The sick lord of riverrun

Most of this post in was written nearly two years ago – I wrote it shortly after a great actor died and planned to publish it short after. I never came to that, but I nevertheless think the article is valid.

Todays character in focus is, in my view, quite ambiguous although not very much about his real doing is known. I my view he defined the Westeros we know from aSoIaF more than most might know – for me he might be THE defining politician of Robert’s Rebellion and tipped the power balance in Robert’s favour. Today I will speak about Hoster Tully.

Hoster Tully in aSoIaF

We do not know much about Hoster Tully youth but somewhere I read that he might have fought in the War of the Ninepenny Kings (which makes sense – his younger brother also fought there) in which he got to know Petyr Baelish’s father. This is remarkable because although being a small lord of a different area (remember: the Baelish-lands are in the Vale) he seemed to have become a friend the mighty Lord of Riverrun. This later led to Hoster’s agreement on taking his (only?) son Petyr as ward. In a typical fantasy setting Lord Baelish might have safed Hoster’s life – but that is pure speculation.

Nothing is known about Hoster’s father or mother, we know he has a brother with whom he quarreled and broke up at a later point of time (my article about Brynden Blackfish can be found at TowerOfTheHand and I already featured Brynden here). What we know is that he was married with Minissa Whent and fathered three children: the two daughters Catelyn and Lysa and a son Edmure, who would be Lord of Riverrun after him. Besides being a fighter he also seemed to be an able politician, brokering valuable marriage links to other important Houses like the arranged marriage between his eldest daughter Catelyn to House Stark (although the groom changed during the arrangement and the marriage) and his attempts to marry Lysa either to House Lannister or Martell. He seemed to have planned also something bigger for his son, because he refused the ambitions of Walder Frey to marry a daughter to his future leach lord. We do not know what exactly this was – some highborn Ladys in Edmure’s age would be available in the Reach and Dorne – but that is again pure speculation on my side.

Even his brother was not safe from Hoster Tullys plans, but resisted and rebelled which led to final breakup. It can be said that Hoster Tully was ruthless in following his plans – not only that he broke with his only brother over this matter – a valuable and respected fighter and general and (until this point) loyal member of his family. He even risked the health of his daughter by forcing her into an abortion that seems to have led to her later difficulties in getting children (and increasing the destabilization of her unstable mind).

Nevertheless – in the end he got what he wanted for his daughters: both are married to high lords, although not the ones he might have expected. When we meet Hoster Tully and see him through Catelyn’s eyes he is already more dead than alive and the cancer (the description indicates that) gives him only little more time. It seems he regrets what he has done to his family – especially to Lysa – and makes peace with his brother.

Most of Hoster’s former plans were fulfilled when he decided that Riverrun would join forces with the Robert’s rebels to support the rise against the Targaryen kings. A pact that was mainly sealed by marrying his daughters married to Stark and Arryn at Riverrun. In my opinion the forging of this alliance (most plausibly brokered by the “elder” ones Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully and not by Ned and Robert) sealed the downfall of the dragon kings which makes Hoster Tully one of the defining politicians in the background-story of “A Game of Thrones”. Before this point it was (on the continent) three main Houses (Stark, Baratheon, Arryn) against three other ones (Targaryen, Martell, Tyrell) with three more being more or less neutral (Tully, Lannister, Greyjoy). Afterwards the Riverlands provided not only fresh troops but also a safe deployment and support zone – dividing the continent into a loyal and a not loyal area. I would say: Tully decided about the downfall of the old kings as much as Robert’s warhammer on the Trident – after this pact the success of the rebellion was much more possible than before and without it its failure would have been only a matter of time.

In fact all that makes Hoster Tully such a uber-figure as leader, father and lord that Edmure Tully never had a chance to fill his father’s shoes – the shadow Hoster Tully casts (even in his lifetime) had to be much too big for almost everybody (even Ned or Robert in Edmure’s situation). A similar situation is the one of the Lannister-children after Tywin’s death. But in comparison to Edmure, Jaime himself is such a “more-than-life”-figure himself and can compensate this a little bit (Cersei not, and Tyrion does not give a f***). Edmure on the other hand is a decent guy, a decent ruler and overall not the worst character out there – but he is constantly held down by his own expectations and his sister Catelyn and his uncle – and later on his king. Something also the TV-show is not changing. But in fact his actions are not as bad as they look like – he tries to be a good lord for his people – it is simply bad luck that:
– his first big action fucks over his uncle’s plan (of which he had no knowledge)
– his second big action is more or less weakening his king’s force as a whole (when he allows his lords to defend their lands)
– his marriage will always and ever be called a “Red” one
– AND his last action as Lord of Riverrun is giving it up (although that saved a lot of lifes). So not only did Edmure have a father that nobody wants to be compared with – but he also constantly either had bad luck or simply made a slightly wrong decision (in other’s eyes). Let’s hope for him his child will be a girl.

