Difference between revisions of "Barristan Selmy"

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{{Quote|''"Have no fear, sers, [[Joffrey Baratheon|your king]] is safe...no thanks to you. Even now, I could cut through the five of you as easy as a dagger carves cheese. If you would serve under [[Jaime Lannister|the Kingslayer]], then not a one of you is fit to wear [[Kingsguard|the white]]"''{{Ref|aGoT|57}}}}- Ser Barristan denouncing his former Sworn Brothers
{{Quote|''"Have no fear, sers, [[Joffrey Baratheon|your king]] is safe...no thanks to you. Even now, I could cut through the five of you as easy as a dagger carves cheese. If you would serve under [[Jaime Lannister|the Kingslayer]], then not a one of you is fit to wear [[Kingsguard|the white]]"''{{Ref|aGoT|57}}}}- Ser Barristan denouncing his former Sworn Brothers
{{Quote|''"Some had been heroes, some weaklings, knaves, or cravens. Most were only men-quicker and stronger than most, more skilled with sword and shield, but still prey to pride, ambition, lust, love, anger, jealousy, greed for gold, hunger for power, and all the other failings that afflicted lesser mortals. The best of them overcame their flaws, did their duty, and died with their swords in their hands. The worst...The worst were those who played the game of thrones"''{{Ref|aDwD|55}}}}- Ser Barristan reflecting on the history of the Kingsguard
{{Quote|''"[[Rhaegar Targaryen|Prince Rhaegar]] loved his [[Lyanna Stark|Lady Lyanna]] and [[Robert's Rebellion|thousands died for it]]. [[Daemon Blackfyre]] loved the [[Daenerys, daughter of Aegon IV|first Daenerys]], and rose in [[Blackfyre Rebellion|rebellion]] when denied her. [[Bittersteel]] and [[Bloodraven]] both loved [[Shiera Seastar]] and the Seven Kingdoms bled. The [[Duncan Targaryen|Prince of Dragonflies]] loved [[Jenny (Oldstones)|Jenny of Oldstones]] so much he cast aside a crown, and Westeros paid the bride price in corpses. All three of the sons of the [[Aegon V Targaryen|fifth Aegon]] had wed for love in defiance of their father's wishes. And because that unlikely monarch had followed his heart when he chose his queen, he allowed his sons to have their way, making bitter enemies when he might have made fast friends. Treason and turmoil followed, as night follows day, ending at [[Summerhall]] in sorcery, fire and grief"'' {{Ref|aDwD|67}}}}- Ser Barristan reflecting on the [[House Targaryen|Targaryen]] propensity to choose poorly in romantic matters.
==References and Notes==
==References and Notes==

Revision as of 22:24, 7 April 2013

Barristan Selmy
Selmy as Arstan Whitebeard.jpg
Ser Barristan as Arstan Whitebeard, by Amoka©

Alias(es) Barristan the Bold
Arstan Whitebeard
Ser Grandfather
Barristan the Old
Old Ser
Title(s) Ser
Lord Commander (former)
Queen's Hand
Allegiance Kingsguard
House Selmy
Culture(s) Westeros
Born In 237 AC
Book(s) A Game of Thrones (Appears)
A Clash of Kings (Appears)
A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (POV)
The Winds of Winter (POV)

Played by Ian McElhinney
TV series Season 1 | Season 3

Ser Barristan Selmy, called "Barristan the Bold," is a celebrated hero and knight of the Kingsguard, serving throughout a time when the Kingsguard were considered to be the greatest knights of the realm. In the TV series, he is played by Ian McElhinney.[1]

Character and Appearance

Selmy is one of the most skilled and respected knights in the Seven Kingdoms.

Selmy is tall and has blue eyes. Daenerys considers them sad.[2] He is an older man (sixty at the series' beginning), with long white hair and lined features. Daenerys considers him handsome at least for an older man. Despite advanced age, he looks strong and graceful and every bit the skilled knight he was in his youth. During his time in the Kingsguard, like all other members, he wore white, from his suit of enameled scale armor to his shield.[3] When in the Kingsguard in King's Landing he was clean shaven, but he grew a long white beard when he went to find Daenerys. See also this collection of images.

Queensguard armour:

In Meereen, as a token of her esteem, Daenerys Targaryen gifts Ser Barristan Selmy, her Lord Commander, with armour.

The mail is gilded, finely wrought, the links as supple as good leather, the plate enameled, hard as ice and bright as new fallen snow. A dagger goes on one hip, his longsword on the other; it hangs from a white leather belt with golden buckles. Last of all he fastens a long white cloak about his shoulders.

