with references to the text.

  • The prologue offers our first glimpse of Dragonstone, Stannis, and Melisandre. While these are all important characters and location, I found myself most drawn to Patchface. The jester of Dragonstone was the lone survivor of the shipwreck that claimed the lives of Robert, Stannis, and Renly’s parents on their return from the Free Cities where they were looking for a bride for Rhaegar. He washed ashore on the third day, coughed up water as he was being dragged away as a corpse, with the knight that had picked up him swearing that the boy was clammy dead. His wits and memory were wiped clean and is now a prized companion of Stannis’s daughter. I couldn’t help drawing a connection to the Drowned God, with respect to Patchface’s rebirth by water. Many of his comments that we are privy to are connected to the water, e.g., ‘here we eat fish, under the sea, the fish eat us.’ Everyone seems to discredit his ramblings, but perhaps he has been given the gift of foresight by the Drowned God, especially when he won’t stop singing about the shadows, e.g., “The shadows came to dance, my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord,” he sang, hopping from one foot to the other and back again. “The shadows came to stay, my lord, stay my lord, stay my lord” he jerked his head with each word, the bells in his antlers ringing up a clangor.” Could these shadows be referring to Melesandre’s murderous shadows that will soon make an appearance in Clash of Kings?
  • The other comment that stood out to me was Shireen’s complaint regarding her bad dreams about the dragons coming to eat her. With Martin, I never discredit bad dreams. Does this refer to Daenerys coming to Westeros, or perhaps an allusion to the rumored stone dragons on Dragonstone coming to life? Or if the show is to be believed, are the dragons eating her referring to the flames that she might be sacrificed to for the sake of Stannis’ war?
  • The second section has us returning back to Arya who is on the road with Yoren. We don’t realize it yet but one of the three men in the cage will significantly change Arya’s path through these books. I can’t help to question, how did a Jaquen H’ghar, a member of the Faceless Men become captured and placed in the King’s Landing dungeons if it was not of his own volition? Why did he not escape? It all had to be a plan of some bigger purpose. What was that plan? Recruiting Arya?
  • In Sansa’s first chapter Joffery’s name day is being celebrated with a tournament, in which Ser Dontos Hollard makes a fool of himself, leading to Joffery sentencing him to death. Sansa jumps to his rescue, leading to an interesting connection in the future. Most importantly we glimpse Ser Arys Oakheart, who we learn is kind (compared with the other Kingsguard), loves to gossip, and good looking. By the time he has his untimely end in Dorne, I felt as though I had lost my grasp on any impact he previously held in the story.
  • Bran made another comment regarding the Starks having ‘wolf blood.’ The comment made reference to some Starks having more than others, which lies surprisingly close to what Ned told Arya. However, perhaps Ned also heard this tale from Nan.
  • A major theme in every section is the comet that graces the skies of Westeros and Essos, with each person believes the comet is an omen for their own devices. Stannis believes it is a sign of the R’hllor, Daenerys sees a sign of her coming, and others see the red of the Lannisters. I personally believe if it does have a sign associated with its appearance it indicates that magic is returning to the world. The comet showed up the day after the dragons hatched, our first true evidence of magic in this realm other than Melisandre’s escape from poison.
  • In a Tyrion chapter, Varys alludes to him being capable of casting a very large shadow for such a short man. I know this might be a stretch but I can’t help but draw comparisons to the several other times that Tyrion has been called a giant. Perhaps a foreshadowing of the major player that Tyrion will become as the series progresses.
