Literature / Tales of Dunk and Egg

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Dunk the Lunk, Thick as a Castle Wall
"This man protected the weak, as every true knight must. Let the gods determine if he was right or wrong."
Baelor Breakspear

Tales of Dunk and Egg is a series of short novellas written by George R.R. Martin. It takes place in the same universe and continuity of A Song of Ice and Fire but is set approximately a century before the events of the main series. Although a Prequel, the novella does not feature any of the major recurring characters in the main series and features a completely different set of characters and events, some of which were only alluded to as Noodle Incident or Great Offscreen War in the main text but which are explored in fuller detail here.

After burying his mentor Ser Arlan of Pennytree on a meadow beneath a tree, Dunk of Flea Bottom decides to take up the calling of knighthood himself and enters as a poor hedge knight, styled Ser Duncan the Tall, in the Tourney at Ashford. On his travels he comes across a small, curious, bald child called Egg (really Aegon Targaryen, 4th son of Prince Maekar) who volunteers to be his squire. Their random meeting leads to a lifelong friendship and several adventures, great and small as they trudge across Westeros.

The published novellas include:

  1. The Hedge Knight (1998, published in Legends Anthology, edited by Robert Silverberg)
  2. The Sworn Sword (2003, published in Legends II, edited by Robert Silverberg)
  3. The Mystery Knight (2010, published in Warriors, edited by Gardner Dozois)

A fourth novella tentatively titled The She-Wolves of Winterfell was announced but has since been put on hold in favour of completing The Winds of Winter. Martin has announced his plans to publish several future tales, with the stated intention to chronicle the complete adventures of Dunk and Egg. The series has led to two well received graphic novel adaptations of The Hedge Knight (2004) and The Sworn Sword (2008) written and drawn by Ben Avery and Mike S. Miller and published by Dark Horse Comics and Marvel Comics respectively. In October 2015, a collected edition of the first three tales was published under the title of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms with illustrations by Gary Gianni.

Dunk and Egg differs from the main series by being significantly different in tone. The values of knighthood, the codes of chivalry and the honor of service in the same, is played straight for the most part. It's mainly a chronicle of perhaps the most unlikely friendship in the annals of Westeros.


Tropes

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    General 
  • Badass and Child Duo: Dunk and Egg, though Egg is Ser Duncan's squire.
  • Berserk Button: Egg gets quite angry if anyone insults his father Prince Maekar, who isn't particularly popular in the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Targaryens, natch. Thanks to Massively Numbered Siblings. However there are quite a few good Targaryens to go with the crazy and evil ones. But even then, they hardly get along well.
  • Call to Adventure: Every tale ends with Dunk and Egg on the open road.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Egg cheers on fighters and jousters by screaming, "Get him! Get him! He's right there!"
    • Dunk threatening to clout Egg in the ear.
  • Central Theme: The tales deal with the idea of chivalry and how it confronts problems, both when there are damsels to rescue and villains to kill, and when there aren't.
  • Dark Secret: Dunk will occasionally feel guilty about something unspecified, particularly in reference to his status as a knight. It's strongly implied that Dunk was never knighted by Arlan and has been lying about it to advance his social station.
  • Dumb Muscle: Dunk thinks of himself this way. He's a gigantic man who is constantly accusing himself of being an idiot. In truth, he's smarter than he gives himself credit for.
  • Genre Shift: The main books are Epic Fantasy with Loads and Loads of Characters, whereas Dunk and Egg is essentially a medieval romance about a Knight Errant and his boon companion.
  • Gentle Giant: Dunk is a towering giant of a man, but he has a mild personality and always tries to do the right thing.
  • Great Offscreen War: The First Blackfyre Rebellion, specifically the Battle of Redgrass Field which seriously changed the lives of all the characters.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Dunk is about ten years older than Egg, an adult to a child, but they're good friends. Egg, however, is much better educated than Dunk.
  • Knight Errant: In the minds of Ser Arlan and Dunk, "the hedge knight is the truest kind of knight".
    "Other knights serve the lords who keep them, or from whom they hold their lands, but we serve where we will, for men whose causes we believe in. Every knight swears to protect the weak and innocent, but we keep the vow best, I think."
