Duncan the Tall
Duncan the Tall
Dunk the Lunk
The Gallows Knight (Mystery Knight)
Lord Commander of the Kingsguard
|Born||In +/- 192 AC, at King's Landing|
|Died||In 259 AC, at Summerhall|
The Hedge Knight (POV)|
The Sworn Sword (POV)
The Mystery Knight (POV)
A Storm of Swords (Mentioned)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Mentioned)
Dunk was a large man who grew up in Flea Bottom, became the squire of a hedge knight, became the companion of Aegon V Targaryen, and later served as Aegon's Lord Commander of the Kingsguard under the name Ser Duncan the Tall. Nearly seven feet tall, Dunk had a humble personality and thought of himself as thick-headed. His early exploits are chronicled in the "Dunk and Egg" stories of The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, The Mystery Knight. His personal arms were a green shooting star above an elm tree proper on sunset.
Dunk's earliest memories were of living as a street urchin in the Flea Bottom slums of King's Landing, without any word or sight of either of his parents. His closest friends went by the names of Ferret, Rafe and Pudding. By his own admission, they were "little monsters" with Dunk himself worst of all. Sometimes they would sell or even dump pieces of meat of dubious origin to the local pot shops that made the bowls of brown. Ser Arlan of Pennytree took Dunk as a squire and raised him from a youth. Arlan's humble optimism made a positive impression on Dunk, though his gentle chiding of "Dunk the Lunk" damaged his self-confidence. The two of them would ride together until the death of Ser Arlan, travelling and selling their services as hedge knights usually do, without ever passing through Pennytree. Dunk never knew either of his parents, though he believes that he is probably a bastard with a thief for a father. He had hoped to someday go to the North and eventually the Wall and perhaps meet some tall stranger that might turn out to be his father, but that never happened.
The Hedge Knight
When Dunk was around the age of 16, Arlan died suddenly on the way to Ashford. Dunk buried Arlan and decided to compete in the Ashford Tourney himself. On the way, he met a bald-headed boy named Egg, who begged to become his squire. Dunk eventually agreed. They camped just outside of Ashford under an elm tree and watched a shooting star fall from the evening sky. To Dunk, the moment symbolized the humble pleasures of the hedge knight lifestyle. In the morning, Dunk sold Arlan's equipment and purchased armor to his size. Needing a coat of arms, Dunk commissioned Tanselle, an attractive Dornish puppeteer, to paint a shooting star above an elm tree over a sunset field on his shield.
Dunk claimed to the tourney organizers that Arlan knighted him before his death. The truth of this claim has not been revealed, though Dunk sometimes feels guilt for an unexplained reason No one remembered Arlan, and Dunk eventually sought out Baelor Breakspear, who had tilted against Arlan on one notable occasion. Baelor allowed Dunk to enter the tourney. That evening, Aerion Targaryen attacked the puppeteer and Dunk rushed to her aide. After breaking several of Aerion's teeth, Dunk was subdued by Aerion's guards, but Egg, revealing his identity as Aegon Targaryen, protected him from further harm.
Vengeful, yet wary of Dunk's size and strength, Aerion demanded a trial of seven, a trial by combat involving seven combatants on each side. Egg helped Dunk find allies, which ultimately included Baelor himself. Dunk learned that the people were with him for being a knight who remembered his vows to protect the helpless. During the combat, Dunk faced off against Aerion, and his inexperience with lance and sword nearly got him killed. Using his superior strength and the brawling skills he learned in Flea Bottom, Dunk bested Aerion and forced him to yield. The victory rang hollow, however, as two of the men who had taken Dunk's side had been killed, and shortly after the trial Baelor died of a head wound taken from his own brother. Dunk was beset by guilt for his part in the deaths of such good men, especially the Crown Prince. Egg's father, Maekar, asked Dunk to take Egg as his squire officially, to serve as a positive influence on him. Dunk agreed, but refused to serve House Targaryen, preferring to remain a hedge knight and teach Egg the humility that his elder brother Aerion had never learned.
Between The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword
At some point between the ending of The Hedge Knight and the start of The Sworn Sword, Dunk and Egg reached the Prince's Pass in Dorne, probably seeking Tanselle Too-Tall as hinted by the last few words of The Hedge Knight.
They left for Vaith and while on the crossing Dunk's horse, Chestnut, died. He and Egg rode double on Thunder for an unspecified period of time until one of Egg's brothers (either Aemon or Daeron) gave them Maester. Once in Vaith, Dunk met the current, aged Lady Vaith, the first highborn lady that he ever met in person and spoke to her with such lack of grace as to put his own life and Egg's in danger. According to Egg, however, Lady Vaith was mad, so it is unclear if that danger could have been avoided.
