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Barristan Selmy

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Barristan Selmy
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Selmy as Arstan Whitebeard.jpg
Ser Barristan as Arstan Whitebeard, by Amok©

Alias Barristan the Bold
Arstan Whitebeard
Ser Grandfather
Barristan the Old
Old Ser
Title Ser
Lord Commander (former)
Queen's Hand
Allegiance House Selmy
House Targaryen
Kingsguard
Queensguard
Culture Westeros
Born In 237AC[1]
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (Appears)
A Clash of Kings (Appears)
A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (POV)
The Winds of Winter (POV)

Played by Ian McElhinney
TV series Season 1 | Season 3 | Season 4

Ser Barristan Selmy, called Barristan the Bold, is a celebrated hero and knight of the Kingsguard,[2] serving throughout a time when the Kingsguard were considered to be the greatest knights of the realm. Barristan becomes a POV character in A Dance with Dragons. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones, he is played by Ian McElhinney.[3]

Contents

Character and Appearance

See also: Images of Barristan Selmy

Selmy is one of the most skilled and respected knights in the Seven Kingdoms.

Selmy is tall and has blue eyes. Daenerys thinks that his blue eyes are sad.[4][5] He is an older man, with long white hair and lined features. Daenerys considers him handsome, at least for an older man. Despite advanced age, he looks strong and graceful and every bit the skilled knight he was in his youth. During his time in the Kingsguard, like all other members, he wore white, from his suit of enameled scale armor to his shield.[6] When in the Kingsguard in King's Landing, he was clean shaven, but he grew a long white beard when he went to find Daenerys. (See also this collection of images).

Queensguard armour:

In Meereen, as a token of her esteem, Daenerys Targaryen gifts Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of her Queensguard, with armor.

The mail is gilded, finely wrought, the links as supple as good leather, the plate enameled, hard as ice and bright as new fallen snow. A dagger goes on one hip, his longsword on the other; it hangs from a white leather belt with golden buckles. Last of all he fastens a long white cloak about his shoulders.

The helm has a narrow eye slit and ornate dragon’s wings which are splendid to look upon. He leaves the helm on its hook for his confrontation with Hizdahr zo Loraq. Selmy leaves it for his next tourney, if the Seven should grant him one.

History

Early Life

Barristan was born the first son of Ser Lyonel Selmy, the Knight of Harvest Hall. He squired for Lord Manfred Swann in his youth.[7][8] At the age of ten, Barristan donned the armor of a mystery knight and entered a tourney at Blackhaven. Prince Duncan took pity on the small mystery knight while others laughed. Duncan jousted Selmy when no one else would and it was Prince Duncan who gave Barristan his epithet.

He received his knighthood at the age of sixteen from King Aegon V after unhorsing Prince Duncan and Lord Commander Duncan the Tall of the Kingsguard at a tourney in King's Landing.[9] An eminently successful tourney knight throughout his career, he also proved his worth on the battlefield, killing Maelys the Monstrous in single combat in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, ending the line of the Blackfyre pretenders after cutting a bloody swath through the Golden Company to get to him.[10]

He was named to the Kingsguard at the age of twenty-three and swore his vows before Ser Gerold Hightower, during the reign of Jaehaerys II.[9] In joining the Kingsguard, he gave up the claim to his family seat, and the girl he was to wed was married to his cousin instead.[11][8]

In the Kingsguard

During the Defiance of Duskendale, Lord Hand Tywin Lannister sent Selmy to rescue the captive King Aerys II. Ser Barristan slew Ser Symon Hollard, avenging the death of his sworn brother Ser Gwayne Gaunt and freeing the king. In the aftermath of the Defiance, he pleaded for the life of the child Dontos Hollard, to which King Aerys acquiesced.[12] Later in Aerys's reign, during the Kingsguard's campaign against the outlaw Kingswood Brotherhood, Barristan rescued Lady Jeyne Swann and her septa, and killed the bandits' leader Ser Simon Toyne in single combat. He defeated Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in the final joust to win the tourney held at Storm's End.[13]

Like his other sworn brothers of the Kingsguard, he was present at the Tourney at Harrenhal. He was infatuated by the beautiful Lady Ashara Dayne, though he knew nothing could come of his desire for her. He planned on naming her Queen of Love and Beauty if he won the tournament, but was unhorsed by Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar then crowned Lyanna Stark, setting off a chain of events that led to Robert's Rebellion. Selmy wonders if he could have averted the war if he had defeated Rhaegar in the tournament. He also fantasizes that, if he had won the tourney and crowned Ashara, perhaps she would have turned to him "instead of Stark." He thinks of the consequences of his unspoken love for Ashara as one of his many failures.[14]

During the Robert's Rebellion, after the defeat of Lord Jon Connington at the Battle of the Bells, Ser Barristan, with Ser Jonothor Darry was sent to rally the remnants of Connington's army.[15] He was severely wounded at the Battle of the Trident. Lord Roose Bolton counseled that his throat should be cut, but Robert instead called for maesters to attend him.

Though he fought bravely for the Targaryens during the rebellion which overthrew them, Barristan later took the new king's pardon and became the Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard.[16] Having had reservations about the Kingslayer even before he earned his epithet, Ser Barristan did not approve of Jaime Lannister being allowed to continue his service. After Jaime slew Aerys he was quoted by Tyrion Lannister as saying Ser Jaime's white cloak should be traded for a black one, agreeing with Lord Eddard Stark that Jaime should be exiled to the Wall.[17]

Selmy had moral reservations about serving the Usurper, but served loyally nonetheless. Selmy recalled, however, that if he had seen Robert smile when Tywin Lannister presented him with the bloody bodies of Rhaegar's children, he would never have served Robert and nothing on earth would have stopped Selmy from killing him. Selmy loathes seeing the deaths of children, as illustrated by his asking that the babe Dontos Hollard be spared when House Hollard was destroyed after the Defiance of Duskendale.

During the Greyjoy Rebellion, Ser Barristan led the attack on Old Wyk.[8] He remained a formidable fighter even in his advanced years, winning the championship of a tourney at King's Landing at the age of 57, and unhorsing Sandor Clegane in a tilt in the Tourney for Prince Joffrey's 12th Name Day, just a year prior to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings.[18]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Ser Barristan Selmy - by Alexandre Dainche ©

At the beginning of the series, Ser Barristan serves loyally as Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard. He, Renly Baratheon and Ilyn Payne arrive as an honor guard to the procession led by King Robert and his new Hand Eddard Stark on their way back from Winterfell. During the Tourney of the Hand, he is only defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister after three tilts, having defeated men ten and twenty years younger in his first two contests.[19] When Ser Hugh of the Vale is killed in the tournament by Ser Gregor Clegane, Selmy stands vigil over the young knight himself, as the boy had no one else.[20]

He is present on the small council when King Robert orders the death of the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen. He and Eddard Stark are the only council members who protest the move.[16] He accompanies King Robert on his ill-fated boar hunt which leads to the death of the king.[21]

In an unprecedented move and on Varys' suggestion, he is dismissed from the Kingsguard and the small council by Joffrey Baratheon on grounds of old age, the implied accusation being that he did not keep King Robert safe. The Lannisters' motivations however are to allow Joffrey to give a white cloak to his "dog," Sandor Clegane, and so Cersei Lannister can place her brother Jaime as the new Lord Commander with a seat on the small council. Varys' motivations become clear later, as he can now send Selmy to Illyrio, to restore him into Targaryen service with Daenerys. Outraged by his removal, Ser Barristan throws down his sword and leaves the throne room. After Selmy leaves the room the king orders him seized and questioned for a perceived threat uttered in the heat of his dismissal. Selmy enters the White Sword Tower to edit his White Book entry, dutifully recording his own dismissal.[8] Upon leaving the Red Keep Janos Slynt orders his men to seize Barristan. Even though he doesn't have his sword, Selmy kills the Gold Cloaks sent after him and flees the castle.[11][22][23]

