Title: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Narrator: Harry Lloyd
Published by: Random House Audio on 10/6/2015
Length: Approx. 10 Hours
Book Blurb: Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness.
Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there were Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve, but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals – in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg – whose true name (hidden from all he and Dunk encounter) is Aegon Targaryen. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lie ahead for these two…as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead – yet.
My Take: The trio of stories in this collection are absolutely fantastic in every way. In spite of the stories taking place nearly a century before A Game of Thrones, there are many familiar house names and sigils to remind you that you are immersed in the same bloody, conflict-driven world of Westeros that the other books inhabit. Martin is a master at weaving in realistic details of the Medieval world and culture, ranging from the depictions of tourneys to the clothing and armor to the food they ate at the table.
The stories themselves feature two unlikely heroes: the towering man named Dunk and his young, bald-headed squire named Egg. Both characters are wonderfully written and fleshed out, with Dunk taking his knightly oath as a hedge knight far more seriously than many of the other knights in the seven kingdoms. Where other knights sell their services permanently to lords and kings in exchange for coin, food, and shelter, Dunk follows the code of chivalry that a true knight should uphold. This resolve wins him some unlikely allies along the way and always seems to put him in a precarious position. While he may be Dunk the Lunk, thick as a castle wall, he is also Sir Duncan the Tall and he tries his best to make the decisions that fit the latter title.
His squire, Egg, is trying to hide his identity as a prince of Targaryen blood during their travels, although there are times when he wants to use his identity as a means of getting them out of a sticky situation. His loyalty to this hedge knight is admirable, and the two truly make for an unlikely pair. Egg could get trained by any number of great knights and lords and weaponsmasters, yet he chooses to remain with the unskilled yet noble Dunk. Even if it means he gets a clout or two on the ear in the process.
The stories themselves are masterful and exciting. They help to scratch the itch for Martin’s Westeros while waiting for the next season on HBO to air or, as we all are, for the next book in his series to be finished and released.
The narrator, Harry Lloyd, does a great job at making the story enjoyable to listen to. It was easy to lose yourself in the narration with one exception. On occasion his voice would dip so low for a line or two that it became completely inaudible while driving in the car. This is an issue that may not have come about if listening via headphones on an iPod or other device, but it was definitely an issue while using CDs in the car.
As a whole, I can wholeheartedly recommend this set of stories to anyone who already loves Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books. This also would make a fine read for anyone who has somehow not read or watched any of his other material set in the same world, as a working knowledge of the future events does not impact the enjoyment of this book. Younger readers would be cautioned not to pick this up as some of the content and language might be more appropriate of an upper-YA audience.