Dec 5 2013 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: “The Hedge Knight” Part 1

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 1 of “The Hedge Knight: A Tale of the Seven Kingdoms,” which originally appeared in the anthology Legends: Stories By The Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Robert Silverberg.

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

The Hedge Knight: Part 1

What Happens
Dunk digs a grave for his old master, Ser Arlan of Pennytree, who had died on their way to a tourney at Ashford Meadow. Dunk is grieved at the old man’s death, but supposes he lived longer than most. He says a few awkward but sincere words over Ser Arlan’s grave, and then debates what to do next. He considers the old man’s armor, but it is all far too small for Dunk, who is near seven feet even at sixteen (or seventeen). At length he takes the old man’s sword and ties it to his waist with rope, and heads to the tourney at Ashford.

He reaches an inn and decides to stop for a meal. He meets a young boy who has no hair and assumes he is the stableboy, and orders him to see to Dunk’s horses. The boy gives him lip in return, and is skeptical of Dunk’s claim to be a knight, but Dunk leaves the horses with him anyway. Inside, he learns from the innkeep that he’s a day’s ride from Ashford. The only other customer in the common room is a young drunken lord, who tells Dunk he dreamed of him, and warns him to stay away from him before stumbling upstairs. The innkeep tells Dunk not to mind the lordling.

After his meal, Dunk returns to the barn to find the boy wearing Arlen’s armor and sitting on Thunder, the warhorse. Dunk laughs at the sight and orders him off. The boy mouths off to him, but obeys, and then asks Dunk to take him along to Ashford as his squire. Dunk considers that the boy surely had a better life here, and refuses. He tries to give the boy a penny, but the boy ignores it and watches him leave, sullenly.

Dunk reaches the tourney grounds and marvels for a bit at the sigils of the great houses there before finding an out-of-the-way spot to make his own camp. He knows he must do well in the tourney to have any hope of finding a place in a noble house. He bathes, thinking of Ser Arlan’s tales of seeing the last dragon (a sickly thing) before it died during the reign of Aegon the Unlucky, and then takes Ser Arlan’s shield with him back to the tourney grounds. He finds an armorer, Steely Pate, who agrees to outfit him for six hundred stags plus Arlan’s old armor. Dunk is dismayed at the price, but gets Pate to agree to hold two silvers in trust for the rest, which Dunk promises to get by the next day. He tells himself all he has to do is win one joust and he will have the funds he needs.

He returns to his campsite to find the boy there, cooking dinner. He orders the boy away, and threatens to haul him home, but the boy replies that he’d need to take him all the way to King’s Landing for that. Dunk is annoyed, but cannot bring himself to beat such a defenseless boy. He sees that the boy has washed his clothes and tended the horses. He asks what happened to the boy’s hair, and the boy answers that the maesters shaved it off. The boy asks for his name, and Dunk lies that “Dunk” is short for “Ser Duncan the Tall.” The boy is skeptical, but tells him his name is “Egg,” which Dunk assumes is a reference to his bald head. He decides to take Egg on as a squire, and tells him so; Egg appears pleased. Dunk sees a shooting star above, and takes it as a sign of luck.

The next morning, he leaves Egg at the camp with threats to hunt him down if he steals or runs off, and hopes he is not being a fool to trust the boy. He goes to the castle to see Plummer, the master of the games, and tells him he was squire to Arlan of Pennytree, who knighted Dunk before he died. Plummer has never heard of Ser Arlan and is skeptical of Dunk’s claim. Dunk tells him Ser Manfred Dondarrion might remember Arlan, and Plummer tells him if Manfred will vouch for Dunk he may enter. He also warns Dunk that if he loses, he will lose his horse and armor to the victor, but Dunk tells him he will not lose.

He goes to the barn, intending to sell the palfrey Sweetfoot to the master of horse, but instead sees the Targaryens arrive in full panoply. One of them, who Dunk thinks might be one of King Daeron’s grandsons, orders Dunk to see to his horse, but Dunk tells him he is a knight. The princeling is skeptical, but then is distracted and leaves. The master of horse arrives, but has no interest in buying Sweetfoot. Dunk introduces himself to two of the Kingsguard accompanying the princes, Ser Roland Crakehall and Ser Donnel of Duskendale, and is relieved to hear they do not intend to enter the lists, though he wonders what he will do if required to face a prince.

A stableman in town buys Sweetfoot for seven hundred and fifty stags, and Dunk gives two coppers to a puppeteer girl he’d seen the day before and liked. He invites her shyly to have a drink with him, but she says she has another show, and Dunk feels like a fool. He watches the other knights training; one of them, Ser Steffon Fossoway, challenges Dunk to a sword duel, but Dunk begs off, to Steffon’s disdain. Embarrassed, Dunk stalks off, but Steffon’s brother Raymun hurries after him to apologize for urging the duel. He asks who Dunk means to strike, and Dunk tells him he will not enter the lists until the third day. Raymun wishes him luck. Dunk hopes that it is not too much to hope for, being named one of the champions of the tourney despite his low origins.