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Dunk is a straight example.
    "A Knight who remembered his vows".
  • Legendary in the Sequel: Readers of A Song of Ice and Fire know that Ser Duncan the Tall becomes the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and that Egg becomes King Aegon V "The Unlikely", one of the last good kings of the Targaryen dynasty. They also know sadly, that they die in an event called "Tragedy at Summerhall".
  • Lighter and Softer: To a degree that it's hard to believe that it exists in the same universe. It's much more good humored and less tense and violent.
  • Nice Guy: Dunk always remembers Ser Arlan as a very kind and mild-mannered man. However, Arlan's gentle chiding of "Dunk the Lunk" seem to have hit Dunk a lot harder than the man probably intended.
  • Odd Friendship: In a time of feudal class divisions, the idea that a poor Knight could become a Big Brother Mentor to the little Prince is a kind of special magic in itself.
  • Posthumous Character: Ser Arlan of Pennytree, Dunk's original master, dies just before the beginning of the first story. Dunk reflects on his time with Arlan from time to time.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Dunk was a street urchin in the slums of Flea Bottom when Arlan recruited him to be his new squire, which was a substantial jump up in station.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: It tilts closer to the first scale than A Song of Ice and Fire but other characters lean to the other side, especially in The Mystery Knight.
  • Small Steps Hero: Duncan as a knight doesn't seek to involve himself in great conflicts but rather to do his duty and live up to the ideals of knighthood as embodied by his mentor and heroes.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Dunk never received adequate formal training in swordsmanship and jousting. In the first two stories, he's a rather incompetent fighter and jouster. Only when fighting devolves into a grappling match does his superior strength win out. By the third story, however, he's received enough combat experience to hold his own.

     1. The Hedge Knight 
Dunk of Flea Bottom, the squire of the late hedge knight Ser Arlan of Pennytree, takes up his master's mantle and enters the tourney at Ashford as a newly minted knight. On his journey to Ashford, he meets Egg, a curiously bald-headed boy who volunteers his service as a squire.

  • The Alcoholic: Prince Daeron the Drunken makes this look very much like a professional calling, rather than simply a character weakness.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Raymun Fossoway is frequently mocked by his cousin, Ser Steffon Fossoway, for being "green". In the Trial by Seven, the newly knight Ser Raymun takes a green apple as his sigil after Steffon turns his cloak and fights for Aerion's side. His belief is that "better green than rotten". Readers of A Song of Ice and Fire also know that Ser Raymund would become the founder of the Fossoways of the New Barrel, called "the Green Apple Fossoways" for the same reason.
  • Arc Villain: Aerion Brightflame essentially functions as the Big Bad for this novella, being a cruel tormentor to his own brother, Egg, and setting off the climax of the story when he attempts to assault Tanselle and is repelled by Dunk; this leads to Aerion accosting Dunk on trumped-up charges and the subsequent Trial by Seven, where Ser Duncan defeats Aerion and clears his named. The aftermath of this leads to Aerion being exiled by his father, who has come to a Heel Realization following his accidentally killing his brother during the Trial and who arranged for Ser Duncan to take Egg as his squire.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Prince Aerion Brightflame obviously, but also Ser Manfred Dondarrion and Ser Steffon Fossoway.
  • Big Good: Baelor Breakspear, Prince of Dragonstone, the Hand of the King.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dunk wins his Trial by Seven, but it comes at the price of the death of three good men, including Baelor Breakspear who everyone believes was the great hope of the Seven Kingdoms. Tanselle Too-Tall, the Dornishwoman who Dunk crushes on, also lives but she has to flee without saying goodbye and Dunk fears that he'll never see her again. On the other hand, Prince Maekar accepts Dunk as a suitable Knight and Mentor to his young son, Prince Aegon.
  • Bread and Circuses: Discussed. The hostess at the Inn which Dunk visits notes that people of the village claim that the Tourney at Ashford will allow them to find jobs and give them something to do, but she has never known of a single instance of tournaments actually cutting down the cost of grain.