The helm has a narrow eye slit and ornate dragon’s wings which are splendid to look upon. He leaves the helm on its hook for his confrontation with Hizdahr zo Loraq. Selmy leaves it for his next tourney, if the Seven should grant him one.


Early Life

Barristan was born the first son of Ser Lyonel Selmy, the Knight of Harvest Hall. He squired for Lord Manfred Swann in his youth.[4][5] At the age of ten, Barristan donned the armor of a mystery knight and entered a tourney at Blackhaven. Prince Duncan took pity on the small mystery knight while others laughed. Duncan jousted Selmy when no one else would and it was Prince Duncan who gave Barristan his epithet.

He received his knighthood at the age of sixteen from King Aegon V after unhorsing Prince Duncan and Lord Commander Duncan the Tall of the Kingsguard at a tourney in King's Landing.[6] An eminently successful tourney knight throughout his career, he also proved his worth on the battlefield, killing Maelys the Monstrous in single combat in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, ending the line of the Blackfyre pretenders after cutting a bloody swath through the Golden Company to get to him.[7]

He was named to the Kingsguard at the age of twenty-three and swore his vows before Ser Gerold Hightower, during the reign of Jaehaerys II.[6] In joining the Kingsguard, he gave up the claim to his family seat, and the girl he was to wed was married to his cousin instead.[8][5]

In the Kingsguard

During the Defiance of Duskendale, Lord Hand Tywin Lannister sent Selmy to rescue the captive King Aerys II. Ser Barristan slew Ser Symon Hollard, avenging the death of his sworn brother Ser Gwayne Gaunt and freeing the king. In the aftermath of the Defiance, he pleaded for the life of the child Dontos Hollard, to which King Aerys acquiesced.[9] Later in Aerys's reign, during the Kingsguard's campaign against the outlaw Kingswood Brotherhood, Barristan rescued Lady Jeyne Swann and her septa, and killed the bandits' leader Ser Simon Toyne in single combat. He defeated Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in the final joust to win the tourney held at Storm's End.[10]

Like his other sworn brothers of the Kingsguard, he was present at the tourney at Harrenhal. He was infatuated by the beautiful Lady Ashara Dayne, though he knew nothing could come of his desire for her. He planned on naming her Queen of Love and Beauty if he won the tournament, but was unhorsed by Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar then crowned Lyanna Stark, setting off a chain of events that led to Robert's Rebellion. Selmy wonders if he could have averted the war if he had defeated Rhaegar in the tournament. He also fantasizes that, if he had won the tourney and crowned Ashara, perhaps she would have turned to him "instead of Stark." He thinks of the consequences of his unspoken love for Ashara as one of his many failures.[11]

During the War of the Usurper, after the defeat of Lord Jon Connington at the Battle of the Bells, Ser Barristan, with Ser Jonothor Darry was sent to rally the remnants of Connington's army.[12] He was severely wounded at the Battle of the Trident. Lord Roose Bolton counseled that his throat should be cut, but Robert instead called for maesters to attend him.

Though he fought bravely for the Targaryens during the rebellion which overthrew them, Barristan later took the new king's pardon and became the Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard.[13] Having had reservations about the Kingslayer even before he earned his epithet, Ser Barristan did not approve of Jaime Lannister being allowed to continue his service. After Jaime slew Aerys he was quoted by Tyrion Lannister as saying Ser Jaime's white cloak should be traded for a black one, agreeing with Ned Stark that Jaime should be exiled to the Wall [14].

Selmy had moral reservations about serving the Usurper, but served loyally nonetheless. Selmy recalled, however, that if he had seen Robert smile when Tywin Lannister presented him with the bloody bodies of Rhaegar's children, he would never have served Robert and nothing on earth would have stopped Selmy from killing him. Selmy loathes seeing the deaths of children, as illustrated by his asking that the babe Dontos Hollard be spared when House Hollard was destroyed after the Defiance of Duskendale.

During the Greyjoy Rebellion, Selmy led the attack on Old Wyk. Ser Barristan is a living legend and the smallfolk talk of him in the same way they talk of other legendary knight such as Serwyn of the Mirror Shield and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight. [15]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Barristan is a formidable fighter even in his advanced years, having won the championship of a tourney at King's Landing at the age of 57, and unhorsing Sandor Clegane in a tilt just a year prior to the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings.[16] He serves loyally as Lord Commander of Robert's Kingsguard. During the Tourney of the Hand, he is only defeated by Ser Jaime Lannister after three tilts, having defeated men ten and twenty years younger in his first two contests.[17] When Ser Hugh of the Vale is killed in the tournament by Ser Gregor Clegane, Selmy stands vigil over the young knight himself as the boy had no one else.[18]

He is present on the small council when Robert Baratheon orders the death of the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen. He and Eddard Stark are the only council members who protest the move.[13] He accompanies King Robert on his ill-fated boar hunt which led to the death of the king.[19] In an unprecedented move, he is dismissed from the Kingsguard and the small council by Joffrey Baratheon on grounds of old age. The real reasons, however, are to allow Joffrey to give a white cloak to his "dog," Sandor Clegane, and so Cersei Lannister could place Jaime Lannister as the new Lord Commander.