At the camp, Dunk shows Egg the armor he’d gotten for Sweetfoot’s price. Egg points out that the armor is plain, and Dunk replies that’s good enough for him. He thinks the boy is too bold, but he likes that, and promises to take him into town the next day. Egg seems fearful about going into the castle, but Dunk assumes he will get over that in time.

Ser Manfred, it turns out, does not remember Ser Arlan, and has no interest in vouching for Dunk. Despairing, Dunk returns to see Plummer and finds him in the castle’s Great Hall with Lord Ashford and a Targaryen prince, who is arguing about his son Daeron with another man sitting in Ashford’s seat, who he calls his brother. The first prince is angry at Dunk’s intrusion, but his brother bids Dunk to speak. Dunk explains about his situation. The others are ready to dismiss Dunk, but the man in the seat says he remembers Ser Arlan, and that he unhorsed the Grey Lion, who Dunk remembers was Ser Damon Lannister, now Lord of Casterly Rock. The man remarks that Lord Damon is entering the lists the next day.

He recalls breaking four lances against Arlan before defeating him at Storm’s End, and Dunk realizes the man is the crown prince Baelor Breakspear, and falls to his knees in apology. Baelor is unoffended, though. Dunk stammers that Arlan said Baelor was “the soul of chivalry,” and the Seven Kingdoms would be safe in his hands. He further realizes the other prince must be Maekar, the youngest of the king’s sons. Baelor says the decision to let Dunk enter the lists is up to the master of games, but he sees no reason to deny him, and Plummer perforce acquiesces. Maekar kicks him out impatiently then, but first Baelor tells Dunk that as he is not a trueborn son of Arlan’s, he must find another sigil to bear than Arlan’s winged chalice. Dunk promises he will.

Dunk is tempted by a red-haired whore, but resists the notion and goes to find Egg at the puppet show. He goes to the tall puppeteer girl and offers to pay her to paint over Arlan’s chalice on his shield. She asks what he wants painted over it, and Dunk is stumped momentarily, but asks for sunset colors for the field. Egg says the device should be an elm tree. Dunk agrees, but adds that it should have a shooting star above it. The girl says she can have it done by the next day. She introduces herself as Tanselle Too-Tall, and Dunk blurts she is not too tall at all, and blushes.

The next day at breakfast Egg chatters with surprising knowledge about the chances of the various knights in the lists, and Dunk listens attentively. They go to the crowded field to watch the opening competitions, and Dunk remarks to Egg that the dark-haired Baelor does not look much like a Targaryen. Egg says Baelor is said to resemble his mother, a Dornish princess. Two of the five champions are Lord Ashford’s sons Androw and Robert, likely to fall quickly, and Egg points out the third, Lord Leo Tyrell of Highgarden, called Leo Longthorn, and says Dunk will not want to face him; Dunk replies irritably that he doesn’t need Egg’s advice on who to challenge. The fourth champion is Ser Humfrey Hardyng, from the Vale of Arryn, and the fifth is Prince Valarr, Baelor’s son.

The challengers are announced and select their opponents. The Grey Lion chooses Lord Tyrell, and his son Ser Tybolt Lannister chooses Ashford’s oldest son Androw; Lord Tully of Riverrun picks Ser Humfrey Hardyng, Ser Abelar Hightower Prince Valarr, and the younger Ashford, Robert, is called out by Ser Lyonel Baratheon, called the Laughing Storm. All ten of the competitors’ lances are broken on the first pass, to the crowd’s roaring approval. Ser Abelar is unhorsed and dazed on the second pass, and Lord Tully and Ser Humphrey go to swords. The other knights go to a third pass, and the Grey Lion yields to Lord Tyrell as Ser Humphrey beats Lord Tully at the sword.

Androw Ashford loses to Tybolt after three more passes, and Robert lasts for nine broken lances before finally yielding to Ser Lyonel Baratheon; Lord Ashford is pleased that his sons acquitted themselves so well, but Dunk thinks to himself that he must do even better. Three new challengers enter; Ser Pease Caron chooses Lord Tyrell, Ser Joseth Mallister chooses Ser Humfrey, and Ser Gawen Swann chooses Prince Valarr. Egg immediately identifies Gawen as the least dangerous of the three. Gawen is unhorsed on the second pass, and yields, claiming it was well-fought, but Egg complains that it wasn’t; Dunk tells him to be quiet, but thinks he would have a chance against the prince himself.

Egg is cheering on Caron against Lord Tyrell, but Tyrell soon defeats him. The tourney goes on, Leo Tyrell and Lyonel Baratheon doing tremendously, but Dunk is most impressed with Ser Humfrey Hardyng, who defeats fourteen valiant knights. Prince Valarr wins nine victories, but each of them against undistinguished foes; no truly skilled knights ever challenge him. Late in the day Prince Aerion Brightflame, Maekar’s son, enters the lists, and Dunk recognizes him as the man he met at the stables. Egg seems agitated at his appearance. Aerion laughs at Valarr and challenges Ser Humfrey, calling that it is “time [he] faced the dragon.”

