A Clash of Kings and picks up where the first book A Game of Thrones left off. The land of Westeros is in chaos as four different kings have crowned themselves in the wake of the untimely death of Robert Baratheon. Robb Stark in the north, Stannis Baratheon in the East, Renly Baratheon in South, and Joffrey Baratheon who has claimed his father's throne. The land is filled with murder, battles, rape, and pillaging, and is steeped in scenes of death and privation.
Lord Eddard Stark has been killed as a traitor to the crown after he uncovers the secret that Joffrey is not the king's true son, but the bastard offspring of the queen and her brother, the powerful knight Jaime Lannister. The king's brothers Stannis and Renly are not only marching on the royal palace but have set each other in their crosshairs. This story is laced with intringue and scheming as the royals try to gain the upper hand on their rivals. All who are seeking the crown have no interest in ruling and governing their people. It is about power, glory, and gold. It is about the thrill of victory in battle. It is about defeating those who would stand in your path.
Two other story arcs are taking on a more central aspect of the plot. One centers on the exiled heir to the throne from House Targaryen, which was overthrown by Robert Baratheon. Daenerys Targaryen, who through magic and her natural dragon blood, has brought to life the last three dragons in the world. It was through the power of the dragons that House Targaryen had kept their tight grip on power. Daenerys is plotting how to take back the crown that she believes is hers. Also, the men of the Night's Watch that guard the northern boundary of the kingdom are facing an incredible force of wildlings that have amassed and are marching to Westeros. Their armies are being pursued by the much more powerful forces of dark magic of the undead. Great story telling that I have absolutely loved. Now, onto the third part of the story in A Storm of Swords.