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Brynden Rivers

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Brynden Rivers
by Amok©
Bloodraven with his weirwood longbow.
© Amok

Alias Bloodraven
The Three-Eyed Crow
Title Hand of the King
Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
Allegiance House Targaryen
Night's Watch
Born In 174AC or 175AC[1], at Riverlands
Book(s) The Sworn Sword (Mentioned)
The Mystery Knight (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (Appears)

Lord Brynden Rivers, called "Bloodraven", was a legitimized Great Bastard of Aegon IV Targaryen and Melissa Blackwood, his sixth mistress. His personal arms were a white dragon with red eyes breathing red flame on a black field. He was a Targaryen loyalist during the Blackfyre Rebellion,[2] the Hand of Aerys I,[2] and Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.[3] 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.[4]

As the three-eyed crow, Rivers appears to Bran Stark in dreams. He is known by the children of the forest as the last greenseer.[5]


Character and appearance

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 birth mark was said to look somewhat like a raven drawn in blood. However, the likeness was hardly exact as Dunk thinks the birthmark just a splotch. According to George R. R. Martin it is more a suggestion of a raven shape, like an ink blot. [6]

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.

He lost an eye during the Blackfyre Rebellion and rarely covered the empty socket with a patch, preferring to display his scar and empty socket to the world. [7] He wore his white hair straight and to his shoulders, with the front brushed forward to cover his missing eye. [4][8]

When Bran, Hodor, Meera, and Jojen find him in his cave, nearly a century after the Blackfyre Rebellion, they fins that Brynden Rivers|Brynden]], a pale, skeletal man in rotted, black clothing in a weirwood throne of tangled roots. His skin is white, aside from a red blotch on his neck and cheek. Brynden has fine, white hair long enough to reach the earthen floor. He is missing one eye, while the other is red. Weirwood roots surround the the man and grow through his body, including his leg and his empty eye socket. His voice is slow and dry, as if he had forgotten how to speak.[9]



Brynden was 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[10]. Brynden was resented by Barba's bastard son Aegor Rivers, nicknamed "Bittersteel". Both "Great Bastards" were legitimized by their father when the king was on his deathbed.

First Blackfyre Rebellion

A strong warrior, Brynden carried the Valyrian 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 Blackfyre Rebellion, Brynden remained loyal to King Daeron, and commanded a group of long bowmen called the Raven's Teeth. At the Battle of the Redgrass Field, he lost an eye fighting his half-brother Bittersteel.[2][4] The Raven's Teeth ultimately gained the Weeping Ridge, and rained arrows down onto Daemon Blackfyre from 300 yards away, killing Daemon and his twin sons[2]. For this people would name Brynden a kinslayer[2][4]. After the war he advocated a hard line against the rebels, winning out over Prince Baelor's call for leniency.[2]

Reign of King Aerys I Targaryen

In 209AC 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, King Daeron II Targaryen, Prince Valarr and Prince Matarys Targaryen, 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[2].

Around the same time, a drought began that lasted a little more than a year[11], 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.[2]

In 211AC Lord Dagon Greyjoy raided the western coast, including Fair Isle, the shipping of the Arbor, and the village of Little Dosk in the Reach.[2] By 212AC, Lord Beron Stark had called his banners to repulse the ironmen from the Stony Shore, while the House Lannister was building ships to strike at the Iron Islands.[4] During all of this Bloodraven kept his eye on Tyrosh where Bittersteel remained with the surviving sons of Daemon Blackfyre, in exile.[4] Victarion Greyjoy recalls that, "...even Dagon could not defeat the dragons"[12], suggesting that the Targaryens did eventually intervene.

Another issue within the realm in 211AC 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 complains 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.[2]

Second Blackfyre Rebellion

Lord Bloodraven's wariness paid off in 212AC. 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. It is also theorized that Bloodraven was actually present at Whitewalls, using his famous sorcery to disguise himself as a knight named Ser Maynard Plumm. This is supported by Ser Maynard's knowledge of Dunk, as well as the fact that Dunk noticed that Plumm's features began to look less authentic the longer he looked. This kind of magic is also used in A Dance with Dragons, when Melisandre makes Mance Rayder appear to other men as Rattleshirt. Bloodraven marched on Whitewalls 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[4]. 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.