As they charge, Egg suddenly shouts “Kill him!”, though Dunk is not sure which knight he’s talking to. Dunk sees that Aerion’s lance is too low, and realizes with horror that he is aiming for Ser Humfrey’s horse instead. The lance pierces the horse in the neck and it goes down; Ser Humfrey tries to leap free, but gets caught in the stirrup, and his leg is crushed between the fence and the falling horse. People rush onto the list to try and free Humfrey from the thrashing, dying horse, but Aerion has to be held back from going for the trapped knight with his sword. Dunk feels sick, and Egg demands to be let down from Dunk’s shoulders. Dunk tells Egg he must be strong in the face of such mishaps, but Egg declares Aerion meant to do it. Dunk thinks so too, but refuses to admit it out loud.

The tourney is over for the day after that. Ser Raymun Fossoway finds Dunk and Egg on the merchants’ row with the news that Humfrey was declared the victor of the last joust, but will be unable to continue with his leg broken in two places, and that rather than replace him, the tourney will continue with four champions instead of five. Dunk thinks that he has no chance against Leo Tyrell, Lyonel Baratheon, or Tybolt Lannister, but that surely a hedge knight could not challenge a prince. He asks Raymun who his brother Steffon means to challenge, and Raymun says Tybolt, unless another knight shows weakness first, Steffon not suffering from an excess of chivalry. He invites Dunk for a drink, which Dunk reluctantly accepts after Egg maneuvers him into it.

At the Fossoway pavilion, Raymun comments that Aerion is in a rage that Humfrey was named the winner of the match, but bets it was Baelor who advised the decision. Dunk says Prince Baelor is an honorable man, and Raymun laughs that it is no secret that Aerion is “a bad piece of work,” and is grateful he is so far down the line of succession. He opines that Aerion would not have aimed for the horse if his father Maekar were watching, but Maekar has left Ashford to search for his son Daeron the Drunken, along with his youngest son. Raymun pities Maekar, always overshadowed by his brothers, and now his own sons as well: Daeron is a sot, Aerion vain and cruel, his third “so unpromising they gave him to the Citadel to make a maester of him”… Before he gets to the fourth son, Egg bursts in to tell Dunk that Aerion is hurting the puppet girl Tanselle.

Raymun cautions Dunk about engaging the prince, but Dunk runs after Egg anyway to the puppet show, where Aerion is manhandling Tanselle while his men-at-arms wreck the stage. Dunk sees Aerion break one of Tanselle’s fingers, and Dunk strides up, grabs Aerion and punches him so hard he goes down. He kicks the prince twice more before the prince’s men haul him off and pin him. Aerion gets up, and asks why Dunk threw his life away for “this whore,” who he calls a traitor, and calls for a hammer to break all of Dunk’s teeth with before he disembowels him. Then Egg calls out for them not to hurt Dunk. Dunk tells him to shut up and run or they’ll hurt him. Egg says they won’t, or they’ll answer to his father and his uncle. To Dunk’s confusion, the men-at-arms back off.

“Impudent little wretch,” [Prince Aerion] said to Egg, spitting a mouthful of blood at the boy’s feet. “What happened to your hair?”

“I cut it off, brother,” said Egg. “I didn’t want to look like you.”


Okay, so, just for the record, I TOTALLY CALLED that Egg was a Targaryen, way before this last moment. You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, but I totally did.

I knew pretty much from the moment we met him that he was going to turn out to be More Than He Seemed, but at first I figured he was probably just some random noble’s son. Somewhere around where Martin kept mentioning the trademark Targaryen hair, though, was where I suspected he was more like a random royal son, and his reaction to Aerion at the tourney clinched it. If I had Aerion for a brother I’d want someone to kill him too.

So is he Maekar’s third son, or fourth? They said something about the third son going to the maesters, and Egg told Dunk that maesters shaved his head, but that was obviously a lie anyway, so he could be the fourth son. That makes more sense anyway, since Maekar was off searching for Daeron the Drunken (his first son), and his youngest son, and Daeron and Egg were at the inn together before Egg followed Dunk to Ashford.

Because Daeron, of course, is obviously the drunk lord Dunk ran into at the inn on the way to Ashford. I have no idea what’s up with the dreaming thing, though. I note, however, that if I had presumably accurate prophetic dreams all the time, I might be driven to drink too.

Yeah, and if I had these gems for a family? I might run away too. Egg looks to be the only undamaged twig on this particular branch of the Targaryen tree.

That is such a thing with that family, too, isn’t it? They don’t appear to do anything by halves. Either they’re amazing and brilliant people, like Daenerys or Baelor or (I suspect) Egg, or they’re complete fucking nightmares.

Case in point, the delightful Aerion, who appears to be gunning for Viserys’s position as On-Screen Targaryen I’ve Liked Least So Far. Not that he’s taken the prize, but it’s early yet. Crippling a knight for, apparently, the LOLZ is a grand start, though! Ugh.

Anyway. Dunk is a pretty great protagonist, I think. He’s got a lot of flavors of young untried hero characters we’ve all seen before, but he is refreshingly himself as well, and his genuine (if unpolished) grief for his mentor gains the reader’s sympathy for him right away. I like him and I want him to win, and that’s just about what you need in a protagonist.