When the king orders him seized and questioned for a perceived threat uttered in the heat of his dismissal, Selmy kills the Gold Cloaks sent after him and flees the city.[8] He could have returned to Harvest Hall, where his kin would doubtless welcome him, but Selmy did not wish to inflict Joffrey's displeasure on them. Instead Selmy sells his horse and disguises himself as a commoner. He returned to the city along with the stream of smallfolk fleeing the war, making their way to King's Landing. He enters through the Gate of the Gods with dirt on his face, stubble on his cheeks and no weapon but a wooden staff. In roughspun clothes and mud-caked boots, he was just one more old man fleeing the war. He lost himself among the refugees and slept in septs and alleys and pot shops. He lets his beard grow out and cloaks himself in age.

He is present in the crowd when Lord Eddard Stark is executed. Afterwards he goes to the Great Sept of Baelor to pray for Eddard's soul and thanks the gods he himself had only been dismissed. These events force Barristan to reevaluate his years of service in Robert's Kingsguard alongside the likes of the Kingslayer, and others whom he considers near as bad. He comes to the conclusion that his service to Robert was inexcusable. He thinks that Robert had been a good knight, but a poor king, and that Selmy must find his true king and die in his service. This leads Selmy to book passage across the narrow sea to Pentos. [20]

A Clash of Kings

Ian McElhinney as Baristan Selmy

While Daenerys Targaryen is walking through the docks of Qarth visiting ships to to find passage, Ser Jorah notices that they are being followed by two men, a fat brown man (15 stone weight and covered in scars) and an older man (appears to be from Westeros) with a white beard and a staff. He stops Dany and uses a large brass platter in a ship to let her see the men without revealing they have been discovered. Jorah and Dany head back to escape the men. The brass merchant from the shop chases them trying to get Dany to buy the massive platter, and finally with the price down, Dany instructs Jorah to buy it just to get rid of the man. Just then, as Dany is distracted, the Qartheen thrusts a beautiful carved wood case in her face indicating it is a gift for the mother of dragons. She opens the box and sees a beautiful, obviously valuable, scarab. As she reaches for it, the scarab unfolds with a hiss. Before the manticore can sting her, Whitebeard uses his staff to send the box flying away, and then smashes the creature with the butt of his staff. Before Daenerys' guards can kill the two, she puts herself between her bloodriders and the two men, telling them that the old man had knocked a manticore out of her hands. Before Dany can direct her bloodriders to the perpetrator, a Sorrowful Man, he has disappeared.

Dany questions Whitebeard who tells her is name. Strong Belwas, the large man, a eunuch, tells Dany that he has never lost in the fighting pits, letting each opponent cut him before he kills them. He continues to tell her that Magister Illyrio Mopatis sent him from across the sea with Whitebeard to serve her since he cannot travel. She is further informed by Whitebeard that he is now a squire for Belwas. When asked about his age, he tells them that he is not too old to squire, and has seen Ser Jorah, who is among Dany’s guard, fighting in a tourney. Belwas tells Dany that Illyrio would have the dragons and Dany. Whitebeard tells her that it is the truth and that they are to bring her back to Pentos; there are 4 kings in Westeros, and no justice. Belwas tells her that they have three ships for her to travel. Dany then tells them that the ships must have new names.[21]

A Storm of Swords

While becalmed during the voyage to Pentos to join up with Magister Illyrio Mopatis (the destination is changed to the Astapor to buy Unsullied) with Daenerys Targaryen, Whitebeard breaks into the discussion between Dany and Ser Jorah about dragons. He adds to the information that Ser Jorah told Dany; he tells them about the domed castle built by the Targaryens (now in ruins) and that dragons raised in the pit were never as large as their ancestors—The Maesters had a theory that being enclosed limited their size.

Ser Jorah attempts to counter the information by noting that men do not change size because of where they are raised (it is pointed out that Ser Jorah does not like Whitebeard). Then Dany asks about her father. From his comments Dany can tell that Whitebeard did not think much of him. Then Dany asks about her brother Rhaegar. Whitebeard tells them about Rhaegar’s companions. As a jibe, Ser Jorah states that Whitebeard will next claim he squired for Rhaegar. Dany’s then asks about Rhaegar being a peerless warrior; Whitebeard will not confirm this, only stating that anyone can lose in a tourney for various reasons.

