Olenna Tyrell

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Olenna Redwyne
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Olenna Redwyne.jpg
Olenna by Amoka©

Alias The Queen of Thorns
Allegiance House Redwyne
House Tyrell
Spouse Lord {Luthor Tyrell}
Book(s) A Storm of Swords (Appears)
A Feast for Crows (Appears)

Played by Diana Rigg
TV series Season 3

Olenna Redwyne is the widow of Lord Luthor Tyrell and the mother of Lord Mace Tyrell. Because of her sharp tongue, she is commonly known as the Queen of Thorns.[1]

Appearance & Character

Lady Olenna is old, with white hair and very small. She has soft, spotted hands with gaunt thin fingers. Olenna has an old woman's sour breath. She is older than Hoster Tully.[2] She has lost her teeth.[3] Olenna walks with a cane[4] and claims to be near deaf[2], but both might be part of her feigning to be more frail than she actually is.[5]

Olenna rarely shies from stating her opinion. She is described as a wizened, cunning old woman with a wicked wit and a sharp tongue, earning her the monicker of 'Queen of Thorns'. According to her granddaughter Margaery, she is not the most patient of women.[2] Although she regularly mocks members of her own family[2][3], she seems to be a staunch supporter of Tyrell family interests.[5][6]

Olenna Redwyne by Wouter Bruneel.


In her youth, she was almost wed to a member of House Targaryen, but Olenna did everything she could to make sure it never came to fruition. She liked her husband Luthor well enough, as he was kind and not unskilled in bed, but she still considered him an oaf. She regrets that she didn't have a chance to beat her son Mace more often when he was a child, as that would have made him more ready to heed her advise when he became an adult.[2]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

After the death of Renly Baratheon, Petyr Baelish is sent to Highgarden to negotiate an alliance between House Lannister and House Tyrell, including a marriage between King Joffrey and Renly's widow, Margaery Tyrell.[7] During the negotiations, Lady Olenna asks Littlefinger pointed questions about Joffrey's nature. Littlefinger praises Joffrey to the skies, but secretly uses some of his escorts to plant disturbing rumors about the king among the servants at Highgarden, thereby creating doubts about the truth of his official statements.[5]

A Storm of Swords

Illustration by Elia Fernandez©

Lady Olenna comes to King's Landing to attend the wedding of her granddaughter, Margaery Tyrell, to King Joffrey I. During a supper with Margaery and a number of noble ladies of houses sworn to the Tyrells, Olenna sharply questions Sansa Stark about Joffrey's nature. She refuses to listen to Sansa's evasions and half truths about Joffrey and gets Sansa to speak the truth about Joffrey's cruelty and the beatings he gave her. To prevent any potential spy from listening to Sansa, Lady Olenna orders her jester, Butterbumps, to sing loudly.[2]

Lady Olenna also voices a scathing opinion on the way her son, Mace Tyrell, is going about playing the game of thrones, much to Sansa's amazement:

‘If truth be told, even our claim to Highgarden is a bit dodgy, just as those dreadful Florents are always whining. "What does it matter," you ask, and of course it doesn't, except to oafs like my son. The thought that one day he might see his grandson with his arse on the Iron Throne makes Mace puff up like ... now, what do you call it? Margaery, you're clever, be a dear and tell your poor old half-daft grandmother the name of that queer fish from the Summer Isles that puffs up to ten times its own size when you poke it.'

'They call them puff fish, Grandmother.'

'Of course they do, Summer Islanders have no imagination. My son ought to take the puff fish for his sigil, if truth be told. He could put a crown on it, the way the Baratheon do their stag, perhaps that would make him happy. We should have stayed well out of all this bloody foolishness if you ask me, but once the cow's been milked there's no squirting the cream back up her udder. After Lord Puff Fish put that crown on Renly's head, we were into the pudding up to our knees, so here we are to see things through.'


Olenna plots with Margaery to marry Sansa to her grandson Willas without letting her son Mace know about it.[2] However, Sansa unwisely tells Dontos Hollard about the plan[8] and Dontos supposedly shares the information with Petyr Baelish. Littlefinger foils the plot by telling Lord Tywin about it, who quickly marries Sansa to his own son, Tyrion Lannister.[9][8]

In turn, Olenna sabotages Lord Tywin's plan to marry his daughter Cersei to Willas, the heir to Highgarden. After Mace Tyrell is originally inclined to accept the offer, Olenna belabors her son and talks him out of it, arguing that Cersei is too old and too used for Willas. Lord Tywin learns about this from Varys and shares the information with Tyrion, but orders Tyrion not to tell Cersei about the reason and rather act as if the offer has never been made.[10]

Olenna seems to share the general aversion of the Tyrells against the Martells. During an ugly confrontation in the yard of the Red Keep, she calls Oberyn Martell's paramour Ellaria Sand "the serpent's whore".[11]

Olenna is present at the wedding of her granddaughter Margaery and King Joffrey at the Great Sept of Baelor. In the wedding procession after the ceremony, Ser Kevan Lannister escorts her out of the sept. Before the wedding feast in the throne room, Olenna approaches Sansa and expresses her condolences over the deaths of Sansa's brother and mother. While she talks with her, Olenna puts Sansa's messy hair in order and straightens the hair net that Sansa has received from Dontos and which he told her to wear at the wedding. Later, Olenna makes a snide remark about how often The Rains of Castamere is being performed during the wedding feast. When Joffrey begins to choke, she calls for help and later comforts Margaery.[4][12]