You can already tell he and Egg would make a great team—literally brawn and brains—assuming Egg doesn’t have to go back to his family after this. And assuming Dunk doesn’t get executed for assaulting a prince, of course, but I feel fairly safe in predicting that that’s not going to happen.

What is Egg’s real name, I wonder? No doubt I’ll find out. No bets on whether it’s going to have an “ae” grapheme in it. Which, by the way, I persist in pronouncing “ay-ee” in my head even though I know that’s wrong. However, it is very helpful for remembering how to spell Targaryen names, so I deem it useful even if incorrect.

(Which means yes, I mentally pronounce “Daenerys” as “Day-ee-NER-iss,” even though I’m sure it’s supposed to be only three syllables, as in “Day-NER-iss.” One day I’ll get to watch the TV series and see how they pronounce all the names, and probably be very discombobulated as a result.)

Poor Tanselle, though. Is it terrible that I hoped that she’d already finished Dunk’s shield before Aerion broke her finger? Yeah, I think that’s kind of terrible, but it honestly was the first thing that popped into my mind! *hangs head*

On a random note, for some reason, “Steely Pate” is the most hilarious name for an armorer ever. Not that I was even aware there was a contest for that particular prize, but if there were, this guy would totally win it. “Steely Pate.” Ha!

More generally, I’m really liking this story so far. It has what satellite stories for larger series generally always have: a comfortable sense of familiarity with the world and cultural traditions built by the series proper, while still being something new and different within that framework.

And, additionally, without the pressure or tension of the ongoing storylines in the main series. After the combine harvester that was ASOS, a relatively simple story about a dude trying to win a joust is a refreshing break. Granted, even here Martin cannot resist layering on politics and rivalries and history swirling around (mostly) above Dunk’s head, but it wouldn’t be ASOIAF if it didn’t have that. And I won’t deny I got a little thrill at recognizing the various Houses and ancestors of characters I know from the series proper, as well as anticipation to see who else might turn up in the course of the story. (Will I get a Stark? I wonder!)

So kudos to everyone who thought I should read this before AFFC. I am having fun with it (though it turned out to be really hard to summarize), and am eager to see how it turns out!

But that will not happen until next Thursday, my chickies! See you then!

Michael Duran
Glad you're enjoying the short story, Leigh. This one, as well as the other two in the series, are great glimpses into what Westeros looked like about ninety years before the events of the main series. Hopefully GRRM will continue to put them out, as Dunk's adventures are always fun.
Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
Welcome back Leigh, and welcome to D and E.

Egg is the fourth son; you have already met the unpromising third son who was sent to the maesters.(Roll over for further information)

Yes, love all the noble house references but most of them will be from the South, where this tournament is being held. Don't be expecting too many northerners.
Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
"That is such a thing with that family, too, isn’t it? They don’t appear to do anything by halves. Either they’re amazing and brilliant people, like Daenerys or Baelor or (I suspect) Egg, or they’re complete fucking nightmares."

We've head this concept before, in ASOS, Arstan talking to Dany:

"King Jaehaerys once told me that madness and greatness were two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land."
James Reid
4. JamesReid
I'm not sure why Martin is being coy with the name of the son who was sent off to be a Maester.

Good news about Aerion, Leigh. The main books talk about how he died all the time. Its very poetic.
5. Guest77
Thank you, Leigh. This is a nice respite after the intensity of ASOS - but while still providing us with our "fix".
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
Re Daeron and dreaming - way back at the start of AGOT Dany had a dream about Viserys hitting her, him disappearing and being replaced by a column of fire, and then a dragon appearing. Query whether if prophetic dreaming runs in the family somehow.

I love the back and forth dialogue between Dunk and Egg, such as (from memory):
- "If you steal from me I will hunt you down. With dogs." "But you don't have any dogs." "I will get them. Just for you."

- "Where is your pavilion?" "This tree is my pavillion." "But what happens if it rains?" "Well, I actually lack funds for a pavillion...." etc.
7. Julio19
Martin isn't telling us the name of the third son because it gives a huge spoiler about Egg's future that Leight doesn't need to know. Everybody shut up! (Roll over to read)
Kerwin Miller
8. tamyrlink
I for one forgot about all these Targaryens. How far back before AGOT does this short story take place? (I haven't and probably won't read it, I'm just following the read here)
Michael Duran
@7: It's not really a spoiler, though, considering its laid out in detail in a Game of Thrones chapter, and I think his name is in fact mentioned later on in this very story (although it might be the next one). Anyways, anyone who remembers that section of Game of Thrones is immediately going to know who is being referred to and will remember the Targaryen history that was discussed. For those who don't remember that passage, knowing who is being referred to isn't going to give anything away. (Discussion of possible spoilers, roll over to read)
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
11. AlirozTheConfused
Either they’re amazing and brilliant people, like Daenerys or Baelor or (I suspect) Egg, or they’re complete *&^%$#@! nightmares.

So far, Valarr, Baelor's son, does not seem at all to be a nightmare.
12. KingsGambit
Yes! Dunk & Egg! I love this story :)

I think all the names of the Targs involved will be mentioned in the story. I recommend having the appendix of book 1 near by. It doesn't mention all of the Targs here, but just enough to keep track of who is who and how they are all related.

