Brienne Tarth

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House Tarth.PNGRainbow Guard.PNG Brienne Tarth House Tully.svgDunk.png
Brienne by quickreaver.jpg
Brienne the Blue, of the Rainbow Guard. Art by quickreaver©

Alias Brienne of Tarth[1]
Brienne the Beauty[1]
Brienne the Blue[1]
The Maid of Tarth[2]
thee-mooth (she-moose)[2]
Allegiance House Tarth
House Baratheon of Storm's End
Rainbow Guard
House Tully
Culture stormlands
Born In 280 AC[3], at Evenfall Hall[4]
Book(s) A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (POV)
A Dance with Dragons (appears)

Played by Gwendoline Christie
TV series Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6 | Season 7

Brienne Tarth,[4] commonly called Brienne of Tarth after her island home,[1] is the only living child and heir of Selwyn Tarth, Lord of Evenfall and head of House Tarth.[5] Brienne is sometimes called the Maid of Tarth[6] and mocked as Brienne the Beauty.[7] In the television adaptation Game of Thrones she is portrayed by Gwendoline Christie.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Brienne of Tarth
Brienne by Chris Dien © Fantasy Flight Games

Brienne is unfeminine in appearance and is considered unattractive by Westerosi standards. She is tall, muscular, flat-chested, and ungainly, with straw-colored hair and broad, coarse features that are covered in freckles. Brienne's teeth are prominent and crooked. Her mouth is wide, her lips are swollen, and her nose has been broken more than once.[1] She has large, beautiful blue eyes.[8][9]

When asked about her height, George R. R. Martin replied,

Brienne is well over six feet tall, but not close to seven, no. Just off the top of my head, I would say Brienne is taller than Renly and Jaime and significantly heavier than either, but nowhere near the size of Gregor Clegane, who is the true giant in the series. Shorter than Hodor and the Greatjon, maybe a bit shorter than the Hound, maybe roughly the same height as Robert.[10]

Brienne has spent most of her life as the object of scorn, rejection and—at best—pity. When she tried to dress and act like a proper lady, she was met with mockery and disdain for her unattractive appearance and lack of feminine social graces; when she turned to a career more suited to her talents as a warrior, she received only contempt and resentment for her gender despite her considerable skill.[11] Perhaps because of this background, Brienne is as awkward in personality as she is in appearance. Unlike Lady Maege or Dacey Mormont, Brienne seems uncomfortable as a warrior or a woman.[12] She yearns for respect and acceptance from others, and easily gives her love and loyalty to the few people who treat her with any degree of genuine courtesy.[13][14]

Brienne can be headstrong and judgmental, but she is also honest, straightforward, loyal and determined. Although she has received poor treatment from most knights, Brienne clings to a naively idealized concept of knighthood. Despite—or perhaps because of—the fact that she has no expectation of ever being recognized by society for her accomplishments, she nevertheless strives to live up to the ideal of a true knight at all times.[15]

Brienne's dented steel armor is a brilliant, deep blue cobalt. She wears a velvet doublet quartered rose-and-azure, breeches and boots and a fine-tooled swordbelt. Her horse is barded with the quartered sun-and-moon heraldry of House Tarth.[1] Brienne wields a blunt morningstar during melees.[1]

History

Brienne was born the eldest daughter of Lord Selwyn Tarth, Lord of Evenfall Hall, on the island of Tarth. Her mother died when she was so young that she does not remember her.[8] She had a single older brother, Galladon, who drowned when she was eight, and two younger sisters, both of whom died in the cradle. This makes her the only living offspring of Lord Selwyn, a fact that naturally encouraged him to find a suitable match for her. Given her ugly and ungainly appearance and attitude, however, the task was a difficult one, especially since Brienne was bent on a martial life rather than a marital one, more comfortable with a sword than in the company of court society. She was tutored by her septa, Roelle, and had the equivalent of a knight's training by a master-at-arms, Ser Goodwin.

Brienne of Tarth - by Rene Aigner ©

Brienne's father successfully found three men willing to betroth her, for her father's wealthy lands, though they all fell through. A younger son of Lord Bryen Caron was Brienne's first betrothed. They met only once, on the occasion of their betrothal, when she was seven and he was ten. The boy died two years later from a chill, along with his father, mother and sisters. Had he not died, Brienne would have been wed to him within the year of her first flowering.[16] The second betrothal was to Ser Ronnet Connington, who was six years older than her. On their meeting, Red Ronnet gave her a rose, and told her it was all she would have of him, breaking the betrothal.[17] The last man Brienne was betrothed to, Ser Humfrey Wagstaff, warned her he would insist she act womanly once they were wed. Though only sixteen, Brienne replied she would only accept such a demand from a man who could beat her in combat. In the effort, Humfrey ended up with three broken bones and a broken betrothal.[11]

