Brienne of Tarth
Ser Brienne of Tarth is a knight of House Tarth and the only daughter of Lord Selwyn Tarth.
Prior to the Battle of Winterfell, Brienne was knighted by Ser Jaime Lannister, making her the first woman of the Seven Kingdoms to become a knight.
Following the ascension of Brandon I Stark as king after the death of Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne is appointed the new Lord Commander of the Kings guard.
Brienne is the sole surviving child and heir of Lord Selwyn Tarth of Evenfall Hall, on the island of Tarth, located in the Narrow Sea off the coast of the Storm lands. She is unusually tall and muscular for a woman by Westeros standards and developed a taste for martial activity as a child. Brienne has grown up to become skilled at arms and dreams of becoming a knight.
Brienne’s mother died when she was so young that she doesn’t remember her. She had some siblings but they all died in childhood. As the sole heir of House Tarth, she posed a fairly promising marriage prospect for men from other noble houses, but due to her physicality and personality has never seriously pursued a marriage alliance with another house, and was a virgin until her liaison with Jaime Lannister.
She is also called the Maid of Tarth, or, disparagingly, Brienne the Beauty, due to her appearance.
Brienne joins the forces of King Renly Baratheon in the War of the Five Kings. She proves herself by winning a tournament amongst his men, including a victory over Renly’s favourite – and Lord Commander of the Kings guard – Ser Loras Tyrell. She asks to be named to his Kings guard as a reward. Renly grants her request, despite her gender and consequent lack of knighthood. Lady Catelyn Stark arrives in the camp to negotiate an alliance between Renly and her son, King Robb Stark. Brienne takes offense when Lady Catelyn doesn’t refer to Renly as “Your Grace”, and later, escorts her and Renly through the camp as they talk. She tells Catelyn to call her just “Brienne”, as despite her birth, she doesn’t consider herself a “Lady”.
Lord Petyr Baelish also visits Renly’s camp, as an envoy from King Joffrey Baratheon. Renly tells Petyr that he does not trust him and cites Brienne as having true loyalty. This mistrust seems well founded, as Petyr offers to open the gates of King’s Landing to Renly. While in camp, he also proposes that Catelyn exchange Robb’s captive Ser Jaime Lannister for her daughters. Brienne also guards Renly during an unsuccessful meeting with his brother, King Stannis Baratheon. Stannis threatens Renly for refusing to swear fealty to him.
Later that evening, Renly talks with Lady Catelyn in his tent, agreeing to recognise Robb Stark as King in the North, as long as Robb gives him fealty as an overlord and recognises his claim to the Iron Throne. Brienne is removing his armour when the flap of the tent flutters as if the wind has raised it, and Melisandre’s shadow-creature materialises to stab Renly in the back, running him through. Brienne is devastated at witnessing the death, but recognises that the Shadow had the likeness of Stannis. She cries out and catches him as he falls, getting his blood all over herself. When two other members of Renly’s Kings guard who were guarding the tent rush in, they blame Brienne for the death and attack her. She is forced to kill Sers Robar Royce and Emmon Cuy, and Catelyn convinces her to flee the camp, as she cannot avenge Renly if she is dead herself.
Brienne swears an oath of fealty to Catelyn, becoming her sworn sword. They travel back to Robb’s camp in the Wester lands. Catelyn is devastated by news that her home Winterfell has been captured by the turn cloak Theon Greyjoy and her sons made his captives. Robb, still in the midst of fighting for the River lands, plans to send word to a vassal in the North, the bastard of one of his commanders Roose Bolton, to free them and leaves to negotiate the surrender of the Crag.
Jaime escapes captivity, killing Torrhen Karstark in the attempt. He is soon recaptured, but Torrhen’s father Lord Rickard Karstark demands his head in vengeance. Brienne guards Catelyn as she convinces Rickard to await Robb’s return. As the hours until daylight stretch before them, the Karstarks are getting more violent and agitated, calling for Jaime Lannister’s death. As it would be death to try to defend him, Brienne tells Catelyn that at this rate Jaime will not live long enough for Robb to return.
Catelyn decides to free Jaime in an attempt to exchange him for her two daughters, who she believes are both being held hostage in King’s Landing by the Lannisters. She orders Brienne to smuggle Jaime from the camp and deliver him to King’s Landing in order to secure the safety of her daughters. Brienne travels by horse until finding a rowboat to evade pursuit. She suffers the constant antagonism of her captive as he taunts her about her appearance and her likely dismal history with the opposite sex.
When they come upon a tree with the hanging corpses of three tavern girls who have been killed by Stark forces for having relations with Lannister men, Jaime confronts her with the atrocity committed by “her side”. Brienne reminds him that she is sworn to Lady Catelyn, not the Starks. Despite their need to continue, Brienne determines to give the women a decent burial and is going to cut them down, when three of the Northern soldiers who killed the women return. Jaime tries to get her to remove his chains so he can defend them, but Brienne ignores him. She tells the men that she is escorting a prisoner back to Riverrun for justice. Jaime improvises that he is in chains for stealing a pig. Realising that Brienne is a woman, the Stark soldiers laugh uncontrollably. Brienne suffers it in silence, and at this even Jaime seems sympathetic towards her over this rude treatment. She deflects the men’s amusement by asking if the hanging women were given a quick death, and is told two of them were. When one of the men recognises Jaime from the Battle of the Whispering Wood, Brienne is forced to fight them. She kills two quickly, but deliberately gives the third a slower death. Her skill impresses Ser Jaime, who points out that the men she killed were Stark soldiers. Brienne reaffirms that she is loyal not to the Starks but to Catelyn Stark herself, then returns to the task of cutting down and burying the tavern girls.
