Aegor Rivers

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Aegor Rivers
Bittersteel
Aegor Rivers.jpg
Aegor Rivers, by Roman Papusev ©

Alias Bittersteel[1]
Titles
Allegiances
Race Valyrian
Culture Rivermen
Born 172 AC[3]
Died 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)
Books

Aegor Rivers, frequently called Bittersteel, was one of the Great Bastards, a son of King Aegon IV Targaryen by his fifth mistress, Lady Barba Bracken.[1][4] Aegor was a major supporter of the pretender king Daemon I Blackfyre and the later Blackfyre pretenders.[2] He 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, little more than a shadow on his face. He looked like a warrior, tall and muscular, but was lean and lithe like a panther. Aegor's armor was well-made but plain, grey-steel and black rings. On his helm was a horsehead crest, 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, and never smiled.[4] Reportedly, he was a hard man who had little use for anything beyond war.[5] Bittersteel was easily irritated and offended, sometimes attributed to his Bracken blood.[2] Aegor 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]

History

Early life

In 172 AC, Aegor was born at King's Landing to the fifth of King Aegon IV Targaryen's mistresses, Barba Bracken. Aegor was born only a fortnight before Aegon's wife, Queen Naerys Targaryen, nearly died in childbirth. With Naerys lingering near death, Barba's father, the Hand of the King, began to speak openly of Barba marrying King Aegon IV. However, his words became a scandal when Queen Naerys recovered her health. Naerys's brother, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, and her son, Prince Daeron Targaryen, forced King Aegon to send both Barba and her bastard son away from court. Aegor was raised at Stone Hedge in the riverlands by the Brackens.[1]

King Aegon IV was visiting Aegor at Stone Hedge in 177 AC when he met Barba's younger sister, Bethany Bracken, and took her for his seventh mistress. However, Bethany's affair with Ser Terrence Toyne, a Kingsguard, soon resulted in the execution of Terrence, Bethany, and her father, Aegor's grandfather.[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 the pretender king Daemon I Blackfyre against King Daeron II Targaryen. During the battle of the Redgrass Field, Aegor commanded the right of Daemon's host.[6]

To prevent a rout upon Daemon's death during the battle, Aegor picked up Daemon's Valyrian steel sword, Blackfyre, rallied his troops, and madly charged into the Raven's Teeth, the archers of Brynden Rivers. Bittersteel met Bloodraven in the middle of his charge, and a mighty duel followed. Though he took out Bloodraven's eye during their duel, he ultimately fled the battlefield.[7][2] Aegor fled Westeros with Daemon's widow, Rohanne of Tyrosh, her surviving children, Blackfyre, and hundreds of now-landless lords and knights, eventually settling in the Free City of Tyrosh.[7][8]

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 mercenary company.[9] However, as other exile lords began to join other mercenary companies and the support for the Blackfyres began to scatter, Bittersteel left the Second Sons to create the Golden Company, to bind the exiles together.[8] 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.[10] While sellswords are notoriously unreliable, the Golden Company has a respectable reputation. They are said to have never broken a contract.[11] The war cry of the Golden Company is "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel,"[12][8] which refers to Aegor's nickname, Bittersteel.

The Golden Company was heavily involved in three of the four Blackfyre Rebellions that followed the first one. However, Aegor refused to support the pretender king Daemon II Blackfyre during the Second Blackfyre Rebellion in 211 AC, and maesters of the Citadel often debate why. Many believe that Daemon and Gormon Peake could not convince him that their plan was sensible and could succeed despite the odds. Some think Bittersteel was a man who had little use for anything but war and distrusted Daemon's dreams and love of fine things, and some think Daemon's homosexuality troubled Aegor enough to deny him his assistance.[5] Bittersteel remained in Essos with the sword Blackfyre, a factor in the failure of the rebellion.[6]

In 219 AC, Haegon I Blackfyre and Bittersteel launched the Third Blackfyre Rebellion. During the rebellion, Bloodraven and Bittersteel dueled for the second time. At the end of the battle, Haegon was killed after surrendering, but Aegor was captured and brought to the Red Keep in chains. Though Brynden Rivers and Prince Aerion Targaryen argued that Aegor should be executed, King Aerys I Targaryen decided to send him to the Wall to join the Night's Watch. However, the ship taking Aegor north was intercepted, and he was freed and returned to the Golden Company. Before the year was over, Aegor crowned Daemon III Blackfyre, Haegon I's eldest son, and resumed plotting against King Aerys in Tyrosh.[5]

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

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.[14][15] A few years after that battle, Aegor reappeared in the Disputed Lands, fighting with the Golden Company in a skirmish between Tyrosh and Myr.[14]

Ser Aegor Rivers was sixty-nine years old at his death in 241 AC, and it is said he died as he had lived, with a sword in his hand and defiance upon his lips.[14] 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 crossed the narrow sea to retake Westeros. The captains-general who have since led the Golden Company have followed Aegor's example.[16]

Legacy

According to a semi-canon source, Aegor had no children.[17] The war cry of the Golden Company, "Beneath the gold, the bitter steel", pays homage to their founder.[12]

Quotes

Aegor Rivers, by riotarttherite ©

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

Maynard: His eye is fixed on Tyrosh, where Bittersteel sits in exile, plotting with the sons of Daemon Blackfyre. So he keeps the king's ships close at hand, lest they attempt to cross.
Kyle: Aye, that may well be, but many would welcome the return of Bittersteel. Bloodraven is the root of all our woes, the white worm gnawing at the heart of the realm.[6]

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.[6]

Frey and I harbored doubts about Lord Peake's pretender since the beginning. He does not bear the sword! If he were his father's son, Bittersteel would have armed him with Blackfyre.[6]

Aegor Rivers at the Redgrass Field, by Mike Hallstein ©

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

—writings of Yandel

He spilled poison in Daemon's ear, and with him came the clamoring of other knights and lords with grievances.[2]

—writings of Yandel

He died defeated and alone, a broken man in an alien land.[16]

Jon Connington's thoughts

Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar, and the Seven Kingdoms bled.[18]

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.[19]

Bittersteel was half-dragon, and all bastard.[20]

Family

 
 
 
Daena
Targaryen
 
 
 
 
Aegon IV
Targaryen
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Barba
Bracken
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Daemon I
 
Rohanne
of Tyrosh
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aegon
 
 
Daemon II
 
 
Aenys
 
Two sons
 
 
Calla
 
Aegor
Rivers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aemon
 
Haegon
 
Unknown
wife
 
Daughter(s)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Daemon III
 
Son(s)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Daemon
 
Maelys
 

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] He also compared Bittersteel's appearance to Conan the Barbarian, as described by Robert E. Howard and depicted by Barry Windsor-Smith.[4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 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 2.7 2.8 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 4.6 So Spake Martin: The Great Bastards (December 26, 2005).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys I.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 The Mystery Knight.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Sworn Sword.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  9. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 66, Tyrion XII.
  10. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aegor Rivers.
  11. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
  13. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Old Way and the New.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
  15. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands: House Lannister Under the Dragons.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 24, The Lost Lord.
  17. GRRM interview with John Picacio in Redwood City at the Fox Theater. August 14, 2018. Event occurs at 1:51:33. https://youtu.be/ThdsQtp1Sxw?si=ZN3gmI9kLln3lpwV&t=6693. 
  18. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  19. The Winds of Winter, Theon I
  20. The Winds of Winter, Arianne II
New title 1st captain-general of the Golden Company
212241 AC
Unknown
Next known title holder:
Daemon Blackfyre