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
Beth Fish Reads