Ser Barristan could have returned to Harvest Hall, where his kin would doubtless have welcomed him, but Selmy does not wish to inflict Joffrey's displeasure on them. Instead, he sold his horse and disguised himself as a commoner. He then returned to the city along with the stream of smallfolk fleeing the war. He enters through the Gate of the Gods with dirt on his face, stubble on his cheeks and no weapon but a wooden staff. In roughspun clothes and mud-caked boots, he looks just like one more old man fleeing the war. He loses himself among the refugees and sleeps in septs and alleys and pot shops. He lets his beard grow out and cloaks himself in age, causing no one in the city to recognize him.

He is present in the crowd when Lord Eddard Stark is executed. Afterwards he goes to the Great Sept of Baelor to pray for Eddard's soul and thanks the gods he himself has only been dismissed. These events force Barristan to reevaluate his years of service in Robert's Kingsguard alongside the likes of the Kingslayer, and others whom he considers near as bad. He comes to the conclusion that his service to Robert was inexcusable. He thinks that Robert had been a good knight, but a poor king, and that Selmy must find his true king and die in his service. This leads Selmy to book passage across the Narrow Sea to Pentos.[23]

Lord Tywin Lannister considers Ser Barristan's dismissal a folly, as the old knight still commands enough respect to make him a threat in case he chooses to back Stannis Baratheon or Robb Stark, and he cites it as one reason why he sends his son Tyrion as acting Hand to King's Landing to keep Joffrey better in check than Queen Cersei is capable of.[24][22]

A Clash of Kings

Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy

Renly Baratheon declares himself king and hopes that Ser Barristan's announcement that he is going to serve the true king refers to him. Renly even keeps a cloak in his Rainbow Guard ready for Ser Barristan in case the old knight offers him his sword. When he concludes that his hopes have been futile, Renly gives Selmy's spot on his kingsguard to Brienne of Tarth, believing that Ser Barristan might have gone to Riverrun to support Robb Stark as king.[25] However, Lady Catelyn Stark informs him that Ser Barristan is not with Robb. Renly concludes that Ser Barristan must have decided to support his brother Stannis, and he orders his knights to spare Ser Barristan's life if it comes to a battle with Stannis.[26]

While Daenerys Targaryen is walking through the docks of Qarth visiting ships to find passage, Ser Jorah notices that they are being followed by two men, a fat brown man (15 stone weight and covered in scars) and an older man (appears to be from Westeros) with a white beard and a staff. He stops Dany and uses a large brass platter in a ship to let her see the men without revealing they have been discovered. Jorah and Dany head back to escape the men. The brass merchant from the shop chases them trying to get Dany to buy the massive platter, and finally with the price down, Dany instructs Jorah to buy it just to get rid of the man. Just then, as Dany is distracted, the Qartheen thrusts a beautiful carved wood case in her face indicating it is a gift for the mother of dragons. She opens the box and sees a beautiful, obviously valuable, scarab. As she reaches for it, the scarab unfolds with a hiss. Before the manticore can sting her, Whitebeard uses his staff to send the box flying away, and then smashes the creature with the butt of his staff. Before Daenerys' guards can kill the two, she puts herself between her bloodriders and the two men, telling them that the old man had knocked a manticore out of her hands. Before Dany can direct her bloodriders to the perpetrator, a Sorrowful Man, he has disappeared.

Dany questions Whitebeard who tells her is name. Strong Belwas, the large man, a eunuch, tells Dany that he has never lost in the fighting pits, letting each opponent cut him before he kills them. He continues to tell her that Magister Illyrio Mopatis sent him from across the sea with Whitebeard to serve her since he cannot travel. She is further informed by Whitebeard that he is now a squire for Belwas. When asked about his age, he tells them that he is not too old to squire, and has seen Ser Jorah, who is among Dany’s guard, fighting in a tourney. Belwas tells Dany that Illyrio would have the dragons and Dany. Whitebeard tells her that it is the truth and that they are to bring her back to Pentos; there are 4 kings in Westeros, and no justice. Belwas tells her that they have three ships for her to travel. Dany then tells them that the three ships must have new names, Balerion, Meraxes and Vhagar then names of the three dragons during the War of Conquest. [27]

A Storm of Swords

Arstan Whitebeard kneels at Daenerys Targaryen's feet. © FFG

While becalmed during the voyage to Pentos to join up with Magister Illyrio Mopatis (the destination is changed to Astapor to buy Unsullied) with Daenerys Targaryen, Whitebeard breaks into the discussion between Dany and Ser Jorah about dragons. He adds to the information that Ser Jorah told Dany; he tells them about the domed castle built by the Targaryens (now in ruins) and that dragons raised in the pit were never as large as their ancestors—The Maesters had a theory that being enclosed limited their size.

Ser Jorah attempts to counter the information by noting that men do not change size because of where they are raised (it is pointed out that Ser Jorah does not like Whitebeard). Then Dany asks about her father. From his comments Dany can tell that Whitebeard did not think much of him. Then Dany asks about her brother Rhaegar. Whitebeard tells them about Rhaegar’s companions. As a jibe, Ser Jorah states that Whitebeard will next claim he squired for Rhaegar. Dany’s then asks about Rhaegar being a peerless warrior; Whitebeard stated that Rhaegar was a most fierce warrior but will not confirm he was a warrior without peer, only stating that anyone can lose in a tourney for various reasons.

Dany then asks what Rhaegar was like, and he provides a number of positive adjectives. Then he tells that Rhaegar was very much into books and how later Rhaegar started training as a warrior after reading something in a scroll. Whitebeard leaves them after Strong Belwas comes on deck, and Whitebeard leaves to get food for the man he served. Afterwards Ser Jorah warns Dany against the two. Dany tells Jorah that Belwas could not scheme and she can see no lies that Whitebeard has told her. Jorah points out that Whitebeard speaks out too brazenly for a mere squire. [4]

Whitebeard is with Dany in the Plaza of Pride when they meet with the slaver selling Unsullied. Whitebeard has made it obvious he neither approved of sailing to Astapor, nor buying the Unsullied. After the slaver tells them that the 1000 Unsullied before them have been standing there for a day and night without food and would continue stand until they died, Whitebeard exclaims that it is madness, not courage. The slaver responds that it is discipline. Whitebeard replies that sheep are obedient. The slaver replies that they are more dogs than sheep. When told the Unsullied have no fear, Whitebeard object that even bravest men fear death and maiming. The slaver then whips one eunuch, and cuts a nipple off another Unsullied. Neither move during the experience. Finally, when Dany has no more questions for the slaver, she asks Whitebeard for his opinion in front of the slave girl that is serving as interpreter so the response will get back to the slaver. He says no because there have been no slaves in Westeros in thousands of years; slavery is held to be an abomination, and for this many good men would not support her. It would also do great dishonor to her house. When she asks about how she is win Westeros without an army, Whitebeard replies half of Westeros would support her because of Rhaegar. When she further asks about her father, he has little positive to say. He advises Dany that she should send envoys, and even those that opposed her father might support her.

As they travel from the meeting, Dany hears Whitebeard say “Bricks and Blood built Astapor.” When Dany questions him about the statement he says it is an old rhyme that he had heard. Begging her to purchase sell swords, he continues to argue against the purchase of the Unsullied. When he says that it is better to be a beggar than a slaver, she responds with a temper.[28]

