An old favourite among the Song of Ice and Fire fandom, the stories of Dunk and Egg are unlike what you’d expect of a traditional George R R Martin book. Lacking some of the intense cynicism and with far fewer beheadings than you’d expect, it follows the life and times of two unlikely heroes and the way their actions shaped Westeros.
Combining together the novellas The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight, the book lacks a great deal of the sheer scale and density some readers might be used to. However, this works in the books favour as it follows far fewer characters and gives a great deal of insight into the world a century before the events of A Game of Thrones. As the book advertises, this is an age where memory of the last dragon has yet to fade and the chaos of the Mad King’s reign has yet to set the realms alight. From the start of the tourney you’re given an impression of Westros from a more common man’s perspective, with the story building up the nature of the world from a very baseline perspective. Opposed to the keeps of noble houses or cities under siege, it’s interesting to see the kingdom in a time of relative peace.
Each of the novellas is only loosely linked to one another, but this allows them a great deal of freedom. It allows the book to read more like an anthology, with each one covering a different stage in the heroes’ lives or some critical event. Along with Martin’s own excellent prose, the new illustrations added to this release offer an odd beauty to the tale, complementing many of the descriptions and highlighted moments.
An unusual beast in this setting to be sure, it nevertheless retains Martin’s best strengths and the vast depth which drew so many fans to this setting in the first place. Open to new and old fans alike, and whether you’re waiting for Season 6 of the television series or the Winds of Winter, this is most definitely one worth buying.
A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS / AUTHOR: GEORGE R R MARTIN / PUBLISHER: BANTAM/ RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW