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Brynden Tully

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House Tully.svg
House Tully (Blackfish).svg Brynden Tully House Arryn.svg
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Blackfish by Amok©

Alias Blackfish
Brynden Blackfish
Brynden the Blackfish
Title Ser
Warden of the Southern Marches
Knight of the Gate (formerly)
Castellan of Riverrun (formerly)
Allegiance House Tully
House Stark
House Arryn (formerly)
Culture Rivermen
Born In or between 243 AC and 245 AC[1], at Riverrun[2]
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (appears)
A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (appears)
A Dance with Dragons (mentioned)

Played by Clive Russell
TV series Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 6

Ser Brynden Tully, also known as Brynden Blackfish[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] or simply the Blackfish[4][13][14][6][8][15][16] and Brynden the Blackfish,[17] is a knight from House Tully. He is the younger brother of Lord Hoster Tully. He has served as the Knight of the Gate for House Arryn since Robert's Rebellion. In the television adaptation Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Clive Russell.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Brynden Tully

Brynden is tall and lean, with a hoarse, smoky voice. He is clean-shaved, and his face is craggy and windburnt, his features are lined and weathered. His once-auburn hair has gone to grey. He has bushy eyebrows and bright blue eyes.[3][6][10]

A kind man with the patience to listen, Brynden was always the one the Tully children ran to to tell their tales when their parents were occupied. Brynden is a blunt[3] and stubborn man[18] who does not care what others think.[8]. He is a Tully first and foremost.[19] He is a seasoned warrior, a veteran of half a hundred battles,[20] and precise in his movements.[6] He is also a strong swimmer.[11] As the Knight of the Gate, Brynden wears a grey heavy plate armor and helm, but when commanding outriders he trades this for mail and leather.[3][13] In either suit of armor, Brynden's cloak, in the colors of House Tully, is fastened by an obsidian clasp in the shape of a black fish, his only concession to ornament.[3][13][19][10] Besieged at Riverrun, he wears grey ringmail under blackened steel, and a trout crest adorns his helmet, and rides a chestnut courser decorated in red and blue.[10]


Early Life

Brynden is the brother of Hoster Tully, younger than him by five years.[3] The brothers were close through their childhood.[6] Together with Norbert Vance, Brynden squired for Lord Darry,[10] and was eventually knighted. In 260 AC, Brynden fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings against the Band of Nine on the Stepstones. There, he proved himself a great and worthy knight, and gained fame and renown throughout the Seven Kingdoms.[18]

After his father died, his older brother Hoster inherited the rule of Riverrun. Hoster sought to betroth Brynden to Bethany Redwyne, but Brynden refused, causing a severe strain on their relationship. While other houses made marriage offers as well, including House Bracken and House Frey, Brynden remained unwed.[5] George R. R. Martin has thus far not shed any light on why Brynden has chosen to remain unwed.[21] However, years later Catelyn Tully expressed certainty that Brynden would never marry.[5]

The brothers quarrelled more and more. During one of the louder of such quarrels, Hoster called him the "black goat of the Tully flock". Brynden pointed out that their sigil was a fish, which made him a black fish instead of a black goat. From that day, Brynden took for his personal sigil the Tully emblem, but with a black trout jumping, instead of a silver trout,[3] and became known as the "Blackfish".

While Brynden's relationship with Hoster was strained, his relationship with Hoster's children, Catelyn, Lysa and Edmure, as well as Hoster's young ward, Petyr Baelish, was good. At times where Hoster was too busy, and Lady Minisa Whent too ill, the children would run to their uncle Brynden with their problems and stories, laughing along at their triumphs, and symphathizing with their problems.[3] On the night when Catelyn's betrothal to Brandon Stark was announced, young Petyr Baelish, who had been in love with Catelyn, became drunk after Catelyn rejected a kiss from him, and passed out on the table. In order to prevent Hoster from seeing Petyr like this, Brynden carried the young boy away.[22]

Brynden's brother Hoster and Lord Tywin Lannister were considering betrothing Hoster's younger daughter Lysa to Tywin's heir, Jaime.[23] As such, Lord Sumner Crakehall sent Jaime, who was his squire to Riverrun with a message. Hoster took a fortnight to write his reply, during which time he sat Jaime next to Lysa with every meal. However, Jaime was much more interested in Brynden, and pressed him for stories about the War of the Ninepenny Kings, meanwhile ignoring Lysa.[18]

Robert's Rebellion

In 282 AC, Robert's Rebellion began. While Hoster was at first reluctant to chose a side, he eventually sided with the rebels, and married his daughter Catelyn to Lord Eddard Stark, and Lysa to Lord Jon Arryn, in a double ceremony. At the wedding feast, Brynden informed his brother that he had taken service with Lord Arryn.[3] Hoster considered this to be personal rejection.[2] He disowned Brynden[6] and refused to speak his name for years to follow.[3]

Brynden continued to fight in Robert's Rebellion, further increasing his fame.[2] Following the conclusion of the war, he went to the Eyrie, where he eventually came to serve as Knight of the Gate.[24]

Recent Events

Ser Brynden - C.Griffin ©

A Game of Thrones

Brynden serves as Knight of the Gate when his niece, Catelyn Stark, arrives at the Bloody Gate with the captive Tyrion Lannister.[3] After news of attacks of the Lannisters upon the riverlands arrive, Brynden quarrels with Lysa Arryn over her decision to not send aid to Riverrun.[19] He resigns his position as Knight of the Gate and accompanies Catelyn to White Harbor, from where they travel to Moat Cailin.[4]

Once Brynden meets Robb Stark at Moat Cailin,[4] he quickly becomes a part of Robb's war council and is assigned as leader of the outriders.[13] In that capacity he clashes with Lannister cavalry under command of Ser Addam Marbrand; his repulse of that force allows Robb to cross the Green Fork undetected.[13] He participates in the battle in the Whispering Wood, commanding the party that draws Ser Jaime Lannister out of his encampment, and he leads the van at the Battle of the Camps, which lifts the siege of Riverrun.[14] While still angry about Brynden's refusal to marry Bethany Redwyne so many years ago, a dying Hoster Tully agrees to see Brynden, claiming he is too sick to fight.[5]

A Clash of Kings

Brynden and Hoster reconcile after many years, leaving the past behind them.[6]

Brynden realises that Tywin Lannister is the true danger for House Stark and House Tully in the War of the Five Kings, and knows that Tywin wishes them to march on Harrenhal.[6] Brynden accompanies Robb Stark, now King of the Trident, to campaign in the westerlands.[20]

When maester Vyman informs Catelyn Stark that Lord Hoster Tully will soon die, he suggests sending a rider to Brynden, as Brynden would want to be with his brother when he died.[20]

A Storm of Swords

Blackfish in the Riverlands - by Amok ©

Brynden returns to Riverrun together with King Robb Stark.[8] He and Robb angrily explain to Edmure Tully that the Battle of the Fords ruined their plan to defeat Lord Tywin Lannister, explaining that Brynden's scouts had found a good spot for an ambush along the gold road.[8]

When Hoster finally dies, he receives a funeral as per the Tully customs. When Edmure fails to hit Hoster's boat with a fire arrow, Brynden offers to make the shot, though is refused. After Edmure fails twice more, he gives the bow to Brynden, who hits the funerary boat with a fire arrow in one attempt.[25]

Brynden remains at Riverrun when Robb travels to the Twins to attend the wedding of Edmure to Roslin Frey, in preparation for the plan to retake Moat Cailin from the ironmen. In recognition of the Brynden's military contributions, Robb names him Warden of the Southern Marches.[26]

A Feast for Crows

After the deaths of Robb and Catelyn and capture of Edmure at the Red Wedding, Brynden, now castellan,[27] continues to hold Riverrun in Robb's name, even as other river lords surrender and bend the knee to the Iron Throne. Besieged by Lannister and Frey forces, he treats with Ser Ryman Frey but is unmoved by Ryman's empty daily threats to hang his nephew, Edmure. Brynden refuses to give up Riverrun or Robb's widow, Queen Jeyne Westerling.[18][10]

Brynden holds out for several months, until Ser Jaime Lannister comes to resolve the siege of Riverrun. Brynden parleys with Jaime, but only as an excuse to hear Jaime's reasons for not returning Catelyn's daughters, Sansa and Arya, and to see Jaime's stump. Jaime tells Brynden that he will be allowed to take the black if he surrenders and mentions that Jon Snow is now Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. Brynden recalls Catelyn's distrust of Jon and assumes that the boy's new position was given to him by the Lannisters.[10]

Jaime eventually manages to convince Edmure to surrender Riverrun. However, before Edmure gives the castle up to Jaime, he allows Brynden to escape by swimming under the portcullis that had been slightly raised at the Water Gate.[11] Due to his escape, Brynden has been declared an outlaw.[28]

A Dance with Dragons

When Jaime resolves the siege of Raventree, he is told by Lord Tytos Blackwood that Brynden has not come to Raventree Hall.[28]

Quotes by Brynden

Remind me not to linger here. Last I looked, I was southron myself.[4]

– Brynden, to Catelyn Stark

Peace. Peace is sweet, my lady ... but on what terms? It is no good hammering your sword into a plowshare if you must forge it again on the morrow.[5]

– Brynden, to Catelyn Stark

My first rule of war, Cat, is never give the enemy his wish.[6]

– Brynden, to Catelyn Stark

You must be blind as well as maimed, Ser. Lift your eyes, and you will see the direwolf still flies above our walls.[10]

– Brynden, to Jaime Lannister

Quotes about Brynden

Tully had a craggy face, deeply lined and windburnt beneath a shock of stiff grey hair, but Jaime could still see the great knight who once enthralled a squire with tales of the Ninepenny Kings.[10]

Jaime Lannister's thoughts


House Stark
House Arryn

References and Notes

  1. See the Brynden Tully calculation.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Brynden Tully.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 34, Catelyn VI.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn VIII.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
  7. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 14, Catelyn II.
  9. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20, Catelyn III.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 44, Jaime VII.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 34, Bran III.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 59, Catelyn IX.
  14. 14.0 14.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
  15. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
  16. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
  17. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 18, Catelyn IV.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 33, Jaime V.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40, Catelyn VII.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
  21. So Spake Martin: Brynden Tully's Bachelorhood (March 19, 2002)
  22. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
  23. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Jaime Lannister.
  24. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
  25. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 35, Catelyn IV.
  26. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  27. A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
  28. 28.0 28.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
  29. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  30. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.