The Three-Eyed Crow
Hand of the King|
Lord Commander of the Night's Watch
|Born||In 174 AC or 175 AC, at Riverlands|
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, the Hand of Aerys I, and Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. 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.
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. 
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.  He wore his white hair straight and to his shoulders, with the front brushed forward to cover his missing eye. 
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. 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.
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. 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. For this people would name Brynden a kinslayer. After the war he advocated a hard line against the rebels, winning out over Prince Baelor's call for leniency.
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 Daeron II, the previous Hand of the King, two princes, 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.
There was also a drought that lasted at least two years, 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.
Around 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. Lord Beron Stark called his banners to repulse the ironmen from the Stony Shore, while the Lannisters built ships to strike at the Iron Islands. During all of this Bloodraven kept his eye on Tyrosh where the surviving sons of Daemon lay in exile with Bittersteel and his Golden Company. Victarion Greyjoy recalls that, "...even Dagon could not defeat the dragons", suggesting that the Targaryens did eventually intervene.
In another conflict within the realm that year 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. Bloodraven, being born of half-Blackwood ancestry, would not have been inclined to stop it.
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". The events of The Sworn Sword take place during his reign as Hand, though he does not personally take part in the story. At that time he had the mistrust of the king's brother Maekar, supposedly due to counsel from the High Septon.
The Mystery Knight
Lord Bloodraven's wariness paid off in 212 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. 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. 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.
At some point after the events of The Mystery Knight Bloodraven was imprisoned in the Red Keep's black cells for reasons unknown. In 233 AC he was sent to the Wall as part of the "honor guard" of prisoners that accompanied Aegon's brother Maester Aemon. Eventually he rose to Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. The song "A Thousand Eyes, and One" was written about him.
A Dance with Dragons
Quotes by Brynden Rivers
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.
Quotes about Brynden Rivers
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.
Lord Bloodraven is a sorceror and a bastard.
|Aenys||Two sons||Daughter(s)||Calla||Aegor Rivers|
References and Notes
- See the Brynden Rivers calculation.
- The Sworn Sword.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- The Mystery Knight.
- So Spake Martin: More Targaryen Descriptions
- So Spake Martin: More Targaryen Descriptions
- Citadel SSM:The Great Bastards (December 26, 2005)
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.
- "Brandon (Bran) Stark" and "Brynden Rivers" entries in A World of Ice and Fire
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.
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