The Sworn Sword (2003) by George R. R. Martin

The second of Martin’s “Tales of Dunk and Egg” series, which currently consists of three stories, with plenty more planned, but not coming anytime soon. I think this is definitely the weakest of the three, as it lacks the charm and strong narrative of “The Hedge Knight” and the more involved storytelling and set of characters of “The Mystery Knight”, but it is still a very enjoyable story.

The biggest issue with “The Sworn Sword” is how bogged down in backstory it is. Oh, Martin always finds logical places in the story to insert the many long pages of exposition, infodumping, and the like; it never feels unnatural, but it is noticeably prevalent. At its worst, the story feels more like a vehicle to deliver worldbuilding information Martin concocted after “The Hedge Knight” that he feels critical to the series now, than an actual cohesive story in its own right. I love that backstory and worldbuilding information Martin developed, but it’s a shame to see it overtake what I expected to be a proper Dunk and Egg story.

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Still, there is a Dunk and Egg story here, and while it’s much thinner than the other two, it’s still good. Dunk and Egg are both still growing and learning, and they encounter some interesting people, situations, and events here. The mood and atmosphere of the story work quite well; it has a strong sense of place, like “The Hedge Knight” did. Many of the strengths of that initial story are still present here; it’s just easier to talk about the differences, like the undue focus on backstory.

It’s a good, charming story, just not quite as charming as its predecessor, or as good as its successor. I give it three chequy lions, and a black dragon.

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