Tales of Dunk and Egg
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Tales of Dunk and Egg is a series of fantasy novellas by George R. R. Martin, set in the world of his A Song of Ice and Fire novels. They relate the adventures of "Dunk" (the future commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall) and "Egg" (the future king Aegon V Targaryen), some 90 years before the events of the novels.
Three novellas have been published – The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2003) and The Mystery Knight (2010) – and Martin intends to continue the series, which is to be (re-)published in a series of collections entitled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. The first of these, comprising the first three novellas, is to be published – with illustrations by Gary Gianni – in 2015, and in unillustrated translations some time earlier.
The Hedge Knight
Graphic Novel (Second edition)
|Author||George R. R. Martin|
|Series||A Song of Ice and Fire|
|Published||2005 (Dabel Brothers Productions)|
|Media type||Original novella in Legends anthology; released as standalone graphic novel|
|ISBN||0-9764011-0-X (graphic novel)|
|Followed by||The Sworn Sword|
The first novella was originally published August 25, 1998 in the Legends anthology, edited by Robert Silverberg. The story was later adapted to a six issue comic book limited series by Ben Avery, drawn by Mike S. Miller, produced by Roaring Studios (now Dabel Brothers Productions) and published by Image Comics and Devil's Due between August 2003 and May 2004. Devil's Due published the complete limited series as a graphic novel in June 2004. Following the termination of the partnership between Dabel Brothers and Devil's Due, the graphic novel has been republished in various editions.
A hedge knight, Ser Arlan of Pennytree, has died during the night. His squire, a large young man named Dunk, buries him and pays his last respects. After considering several options, Dunk decides to continue his journey to Ashford and compete in the tourney as a knight. He adopts Ser Arlan's armor as his own, as well as his equipment, three horses, and remaining monies. At an inn on the road, he meets a boy with a shaved head named Egg, who offers to become his squire. Despite the fact that Dunk, calling himself Ser Duncan the Tall, declines the offer, Egg secretly follows him to Ashford. Impressed by the boy's spirit, Dunk takes him on as his own squire for the upcoming tourney.
At Ashford, Dunk sells one of his horses so he can commission a suit of armor by the smith Pate. He also befriends Ser Steffon Fossoway's squire and cousin, Raymun Fossoway. Without proof of his knighthood, however, he is nearly barred from competition until Prince Baelor Targaryen vouches for him. Baelor tells Dunk that as he is not of Ser Arlan's family, he cannot use his arms, so Dunk commissions a Dornish puppeteer girl to paint a new one. Dunk watches the first day of competition amongst the commoners, with Egg on his shoulders. After several spectacular tilts, the day ends after Baelor's nephew, Prince Aerion Targaryen, disgraces himself by killing Ser Humfrey Hardyng's horse.
That night, when Dunk retires into the Fossoways' tent to drink with Raymun, Egg informs that the puppeteer girl he had met earlier is being beaten by Prince Aerion. Dunk leaps to her defense and attacks Aerion, striking him in the face. As the royal guard arrests Dunk, Egg reveals himself to be Aerion's brother, Prince Aegon. Imprisoned, Dunk is visited by Egg, who tells that he was meant to be the squire of Prince Daeron, his older brother. Being a poor warrior, Daeron stole away from the escort, leading Aegon to pose as Egg in order to fulfill his dream of being a squire. After meeting Prince Baelor again, Dunk chooses to take a trial by combat rather than undergo mutilation (the removal of the offending hand and foot which he used to assault a royal prince). Prince Aerion demands the combat to be a Trial of Seven, as his brother, Prince Daeron, the drunkard from the inn, had also accused Dunk of kidnapping Aegon from his charge. The council of lords, including Lord Ashford, Baelor and his brother Prince Maekar (Aerion's father), have no choice but to accept the demand. Dunk must find six champions to fight with him against seven accusing knights, or he must forfeit.
