George R. R. Martin’s Best Short Stories 📚

Though George R. R. Martin is most famous for A Song of Ice and Fire, he is an astounding short story writer whose works have earned him accolades from readers and critics.

George R. R. Martin

American Novelist

Throughout his writing career, George R. R. Martin has written many short stories, novellas, and comic stories. Becoming a professional short story writer at 21, many of his works went on to win many awards of excellence.

George R. R. Martin's Best Short Stories


A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

‘A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms’ is a compilation of the first three prequel novellas to the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The three novellas in the series include ‘The Hedge Knight,’ ‘The Sworn Sword,’ and ‘The Mystery Knight.’ The stories occur about a century before the events of ‘A Game of Thrones.’

The Hedge Knight

‘The Hedge Knight’ was initially published on August 25, 1998. It follows the story of Dunk, a nomadic hedge knight’s squire, who takes up his master’s armor, horses, and money as his own after his death. In hopes of winning more gold at a town called Ashford, Dunk gives himself an alias, Ser Dunk the Tall.

On the way to Ashford, he meets a young boy who becomes his new squire. With the young boy’s nickname Egg, he and Dunk reach Ashford. In the town, Dunk sells one of his horses for armor to be made for him by the blacksmith, Pate. He becomes friends with some knights and tries entering a competition but gets prevented because of the lack of proof of knighthood. However, Prince Baelor Targaryen vouches for him and helps him land a spot in the competition.

After watching the first day of the competition, Dunk drinks with Raymun Fossoway, squire to Ser Steffon Fossoway. Egg tells Dunk that Prince Aerion Targaryen is beating up Tanselle; this makes Dunk attack Aerion getting him arrested. Dunk requests a trial by combat, and Raymun, brings two knights, Ser Humfrey Hardyng and Ser Humfrey Beesbury. Aegon brings two knights, Ser Robyn Rhysling and Ser Lyonel Baratheon.

After getting all his fighters, including Prince Baelor, Dunk wins Aerion and forces him to recant his accusation. Though most of his knights die, Dunk gets freed, and Prince Maekar, Aegon’s father, offers him a position to train Aegon. Dunk refuses and asks Maekar to travel with Aegon as his squire under the alias Egg. Maekar agrees, and Dunk begins a new journey.

The Sworn Sword

‘The Sworn Sword’ tells the story of Duncan the Tall, who swears his service to Ser Eustace Osgrey of Standfast. When Ser Bennis the Brown, one of Eustace’s men, discovers that Lady Rohanne Webber of Coldmoat built a dam across the stream, he cuts one of the dam worker’s chee,k and Eustace realizes that Rohanne will be angry. To calm the situation, he sends Dunk to Coldmoat.

Dunk learns that Rohanne stands to lose her land if she does not pick a husband by the second anniversary of her father’s death. He tries to persuade her against retaliating, but his pleas get dismissed. He learns from Rohanne that Eustace was a traitor who supported Daemon Blackfyer, the Usurper.

Dunk returns and decides to leave Eustace’s service. He later tries to give his cheek to Rohanne as repayment for Bennis’s action, but she requests a trial by combat between him and Ser Lucas. Dunk wins, and Rohanne reconciles with Eustace by getting married to him. Dunk then takes his squire, Egg, and they ride towards the wall.

The Mystery Knight

‘The Mystery Knight’ begins with Dunk and his squire, Egg, leaving Stoney Sept to ask Lord Beron Stark to put them in his service and fight against the Greyjoy raiding. On the way, Dunk meets a group of knights traveling to a tourney in honor of the wedding of Lord Butterwell of Whitewalls to a Frey woman. At the wedding, Egg gets suspicious as he notices that most of the competitors for the tourney belong to a rebel group.

Dunk learns that someone got bribed to get rid of him in the tournament. However, before the jousting continues, the prize, a dragon egg, goes missing. Dunk gets injured and thrown into a well by Alyn Cockshaw. He gets rescued by Maynard Plum and finds Egg with Lord Butterwell, who discovered who Egg was.