  • In one of the first Davos chapters we witness the burning of the ancient statues of The Seven in Dragonstone, by Melisandre in honor of her God of Light. The fact these statues date back to the Aegon the Conqueror should not be overlooked. During this scene, I couldn’t help reflect upon The Seven, and please keep in mind I have the power of foresight in my favor. We have seen the evidence of the power of the Gods of Old, Faceless God, Dorthraki God, God of Light, among rumors of others stirring, however, where is the power of The Seven? We see the rise in power of the Sparrows, and the High Sparrow specifically, but I cannot recall any true show of magical, mystical occurrence in this sect. In this scene we see Stannis pull Lightbringer from the heart of the Mother and thereby be crowned Azor Ahai reborn. However, in the process Stannis partially catches on fire and the sword is a ruined, burned, warped mess. In a following scene we get the horrible, historical tale of the forging of Lightbringer by Salladhor Saan, which includes the ultimate sacrifice of what he holds most dear, his wife in order to complete the legendary sword. Stannis performed no such sacrifice, and the sword he pulled forth was a ruin. Between Stannis burning, the ruined sword and a lack of sacrifice in this supposedly significant scene, practically yells that he is not the promised warrior. Other SoIaF text foretells that the coming again of the ancient hero will be of Targaryan decent. Personally, I feel as though the hero will either be Jon or Daenerys, with some wavering on the part of the latter due to some reference of the reference being in that of a man. Salladhor Saan had a most foreboding reference to Lightbringer and the subsequent man to wield the legendary weapon, “Too much light hurts the eyes and fire burns.”
  • We are first introduced to Theon’s chapters on his journey back to the Iron Islands for the first time in 10 years. Prior to landing we glimpse his expectations for his reception at home, his arrogant demeanor, and his forgotten love for the sea. In a most foreshadowing moment, Theon almost absentmindedly reflects that he should remember to never venture far from the sea again. It is his home and he had forgotten how at ease it puts him. Yet he will eventually push toward Winterfell, thereby abandoning the sea for a second time with most dire results for our cocky, dislikable youth.
  • What is the abandoned city that Daenerys seeks refuge in and why/how long has it been abandoned? Or for that matter, what is the history of the city her blood riders found with the jewels?
  • What Hand of the King built the tunnel to the brothel that Tyrion used? Also in this chapter Varys makes reference to ‘birds in the chimney,’ in context a string of ways that he might have found out about Jamie and Cersie. He has talked about his birds before in context to spying. What if he actually told Tyrion, without Tyrion realizing, the truth about how he finds out his gossip? There are many people that believe that Varys’ birds are actually children. Oh Varys, when will we know more of your secrets and perhaps get a chapter from your own perspective?
  • Throughout this book Littlefinger remains a mystery, however the reader starts to glimpse through the veil and have been given subtle clues regarding his history and intrigues. We hear from Catelyn Stark about his unreciprocated love for her when they were young and his failed challenge toward her betrothed, Brandon Stark for a duel. However, later on we hear from Littlefinger that he had taken both Tully girls’ maidenheads. Who to believe? Then we hear from Catelyn’s father, Hoster Tully, on his deathbed, apologizing to whom he believes is Lysa for making her wed Jon Arryn, thereby separating her from her ‘stripling…wretched boy.’ We can safely assume, with hindsight as our friend, that he is referencing Littlefinger, especially once we learn more about his and Lysa’s relationship in later books.
  • Tyrion toying with the small council was entertaining from the readers’ viewpoint, especially as we learned more about these key characters. The scene where Shagga shaves Pycelle was most satisfying, especially as we learn more about about the Maester’s role in past events, such as the sacking of King’s Landing.
  • While on the road with Yoren, Arya is warned not to go into the woods because there are wolves about. Predictably, she disobeys and finds herself surrounded by wolves, but much to her surprise they soon back away and leave her. This can only be a result of Nymeria’s influence, who was must rule the packs in this area. Arya had previously heard rumors of a massive pack of dogs and wolves, lead by a massive beast, which fits Nymeria’s description. Still we wait, with baited breath for that reunion.
  • When Catelyn is sent by Rob to treat with Renly, we are given our first glimpse of Sam’s father, Randle Tarley. He tellingly accuses Rob of being weak for staying at Riverrun, followed by a quick quip from Catelyn. While we hear tell of him a few other odd times, the next significant impact is his lack of support for Stannis after Renly’s death. He and the Highgarden are two houses that hold off support for their slain King’s brother.
