30 November 2015

Review: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. Martin

Review of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R. R. MartinI'm one of those people who is trying to wait patiently for the next big installment in George R. R. Martin's Ice and Fire series. Yes, I know, the TV show will take us past the last printed page, but I really want to read the story as Martin intended it to be told.

In the meantime, I read (and listened to) Martin's newest collection set in the Game of Thrones universe, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, which takes place a hundred years or so before the events in the main books. Although the three novellas included in the volume have been published before, they were all new to me.

I don't want to say too much about what happens in these stories about Ser Duncan the Tall (a hedge knight) and his young squire, Egg, because I don't want to ruin your fun of meeting these characters and learning about their adventures. Note that A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a lighter take on the world of Westeros than that of the Ice and Fire books. There is a distinct medieval feel, and the stories are more action/adventure than they are fantasy.

I loved the developing relationship of Dunk and Egg, which is part mentor/student and part loyal friendship. Egg is great character, and the nine-year-old boy is full of secrets and useful knowledge. Duncan often calls himself "Dunk the Lunk," but the young knight knows how to get himself out of tricky situations. For those of us who know the Game of Thrones books, there are many familiar family names (such as Lannister, Targaryen) and places (for example, King's Landing) as well as references to events that will later have a significant impact on the kingdom and its rulers.

Although the stories in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms won't further the major plot lines of the Ice and Fire saga, they will give Game of Thrones fans a welcome fix while they wait for the next big novel from George R. R. Martin. Don't miss these charming tales, which give us a gentler perspective of Westeros (despite a few bloody deaths).

Notes on the print edition versus the audiobook: If you want only one copy of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, you might be in a bit of dilemma. The unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 10 hr, 1 min) is read by Harry Lloyd. His expressive performance kept my attention while leaving me room to form my own reactions to the stories. He skillfully built up the tension and pace of the action without foreshadowing the outcome. In addition, Lloyd did a good job keeping the characters distinct and differentiating between dialogue and Dunk's inner thoughts.

On the other hand, if you listen to the audiobook, you'll miss out on the many illustrations by the talented Gary Gianni. The black-and-white drawings add much to the story and are not to be missed. If you don't recognize Gianni's name, perhaps you'll recognize some of his work: he drew the "Prince Valiant" comic strip (2004-12) as well as a number of graphic novels, comics, and magazines.

I decided not to choose between the media: I listened to the audiobook and took the time to look at and study Gianni's illustrations in the hardcover edition. However you read A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, you'll be glad you revisited George R. R. Martin's rich and complex world.

Published by Penguin Random House / Bantam, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780345533487
Source: Review: audiobook; bought: hardcover (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Daryl 11/30/15, 7:44 AM  

when last seasons HBO rendition of GoT moved 'off script' i stuck with it because i read that Mr Martin gave the writers his blessing so ... how far off course could they go/be ... i think they (HBO) is giving us the story Martin is currently writing ... after all he knows we're watching

rhapsodyinbooks 11/30/15, 9:50 AM  

One of these days I'll give in and dive into this series, like I finally did with Outlander. It's good to be able to wait though, till most of the story is out there!

bermudaonion 11/30/15, 9:57 AM  

Vance loves these books but I know they're not for me.

Greg 11/30/15, 5:59 PM  

I agree, I would much prefer to read the conclusion of the story before seeing it, but that's obviously not going to happen at this point. Although I did skip the last season- unlike some fans, I'm not crazy about the show but I know I'm in the minority. :)

I look forward t reading this.

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