Friday, June 04, 2010

The Hedge Knight II: Sword Sworn by George R.R. Martin, Mark Avery and Mike S. Miller

Two years after the events in the first "Hedge Knight" graphic Novel, Dunk and his squire Aegon (known as Egg) are working for a minor landholder named Ser Eustace. Ser Eustace is old and any deeds of glory he might have done are long, long ago in the past.

Ser Eustace's land is under a long drought, and Dunk's fellow knight, Ser Bennis, seems to be spoiling for a fight. If he can't provoke either Dunk or Egg into fighting him, he'll take out his animosity on the serfs of the next landholder over, a lady known as "The Red Widow".

The serfs of the Red Widow have dammed up the river, denying the Cheqy lands of Ser Eustace the water they need to survive the drought. Ser Bennis aims to start a fight, and strikes blood from the cheek of a serf. Ser Eustace is both angry and a little frightened- Ser Bennis has started a war with his hasty actions, but Bennis refuses to see what he did as wrong.

As Ser Eustace calls together all the men of his villages to prepare for battle, Dunk sees that their "force" is essentially useless and goes to see if he can broker peace with the Red Widow. Everything he has heard about her has led him to expect a bitter, shriveled old woman, so it is quite a surprise when he meets the Lady Rohane and sees a beautiful young woman with long red hair and freckles.

But while Rohane might be young and beautiful, and Dunk is certainly attracted to her, she is only too aware of her duties to her serfs and people. And while she also finds herself attracted to Dunk, her brother, a priest, is out to stop anybody he sees as beneath Rohane's class level.

But Rohane quickly disabuses Dunk of his beliefs about his employer. Ser Eustace is a former rebel against the crown, and he lost his right to the water of the River. Dunk is angry that his employer lied to him, but he won't go back on his word- he swore to defend Ser Eustace, and he shall. But even as someone fires the wood that is on Ser Eustace's land, Dunk meets Rohane's champion, the Black Knight, at the river that borders her lands and Ser Eustace's, he is still looking for some way- any way, to stop this war. But will the Price of peace be Dunk's death?

Another excellent follow-up to the first story of Dunk, the Hedge Knight. Though he got wised up a great deal about what Knighthood is about and what it really entails in the last book, here we see that Dunk still has much to unlearn. He's rather quixotic, in that he clings to the ideals that Knighthood is supposed to be about, even as almost everyone around him tells him that he is a fool for doing so.

Dunk only seems to learn when he gets lessons beaten into him. By the end of the book, he's come to see that almost nobody is really as honorable as he tries to be, and yet, he perseveres in being that honorable, for which his squire, Aegon, loves him, and even Rohane realizes that he is not one of the usual sorts of Knights- she would marry him if she could.

And in the end, Dunk learns a lesson. But will he take it to heart or continue being his usual honorable self? I'd like to read more about Dunk, and I'm not sure if this will be the final story told in graphic novel form, or if the story continues in the Song of Ice and Fire. In any case, this is a wonderful story. Recommended.

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