Aegor Rivers

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Bittersteel.svg Second Sons.svg Golden Company.svg Ser
Aegor Rivers
Bittersteel at the red grass field by mike hallstein-da4esnm.png
Aegor Rivers at the Redgrass Field, by Mike Hallstein ©.

Alias Bittersteel[1]
Race Valyrian
Culture Rivermen
Born In 172 AC[3]
Died In 241 AC[3]Disputed Lands
Father Aegon IV Targaryen
Mother Barba Bracken
Spouse Calla Blackfyre
Personal arms A red stallion with black wings snorting flame on gold
(Or, a stallion gules winged sable flammant proper)

Aegor Rivers, frequently called Bittersteel, was one of the Great Bastards and a son of King Aegon IV Targaryen by his fifth mistress, Lady Barba Bracken.[1][4] Aegor was the founder of a famed group of exiled sellswords, the Golden Company.[2] In his personal arms, he combined the red stallion of House Bracken with black dragon wings from House Blackfyre, on a golden field.[4]

Appearance and Character

Being half-Targaryen, Aegor had purple eyes, but black hair. As an adult, he had a close-cropped beard. He looked like a warrior, being lean, light, and tall. Aegor's armor was well-made, though plain-looking, being grey-steel and black rings. On his helm was a horse head with a horse's mane flowing behind. His shield displayed his personal sigil: a stallion with black dragon wings, on a golden field, snorting fire.[4]

Aegor was angry all of his life,[4] and quickly irritated and offended.[2] He did not smile, and especially loathed his younger half-brother, Brynden Rivers, and Brynden's mother, Melissa Blackwood, who had replaced Aegor's mother Barba Bracken as King Aegon IV Targaryen's mistress.[4]


Early life

Aegor was born at King's Landing to one of King Aegon IV Targaryen's mistresses, Barba Bracken. When Queen Naerys Targaryen recovered her health, Prince Daeron and Aemon the Dragonknight forced Aegon to send Barba and child from the capital, and Aegor was instead raised at Stone Hedge in the riverlands.[1]

The angry Aegor reserved particular loathing for his half-brother Brynden Rivers, whose mother, Melissa Blackwood, had replaced his own as their father's favorite mistress. Aegor loathed Brynden, who was known as Bloodraven, even further when Shiera Seastar, their beautiful half-sister and a fellow Great Bastard, chose Brynden over him. Their other half-brother, Daemon Blackfyre, agreed to wed his daughter Calla to Aegor. Aegor often urged Daemon to press his own claim to the Iron Throne.[2]

First Blackfyre Rebellion

In the First Blackfyre Rebellion in 196 AC, Aegor sided with Daemon Blackfyre against King Daeron II Targaryen. During the battle of the Redgrass Field, Aegor commanded the right of Daemon's host.[5]

To prevent a rout upon Daemon's death during the battle, Aegor rallied his troops and charged into the Raven's Teeth, the archers of Brynden Rivers. Although Aegor took out Bloodraven's eye during their duel, he ultimately fled the battlefield.[2] Carrying the Valyrian steel sword Blackfyre, Aegor fled Westeros with Daemon's widow, Rohanne of Tyrosh, and her surviving children, eventually settling in the Free City of Tyrosh.[6]

The Golden Company

Bittersteel leading the Golden Company, as depicted by Marc Simonetti in The World of Ice & Fire.

Aegor served a year with the Second Sons before leaving to create the Golden Company, a famous mercenary organization, to stop the loss of support for the Blackfyres as other exile lords began to join other mercenary companies. While sellswords are notoriously unreliable, the Golden Company has a respectable reputation. They are said to have never broken a contract. The words of the Golden Company are "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel"[7], and refer to Aegor's nickname, Bittersteel. Shortly after its creation, the Golden Company became one of the most famous and disciplined sellsword companies known in the Free Cities. They quickly established their reputation by sacking Qohor when the city refused to honor its contract.[8]

The Golden Company was heavily involved in three of the four Blackfyre Rebellions that followed the first one. While Aegor refused to support Daemon II Blackfyre during the Second Blackfyre Rebellion in 211 AC, he supported Haegon I Blackfyre in the Third Blackfyre Rebellion in 219 AC. Aegor was captured at the end of the third rebellion, and brought to the Red Keep as a captive. While Brynden Rivers and Prince Aerion Targaryen argued that Aegor should be executed, King Aerys I Targaryen decided to send Aegor to the Wall to join the Night's Watch. The ship taking Aegor north was intercepted, however, and Aegor returned to the Golden Company. In Tyrosh, before the year was over, Aegor crowned Daemon III Blackfyre, Haegon I's eldest son.[9]

In 236 AC, Aegor landed on Massey's Hook at the head of the Golden Company with Daemon III, starting the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion. The rebellion was crushed at the battle of Wendwater Bridge, though Aegor managed to escape.[10][11] A few years after the Wendwater Bridge, Aegor reappeared in the Disputed Lands, where he fell during a skirmish between Tyrosh and Myr.[10] On his deathbed, he commanded the men of the Golden Company to boil the flesh from his skull, dip it in gold, and carry it before them when they cross the narrow sea to retake Westeros. The captains-general who have since led the Golden Company have followed Aegor's example.[12]

During one of the various Blackfyre Rebellions, Aegor swore a blood oath with Torwyn Greyjoy, but this Lord Reaper of Pyke betrayed Aegor to his enemies.[13]


The war cry of the Golden Company, "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel", pays homage to their founder.[14]


Aegor Rivers, by Amok ©.

Tommard: ... beggar's feast you've laid before us. Without Bittersteel ...
Gormon: Bittersteel be buggered. No bastard can be trusted, not even him. A few victories will bring him over the water fast enough.[5]

Bitter his steel may have been, but worse was his tongue.[2]

—writings of Yandel

He died defeated and alone, a broken man in an alien land.[12]

Jon Connington's thoughts

Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar, and the Seven Kingdoms bled.[15]

Barristan Selmy's thoughts

When he fled, he swore he would return to place a son of Daemon's upon the Iron Throne. He never did.[16]

Bittersteel was half-dragon, and all bastard.[17]


Aegon IV
Daemon I
of Tyrosh
Daemon II
Two sons
Daemon III

Behind the Scenes

George R. R. Martin first imagined Aegor's personal arms as a grey longsword displayed bendy sinister with a black dragon's head above and a red horse's head below, both facing out, on a white field.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
  3. 3.0 3.1 See the Aegor Rivers calculations.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 So Spake Martin: The Great Bastards (December 26, 2005)
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Mystery Knight.
  6. The Sworn Sword.
  7. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  8. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aegor Rivers.
  9. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
  10. 10.0 10.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  11. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands: House Lannister Under the Dragons.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 24, The Lost Lord.
  13. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Old Way and the New.
  14. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
  15. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  16. The Winds of Winter, Theon I
  17. The Winds of Winter, Arianne II
New title 1st captain-general of the Golden Company
212241 AC
Next known title holder:
Daemon Blackfyre