A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
by George R.R. Martin
Illustrated by Gary Gianni
Bantam, $30.00, 355pp
Published: October 2015
Calling all fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, aka Game of Thrones…
Over the years, GRRM has had occasion to write a short story in the same universe but set 100 years prior to those events. He introduced us to two endearing characters: Dunk and Egg. Sounds like an appetizer, non? He’s written three short stories of these characters between 1998 and 2010; and now, for the first time, all three are collected in a single volume. Dunk is a Hedge Knight, which is an itinerant Knight not beholden to or employed by a Lord; rather like a traveling entertainer. Dunk came from Flea Bottom and squired for an old Hedge Knight who knighted Dunk just before he died. As Dunk is leaving all he knew to find his future, he happens into a meeting with an impudent young stablelad who asks if he could accompany Dunk as his squire. Dunk refuses but the brazen imp follows him to a tourney in a nearby town. And he turns out to know quite a bit about squiring and makes himself useful enough for Dunk to keep him. Dunk is feeling rather fine about allowing the child to work for him…right up until he discovers exactly who and what his squire is.
Dunk isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack or, in the vernacular of his time: doesn’t have all his arrows in the quiver. He is earnest and honest and believes in a knightly ideal do what’s right and take care of innocents and the weak. So, he tends to run afoul of more worldly and corrupt people. He also has a challenging role when it comes to Egg: he wants to teach the boy how to be the best squire but also has to protect the child against all harm. These combinations contribute to difficult situations and choices.
While written in a lighter vein than his more ponderous GoT stories, they still have his deft touch with characters and settings. These were a lot of fun to read all together. ~~ Catherine Book