Did you know that I read a Game of Thrones story before I read the first book? Well allow me to tell you a story. When I was in Jordan, I ran out of books to read after like a week. So the one kid, Drew, let me borrow some of his stuff. One of the books I read on our trip to Petra was Legends, a collection of short stories. One of the stories was about a hedge knight. I liked the story, but never really thought too much about it. As a quick aside, there was also a Wheel of Time and Dark Tower story in there, long before I read them as well.
Anyways, after reading GOT, I remembered this short story and always meant to read the rest of them. However, I did not want to buy a bunch of collections and figured at some point they would collect the Tales of Dunk & Egg into a book. I was right and the first three novellas were published in this book.
The three stories were so damn good. Honestly, I think this is GRRM at his best. Instead of getting bogged down in references or trying to blow our minds with more and more twists, he just tells a straightforward story. Plus, some of these things are cool when you realize these stories are what he was referring to in the main books. The Blackfyre Rebellion plays such a huge role.
My favorite part of the three stories was probably the second story. How Dunk comes to realization that Ser Eustace fought for the losing side in the rebellion, but at the end of the day, Dunk helps the old man and is able to achieve peace (and then steals himself a kiss from Lady Rohanne). That was such a great story and really shows the complexity of a situation. Dunk (and even more so, Egg) see the world as black & white most of the time. However, they come to realize there are shades of gray.
Reading this collection definitely has me more excited for The Winds of Winter, which should come out sometime in the next two or ten years.