Review: A Knight of Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin
Also by this author: Fevre Dream
Published by Random House Publishing Group on October 6th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Short Stories (single author)
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERTaking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness. Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name is hidden from all he and Dunk encounter. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two . . . as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits. Featuring more than 160 all-new illustrations by Gary Gianni, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead—yet.
Praise for A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms “Readers who already love Martin and his ability to bring visceral human drama out of any story will be thrilled to find this trilogy brought together and injected with extra life.”—Booklist “The real reason to check out this collection is that it’s simply great storytelling. Martin crafts a living, breathing world in a way few authors can. . . . [Gianni’s illustrations] really bring the events of the novellas to life in beautiful fashion.”—Tech Times
From the Hardcover edition.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a compilation of the first three Dunk and Egg short stories by George R. R. Martin that have previously been available in separate anthologies. I have been wanting to read these for years, and have just not hunted down copies of the separate anthologies yet. Now that they are conveniently packaged together, I figured there was no excuse. And as an added bonus, the art work in it makes getting the physical copy of the book well worth it.
A Knight of Seven Kingdoms tells three tales in the traveling adventures of Dunk and Egg. The first story, The Hedge Knight introduces us to both Dunk and Egg, as well as how they met and some their history prior to being brought together. We also learn about the life of a hedge knight. It was a fun story, and I quickly latched on to both Dunk and Egg. The second story and third stories each highlight a particular escapade in their travels. They are interesting and engaging, and Dunk and Egg are characters I want to read more about. Especially Egg (and Dunk)!
I found these stories to be really fun and much lighter than A Song of Ice and Fire. We know Martin can create excellent dynamics between duos from Arya and the Hound, Brienne and Jaime, Tyrion and Bronn. Well, Tyrion and pretty much anyone. Set hundreds of years before A Song of Ice and Fire, these short stories center on another duo, Dunk and Egg. The stories honestly just left me feeling good. I mean I absolutely love ASoIaF, but in general it doesn’t leave me feeling like this. Perhaps the sections with Arya and Hound, and maybe some other sections, but the overall tone of ASoIaF is much graver and tense. The wonderful thing about these short stories is they take the fun parts of ASoIaF and present them without all the emotional and political baggage. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some tense moments and a bit of grit here or there, but the ratio is skewed to give the reader a lighter reading experience.
I enjoyed getting bits of information on the world in these stories. There’s references to familiar families, we get a bit more information on dragons eggs, and learn about a different style of trial by combat than I remember hearing about in ASoIaF. Are any of these the least bit necessary for ASoIaF? Absolutely not. But did I enjoy learning about them and feeling I have a bit more of an understanding? Absolutely.
These are all independent short stories, though reading the The Hedge Knight first I think is very important as it reveals who exactly Dunk and Egg are and how they came to travel together. For fans of ASoIaF, particularly readers that are fans of any of Martins duos, I highly recommend it. If for no other reason than they are something enjoyable to read while we wait for Winds of Winter.
This review originally posted at The Speculative Herald.