My Hoster Tully

So – after a small paragraph about Edmure I will come back to his father. Ever and always after seeing Stardust (a nice fantasy movie made in 2007) the old king in the beginning was my Hoster Tully. In fact I saw the movie before reading aSoIaF so there never was another Hoster Tully for me. If you know the movie you already know which great Irish actor played the mighty King of Stormhold. My Hoster Tully is and will ever be Peter O’Toole. Peter O’Toole in Stardust

This may be my last long article fo a while, but I try to pubish here again more frequently. Tell me what you think about it in the comments (please do not write anything that might be a spoiler).

I’m still not dead

Hello, if there is anybody out there who reads this: You are awesome! The last post here was 2(!) years ago and had a very similar title :) but:  this project maybe continues…

First a short paragraph why I somehow was/am in exile related to everything that is aSoIaF-related. I decided when I saw Season 4 of the series that I want to read book 6 unspoiled. If you are a reader you know why that means no season 5 and what that means – a total exile from everything aSoIaF on the internet. Until today I was totally successful :)

I decided two days ago – when I wrote a long letter to the PodastOfIceAndFire-community – that I should try to somehow fill the void. And when I read today that FTWard still checks in here I decided: that I could re-start this endeavour in a very limited way. So it will be more a “short description of the image in my head” thing, and not the elaborated essays I wrote in the beginning. And I will stick only to the books 1-5 (and mainly out of my head + some checks in the books). I even found an old unplubished draft that I may publish soon – that may be the last “long” post, because I’m not able to cross-check anything on TotH or Westeros.

But you all have to understand: I will totally cut any back-channel (no twitter, no emails, no comments) and write this simply for myself (and everybody that may stumble into this blog and wants to read it uncommented).



I’m not dead

Hi there – I’m very sorry that there was so long no update here but real life demanded my whole time.

The world of Ice and Fire is still not letting me lose and I promise to update here in short order – but the users of the aPoIaF-Boards can assure you: I wasn’t there either (yes, I’m so self-centric that I think some users there might miss me). Seven hells I have not even listened to the last 3 episodes and I dare not to come back before that because I fear Mimi’s wrath.

So a little teaser: I’m gathering notes on a post on something else than characters (although I have still a few on my list) – te next post will be on a location. To be exact: the next post here (before Christmas!) will be all around THE EYRE and my thoughts on that castle (not the Vale itself, only the castle).

Until then I give you a castle that could easily stand in as real-world model for the “The Gate of the Moon”, commanded by House Royce and the High Stewards of the Vale (at this point in the story Lord Nestor Royce – more infos here let me introduce you to Castle Taufers in Southern Tyrol (most northern part of Italy). my “Gates of the Moon”:

“The Gates of the Moon,” her uncle said as the party drew rein. His standard-bearer rode to the edge of the moat to hail the men in the gatehouse. “Lord Nestor’s seat. He should be expecting us. Look up.”
Catelyn raised her eyes, up and up and up. At first all she saw was stone and trees, the looming mass of the great mountain shrouded in night, as black as a starless sky. Then she noticed the glow of distant fires well above them; a tower keep, built upon the steep side of the mountain, its lights like orange eyes staring down from above. Above that was another, higher and more distant, and still higher a third, no more than a flickering spark in the sky. And finally, up where the falcons soared, a flash of white in the moonlight. Vertigo washed over her as she stared upward at the pale towers, so far above.
“The Eyrie,” she heard Marillion murmur, awed.

In the Line of Fire

… a life devoted to the protection of kings. Today I will share some thoughts about Ser Barristan Selmy.

The greatest living knight was Ser Barristan Selmy, Barristan the Bold, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.