  • I remember being shocked when watching the show to find Renly and Loras in bed together, but upon rereading the book their relationship was plain as day. I can’t believe I didn’t see it from the beginning. Stannis even hints to Renly’s leanings when Catelyn brings them together to potentially talk peace. I enjoyed Renly’s character very much and would have loved to see what he might have brought to the story, had Melisandre and Stannis not dealt him a deathblow. His death left the characters in the book reeling, much as it did the reader. Of note, it was mentioned in the books that his body went missing. Might he make an emergence, much as Beric Dondarrion and Lady Stoneheart? I’m skeptical but it was a strange detail to add into the storyline. Renly and Courtney’s deaths were both at the hands of Melisandre with sorcery at the heart of the acts, as Ser Davos witnessed firsthand. I found the exchange between Davos and Melisandre fascinating during their row into Storm’s End. Melisandre quickly rebuffs Davos when he mentioned being in the hands of the Dark God, along with a discussion whether men can be both good and evil men. Another interesting tidbit we learn is that Renly was killed by Melisandre because he was ‘unprotected,’ however, Davos had to row her into Storm’s End due to the old spells woven into the bricks of the ancient hold, which bar her shadows from entering. The old spells lend credence to the story of how the old castle was built, perhaps even by the child who would grow up to be Bran the Builder.
  • Thanks to Jojen, Bran has finally realized his wolf dreams are directly linked to Summer! I still think he will, at some point, command a dragon. As previously discussed in my ASoIaF blogs, I will rarely discount a dream detailed in text. Especially the green dreams! Jojen demonstrated the power of these dreams when he predicted the sea coming to Winterfell.
  • Ser Alister Thorne was just as painful at court, as he was up at the wall. If only Mormont had sent someone more amenable, perhaps Tyrion would have paid his story more heed. I’m not sure what Tyrion could have done to convince the realm of a greater threat on the horizon, but he is clever enough to have perhaps set the wheels in motion of a bigger scheme.
  • Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey makes quite the entrance by kidnapping and ultimately forcing Lady Hornwood to marry him, thereby stealing her castle and lands. His sadistic side emerged as he then proceeded to starve her post wedding. Roose Bolton’s cold and unfeeling letter that I didn’t quite understand dirung my first read through, upon learning of Ramsey’s death is quite telling of their dynamic. But alas, we know Ramsey is still alive and thriving, much to Theon’s eventual horror.
  • Jaqen H’ghar is such a fascinating character! In their first encounter after Arya saves him, I was shocked to hear him reference the ‘Red God.’ I’d always associated him with the Many Faced God, which got me thinking of Catelyn reminiscing about her Septa growing up who had told her the Seven were just different facets of one God. Perhaps all of these Gods are different facets of the same God, e.g., the Red God is just one part of the Many Face God. After more thought, Jaqen would have been burned to death if not for Arya, therefore he would have been given to the Lord of Light, as such, the LoL was then robbed of three deaths. As Jaqen leaves Arya and gives her the coin, he rebuffs her requests to stay with her and take her to Winterfell by saying he has promises to keep. What are these promises? Where is he going and what is his mission? Again, how did he land in the dungeons? How did he know who Arya was? Perhaps he was at one time also posing as Syrio? Far fetched, but worth pondering for a moment or two.
  • A reoccurring theme throughout this book is that magic is growing stronger in the realm (See back to my comet theory). We see it in the firemage in Qarth who builds a ladder of fire, who according to Quaithe, could hardly wield fire previously. The alchemists in King’s Landing are finding their spells to be more effective to make wildfire. The head alchemist asks Tyrion if dragons have been heard of because his elder once told him the magic started leaving the realm with the death of the last dragon. He speaks the truth more then he can even fathom. Other examples of magic about are the role of the Red Priests, Thoros of Myr and Melisandre.
