Review by Frank Plowright
The trilogy of graphic novels adapting George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones prequel ends with The Mystery Knight. It occurs roughly ninety years before the more famous events in Westeros kick off, and while family names from that are frequently dropped, this continues to be medieval period drama with fantasy hinted at rather than manifesting. However, the foundation is a host of ruling families competing to undermine each other and aligning with any of them can be as fatal as remaining independent.
Duncan the Tall and his ten year old squire Egg are the lead characters, Dunk seeking to cement a knightly reputation, and Ben Avery is able to supply much background before the centrepiece of a jousting tournament taking place at a wedding. There’s much talk of dragons eggs and dragons one day returning, but they’re only ever seen in Mike S. Miller’s decorative flashback art or as motifs.
Dunk and Egg have always been interesting people and sympathy for them is easily found on this material alone, irrespective if readers have previously read The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword. With so many characters gathered for a wedding, and a tournament with a rich prize promised, plot and counter plot are unveiled along with an assortment of characters with distinct personalities running from the entitled to the humble.
Miller draws them all distinctively, and creates a credible world, what’s considered luxury primitive by our standards, yet looking almost decadent here compared with the conditions in which some live. It’s a plot-heavy story requiring plenty of conversational explanation, yet Miller’s layouts disguise this well. Action scenes are largely confined to the tournament, which he brings to life, while providing some formidable designs for battle armour.
Readers will never be entirely sure who’s telling the truth or what their real motives are, and Martin via Avery maintains the suspense all the way to an ending offering a neat twist on what’s been prophesied and one final surprise. Either The Mystery Knight is a better adaptation than the previous books, or Martin put more effort into the original story, as while following the assorted allegiances is complicated, it’s also captivating and rewarding. Don’t bother with what’s come before, just read and enjoy this.