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KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOM_PB Paperback – January 1, 2017
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Featuring more than 160 illustrations by Gary Gianni, one of the finest fantasy artists of our time, this beautiful volume will transport readers to the world of the Seven Kingdoms in an age of bygone chivalry.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
Before tyrion lannister and podrick payne there was dunk and egg.
A young, naïve but courageous hedge knight, ser duncan the tall towers above his rivals – in stature if not experience. Tagging along with him is his diminutive squire, a boy called egg – whose true identity must be hidden from all he and dunk encounter: for in reality he is aegon targaryen, and one day he will be king. Improbable heroes though they be, great destinies lie ahead for dunk and egg; as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.
- Publisher : HarperVoyager (January 1, 2017)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 000823809X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008238094
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.08 x 1.06 x 7.8 inches
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2019
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I've made an exception for Telltale's Game of Thrones because that's a side-story but this is the first book I feel comfortable recommending which might have slipped under fans' radars. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a compilation of three novellas (The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight) written by George R.R. Martin for various anthologies.
The premise is a young hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall (a self-granted title since his master never knighted him), takes on a squire named Egg after the death of his mentor Ser Arlan. A hedge knight is a knight with no prestige or lineage but has the training as well as equipment to be a mounted soldier in the Seven Kingdoms. At the absolute bottom of the social hierarchy's warrior class but still part of it, Duncan has a unique perspective on events occurring in the century before A Game of Thrones.
The three novellas take place in a very different Westeros from the one described in the books because the Targaryens are still at, if not the height of the rule then some distance from their twilight. The lands have been at peace for a decade and the nobility, if not following the example of chivalry in spirit, is at least trying to follow the example of chivalry in appearance. In a very real way, the book serves as an argument for a Targaryen Restoration because it shows everyone more or less getting along and the peasants able to live reasonably secure lives.
George R.R. Martin, the father of grimdark, still treats the Medieval romance with a good deal of disdain but it's not nearly as cynical in many respects. Ser Duncan's basic decency makes him a far better knight than those born into the role but the absence of Gregor Cleganes, Boltons, Bloody Mummers, and even Lannisters make the villains of a decidedly more sympathetic bent. They're still very realistic fantasy with only the occasional prophetic dream keeping it from being absent magic together but the heart of the stories is a peasant-born warrior trying to navigate the complicated social dynamics of Westeros' knightly class.
The Hedge Knight is, in a weird way, not that dissimilar from Heath Ledger's A Knight's Tale. Duncan is a peasant knight from Fleabottom who has a vision of becoming a famous warrior after Ser Arlan's death. Unfortunately, Ser Duncan lacks William Thatcher's godlike skill with a lance and swiftly finds himself in hot water with a Targaryen prince. In a very real way, this is a sports story and the deadly stakes of the event make it all the more entertaining to read about. Of the three, The Hedge Knight is my least favorite as I never really found that much interest in jousting and its central role in peacetime Medieval life.
The Sworn Sword is a follow up to The Hedge Knight where Duncan has managed to find himself as an actual proper sworn knight to a lord--sort of. Having taken up service to a lord of something which barely qualifies as a tower, Duncan ends up caught up in a conflict between his lord and the beautiful widow across the river. The central conflict turns out to be not one of good and evil but the legacy of a war which had, to quote George Lucas, heroes on both sides. I like how it managed to take a very Medieval concept of fighting for a ladies' honor and play it straight while also illustrating how absurd it was.
The Mystery Knight is, bluntly, one of my favorite stories in fantasy. I've re-read this novella five times and am probably going to do so again. It's a story with a lot of parallels to Bonnie Prince Charlie's revolt and is basically a Medieval spy novel set against the backdrop of a tournament. I love the characters of Lord Butterwell, the Fiddler, and Fireball's bastard. They are eccentric, larger than life, and yet believable. I also loved finally getting a chance to meet
These stories are,obviously, going to be enjoyed more by fans of the books than by the show. Aside from the possible relationship between Duncan and Brienne, many of the details of the history will fly by television viewers. Despite this, I think they would be enjoyable even to those who have no experience with the world. Fans of grimdark will find the stories a good deal more idealistic and pleasant but still possessed of the moral ambiguity as well as "realism" which made the original books so enjoyable.