  • During Dany’s conversation with Quaithe, the shadowbinder tells her to go to Asshai to get the truth. Please, please, please George, can we go see this mysterious city? Also what is the story about Quaithe? Whose side is she on?
  • A key event, that proved more impactful than I originally gave it credit for was Daenerys trip to the House of the Undying, in which the warlocks reside. It was during this encounter that I first solidified who I’d guessed were Jon Snow’s parents, ‘blue flower grew from a chink in the wall of ice.’ Referencing the blue rose that Lyanna was given by Rhaegar, but there is so much more to this scene. I will try to go through the visions in an orderly fashion.
  1. The first door Dany sees open is one of a beautiful woman being ravaged by four dwarfs. I will admit to being baffled by this vision so upon reading many wonderful, and thoughtful blogs and their ideas, I have to admit I like the concept of the woman being Westeros and the dwarfs being the remaining kings fighting over her.
  2. The second open door contained a king with the head of a wolf surrounded by corpses apparently killed during a feast. This was such an accurate vision of the terrible Red Wedding!
  3. The third vision was the house with the red door that Dany longs for.
  4. The fourth one depicted her father ordering his pyromancer to burn King’s Landing with wildfire, leaving Robert to be the King of Ashes.
  5. The following scene is of Rhaegar and Elia with their newborn son Aegon. Rhaegar references a promised prince, who’s ‘the song of ice and fire,’ He also said ‘There must be one more. The dragon has three heads.’ Who are the other two heads. We know now that an Aegon appears in future books, however it is of some suspect if he is the true Aegon. Also, perhaps this ‘promised prince’ ties into the tale Ser Barristan Selmy weaves to Dany in A Storm of Swords about Rhaegar reading books until he came across something in his scrolls, which required him to become a warrior.
  6. After this episode, the visions and statements come forth fast and furious in sets of three. The first set are her titles, mother of dragon, child of three, child of storm, which are all fairly straight forward. These are followed by a discussion of the fires she must light, one of love, death, and life. Drogo’s funeral pyre was one, perhaps when she sets fire to the Masters to get her army is another? What is the third? If the show can be believed, it is when she unites the Dothraki. Another statement was regarding the three mounts she must ride, ‘one to bed, and one to dread, and one to love.’ Obviously one must be Drogo, but the other players are still a mystery. Lastly, three treasons are named, ‘once for blood and once for gold and once for love.’ It is widely believed the blood treason refers to Mirri Maz Duur, and I tend to think the gold refers to her maid betraying her dragons for gold, in future books but I feel as though it might be a bit weak. Who will betray her for love? I always add Jorah into this set but I’m not sure where to put him in the context of the three treasons.
  7. ‘Daughter of Death’ is used to describe Dany, preceded by images of Viserys, Rhaego, and Rhaegar. ‘Slayer of lies’ is another description followed by interesting images of a blue-eyed king with no shadow and a red, glowing sword, a cloth dragon, and a stone tower in which a dragon took flight. So she will prove all of these false? There goes my theory that Dragonstone will produce a dragon! The last description was ‘Bride of Death,’ followed by a scene referencing where she married Drogo that merged into a corpse on a ship (perhaps a Greyjoy?), and the third was the mention of the blue rose on the wall. Does this mean Dany will marry Jon Snow? The following montage of scene were all fairly obvious so I’m not going to elaborate. This exchange was fascinating, to say the least.
  • When the Night’s Watch makes camp at the Fist of the First Men, Ghost leads Jon to a bunch of dragon glass and an old horn wrapped in a black cloak of the Night’s Watch, buried in the side of the encampment. The dragon glass we find out will kill the Others, however what is the use of this horn that appears broken? Jon gives the horn to Sam, but I can’t help thinking that this horn might have another purpose. Why else would it be hidden with the dragon glass? Perhaps it is the legendary horn that we learn about in future books that the Wildlings are looking for? Who buried these curious items?
