The Winds of Winter (Book 6 of The Song of Ice and Fire series) isn’t coming out this year and die-hard book fans have already expressed their collective outrage while others have made their peace with George R.R. Martin’s glacial writing pace. That being said, Bantam books has released the first three Dunk and Egg stories in a single bound form accompanied with illustrations by Gary Gianni (known for his work on the Prince Valiant comics). These stories “The Hedge Knight,” “The Sworn Sword,” and “The Mystery Knight” were disparately published between the release of the first three books of Martin’s The Song of Ice and Fire saga and recount the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire Egg.
Set a hundred years before the events of A Game of Thrones, these stories take us back to a younger time when Westeros was still dominated by the Targaryens. Before Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne, before The Hound and Arya Stark, there was Dunk and Egg. Ser Duncan the Tall (or Dunk as he is often affectionately called) is but a mere hedge knight barely making it by in the harsh Westerosi countryside. He’s a knight in the truest sense of the word as he continues to uphold his vows to defend the weak and the helpless throughout his adventures. Accompanying Dunk on his adventures is his precocious and often brazen squire Egg. People who have read the main series will know that Dunk one day becomes Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and his legend will inspire future generations like Jaime Lannister, Loras Tyrell, and Bran Stark to dream of knighthood. It’s also no secret that Egg is actually Aegon Targaryen, younger brother of Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch and who one day ascends the Iron Throne as King Aegon V.
This is indeed the Westeros that fans of the books and the show are very familiar with yet at the same time it really isn’t. Much like in the main series, the nobles of Westeros are still uncaring toward the plight of their smallfolk and bandits still roam the countryside. Yet it’s quite refreshing to see the Targaryens are at the height of their power (for good or ill). It’s surprising to see the Lannisters are pretty relaxed and not like their power-hungry descendants given that Tywin Lannister won’t be born for another fifty years. Hardcore fans of Westerosi lore will be pleased to encounter some characters from the main series as well as some interesting tidbits regarding Westerosi lore. Martin’s writing is definitely showcased in these stories with its very distinct prose alongside the verbose descriptions of food that will leave you wanting to raid your pantry.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
While this isn’t the long-awaited sixth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire (Six years, George! Six years we’ve waited since Book 5 came out!) it’s enough to keep us warm this winter and tide us over till 2016.