After that, Lord Selwyn stopped trying to arrange a marriage for Brienne.[11] Brienne's only positive encounter with a man occurred when House Tarth's liege, Lord Renly Baratheon, visited their island during his coming of age tour. He crossed paths with Brienne and treated her courteously, and she fell in love with him.[16] Some time later, Lord Selwyn sent her to Storm's End. [18]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

Brienne the Blue from Renly Baratheon's Rainbow Guard - by Tizianobaracchi©

When Renly Baratheon declares himself king at Highgarden, Brienne joins him in his march to King's Landing.[1] She also attends his marriage to Margaery Tyrell, which greatly saddens her.[15] In Renly's camp, Brienne is continuously mocked. Some of the young knights wager on who will be the first to get her maidenhead, until Lord Randyll Tarly puts an end to it, warning Brienne that her presence is the cause of the problem.[7]

Later in the march, Brienne proves her mettle with a morningstar in a melee at Bitterbridge, defeating Ser Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, as well as many of her mocking suitors. She asks to join the Rainbow Guard as her prize, becoming Brienne the Blue. She sharply reminds Catelyn Stark of the courtesy due a king, and is later dismayed when Renly denies the need for an escort for a stroll after the night's feast.[1]

At Renly's parley with his brother Stannis at the siege of Storm's End, Brienne is his standard-bearer. After the negotiations fail, she is assigned to do the same in the upcoming clash, riding in the vanguard alongside Loras.[19] The next day at dawn, she is arming Renly for battle against his brother when a shadow enters his tent and assassinates him. Brienne is accused of the murder, but Catelyn is able to convince those present that she is innocent and takes Brienne with her when she flees the camp.[20]

When they arrive at Riverrun, Brienne wants to leave to take revenge with Renly's sword on Stannis for Renly's death, but Catelyn convinces Brienne to enter her service instead.[13] Brienne is present when Lady Stark speaks with the Kingslayer, Ser Jaime Lannister, in his cell, and grants Catelyn her sword when it is asked for.[21]

A Storm of Swords

Brienne and Jaime Lannister in the bath at Harrenhal. Art by Cabepfir

At Riverrun, after receiving news that her sons Bran and Rickon Stark have been killed, Catelyn decides to free Ser Jaime Lannister, making Brienne escort him to King's Landing to fulfill the promise made by the Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister, to return her daughters Sansa and Arya if the Kingslayer were freed. Ser Cleos Frey, Jaime's cousin, accompanies them as an envoy.[22]

Brienne defends Jaime ably. She learns much of his history that is little known to Westeros at large and the two develop a grudging respect for each other. They make for the city by boat, throwing off pursuit from Riverrun when Brienne scales a cliff and rolls boulders onto Ser Robin Ryger's pursuing galley,[9] after which they continue by land. At the Inn of the Kneeling Man, Brienne's wariness prevents the group from taking the innkeeper's travel advice, as he is in league with bandits and is attempting to lead them into ambush.[23]

Later, they are ambushed by different outlaws near Maidenpool. Cleos is killed and Jaime tries to escape, dueling Brienne with Cleos's sword. Manacled and out of practice, Jaime cannot defeat Brienne, who holds his head underwater. Their fighting is interrupted by the Brave Companions, however. Four Bloody Mummers beat Brienne, knocking out two of her teeth. The unscrupulous sellswords then chop off Jaime's sword hand.[24] His fighting ability gone, Jaime despairs for his life, but Brienne convinces him to live for revenge. In turn, Jaime prevents Zollo, Rorge, and Shagwell, three of the Mummers, from raping Brienne.[25] The Brave Compansions confiscate Brienne's armor and sword.[26]

Jaime rescues Brienne from the bear pit of Harrenhal - by Marc Simonetti ©

At Harrenhal, the two share a bath and Jaime reveals he stopped the wildfire plot of King Aerys II Targaryen during Robert's Rebellion. Qyburn brings her a pink gown, which Jaime thinks she looks ridiculous wearing. Lord Roose Bolton sends Jaime on his way, but keeps Brienne as Vargo Hoat's prize.[26] Jaime returns after dreaming of her, however, and rescues her from the bear pit of Harrenhal.[2] Brienne bites Vargo Hoat's ear,[2] which leaves him delirious from infection.[27] Steelshanks Walton escorts Brienne and Jaime toward King's Landing, and Brienne is shocked when Ser Bertram Beesbury informs them at Brindlewood of Catelyn's death in the Red Wedding.[27]

