About the Book

Book Protagonist: Jon Snow, Arya, Daenerys, Bran
Publication Date: 1998
Genre: Fantasy


A Clash of Kings

By George R. R. Martin

In ‘A Clash of Kings,’ George R. R. Martin uses quotes to propagate his ideologies on war and the grey nature of humanity’s existence. He describes aspects of life by making his characters live through events that force them to make decisions on instinct.

From Arya to Tyrion, the primary characters in ‘A Clash of Kings’ use quotes to explain their views on pain, suffering, love, hate, loyalty, and war. With each quote, one can peer into the psychology of each character and the creator who made them.

A Clash of Kings Quotes


An ugly little girl and a sad fool, and a maester makes three… now there is a tale to make men weep.

When Robert Baratheon dies, Ned sends a letter to Stannis saying he is the next king. Stannis begins to gather his troops at Dragonstone. The maester of Dragonstone and a long-time adviser of Stannis, maester Cressen, realizes that the war may not go in Stannis’s favor. He makes this quote express how he feels useless as he watches Shireen, Stannis’s daughter, play with her friend, a fool.


Oh, Renly, Renly, dear sweet child, do you know what you are doing? And would you care if you did?

As an old maester, Cressen was a father figure to Stannis and his brothers. The maester watched the Baratheon boys grow to become the different men they were. In this quote, Cressen reminisces about the times when Renly would dress like a king. As he remembers, he gets sad because the two grown brothers were battling for the title of the king, and Cressen knew that there were no losers in the game of thrones, only dead men. 


I must have all my strength come dark. My hands must not shake, nor my courage flag. It is a dreadful thing I do, yet it must be done. If there are gods, surely, they will forgive me.

When Cressen realized that Stannis was under the spell of Melisandre, he tried to warn him, but his warnings got shunned. In one last attempt to save the man he loved as his son, he decides to poison Melisandre. When a banquet gets thrown, Cressen desperately poisons his cup to die with Melisandre for the good of Stannis. However, he meets his end, but the red priestess lives, a sad fate for a man who tried to save the man he loved as his child.

Courage and folly are cousins, or so I’ve heard. Whatever curse may linger over the Tower of the Hand, I pray I’m small enough to escape its notice.’

When Tyrion returns to King’s Landing as the acting Hand of the King, he makes a statement about the position. Because the history of the Hands of the Kings is in blood, Tyrion hopes for the best. Tyrion explains that the position got filled with men who chose honor and duty over their lives. From Jon Arryn to Ned Stark, honor was a leading factor in the death of the Hand of the King.

I must show no fear, no weakness, no doubt. However frightened my heart, when they look upon my face, they must see only Drogo’s queen.

After her husband, Khal Drogo, Daenerys had nothing but a Khalasar of old and feeble people. However, she decided to show no fear. She fought everything that came her way. With her three dragons, Daenerys decided to reclaim back the throne of her father and destroy all her enemies.


The night is dark and full of terrors.

‘A Clash of Kings’ is a story of war, bloodshed, and death. The quote above perfectly sums up the entirety of what war does. It explains the concept of wars as the night, the cold black night when unspeakable things happen. The quote describes the dreadfulness of war in the shell of the night.

There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of the light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.

The quote above explains the irony of life. Melisandre got referred to as a woman of the dark, a priestess of the shadows. However, she explained that shadows are a construct made possible by light. She explains that to create a shadow, one needs to have light; this explains the ironic nature of her powers.


Crowns do queer things to the heads beneath them.

Power is an intoxicating entity, a force that drives even the calmest of minds to madness, one that turns the humblest of men into tyrants. The quote above explains the concept of power. It defines authority as a slow poison that eats at the mind and turns one into a hungry never-satisfied monster who seeks more and more power.

Continuity of Life

The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.

The statement above got made by Varys to explain the continuity of life. As the master of whisperers, Varys had seen and heard many things. He had experienced the death of the mad king and still survived. He kept doing what he did best through everything.


When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.

When Stannis sends out the letter of Cersei’s infidelity to her husband, Robert Baratheon, she gets agitated and begins to go overboard with her emotions. She starts asking that Stannis should also get framed. However, Tyrion brings her to bay by telling her that only a scared person would decide to fight someone who speaks out against them. He tells Cersei that if what Stannis said riled her, it proves that he is right.


The tunnel was dug for another King’s Hand, whose honor would not allow him to enter such a house openly.