Whitebeard is one of those that escort Dany to the slavers when she negotiates for all the Unsullied including those in training (which includes those with their puppies). The slavers only agree to sell 2000 Unsullied for all Dany’s trade good and ships, but Dany believes she needs them all, and, with distress, offers one of the dragons. Whitebeard immediately objects, telling her to win her throne with dragons not slaves. She responds to Whitebeard that he should not presume to instruct her and orders Ser Jorah to remove him. When Dany leaves, Whitebeard follows wordlessly, but Dany can hear the hardwood staff taping. Dany did not blame him for her fury since the thought made her ill. In the plaza she turns to Whitebeard and tells him that she wants his council, but to never question her in front of strangers. He agrees but tells her she was cheated; Aegon proved that a Dragon is worth more than an army. Dany replies that she will prove a few things of her own.[29]

When Dany’s host arrives at Yunkai, there are slave soldiers and a couple of mercenary companies defending the city. Dany asks that the sell swords give their answers to her offer the next day. Afterwards Dany announces to her advisors her plan to attack that night, expecting the Stormcrows to be busy debating the offer and the Second Sons drunk on the wine she provided. She announces that the Unsullied will attack from right and left while her horse will attack the center (slave soldiers will not stand against mounted men). She then asks her advisor’s opinion, and Whitebeard agrees with Ser Jorah that she is Rhaegar Targaryen’s sister, adding that she is also a queen.[13]

While waiting for the results of the battle against the Yunkai, she asks for Whitebeard. When he arrives she tells him to tell her more about Rhaegar to fill the time while others are dying for her. She asks specifically about Viserys statement that Rhaegar won many tourneys. Whitebeard tells her that he was not one for entering tourneys. He did win the greatest tourney of all time at Harrenhal. Dany states that it was at this tourney that Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Stark as Queen of Love and Beauty even though his wife was there, and that he later stole her away from her fiancé. Whitebeard could not explain Rhaegar’s actions. Then Dany tells how Viserys claimed this was her fault for not being born earlier; if Rhaegar had married her, maybe he would not have been unhappy in his marriage. Whitebeard responds that he was born in grief. He continues by telling her about how he would go to Summerhall alone with his harp, and return with a sad song. When asked about the songs Robert liked, Whitebeard responded that Robert liked rowdy songs when he was drunk. It is then that Ser Jorah arrives with news of the victory with no more than a dozen losses.[13]

When Daenerys Targaryen besieges Meereen, Oznak zo Pahl rides out of Meereen on a white charger with a fourteen foot lance, challenging the besiegers to send forth a champion. Initially her bloodriders wanted to accept his challenge, but Daenerys did not feel she could not afford to lose them, and he is irrelevant. Ser Jorah agrees, but Whitebeard disagrees that stating that wars are not won by swords alone--this knight is building courage in the hearts of his men, and doubt in Daenerys’ men. Ser Jorah replies that it would be damaging to their moral if their man loses. Whitebeard replies that someone that fears battle will not win victory. Ser Jorah points out that if the knight defeats their champion that would have a bad effect on their moral. Dany quiets them since she is more worried about other issues. After the pink and white hero pisses at her camp, Whitebeard tells Dany that this challenge must be met. Daenerys tells him it will be, and sends Strong Belwas because she can easily spare his loss, and his death as an ex-slave would not give the knight any prestige.[13]

Dany decides she will ride to her people with only a limited guard, which includes Whitebeard. She is touching her people and letting them touch her. She had stopped to speak to a pregnant woman when a ragged man with a shaved head yanks her from her saddle. He threatens her with his sword as he talks to her telling her that he will start by cutting off her breasts. She recognizes the voice as the Titan's Bastard's. A freeman tries to come to her aid, but the Titan's Bastard cuts him in the face. Whitebeard leaps from his horse over her with his hardwood staff. Mero laughs at seeing Whitebeard thinking an old man was no threat to him, however Whitebeard is able to easily dispatch the Bastard and eventually hits him in the temple. He falls into the water and the freemen fall on his body. Whitebeard apologies for not coming to her aid sooner, but he did not recognize the Bastard.[7]

They return to her tent, and later Ser Jorah arrives, and Dany admonishes him for not telling her that the Bastard had escaped, and that Whitebeard had killed him. Daenerys then wishes that Whitebeard be knighted in gratitude and both Whitebeard and Ser Jorah say “No” at the same time. When Ser Jorah, impressed that the old squire could kill the Bastard with just a stick, asks Whitebeard who he was, and Whitebeard responds that he is a better knight than him.

