As with its predecessor, A Clash of Kings was positively received by critics. Dorman Shindler of The Dallas Morning News described it as "one of the best [works] in this particular subgenre", praising "the richness of this invented world and its cultures ... [that] lends Mr. Martin's novels the feeling of medieval history rather than fiction." Writing in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Jim Hopper called A Clash of Kings "High Fantasy with a vengeance" and commented: "I'll admit to staying up too late one night last week to finish off this big book, and I hope it's not too terribly long until the next one comes out." Danielle Pilon wrote in the Winnipeg Free Press that the book "shows no signs of the usual 'middle book' aimlessness". Although she found the constantly switching viewpoints "momentarily confusing", she felt that it "draws the reader deep into the labyrinthine political and military intrigues and evokes sympathy for characters on all sides of the conflict." Bradley H. Sinor of the Tulsa World praised Martin for "keep[ing] readers balanced on a sword's edge" and managing to do "three important things" with A Clash of Kings: "It grips the reader whether or not they read the earlier book, tells a satisfying story and leaves the reader wanting the next book as soon as possible." The Oregonian's Steve Perry called the book "easily as good as the first novel" and commented that the Song of Ice and Fire books were "so complex, fascinating and well-rendered that readers will almost certainly be hooked into the whole series." However, he cautioned that "if it were a movie, it would be rated "R" for sex and violence, so don't pick the book up for your 10-year-old nephew who likes Conan."
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