When Tyrion meets Varys at a brothel, he uses a tunnel that seems ambiguous. However, Varys lets him know that many men keep secrets for their honor and would do anything to ensure that their name never gets tarnished, even if that means creating back entrances to brothels.

Little birds fly through many a dark tunnel.

The quote above got made by Varys to explain how secrets get kept. When he tells Tyrion about how people do anything to keep their name honorable, he also lets him know that secrets travel beneath the ears of those who think their deeds are safe.


Only a fool humbles himself when the world is so full of men eager to do that job for him.

The world is a cruel place where no one cares for anyone. The quote above points out this fact and states that pride is one thing everyone should have. It explains that holding oneself in high esteem is not wrong. The quote goes further to describe humble men as fools. It states that the world is cruel, and everyone wants to degrade the person who looks meek and kind.


We look at mountains and call them eternal, and so they seem… but in the course of time, mountains rise and fall, rivers change their courses, stars fall from the sky, and great cities sink beneath the sea. Even gods die, we think. Everything changes.

Time is the force that drives change. It commands the seasons and the valve that regulates life. The quote above explains the value of time. It shows how intricately intertwined everything in the world is with time. It explains the eternally essential nature of death and life. It states that time is the one force that changes everything.


Perhaps magic was once a mighty force in the world, but no longer. What little remains is no more than a wisp of smoke that lingers in the air after a great fire has burned out, and even that is fading. Valyria was the last ember, and Valyria is gone. The dragons are no more, the giants are dead, the children of the forest forgotten with all their lore.

In A Clash of Kings,’ a little history is given about magic. When Bran learns from Jojen that he may have Greensight, he asks maester Luwin about it, but the maester tells Bran the history of how magic faded from the world. The maester tells Bran that magic is a force that fades with time. He tells Bran about Valyria, the city with dragons, destroyed by a cataclysmic event. The destruction of Valyria, he says, blew out the wisps of magic left in the world.

Sorcery is the sauce fools’ spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.

When Tyrion gets the news of his uncle’s defeat by Robb Stark, he realizes that his uncle did not plan adequately for his battle. Though Tyrion sees the flaw in his uncle’s strategies, other men begin believing that Robb is a sorcerer and that his direwolf is no ordinary animal. However, Tyrion shuts them down, stating that defeat makes men think stupid things.

Twisted Loyalty

The dog is never far from his master’s heels.

The quote above refers to Sandor Clegane and Joffrey. When Varys meets with Tyrion, they try to make Joffrey stay in line. However, Tyrion points out that Joffrey is a ruthless and crazed child who uses his Hound to perpetrate heinous acts. He explains that the Hound is like a dog who is loyal to its master and does whatever he wishes of him.


The gods don’t care about men, no more than kings care about peasants.

The quote above explains the relationship between the average person and the elite. It explains that people in higher places do what benefits them most. It goes further to draw a comparison between kings and gods. The quote explains that gods do not care about the affairs of mortals, just as kings do not care about ordinary people.


Men are such faithless creatures.

The quote above explains the concept of faith and humanity. It explains that humans believe in only what they see and understand and that when they encounter an unexplainable phenomenon, they lose all faith and hope.

The mountain is your mother.

When Jon and some men of the Night’s Watch embarked on a journey to investigate Mance Rayder and the wildling, they had to climb a mountain. The quote above got made by Stonesnake to Jon. It gave Jon the strength to persevere as it was cold and dark.


Why was Tyrion hated by the people of King’s Landing?

When Tyrion reached King’s Landing and became the new Hand of the King, he changed the members of the small council. Among those he removed were Janos Slynt and maester Pycelle; this, coupled with the hatred people had for the Lannisters, made Tyrion lose favor more from the sight of the masses.

Does Tyrion hate himself?

Quite a bit. In A Game of Thrones,’ Tyrion showed that he hated how he looked and how different he was from everyone else. He knew the only thing that kept him relevant was his family name. Later, he grew to live with himself and became bolder and braver.

What happens to Tyrion in A Clash of Kings?

When Stannis began moving on King’s Landing, Tyrion developed a plan to help defend the city long enough for help to come. He sacrificed some of his troops to a wildfire that ravaged Stannis’s men. When the battle for King’s Landing began, Tyrion he gets injured in the face and almost died. However, he got saved by Podrick.

Would Stannis have won the battle of Black Water with Melisandre’s help?

Yes, the outcome of the battle would have been different. With the events that led to Renly’s death, Melisandre proved that she possessed a power that could kill anyone. With Tyrion and Joffrey dead, the city would have fallen before Tywin made it to King’s Landing.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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