  • Broken Pedestal: Dunk idolizes Ser Arlan, but must quickly come to terms with the fact that Arlan oversold his martial accomplishments and neglected his duties in teaching Dunk how to fight.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Dunk has no choice but to do this since Ser Arlan never told him where is Pennytree, his home in the Riverlands, and he had no other family, being a poor hedge knight himself.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Egg hates his elder brother Prince Aerion Brightflame, passionately and even cheers other competitors to kill him.
    • A more tragic example is that of Prince Maekar and Prince Baelor Breakspear. Maekar resented his brother who was more likable and good looking than him, and hated the fact that his children would inherit before Maekar's. But even then he never wanted to kill him. In the Trial by Seven, Maekar and Baelor tussled and a poorly timed hit from Maekar's mace damages his brother's brains and kills him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Aerion destroys the puppet stand and breaks one of Tanselle's fingers because they put on a story where a dragon gets slain. Dragons being the sigil of House Targaryen (and believing himself to actually be a dragon), Aerion takes it as a veiled insult to the crown. When Dunk intervenes, punching and kicking Aerion hard enough to loosen one of his teeth, Aerion wants Dunk executed, although he's willing to settle for cutting off the hand and foot Dunk used to strike him, and breaking all of his teeth. Prince Baelor doesn't allow it.
  • The Good Chancellor: Baelor Breakspear is widely revered for being this, much to the jealousy of his brother Prince Maekar.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Prince Daeron "the Drunk" admits to his own failure in doing right by his youngest brother, apologises to Dunk for levelling his own accusations against him (which he withdraws), and quickly yields during the Trial By Seven.
  • Humble Hero: Dunk, Egg and Baelor Breakspear.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Aerion runs on the stuff. Every shown or described instance of his bullying of others comes with tortured leaps of logic to "justify" it "honourable" to himself and/or others. His bullshit finally gets successfully called out for what it is, but at a great price.
  • King Incognito: Dunk doesn't realise the drunk and the boy he meets in an inn are Prince Daeron Targaryen and a young Aegon Targaryen respectively.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Prince Maekar after killing his brother Baelor. Unlike other examples, he fully accepts his guilt and resolves to make amends as much as he can, first sending his evil son, Prince Aerion Brightflame to Lys and then assigning Dunk as the Hedge Knight and Mentor to his youngest son, and favorite, Aegon in the hopes that he has more humility than his brothers.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Aerion finds himself at the losing end of this during the Trial of Seven, because, while he might be able to vanquish Ser Duncan the Tall, Dunk of Flea Bottom is more than able to beat the stuffing out of him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Played with. Since he was small, he was always known as Dunk and he's not sure if that was a nickname or his real name. Egg thinks that Dunk's true name is Ser Duncan and he thinks that it sounds nice.
  • Origins Episode: A classic example in that we see Dunk becoming Ser Duncan and Egg becoming his squire, their first meeting. We also see the beginning of the formation of the Fossoway Cadet Branch: The Green Apple Fossoways.
  • The Squire: Egg was originally supposed to squire for his brother, Prince Daeron the Drunken, but his love for alcohol led him to forgo going to the Tourney at Ashford. Getting restless, he decides to squire for Dunk simply because he's a knight going the same way. In the end, he tells his father that he would not squire for any knight but Dunk.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Tanselle Too-Tall, the Dornish Puppeteer who catches Dunk's eye, who as Dunk notes is "not too tall for me."
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Prince Maekar knows that this is how Baelor will be regarded after his death and he will always be hated across Westeros for being the man who took their Prince and potential Great King away from them. He also tells Dunk that he'll be treated the same and tells him to prepare for it.
  • The Tourney / Tournament Arc: The entire story takes place entirely at the Tournament at Ashford and goes into details in exploring the rituals of competition and chivalry, as well as the atmosphere around it.
  • Working-Class Hero: Dunk of Flea Bottom, a squire for a Hedge Knight becomes a Knight in service to the Royal Family. He's loved by the smallfolk for protecting one of them against a deranged Prince.
