domingo, dezembro 27, 2015

Ser Duncan the Tall: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" by George R. R. Martin


Published October 6th 2015.


The Knight has three novellas. To wit:

The Hedge Knight
The Sworn Sword
The Mystery Knight

I’ve read these three novellas previously when they came out in the three different anthologies: Legends I, Legends II, and Warriors. Having read these stories separately before, I was interested to see them put together as one whole piece, where Martin’s suspicious tendency for excellent storytelling could flow freely from one chapter to the next, without having to wait for a new novella’s release.

I’m not a big fantasy fan. I have nothing at all against it – it’s just that I enjoy good science fiction more than I enjoy good fantasy. I’ve read and enjoyed Middlearth, The Magician, Tigana, etc. But then came George R.R. Martin. Several people told me to read the first book in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga, "A Game of Thrones". I finally succumbed to the thousand-pager, and I'm now hooked, impatiently waiting for Martin to finish the sixth and seventh books in the series to finally read the fifth, "A Dance with Dragons" (it awaits the publication of the "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring" to be tackled...).

"The Hedge Knight", "The Sworn Sword" and "The Mystery Knight" are set one hundred years before "A Game of Thrones". As is usual in his books, although the plot is good, it pales before his ability to tell a story. Storytelling in high gear... Better yet, one notices people, events and places which will become key in the future. Details and major story lines are equally weaved into "The Hedge Knight" and I've discovered why the Fossoways had a red and a green apple in their shield, and the start of the chain of events which will put the Mad King in the throne...

There’s nothing very noticeable about this simple story, a fact that serves to accentuate Martin’s talent. Seldom do I experience the magic of a rapid page-turner these days. My interior imagery is loaded with too many books to feel as excited anymore (sometimes it happens...).

But this man issues words from his fingers that are pure genre nirvana.

I can’t quite determine what it's that makes his writing so addictive. Sentences, paragraphs and pages collude to urge you to read on and on and on. One begins his books as reader and consumer and one ends them as slave... I love how George R.R. Martin mixes an element of mystery into his knight’s tale.

With all the characters that Martin invents I've noticed Lord Gorman Peake of Starpike. Is it is an homage to Mervyn Peake, who wrote the Gormenghast books, who had a main character named Steerpike?

All told, these 3 novellas still lack the mythological depth of Ice and Fire. 

Gary Gianni, who is best known for his work on the comic strip Prince Valiant is also a very fine addition to the book. As a lifelong bibliophile I began my love affair with books as a child with picture books, often a favorite illustrated compilation of fairy tales. Gianni’s artwork brings back the magic of childhood story time and completes the enchantment woven from George R. R. Martin’s enthralling tales.



Illustrations by Gary Gianni.


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