Dany then asks what Rhaegar was like, and he provides a number of positive adjectives. Then he tells that Rhaegar was very much into books and how later Rhaegar started training as a warrior after reading something in a scroll. Whitebeard leaves them after Strong Belwas comes on deck, and Whitebeard leaves to get food for the man he served. Afterwards Ser Jorah warns Dany against the two. Dany tells Jorah that Belwas could not scheme and she can see no lies that Whitebeard has told her. Jorah points out that Whitebeard speaks out too brazenly for a mere squire.[2]

Whitebeard is with Dany in the Plaza of Pride when they meet with the slaver selling Unsullied. Whitebeard has made it obvious he neither approved of sailing to Astapor, nor buying the Unsullied. After the slaver tells them that the 1000 Unsullied before them have been standing there for a day and night without food and would continue stand until they died, Whitebeard exclaims that it is madness, not courage. The slaver responds that it is discipline. Whitebeard replies that sheep are obedient. The slaver replies that they are more dogs than sheep. When told the Unsullied have no fear, Whitebeard object that even bravest men fear death and maiming. The slaver then whips one eunuch, and cuts a nipple off another Unsullied. Neither move during the experience. Finally, when Dany has no more questions for the slaver, she asks Whitebeard for his opinion in front of the slave girl that is serving as interpreter so the response will get back to the slaver. He says no because there have been no slaves in Westeros in thousands of years; slavery is held to be an abomination, and for this many good men would not support her. It would also do great dishonor to her house. When she asks about how she is win Westeros without an army, Whitebeard replies half of Westeros would support her because of Rhaegar. When she further asks about her father, he has little positive to say. He advises Dany that she should send envoys, and even those that opposed her father might support her.

As they travel from the meeting, Dany hears Whitebeard say “Bricks and Blood built Astapor.” When Dany questions him about the statement he says it is an old rhyme that he had heard. Begging her to purchase sell swords, he continues to argue against the purchase of the Unsullied. When he says that it is better to be a beggar than a slaver, she responds with a temper.[22]

Whitebeard is one of those that escort Dany to the slavers when she negotiates for all the Unsullied including those in training (which includes those with their puppies). The slavers only agree to sell 2000 Unsullied for all Dany’s trade good and ships, but Dany believes she needs them all, and, with distress, offers one of the dragons. Whitebeard immediately objects, telling her to win her throne with dragons not slaves. She responds to Whitebeard that he should not presume to instruct her and orders Ser Jorah to remove him. When Dany leaves, Whitebeard follows wordlessly, but Dany can hear the hardwood staff taping. Dany did not blame him for her fury since the thought made her ill. In the plaza she turns to Whitebeard and tells him that she wants his council, but never questions her in front of strangers. He agrees but tells her she was cheated; Aegon proved that a Dragon is worth more than an army. Dany replies that she will prove a few things of her own.[23]

When Dany’s host arrives at Yunkai, there are slave soldiers and a couple of mercenary companies defending the city. Dany asks that the sell swords give their answers to her offer the next day. Afterwards Dany announces to her advisors her plan to attack that night, expecting the Stormcrows to be busy debating the offer and the Second Sons drunk on the wine she provided. She announces that the Unsullied will attack from right and left while her horse will attack the center (slave soldiers will not stand against mounted men). She then asks her advisor’s opinion, and Whitebeard agrees with Ser Jorah that she is Rhaegar Targaryen’s sister, adding that she is also a queen.[10]

While waiting for the results of the battle against the Yunkai, she asks for Whitebeard. When he arrives she tells him to tell her more about Rhaegar to fill the time while others are dying for her. She asks specifically about Viserys statement that Rhaegar won many tourneys. Whitebeard tells her that he was not one for entering tourneys. He did win the greatest tourney of all time at Harrenhal. Dany states that this was at this tourney that Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Stark as Queen of Love and Beauty even though his wife was there, and that he later stole her away from her fiancé. Whitebeard could not explain Rhaegar’s actions. Then Dany tells how Viserys claimed this was her fault for not being born earlier; if Rhaegar had married her, maybe he would not have been unhappy in his marriage. Whitebeard responds that he was born in grief. He continues by telling her about how he would go Summerhall alone with his harp, and return with a sad song. When asked about the songs Robert liked, Whitebeard responded that Robert liked rowdy songs when he was drunk. It is then that Ser Jorah arrives with news of the victory with no more than a dozen losses.[10]