After their arrival in King's Landing, the pair are confronted by Ser Loras Tyrell, who still believes Brienne guilty of Renly's regicide. Jaime has Brienne arrested for her own protection,[27] and he arranges for Loras to speak to her; this finally dispels Brienne's blame.[28]

Jaime entrusts Brienne with the Valyrian steel longsword given to him by his father Tywin, naming it Oathkeeper. He sends her to seek the vanished Sansa Stark, to fulfill his promise to Catelyn. As Oathkeeper was forged from the metal of Eddard Stark's greatsword, Ice, Brienne is using Stark steel to rescue the Stark girl. Along with this, Jaime gives her two bags full of coin, a mail hauberk, a Lothston shield, and a letter signed by King Tommen I Baratheon saying that she is on a royal mission.[6]

A Feast for Crows

Podrick Payne and Brienne - by mustamirri ©

Ser Jaime Lannister is sent by his sister, Queen Cersei Lannister, to subdue the remaining rebels in the riverlands. At Harrenhal he strikes Ronnet Connington for mocking Brienne.[17]

Unbeknownst to Brienne, Sansa Stark is hiding at the Eyrie under the assumed name of Alayne Stone with Lord Petyr Baelish.[29] Brienne searches for Sansa along the Rosby road in the crownlands, meeting Illifer, Creighton Longbough, and Shadrich.[16] She visits the Dun Fort in Duskendale and has her shield repainted to the arms of Ser Duncan the Tall. Podrick Payne, once the squire of Sansa's husband Tyrion Lannister, tries to discretely follow her, and Brienne allows the boy to join her quest.[11]

Brienne's next stop is at Maidenpool, which she only enters with the unwanted aid of Ser Hyle Hunt, one of the knights who had mockingly courted her in Renly's camp. There she finds Lord Randyll Tarly dispensing justice; he begrudgingly allows her to continue her search. At the Stinking Goose she meets Nimble Dick Crabb, who leads her after a fool, whom she believes is Dontos Hollard, who might have Sansa with him.[7]

Traveling through Crackclaw Point, the trio arrive at the Whispers, the ruined hall of Nimble Dick's ancestors from House Crabb. They meet a band of Brave Companions remnants led by the fool Shagwell, the psychotic jester. Shagwell kills Dick, but Brienne then kills Pyg and Timeon with Oathkeeper. She forces Shagwell to dig a grave for Dick and then kills him as well when the fool turns on her. Hyle joins her party, having followed her from Maidenpool.[30]

Following the sellswords' information, Brienne heads back to the riverlands to find Sandor Clegane, who was reported to be with a girl, unbeknownst to her to be the wrong daughter. At Maidenpool they join with Meribald, an itinerant septon, who accompanies them to Saltpans. From there she visits the nearby Quiet Isle, where the Elder Brother assures her that the Hound is dead.[15]

At the inn at the crossroads near the Trident, Brienne encounters another group of former Brave Companions led by Rorge, who has been masquerading as Sandor while raping and murdering in the riverlands. Defending the orphans at the inn, the outnumbered Brienne kills Rorge but is grievously wounded by Biter, who chews the flesh off her cheek.[31] After Gendry rescues her from Biter, he and the remaining members of the brotherhood without banners take her captive, along with Podrick and Hyle.[32]

The undead Catelyn Stark, now leading the brotherhood as "Lady Stoneheart", does not believe Brienne's tale of her search for Sansa and judges her to be a traitor who is serving House Lannister. Brienne is given the choice of "sword or noose"—to kill Jaime Lannister to prove her loyalty, or to hang. Brienne refuses to choose and is sentenced to hang, along with her companions.[32] According to a semi-canon source, she sees Podrick choking and shouts "sword" to save him.[32][33]

A Dance with Dragons

Having been spared by the brotherhood, Brienne appears briefly at Pennytree when Jaime camps there. She asks Jaime to help her save Sansa Stark from the Hound, claiming they are a day's ride away. She tells Jaime, however, that he must go with her alone, or the Hound will kill Sansa.[34] Cersei is skeptical when she is informed that her twin, Jaime, disappeared with a woman in the riverlands.[35]

Quotes by Brienne

Gwendoline Christie as Brienne in Game of Thrones
Winter will never come for the likes of us. Should we die in battle, they will surely sing of us, and it's always summer in the songs. In the songs all knights are gallant, all maids are beautiful, and the sun is always shining.[1]
- Brienne to Catelyn Stark


Brienne: Fighting is better than this waiting. You don't feel so helpless when you fight. You have a sword and a horse, sometimes an axe. When you're armored it's hard for anyone to hurt you.