Steffon Fossoway is the first ally Dunk finds. He promises to bring Dunk more champions, as does Raymun. Egg also promises to bring more champions for Dunk's cause. Aerion's brother Prince Daeron, also called the Drunken, appears in the tent. He confesses Egg's earlier accusations, and that he fabricated his own charges at the trial as he was embarrassed by losing track of his brother while in drunken stupor. He warns Dunk that his father will have three knights of the Kingsguard fight in the trial. He also tells Dunk of an ominous dream where he saw Dunk with a dead dragon, the symbol of House Targaryen, and assures that his dreams always come true.
Dunk is met again by Pate, who was trusted by the puppeteer girl with Dunk's new shield. At the morning of the trial, Raymun returns with Ser Humfrey Hardyng and Ser Humfrey Beesbury, good-brothers seeking revenge for the grievance Aerion committed against Hardyng. Aegon brings Ser Robyn Rhysling and Ser Lyonel Baratheon (called the "Laughing Storm"), both eager for the glory of competing in the first Trial of Seven in a century. Steffon returns only to say he has decided to fight with the accusers for the reward of a lordship. Angered by his cousin's treachery, Raymun begs to be knighted and fight in Steffon's place. Dunk hesitates, as the truth to his own knighthood is questionable, and knighting Raymun would also jeopardize his future as well. Dunk is called away by Lord Ashford, and Lyonel grants Raymun his knighthood. Still needing a seventh champion, Dunk appeals unsuccessfully to the crowd. Finally, Prince Baelor announces that he will champion Dunk himself, though the accusers include three of his family members.
The fourteen champions line their mounts along opposite sides of the tourney grounds and charge. Dunk tilts against Aerion, but is quickly unhorsed. Though nearly defeated, Dunk manages to grapple Aerion and use his size advantage and streetfighting style to pummel Aerion into submission with his own shield. Aerion recants his accusation, ending the Trial. The fighting costs the lives of both Humfreys . After the battle, Baelor approaches Dunk to congratulate him, and begins to act drunkenly. When his crushed helm is removed, it is shown that the weaker armor made for his son did not protect him from a blow which has crushed in his skull, fulfilling Daeron's prophetic dream. Prince Maekar meets with Dunk after the funeral, revealing that it was his mace that killed Baelor, though he has no clear memory of striking the fatal blow. He regrets Aerion's behavior and offers Dunk a position in his household to train Aegon. Dunk insists on being allowed to travel, and offers to take Aegon as his squire to learn to be a better knight than Aerion. Maekar agrees, making sure Aegon continues to use his alias of Egg to avoid scandal. Dunk and Egg set out to Dorne, in search of the puppeteer girl whom Dunk had saved.
The Sworn Sword
The second novella was published in 2003 in the Legends II anthology, also edited by Robert Silverberg. The story has been adapted to a graphic novel by Ben Avery and drawn by Mike S. Miller, in cooperation with publisher and distributor Marvel Comics. The graphic novel was released on June 18, 2008, with the first comic released on June 20, 2007.
Dunk and Egg traveled to Dorne in search of the puppeteer girl Dunk had saved at Ashford, but never found her. A great plague called the Spring Sickness passed during their stay in Dorne. During a great drought, they left the hedges to enter regular service of a maester. The story begins in the Reach with Dunk sworn to Ser Eustace Osgrey of Standfast, an old and broken man whose family were once lords of Coldmoat. Dunk and Egg's adventure illuminates several aspects of the feudal system of Westeros. Also, a series of flashbacks narrated by Ser Eustace relate the events of the Blackfyre Rebellion and its conclusion at the Battle of the Redgrass Field of 196 AL.
Loaded with supplies, Dunk and Egg journey back to the fort of Standfast. Upon their return, Dunk and Ser Eustace's other sworn sword, Ser Bennis the Brown, go to investigate the local stream, which has dried up. They discover that a dam has been built by peasants in service to Lady Rohanne Webber of Coldmoat. Bennis cuts one of the peasants and scares them all away. Upon hearing the news, Ser Eustace realizes that Lady Webber will be angered by Bennis's actions. The Lady of Coldmoat is popularly known as the "Red Widow," for the spider sigil of her house, her red hair, and the four husbands she has outlived so far, and has a fearsome repution. He orders Dunk and Bennis begin training levies from his three villages.