Barristan Selmy before and in the books

Barristan Selmy was born as the heir to a smaller house in the Stormlands. At the age of 10 he entered a tourney as mystery knight and was therefore called “The Bold” by crownprince Duncan himself. With 16 he was knighted by King Aegon after unhorsing the same prince Duncan and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall. In the following years he won a few tourneys and also proved to be a real fighter during the Wars of the Ninepenny Kings. Ser Barristan himself ended the line of the Blackfyres when he “cut his way through the Golden Company” and killing Maelys in single combat. He was invited to wear the white cloak and swore his oath to King Jaeherys and Lord Commander Hightower. Afterwards he served faithfully for his kings and became even more famous when he rescued King Aerys from his arrest at the besieged castle of Duskendale in a one-man-commando mission. Barristan is responsible that Ser Dontos was not killed after Duskendale as he convinced King Aery that a babe could not be blamed for his fathers faults. He fought several tourneys as a white cloak and won even against Rhaegar. The one time he lost against him (in the last fight) was at the tourney of Harrenhal when Rhaegar named Lyanna Stark his queen of love and beauty. He himself had planned to crown Ashara Dayne. Barristan still wonders if that would have changed the history.

During the upcoming War of the Usurper he fought for his King. After Jon Connington’s defeat at the Battle of the Bells Barristan was commanded to collect the remains of the army and led them with Prince Rhaegar to face Robert at the Trident. He was severely wounded in the battle but later on pardoned by Robert himself who sent fo his own maester to take care of the Bold.

After Robert became king he accepted the offer to wear the white again and even become Lord Commander after 5 of his white brothers were killed during the rebellion. He wanted Jaime Lannister to be sent to the wall, but Robert decided otherwise. He later will remember that he would have killed Robert if he had seen his smile when Lord Tywin presented the abused bodies of Rhaegar’s children. Although having reservations to serve for the Usurper he served faithfully. But it seems that under his command the kingsguard lost its old image of “being the most noble, valiant and greatest swords” in the realm as the new brothers were often chosen out of political reasons.

Barristan often takes part in the small council and sides with Eddard Stark when the question of killing Daenarys comes up. After King Robert’s death King Joffrey Baratheon expells him from the kingsguard on his mother Cersei’s and Varys’ council. This move seems to be orchestrated by the spider as he wanted to send Barristan to Daenerys Targaryen. Later on Sandor Clegane is named the seventh white cloak although he refuses of being knighted. He becomes the (officialy) first white cloak not being a knight. In ADWD it is revealed that when Lord Eddard was executed Barristan was hiding amongst he people. In the books the people wonder about his whereabouts and specifically Tyrion and Tywin Lannister blame Cersei for the move as they fear one of the other contenders could win Barristan’s support which is considered a still very powerful token (besides his abilities as a fighter/commander).

Meanwhile he is sent to Braavos and further on and joins Daenerys camp. He is posing as Arstan Whitebeard, an old squire of a former pitfighter. He earns her respect (and Jorah Mormont’s distrust) when revealing some of his knowledge about her father and brother. In the coming events he gains more of her respect and she often asks him about Westeros. When his identity is revealed later on he tells Dany that Ser Jorah was spying on her and reporting back to Westeros. In her first rage she sends both of them on a suicide mission to infiltrate Meereen.

After the city has fallen Barristan is pardoned in contrast to Mormont whom she sends away in disgrace. Barristan becomes part of her inner circle, starts to train knights and is later on responsible for her personal safety as well as the cities protection in the coming siege. His mistrust of the Meereenes grows and he finds himself not very happy with Dany’s affair with Daario and speaks also against her marriage with Hizdar zu Loraq because he thinks that her true place should be Westeros. He is the one that speaks in favor of Quentin Martell and his party but she constantly ignores his well-known advice. After the Queen has vanished from the fighting pit he teams up with Skahaz mo Kandaq (the Shavepate) who still has influence in the city watch (the Brazen Beasts) despite the fact that he was sent away by king Hizdar. He decides not to kill the children hostages Dany had demanded from the noble families because he fears for the last hostages they had to send to the slavers. Although he does not like the Daario he knows that he is a valuable fighter and that the Queen is fond of him – he even asks the Tattered Prince for his help. Together with the Shavepate he plans and executes a coup d’etat that in the end leads to the arrest of King Hizdar. It can be assumed that the two of them take over an important part in the interim government although he constantly thinks that he is not suited for court intrigue and the game of thrones.