  • One of my favorite characters has finally made her appearance! Of this initial interaction, I found the tale told by Ygritte after she yields to Jon fascinating for several reasons. The tale is one regarding the Starks that Jon has never heard, which has the legendary Wildling, Bael the Bard stealing into Winterfell under the guise of a singer after hearing of an insult issued by the residing Lord, Brandon Stark. After dually impressing the Lord of Winterfell, Bael is offered a boon of his choosing, which he demands the most beautiful flower in Winterfell’s gardens, the blue winter rose. Of course, Bael is really talking about Brandon’s Daughter, the last of the Stark line and promptly steals her away. To Brandon’s horror, his daughter and Bael could not be found, until she miraculously shows up months later with a babe in arm. She and Bael had been hiding in the crypts. This bastard son, who is the heir to Winterfell, eventually kills his father who has become King Beyond the Wall, ultimately causing his mother to commit suicide. This Lord of Winterfell is later flayed by the Boltons. The reasons I find this story interesting is that we learned from a different character how one of the former Lords of Winterfell was flayed by the Boltons, perhaps lending credence to this tale that Jon so easily dismisses. Second, if this story holds true, the Starks actually have Wildling blood in them. Third, the mention of the blue rose again! Perhaps Daneryes visions of a blue rose in the Wall actually have something to do with this tale and not Lyanna? Fourth, they hid in the crypts! It seems like too much of a coincidence that Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha, Jojen, and Meera hide in the crypts too. Perhaps Osha knew the tale as well. Also, this is yet another tale where a kinslayer is cursed and doomed to a terrible ending.
  • We find out that Jon is a Warg! This is the third Stark now that we know has a special connection, through dreams, with their wolves. Bran seems most naturally gifted, having truly opened his third eye while hiding in the crypts. He even mentions visiting Ghost and Jon. What was significant about Jon’s scene was Qhorin Halfhand’s reactions, as he didn’t dismiss Jon’s strange dreams or ostracize him once he realized he was a Warg. Jon’s time with the Wildlings is one of my favorite parts of the series!
  • When Roose Bolton takes over Harrenhal, Arya unknowingly meets her betrothed, Elmar Frey. He keeps telling her about how he is going to marry a Princess, which must be her since they were of similar age. However, the night Arya is escaping she comes across the Frey crying saying that his father just wrote to tell him he would no longer be marrying a Princess. Initially, I was confused by this exchange thinking that the Red Wedding was in the works already, but after starting the following book in the series, I realize Rob must have just married Jeyne, leading to the fury of the Freys.
  • Poor Theon. Poor, Poor Theon. How far our arrogant Prince has fallen. Maester Luwin was so close to convincing him to take the black and join the Night’s Watch. But alas, we are introduced instead to the cunning of Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsey. Ramsey survived his initial supposed death by convincing his servant, Reek to switch places with him, therefore the person we had thought was Reek, was in fact this high born bastard. Reek, i.e., Ramsey ends up tricking and ultimately defeating the Northern host outside of Winterfell and eventually sacking the castle. We still do not know the fate of Theon. When Bran and his group emerge from the crypts they only find Ludwin in the Godswood. The book has several telling quotes that stood out to me during this sequence. When the door to the crypts is blocked, Bran says that Hodor can move anything. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing to his namesake as given away by the show? Also, when entering the Godswood Jojen says, “There is a power in living wood, a power strong as fire.” A very interesting quote if you think about the Old Gods representing the Godswood and Fire representing R’hallor. Are the Old Gods ‘Ice’ because R’hallor is obviously ‘Fire.’ Does that mean the Others are aligned with the Old Gods? I’ve struggled with these questions from the beginning, however I rather like the show’s spoiler on this subject. I’m curious to see if George is going to follow the same route.


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