When Daenerys Targaryen besieges Meereen, Oznak zo Pahl rides out of Meereen on a white charger with a fourteen foot lance, challenging the besiegers to send forth a champion. Initially her bloodriders wanted to accept his challenge, but Daenerys did not feel she could not afford to lose them, and he is irrelevant. Ser Jorah agrees, but Whitebeard disagrees that stating that wars are not won by swords alone--this knight is building courage in the hearts of his men, and doubt in Daenerys’ men. Ser Jorah replies that it would be damaging to their moral if their man loses. Whitebeard replies that someone that fears battle will not win victory. Ser Jorah points out that if the knight defeats their champion that would have a bad effect on their moral. Dany quiets them since she is more worried about other issues. After the pink and white hero pisses at her camp Whitebeard tells Dany that this challenge must be met. Daenerys tells him it will be, and sends Strong Belwas because she can easily spare his loss, and his death as an ex-slave would not give the knight any prestige.[10]

Dany decides she will ride to her people with only a limited guard, which included Whitebeard. She is touching her people and letting them touch her. She had stopped to speak to a pregnant woman when a ragged man with a shaved head yanks her from her saddle. He threatens her with his sword as he talks to her telling her that he will start by cutting off her breasts. She recognizes the voice as the Titan's Bastard's. A freeman tries to come to her aid, but the Titan's Bastard cuts him in the face. Whitebeard leaps from his horse over her with his hardwood staff. Whitebeard is able to easily dispatch the Bastard and eventually hits him in the temple. He falls into the water and the freemen fall on his body. Whitebeard apologies for not coming to her aid sooner, but he did not recognize the Bastard.[4]

They return to her tent, and later Ser Jorah arrives, and Dany admonishes him for not telling her that the Bastard had escaped, and that Whitebeard had killed him. She then asks that Whitebeard be knighted and both Whitebeard and Ser Jorah say “No” at the same time. When Ser Jorah, impressed that squire could kill the Bastard, asks Whitebeard who he was, and Whitebeard responds that he is a better knight than him.

Whitebeard then tells Dany that he really did not lie, but did withhold truths, and can only beg forgiveness. Ser Jorah now recognizes Whitebeard as Barristan the Bold, tells Dany that this is the man that betrayed her family to serve the usurper. When she asks if Whitebeard is hers or the usurpers’ man, he tells her he is hers if she will have him. He then tells how he served with the Kingslayer and others as bad, and that afterwards the boy king had cast him aside and sent men to kill him, Selmy realized he had to find his true king. He then tells her that he had to keep his presence secret because there is a spy who has been informing on her since she wed Khal Drogo. Dany then recognizes that it must be Ser Jorah, and Ser Jorah affirms it is true; he had been promised he could go home for this task. Dany tells them both to go away forever. When asked where they should go, she then figures out where they should go.[4]

Dany has captured Meereen when she commands that Strong Belwas bring Ser Jorah and Barristan to her in the audience chamber of The Great Pyramid. He arrives with a meaty hand wrapped around each man’s arm. Ser Barristan, with his beard shaved and looking 10 years younger, stands with his head held high while Ser Jorah, looking older, stares at the floor as they approach. Ser Jorah speaks but Dany tells him she will tell them when to speak. She tells them that she was hoping they would die in the assault through the sewers. During diversionary attacks on Meereen, Strong Belwas, Ser Jorah, Ser Barristan and twenty men and Unsullied had swam through the sewers. Strong Belwas lead them to the closest fighting pit where they overcame the guards and freed the slaves that helped win the city for Dany. Ser Barristan is forthright, telling her that Viserys had more of a taint of her father, the mad king. Rhaegar Targaryen did not, and he sees no taint in her. He further tells her that he will do whatever she asks, and if she will not have him (including serving as a cook), he would continue to serve Strong Belwas.

Dany tells Brown Ben to give Ser Barristan his sword, but Ser Barristan tells her that he had not wielded a sword since throwing his at the boy king’s feet, and would only take a sword from her. She gives him the sword.

Ser Jorah is belligerent, telling her that he had warned her about others. This only angers her, and she tells him he never warned her about him. When questioned he tells her the last time he made a report from Qarth, which is later than she hoped. She realizes that Ser Jorah had informed that she was pregnant. Ser Barristan confirms that Robert’s council had gotten the report about her child. Then she asks about the poisoner who was to kill her child, and he has to admit he knew, but that he also saved her. She then tells him that she cannot forgive him, and she banishes him. She tells him that he has till dawn to leave the city, and if he is found she will have Strong Belwas twist his neck. Strong Belwas drags Ser Jorah out.

