George R.R. Martin is most well-known for his Song of Ice and Fire series, currently being adapted into probably the biggest show on tv. It’s staggering just how big the book series is, too: the books total 1.7 million words in the first five novels alone, with two still waiting to be published. That’s almost four times as long as The Lord of the Rings.
So it’s refreshing to have something a little lighter from Martin. The Tales of Dunk and Egg are three novellas set in the world of Game of Thrones, about a hundred years before the events of A Game of Thrones.
They’re about a hedge knight from Flea Bottom called Dunk, and his young squire, Egg. Egg isn’t just any squire though: he’s Aegon V Targaryen, and future king of Westeros. You may have heard him mentioned in the series as Maester Aemon’s brother.
Let’s get one thing straight though: The Tales of Dunk and Egg are not A Song of Ice and Fire. There are no epic quests or magic or white walker armies. What they are is a collection of stories about a hedge knight on an adventure, and as that it’s quite a page-turner.
But The Tales of Dunk and Egg also offers an interesting perspective into another period in the history of Westeros. We see the aftermath of a civil war between the Targaryens. We see the political situation that precipitated some of the uneasy alliances that appear in Game of Thrones. We also see a character or two that goes on to be very important to A Song of Ice and Fire: Lord Bloodraven, for example, the Hand of the King in The Tales of Dunk and Egg. In A Song of Ice and Fire we know him as the three-eyed raven.
As an adventure story and as an a history of Westeros, The Tales of Dunk and Egg is great. Martin proves yet again that whether it comes to writing 1.7 million word epics or breezy short stories, he’s pretty hard to beat.