Dunk eventually returned from Dorne with Egg aboard a ship called White Lady that brought them to Oldtown. Aboard the ship Dunk had his first experience of combat at sea when he helped repel some raiders.
By that time Dunk had given up on trying to find Tanselle or even talking about her. It is not stated inequivocally whether or not they found her, but Dunk states that he should be dreaming of her and that they never actually touched each other, even in a chaste way.
The Sworn Sword
Dunk and Egg eventually travelled from Oldtown to Standfast, still on the Reach, and entered the service of Ser Eustace Osgrey, a poor and broken landed knight who also employed an old acquaintance of Dunk, Ser Bennis the Brown. Dunk and Bennis discover that peasants of Lady Rohanne Webber of Coldmoat have dammed the local stream. Bennis provoked Rohanne by cutting one of her peasants, and Dunk eventually went to Coldmoat to try to reason with her. Though sexual tension charged their meeting, Rohanne refused Dunk and told him about Eustace's support of Daemon Blackfyre during the Blackfyre Rebellion.
Shocked by the revelation, Dunk attempted to leave Eustace's service, but a fire in the nearby woods caused Dunk to suspect that Rohanne had already started her campaign against Eustace. After Bennis fled, leaving only Eustace's feeble peasant levies, Dunk knew that war was a lost cause. He disbanded Eustace's levies, but promised to face Rohanne with him. Meeting with Rohanne's forces, Dunk offered to settle the matter with a trial by combat. Rohanne agreed, and sent her overbearing steward Ser Lucas Longinch to fight Dunk in the stream. Again, Dunk's wrestling ability compensated for his lack of swordsmanship. He killed Lucas, but received major wounds and almost drowned in the stream.
After recuperating, Dunk discovered that Eustace and Rohanne had settled their differences and decided to marry. Feeling rejected, Dunk took one last kiss from Rohanne and somewhat vindictively cut off a length of her signature braid as a keepsake. Afterwards, Dunk and Egg took their leave.
Between The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight
The Mystery Knight
The story begins with Dunk and Egg leaving Stoney Sept. They are moving north to try and take up service with Lord Beron Stark who has sent a call for men to help fend off Greyjoy raids on the northern coast. On the way they encounter a septon who was beheaded for preaching treason; Dunk remembers that Lord Bloodraven has spies everywhere. On route Egg and Dunk encounter a lord's train led by Lord Gormon Peake of Starpike, whose arms are three black castles on a field of orange. Also in the party are a lord named Alyn Cockshaw and a well dressed and richly garbed man who claims to be a hedge knight named Ser John the Fiddler. Dunk is challenged and insulted by Peake and Cockshaw but the Fiddler treats him courteously. Before they ride off, Ser John invites Dunk to attend the wedding of Lord Ambrose Butterwell. There is to be a joust to celebrate the wedding of Butterwell to a Frey of the Crossing; the victor's prize is to be a dragon egg.
Dunk takes a dislike to Gormon Peake; Ser Arlan, to whom Dunk was squired, claimed his previous squire, Roger of Pennytree, was slain by Gormon in the Battle of the Redgrass Field. Egg tells Dunk that Gormon's arms of three castles on an orange field is because the Peake family used to own three castles, but two were forfeited to the Crown when Peake sided with House Blackfyre.
Dunk decides to go to the wedding. During the journey Dunk befriends three fellow hedge knights. The wedding is set at Whitewalls and after noticing the guest list, Egg informs Dunk of his suspicions that this was a traitor's wedding and the majority of the nobles attending had fought for the Blackfyres. Dunk tells him to keep his suspicions quiet and keep his head down. During the bedding Dunk is drafted by John the Fiddler to carry the bride to the bedchamber. Dunk does so and later when he goes for a breath of air, John the Fiddler talks to him saying that he recognized Dunk on the road. Dunk appeared to him in a dream in which Duncan wore the all white armor of the Kingsguard. The Fiddler says his dreams always come true, as he dreamt his brothers dead once and also a dragon hatching from an egg at Whitewalls.
Dunk decides to enter the first match of the joust as a mystery knight known as the Gallows Knight (due to a new shield that once belonged to a knight of House Trant that Dunk had to buy as his old shield was damaged in his duel with Lucas Longinch) in case anyone heard of a knight named Ser Duncan the Tall from Ashford, but Dunk is defeated in his first tilt by Ser Uthor Underleaf known as the the Snail Knight due to his sigil. Underleaf's lance hits Duncan upon the helm, knocking him out and nearly killing him. Dunk recovers later and goes to give the Underleaf his armor and horse as forfeit. Since Dunk can't ransom it back he is in a glum mood. Dunk talks to Underleaf and Underleaf informs Dunk that someone bribed him to try and kill Dunk in the final tilt, Underleaf states that if they paid more he might have completed the task, but tells Dunk he has an enemy. Before the jousting continues word spreads through the castle that the dragon egg is missing and the blame is placed on Ser Glendon Ball, who is imprisoned by Peake.
