Through Book 2, we see plenty of personal growth for Daenyres, Jon Snow, Sansa, and Arya. Each of them has their own internal fight going on, based largely on inherited expectations, but then each has their own unique external struggle. We learn more of the Wildlings and the Grey Men. Theon Greyjoy shows his true colors, and they were not what I was expecting. While Rob Stark takes more of a back seat in this installment, his mother Catelyn plays a bigger role as the various kings vie for superiority.
By far, my favorite character is Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf and Uncle to the kingling Joffrey Baratheon. Tyrion often had the best lines and there are so many instances in this tale where he did the right thing – partially because he was in a position to do so – but also because it was something his moral code required him to act on. This is the book where Tyrion won my heart.
There’s battles and betrayal. Intrigue spills from every darkened corner. Dark magic is employed in nefarious deeds. Everyone has secrets, and not all those secrets will stay hidden. Those that appear creepy, are not always evil; and those that appear pristine are not always good. Poor Arya learned this all in one fell swoop.
I know some folks have shied from these books because of the length. I know some feel that the HBO series is adequate. I say that these books are eminently worthy of your time. The level of detail adds to the richness of the setting and the motivations of the characters. If any of you have been waffling about whether or not to make room for these books, then I strongly encourage you to treat yourself to some of the best epic fiction out there.
Once again the narrator Roy Dotrice shows his abilities in providing individual voices for the wide breadth of characters involved in this series. I like how he gives all the Lannister men a familial similarity and yet can keep each distinct. His voice for Jaquen H’ghar was eerie, chilling, and perfect for the character.