Saturday, May 23, 2015

"The Sworn Sword: The Graphic Novel (The Hedge Knight Graphic Novels II)" by George R.R. Martin, Ben Avery, and Mike S. Miller

*There may be incidental/small spoilers in this review for those who haven't yet read The Hedge Knight or its novella equivalent.

I have to say, these graphic novels are much easier to read than A Song of Ice and Fire, and not only due to the shorter length. There is an absence of sex (and sexual misconduct), and while the violence was certainly wince-worthy in The Hedge Knight, Sworn Sword is a little bit cleaner in that aspect. The misogynistic traits of the culture of ASoIaF are glossed over as well, which is a welcome relief to me, even though there's really only one female character.

Sworn Sword is much more light-hearted than its predecessor, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Dunk is still a hedge knight (basically a sword for hire in this edition), and Egg is still his squire, despite the revelations from the previous book. I was pleasantly surprised with how Dunk didn't go the way of the many good-intentioned characters Mr. Martin has penned, but I suppose he has enough corruption going on in the main series to keep the blood flowing.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'Set one hundred years before the events in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Sworn Sword graphic novel follows the adventures of Ser Duncan and his squire, Egg, as they quest for honor and glory in the Seven Kingdoms.
'After the deaths, surprises, and heroics in The Hedge Knight, Dunk and Egg continue their journey in search of the fair puppeteer Tanselle. Along the way, the elderly knight Ser Eustace takes both men under his charge, alongside another knight—and this one promises trouble. Peace is ever elusive for Dunk and Egg, as they are soon embroiled in the schemes of local nobility, while a darker, greater thread threatens to unravel long-held truths of the Battle of Redgrass Field.
'In classic George R.R. Martin fashion, heroes and villains are never clear-cut, and political alliances threaten to slice the deepest. Yet one path lies ahead for Dunk and Egg: onward toward destiny. Join them as they venture along a now-familiar world but in a time all-new!'

Most people who know much about Dunk and Egg (or some other Mr. Martin-style characters) can guess the plotline of this book, but for the most part it's entertaining none the less. Dunk is more than a little naive about things, a bit of an honest man. Egg isn't used to being a squire yet (for obvious reasons) and refuses to put his foot in his mouth even when he should. Although Egg brought most of the trouble on them in the last book, this time it's Dunk's turn to screw up, in Dunk 'the Lunk' fashion.

The artwork in this edition is much improved from The Hedge Knight: whereas the previous art was too clean and idealized, you run into not-so-pretty characters doused with sweat and dirt (or a plethora of freckles) in this edition. Although its still a bit glossy for my taste, the absence of certain details in the previous book was amended in this one, even though my Kindle version had a few pictures I could discern the pixel count of. If you plan on buying this graphic novel, I recommend the physical version for that reason: at some points, the text was difficult to read, and I have good eyesight.

The Sworn Sword is an excellent addition to the continuing adventures of Dunk and Egg. While the storyline was a bit weaker (and more predictable), the improvement in the art makes up for that lack. It also features a much more assertive female character than the previous book, so that's always a plus. If you've enjoyed The Hedge Knight, I can't think of a reason not to pick this one up- it's just as excellent.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars for an excellent and more light-hearted followup to The Hedge Knight!

Content: Ages 16+ for violence, blood, and plenty of male shirtless torsos.

Page Count: 152 pages

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