Tales of Dunk and Egg is a series of novellas (short novels) by American novelist and screenwriter George R.R. Martin best known for his Epic Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire from which the popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones is derived. It is set in the same fantasy world as ASoIaF and follows the life of of a hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall, and his squire, Egg (or Aegon V Targaryen). Dunk would later go on to become the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and Egg, the king of Seven Kingdoms, Aegon the Unlikely. The series is far simpler than ASoIaF as it is centered around just two characters and is much more easier to follow. The Mystery Knight – third novella in the series- gets pretty close to ASoIaF, though. Martin has indicated that he will write several stories in the series (source: Wikipedia), as many as nine, intended to cover much of the life of Dunk and Egg. He has authored three until now. I shall review each novella one by one.
The Hedge Knight:
The Hedge Knight starts off pretty slowly and speeds up brilliantly later in true Martin fashion. A hedge knight has died during the night. His squire, Dunk, buries him, does the basic rituals and moves on. The hedge knight, Ser Arlan of Pennytree, had knighted Dunk before dying. Dunk continues on the path they had been going – to the Ashford’s Meadow – where they were headed for a tourney. On his way, Dunk meets a bald boy who requests him to make his squire. Dunk refuses but the boy follows him and Dunk reluctantly makes him his squire. A lot happens after that and the boy, Egg, is later revealed to be Aegon V of House Targaryen. Story is quite simple and linear and a far cry from the ASoIaF novels which are as complex as stories can get. Writing is just what you expect from Martin. Subtly brilliant and vivid. Storytelling quality is just outstanding. Characters are beautiful. Most of you will instantly fall in love with Dunk. Story might seem just a little bit unfamiliar and hard to understand to the people who are unacquainted from ASoIaF. But it is still a worth read. You should pick this one up as a gateway to the Martin’s staggeringly elaborate and delightfully imaginative world.
The Sworn Sword:
The Sworn Sword begins a year and half after the events of The Hedge Knight. Our hedge night, Dunk, is no longer a hedge knight and has sworn his sword to an old knight Ser Eustace Osgrey of a stronghold called Standfast in the Reach. It is drought time in the Reach and the only water source for the people of Standfast and the villages around is blocked by constructing a dam on orders of Lady Rohanne Webber of Coldmoat – a nearby castle. The novella concerns about how Dunk and Egg deal with the conflict, and has rich, grey characters. Story is even simpler and coherent than The Hedge Knight. There are some nice twists and shocking moments which will keep your interest going. A worth read, though, not as good as its predecessor.
The Mystery Knight:
In The Mystery Knight, Dunk enters a tourney as, you must have guessed, a mystery knight. What he doesn’t know is there are some nasty rebellion plots cooking underneath the veil of tourney and he and Egg might be the prime targets. It has a large cast of characters and is easily the most complex novella in the series. I had the same feeling while reading it which I had with A Game of Thrones. Confusing and similar sounding names, fast-paced story and intricate plot makes this a difficult read. It is probably closest to the Ice and Fire books with its political intrigues, gore and topsy-turvy story. The Mystery Knight is my favourite novella in the series. A must read for any fantasy and medieval politics/warfare fan.