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[Book Review] A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

Next Monday you can watch the final episode of Game of Thrones at the 3mE faculty. Pooja Ramakrishnan discovered a story set in the same universe as the TV show.

In the last month, anyone with an internet connection would have encountered at least one news story on HBO’s staggeringly popular Game of Thrones series. From memes to theories or even the caustic reviews of the way the storyline is being handled, social media have been inundated with these posts. The show is no longer just a TV program but has evolved into a phenomenon that fans have become deeply invested in, much like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is set in the same universe as the TV show, albeit a hundred years earlier. Written by the same author, George R.R. Martin, it follows Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, a little boy named ‘Egg’, as they journey through Westeros. Egg is no ordinary boy, though. He’s a Targaryen prince and, by virtue of his lineage, was raised to be sharp tongued, outspoken and intelligent. Yet, when they set off to travel the lands with him in disguise, he must learn to control his true nature so as to preserve his real identity. What follows is a set of hilarious conundrums that the quixotic Ser Duncan attempts to solve, resulting in comic tragedies. Unlike the Game of Thrones series, GRMM chooses to thread this fantastic adventure with top-notch humor.

Thus, this book serves as an excellent starting point for those who have been repelled by the popularity of the series as well as a pick-me-up for those who are despairing about the end of the saga. It includes all the elements of what makes his Song of Ice and Fire series (the books that Game of Thrones is based on) so popular but is much lighter and easier to read. Furthermore, it is divided into three distinct novellas that each have a complete storyline of their own. What I find most charming about the book is the evolution of the friendship between the main protagonists. A knight and a squire are not exactly equals, but Egg’s unique title makes him more of a partner to Ser Duncan than his servant, and this pairing is an absolute treat to read.

I must add that the book (and the universe) is problematic in some respects, though. Certain characters behave in ways that will now be considered sexist and reprehensible. Yet, that is something fantasy universes have to navigate and find ways to redeem themselves. This is done especially beautifully in the last season of the show, where the title of this book gets a hefty mention.

Ultimately, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a breezy, entertaining read that gives us a glimpse of the world in which the ancestors of our current favorite characters grew up. It sheds new light on their motivations, their prejudices and the rich history that the houses and their allegiances are rooted in. Whether you are already a fan of Game of Thrones or not, I would definitely recommend this book.

http://www.georgerrmartin.com/grrm_book/knight-of-the-seven-kingdoms/

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