Catelyn: Knights die in battle.
Brienne: As ladies die in childbed. No one sings songs about them.[8]

- Brienne and Catelyn Stark


Sansa, though ... I will find her, my lady, Brienne swore to Lady Catelyn's restless shade. I will never stop looking. I will give up my life if need be, give up my honor, give up all my dreams, but I will find her.[11]
- thoughts of Brienne


Young or old, a true knight is sworn to protect those who are weaker than himself, or die in the attempt.[15]
- thoughts of Brienne


I have to find her. There are others looking, all wanting to capture her and sell her to the queen. I have to find her first. I promised Jaime. Oathkeeper, he named the sword. I have to try to save her... or die in the attempt.[15]
- Brienne to the Elder Brother


Leave her be. If you want to rape someone, try me.[31]
- Brienne to Rorge

Quotes about Brienne

Brienne the Beauty, they name her ... though not to her face, lest they be called upon to defend those words with their bodies.[1]
- Colen of Greenpools to Catelyn Stark


I knew Brienne when she was no more than a girl playing at her father’s feet in Evenfall Hall, and I knew her still better when the Evenstar sent her here to Storm's End. She loved Renly Baratheon from the first moment she laid eyes on him, a blind man could see it.[18]
Cortnay Penrose to Guyard Morrigen


There is a sweet innocence about you, child.[21]
Catelyn Stark to Brienne


The light was so dim that Jaime could scarcely see her, though they stood a scant few feet apart. In this light she could almost be a beauty, he thought. In this light she could almost be a knight.[2]
- dream of Jaime Lannister


Loras: Draw your sword, woman!

Jaime: Best hope she doesn't. Or it's like to be your corpse we carry out. The wench is as strong as Gregor Clegane, though not so pretty.[27]

Loras Tyrell and Jaime Lannister


Brienne's ugly, and pighead stubborn. But she lacks the wits to be a liar, and she is loyal past the point of sense. [28]
- Jaime Lannister to Loras Tyrell


Loras: Renly thought she was absurd. A woman dressed in man's mail, pretending to be a knight.

Jaime: If he'd ever seen her in pink satin and Myrish lace, he would not have complained.
Loras: I asked him why he kept her close, if he thought her so grotesque. He said that all his other knights wanted things of him, castles or honors or riches, but all that Brienne wanted was to die for him.[28]

Loras Tyrell and Jaime Lannister


Blue is a good color on you, my lady. It goes well with your eyes.[6]
- Jaime Lannister to Brienne


You have a man’s strength in your arms, but your heart is as soft as any maid's. It is one thing to train in the yard with a blunted sword in hand, and another to drive a foot of sharpened steel into a man’s gut and see the light go out of his eyes.[30]
- Goodwin to Brienne


It is said that your father is a good man. If so, I pity him. Some men are blessed with sons, some with daughters. No man deserves to be cursed with such as you.[36]
- Randyll Tarly to Brienne


The queen remembered the Maid of Tarth, a huge, ugly, shambling thing who dressed in man's mail. Jaime would never abandon me for such a creature.[35]
– thoughts of Cersei Lannister

Family tree

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Selwyn
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Endrew
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Galladon
 
Arianne
 
Alysanne
 
Brienne
 
 


Descent

See also: Brienne of Tarth/Theories

There has been speculation that Brienne descends from Ser Duncan the Tall, a former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard during the reign of King Aegon V Targaryen. Arguments often raised were that a shield bearing Duncan's personal arms was in the armory at Evenfall Hall, and that Brienne later used these arms while is traveling in the crownlands and riverlands.[11] Though George R. R. Martin confirmed that a descendant of Duncan appears in the books, he has not given a name.[37][38]

References and Notes

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn II.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
  3. See the Brienne of Tarth calculation.
  4. 4.0 4.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Brienne Tarth.
  5. A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 14, Brienne III.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 1, Jaime I.
  10. So Spake Martin: Brienne of Tarth, January 31, 2001
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 9, Brienne II.
  12. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
  14. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 31, Brienne VI.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 4, Brienne I.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
  18. 18.0 18.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
  19. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
  20. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
  21. 21.0 21.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
  22. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 21, Jaime III.
  25. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
  26. 26.0 26.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  29. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 10, Sansa I.
  30. 30.0 30.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
  31. 31.0 31.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 37, Brienne VII.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 42, Brienne VIII.
  33. So Spake Martin: Miscon Report, June 03, 2012
  34. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
  35. 35.0 35.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
  36. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
  37. So Spake Martin: US Signing Tour (Dayton, OH) (November 10, 2005)
  38. So Spake Martin: Mysterious Galaxy Signing (San Diego, CA) (November 08, 2000)

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