Whitebeard then tells Dany that he really did not lie, but did withhold truths, and can only beg forgiveness. Ser Jorah now recognizes Whitebeard as Barristan the Bold, tells Dany that this is the man that betrayed her family to serve the Usurper. When she asks if Whitebeard is hers or the Usurpers’ man, he tells her he is hers if she will have him. He then tells how he took Robert's pardon and served with the Kingslayer and others as bad, and that afterwards the boy king had cast him aside and sent men to kill him, Selmy realized he had to find his true king. He then tells her that he had to keep his presence secret because there is a spy who has been informing on her since she wed Khal Drogo. Dany then recognizes that it must be Ser Jorah, and Ser Jorah affirms it is true; he had been promised he could go home for this task. Dany tells them both to go away forever. When asked where they should go, she then figures out where they should go.[7]

Dany has captured Meereen when she commands that Strong Belwas bring Ser Jorah and Barristan to her in the audience chamber of The Great Pyramid. He arrives with a meaty hand wrapped around each man’s arm. Ser Barristan, with his beard shaved and looking 10 years younger, stands with his head held high while Ser Jorah, looking older, stares at the floor as they approach. Ser Jorah speaks but Dany tells him she will tell them when to speak. She tells them that she was hoping they would die in the assault through the sewers. During diversionary attacks on Meereen, Strong Belwas, Ser Jorah, Ser Barristan and twenty men and Unsullied had swam through the sewers. Strong Belwas lead them to the closest fighting pit where they overcame the guards and freed the slaves that helped win the city for Dany. Ser Barristan is forthright, telling her that Viserys had more of a taint of her father, the Mad King. Rhaegar Targaryen did not, and he sees no taint in her. He further tells her that he will do whatever she asks, and if she will not have him (including serving as a cook), he would continue to serve Strong Belwas.

Dany tells Brown Ben to give Ser Barristan his sword, but Ser Barristan tells her that he had not wielded a sword since throwing his at the boy king’s feet, and would only take a sword from her. She gives him the sword.

Ser Jorah is belligerent, telling her that he had warned her about others. This only angers her, and she tells him he never warned her about him. When questioned he tells her the last time he made a report was from Qarth, which is later than she hoped. She realizes that Ser Jorah had informed that she was pregnant. Ser Barristan confirms that Robert’s council had gotten the report about her child from Mormont. Then she asks about the poisoner who was to kill her child, and he has to admit he knew, but that he also saved her. She then tells him that she cannot forgive him, and she banishes him. She tells him that he has till dawn to leave the city, and if he is found she will have Strong Belwas twist his neck. Strong Belwas drags Ser Jorah out.

Ser Barristan interrupts her whilst she is on the terrace where she can see her dragons. She tells him that she had spared him, and to give her some peace. He tells her that he can answer her questions. Her first question is whether her father was truly mad, as Viserys had always told him that was a lie of the Usurper; Barristan tells her that Aerys was not initially, but his lapses became worse over time, while their mother did her best to shield Viserys from his father's insanity. Dany decides she can hear no more, but Ser Barristan tells her later he can tell her more. [30]

Ser Barristan is among her advisors present when she announces that she is going to remain in Meereen. When she asks the group if she is a dragon or a harpy, Ser Barristan announces that she is a dragon. She then asks how she can rule the Seven Kingdoms if she cannot rule a single city. Ser Barristan has no answer. Then she tells them she will not leave but stay, rule and be a queen.[30]

A Dance with Dragons

Ser Barristan - by Mike Capprotti ©

Ser Barristan continues his service of Daenerys Targaryen as Lord Commander of her Queensguard, attempting to lead her down an honorable path towards the safety of Meereen. Barristan opposes Daenerys's relationship with her paramour Daario Naharis, and even her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq, which ensures temporary peace within Meereen.

