A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

George R. R. Martin
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Cover

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Sable Aradia

Read for the High Fantasy Challenge 2016 and the Okanagan Library Reading Challenge 2016.

This book was my first written acquaintance with the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, though I'm an avid fan of the Game of Thrones TV series. And I loved it. I think GRRM is giving us a bit of a look at the society of Westeros before the enormous breakdown caused by the long summer. Here it seems the summer is only beginning, and aside from the absence of dragons that is changing the balance of power in Westeros and undermining the rule of the Targaryens, this is also the time of the Blackfyre Rebellion, which was caused largely because the last Targaryen king couldn't keep it in his pants and then decided to legitimize all of his bastards on his death bed, from the byblows of affairs with noble ladies to the offspring of the whores and tavern wenches. One of those bastards ends up with Blackfyre, the Valyrian steel sword of the Targaryen line, and thus there's enough support for the upstart that it deeply divides Westeros, with long-term consequences.

Into the aftermath of this chaos blunders Dunk, a.k.a. Ser Duncan the Tall, once a young boy from Flea Bottom in King's Landing who may not ever have actually been knighted by the knight to whom he was squired out of necessity (and kindness) several years before. The old knight he served has died and Dunk must therefore find a way to make a living as a hedge knight; what we would call a knight errant. He heads to a tourney at which he might win a champion's prize and happens upon a boy with a shaved head named Egg, who offers to serve as his squire. At first he is reluctant but he agrees eventually because the boy is efficient and persistent. It turns out that Egg is actually Aegon, a Targaryen prince, who was squired to his older brother who had decided to hide out the tourney to which his father had sent him by drinking in a tavern; the boy wanted to squire to someone. And when another Targaryen prince attacks a puppeteer for a perceived slight and breaks her fingers, Dunk intervenes, which drags him into a confrontation and trial. Hijinks, chaos, and some of the bloody horror that is a hallmark of Game of Thrones ensues.

Martin has promised us more Dunk and Egg adventures, and I am looking forward to them. This world before the decline of the kingdom is intriguing and very vividly realized. As a former medieval recreationist I love the medieval details! This is Europe in the early Renaissance, with sorcery and dragons. The smallfolk and the nobles lead very different lives. The characters are fun and well realized with little actual description. I would not agree, however, that this is suitable for children. The gore is not as much as you might expect, but it's still really present. This might make a more suitable read for teenagers and up, I think; and just like Harry Potter, it's within the reach of both teenagers and adults. A really fun read and a welcome change from the heavy post-apocalyptic stuff I have been reading lately.