  • You Are Already Dead: Prince Baelor feels strange after helping Dunk win his Trial by Combat, and asks his fellow knights to help remove his helmet. That's when they discover that the back of his skull has been crushed, and the helmet was basically the only thing holding it together.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Prince Valarr in his grief wonders why his father, the Hand of the King and hope of Westeros, should die so that a poor Hedge Knight like Dunk should live. Dunk himself feels guilty about this.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Aerion Brightflame's bullying of others was indirectly responsible for, if not triggering some of the events that led to the severe reduction in the numbers of able Targaryens, then setting them up to hit harder than they might have... Which indirectly led to Aerys the Mad then having nobody of seniority and enough rank to check his follies. Which led to the main series.

     2. The Sworn Sword 
Dunk and Egg have entered into service as sworn swords of Ser Eustace Osgrey of Standfast. A grievance over water rights has embroiled Ser Eustace into a feud with his neighbor, the rich and vindictive Lady Webber of Coldmoat. It's up to Dunk and Egg to resolve the dispute.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: The Longinch, who's driven off Lady Rohanne's other suitors and whom she fears will eventually claim her by force. Rohanne's father had promised the Longinch his daughter's hand, but fear of her wrath keeps him at bay. For now.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Rohanne's response to her dispute being described by Dunk as a 'pissing contest'.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: As a prank, Dunk is initially made to believe that the gonk Lady Uffering, one of Rohane's attendants is Lady Webber, and believes the lie in part because Lady Uffering looks how he'd expect a nasty multiple-widow to look. He assumes that the actual Lady Webber, a pretty young woman, is one of Lady Webber's attendants.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Dunk and Egg are back on the road again, planning to go up north to the Wall to find Dunk's Disappeared Dad.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Duncan catches one from Lady Rohanne when he inadvertently hits her Berserk Button by mentioning Ser Addam. Duncan finally delivers on his threat to give Egg a clip over the ear when he gets too sassy at the wrong time.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Lady Rohanne is too highborn, too clever, and too short for Duncan.
  • Betty and Veronica: Dunk remonstrates with himself for being attracted to Rohanne as opposed to Tanselle.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Dunk gets an education on snogging from the more experienced Lady Rohanne.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Everything works out perfectly for Eustace and Rohanne, with their grudge put squarely behind them and the drought breaking. Duncan, however, is chafed that his crush jumped into marriage while he was unconscious, and he's out of work again.
  • Black Widow: Rohanne is assumed to be this, but all her husbands died in war or natural causes. She does play on the reputation to keep people afraid of her.
  • Book Ends: The story begins and ends with Dunk and Egg passing by two dead men in a crow cage.
  • Braids of Action: Rohanne has a single plait that she plays with coquettishly whenever she's flirting with Dunk.
  • But Now I Must Go: Duncan leaves in a huff despite being offered a position at Coldmoat by a grateful Ser Eustace.
  • Civil War: The Blackfyre Rebellion in the past, whose aftermath and trauma is explored on a smaller scale in the local conflict between Standfast and Coldmoat.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Much like Ser Jaime Lannister several decades in the future, Ser Duncan experiences this even on the smallest scale. He's sworn his sword to Ser Eustace Osgrey to defend his lands and people from the Webbers, but Eustace is a former supporter of the Blackfyre pretenders and so a traitor, and Lady Rohanne hates him for foolishly entering a conflict that led to her beloved Ser Addam dying on the opposite side. Moreover, Dunk likes and admires Lady Rohanne. Dunk's real commitment is protecting the common people who Eustace is forcing into preparing for a battle that will get them butchered.
  • Continuity Nod: Mention is made of Dunk and Egg searching Dorne for Tanselle, apparently without success.
  • Decapitated Army: While riding to confront the Coldmoat forces which greatly outnumber them, Ser Eustace suggests this trope as the only possible way of winning. Dunk is noncommittal as he's come to admire Lady Rohanne, and tries persuasion instead.
  • Double Entendre: Rohanne notes re Duncan the Tall. "I think you must be large all over."
  • Erotic Dream: Duncan dreams of Rohanne naked and shooting him full of arrows.
  • Femme Fatale: A medieval version, but Lady Webber hits all the points - beautiful, manipulative, Belligerent Sexual Tension with the hero, even the sympathetic point-of-view.