Especially if you consider the appendix and the information in the books, I don't think the name of the third son is a spoiler. Maybe wait until Egg's full name is given? After that, the only reason you wouldn't know is memory. (Discussion of possible spoilers, roll over to read)
Church Tucker
13. Church
Gods almighty, let her figure it out.
14. MGP
HBO is a little over halfway through AsoS, so you could watch the series without spoiling anything that you haven't read already. In an amazing coincidence that made me laugh maniacally, you reviewed the Red Wedding chapter right when they got to that point in the show.

As for Targaryens, Daenerys is pronounced Deh-NAIR-iss in the show. All of the male names that I recall with the -ae- (Aegon, Aemon, etc.) are pronounced as long a's, so I don't know if they do male and female names differently as a rule or if they're just invoking poetic license (ie, being wildly inconsistent) for Dany.
15. KingsGambit
"If you steal from me I will hunt you down. With dogs." "But you don't have any dogs." "I will get them. Just for you."
That has to be a self-reference, right? From memory:
Tyrion - If you , I'll cut off your manhood and feed it to the goats.
Timmett, sun of Timmett - The Halfman doesn't have any goats
Tyrion - I'll get some, just for you!
16. Gregor Lewis
@6. RobMRobM:
Spot on!
I love the dialogue between Dunk & Egg, the snarky asides from the minor officials e.g "... this infestation of princes..."
After coming out of ASOS, where even the snark was so fraught & vituperative by the end, reading this story was such a breath of fresh air.
"Tanselle Too-Tall" indeed!

I also found it interesting, how quickly Martin convinced me to respect, like ... Admire even ... the Ancestral Targaryen Royal Family, even after having spent the previous couple of thousand pages conditioning me the opposite way ... Mostly.

My favourite line in the whole series is coming up soon. From memory it comes from the 'drunken lordling', whose apparent preternatural dreaming abilities have given him access to a particularly biting sense of snark - towards others & hilariously self-directed.

But above all that, I just love the warmth of the banter between Dunk & Egg, however threatening it may appear on the surface.

17. TasDel
HBO series season 3 included a storyline we don't hear about until book 5, though... Safer for her not to watch yet, even though it is hard for the rest of us to wait.
Robert Dickinson
18. ChocolateRob
I'm not a fan of the main series, far too depressing, but I've enjoyed the Dunk and Egg stories. I was looking forward to the next one in Dangerous Women since Brandon Sanderson mentioned the anthology at a signing for Alloy of Law (apparently he'd written his story on the plane on the way over). Been eagerly looking forward to DW even though I found out he decided not to use Dunk and Egg for it (neither of them are women apparently).
Marty Beck
19. martytargaryen
I really enjoyed your recap Leigh. Especially since i don't have the source matrial and it's been a couple years since reading this gem.

Also, you caught on to Egg's family quicket than I did, but I think that may be because I read the graphic novel first and that is not my first choice of medium.

Anyway, looking forward to the rest of this. Nice start!
Tom Smith
20. phuzz
I've not read the Dunk and Egg stories yet, so I think I'm going to read along at the same time as Leigh, it's going to be fun.

In regards to Leigh watching the TV show, although it does have a few spoilers, such as making Loras and Renly's relationship very clear from the start, on balance there's no spoilers that will harm Leigh's enjoyment (plus there's enough differences that it's hard to pick out spoilers from the stuff that's different). It's a good adaptation and I think if you're enjoying the books up until now it's fun to watch.
Matt Fimbulwinter
21. curgoth
I try to pronounce 'ae' as it is in Caesar. That would make the Wall's maester "Ee-mon" and his title "meester", though, so, in practice, I keep defaulting to a long "a" sound, so "Eh-mon" and "mayster". I don't think I'm going to convince myself to pronounce the Mother of Dragons' name "Dee-ner-is" either.
Julian Augustus
22. Alisonwonderland
@2 RobM

Yes, I thought the third son who joined the maesters would be instantly recognizable. Perhaps Leigh was preoccupied with fuguring out Egg and missed the obvious. (discussion of possible spoiler, roll over to read)
23. AsbjornGV
If Leigh finishes book 1-5 around the time The Winds of Winter comes out, maybe she can watch the TV show between TWOW and the last book?

And, perhaps she can do an episode-by-episode review?
24. DougL
@23, there is already someone doing episode reviews for the show on TOR.
25. zambi76
If Leigh finishes book 1-5 around the time The Winds of Winter comes out, (...)
I see you're an optimist re TWOW release. Just kidding. At least I hope so. 2016/2017 really shoudn't be to mucht to ask from GRRM.