Ser Barristan interrupts her when she on the terrace where she can see her dragons. She tells him that she had spared him, and to give her some peace. He tells her that he can answer her questions. Her first question is whether her father was truly mad, and he tells her that he was not initially, but lapses became worse. Dany decides she can hear no more, but Ser Barristan tells her later he can tell her more. [24]

Ser Barristan is among her advisors present when she announces that she is going to remain in Meereen. When she asks the group if she is a dragon or a harpy, Ser Barristan announces that she is a dragon. She then asks how she can rule the Seven Kingdoms if she cannot rule a single city. Ser Barristan has no answer. Then she tells them she will not leave but stay, rule and be a queen.[24]

A Dance with Dragons

Ser Barristan - by Sir-Heartsalot ©

Ser Barristan continues his service of Daenerys Targaryen as Lord Commander of her Queensguard, attempting to lead her down an honorable path towards the safety of Meereen. Barristan opposes Daenerys's relationship with her paramour Daario Naharis, and even her marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq, which ensures temporary peace within Meereen.

He also begins training knights. His squires are Tumco Lho, Larraq, the The Red Lamb, and the Boys (three Ghiscari brothers). After Daenerys's departure on Drogon's back, Barristan assumes the title of Hand of the Queen within Meereen. He is present when Bloodbeard presents the court with the head of Groleo. Barristan is enraged and wants to kill Bloodbeard, but stops because the act would break his queen's peace.[25]

He finally decides to work with Skahaz mo Kandaq, despite his loathing of the man and his own inhibitions about making decisions of state in the absence of his queen.[6] Selmy leads with honor and refuses Skahaz mo Kandaq's council on killing the Ghiscari child cupbearers who are the sons and daughters of powerful Meereenese nobles. He also enlists Grey Worm, and they plan to take King Hizdahr hostage. Selmy fears that if he harms Hizdahr the Yunkai will kill the remaining hostages Daario, Jhogo and Hero just as they killed Captain Groleo. Skahaz however states it would be better for Daenerys in the long run if they killed Daario.

Despite his personal feeling about Daario, however, Selmy goes to the Tattered Prince and enlists his help.[26] He promises to reward the Tattered Prince if he frees the three hostages from the Yunkai camp. Selmy then goes to capture Hizdahr.[11] In doing so, he slays Hizdahr's protector, the formidable pit fighter Khrazz. Barristan longs for the return of Daenerys, but prepares for battle with the Yunkai, using a beacon system to call the attack should the fragile peace between the sides be broken.

The Winds of Winter

Ser Barristan I

The chapter begins with a gory description of the bodies of plague victims being thrown into the city by the trebuchets. Only the northern districts across the river are far enough away to avoid being hit.

Barristan rides into the large market by the western gate wearing his new Queensguard armor and riding the silver horse that Drogo gave to Dany. He feels that this is presumptuous, but thinks that even while the queen is missing it is important to have some symbol of her around to improve morale. Three of his lads ride with him: Tumco Lho, Larraq, and the Red Lamb.

In the marketplace (featuring landmarks like the statue of the chainmaker and the spire of skulls), at the “hour of the wolf,” the main forces that will participate in the attack gather. There are five thousand unsullied, the Storm Crows, a ragged band of about twenty dothraki and the pitfighters. The Shavepate’s beasts are manning the city walls in place of the unsullied. They will serve as the city’s last line of protection if Barristan’s attack fails and Dany has not returned.

The attack will leave from three gates (north, south, and west), but Barristan will lead the charge against the main Yunkai’i forces directly to the west. Barristan thinks that the attack is against all of his instincts, as the basic numbers are against them and success hinges on trusting sellswords -- in particular, trusting the in the Tattered Prince’s greed.

He meets with his commanders (including the Widower, Jokin, Grey Worm, and some of the pitfighters). Their plan is to lead with the horse and flank the defending legions, taking out the trebuchets and burning the pavilions. The pitfighters will advance after the horse and focus on intimidation and slaughter. Finally, the unsullied will line up outside the gate, which should be successful if the Yunkai’i don’t mount an immediate counterattack.

Barristan reminds the commanders that they must retreat or advance when they hear the Red Lamb blow the horn. The Windower asks what to do if there is no horn blast -- that is, if Barristan and his lads are all dead. Barristan knows that this is likely, as he intends to be first through the lines of the Yunkai’i, so he just says that in that case, the Widower will be second in command. Barristan then remembers that Lord Commander Hightower had once told him to never speak of defeat before a battle, since the gods might be listening.

