For the next bonus book, I read A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin.
Um, more awesomeness. This wasn’t quite as full of sheer awesomeness as the first one, mainly because everything pretty much falls apart in Westeros and a lot of people get screwed over by the other jackholes running around, not just the Lannisters. As much as I rooted for the Starks, I can’t help but think how many “smallfolk” (peasants) are caught in the middle of all this and done absolutely no favors by anybody. There isn’t a clearly-defined good set of people or bad set (with a few exceptions squarely in the This Person REALLY Sucks And I Hope They Die Soon category), which can be hard to grasp sometimes. We are so conditioned to have our fantasy (or really, most any genre, but fantasy especially) in a classic, clichéd Good v. Evil battle that we easily gloss over the fact that sometimes the good guys do pretty horrific things in order to defeat the bad guys. In Clash of Kings (and the others as well), we have people. People being greedy, people trying to survive, people trying to make everyone else do what’s right, people trusting their leaders to be right or honorable or to at least have the realm’s best interest at heart, and it gets complicated. Bob* wants to keep his family and lands safe, Carl wants more land so he can support his holdings better, Sal and Benny think both Bob and Carl are traitors because they didn’t make the 3-month journey to declare fealty to the new king, and boy, are they going to make them cry uncle.
Of course, we also have George, who’s stuck in the middle of something that really doesn’t concern him, and meanwhile Jen is miserable in her current position and would like nothing better than to bump off about six hundred dudes because she’s kind of cracked, and speaking of cracked, Andre the psychopath is given sanction by the king’s advisers to roam the land to develop his bloodthirsty psychopath ways because reasons.
SO. Complicated. But interesting. Heart-wrenching in parts, which is just kind of how this series goes. It makes you care and then it SMACKS YOU IN THE FACE. I have sworn aloud so many times reading these books. It’s a good thing they’re on my Nook, or I’d have thrown something as well at least once.
Tyrion continues to be the best character ever, despite all the crap he has to endure.
*None of these names or people are supposed to be actual characters, exactly, so don’t get excited about spoilers.