The Tales of Dunk and Egg are a series of prequel novellas written by George R.R. Martin, which begin 90 years before the events of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels (on which the TV series Game of Thrones is based). They follow the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, Prince Aegon "Egg" Targaryen who is the younger brother of Maester Aemon. Though Egg is a boy at the start of the series he will eventually grow up to become King Aegon V, or "Aegon the Unlikely".
In 2021, it was announced that a potential Game of Thrones prequel series based on the Tales of Dunk & Egg is in development at HBO. In March 2022, George R.R. Martin confirmed that screenwriter Steve Conrad is attached as showrunner, and the project has advanced from the "pitch" phase to the "pilot script" phase, though it is unknown if HBO will ultimately order a pilot to be filmed. Martin also said that the current working title for the project is A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the same title as the omnibus hardcover collection of all the current Dunk & Egg prequel novellas - however, he added, the name hasn't been finalized, because there is still strong argument in favor of calling it The Hedge Knight, after the title of the first novella.
The Tales of Dunk and Egg begin 90 years before the War of the Five Kings, at the end of the reign of King Daeron II Targaryen. The realm is still recovering from the First Blackfyre Rebellion thirteen years before, a great civil war that tore the Seven Kingdoms in half. Daeron II's bastard half-brother Daemon I Blackfyre had tried to seize the throne in the rebellion, but was killed in the final battle of the war. Several of his sons survived by fleeing into exile, and across the Narrow Sea, House Blackfyre is continually plotting all manner of intrigues against the main branch of the Targaryen dynasty, hoping to gain support for new rebellions.
The Targaryens are still having difficulty maintaining their hold on power, particularly since the last of their dragons died fifty years ago, and the beasts are starting to fade from living memory. There are also lingering tensions from the recent unification of Dorne with the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. The fiercely independent Dornishmen had resisted Targaryen conquest for two centuries, and only finally came under the authority of the Iron Throne through peaceful marriage-alliance. Daeron II married the sister of the Prince of Dorne, and Daeron II's sister married the Prince of Dorne. The terms of the alliance led to the Iron Throne giving House Martell of Dorne preferential treatment, with a strong pro-Martell faction developing around Daeron II at the royal court. This is one of the factors that sparked the Blackfyre Rebellion, as all of the non-Dornish lords who felt that the pro-Martell faction was receiving royal favors which should have been theirs ultimately sided with Daemon Blackfyre. Despite thirteen years of relative peace, relations between the Dornish and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms remain tenuous.
Worse problems are on the horizon, as during the course of Dunk and Egg's first adventures a massive plague known as the Great Spring Sickness sweeps across the Seven Kingdoms (Westeros's equivalent of the Black Death), upsetting what was already a fragile political balance. With plague and drought devastating the Seven Kingdoms, many turn to banditry to survive, and the roads are crawling with outlaw bands. Petty feuds erupt between local lords competing over food and resources. With the realm weakened from within, dangers arise on every side, as the Targaryens' enemies see their vulnerable state as a perfect opportunity to attack. Besides the continuing tensions with the Dornish to the south, the Blackfyres across the eastern sea are attempting to raise new armies in the Free Cities, and to turn lords in Westeros to their side who are upset at the difficulties the Targaryen reign is encountering. To the west, the ironborn led by Dagon Greyjoy are seizing their best chance in generations to return to the Old Way, conducting brazen coastal raids from Bear Island in the North to the Arbor in the south. To the north the wildlings have been united by a new King-Beyond-the-Wall, Raymun Redbeard, and they are preparing to cross over the Wall and sweep through the lands to the south.
Into this backdrop steps Ser Duncan the Tall, a very large squire who grew up as an orphan in the slums of Flea Bottom in King's Landing. After the hedge knight he is in service to dies while heading to a tournament, Dunk takes his gear and enters the tournament as a knight himself. Along the way he strikes up an odd friendship with a young boy who turns out to be Prince Aegon Targaryen, commonly known by his nickname "Egg", a grandson of King Daeron II. Later, however, he runs afoul of Aegon's sadistic and arrogant older brother, Prince Aerion Brighflame, after Aerion accosts a beautiful Dornish woman with whom Duncan becomes smitten. Through a series of many adventures the unlikely duo of "Dunk and Egg" will, in the course of years, rise to great fame, as Egg grows to become King Aegon V, and Dunk becomes Ser Duncan the Tall, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.
Martin has said that the novellas will include time-jumps so that they will ultimately cover the rest of the lives of the two main characters, stretching across a period of 50 years, until both of them die in the Tragedy at Summerhall. This will bridge the timeline between the two main narrative eras: Ser Barristan Selmy was knighted at the age of sixteen by King Aegon V after unhorsing Ser Duncan in a joust. Tywin Lannister's grandfather Gerold Lannister is a character in the early novellas, but young Tywin was a boy when Aegon V died. Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was also born the very same night as the Tragedy at Summerhall.
- Main article: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (TV series)
On February 10, 2013, George R.R. Martin confirmed that he had been in discussion with HBO over a possible adaptation of the Tales of Dunk and Egg short stories, though in what format (TV movies, theatrical movie, or a spin-off TV series) was not made clear.
On January 21, 2021, Variety first reported rumors that a new attempt was being made to pitch a Dunk & Egg prequel series. Months later on November 30, 2021, Deadline reported that an adaptation was in development, and that the pitch was advanced enough that screenwriter Steve Conrad was attached as showrunner.
On March 9, 2022, George R.R. Martin himself gave an update in his blog about potential prequel projects, confirming that Steve Conrad was attached to a potential Dunk & Egg series, and that it has passed from the "pitch" phase to the "pilot script" phase, though it's unknown if HBO will ultimately greenlight filming on a pilot episode. Martin said that they haven't decided on a working title for the series yet, as he's been calling it A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms but there are also arguments to call it The Hedge Knight. As Martin said:
- The third of the live action shows is the Dunk & Egg series, helmed by Steve Conrad. My team and I have had some great sessions with Steve and his team, and we really hit it off. He's determined to do a faithful adaptation of the stories, which is exactly what I want; these characters and stories are very precious to me. The first season will be an adaptation of the first novella, 'The Hedge Knight.' Contrary to what you may have read online, the show will not be called DUNK & EGG, which could be mistaken for a sitcom by viewers unfamiliar with the stories. We're leaning toward A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS for the series title, though THE HEDGE KNIGHT has its partisans as well."
- Random Updates and Bits o’ News, GRRM, Not A Blog, March 9, 2022
- Variety, January 21, 2021
- ‘Dunk & Egg’: Steve Conrad To Write ‘Game Of Thrones’ Prequel HBO Series – Deadline
- Random Updates and Bits o’ News, GRRM, Not A Blog, March 9, 2022
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Fire & Blood · Tales of Dunk and Egg