Some open questions from the past

Where was Barristan at the beginning of the books? Why not at the side of his king, during a journey that may take months?? That is somehow puzzling for me. He comes form Kingslanding with Renly and meets the whole party at the Inn at the Crossroads right before the Lady-affair, but what had he done in the meantime?

After Robert’s rebellion it would have been better when he had gone to exile and taking over the education of Dany and Viserys. I have the feeling that if he had done so the Targaryen-support base would be stronger at the beginning of the books. He himself thinks that he should have done that when Jaime was rewarded – but I think he feared that in this case the Kingslayer would have been named Lord Commander. A nice possibility for a “what if”.

Another nice “what if” includes (as so often) the tourney of Harrenhal. What if Barristan had unhorsed Rhagar in that last joust? Ashara Dayne would have been named the queen of love and beauty by a knight that has sworn chastity. Rhaegar would have (maybe) also fallen in love with Lyanna, but he could not have shown in front of the whole realm and some scandal may have been prevented. Nice how this tourney becomes a defining point in so many people’s lives.

Barristan the Bold in the coming books

I have the strong feeling that his role my be a relevant one in the coming books, but it could also be a short one. Something along the lines that he saves and holds the city but either is killed in battle OR his constant fear that he is not fit enough for all the court intrigue proves true and somebody (the Green Grace?) backstabbes him. It would be a shame to lose the Bold to an assassin, but not long in the future he will find a swordsman that bests him. Looking at the possibilities that (at the moment) are in or around Meereen my bet would be Daario. But why should Daario be fighting Barristan? It would be somehow ironic (and very Martin-like) if Barristan would come to the conclusion that Dany is NOT the best choice for the throne and in an attempt to stop her he is stopped by Daario, or Jorah who does not like him anyways.

After I wrote that it sounds cheesy almost instantly, but nevertheless, the Bold as badass and awesome as he is, he will not survive the coming books. The question is how he dies if in honor or disgrace. Knowing Martin especially Barristan has still the potential to fall very deep before leaving the story as he is one of the few characters that is (almost) admired and respected by all other characters.

Barristan in pictures

One knight wore an intricate suit of white enameled scales, brilliant as a field of new-fallen snow, with silver chasings and clasps that glittered in the sun. When he removed his helm, Sansa saw that he was an old man with hair as pale as his armor, yet he seemed strong and graceful for all that. From his shoulders hung the pure white cloak of the Kingsguard.

For me Barristan looks like Clint Eastwood (maybe the Clint 20 years ago) but I have to say that also Ian McElhinney from the series is  a really good choice. True, both would be too old to perform any of the things Barristan accomplished at his age, but not everybody can be the bold.

Last thoughts

Man, I thought that Barristan would be easier to write but the thing grew in the making. I hope you like it and tell me which swordsman will be Barristan’s doom, in terms of possible in the story. I still think it will be Daario – that will be the point when Martin shows us that he is not only golden teeth, blue ‘stache and naked-lady-swords.

My Blackfish

As some of you surely know I have a bit of a man-crush on Ser Brynden Tully, also known as “The Blackfish”. I know that some people do not like him at all and I can understand that in a way. But there are also people out there who like Roose Bolton, so I really do not care.

One of the categories I want to cover in this blog is my take on the different characters – especially if I have found a picture/person that in my opinion resembles a character best. Nevertheless, I still want to keep the connection to the books and therefore you will always find some kind of description from the books with a short summary how I see the character’s role in the coming books.

The Blackfish in the books

We first meet Brynden Tully with Catelyn in “A Game of Thrones” when she brings her captive Tyrion Lannister to the Vale. He serves as Commander for House Arryn (his niece Lysa is Lady Arryn at that time) after a quarrel with his older brother Hoster Tully, the Lord of Riverrun. After Tyrion’s release he quits the service there and joins Robb Stark’s campaign. He fast becomes one of his most trusted commanders and advisors. During the wetsern offense he commands the outriders and the Young Wolf’s success is often heavily connected with his great-uncle who once had been a formidable knight, riding with Barristan “The Bold” Selmy against the Ninepenny Kings. Before King Robb leaves Riverrun for attending Edmure Tully’s wedding at the Twins he hands over the command in the Riverlands to Brynden. Even after the red wedding Brynden Tully decides to stay loyal to his king and holds the castle which becomes one of the last remaining holdouts for the Starks. Jaime Lannister lifts the siege by convincing his captive Edmure Tully to hand over Riverrun and king Robb’s young queen Jeyne, who also was protected by the Blackfish. Before the castle is given to the Lannisters, Ser Brynden escapes by swimming through the Watergate and sneaking through the enemy lines.