The chief draw of the books for me is the relationship between Ser Duncan and Egg. Duncan is, to be honest, dumb but decent while Egg is highly-intelligent and somewhat more ruthless than his master. The contrast between their social positions, viewpoints, and attitudes provides an endless array of interesting conversations. It's kind of sad I know how their story works out due to The World of Ice and Fire but their tale is one I could follow through its own series. They're hilarious, insightful, and fun together--and what more can you ask from your heroes?
In conclusion, I really really recommend this book. I almost wish George R.R. Martin would take more time from The Winds of Winter to do more of these stories. They're fun, light, and entertaining reads which deserve to be looked into. This version of the story is illustrated and while I tend to prefer the comic book versions of these story, it lends a sort of "Illustrated King Arthur" feel to things.
It's actually three separate stories that build on each other and of the relationship between a hedge knight, Dunk and his squire Egg. These are more personal stories and lacking the myriad of plotlines that can run through a typical ASOIAF novel.
Taking place 100 years before the events in ASOIAF it's only recognizable as such by the house names. But it's those names Lannister, Baratheon, Targeryon.....and Martin's style and comfort in this world that makes it feel you're right at home in this place.
I'm looking forward to more stories of Ser Duncan the tall and his bald squire Egg.
PS: I also enjoyed the illustrations - it’s a shame that is not used in more books
So, first off, I want to say that I consider this book to be one of the most beautiful hardcovers I've ever handled in person. Of course, limited edition or a leather bounded copies are an entirely different deal, so those don't count. I would put this book over hardcover 'The Way of Kings' easily. Next, the texture of the dustcover is really pleasant, and the mix between matte and gloss make it even better. Also, the color choice is amazing, though I'm heavily biased as my two favorite colors are red and yellow. Third, the page and print quality are very satisfactory. It is much better than many other hardcover prints I've seen. As for the illustrations....they are simply amazing. It really helps to guide the story along when you have visual aids as good as these. But what really steals the show for me is the inside of the cover. It is a full page of glorious colorized artwork portraying the two main characters. I really don't know what else to say. It just looks so damn good. Essentially, what I'm trying to say here is, do yourself huge favor and get yourself a hardcover copy of this. You will not regret it. (Unless of course you haven't read the book yet and end up not liking the story for some weird reason)
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Illustrations by Gary Gianni
Westeros, a century before Jon Snow encounters Aemon Targaryen up at the Wall, with delightful pen and ink drawings running alongside the text. What's not to love?
In The Hedge Knight, Dunk and Egg meet quite by chance. Dunk wants to be a knight. He possesses the bare equipment, which he inherited from the knight he squired for. Sir Arlan of Pennytree has just died of a fever and Dunk now has to make his own way in the world. But his old knight taught him well. Egg is masquerading as a stable boy when Dunk stops at an inn for a rest. The little lad's real name is Aegon, and we all have a pretty good idea what that means even before we spot his silver hair and violet eyes. Dunk and Egg cross paths again, at a tourney in Ashford meadow.
"He felt foolish standing there with sword in hand over an eight-year-old orphan. He sheathed it, glowering so the boy would see that he would suffer no nonsense. I ought to give him a good beating at the least, he thought, but the child looked so pitiful he could not bring himself to hit him. He glanced around the camp. The fire was burning merrily with a neat circle of rocks. The horses had been brushed, and clothes were hanging from the elm, drying above the flames."
Continuing their journey in the second tale, The Sworn Sword, Dunk and Egg are returning from a trip to Dorne. They are heading for the broken-down castle of Sir Eustace Osgrey. Drought has made the local villagers desperate and an adjoining landowner, the Red Widow, has diverted the river further upstream to irrigate her own crops. Dunk loyally raises the best army he can from among Sir Eustace's tenants.