  • Fiery Redhead: Lady Rohanne Webber
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Egg's real identity as Prince Aegon Targaryen.
  • For Want of a Nail: Ser Eustace claims that the Battle of Redgrass Field was a lot closer than the songs would have it, and rattles a Long List of small things that could have turned the tide of the battle into a Blackfyre victory:
    Ser Eustace: "If Daemon had ridden over Gwayne Corbray... if Fireball had not been slain on the eve of battle... if Hightower and Tarbeck and Oakheart and Butterwell had lent us their full strength instead of trying to keep one foot in each camp... if Manfred Lothson had proved true instead of treacherous... if storms had not delayed Lord Bracken's sailing with the Myrish crossbowmen... if Quickfinger had not been caught with the stolen dragon's eggs... so many ifs, ser, had any one come out differently it could all have turned t'other way. Then we would be called the loyalists, and the red dragons would be remembered as men who fought to keep the usurper Daeron the Falseborn upon his stolen throne, and failed."
    • Dunk for his part reflects on the fact that if Arlan Pennytree's son, Roger, did not die in battle at the Redgrass Field, Arlan would never seek Dunk as his Replacement Goldfish, he would remain a Street Urchin and eventually get caught and sent to the Night's Watch to waste away at the Wall.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Overall,Ser Eustace is a decent man. But he did support the rebels against a good king and he is still willing to rush into a fight that would get his smallfolk massacred, over a stream that does not even belong to him legally. On the other hand, Lady Rohanne often metes out harsh punishments to those who commit crimes against her holdings and her people-going as far as to drown a man for stealing sheep even though death sentence is not usually imposed on thieves in Westeros. However in her defence, the people she targets are usually guilty and as a woman ruling in a world dominated by male chauvinists she has to prove her toughness constantly or risk acts of aggression upon her lands.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Dunk and Eustace Osgrey sure do.
  • Honor Before Reason: Egg being the grandson of Prince Daeron, Blackfyre's enemy, asks Ser Eustace if he only supported Daemon to get Coldmoat from the Webbers. Eustace doesn't deny that he expected this, but he clarifies that the real reason is because he believed that Daemon Blackfyre was "the better man" and he had the support of every great knight of the age and to him, Daemon seemed more of a heroic figure than Daeron Targaryen.
    Ser Eustace: You can know a man by his friends, Egg. Daeron surrounded himself with maesters, septons, and singers. Always there were women whispering in his ear, and his court was full of Dornishmen...Daemon, though...Daemon was no more pious than a king need be, and all the great knights of the realm gathered to him. It would suit Lord Bloodraven if their names were all forgotten, so he has forbidden us to sing of them, but I remember. Robb Reyne, Gareth the Grey, Ser Aubrey Ambrose, Lord Gormon Peake, Black Byren Flowers, Redtusk, Fireball...Bittersteel! I ask you, has there ever been such a noble company, such a roll of heroes? Why, lad? You ask me why? Because Daemon was the better man. The old king saw it too. He gave the sword to Daemon. Blackfyre, the sword of Aegon the Conqueror, the blade that every Targaryen king had wielded since the Conquest...he put that sword in Daemon’s hand the day he knighted him, a boy of twelve.
  • Karma Houdini: Ser Bennis the Robber Knight who bleeds Standfast dry while everyone's away. Dunk vows to get him when their paths cross in the future.
  • The Lady's Favor: Played for Belligerent Sexual Tension. Dunk turns down the steed he's offered because he's angry at Rohanne not visiting him while wounded, but cuts off her braid instead so he'll have something to remember her.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Whatever Duncan said to mad Lady Vaith to get on her bad side.
    • The nature of Manfred Lothson’s treachery and Quickfinger’s failed theft of the dragon eggs remain a mystery, as well as how either of those events could've altered the outcome of the Battle of Redgrass Field.
  • Only in It for the Money: Ser Bennis, a hedge knight who fulfills the "robber knight" stereotype people unjustly hold against Ser Duncan.
  • Running Gag: Egg's fear of being poisoned.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: The chemistry between Lady Rohanne and Dunk is filled with this.