Hoping for a peaceful solution, Eustace sends Dunk to Coldmoat to discuss the matters of the dam and the wounded peasant. Upon entering Coldmoat, Dunk learns that Lady Rohanne stands to lose her lands to a male cousin if she does not take a fifth husband by the second anniversary of her father's death, which is not far off. Her castellan, the haughty Ser Lucas Inchfield (known as the Long Inch for his 6-foot 7-inch height), is her most insistent suitor, but he is much older than she is, ugly, uncouth, and cruel; she has already refused him once when her father tried to marry her to him. Dunk meets with Rohanne, and the two experience a subtle sexual tension. Dunk also notices the undercurrent of hostility in her interactions with the Long Inch, who appears less than respectful of her authority as Lady of the house he serves.
Dunk is unable to change the Lady's mind on either the dam's construction or seeking justice for her servant. In addition, Rohanne informs him that Ser Eustace is a former traitor, having supported the usurper Daemon Blackfyre, and been stripped of most of his lands, including the Chequy Water, The true reason for her dislike of Ser Eustace, though, is that she was once in love with his youngest son, who rode with him to the Redgrass Field and died there along with his two brothers. Rohanne's first husband, to whom she was betrothed at the age of ten, also died at the Redgrass while serving as her father's squire. Her second, an elderly knight, died of a chill, her third choked to death on a chicken bone, and her four husband perished along with tens of thousands of others in the Great Spring Sickness, leaving her a widow four times over at the age of twenty-five.
Shocked by the news of Ser Eustace's past treason, Dunk returns to Standfast to leave the old knight's service. That night, Ser Eustace's forest is put to the torch. Lady Rohanne had informed Dunk after their failed negotiations that if Ser Bennis were not sent to her to suffer her judgment, she would bring "fire and sword" to Standfast. The burning of Wat's Wood has fulfilled the fire portion of that claim, so Dunk fears that Rohanne will bring her knights in the early morning and slaughter Eustace's levies, which number only eight men. He disperses the levies, enraging Eustace. Dunk placates him by promising to stand with him when he faces Lady Webber and her garrison.
At the river, they meet the Lady and her thirty-plus men-at-arms, led by Ser Lucas Long Inch. Dunk Rides into the ford to parley with Lady Rohanne where the noise of the water will prevent anyone on either bank from overhearing them. Before he enters the stream, Ser Eustace reminds Dunk of the way his ancestor, Ser Wilbert the Little Lion, had saved the Reach from a Lannister invasion by slaying King Lancel V of the Rock in single combat, implying that Dunk should kill Lady Rohanne to remove her threat to Standfast and avenge past slights.
Instead of taking this dishonorable advice, Dunk offers his own blood to Lady Rohanne by slicing his cheek. This pays the debt for the wounded peasant, but in claiming that Lady Rohanne had Wat's Wood burned, Ser Eustace has slighted her honor. She requires apology or vindication, as she claims innocence of the matter. Lady Rohanne tells Dunk that she cannot afford to back down from an opponent as weak as Lord Eustace, for fear of appearing weak herself. Several neighboring lords would like to seize some or all of her holdings, and she fears that sooner or later the Long Inch, who her father's will prevents her from dismissing from her service, will marry her by force.
All parties agree to settle the matter through trial by combat between Dunk and Ser Lucas, to be fought in the stream as it is the only neutral ground present. Before entering the streambed, Ser Lucas tells Rohanne that after he kills Dunk she will marry him, his manner implying that he views her refusal thus far as nothing more than childish petulance. Dunk is nearly outfought by Ser Lucas, but uses his grappling skills to drown the older knight. He nearly drowns himself, but is resuscitated by Lady Rohanne's maester, who was ironborn and knows the ways of the Drowned God's priesthood.
