Study Guide

A Clash of Kings Memory and the Past

By George R.R. Martin

Memory and the Past

In A Clash of Kings, the past has a powerful influence over the present. The War of the Five Kings would not have happened had Joffrey not executed Ned Stark, but the seeds of that deed were planted in events that predate the first novel, such as Robert's Rebellion and the death of Lyanna Stark.

But this relationship between the past and present is more than one of cause and effect—the past also has a cyclical relationship with the present in these novels; events in history mirror those happening in the now. For example, just like Aegon Targaryen conquered the Seven Kingdoms with three dragons, Daenerys Targaryen plans to conquer the country with her three dragons. The Others have invaded the south before for mysterious reasons and now they plan to return for equally mysterious reasons.

As such, the past is not simply a series of historical events but a part of a temporal cycle. Leading to what exactly? We can't say yet. This is only the second book in the series, after all.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why do you think the A Song of Ice and Fire series has such a detailed account of past events? Does this rich history heighten or hinder your reading experience?
  2. What event in A Game of Thrones do you think had the most impact on the events in A Clash of Kings? Why? Busting out our crystal balls, what event from A Clash of Kings do you think will have the most impact on the next volume in the series?
  3. How does the cyclical nature of the past influence characters in the present? If it doesn't, then why not? Either way, what does this tell us about society in this book?

Chew on This

Characters without strong connections to the past are also the characters without families, such as Jaqen H'ghar.

The cycle of history relates to individual characters as well as large events. For example, every person who becomes the Hand of the King either dies or has something horrible happen to them.