REVIEW: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a collection of three novellas that are set a generation or two before the events of A Song and Ice and Fire. In the third person perspective, we follow Dunk or as he tailors himself – Ser Duncan the Tall. The first narrative is named The Hedge Knight and we are presented to our protagonist as he is burying his former mentor for whom he used to squire. It’s a touching start, and an interesting introduction to Dunk. He is planning to go to a tourney in Ashford and at a crossroads inn he meets Egg, who he assumes is a stable boy. This boy decides to follow Dunk without permission, wanting to squire for him, and eventually it transpires that he is of royal blood and would eventually become Aegon V, protector of the realm, etc… He is the brother of Aemon Targaryen who becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and at this time Bloodraven is the Hand of the King. This is the gentleman who becomes the three-eyed-raven.

“Dunk the lunk, thick as a castle wall.”

At 17 years old, almost 7-foot-tall, strong and with weight and reach in his favour, Dunk is a formidable Hedge Knight. Essentially, he is a Knight who travels throughout the 7 Kingdoms doing jobs he deems true and honourable for coin. Dunk is as true and decent as any Knight you would have read about in A Song of Ice and Fire and there is a fan theory that Brienne is a descendant of his and I can totally believe that. We are presented the tale from his mind and he talks himself down over explaining his stupidity. I never really saw him as being dim. He can’t read, he has never kissed a girl and he doesn’t really have people skills but some of the supporting cast and villains who can and have done these come across as more vile and horrid when reflected against Dunk’s honesty, loyalty and general goodheartedness.

Egg is a pretty amazing character. Even though he has Targaryen purple eyes he shaves his head so his gold/silver hair doesn’t make it completely obvious regarding his lineage. And he has a silly straw hat! He is described as being as wise as a maester but still only 10. He knows the history of the majority of the nation’s houses and can name who someone is just by seeing the paintwork on their shields. He is also quick of tongue sometimes to his detriment, especially when these 3 novella’s often discuss the Targaryan Blackfyre rebellion and hints at seeds of which are still spread throughout the land. I read this after I read GRRM’s Fire and Blood and the knowledge I gained regarding the Targaryan’s there did enhance my experience although it isn’t truly necessary to read in that order. I think this could be thoroughly enjoyed by someone who has not yet read the main series. It’s not all pretty and it does feature numerous deaths, violence and backstabbing but from Dunk’s perspective, these stories present a lot more hope and goodness than we are accustomed to from a typical Westeros tale.

When I read this I had had one of the worst weeks of my life. If I believed in guardian angels I would think that mine made me pick up this book at this time instead of the other 1000 books on my to-be-read list. This story was exactly what I needed. Interesting, funny, about friendship with elements of trust, mystery and excitement. I’ve always looked down upon reviewers who rate a book 6/5 as I think it makes no sense. After this scenario and how this book has helped me recover then this is the closest I will ever get to giving that rating. It’s the best novel I’ve read this year and I can’t wait to read about more Dunk and Egg.

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James Tivendale

James reviews fantasy books, is a pretty good pool player and likes the musical Hamilton.

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