The Chicken Knight

In the last few months I somehow got sucked into reading George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books which include Game of Thrones, of which they made a recent TV series. I’m still not done (I’m somewhere in the 4th book) since I’m an impossibly slow reader and I’m usually reading two or three other books at once, but I’m really enjoying myself. One thing I really like about the series is how lived in that world feels. He managed to create levels and levels of culture, stories, geography, history that go along with the main plot lines. He describes many aspects of daily life and even the food in great detail. There’s even a website dedicated to recreating the food described in the book series. I also enjoy reading the descriptions of the different cities and places, and I like the fact that the geography and culture of this world (does it have a name?) can roughly be superimposed onto medieval Europe and maybe the Middle East. Martin takes great pains to describe the rich heraldic symbols of the various houses that have a role in shaping the plot, and I always assumed that they were somewhat fanciful versions of actual heraldry used in the middle ages. Recently, a friend showed me a link to an exhibit of various illustrated books from Flanders made during the late medieval period, and the website for the exhibition has a nice series of interactive electronic books, which are scans of some of the original manuscripts. The first of these books is a so-called Armorial, or book of heraldry depicting the various symbols, helmet and costumes worn by the various knights. And they’re amazing, they have all sorts of crazy stuff, like the dude with the giant fish or lion helmet. There’s even one fellow with a chicken on his helmet. I certainly couldn’t imagine going to war with that shit on my head. If I were a knight I wonder what my symbol would be? A giant neuron on a background of whining undergrads? A laptop? I could simply then challenge grant and paper reviewers to swordfights in lieu of peer review. These would also make much better covers for Martin’s books than the inexplicably ugly ones he (or his publisher) chose. Here are some of my favorites (including the chicken knight):

Chicken Knight

Lion Knight

Fish Knight

Valentine's Day Knight

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1 Response to The Chicken Knight

  1. Scicurious says:

    Actually, I find (and I think this is deliberate) that the START of the GRRM series mirrors pretty well the start of the Wars of the Roses, with Stark standing in for York and Lannister for Lancaster (GRRM is not subtle there). Obviously it veers off course very quickly. Glad you like the series though, I’m finally reading Dance with Dragons.

    I would go into battle with a rodent-shaped helmet. THE MOUSE KNIGHT! Or maybe with a caffeine molecule in gold on a coffee-bean brown background? 🙂

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