On topic: I like all this Targaryen history shenanigans here. It gets me to delve deep into the ASOIAF wiki for stuff I wouldn't usually care for.
Pirmin Schanne
26. Torvald Nom
@21: that would just be the horrible mangling the English language has given to many of its Latin elements - if you stick with a more Germanic pronunciation (like this or this) you're probably better off.
27. Porphyrogenitus
Regarding the ae diphthong, IIRC the classical pronunciation would be for an a+e to be said as "eye". Caesar is k-eye-sar. Aeris would be eye'ris, maester would be m-eye-ster.
28. bookworm1398
I have seen Cesear spelled as Kaiser and that seemed like a more accurate way to spell it. But I guess we are stuck with ae for this series.
29. zambi76
Yeah, I usually use the German Umlaut for ae = ä, but eye=ei would probably be historically more correct.
Adam S.
30. MDNY
Agreed that these stories give a great background for the series proper, and it's tons of fun to place the knights we see now within the context of their houses we've seen in the series. We get the laughing storm, ancestor of Robert, Stannis, and Renly, we get an Arryn, a Tyrell, a couple of Lannisters, a Dondarrian, a bunch of Targaryans, and some lesser names salted in there as well.
Dunk is very likeable, but his honesty is questionable. Did Sir Arlan truly knight him on his deathbed? We never saw it, only him claiming it. Even so, it's only a slight dishonesty, especially compared to most of the characters in the main series so far...
And yes, it's pretty obvious from early on that Egg is more than he claims, and eventually that he is a Targaryan (one of the good ones, just as Aerion is one of the bad ones). As for the third brother at the citadel, we've met him before (80 or so years in the future).(highlight to read)
For the pronunciation, I had thought is was like "eye", as said above, but for a nickname of "Egg" that would suggest it's pronounced like "Egg-on".
Joe Vondracek
31. joev
I thought that it had been proclaimed, many, many, many posts ago in the Read of Ice and Fire, that if Leigh had not figured out something herself in her reading, the posters here should not bring it to her attention, even though technically such items would not be spoilers. The reader is allowed to have her own "Ah-hah!" moments. But I am probably wrong about all of this; I often am.

Love the "combine harvester" comment regarding ASOS. Very apropos.
32. Crusader75
@30 - Regarding Dunk's backstory: there does seem to be a bit of "A Knight's Tale" flavor to the plot here.
Anthony Pero
33. anthonypero
I love these stories. Probably because they utilizes Martin's incredible visualizations, charater development and storytelling abilities while dropping the trope deconstruction, which I find distracting at times.

I've seen various theories that the Dunk and Egg novellas do not represent actual Westerosii history, but could actually be in-world stories of the type that Sansa would read. I like that idea, its very meta, and makes these stories fit within the deconstructionism of the main series.
34. Lyanna Mormont
For crying out loud. Please stop dropping cutesy little hints or filling in backstory, and let Leigh have the fun of figuring things out for herself. Hasn't she said often enough that that's the way she prefers it? Take it to the spoiler thread!
35. apokalypsis
@32 - The Hedge Knight was published in 1999. A Knight's Tale came out in 2001. Shall we start the "They plagiarized GRRM!" conspiracy theory? (Probably too short a timeline to go from germ of an idea to screenplay, through development, etc., etc. Maybe it was just "in the spirit".)
Adam S.
36. MDNY
As a last note, Leigh, are you sure you want a Stark? GRRM has been pretty ruthless in his treatment of the Starks so far, any time one appears in his stories you have to automatically brace yourself for the worst....
37. Maac
@14 I think the three-syllable name just reflexively converts the vowel in the first syllable to a schwa, for anglophones, especially when the emphasis is put on the second. It might not even be done consciously. I suspect if her name stopped at "Daener", they'd give the ae the same long-A sound they assign to the other names.

I spent my whole book-reading phase calling her DAN-er-reese, for some reason that made sense to me at the time (probably influenced, too, by Martin calling her Dany more often than not). Sometimes DAY-ner-reese, I think...

Or I find myself pronouncing Jaehaerys "Juh HAY reese," schwa-ing the first syllable even though I see the same vowels right there smack in front of me. Possibly also because that one reminds me of something Biblical that I can't quite remember...
38. Whitevoodoo
Theres no need to get worked up about spoilers folks. IIRC, Leigh doesn't even read the comments the first day so that Mods have time to white out spoilers and such. If anything truely spoilery gets posted, it will be removed or redacted in a timely manner.
lake sidey
39. lakesidey
@37 maac: Reminded me of Gaheris actually (from Arthurian Legend, if I recall correctly, brother of Gawain/Gareth/Agravain possibly). Not that I know how to pronounce Gaheris :P

40. Lyanna Mormont
@38 It's not simply about whether she actually gets spoiled or not. I get upset about the disrespect that's inherent in all these people choosing their own definition of what's a spoiler and what isn't over what Leigh has explicitly asked for - which is to let her figure things out herself. People seem more interested in showing off what they know, than in respecting the wishes of the person whose Read this is.
41. birgit
Ae is how people limited to ASCII spell ä.
Bridget McGovern
43. BMcGovern
In terms of spoilers, we mods would really, really, strongly encourage everyone to err on the side of caution, as always, when it comes to information and connections that Leigh hasn't picked up on yet, and to avoid hints and foreshadowing altogether in this thread. We put the spoiler thread in place so that people in the know could discuss freely--comments in the non-spoiler thread should be limited only to what Leigh's covered in her posts so far.