  • Silly Reason for War: Averted; Rohanne points out that events like this 'pissing contest' over water rights are how nobles judge each others strength, and worse will happen if she doesn't put up a strong front.
  • The Tease: Lady Rohanne to Duncan, when she's in a good mood.
  • Tragic Mistake: Daemon Blackfyre helping Gwayne Corbray.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Subverted. Much time is spent by Dunk, Egg and Ser Bennis in training the villagers in use of arms for a proposed battle against the Webbers of Coldmoat despite many of them never holding a sword in their life, quite a few sharing the name of Wat and needing new names to differentiate in battle, and the fact that they don't entirely get along with each other. In a thorough deconstruction of the usual concept, Dunk decides that these villagers will get butchered since the time window is too short to be trained properly and he decides to resolve the conflict himself before it spills into bloodshed.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Ser Eustace and Duncan risk their lives for Ser Bennis. He repays them by robbing the castle and fleeing once he thinks they're dead.
  • Uptown Girl: Duncan knows Lady Rohanne is out of his league, but desires her anyway. During their confrontation at the river, she admits that she'd marry Dunk if only his pedigree was higher.
  • Uriah Gambit: Rohanne solves her problems by ordering the Longinch to fight Duncan in a Combat by Champion, then marrying Ser Eustace which sorts out her father's will.
  • War Is Glorious: Ser Eustace certainly thinks so:
    Ser Eustace: A great battle is a terrible thing but in the midst of blood and carnage, there is sometimes also beauty, beauty that could break your heart. I will never forget the way the sun looked when it set upon the Redgrass Field...ten thousand men had died, and the air was thick with moans and lamentations, but above us the sky turned gold and red and orange, so beautiful it made me weep to know that my sons would never see it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Egg gets a soft version of this when he puts down two of Aegon the Unworthy's Great Bastards, Bloodraven and Blackfyre, for being like all bastards, untrustworthy and ungrateful. Dunk replies that as a poor child born in a slum who never knew his parents, its more than a little likely that he is a bastard himself and wonders if that means he's untrustworthy. Egg is silent and abashed at this.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Played With. Dunk notes that Egg is so well educated and so observant about political life and his family at the capital that he occasionally says things that should be said by an older man. But at other times he has the emotional maturity and fatigue of the small child that he is.
  • Working Class People Are Morons: Egg comes to this conclusion on meeting the villagers of Standfast, most of whom never held a sword, can't fight and many of whom share the names of "Wat" and are happy at receiving painfully mundane surnames that to them sound royal. Dunk reminds him that they merely lack education and many of them probably possess labor skills and knowledge of botany that would be far more valuable in their simpler lives than what a certain Prince of Summerhall knows. After hearing this, Egg is much more open-minded, and wonders if the villagers would be willing to teach him which plants in the nearby woods are edible and which are poisonous.
  • Written by the Winners: Although the Blackfyre pretenders are remembered as villainous usurpers, Ser Eustace argues that their cause was just and that Daemon would have made a better king. If any of several events had gone a little differently by chance, they wouldn't have lost the war, and they would be remembered as heroes instead.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Duncan and Ser Eustace go alone to confront Webber's vastly superior force.
  • You're Insane!: Rohanne's response when Dunk answers her demand for blood price by cutting his face. That and saying she'd marry him if only she could.

     3. The Mystery Knight 
Dunk and Egg attend Lord Ambrose Butterwell's Tourney in celebration of Butterwell's wedding to a daughter of Lord Frey. Dunk decides to enter the tourney as a "mystery knight," but Egg realizes that there's more at stake than a simple prize, and they quickly find hints of a conspiracy.
  • Accidental Truth: Turns out there really is an army on its way to arrest the conspirators, just like Egg claimed.
  • Ambiguously Gay: John the Fiddler is rather handsy with Dunk, and his tone is exceedingly flirtatious. There's also this exchange:
    John: Where are you going, ser?
    Dunk: To my bed, to sleep. I'm drunk as a dog.