Ser Brynden in the coming books

Normally this next section should include my thoughts on what the character will do, and how this will affect the story as a whole. In this special case I have a much easier way to do that as I once wrote a lengthy essay on the topic which was published on “Tower of the Hand”. Check it out: (sorry for the broken link – now it should work) One more thing I can add to all what is written there – in the meantime I found a character who seems to know where Ser Brynden is: Tytos Backwood. Here is some evidence from ADWD:

[Jonos Bracken]: “What brings you here, my lord? The Blackfish? We heard how he escaped.” “Did you?” Jaime settled on a camp stool. “From the man himself, perchance?”
“Ser Brynden knows better than to come running to me. I am fond of the man, I won’t deny that. That won’t stop me clapping him in chains if he shows his face near me or mine. He knows I’ve bent the knee. He should have done the same, but he always was a stubborn one. His brother could have told you that.”
“Tytos Blackwood has not bent the knee,” Jaime pointed out. “Might the Blackfish seek refuge at Raventree?”
“He might seek it, but to find it he’d need to get past my siege lines, and last I heard he hadn’t grown wings. […]

And later:

[Jaime]: “The choice was his. His uncle would have made us bleed.”
“We agree on that much.” Blackwood’s voice gave nothing away. “What have you done with Ser Brynden, if I may ask?”
“I offered to let him take the black. Instead he fled.” Jaime smiled. “Do you have him here, perchance?”
“Would you tell me if you did?”
It was Tytos Blackwood’s turn to smile

A Riverlander who named his firstborn son and heir after his Lord’s younger brother before naming his thirdborn after his Lord seems to have some kind of admiration for the man (Brynden is no common name – there are only 3 men of this name known). In combination with the fact that he held out so long brings me to the assumption that Brynden Tully at least visited Raventree before going elsewhere. Jonos Braken’s men also concentrated more on Blackwood and his soldiers. Take my word, Tytos Blackwood knows about the Blackfish’s intentions and maybe whereabouts.

Brynden Tully on the web

“The years have not improved it, I fear,” Brynden Tully said, but when he lifted off the helm, Catelyn saw that he lied. His features were lined and weathered, and time had stolen the auburn from his hair and left him only grey, but the smile was the same, and the bushy eyebrows fat as caterpillars, and the laughter in his deep blue eyes.

If you search for images on the web you most likely find Clive Russel who portrays him in the HBO series (a portrayal which brought him the nickname “Duchefish” on A Podcast of Ice and Fire). I think he fits quite well, but my dreamcasting would be different. You may also find a picture that (for me) resembles Dennis Quaid, or this one (from the cardgame) which I do not like at all. Amok’s take on Brynden Tully which you can find here fits very well to my mental image. But let me say it honest to you, there is only one man I see when I read about the Blackfish – Jeremy Irons. Specifically the Jeremy Irons from Kingdom of Heavens or Eragon (crappy film, I know). He is my Ser Brynden Tully, and will ever be.

Some words before I go to bed

I hope not all of my posts take me that long to write, but I had to start somehow and decided I take a character I really have enough to write about. Tell me what you think about the Blackfish and the format as a whole.

And a poll


… to my new blog. I hope everybody will enjoy my random thoughts on random APoIaF-topics. I have to add only one disclaimer: Those thoughts are absolutely personal, so they do not reflect anybody else’s opinion but mine.

Let’s start this thing with one question for you. When I visited Ireland some time ago, I also saw this cute little castle:


What do you think, which of the castles in aSoIaF does it resemble most? For me that definetly is Standfast of Ser Eustace Osgrey (where Duncan the Tall serves in “The Sworn Sword”). Although I imagined in a much dryer area. The size and style fits perfectly.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

Yours, brynden