For what it's worth, that also includes the HBO series, which is covered extensively on the site and recapped episode-by-episode by Theresa DeLucci--Leigh has specifically opted to avoid watching the show until she's caught up on the books.

In the case of this story, she'll be covering the other half next week--if she's missed anything major about the story itself at that point, it's fair game, but let's give her some time to actually finish reading it, and even more time to make her own connections between the D & E stories and the novels. Thanks!
Tricia Irish
44. Tektonica
Love this story and your recap Leigh. Yes, it's a nice break from the "combine harvestor" that is the main story. Whew.

Thanks to RobM for turning me on to these novellas a few years ago too. They are fun!
Sydo Zandstra
45. Fiddler
Knowing Leigh since 1999, I am surprised this is a first read for her. Practically everybody on the rasfw-rj newsgroup bought Legends for the original (shorter) version of Robert Jordan's A New Spring, and this story was published in the same anthology.

To those who don't have read Legends yet, get it; you won't regret it. :) There are a lot of good stories in it, including a Dark Tower story by Stephen King, a Riftwar story by Raymond Feist, and a Granny Weatherwax Discworld story by Terry Pratchett (that was my introduction to the Discworld).
46. lololololol
Mods need to gas this thread to get rid of the spoilers.
Tom Smith
47. phuzz
SO instead of reading as far as Leigh I ended up reading the wholoe story in one night, oh well.
Anyway, one thing did get me thinking. In Westeros gold coins are Dragons, pretty clearly due to Targerian influence. However, silver coins are Stags, presumably something to do with house Baratheon.
As far as I know it's never been mentioned, but it would be interesting to know what the Baratheons were up to when the currency was being minted that rated their symbol being put on the second most valuble coins.
Just another little bit of GRRM world building that would be a throwaway comment in another sotry, but in ASOIF you can't help but wonder if there's a story behind it.
Michael Duran
48. MRHD
@47: Orys Baratheon, the founder of House Baratheon, was the close friend, trusted advisor and according to rumors also the half brother of Aegon the Conqueror. He was also the first Hand of the King. He was definitely the most influential non-Targaryen in the early days of the Seven Kingdoms, which is probably why his house sigil was chosen for the silver currency.
Rob Munnelly
49. RobMRobM
1) Don't want to go combine harvester on you all, but better not to go into Hedge Knight Week 2 expecting it to be all rainbows and unicorns. Just saying.

2) Agree with several comments above that our established discipline re spoilers is slipping a bit here. (I'll plead guilty at some level re my vague comment in post 2; some comments by others got substantially less vague later in the post. I will try to avoid the appearance of sin (I mean, spoilers) going forward).
50. DougL
It's important to note that Leigh is reading these books in a fashion nobody is used to. She will forget things by the end of the book because it may have been close to a year since she read it.

So, we have to sit here and though it is obvious to us because we read the books at a normal pace, probably more than once whilst Leigh sits in ignorance because of the sacrificial way she is reading these books. I am only here for Leigh's comments, and it is somewhat interesting seeing what she chooses to highlight.

I would still read this if it was a reread because even though I really don't like certain books in the Wheel of Time, I nonetheless enjoyed Leigh's commentary.

So, recognize how she is reading the books, at a glacially slow pace, for us, and be silent regarding things you have noticed that she has not, and connections not made.

At the end of all of this, I would happily read a...umm, reread of a read by Leigh, who read the books at a normal pace and had new insights. So, in the 15 or so years before GRRM wraps this up, I will be here requesting that Leigh do just that.
Rob Munnelly
51. RobMRobM
More Dunk and Egg byplay - so funny:

“If you took me, I could squire for you.”
“I have no need of a squire,” he said.
“Every knight needs a squire,” the boy said. “You look as though you need one more than most.”


“I washed them,” the boy said. “And I groomed the horses, made the fire, and caught this fish. I would
have raised your pavilion, but I couldn’t find one.”
“There’s my pavilion.” Dunk swept a hand above his head, at the branches of the tall elm that loomed
above them.
“That’s a tree,” the boy said, unimpressed.
“It’s all the pavilion a true knight needs. I would sooner sleep under the stars than in some smoky tent.”
“What if it rains?”
“The tree will shelter me.”
“Trees leak.”
Dunk laughed. “So they do. Well, if truth be told, I lack the coin for a pavilion. And you’d best turn that
fish, or it will be burned on the bottom and raw on the top. You’d never make a kitchen boy.”
“I would if I wanted,” the boy said, but he turned the fish.


He frowned for a moment, and then blurted out, “Ser Duncan the
Tall.” He was tall, no one could dispute that, and it sounded puissant.
Though the little sneak did not seem to think so. “I have never heard of any Ser Duncan the Tall.”
“Do you know every knight in the Seven Kingdoms, then?”
The boy looked at him boldly. “The good ones.”