Severely wounded and barely alive, Dunk is taken to Coldmoat to be tended by the maester for his injuries. When he awakens, Dunk learns that Ser Eustace and Lady Rohanne have done more than reconcile their quarrel: they are now married, making the last Osgrey Lord of Coldmoat once more, and fulfilling the codicil in Lord Wyman Webber's will that required Rohanne to marry within two years of her father's death or forfeit her lands. Before Dunk leaves, Rohanne offers him her finest mare to make amends. He refuses, claiming that he is unworthy of such a horse, and a horse is not what he would have of her. Lady Rohanne insists that he take something to remember her by, and he pulls her into a passionate kiss. Egg meets up with Dunk shortly thereafter, and wonders what happened to the horse Lady Rohanne promised to give Dunk. Dunk informs him that he didn't want the horse, but that as a token to remember her, he cut off her long braid as a keepsake. Dunk asks Egg if he wants to return to his father's household, but Egg declines, noting that he's never seen the Wall; the hedge knight and his squire ride off toward the North.
The Mystery Knight
Like The Sworn Sword, the book takes place during the reign of Aerys I and the aftermath of the Blackfyre Rebellion is examined in more detail.
The story begins with Dunk and Egg leaving Stoney Sept. They are moving north to try and take up service with Lord Beron Stark who has sent a call for men to help fend off Greyjoy raids on the northern coast. On the way they encounter a septon who was beheaded for preaching treason; Dunk remembers that Lord Bloodraven has spies everywhere. On route, Egg and Dunk encounter a group of knights and minor lords traveling to a tourney in honor of the wedding of Lord Butterwell of Whitewalls to a Frey of the Crossing; the tourney victor's prize is to be a dragon egg.
Dunk takes a dislike to Gorman Peake; Ser Arlan to whom Dunk was squired claimed his previous squire Roger of Pennytree was slain by Gorman in the battle of Redgrass field. Egg tells Dunk that Peake's arms of three castles on an orange field is because the Peake family used to own three castles, but two were forfeited to the Crown when Peake sided with Blackfyre.
Dunk decides to go to the wedding. During the journey Dunk befriends three fellow hedge knights, Ser Maynard Plumm, Ser Kyle the Cat of Misty Moor and a young hedge knight named Ser Glendon Ball who claims he is the bastard son of the famous knight Quentyn "Fireball" Ball, a renowned warrior who fought for Daemon Blackfyre.
The wedding is set at Whitewalls and Lord Frey arrives with his four-year-old heir, Walder Frey, and his fifteen-year-old daughter, who weds Lord Butterwell. Egg tells Duncan that Lord Butterwell took no part in the Blackfyre Rebellion, but one of his sons fought for the Red Dragon and one for the Black. In that way his house was guaranteed to be on the winning side, but both his sons died on the Redgrass field. Egg becomes increasingly suspicious at the wedding and points out to Duncan that most of the banners and sigils he sees are of men who fought for the Black Dragon, saying "This is a tourney of traitors." Dunk tells Egg that Redgrass was over a decade ago, and the past is the past. At the wedding a troupe of dwarfs entertain the guests. During the bedding Dunk is drafted by John the Fiddler to carry the bride to the bedchamber. Dunk does so and later when he goes for a breath of air, John the Fiddler talks to him saying that he recognized Dunk on the road. Dunk appeared to him in a dream in which Duncan wore the all white armor of the Kingsguard. The Fiddler says his dreams always come true, as he dreamt his brothers dead once and also a dragon hatching from an egg at Whitewalls.
Dunk decides to enter the first match of the joust as a mystery knight known as the Gallows Knight (due to a new shield that once belonged to a knight of House Trant that Dunk had to buy after his old shield was hacked to pieces in his duel with the Long Inch) in case anyone heard of a Knight named Ser Duncan the Tall from Ashford, but Dunk is defeated in the first tilt by Ser Uthor Underleaf, known as the Snail Knight due to his sigil. Underleaf's lance hits Duncan upon the helm, knocking him out and nearly killing him. Dunk recovers later and goes to give Underleaf his armor and horse as forfeit (losing a joust match requires a forfeit of horse and armor to the winner). Since Dunk can't ransom it back he is in a glum mood. Dunk talks to Underleaf and Underleaf informs Dunk that someone bribed him to try and kill Dunk in the final tilt; he states that if they paid more he might have completed the task, and tells Dunk he has an enemy. Before the jousting continues word spreads through the castle that the dragon egg is missing and the blame is placed on Ser Glendon Ball, who is imprisoned by Peake.
