Brienne of Tarth
Brienne the Blue, of the Rainbow Guard. Art by Amok©
The Maid of Tarth|
Brienne the Beauty
Brienne the Blue
House Baratheon of Storm's End
|Born||In 280 AC|
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|
Appearance and Character
- See also: Images of Brienne of Tarth
Brienne is distinctly unfeminine in appearance, and is considered extremely unattractive by Westerosi standards. She is very tall, muscular, flat-chested and ungainly, with straw-colored hair and broad, coarse features that are covered in freckles. Her teeth are prominent and crooked, and after her capture by the Brave Companions, two of them are knocked out. Her mouth is wide, her lips are swollen, and her nose has been broken more than once. Despite her overall ugliness, Jaime Lannister notices that her large blue eyes are surprisingly pretty and shine with confidence in battle.
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.
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.
Perhaps because of this background, Brienne is as awkward in personality as she is in appearance; Catelyn Stark notices that she has none of the easy confidence of some other warrior women, like Dacey Mormont. 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. Renly Baratheon, Catelyn Stark and Jaime Lannister are among those who have won Brienne's friendship and service in this manner.
She can be headstrong and judgmental, but she is also honest, straightforward, loyal and determined. Although she has received extremely poor treatment from most knights, Brienne clings to a naïvely 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 and strength of character, she nevertheless strives to live up to the ideal of a true knight at all times.
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. 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 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 a master-at-arms named Ser Goodwin.
Her father successfully found three men willing to betroth her, for her father's wealthy lands, though the first two 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 with his father, mother and sisters. Had he not died, Brienne would have been wed to him within the year of her first flowering. The second betrothal was to Ser Ronnet Connington, who was six years older than her. Red Ronnet gave her a rose, and told her it was all she would have of him, breaking the betrothal. 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, Ser Humfrey ended up with three broken bones and a broken betrothal.
After that, Lord Selwyn stopped trying to arrange a marriage for her. Brienne's only positive encounter with a man occurred when the Tarths' 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. Some time later, Lord Selwyn sent her to Storm's End. 
A Clash of Kings
When Renly Baratheon declares himself king at Highgarden, Brienne joins him in his march to King's Landing. 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 very presence is the cause of the problem.
Later in the march, Brienne proves her mettle with a morningstar in a great melee of 116 knights at Bitterbridge, defeating 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.
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 van alongside Loras. The next day at dawn, she is arming the king 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. When they arrive at Riverrun, Brienne wants to leave to take revenge on Stannis for Renly's death, but Catelyn convinces Brienne to enter her service instead. 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.
A Storm of Swords
At Riverrun, after receiving news that her sons Bran and Rickon Stark have been killed, Catelyn decides to free Jaime Lannister, making Brienne escort him to King’s Landing to fulfill the promise made by the Hand, Tyrion Lannister, to return her daughters Sansa and Arya if the Kingslayer were freed.
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, 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. Later, in the Crownlands between Maidenpool and Duskendale, they are ambushed by different outlaws. Their companion, Jaime's cousin Cleos Frey, is killed and Jaime tries to escape, dueling Brienne with Cleos's sword. Manacled and out of practice, Jaime cannot manage to beat Brienne, who is holding his head underwater when they are captured by the Brave Companions.
The unscrupulous sellswords chop off Jaime's sword hand. His fighting ability truly 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 Companions, from raping Brienne. At Harrenhal, the two share a bath and several tales including the wildfire plot, which Jaime reveals to Brienne. Lord Roose Bolton sends Jaime on his way, but keeps Brienne as Vargo Hoat's prize. Jaime, however, soon returns and rescues her from the bearpit of Harrenhal.
After their arrival in King's Landing, the pair are confronted by Loras Tyrell, who still believes Brienne guilty of Renly's regicide. Jaime has Brienne arrested for her own protection, and he arranges for Loras to speak to her; this finally dispels Brienne's blame. After Catelyn's death at the Red Wedding, Jaime entrusts Brienne with the Valyrian steel longsword given to him by his father Tywin, naming it Oathkeeper. He sends her out to seek the vanished Sansa Stark, to fulfill his promise to Lady 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 Baratheon saying that she is on a royal mission.
A Feast for Crows
Brienne begins her search at Duskendale, where she allows Podrick Payne, the squire of Lady Sansa's husband Tyrion Lannister, to join her quest. She also has her shield repainted to the arms of Ser Duncan the Tall. She thinks of Lady Catelyn and what she had told Brienne of her daughters. She swears to Catelyn’s restless shade that she will never stop looking for Sansa:
I will find her, my lady. I will never stop looking. I will give up my life if need be, give up my honour, give up all my dreams, but I will find her.
Her 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.
Traveling through Crackclaw Point, the trio arrive at the Whispers, the ruined hall of Nimble Dick's ancestors, encountering a band of Brave Companions remnants led by the fool, who is actually Shagwell, the psychotic jester. Shagwell kills Dick. Using Oathkeeper, Brienne manages to kill Pyg and Timeon, and forces Shagwell to dig a grave for Dick; she kills him as well when he turns on her. After the fight Hyle Hunt joins her party, having followed her from Maidenpool. 
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.
At the inn at the crossroads near the Trident, Brienne fights another group of Brave Companions led by Rorge, who has been masquerading as Sandor while raping and murdering in the Riverlands. Brienne kills Rorge, but is grievously wounded by Biter, who chews the flesh off her cheek. After Gendry rescues her from Biter, he and the remaining members of the brotherhood without banners take her and Podrick and Hyle captive.
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 the Lannisters. 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. As she is being hanged, she sees Podrick Payne choking and dying, and shouts "sword" to save him.
A Dance with Dragons
Brienne appears briefly at Pennytree when Jaime camps there, whatever word she shouted apparently making the brotherhood spare her. 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. The scenario she describes, however, seems unlikely to be real, as Sansa was last seen by readers in the Vale, and Brienne knows that Jaime will likely take "The Hound" to refer to Sandor Clegane, whom Brienne has been told is dead (though Brienne herself now uses "The Hound" to refer to Lem, who has acquired Clegane's helmet).
Quotes by Brienne
- Brienne to the Elder Brother
Quotes about Brienne
There is a sweet innocence about you, child.
– Catelyn Stark to Brienne
Brienne's ugly, and pighead stubborn. But she lacks the wits to be a liar, and she is loyal past the point of sense. 
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.
- Randyll Tarly to Brienne
The queen remembered the Maid of Tarth, a huge, ugly, shambling thing who dressed in man's mail.
– thoughts of Cersei Lannister
There is speculation that Brienne descends from Ser Duncan the Tall. A shield bearing his personal arms was in the armory at Evenfall Hall, and Brienne later uses these arms when she is traveling in the Riverlands. Though George R. R. Martin confirmed that a descendant of Dunk appears in the books he did not give a name.
References and Notes
- See the Brienne of Tarth calculation.
- A Clash of Kings, Appendix.
- The Citadel. "Brienne of Tarth." (January 31, 2001) So Spake Martin
- Game of Thrones, Season 2, "The Ghost of Harrenhal".
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 4, Brienne I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 9, Brienne II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 14, Brienne III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 22, Catelyn II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 55, Catelyn VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 1, Jaime I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 11, Jaime II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 21, Jaime III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 37, Brienne VII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 42, Brienne VIII.
- So Spake Martin
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 31, Brienne VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 25, Brienne V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
- Summary of the Dayton signing tour with question and answers on the So Spoke Martin section of Website Westeros.
- Summary of the Mysterious Galaxy Signing in San Diego, California on the So Spake Martin section of website Westeros.
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