“What about breakfast?”
“There’s salt beef. After we’re done.”
“I’d sooner eat the horse,” Egg said. “Ser.”
“You’ll eat my fist if you don’t do as you’re told. Get the brushes. They’re in the saddle sack. Yes, that
Together they brushed out the palfrey’s sorrel coat, hefted Ser Arlan’s best saddle over her back, and
cinched it tight. Egg was a good worker once he put his mind to it, Dunk saw.
“I expect I’ll be gone most of the day,” he told the boy as he mounted. “You’re to stay here and put the
camp in order. Make sure no other thieves come nosing about.”
“Can I have a sword to run them off with?” Egg asked. He had blue eyes, Dunk saw, very dark, almost
purple. His bald head made them seem huge, somehow.
“No,” said Dunk. “A knife’s enough. And you had best be here when I come back, do you hear me?
Rob me and run off and I’ll hunt you down, I swear I will. With dogs.”
“You don’t have any dogs,” Egg pointed out.
“I’ll get some,” said Dunk. “Just for you.”

The girl nodded. “Give me the shield. I’ll paint it this very night, and have it back to you on the morrow.”
Dunk handed it over. “I am called Ser Duncan the Tall.”
“I’m Tanselle,” she laughed. “Tanselle Too-Tall, the boys used to call me.”
“You’re not too tall,” Dunk blurted out. “You’re just right for. . .“ He realized what he had been about to
say, and blushed furiously.
“For?” said Tanselle, cocking her head inquisitively.
“Puppets,” he finished lamely.
52. Crusader75
@35 - I did not intend to suggest that there was any plagiarism, just that the basic plot feels similar. Perhaps both stories are referencing an older work? Tropes are reused all the time as skeletons of stories, as long as they are fleshed out in interesting ways that is not a bad thing.
53. Maddy1990
I'm so dumb that I only just realised who the third son is now, after reading this a couple of weeks ago *facepalm*
54. Guest77
@53: Aha! moments are an integral component of the enjoyment of reading (and especially rereading) GRRM. Martin’s world is so richly detailed and complex that it often takes multiple rereads to ferret out clues he has sown. Additionally, he has an entire dynasty of Targaryens with the same/similar names so keeping track is no small feat.
Antonio Dagnino
55. andaco
As @47, I read this in one day, I couldn't believe it was devided, but remember, Leigh is making a summary of it, that's why she takes longer, it's not like she will stay up all night making the summary. I feel Leigh is enjoying the story less because of this, he sees reading every chapter as another deadline. I suggest she should stop doing summaries and only make commentaries from now on. Ok, ok, it's not going to happen, I know, after summarizing 3 books, it's not like she will give up on all the effort she made.
Tabby Alleman
56. Tabbyfl55
I just started reading this last night, and I only got a little further than Leigh did in this summary. I know that the name of the third son who became a maester is specifically mentioned in the story already, so it's either already been stated in the part of the story Leigh has covered, or it will be in a page or two.

And Leigh, I don't know how you have the energy to comment after such an exhaustive summary. It would be cool with me if you save your fingers a little bit on the summary. But then again, maybe the people who last read this story years ago appreciate the detailed reminder of what you're reading. I felt like I was almost re-reading the whole thing word for word.

And weighing in on the ae dipthong... this discussion makes me realize that I use at least three different pronunciations for this vowel-combo in my head as I'm reading and now I'm curious to figure out what my subconscious rules for it are. I use:

"ay" (long A) for Aegon, Aemon
"uh" for Daenerys
"eye" (long I) for Maester

I think my subconscious has decided that the sound should be long when the syllable is emphasized, short when it's not, and "eye" when it closely resembles a known Germanic word.
57. namle84
In the show, the "ae" dipthong is always pronounced "ay" as in "day" when stressed, and as a schwa when unstressed. So "Ay-gon" "Ay-mon" "May-ster" and "Duh-nerys."
Chris Chaplain
58. chaplainchris1
I'm apparently completely inconsistent with the diphthong, but then, that's how English is. I'm horrified at the thought of any pronunciation other than "Meyester", but I'm also horrified at the thought of any pronunciation othen than "Daynerys" or "Aygon".

@45 Fiddler - I bought the Legends anthology in hardcover as soon as it came out so I could read New Spring (which I liked in that format better than the later novel); and I immediately went on to read the stories by McCaffery, Feist, and Tad Williams. But I *still* haven't read the Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, or King stories, among others. (Generally I dislike anthologies, being more a novel than a short story person, and since I've never read Card or Pratchett, I didn't want my first exposure to them to be in short story form. Lo, these many years later, I've *still* never read Card or Pratchett, and while I've read some King, I couldn't get into the first Dark Tower book AT ALL.)
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
Finished this last night on the plane back from vacation. Egg being one of the lost Targ's did seem fairly obvious to us (the readers) once they mentioned his eyes and the notable Targ hair. The older brother being the drunk also was pretty clear.
Dunk keeps berating himself as slow witted, but from within the story, finding a couple of princes at a roadside inn wouldn't really be something one should expect, so I think he is selling himself short.
Aerion seems to be the clear winner in the madness lottery for that generation of Targs. It appears that Egg doesn't like him at all and purposefully killing the horse in the tourney seems pretty low.
Dunk seems to be one of the few knights who actually take the chivalry thing seriously. Standing up for the weak ceratinly seems like a classic knightly virtue. It also seems like a really good way to get into trouble.

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