This is a short novella by George R R Martin, first published in 1998.
Set in the same world as the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ books, this story is a sort of prequel, taking place well before the events of the main series.
It is also far more light hearted than the main series, with no grand politics or the fate of entire kingdoms hanging in the balance, and no great war going on in the background. Appropriately enough for such a tale, it is set in the last long summer in a time of plenty, when the realm was at peace, and the Targaryen kings ruled.
This book tells the story of Ser (Not really) Duncan, the squire of a hedge knight who had died recently, and who came up with the bright idea of putting on his dead masters armor and faking his way into a great tournament hosted by the king.
At first his ‘pretend to be a knight’ plan goes well. He even finds himself a squire of his own and is welcomed among the nobles and warriors. But an altercation with a royal soon results in his having to choose between a duel or being branded a criminal, and our fake knight soon finds himself having to backup his knightly boasts.
But our hero is just as brave and honorable as a real knight and is more than ready to face the challenge before him. There is just one problem, he cant joust to save his life.
This was a fun read. Not just because it was light hearted, but because it offered a glimpse into life in the seven knigdoms when it wasn’t gripped by war. It is written from the point of view of the main character, in the same way Martin’s other books are, and this protrayel made me love Duncan.
Another fact that made the book so funny was that anyone familiar with the lore of Martin’s world would know that the Ser Duncan the fake knight in the book is Ser Duncan the Tall, who later became the Lord Commander of the kingsguard, the most elite group of warriors in the kingdoms. To see him here at the start of his life as he fakes his way into knighthood is quite entertaining.
You don’t have to read any of Martin’s other books to enjoy this one. This is a complete stand alone novel.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy an afternoons fun reading, even if you are not a fan of fantasy. This is a good book that can capture anyones interest.