**THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD**
The Hedge Knight
takes places a hundred years, some say, eighty-nine years, before the events of A Game of Thrones takes place. In it, we are whisked through the Seven Kingdoms through Dunk, a hedge knight, who after the death of his master and sort of foster father, seeks to be a champion in the Ashford Tourney. He meets Egg, whom we all know as brother to Maester Aemon and grandfather to Mad King Aerys. And Dunk will become Ser Duncan the Tall, one of the most loved Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
The Hedge Knight is easy to love because at its core, it's the story of an underdog
. An honorable underdog who gets caught in circumstances where the powerful and mighty exercise their might and power unjustly and leaves the underdog in some deep shit. And quite frankly, that's a story I cannot resist liking
. Why, even though it's such a cliche? This novella struck me as a typical underdog story. The underdog conveniently has a powerful backer in the form of Baelor Breakspear because the underdog has unfailingly displayed his honor as a knight. Be that as it may, it reminded me that you have a good fighting chance if you only stick to your principles
, and if you're lucky, and that's a good thing! Granted, this is a much more simpler plot than the ASOIAF series, and maybe that's also why The Hedge Knight is easy to like.
So when Dunk defends this girl whom Aerion (Egg's other older brother) was abusing, and he had to do trial by the seven (which is rare and you need 6 other champions), well, that was a well-played storyline. Dunk is a lowly hedge knight, by Seven Kingdom Standards, so how will he find 6 knights who will fight for him? It's really touching when 6 strangers offer their lives to defend your honor, because they believe your cause is just. Underdog has a fighting chance at last! Hoorah! I was starting to think that GRRM does know how to make a happy ending.
But typical GRRM kills off characters, even in a novella like this one. First he had to kill of Humfrey Bee-something, who was only fighting for his brother-in-law Humfrey Hardyng after Aerion cheated on his fight with Hardyng
and this poor Bee Humfrey is a casualty of "fighting for justice". And then Hardyng dies too after sustaining mortal wounds. But some could argue that at least they died with honor. Honor, bs, they didn't have to die when their opponents had no casualties!
And of course, the biggie, The Prince of Dragonstone, Baelor Breakspear, Hand of the King, took a fatal blow to the head during the melee and died. Here was Dunk's hero and savior, a person whom everyone expects will be a great king, and he dies, and Dunk is troubled by that, because a prince died for a common hedge knight. I'm guessing Baelor didn't really expect to die, confident in the fact that Kingsguards can't hurt the blood of the dragon. But he died anyway (because he was lax?) TYPICAL GRRM. TYPICAL, TYPICAL. *shakes head*
So if Baelor didn't die, then maybe Mad King Aerys wouldn't have been born, or at least wouldn't have been made a king, and the whole ASOIAF series wouldn't have happened? Maybe. Alas, that's life. Dunk and Egg went on to have great and fruitful lives, influencing those who followed them, and the characters of ASOIAF will just have to manage with the hand they were given with.*4 stars
A very engaging short story of honor winning above all. But I hate that some characters had to die. *shrug*