It will be dawn soon. Someone says “A red dawn,” and Barristan thinks “A dragon dawn.” Previously, he had prayed to each of the seven for various things, ending with a plea to the stranger for mercy. Though he knows all men must die eventually, Barristan would like to live through the day.

More bodies fall from the sky. Barristan notices Tumco Lho’s reaction and sees that the lad fears the pale more more than the foes outside the gates. Barristan then gives a stirring pep talk about how every man fears every battle. At first, the Red Lamb is defiant, saying that doesn’t fear death because at that point he’ll get to meet the Great Shepherd -- when he plans to break his shepherd’s crook in two and castigate the shepherd for creating such a peaceful people in such a violent world.

Barristan continues his lecture, saying that there is “nothing more terrible, nothing more glorious, nothing more absurd” than war. Even Barristan admits that he shat his pants in his first battle. He is interrupted by a murmur among the soldiers -- a fire is lit at the harpy on top of one of the pyramids, presumably to signal the men at each gate to begin the attack. The gate opens and Barristan sounds the call to attack.

[At this point, GRRM says there will be a Victarion and Tyrion chapter (perhaps the ones he has already read), in some order, at which point we return to...]

Ser Barristan II

His gut feels twisted from nervousness as he rides through the gates. He knows that the feeling will go away when time slows down in the chaos of battle. Dany’s horse is easily outpacing the lads and the rest of the cavalry; Barristan is pleased because he intends to outrun the Widower and strike the first blow. The Yunkai’i are totally unprepared and Barristan closes in on the Harridan, the largest of the trebuchets. The stormcrows take up the cry, “Daario!” and “Stormcrows, fly!” Barristan thinks that he will never again doubt the valor of sellswords.

There are only thirty yards between the horse and the Yunkai’i legions by the time any defense is mounted. The air fills with arrows. A squire for the stormcrows is killed, and a bolt pierces Barristan’s shield. There are three horn blasts and the pitfighters emerge from the gate behind them.

Barristan glances back to see the pitfighters. There are about two hundred of them, but they make enough noise for two thousand. One woman stands out, wearing nothing but greaves, sandals, a chainmail skirt, and a python. Barristan is a bit shocked and, watching her breasts bouncing around, thinks that this day is sure to be her last. The pitfighters are mostly shouting “Loraq!” and “Hizdar!” but some do call out “Danaerys!” Larraq is hit in the chest with an arrow, bringing Barristan’s attention forward, but the squire keeps the banners held high and shakes it off.

Barristan has reached the Harridan, but a Ghiscari legion six thousand strong has lined up to protect the huge trebuchet. They are six ranks deep -- the first rank kneels and holds their spears pointing out and up, the second rank stands and holds their spears out at waist height, and and the third rank holds the spears out on their shoulders. The rest have small throwing spears and are ready to step forward when their comrades fall.

Barristan knows that a maester’s chain is only as strong as his weakest link, and identifies the companies of the Yunkish lords as the weakest of his immediate foes, certainly weaker than the slave legions. In particular, Barristan targets the Little Pigeon and his herons. The slaves chosen to be herons were freakishly tall before they were put on stilts, and wear pink scales and feathers and steel beaks. But Barristan sees that they will be blind because of the dawn rising over the city, and like to break ranks easily, so Barristan turns away from the legion guarding the trebuchet at the last minute and heads for the herons.

He cuts the head off of one of the herons and his lads join the fray. Dany’s horse knocks a heron into three others and they all fall over. In a moment, the herons are scattering and running away, led by the Little Pigeon himself. Unfortunately for the Little Pigeon, he trips over the fringes of his bird armor and gets caught by the Red Lamb. The Little Pigeon begs for mercy, saying that he will fetch a large ransom. The Red Lamb just says “I came for blood, not gold” and knocks in the Little Pigeon’s head with his mace, splattering blood all over Barristan and Dany’s silver horse.

The unsullied begin marching through the gates, and Barristan sees that the Yunkai’i have missed their chance to effectively launch a counterattack. As he watches more of the slave legions get slaughtered, mostly those who were chained together and could not retreat, he wonders where the sellsword companies like the treacherous Second Sons have gone. The unsullied finish lining up outside the gates, implacable even when one of their own number falls with a crossbow bolt to the neck.

Tumco draws Barristan’s attention to the bay, asking “Why are there so many ships?” Barristan remembers that yesterday there were twenty, but now there are thrice that many. His heart sinks when he reasons that the ships from Volantis must have arrived, but then sees that some of the ships are crashing together.

He asks Tumco, whose young eyes can see more clearly, to identify the banners. Tumco says “Squids, big squids. Like in the Basilisk Isles, where sometimes they drag whole ships down.” Barristan replies, “Where I’m from, we call them krakens.”

