May 15, 2016

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

by George R.R. Martin


I saw this book on a display shelf at the library. It contains three novellas set about a hundred years prior to the events in Game of Thrones, concerning the adventures of a young untried knight Duncan and his impudent squire, Egg. In the first story "The Hedge Knight" the young man takes up arms when the old knight he was squire to dies. He travels to a tourney hoping to make a name for himself and earn some coin. Picks up an unlikely squire, who it turns out is concealing his true identity. The second story, "The Sworn Sword", has to do with a severe drought. Crops and people are dying in the land where Ducan and his squire are in service to a lord. They travel upriver to find that someone dammed the river for their own use, and get involved in trying to get the water back. I didn't make it to the third tale, "The Mystery Knight." This might have been the most interesting as I almost thought it had dragons in it, but it was only the presence of treasured dragon eggs, one of which gets stolen. More tournament doings.

It's excusable that I expected dragons in the stories- they're all over the illustrations, looming in the background or neatly hidden- it took me a while to notice that in the back cover illustration there's a dragon lurking in the tree. But I think they were only symbolic of the house Targaryen. I actually liked the pictures by Gary Gianni. You can see a nice sample of the artwork here. But by this point I had lost interest in reading the book. Just not the same as the earlier works I've read by this author. It's a lot more casual. The main characters are nice, decent people working their way through a world of evildoers and deceivers of course, but they were kind of boring. Even the squire, who had this cocky attitude that didn't fit with his position- due to his true background- failed to keep my interest. There's a lot of names and history thrown around in here, which if you pay attention shows how small events led to much later ones present in Game of Thrones. But even that wasn't enough for me, in fact it felt like it got in the way of enjoying the simple story of a knight's adventures. Oh well.

Abandoned        355 pages, 2015

more opinions:
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Trish said...

I have been very curious about Martin's books but I'm just not sure I can get interested in such a huge series (that isn't complete). I'm sorry this didn't work for you--and it's always a bummer when cover art is a bit deceiving.

Jeane said...

Yeah. This one isn't really part of the main series- it's another story from the same world, different time. But apparently it is part of another series all about this knight and his squire- I found a lot of titles mentioned in another review. Not interested in them, unfortunately.

Thistle said...

I read the first story in some stand-alone format, and felt like you did. It just didn't work for me, and I'm not sure if I had finished it at all.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Eh, yeah, I feel like the Song of Ice and Fire world has already become impossibly diffuse as it is without tossing in more side stories to worry about. But I am curmudgeonly that way.

(Are you watching the show still? THINK I AM GOING TO BE PROVEN RIGHT ABOUT SANSA.)

Thistle said...

I am! While I had stopped enjoying it last season, this season is really (mostly) working for me. I could do without that whole religious subplot, but I'm generally liking the rest.

I don't remember, what's your theory on her?

Jeane said...

Yes, still following the show. Jenny said (three years ago!) that in the end Sansa would save the day! I do think she may be right. So far I'm enjoying it- there's hasn't been a zombie war yet (which I dread) nor has there been a lot of sex, which is a pleasant surprise. Sometimes I get tired of that, feel like they're overdoing it just for the shock factor.

Thistle said...

Agreed on all of that. Maybe that's why I'm enjoying this season more, there seems to be fewer attempts to shock us with sex/violence (not counting that one guy, who sex/violence is pretty much expected).

I'm a little worried Sansa is going to end up dead soon -- sometimes writers build a character up just so it's more meaningful when they off them.

I really like the wildlings, I wish we'd see more about them.

Jeane said...

Ah- well, in the books the author did notoriously kill off lots of characters, just when I cared about them most. But the tv version has veered a lot from the direct storyline of the books, so I'm not sure what's going to happen next at any moment.

Thistle said...

I'm really happy the show is moving off in its own direction. I remember very little about the books, but I'm still pleased the show is becoming more independent.