I think the second book in a trilogy or longer series always has a difficult time to sustain the impact of the first. Its main function is to progress the story line. That this one does for all the main characters. Westeros is now at war , the clash of kings of the title is heard everywhere, nothing and no one escapes. I thought the battle scenes were well written, very visual. Martin likes his blood and guts, rape and pillage, tales of loyalty and deception. He excelled in his description of the sea battle scenes at Kings Landing . His descriptions of wildfire reminded me of those of Dark Fire to be found in CJ Sansom’s book of the same name. In Book 2 Martin sends the reader up a false trail and has laid the ground work for continuing the tale in what was originally going to be a trilogy but which now runs to 5 books, with 2 further ones in the pipeline. My thirst for this story continues unabated.
ashramblings verdict : onward! 3*