‘Taking 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.’ (Goodreads) (355 pages, October 6th, 2015, Bantham).
I started this book / these stories without reading the back of the book, but I wish I had. The first pages gave me the impression that Dunk was a stupid teenage boy, thinking a lot of himself, being this great knight and who was well on his way to disaster (let’s be honest). I just couldn’t be bothered.
And then I read the back. Dunk was set on being one of the Kingsguard and Egg, his squire, would become king. From that moment it got interesting for me. After reading this I wanted to know more about them, about their adventures. I wanted to see what they had experienced to see how they get to their futures.
I knew there was a reason my friend gave me this book to read. I did read it in Dutch though and it took me some time to get into these stories. Let’s be honest, I’m not a fan of the medieval Duth or the translation from English to Dutch. I prefer reading in English or the original language (as far as I can read and understand it). But once I got over this, I quite enjoyed these stories. It gave me an extra view in the world George R. R. Martin created, and I will take anything he throws my way and devour it.
Book 1 – The Hedge Knight
The story of Dunk and Egg. First off, let’s start with these names. You can’t be serious that those names are actually real. Dunk and Egg, it’s still funny to me. Dunk & Ei, in Dutch, even funnier. I get why George Martin gave them those names. It gave Dunk a bit more difficulty to get him taken seriously as a knight. And Egg with his bald head and the shortening of his real name makes sense. But it’s still funny, when you take it away from its context.
You see from the first pages Dunk isn’t used to be in that kind of environment, and though his former companion was a knight, he didn’t learn a whole lot and usually had to win his fights with his build. It makes him relatable and an interesting character to follow. Egg, as well, is as fierce as he is brave and when we finally get to know who he really is, it just makes so much more sense and it gives a depth to this story.
It was an interesting story, but not one that grabbed my attention. It’s only until the fight at the end that it got interesting for me. When we see Baelor and the rest stand up for Dunk. I do think it’s my least favourite of the three, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. It was I believe to short to really have a complete fleshed-out story, but it was written to introduce these characters to us.
Book 2 – The Sworn Sword
I liked this story more than the first one. We meet a more mature Dunk and Egg here and it is refreshing. They have been travelling for over a year now, to Dorne and then back again. Getting to know each other and having adventures. We meet them when they are working for Sir Eustace, a lord that has long passed his prime. Here Dunk proves that he has the heart of a knight by helping Sir Eustace with a fight over his land.
The more interesting passages though, are the ones with The Red Widow. We find Dunk in a position with a strong woman and one he finds attracting as well. Knowing Dunk as being a bit clumsy when he’s in a situation where he’s not comfortable, here we get a lot of different funny scenes. But it is in the fight scenes where he proves himself being knight-worthy, being a good man, being worth following.
Book 3 – The Mystery Knight
Dunk gets himself in trouble again. Sir Dunk and Egg wanted to travel to the Wall to see if they could be of any use there and to see this big Wall they both heard so much about. On their way they meet all different characters, some more interesting than others, and some let’s say more frightening than others. Dunk off course believes he can take them in this tournament, organized in honour of a wedding, and they set off after them to just earn a few games, a few coins and a dragon egg while they’re at it. They have no idea that they entered a secret rebellion against the King and here the real story starts.
It’s the most plot driven of the three stories, but it took me some time to understand the different characters. Next to Dunk and Egg, who we already know from the other two stories, we get to meet a lot more characters and almost all of them don’t stand out. They’re interchangeable and I did have to reread some passages to be sure who Dunk interacted with at certain points and to see in what way it connected with other passages or what I already knew from the history of ASOIAF.
In conclusion, I would say The Sworn Sword is my favourite one of the three. I’m not going to lie, I’m partial to a good story with a strong female character. Next to a great plot and interesting fight scenes it gives us a better view of who Dunk will become after these stories. The Mystery Knight comes next with it’s interesting story, but loses it interests for me due to the amount of characters that were introduced to us and who weren’t fleshed out enough.
It’s an interesting book that gives an extra story from the ASOIAF world. See it as an addition to the world, but not a necessity to understand the other books or to get more out of it.
3,5 out of 5 stars. It was enjoyable and gave me another chance to return to the world of ASOIAF.