While revealing his own part in planning Joffrey's death, Littlefinger implies to Sansa Stark that Olenna is the one who poisoned the king, with some help from himself and the people he used, especially Dontos. He refers to Lady Olenna straightening Sansa's hair net, implying that this was the moment the old woman took the black stones (actually a crystallized form of the strangler), which she used to poison Joffrey. Littlefinger suggests that Olenna killed Joffrey to spare her granddaughter Margaery from the same cruelty the boy showed Sansa and to prevent her hot-tempered grandson Loras from becoming a kingslayer in case he, while serving in the Kingsguard, had to witness the king mistreating his sister. Littlefinger also shares how he planted disturbing rumors about Joffrey's character while he was at Highgarden, prompting Lady Olenna's questioning Sansa when they first met. According to Littefinger, Olenna knew Mace dreamed of his daughter Margaery becoming queen and for that they needed a king, but they did not need Joffrey, as Margaery could also marry his brother Tommen.[5]

A Feast for Crows

Lady Olenna attends the wake for Lord Tywin Lannister with her family. Cersei informs Lord Mace Tyrell that she has appointed Lord Gyles Rosby as Master of Coin instead of Mace's uncle Garth, although the position had been promised to the Tyrells by Lord Tywin. When Lord Mace tries to protest, Lady Olenna eases the tension, but not without making some inappropriate remarks about both Lord Rosby and Garth. She also alludes to the smell emanating from Lord Tywin's corpse, making Cersei angry. When Cersei suggests that Lady Olenna would want to return to Highgarden soon, she replies that she can't leave King's Landing before the wedding of Margaery and King Tommen. She mentions that she had been discussing a date for the wedding with Lord Tywin at the time of his death and proposes to talk about this with Cersei soon.[3]

In the negotiations with Cersei on the marriage between Tommen and Margaery, Olenna drives a hard bargain. She insists on an immediate wedding, much to Cersei's dismay[13], and she also throws out Cersei's suggestion that Tommen should wed his bride with a cloak in Lannister instead of Baratheon colors.[6] Olenna, vouching for her granddaughter still being a maiden[14], also proposes that Tommen and Margaery share their bed as soon as they are married. Cersei, horrified by the suggestion, refuses this. However, Olenna is adamant that the royal couple should at least spend the wedding night together, as anything else would mean ill luck for the marriage. Cersei relents on this point, but she later regrets her concession and arranges for her brother Jaime to make certain that nothing happens between Tommen and Margaery that night.[6]

During the wedding feast, Olenna complains mockingly that The Rains of Castamere isn't being sung. The nasty smile of the Queen of Thorns makes Cersei, who is increasingly wary of all Tyrells, think of Maggy the Frog, although the two actually hardly look alike. Later that night, Olenna is the one suggesting to break up the feast and send king and queen to bed together.[6]

The day after the wedding, Olenna returns to Highgarden with her grandson, Ser Garlan Tyrell.[6]

Following Tyrion's escape, Qyburn informed Cersei that a gold coin dating from the time of House Gardener has been found in the quarters of an undergaoler named Rugen (actually an alias of Varys), who vanished at the time Tyrion did.[3] From Lady Taena Merryweather, Cersei also learns that Olenna keeps a large chest of gold from before the Conquest in her wheelhouse. In the event that unwary tradespeople offend her, she pays them in the old gold coins of the Reach, which are only half the weight of newly minted gold dragons.[15] Both pieces of information make Cersei suspect that the Tyrells were involved in the escape of Tyrion and in the assassination of Lord Tywin.[16]

Quotes by Olenna Tyrell

Olenna: Margaery, you're clever, be a dear and tell your poor old half-daft grandmother the name of that queer fish from the Summer Isles that puffs up to ten times its own size when you poke it.

Margaery: They call them puff fish, Grandmother.

Olenna: Of course they do, Summer Islanders have no imagination.[2]

– Lady Olenna to Margaery Tyrell

There is entirely too much tut-tutting in this realm, if you ask me. All these kings would do a deal better if they put down their swords and listened to their mothers.[2]

– Lady Olenna to Sansa Stark

Hush, Alerie, don’t take that tone with me. And don’t call me Mother. If I’d given birth to you, I’m sure I’d remember. I’m only to blame for your husband, the lord oaf of Highgarden.[2]

– Olenna to Alerie Hightower

Night falls for all of us in the end, and too soon for some. You would know that more than most, poor child. You've had your share of grief, I know. We are sorry for your losses.[2]

– Lady Olenna to Sansa Stark

I hope they play "Rains of Castamere." It's been ten minutes since I heard it last; I've forgotten how it goes.

– Olenna on the Lannisters

Quotes about Olenna Tyrell

Sansa: The Queen of Thorns, she's called. Isn't that right? Loras: It is. You'd best not use that name in her presence, though, or you're like to get pricked. [2]

– Ser Loras Tyrell to Sansa Stark

Tyrion was beginning to wonder whether Lord Luthor Tyrell had ridden off that cliff intentionally.[4]

– An irritated Tyrion Lannister during the Purple Wedding

The old woman is not boring, though, I’ll grant her that. A fearsome old harridan, and not near as frail as she pretends.[5]

Petyr Baelish to Sansa Stark


Leonette Fossoway

References and Notes