Dunk notices that Egg is missing and sets out to find his squire. Whilst searching he is almost killed by Alyn Cockshaw who tells Dunk he bribed Underleaf to kill Dunk because he was jealous of John the Fiddler's obsession with Dunk and that dream (it is implied that Cockshaw was in love with John the Fiddler). Dunk manages to defeat him by throwing him down a well, though he takes a wound in return from Cockshaw's knife. Maynard Plumm comes to Duncan's aid, and it is discovered that Plumm is one of Bloodraven's many spies (though it is strongly implied that he is in fact Bloodraven himself disguised by his infamous sorcery), and that John the Fiddler's real name is Daemon, after his father Daemon Blackfyre. Plumm tells Dunk "he would be surprised how many Lords want their king to be brave and stupid."
Dunk finds Egg in the sept with the cowering Lord Butterwell, who on discovering Egg's true identity is terrified for his life. Egg told Butterwell (falsely) that he and Dunk were spies sent to investigate the tournament and that his father Maekar is on the way with an army. Lord Butterwell's good son (son-in-law) Black Tom Heddle shows up and tries to kill Egg to incite a war (by killing Maekar's favourite son). Tom Heddle scoffs at Dunk, telling him "he saw him try to joust", and Dunk tells him that he's "better with a sword". Tom Heddle doesn't heed Dunk's warning though, and dies when Dunk finally stabs him in the throat with the comment "I told you, I'm better with a sword." Dunk tells Egg to flee with Butterwell. To buy time for Egg's escape Dunk confronts Daemon Blackfyre, accusing Gorman Peake of falsely charging Ball with the theft of the dragon egg.
Daemon is enraged by the implication and allows Ball to prove his innocence in trial by combat. Ser Glendon soundly defeats Daemon and knocks him into the mud, causing some of the spectators to mock Daemon as "the Brown Dragon." By this time a large army under the King's Hand Brynden Rivers encircles Whitewalls and Daemon is captured as most of the present Lords and knights surrender without a fight. Dunk meets Bloodraven inside his pavilion outside of which the heads of Gormon Peake and Black Tom Heddle are displayed on spears. Egg is there as well and demands that Bloodraven reward Ser Glendon Ball, Dunk and all the other hedge knights. Bloodraven notes that Egg is much more fierce and confident now, and concludes that he was actually the dragon Daemon saw being "hatched from an Egg" at Whitewalls in his dream. For surrendering to Bloodraven without a fight, Lord Butterwell is spared his life and allowed to keep a tenth of his wealth. Whitewalls, however, will be forfeit to the Iron Throne and torn down. Bloodraven also, at Egg's request, gives Dunk the gold to ransom his armor back. Dunk then asks Bloodraven what became of the dragon egg. Bloodraven tells Dunk it was taken by an agent of his who crawled up the privy shaft of the castle to take the egg from its guarded chamber, and is now safe. Dunk remarks that a man would not have fit in those shafts, and Bloodraven replies that a child would. Or a dwarf, Dunk thinks as he remembers the performing dwarfs at the wedding.
Martin has said that he would like to write a number of these stories (varying from six to twelve from interview to interview) covering the entire lives of these two characters. Martin announced on his 2011 national book tour that the Dunk and Egg series will be collected into a book and published by Bantam Spectra after the fourth novella is first published in an original anthology he and Gardner Dozois are editing. However, in a 2014 blog post he announced that the compilation, titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, would consist of only the three published stories and would include art work throughout by Gary Gianni.
As of late 2013 the fourth installment, with the working title The She-Wolves of Winterfell has been postponed whilst Martin completes The Winds of Winter. In April 2014, Martin also announced that he had roughed out another Dunk and Egg story with the working title The Village Hero which would be set in the Riverlands. He noted that he was not sure which of these two would be completed first.