Later years

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"[4].

During his time as Hand, Brynden had the mistrust of the king's brother Maekar, supposedly due to counsel from the High Septon.[2]

It is strongly indicated by Maester Aemon that Brynden was imprisoned in the Red Keep's black cells.[3] The reasons why this imprisonment and the year in which it would have occured are currently unknown. Brynden's imprisonment probably ended in 233AC, when he was sent to the Wall by King Aegon V Targaryen, as part of the "honor guard" of prisoners that accompanied Aemon to the Night's Watch. Eventually he rose to the position of Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.[3]

Brynden remained the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch for an unknown amount of time. Brynden currently resides Beyond the Wall, as the Three-eyed crow.

See also

The song "A Thousand Eyes, and One" was written about Lord Brynden Rivers.[3]

Recent Events

The three-eyed crow - by Marc Simonetti ©

A Game of Thrones

When Bran Stark is in a coma after his fall, a crow appears in his dreams and tells Bran it can teach him to fly. Bran realizes it has three eyes, with the third eye full of a terrible knowledge. The crow guides him out of his coma.[13] Bran later tells Maester Luwin of another dream, in which the three-eyed crow goes with the boy to the crypts of Winterfell, where he speaks with his sad father, Eddard Stark. Bran has the dream before finding out that Eddard has been executed in King's Landing.[14]

A Clash of Kings

While bannermen arrive at Winterfell for the harvest feast, Bran dreams of a weirwood with deep red eyes and a twisted wooden mouth, with the three-eyed crow in its branches.[15] Jojen Reed tells Bran that he dreamed of a winged wolf bound in chains, with a three-eyed crow chipping at its stone chains. Jojen reveals the crow has visited him in dreams since he was a child and that it can be found beyond the Wall.[16]

A Storm of Swords

Bran and his companions, Hodor, Meera, and Jojen Reed, decide to travel north beyond the Wall to find the three-eyed crow, whom he still dreams of.[17]

A Dance with Dragons

With the assistance of Coldhands, Bran, Hodor, and the Reeds reach the three-eyed crow in a cave in the haunted forest. It is not an actual bird, but a man who says he was once a lord called Brynden.[9] Bran is disappointed that the crow cannot heal his crippled legs, but Brynden promises he will teach Bran how to fly instead.[5]

Brynden teaches Bran about greenseeing and skinchanging.[9] He later decides it is time for Bran to take the next step and has Leaf give Bran a bowl of weirwood paste, made from seeds of weirwood, to eat in order to awaken his greenseer gifts. When Bran sees his father, Eddard, through Winterfell's heart tree, Brynden tells Bran that he is haunted by his own ghosts, a brother that he loved, a brother that he hated, and a woman that he desired, but he knows from experience that you cannot change the past.[9]

Quotes by Brynden Rivers

There have always been Targaryens who dreamed of things to come, since long before the Conquest.[4]
- Brynden to Dunk and Egg

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.[9]
- Brynden, to Meera Reed

"The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother's milk. Darkness will make you strong." [9]
- Brynden, to Bran

Quotes about Brynden Rivers

The Mother marked Lord Rivers on the day that he was born, and Bittersteel marked him once again upon the Redgrass Field.[2]
- Septon Sefton, to Dunk

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.[4]
- Dunk

Lord Bloodraven is a sorceror and a bastard.[4]
- Glendon Flowers
A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment . . . but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf's face threw back his head and howled.[18]
Melisandre, looking into the fire in her chambers at Castle Black
Most of him has gone into the tree ... He has lived beyond his mortal span, and yet he lingers. For us, for you, for the realms of men. Only a little strength remains in his flesh. He has a thousand eyes and one, but there is much to watch. One day you will know.[9]
Leaf, to Bran Stark


Aegon IV
Unknown wife
Unknown son
Unknown son
Unknown son
Unknown daughters

References and Notes

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.

Great Bastards
Daemon Blackfyre | Aegor Rivers | Brynden Rivers | Shiera Seastar
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