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Old 01-21-2013, 06:04 PM   #15397
ATDrake
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Posts: 6,307
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Roundworld
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Finished my first set of new books for the new year.

Read George R.R. Martin's "Dunk & Egg" adventures, which are a set of prequel novellas to his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

These are charming, light-hearted tales about an impromptu hedge knight from the lower classes, and his even more impromptu squire, who's something of a surprise, set about a century before ASOIAF and stand in decided contrast to the grimdark crapsack world that shows up in the main series. Which is not to say that they're fluffy, which they aren't, but they're considerably more optimistic and there's a lot less rape and torture involved, generally speaking.

I read Préludes au Trône de fer: Le chevalier errant suivi de L'épée lige, which are French translations of the first two novellas in a single-volume edition by Jean Sola (who was the official translator until Pygmalion decided to trade him in for someone else, in a decision which apparently has some kind of accompanying drama, if I'm reading the Francophone fan wiki right) and Paul Benita, who's not the replacement. The translations were fairly decently done, as far as I can tell (I read the originals for the first time afterward), and I now know far more terms for pieces of armour than I thought I would.

These correspond to "The Hedge Knight" novella, which sets up Dunk as a new knight who has to make his own way at a tourney after his old master dies and promptly gets in way over his head by clashing with royalty, and "The Sworn Sword", which follows Dunk and his new squire Egg on a typical hedge knight adventure, in a territorial dispute between his bottom-rung nobility employer and the neighbouring more powerful widow with a fearsome reputation.

I then read the English versions and the 3rd novella, "The Mystery Knight" (not yet translated), which further expands on some things alluded to in the 1st and 2nd, but seemed a bit repetitive in some places, with certain elements carried over from the earlier novellas as near-verbatim echoes (how Dunk wins fights, mid-lengthy descriptions of certain VIPs, etc.). Possibly Martin didn't do a re-read before writing the 3rd and just went from his earlier notes or whatever for how he wanted to do the scenes.

Aside from that, the stories hang well together, with neat twists which resolve in interesting ways, and have very readable characters and provide a pleasant level of detail on the day-to-day workings of Westerosi society as seen from a lower-class peacetime perspective (instead of the convoluted royal plotting and wars in ASOIAF proper).

Anyway, a nice, light, and recommended read, especially if you're interested in ASOIAF. I understand that these are meant to be compiled with an upcoming (late!) 4th story in a standalone omnibus Real Soon Now.

Also read Le chevalier errant standalone graphic novel, which is the French translation of the Marvel Comics-published adaptation of "The Hedge Knight". Fairly well done, with quite decent art which can distinguish faces (not always a given with adaptations done by people who normally do superhero artwork, unfortunately) and put in good background details as it retells the story engagingly*, and an interesting narrative choice to change from 3rd to 1st person narration.

I like the extra bit in the back where among the illustrations of the heraldic sigils of the knights participating in the tourney, the comics adaptors have slipped in their own made-up sigils and knightly names.

Apparently the English version of this is severely out of print (and selling for $$$ on eBay!!!), but if Marvel should happen to reprint them to tie in with the HBO TV show, I'd say they're worth getting, and I hope Bragelonne/Milady's GN division really is working on the translation for the sequel (no indication/news up on their website or blog, sigh, although apparently they've released the individual issues for LCE as ebook comics).

* Though I question some of the design choices. Gold codpieces on otherwise all-white† armour = you might as well put up a sign saying "hit me! hit me here!" Y/N?

† Well okay, the Kingsguards' gorgets are also gold as well. But that's just asking for an arrow in the throat as well as the crotch, IMHO.
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