The Hedge Knight was the first in the Tales of Dunk and Egg series. Being my first graphic novel and because of my interest in Game of Thrones, the novel had some serious expectations to meet. Meet it did, and how! If this is how graphic novels are (I know not all are the same), then I’m all in! The Hedge Knight was responsible for setting the bar pretty high – something that the sequel, The Sworn Sword would have to live up to.
The Sworn Sword begins two years after The Hedge Knight leaves off. Ser Duncan the Tall (or simply ‘Dunk’ or ‘Dunk the Lunk’ as Ser Arlan used to call him) returns in the second graphic novel along with his faithful squire, Egg, roaming Westeros as hedge knights. Dunk eventually swears his sword to Ser Eustace Osgrey of Standfast.
When the stream around Standfast dries up, Dunk sets off to investigate, along with Ser Bennis of the Brown Shield, a sneering, condescending knight under Ser Eustace who despises him. They find that the stream has been diverted to provide water to Coldmoat, belonging to the Red Widow. An encounter with the workers there and Bennis’s short temper leads to a history lesson and other life lessons.
Like its predecessor, The Sworn Sword manages to imbibe all the qualities of its parent series, Game of Thrones. There is gore, there is humor, there is fun, and there is philosophy! In George R. R. Martin’s writing, the line between good and bad is too thin to implement in real life. But then again, given what this is, is it unusual for a ‘graphic’ novel to be gory? [I laughed when I made this pun. :P]
The Gore (or as they say in Spanish, el gore :P):
When you think Game of Thrones, you think blood, battle, and double-crossing. The Sworn Sword is made of the same cloth, only a couple of yards shorter. Despite all this, GRRM’s storytelling skills incite a terror that is quite inexplicable. Even the sight of a blade or a sword sends chills up the spine.
Ser Duncan (Dunk) seems to be bumbling sometimes. But then, when I think of it, would I not be the same if put in such a situation? I would probably be worse off, not knowing what to do. I love Dunk the Lunk. Not as much as I love Jon Snow or Egg, perhaps, but I love him nevertheless. Read these graphic novels (especially The Sworn Sword) and you’ll see one of the biggest reasons why. 😛
Egg is one of my favorite characters in this series. He is funny in his own unassumingly modest way. But that doesn’t mean he lies. He speaks the truth. You laugh because of how true his words are and because how obvious the truth is. This laughter at obviousness is mostly directed at you because you didn’t catch it in the first place. Oh, Egg! What would we do without you?
There is one character in every book that one hates who’s not the villain. Such characters are worse than the bad guy. The Sworn Sword has Ser Bennis to fill those shoes. Every time he opens his mouth is a time to feel like kicking him to the curb. It’s a testament to the author’s writing skills as to how brilliantly he sketches his characters. Ser Bennis – may the Seven curse you.
The Sworn Sword has amazing illustrations. These are so, so beautiful in their darkness that I had to tell myself it wasn’t possible to jump into the pages. Another thought that stopped me was the certainty that I wouldn’t last two minutes in that world. I’d somehow die, most probably by starving or by catching some sort of a plague. 😛
The Sworn Sword is a simple story, just like The Hedge Knight. The scale is grand, however. What is most exemplary is how it shows us what happens of loyalty and lies, and of when these two meet. There are clashes of opinion, of one’s own judgment, and of whether or not your judgment tells you to do the right thing.
Like The Hedge Knight, its successor, The Sworn Sword is a must-read for fans of Game of Thrones and for those of graphic novels. If you are a fan of neither, I’d suggest you read it because there’s nothing better than dipping your toes in the genre with this one.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Picture Courtesy: Amazon.com!
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[There’s an eBook version that you can find at this link which is 129 bucks.]