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An Honorable Knight – A Review of The Hedge Knight

Published on February 27th, 2016 at 05:44 am

By Ariela Hekmat

Throughout history, knights have been painted in both positive and negative light as various people received them differently. George R.R. Martin writes about one specific hedge knight in his work titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. This book is a compilation of the first three official prequel novellas to Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. The first novella, titled The Hedge Knight, introduces the protagonists of the book, Dunk and Egg. Heading to a tourney, Dunk acquires Egg as a squire, and the two create a loyal relationship that lasts throughout the entire book. Dunk portrays valiant characteristics as he risks his life to save an innocent woman. The second novella, titled the Sworn Sword, illustrates Dunk’s honest disposition, as he brings peace between two fighting Houses. The last novella, The Mystery Knight, is about Dunk saving Egg from the evils that reside in one of the cities to which they travel. Throughout all the novellas, Dunk reveals that true knights do still exist in his corrupt society of Westeros. This existence of honorability in a venal world is demonstrated through Dunk’s heroic actions and his relationship with Egg.

Martin aims to demonstrate that people in his fictional world still possess respectable characteristics through the actions of Dunk. Martin allows readers to bring the character of Dunk into a modern setting by making his character very relatable. Dunk first starts at the bottom of the feudal system social structure, aspiring to one day become a great knight. Martin creates a bond between Dunk and the readers by making his character flawed. Dunk is a little too tall for his age, and struggles to climb on the social ladder. Already, the readers are routing for Dunk to succeed. Dunk is able to overcome his imperfections, and he becomes one of the only hedge knights in his society who acts out of honor and valor. When he sees a prince harassing an innocent woman, he attacks him, knowing that this is against the law. However, as a knight, he believes he must protect those in need, which highlights his honorable nature. All most every knight in Westeros acts with evil motives, and it is very rare to find one who acts out of the sacred vow they took. Nevertheless, Dunk rises as a heroic figure because he shows that honesty and morality are not lost in society. Dunk continues to display his moral characteristics through his actions of resolving a dispute between two Houses and by saving his squire, Egg. Martin allows his readers to repeatedly see how true knights still exist in Westeros. Although this story takes places ages ago, I believe Dunk’s relatable nature allows readers to understand the overall theme of this book. It also permits them to apply this theme to a modern setting. We see many similarities between the book and the real world. Both contain a corrupt world filled with nefarious people who possess evil intentions. However, both also reveal that honorable people still exist in society. This can be applied to a specific modern state. When we think about Iran, we immediately think it is filled with unscrupulousness and immoral leaders. However, like Dunk, honorable group still exist in Iran such as the Women’s Organization of Iran. Martin reveals through his character that honorability can still prevail in a degenerated world.

In addition to Dunk’s valiant actions, Martin utilizes Dunk’s relationship with Egg to illustrate that good intentions still exist in Westeros. Almost all relationships that are present in Westeros were created through ulterior motives. Everyone takes advantage of their companions to gain social status and wealth. However, Dunk and Egg do not display this type of relationship. Their partnership is a mutual one, and they both constantly help each other survive and succeed. Martin employs this special relationship to once again highlight the existence of sincere characters. In a world where creating relationships are created for strategic gains, Dunk and Egg defy the norm and demonstrate the exact opposite. Readers can relate to this relationship because they have seen it evolve since its origin. Martin uses this capacity to relate to the relationship to emphasize his overall theme.

Before reading this book, I thought that I would not be able to gain any extra insight from the reading because it was set in a period so long ago. However, Martin destroys this “time” barrier by creating two relatable characters whose actions help emphasize his theme. Martin repeatedly tries to illustrate that honor and honesty can exist in a corrupt society, and readers can apply this to the modern setting. Martin’s brilliant characterization of Dunk and his relationship with Egg allow readers to understand that characteristics that seem lost in society are actually very alive and apparent.

Martin, George R.R. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. United States: Random House, 2015. Print.