    John: Be my dog, ser. The night's alive with promise. We can howl together, and wake the very gods.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Lord Bloodraven has this reputation in Westeros, even the Targaryen dynasty he's supporting is scared and uncertain about him. Him being a bastard, albino with one eye also counts a lot against him. Yet, he seems to like Egg a lot, even if the latter is a little rude to him while being respectful to Dunk.
  • Arc Villain: Lord Gormon Peake, a rude, crass, vengeful lord who still holds a bitter grudge over the loss of two of his three castles for his previous revolt against the Crown.
  • Arc Words: "How many eyes does Lord Bloodraven have?" and "A Thousand Eyes, and One".
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Despite being exhausted from torture, Flowers knocks Daemon II into the mud and everyone laughs. So when Daemon tries to rally his followers against Bloodraven's army, no-one will follow such an inept warrior.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Even as a four-year-old Walder Frey is such an annoying little shit that Dunk is tempted to throw him down a well. Indeed Walder Frey triggered his elder sister's marriage by catching her with a lowborn boyfriend and then finking her to his Lord Father who forced her to marry Lord Butterwell.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Dunk says hello to the troupe of performing dwarfs as they leave during the tourney, and notices one of them stinks to high heaven. It is implied he stole the dragon egg by crawling up the privy shaft.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not by much, but a good deal so compared to the earlier two stories.
  • Deconstruction: The Tourney as a display and exhibition of knightly prowess and chivalry. Turns out, it attracts all kinds of crooks, bookies and fixers and is used as a front to stage a conspiracy against the ruling monarch.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: Bloodraven notes that Daemon II Blackfyre is a lot less dangerous as a living hostage than as a dead martyr.
  • The Dreaded: Lord Bloodraven, the Hand of the King, who has "a thousand eyes, and one", a reputation as an evil sorcerer, and has essentially made Westeros a police state where people are afraid of speaking their minds. Considering how much support this attempted Rebellion gains it looks like Jerkass Has a Point.
  • Due to the Dead: When Dunk passes by the head of Gormon Peake after Bloodraven's reinforcements, he closes his eyelids. He does this because Gormon Peake killed Ser Arlan's nephew Roger at Redgrass Field, causing Ser Arlan to recruit Dunk as a replacement.
  • Futureshadowing: Egg mentions that King Aerys I discovered a prophecy in one of his books, possibly related to the return of dragons. This is the very same prophecy concerning "The Prince That Was Promised" that would ultimately doom succeeding generations of Targaryens in A Song of Ice and Fire and become a personal obsession of Prince Rhaegar in particular.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: The conspiracy has already taken a major blow because the pretender doesn't have a Cool Sword that belonged to the first Daemon Blackfyre, showing that Bittersteel does not support this rebellion.
  • Heroic Bastard: Ser Glendon Flowers, the bastard son of Quentyn Ball, is a fine knight and decent guy who is unfairly made the Fall Guy for the dragon egg disappearance. He eventually turns against the Blackfyre loyalists for good.
  • Honor Before Reason: After Duncan loses the joust and therefore his armour and horse, it's suggested he either sneak off without paying, or join the winner in a rigged tourney scam. Duncan indignantly turns down both these ideas.
  • Hypocrite: The Blackfyres root for Daemon Blackfyre because he was Asskicking Equals Authority and was skilled despite being a bastard. Here they try to crown Daemon II/John The Fiddler who's more of a scholar/minstrel than a warrior and yet they fix the Tourney so he can win and resort to torture the genuinely talented bastard Ser Glendon Flowers into making Daemon II look good when he refuses to be bribed into losing.
  • Indy Ploy: When he shows his father's ring, Egg is taken before Lords Butterwell and Frey. He remembers that his father mentioned Bloodraven said "it is better to be frightening then frightened", so he claims he was sent there by Prince Maekar, who is on his way with an army.
  • Irony: Ser Glendon Flowers would have joined the conspiracy willingly, if only he'd been asked. Instead the conspirators try to bribe him to throw the tourney, an idea indignantly rejected by Flowers. As a result he's framed so he won't be a threat to the Fiddler. Likewise Underleaf is set up to lose against a superior opponent, when he was planning to throw the contest anyway.