"The next day a dozen would-be warriors found their way to Standfast to assemble among the chickens. One was too old, two were too young, and one skinny boy turned out to be a skinny girl. Those Dunk send back to their villages, leaving eight: three Wats, two Wills, a Lem, a Pate, and Big Rob the lackwit."
In the final story, The Mystery Knight, Dunk and Egg make for Lord Butterwell's castle, hoping for a chance to enter the tourney and win a dragon's egg. The uproar of a wedding and bedding provides the perfect opportunity for someone to snatch the prize, rather than earning it on the field.
Each tale was very different to the others, but all were thoroughly likeable in their own way. In fact, just like Dunk and Egg themselves! It was lovely to follow the two heroes as they faced a variety of enemies with good humour, and came to understand each other along the way. You can't ask for more than that in a book.
Gary Gianni's drawings elevated my enjoyment of the book to a whole new level, informing the action and deepening the vivid portrayal of the wealth of secondary characters. The style of illustration was a perfect match for the writing. There are some books where the reviewer feels that the drawings were a late add-on or that the text could have done just fine without them. This isn't one of them!
It is grounded in the world of GoT, so readers of that series will have something to get their teeth into, though by no means is that required. You could come to this having read none of those books and seen nothing of the TV show. It also has a more innocent feel to it, in keeping with the chivalry/derring-do theme.
Martin has a particularly easy writing style, fluent and unfussy, which makes for a smooth and engaging read and his skill with plotting and characterisation makes for a genuine page turner.
I have to say that the illustrations didn’t do a great deal for me. I tend to think if a novel is worth reading it doesn’t need illustrations. They can be a distraction and aren’t needed if the characters and action are well described. I would have found a map of Westeros a lot more helpful. Of course the ASOIAF novels all have maps but it’s irritating to have to keep dashing over to the bookcase to check where Maidenpool or Lannisport are.
It’s a good bit of escapism and I would read more books about these two characters. We’re told that Ser Duncan’s plan is to head north to Winterfell to fight against the Ironmen, which reminds me of Theon Greyjoy, and look what happened to him. No good ever came of trying to take Winterfell…..
I first read this Collection when it was published back in 2015, and eagerly sank back into it over the course of a couple of days.
The first of the three stories, The Hedge Knight, is my favourite. Description, events and heraldry combine for rich, pacy tale. It begins with Dunk, a young lad from Fleabottom, burying his foster father Ser Arlan of Penny tree who died after taking a chill. An earnest lad of about 16 or 17, Dunk decides to ride for the tourney at Ashford, and try his hand at being a Knight. Along the way, he meets a bald, skinny little boy who is affectionately nicknamed Egg. None other than Aegon Targaryen, in fact! Naturally, complications ensue and Dunk ends up having to fight in a Trial of the Seven to pay for hurting Prince Aerion after he breaks the finger of a talented Dornish puppeteer named Tanselle. Sadly, Prince Baelor (one of the few decent Targaryens?) is killed in this bout. The entire story put me in mind of the Heath Ledger movie, A Knight's Tale. I swear I could smell the sausages cooking and see the pennants snapping in the wind.
The other two stories, I am less enthusiastic about.
The Sworn Sword sees Dunk & Egg embroiled in a dispute between Ser Eustace, a Lord Kitchener looking fellow whose Water is dammed by the formidable Red Widow, Lady Rohane. She was a great character, and entertaining to read.
The final of the three, The Mystery Knight, involves another secret Targaryen and a near death experience for Dunk.
I love Dunk & Egg as characters and I did enjoy rereading this collection, but I think it has lost some of it's charm for me. The dialogue was repetitive at times, and not in a way that served the plot. Maybe I just prefer Martin's longer fiction?
Split into 3 different short stories which are about 100'ish pages each. I consumed each story quite quickly, as they're excellent.
The story is set 100 years before the Song of Ice and Fire story begins with Game of Thrones, so you could read this before starting that. It is quality, standalone writing which leaves you wanting more.