Butterwell’s son-in-law, Black Tom, tries to kill Egg but gets killed by Dunk, and Gorman Peake gets accused of charging Ball with stealing the dragon egg. Ball gets a chance to prove his innocence, and his champion, Ser Glendon, wins. A large army under Bloodraven, the Hand of the King, encircles Whitewalls, and Lord Butterwell surrenders. He gets a tenth of his wealth, and his fortress gets forfeited to the Iron Throne.

Sandkings

‘Sandkings’ is a novelette published in the August 1979 issue of Omni. The novelette tells the story of Simon Kress, a wealthy playboy on Baldur. After taking a long trip away from his home, Kress returns to discover that most of his exotic wild animals died from starvation. He tries looking for replacements, but none of the new animals intrigue him.

Kress discovers a new store called Wo & Shade. He enters and meets Jala Wo, who shows him a terrarium filled with four colonies of creatures called Sandkings. The colonies had a systematic government controlled by a large female called the maw. Wo tells Kress that she has beamed a hologram of herself into the tank making the Sandkings decorate their castles in her likeness. She also tells him that the Sandkings grow to fill whatever environment they enter. 

Kress takes the creatures and has them installed in his house. However, after getting bored of their slow action, he starts starving them intentionally, leading to intense battles between the black, white, red, and orange colonies of the Sandkings. Soon, Kress begins throwing parties and taking bets for people to watch and decide who wins battles among the four Sandkings’ colonies.

Kress’s ex-girlfriend reports him to the animal control authorities. Later, he notices that the faces in the Sandkings colonies have become twisted and sinister. The next day, Cath, his ex-girlfriend, tries to break loose the terrarium, but Kress stabs her. Before she dies, she releases the Sandkings, and he flees.

The Sandkings grow big, and when Kress tries to exterminate them, they trap him in the house. He tries running away and enters the forest around his estate. However, he stumbles across the orange colony, and they eat him. The story won the 1980 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and Locus Award for Best Novelette.

A Song for Lya

‘A Song for Lya’ is a 1974 novella by George R. R. Martin. It tells the story of Robb and Lyanna, a couple who get invited to planet Shkea by its administrator to investigate a native alien population, Shkeen, who have managed to remain in a stone-age-like civilization.

Robb and Lya attend a Shkeen ceremony where some are about to be intoxicated with Greeshkam, the god of the Shkeen. They further investigate the infection, and their investigation leads them to discover that Greeshka removed all feelings of loneliness. Later, Lya and Robb have a discussion, but Lya goes missing. 

Rob forms a search party and visits one of the caves where the Shkeen get consumed by the Greeshka. When he tries reading some of the Shkeen, he gets overwhelmed by a feeling of love and falls into unconsciousness. He wakes up and learns he had almost walked into the Greeshka after losing control. In his sleep, Lya reaches out to him telepathically and tells him that she went into the Greeshka. She pleads with him to join her, but he rejects joining. 

Robb leaves Shkea and returns to his home world, hoping to find a cure for his newly found loneliness. The story won the 1975 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

FAQs

What is George R. R. Martin’s best short story?

GRRM’s best short story would be Sandkings. The story is about a wealthy playboy, Simon Kress, who buys creatures called Sandkings from a woman, Jala Wo. Simon begins maltreating the Sandkings, and when his ex-girlfriend frees them, they wreak havoc and kill him.

Will there be a Tales of Dunk and Egg show?

While HBO is yet to officially announce a release date for Tale of Dunk and Egg, many analysts believe that the show will come after the release of House of the Dragon.

Should I read J. R. R. Tolkien’s books before George R. R. Martin’s?

The best way to read the fantasy stories of J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin would be to start with the complete ones; this means ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ should come first before A Song of Ice and Fire.

What is A Song for Lya about?

‘A Song for Lya’ is a story about Robb and Lyanna, a couple with telepathic powers who get invited to the planet Shkea by its administrator to help out with the native alien population, the Shkeen, who was affecting the human population. Robb and Lyanna begin investigating and discover that the Shkeen worship a jelly-like parasite that gets rid of loneliness. Lya eventually gets infected by the parasite and uses telepathy to try and make Robb get infected. However, Robb leaves the planet.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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