  • Jerkass: Ser Uthor Underleaf, Ser Gormon Peake, most of the Blackfyre Rebels save, oddly enough, for John the Fiddler and even Ser Glendon Flowers.
  • Karmic Death: A conspirator who tries to shove Dunk down a well ends up drowning there himself.
  • Kids Are Cruel: It's a bit of a surprise to learn that the Gentle Giant and mild-mannered Dunk was a real creep as a street urchin. He recalls his gang and himself playing cruel tricks with a severed head.
  • Lie to the Beholder: It's strongly implied that Ser Maynard Plumm is in fact Bloodraven using a glamour to disguise his distinctive appearance and go undercover as a spy.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Walder Frey's father is implied to have sold out the conspirators to Bloodraven.
  • Not Just a Tournament: Egg calls the Tournament at Whitewalls a "traitor's tourney" noting that most of the families gathered there were former Blackfyre supporters. Dunk realizes, far too late, that he's right.
  • Playing Both Sides: Lord Ambrose Butterwell has long been suspected of this, with some stating that he deliberately sent one of his sons to the Blackfyre side in the hopes that his family would profit either way. He was also suspected of being a saboteur in his tenure as Hand of the King to Daeron II. After his supposedly unwitting involvement in the Whitewalls-Second Blackfyre Rebellion fiasco, Lord Bloodraven, the new Hand of the King, deals with him decisively:
    "I have heard your bleatings, Lord Ambrose, and I believe one word in ten. On that account I will allow you to retain a tenth part of your fortune."
  • Police State: Bloodraven has converted Westeros into one, as several lords complain about how Big Brother Is Watching You with "A thousand eyes, and one."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Dunk delivers it to Black Tom. "I told you. I'm better with a sword."
  • Prophecy Twist: The Fidder's prophecy is true, just not in the way he expects.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Egg claims his father Prince Maekar is coming to Whitewalls with an army, Lord Frey leaves Whitewalls. Later Lord Butterwell flees with Egg.
  • Shout-Out: Lord Gormon Peake of the Castle Starpike, whose sigil is a castle of three towers (two of which were stripped from him after the Blackfyre Rebellion), is obviously a reference to Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, which has a major character named Steerpike.
  • Son of a Whore: Ser Glendon Flowers is the bastard child of the camp follower Penny Jenny and, allegedly, the Blackfyre supporter Ser Quentyn Ball. His mother later established a brothel at King's Landing called Pussywillows and so Ser Glendon is known as the "Knight of Pussywillows" by his enemies and Ser Glendon Ball by his friends and supporters. His sister is also a whore who exchanged her virginity for her brother's knighthood.
  • Sore Loser: One of Ser Glendon's opponents punctures multiple holes in his armour after losing the joust, before handing it over to Flowers.
  • Throwing the Fight:
    • Ser Uthor Underleaf suggests that he does this all the time. He's an incredible jouster, but never wins any tourneys because he bets on himself (with long odds) until he decides to lose (and then he bets on the other guy). If he actually won, he'd become more famous, and he'd never get those long odds again.
    • A hedge knight deliberately loses an easy victory against a lord who's still hungover. He trained the lord when he was a boy, and plans to flatter his skill so he can enter his service again. Instead the lord doesn't even remember him, and refuses to employ such an apparently inept knight.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Between this story and the previous, Dunk has become a much better fighter. He recalls fighting off an Ironborn boarding party and considers himself virtually peerless with an axe or mace. In the end, handily defeats the villain in single combat. He's still a lousy jouster, however.
    • Also Egg. He improvises a brilliant gambit to sway Lord Ambrose Butterwell back to the Crown. Indeed Lord Bloodraven even notes that John the Fiddler's prophecy about the dragon that would wake refers to the future Aegon V more than anything they hoped to hatch at Whitewalls.
  • Tournament Arc: Much like "The Hedge Knight", only with a much more seedier look at the values it supposedly espouses.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: It's strongly suggested that Maynard Plumm rather than a spy of Bloodraven's is Bloodraven wearing a glamour. Dunk notes something odd about his appearance, and his descriptions match the use of glamour in A Dance with Dragons.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TalesOfDunkAndEgg