References in other Song of Ice and Fire novels
Ser Duncan the Tall is listed among notable Commanders of the Kingsguard when Jaime Lannister is self-reflecting in A Storm of Swords, chapter 69. In the same chapter it is mentioned in the recordings of Barristan Selmy that he defeated Ser Duncan the Tall in the winter tourney of King's Landing.
The genealogy chart of Targaryens in the reference section of A Game of Thrones shows that Egg would become King Aegon V (the Unlikely) and rule from 233-259. This was confirmed in A Clash of Kings, where it is revealed that Egg's brother Maester Aemon was offered the throne, he refused and suggested that Egg rule instead. As king, Egg wanted Aemon to help him rule, but Aemon chose to continue his maestering work and went to the Wall instead.
In A Storm of Swords, Prince Oberyn Martell remarks that “In the days of the Targaryens, a man who struck one of the blood royal would lose the hand he struck him with,” a situation which arises in The Hedge Knight.
In A Feast for Crows, Brienne has her shield painted with arms that match Dunk's. Brienne takes the arms from a shield she remembers seeing in her father's armory. Later, in the same novel, Brienne arrives at an inn owned by a girl whose last name is Heddle (possible descendant of Black Tom Heddle who is killed by Dunk in the Mystery Knight).
Also in A Feast for Crows, Maester Aemon mentions Egg's name several times in his delirium. It is revealed that one of Egg's daughters married a son of House Baratheon and became the mother of Lord Steffon Baratheon, and thus the grandmother of Robert, Renly and Stannis Baratheon. Aemon mentions that when he went to the wall, "He [Egg] sent me north aboard the Golden Dragon, and insisted that his friend Ser Duncan see me safe to Eastwatch." In the bonus features for Season One of Game of Thrones (on Blu-ray), Robert Baratheon states that this heritage is what allowed him to lay claim to the Iron Throne.
In A Dance with Dragons, the memories of Ser Barristan Selmy revealed that the sons of Egg had chosen their own wives for love, rather than accept matches for political advantage. Egg allowed his children their heart's desire, because he himself had also wed for love. According to Ser Barristan Selmy, this led to resentment and treason amongst the lords, ultimately leading to the "tragedy of Summerhall."
In the 2014 companion book The World of Ice and Fire, mention is made of "Kingsguard knight Ser Duncan the Tall" during the reign of King Aegon V Targaryen (Aegon the Unlikely). In the Battle of Wendwater Bridge, during the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion, Daemon III Blackfyre is slain by "Ser Duncan, the hedge knight for whom “Egg” had served as a squire." Later in Aegon's reign during the rebellion of Lord Lyonel Baratheon (the Laughing Storm), it is noted that Ser Duncan had faced and defeated Lord Lyonel in single combat in a trial by battle.
The first and second novellas were adapted as graphic novels:
- Martin, George R.R.; Avery, Ben; Miller, Mike S.; Crowell, Mike (2005). The Hedge Knight (2. ed.). Dabel Bros. ISBN 978-0-9764011-0-0.
- Martin, George R.R.; Avery, Ben; Miller, Mike S.; Crowell, Mike (2008). The Sworn Sword. Marvel. ISBN 978-0-7851-2650-8.
Film or TV adaptations of the novellas are being discussed, according to Martin in 2014. He wrote that because HBO owns the TV rights to the setting of Westeros (if not to the characters of the novellas), it would be preferable to have HBO adopt the novellas also.
- Martin, George R.R. (13 April 2014). "Dunk and Egg". Not a Blog. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Martin, George R. R.; Avery, Ben; Miller, Mike S. (June 2004). The Hedge Knight. Chicago, Ill.: Devil's Due Publishing. ISBN 1-932796-06-1.
- "Not a Blog post: Dunk and Egg". George R.R. Martin. Retrieved 2014-04-14.
- Tales of Dunk and Egg at the Internet Book List
- Review and interview on suvudu.com
- Hudson, Laura (August 7, 2007). "George R. R. Martin's Adventures in Comics Part 1". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- Hudson, Laura (August 14, 2007). "Talking with George R. R. Martin Part 2". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 5, 2014.