Brynden Rivers

From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Jump to: navigation, search
Brynden Rivers
Night's Watch.svg
by Amok©
Bloodraven with his weirwood longbow, art by Amok ©.

Alias Lord Bloodraven
The three-eyed crow
The last greenseer
Title Ser[1]
Master of whisperers[2]
Hand of the King[2][3][1]
Lord Commander of the Night's Watch[1]
Allegiance House Targaryen
Night's Watch
Race Valyrian/Riverman
Culture Valyrian
Born In 175 AC[4], at King's Landing[5]
Died In 252 AC (presumed), at beyond the Wall
Book(s) The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)
The Sworn Sword (mentioned)
The Mystery Knight (appears)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (appears)

Ser Brynden Rivers, called "Lord Bloodraven", was a legitimized Great Bastard of Aegon IV Targaryen and Melissa Blackwood, the king's sixth mistress. Brynden's personal arms were a white dragon with red eyes breathing red flame on a black field.

Brynden was a Targaryen loyalist during the Blackfyre Rebellions,[6] the Hand of Aerys I[7] and Maekar I Targaryen,[3] and a Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.[8] Shiera Seastar, another bastard of Aegon IV, was his mistress. His half-brother Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers desired Shiera also, which served in increasing the enmity between the two. Bloodraven was thought to be a sorcerer.[9]

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Brynden Rivers

An albino, Brynden had milk-white skin, long white hair, and red eyes. On the right side of his face he had a red winestain birthmark that extended from his throat up to his right cheek from which he earned his name Bloodraven, as the birthmark was said to look somewhat like a raven drawn in blood. However, Ser Duncan the Tall thought the birthmark just a splotch. According to George R. R. Martin it is more a suggestion of a raven shape, like an ink blot.[10]

Brynden was not as tall or muscular as his half-brothers. He was a shade under six feet tall and very thin, gaunt, with a grim forbidding aspect and a sinister reputation as a sorcerer and spymaster. He typically wore the colors of "blood and smoke", with smoke being a dark grey that was mottled and streaked with black. Because his skin was sensitive to light, he usually went about cloaked and hooded. He was an expert bowman.

Brynden lost an eye during the First Blackfyre Rebellion and rarely covered the empty socket with a patch, preferring to display his scar and empty socket to the world.[10] He wore his white hair straight and to his shoulders, with the front brushed forward to cover his missing eye.[9][11]

As "Lord Bloodraven", Brynden was rumored to be a sinister sorcerer who effectively ruled the kingdom "with spies and spells". A popular riddle asked was, "How many eyes does Lord Bloodraven have? A thousand eyes, and one".[9] The song "A Thousand Eyes, and One" was written about Brynden.[8]



Brynden was born in King's Landing[5] as the bastard son of King Aegon IV Targaryen and his sixth mistress, Lady Melissa Blackwood, who had replaced the king's fifth mistress, Barba Bracken.[12] Brynden's sisters were Mya and Gwenys Rivers.[4] Although Melissa was eventually dismissed by Aegon IV in favor of his seventh mistress, Bethany Bracken, Brynden was able to maintain close relations at court because of Melissa's popularity.[6]

Brynden was resented by Barba's bastard son, Aegor Rivers, nicknamed "Bittersteel". Both of these Great Bastards were legitimized by their father when the king was on his deathbed.

First Blackfyre Rebellion

Main article: First Blackfyre Rebellion

A strong warrior, Brynden carried the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister, but preferred to use his weirwood longbow and was an expert archer. Brynden served on the small council of his half-brother Daeron II Targaryen. During the First Blackfyre Rebellion, Brynden remained loyal to King Daeron, and commanded a group of longbowmen called the Raven's Teeth. At the Battle of the Redgrass Field, he lost an eye fighting his half-brother Bittersteel.[7][9] The Raven's Teeth ultimately gained the Weeping Ridge, and rained arrows down onto Daemon Blackfyre from three hundred yards away, killing Daemon and his twin sons.[7] For this people would name Brynden a kinslayer.[7][9] After the war he advocated a hard line against the rebels, winning out over Prince Baelor's call for leniency.[7]

Reign of King Aerys I Targaryen

Bloodraven, by Bella Bergolts ©.

In 209 AC Rivers became Hand of the King, serving throughout the reign of his nephew, King Aerys I Targaryen. His first major trial was the Great Spring Sickness which had killed the previous king, and Brynden's half-brother, Daeron II Targaryen, Prince's Valarr and Matarys, as well as tens of thousands of others. Seeing the corpses pile up in the streets of King's Landing, Brynden ordered the pyromancers of the Alchemists' Guild to burn them in the Dragonpit. The light of their wildfire pyres could be seen glowing throughout the city during the night.[7]

Around the same time, a drought began that lasted a little more than a year,[13] causing many smallfolk to leave their lands in search of somewhere the rain still fell. Bloodraven ordered them to return to their own lands but few obeyed. Indeed they blamed Bloodraven, cursing him as a kinslayer. Many of them became robbers. Prices increased as trade dwindled, and it was widely held that travel was less safe under Aerys's reign then it had been under that of his father.[7]

In 211 AC Lord Dagon Greyjoy raided the western coast, including Fair Isle, the shipping of the Arbor, and the village of Little Dosk in the Reach.[7] By 211 AC, Lord Beron Stark had called his banners to repulse the ironmen from the Stony Shore, while House Lannister was building ships to strike at the Iron Islands.[9] During all of this Bloodraven kept his eye on Tyrosh, where Bittersteel remained with the surviving sons of Daemon Blackfyre in exile.[9] Victarion Greyjoy recalls that, "...even Dagon could not defeat the dragons"[14], suggesting that the Targaryens eventually intervened.