Dunk notices that Egg is missing and sets out to find his squire. Whilst searching he is almost killed by Alyn Cockshaw who tells Dunk he bribed Underleaf to kill Dunk because he was jealous of John the Fiddler's obsession with Dunk and that dream Dunk manages to defeat him by throwing him down a well, though he takes a wound in return from Cockshaw's knife. Maynard Plumm comes to Duncan's aid and tells him where to find his squire.
Dunk finds Egg in the sept with the cowering Lord Butterwell, who on discovering Egg's true identity is terrified for his life. Egg falsely told Ambrose that he and Dunk were spies sent to investigate the tournament and that his father, Prince Maekar, is on the way with an army. Lord Ambrose's step-son, Black Tom Heddle, shows up and tries to harm Egg but is slain by Dunk. Dunk tells Egg to flee with Ambrose. To buy time for Egg's escape Dunk confronts Daemon II Blackfyre, accusing Gormon Peake of falsely charging Ball with the theft of the dragon egg.
Dunk meets Bloodraven inside his pavilion outside of which the head of Gormon Peake along with Black Tom Heddle are displayed on spears. Bloodraven, in gratitude to Dunk, gives him the gold to ransom his armor back. Dunk then asks Bloodraven what became of the dragon egg. Bloodraven tells Dunk it was taken by an agent of his who crawled up the privy shaft of the castle to take the egg from its guarded chamber, and is now safe. Dunk remarks that a man wouldn't have fit in those shafts. Bloodraven replies a child would have. Or a dwarf, Dunk thinks as he remembers the performing dwarfs at the wedding.
After Egg took the Iron Throne as King Aegon V Targaryen, he asked Dunk to join the Kingsguard and he eventually became the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Aegon named his first son and heir Duncan, who was called Duncan the Small in contrast to his namesake. Ser Duncan escorted Maester Aemon and Brynden Rivers to the Wall on Aegon's command.
For unknown reasons, a shield with Dunk's original arms came to reside in the armory of Lord Selwyn of Tarth. Selwyn's daughter Brienne wore a copied version of the arms while traveling the Riverlands incognito.
As The Hedge Knight begins, Dunk has three horses, inherited from Ser Arlan.
- Thunder, a destrier
- Chestnut, a stot that died between The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword
- Sweetfoot, a female palfrey that he sells early on so that he may buy armor and greathelm
As his adventures progressed, he would acquire other animals.
George R. R. Martin announced that a descendant of Dunk would be revealed in A Feast for Crows. Given that Brienne explains how she found his shield in the armories of Tarth, it is widely speculated she is descended from Duncan the Tall.
References and Notes
- The Hedge Knight
- The Citadel. Heraldry: Houseless Hedge Knights
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, pages 126-127 of 73-152.
- The Mystery Knight, Warriors 1, ISBN 978-0-7653-6026-7, page 309 of 251-394.
- The Mystery Knight, Warriors 1, ISBN 978-0-7653-6026-7, page 252 of 251-394.
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, page 127 of 73-152.
- The Mystery Knight, Warriors 1, ISBN 978-0-7653-6026-7, page 337 of 251-394.
- Author George R. R. Martin has confirmed that Dunk's story of his knighting is a lie.
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, pages 95 and 97 of 73-152.
- It was almost certainly given by Aemon because it was said he received the donkey in old town and Aemon was already there forging his chain to be a maester, and the name of the donkey is maester. It is not yet known whether it happened before or after reaching Vaith, but it was before the events in The Sworn Sword.
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, page 107 of 73-152.
- Who may or may not have been Cassella Vaith
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, page 101 of 73-152.
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, page 100 of 73-152.
- The Mystery Knight, Warriors 1, ISBN 978-0-7653-6026-7, pages 275-276 of 251-394.
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, page 132 of 73-152.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- The Citadel: FAQ: What happened at Summerhall
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, page 97 of 73-152.
- The Hedge Knight, Legends, ISBN 978-0312867874, pages 475-476 of 457-533.
- The Mystery Knight, Warriors 1, ISBN 978-0-7653-6026-7, page 251 of 251-394.
- The Sworn Sword, Legends II, ISBN 978-0345456441, pages 151-152 of 73-152.
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