The Hedge Knight – George R. R. Martin

This is a charming knightly tale. Although set in the existing world of Westeros you don’t need to be familiar with any other books to read this. If you are then you will see small details, scattered sparingly, that will hold resonance for you.

It is based on a short story and looks to be copied word for word. As such it can get a bit wordy and text led in places but not enough to spoil things. It has excellent pacing with a luxuriously slow start and you are grateful that nothing feels abridged as it might have if it were a screenplay.

You could easily mistake this for a Victorian tale of knightly virtue and heroism. It does feel like Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sir Nigel books. You have a wonderful character that through great writing you truly care about who is promised a simple and familiar story-arc. Then things change and a masterful sense of dread and foreboding builds to palpable levels that really grips you. Although you are pretty sure the good guys are supposed to win you aren’t sure if they will, or if they do, at what cost.

The art is excellent with lavish details, sumptuous colours and meticulous backgrounds. You can tell this doesn’t suffer from monthly deadlines. Although mostly traditional square panels there are a lot of small tricks in the layout to make this a fresh and dynamic read. There are some smashing double page spreads right at the key moments that really hit home.

There are a couple of pages of heraldry which isn’t necessary for the story but looks pretty and a seven page short story which has a tenuous connection but can’t compete with the masterpiece you have just read. An absolute guaranteed Thumbs Up!

139/226.

Tomorrow: Mercedes – Mike Friedland

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