He also begins training knights. His squires are Tumco Lho, Larraq, the The Red Lamb, and the Boys (three Ghiscari brothers). After Daenerys's departure on Drogon's back, Barristan assumes the title of Hand of the Queen within Meereen. He is present when Bloodbeard presents the court with the head of Groleo. Barristan is enraged and wants to kill Bloodbeard, but stops because the act would break his queen's peace.[31]

He finally decides to work with Skahaz mo Kandaq, despite his loathing of the man and his own inhibitions about making decisions of state in the absence of his queen.[9] Selmy leads with honor and refuses Skahaz mo Kandaq's council on killing the Ghiscari child cupbearers who are the sons and daughters of powerful Meereenese nobles. He also enlists Grey Worm, and they plan to take King Hizdahr hostage. Selmy fears that if he harms Hizdahr the Yunkai will kill the remaining hostages Daario, Jhogo and Hero just as they killed Captain Groleo. Skahaz however states it would be better for Daenerys in the long run if they killed Daario.

Despite his personal feeling about Daario, however, Selmy goes to the Tattered Prince and enlists his help.[32] He promises to reward the Tattered Prince if he frees the three hostages from the Yunkai camp. Selmy then goes to capture Hizdahr.[14] In doing so, he slays Hizdahr's protector, the formidable pit fighter Khrazz. Barristan longs for the return of Daenerys, but prepares for battle with the Yunkai, using a beacon system to call the attack should the fragile peace between the sides be broken. During a meeting between Ser Barristan and the Green Grace, the Shavepate notifies Ser Barristan that the Yunkish catapults are flinging corpses infected with the Pale Mare into the city. [32]

The Winds of Winter

The Yunkish threat has been augmented by the presence of the the Pale Mare. Ser Barristan notes that under normal circumstances,he would defend Meereen from behind its strong walls. However, because the Yunkish introduced the Pale Mare into Meereen by catapulting infected corpses over the walls, he resolves to ride out and meet his enemy on the field rather than watch the impending bloody flux outbreak annihilate Meereen. On the eve of the offensive, he gives a pep talk to his newly anointed knights and soldiers. When his talk is interrupted by the arrival of dawn, Barristan orders The Red Lamb to "sound the attack."[33]

Quotes by Barristan

A hall to die in, and men to bury me. I thank you, my lords...but I spit on your pity...I am a knight...I shall die a knight.[11]

- Ser Barristan's declaration upon being fired from the Kingsguard


'Have no fear, sers, your king is safe... no thanks to you. Even now, I could cut through the five of you as easy as a dagger cuts cheese. If you would serve under the Kingslayer, not a one of you is fit to wear the white. Here, boy. Melt it down and add it to the others, if you like. It will do you more good than the swords in the hands of these five. Perhaps Lord Stannis will chance to sit on it when he takes your throne.[11]

– Ser Barristan denouncing his former Sworn Brothers


I took Robert's pardon, aye. I served him in Kingsguard and council. Served with the Kingslayer and others near as bad, who soiled the white cloak I wore. Nothing will excuse that. I might be serving in King's Landing still if the vile boy upon the Iron Throne had not cast me aside, it shames me to admit. But when he took the cloak the White Bull had draped about my shoulders, and sent men to kill me that selfsame day, it was as though he'd ripped a caul off my eyes. That was when I knew I must find my true king, and die in his service...[7]

- Ser Barristan his career as a Kingsguard knight


Some had been heroes, some weaklings, knaves, or cravens. Most were only men-quicker and stronger than most, more skilled with sword and shield, but still prey to pride, ambition, lust, love, anger, jealousy, greed for gold, hunger for power, and all the other failings that afflicted lesser mortals. The best of them overcame their flaws, did their duty, and died with their swords in their hands. The worst...The worst were those who played the game of thrones.[9]
– Ser Barristan reflecting on the history of the Kingsguard


Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it. Daemon Blackfyre loved the first Daenerys, and rose in rebellion when denied her. Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar and the Seven Kingdoms bled. The Prince of Dragonflies loved Jenny of Oldstones so much he cast aside a crown, and Westeros paid the bride price in corpses. All three of the sons of the fifth Aegon had wed for love in defiance of their father's wishes. And because that unlikely monarch had followed his heart when he chose his queen, he allowed his sons to have their way, making bitter enemies when he might have made fast friends. Treason and turmoil followed, as night follows day, ending at Summerhall in sorcery, fire and grief.[14]


“Prince Rhaegar had two children,” Ser Barristan told him. “Rhaenys was a little girl, Aegon a babe in arms. When Tywin Lannister took King’s Landing, his men killed both of them. He served the bloody bodies up in crimson cloaks, a gift for the new king.” And what did Robert say when he saw them? Did he smile? Barristan Selmy had been badly wounded on the Trident, so he had been spared the sight of Lord Tywin’s gift, but oft he wondered. If I had seen him smile over the red ruins of Rhaegar’s children, no army on this earth could have stopped me from killing him. “I will not suffer the murder of children. Accept that, or I’ll have no part of this.”[14]

– Barristan's thoughts


I am an old man, an old knight, and I have seen more battles than most of you have years. Nothing is more terrible upon this earth, nothing more glorious, nothing more absurd. You may retch. You will not be the first. You may drop your sword, your shield, your lance. Others have done the same. Pick it up and go on fighting. You may foul your breeches. I did, in my first battle. No one will care. All battlefields smell of shit. You may cry out for your mother, pray to gods you thought you had forgotten, howl obscenities that you never dreamed could pass your lips. All this has happened too. [33]
– Ser Barristan addressing his men before going to war

Quotes about Ser Barristan

Ser Barristan is as valiant and honorable as any man in King's Landing.[34]
Eddard Stark


"Of these seven, only Ser Barristan Selmy is made of the true steel.[20]
- Varys, on King Robert's Kingsguard


...dismissing Selmy, where was the sense in that? Yes, the man was old, but the name of Barristan the Bold still has meaning in the realm, He lent honor to any man he served.[24]
Tywin Lannister after learning of Ser Barristan's dismissal from the Kingsguard


The smallfolk talk of him the same way they talk of Serwyn of the Mirror shield and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight.[22]
Tyrion Lannister


He has a good face, and great strength to him.[28]
- Dany, observing Ser Barristan who is in the guise of Arstan Whitebeard


I saw him perhaps a dozen times. . .from afar, most often, standing with his brothers or riding in some tourney. But every man in the Seven Kingdoms knows Barristan the Bold. . .Khaleesi, before you kneels Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, who betrayed your House to serve the Usurper, Robert Baratheon.[7]
Jorah Mormont


This man can tell me what I came from. [30]
Daenerys' thoughts

References and Notes

  1. See the Barristan Selmy calculation.
  2. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  3. HBO: Game of Thrones: cast and crew
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys.
  5. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 30, Daenerys.
  6. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15, Sansa.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 57, Daenerys.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 55, The Queensguard (Barristan I).
  10. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa.
  12. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 9, Brienne.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker (Barristan III).
  15. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 33, Eddard.
  17. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 57, Tyrion.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard.
  19. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29, Sansa.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard.
  21. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 47, Eddard.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion.
  23. 23.0 23.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys.
  24. 24.0 24.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion.
  25. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn.
  26. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn.
  27. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya.
  28. 28.0 28.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys.
  29. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 28, Sansa.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 59, The Discarded Knight (Barristan II).
  32. 32.0 32.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 70, The Queen's Hand (Barristan IV).
  33. 33.0 33.1 The Winds of Winter, Barristan
  34. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 27, Eddard.

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