Realizing that the Greyjoys have arrived, his first thought is “Has Balon joined with Joffrey, or the Starks?” But he realizes that he’s heard that Balon is dead, and wonders if this has something to do with the Balon’s son, the boy who was a ward of the Starks. He sees that ironmen are coming ashore, fighting the Yunkish, and says, surprised, “They are on our side!” The sellswords did not come to meet his charge because they were already preoccupied with the ironborn!

Barristan is almost gleeful. “It’s like Baelor Breakspear and Prince Maekar, the hammer and the anvil. We have them! We have them!”



Ser Barristan's loyalty to Daenerys is unquestionable, and he regards her as the true sister of Rhaegar Targaryen in deference to her charisma and cunning. However, he disapproves of several of her decisions while she rules Meereen, specifically those surrounding her romantic relationships. He disapproves of her relationship with Daario and her marriage to Hizdahr. When she rejects Quentyn Martell's marriage proposal and consquently, the allegiance of Dorne in Westeros, Ser Barristan compares her to a little girl, as she spurned him partially due to his unimpressive physical stature.

Robert Baratheon

Ser Barristan adheres to his vows as one of Robert Baratheon's Kingsguard, having been pardoned by Robert after after Barristan served the Targaryen's during Robert's Rebellion. However, his vows to serve the current dynasty are extremely fragile, as he breaks them after being dismissed by Joffrey. It is implied that he is tempted to break his vows to Robert when Robert sanctions the assassination of Daenerys, who at this point is still a young girl. In addition, when Lord Tywin presented Robert with the mutilated infant bodies of Rhaenys and Aegon Targaryen, Ser Barristan swore that if he saw Robert smile at the corpses, he would have broken his vows and killed Robert

Ned Stark

Ser Barristan admires and identifies with Ned's puritanical adherence to his own code of honor. Accordingly, when Robert ordered Daenerys's death, Ned and Barristan were the only figures on the small council to oppose the decision. In fact, when Robert spurned Ned's advice to spare her, he resigned from his post as Robert's Hand. When Daenerys Targaryen speaks of Ned as an enemy of her family (since Ned was Robert's best friend), Ser Barristan quickly interjects and states that Ned was one of the few people in Westeros who valued her life and well-being.

Jaime Lannister

When the Lannisters unwittingly dismiss Barristan from the Kingsguard, Barristan somewhat hypocritically scoffs at the other members of the Kingsguard for having chosen to serve alongside a Kingsguard as dishonorable as Jaime, who infamously broke his vows when he assassinated the Mad King. However, Barristan is unaware of Jaime's true honorable intentions for assassinating the Mad King, who planned to annihilate the entirety of King's Landing's population in wildfire when the Lannister's clandestinely laid siege to the city. However, even if Barristan knew Jaime's true cause for breaking his vows, Barristan's perception of Jaime would still be colored by the fact that Jaime tried to kill Bran Stark, a young innocent boy.


"A hall to die in, and men to bury me. I thank you, my lords...but I spit on your pity...I am a knight...I shall die a knight"[8]

"Have no fear, sers, your king is safe...no thanks to you. Even now, I could cut through the five of you as easy as a dagger carves cheese. If you would serve under the Kingslayer, then not a one of you is fit to wear the white"[8]

- Ser Barristan denouncing his former Sworn Brothers

"Some had been heroes, some weaklings, knaves, or cravens. Most were only men-quicker and stronger than most, more skilled with sword and shield, but still prey to pride, ambition, lust, love, anger, jealousy, greed for gold, hunger for power, and all the other failings that afflicted lesser mortals. The best of them overcame their flaws, did their duty, and died with their swords in their hands. The worst...The worst were those who played the game of thrones"[6]

- Ser Barristan reflecting on the history of the Kingsguard

"Prince Rhaegar loved his Lady Lyanna and thousands died for it. Daemon Blackfyre loved the first Daenerys, and rose in rebellion when denied her. Bittersteel and Bloodraven both loved Shiera Seastar and the Seven Kingdoms bled. The Prince of Dragonflies loved Jenny of Oldstones so much he cast aside a crown, and Westeros paid the bride price in corpses. All three of the sons of the fifth Aegon had wed for love in defiance of their father's wishes. And because that unlikely monarch had followed his heart when he chose his queen, he allowed his sons to have their way, making bitter enemies when he might have made fast friends. Treason and turmoil followed, as night follows day, ending at Summerhall in sorcery, fire and grief" [11]

- Ser Barristan reflecting on the Targaryen propensity to choose poorly in romantic matters.

References and Notes

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