Another issue within the realm in 211 AC was that Ser Otho Bracken, known as the Brute of Bracken, was expected to succeed to the lordship of Stone Hedge. Not wanting to see such a man in power, the traditional Bracken rivals of House Blackwood were expected to start a war to root him out. It was suggested that Bloodraven, being half-Blackwood by blood, would not be inclined to hear any complaints of a member of House Bracken. Septon Sefton is known to have believed that Bloodraven would most likely do nothing, and that if he did decide to act, it would only be to help his Blackwood cousins to bring Ser Otho to bay.[7]

Second Blackfyre Rebellion

Main article: Second Blackfyre Rebellion

Lord Bloodraven's wariness paid off in 211 AC. Thanks to the information of a Vyrwel man-at-arms and a troupe of comic dwarfs, Lord Bloodraven was aware of the plot to put Daemon II Blackfyre forward as the legitimate king of the Seven Kingdoms. Brynden marched on the Whitewalls tourney with 300 Raven's Teeth, three brothers of the Kingsguard, 500 other knights, and 5,000 infantry drawn from the crownlands and the riverlands. In the face of such a force Daemon tried to rally the tourney-goers to battle, but found little support. Daemon then challenged the Hand to single combat; Bloodraven refused and arrested the pretender, thus containing the Second Blackfyre Rebellion.[9] Daemon was kept in captivity rather than executed with the other rebel leaders, ensuring that Bittersteel could not name his brother Haegon as a serious pretender.

Third Blackfyre Rebellion

Main article: Third Blackfyre Rebellion

In the aftermath of the Third Blackfyre Rebellion, Bloodraven argued that the captive Bittersteel should be put to death but King Aerys I Targaryen decided to send Aegor Rivers to the Night's Watch instead. Bittersteel escaped back to Essos when his ship was intercepted en route to Eastwatch, however.[2]

Great Council of 233

Main article: Great Council

Brynden continued as Hand for Aerys's successor, his brother Maekar I, in 221 AC. After Maekar's death in 233 AC, Brynden, as the Hand of the King, called a Great Council in King's Landing to discuss the disputed matter of succession.

Aenys Blackfyre wanted to peacefully participate in the Great Council, and Bloodraven offered him safe conduct to King's Landing from Tyrosh. Once Aenys arrived in the capital, however, he was arrested by the gold cloaks and then beheaded in the Red Keep.[3]

The Great Council chose Maekar's son to succeed as King Aegon V Targaryen, whose first act was to arrest Bloodraven for the murder of Aenys.[1] It is suggested by Maester Aemon that Brynden was imprisoned in the Red Keep's dungeons.[8] Brynden argued that he had sacrificed his honor for the good of the realm, but Aegon refused to set Brynden free. He did offer the option of taking the black instead of death, which Brynden accepted.[1]

Night's Watch

Brynden Rivers as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch - by Mike Hallstein ©.

When Maester Aemon sailed for the Wall in 233 AC, he was escorted by King Aegon V's friend, Ser Duncan the Tall of the Kingsguard, and accompanied by an "honor guard" of recruits for the Night's Watch. These were two hundred men and prisoners, among them Brynden Rivers and archers from his Raven's Teeth.[8][1]

Brynden rose to the position of Lord Commander of the Night's Watch in 239 AC.[1][8] However, he disappeared while ranging beyond the Wall in 252 AC.[1]

Recent Events

A Feast for Crows

Maester Aemon tells Samwell Tarly that Brynden accompanied him to the Wall when he joined the Night's Watch, with Ser Duncan the Tall as an escort.[8]

A Dance with Dragons

Bran Stark discovers that Brynden is still alive as the three-eyed crow, the last greenseer living with children of the forest in a cave beyond the Wall.[15][5][16][17]

Quotes by Brynden

The three-eyed crow - by Marc Simonetti ©.
Treason is no less vile because the traitor proves a craven.[9]
– Brynden to Ambrose Butterwell

There have always been Targaryens who dreamed of things to come, since long before the Conquest.[9]
– Brynden to Duncan the Tall and Aegon Targaryen

I wore many names when I was quick, but even I had a mother, and the name she gave me at her breast was Brynden.[17]
– the three-eyed crow to Meera Reed

I have my own ghosts, Bran. A brother that I loved, a brother that I hated, a woman I desired. Through the trees, I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them. The past remains the past. We can learn from it, but we cannot change it.[17]
– Brynden to Bran Stark

Quotes about Brynden

The Mother marked Lord Rivers on the day that he was born, and Bittersteel marked him once again upon the Redgrass Field.[7]
Sefton to Duncan the Tall

How many eyes does Lord Bloodraven have? the riddle ran. A thousand eyes, and one. Some claimed the King's Hand was a student of the dark arts who could change his face, put on the likeness of a one-eyed dog, even turn into a mist. Packs of gaunt gray wolves hunted down his foes, men said, and carrion crows spied for him and whispered secrets in his ear. Most of the tales were only tales, Dunk did not doubt, but no one could doubt that Bloodraven had informers everywhere.[9]
– thoughts of Duncan the Tall

Lord Bloodraven is a sorceror and a bastard.[9]
Glendon Flowers to Maynard Plumm


Aegon IV
Mya Rivers
Gwenys Rivers
Brynden Rivers


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maekar I.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon IV.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Brynden Rivers.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 The Sworn Sword.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 The Mystery Knight.
  10. 10.0 10.1 So Spake Martin: More Targaryen Descriptions (December 26, 2005)
  11. So Spake Martin: The Great Bastards (December 26, 2005)
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
  13. At the time of The Sworn Sword, the drought enters its second year. By the end of The Sworn Sword, it begins to rain, ending the drought.
  14. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.
  15. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Brandon (Bran) Stark.
  16. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 13, Bran II.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at House Targaryen. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of House Targaryen. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Navigation menu