Jaime continues to be escorted by Brienne to King’s Landing. On their way there, they are spotted by a traveler. Jaime urges Brienne to kill the traveler, since he believes the man recognised him and will give away their whereabouts, but she refuses. Later, the pair have to cross a river, which means they can either attempt a dangerous fording or take the bridge, which will probably be watched.
Brienne takes the safer route of the bridge. Jaime distracts Brienne and grabs her spare sword. He cut his bonds and they engage in an extended sword fight on the bridge Jaime, one of the most skilled swordsmen in all of Westeros, nearly overcomes Brienne several times. However, Jaime’s mobility is reduced because his hands are still manacled, and he is malnourished after having spent the past full year chained up in a cell.
Jaime begins to tire, and Brienne wears him down further by making simple body-blows with kicks and punches. After a protracted fight, Jaime finally slumps to the ground in exhaustion, after being thrown off balance. Just then, riders from House Bolton (guided by the traveler who spied them earlier) arrive led by a man named Locke, who gives the traveler silver for his services. Jaime tries to negotiate, but Locke replies that he will be executed by King Robb if he lets the King slayer go free, so both he and Brienne are taken prisoner.
As they ride along, the Bolton men sing a rousing chorus of The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Tied up back to back on one of the horses, Jaime warns Brienne that when they make camp for the night, they will rape her, more than once, and that his honest advice is to give no resistance, and just think of Renly. They were only sent to capture Jaime, therefore Brienne means nothing to them, so at the slightest provocation they will kill her without hesitation. Brienne says she will fight even if they kill her, and Jaime agrees that if he were a woman, he would fight to the death before being raped, too.
Later that night, Locke’s men make camp, and do indeed drag Brienne kicking and screaming into the bushes to gang-rape her. Jaime is disgusted by this pointless brutality, so tells he Locke that Brienne is actually a noblewoman and the sole heir of Lord Selwyn Tarth, who rules the “Sapphire Isle” which, Jaime says, mines all the sapphires in Westeros, and her father will pay them her weight in sapphires as a ransom, provided she is unharmed. Locke agrees and calls his men back before they are able to rape Brienne, and they tie her up to a tree again.
Emboldened by his success, Jaime attempts to barter for his release by reminding Locke of the wealth and power of his own father, Lord Tywin. This has an adverse effect, however, and Locke, angered by Jaime’s arrogance and complacency, mutilates him by cutting off his sword hand. Later, while sitting with Brienne near the fire, Jaime has lost the will to live and will not eat because of his lost hand. At first, Brienne chastises him that he cannot take it when life gets tough, comparing him to the stereotypical interpretation of a woman that she clearly is not. However, when she asks him why he helped her escape being raped, he does not reply, but begins to eat, puzzling Brienne.
After both are delivered to Harrenhal, where Jaime’s infected stump is treated by Qyburn, Jaime shocks Brienne by joining her in the communal bath. Jaime mocks Brienne, saying she was unable to protect Renly. Brienne stands up defiantly, and Jaime apologises to her. He begins to confess what really happened when he killed the Mad King, to which she asks why he never told his side of the story before now. The stress of relating the tale, combined with his already weakened state, causes him to collapse into her arms. She calls aid for the “King slayer”, at which he whimpers that his name is Jaime.
Lord Bolton allows Jaime to leave for King’s Landing, but decides to keep Brienne in Harrenhal for abetting treason, in spite of Jaime’s protests. Soon afterwards, Lord Bolton departs to attend Edmure Tully’s wedding at the Twins, leaving Brienne in Locke’s custody. Locke attempts to ransom Brienne to her father, who offers 300 gold dragons for her return. He rejects the offer as derisory, having believed Jaime’s earlier lie that Brienne’s father owned all the sapphire mines in Westeros.
Instead, he throws her into a gladiatorial pit with a bear, giving her only a wooden sword to defend herself. After hearing that Brienne has been left at Locke’s mercy at Harrenhal, Jaime compels his escorts to return to save her. Jaime jumps into the pit, and with the help of Steel shanks who is bound by his duty to ensure Jaime arrives in King’s Landing safely, the two of them manage to escape the pit. Locke is outraged, but Jaime insists that Brienne accompany him, adding that Lord Bolton will not be pleased if he discovers that Locke placed his own amusement over Jaime’s safe return to King’s Landing. Locke relents, and Brienne and Jaime depart together.
Jaime and Brienne arrive at the gates of the Red Keep. At first, Jaime is apprehensive at the thought of being recognised in his current condition, but after a peasant bumps into Jaime and calls him a “country boy”, Brienne smiles at Jaime, reassuring him. Her oath to Catelyn becomes more important than ever, following her death at the Red Wedding, and her discovery that Arya is not present at court, contrary to what Little finger previously told Catelyn.
Several weeks after their return, Brienne visits Margaery Tyrell. After enduring Olenna Tyrell’s melodrama regarding her appearance and her gratitude for putting Loras Tyrell in his place, Brienne and Margaery slip off to discuss Renly’s assassination. Brienne explains what she saw and how the shadow had Stannis’ face, and assures Margaery that she will find a way to avenge their king. Margaery reminds Brienne that Joffrey is their king now. Brienne apologises for any offense given, but Margaery assures her that none was taken.
Later that day, Brienne meets with Jaime near the Red Keep’s Gods wood to discuss the Stark girls. Jaime seems uninterested in fulfilling his promise to the now-deceased Catelyn Stark, telling Brienne that Arya has not been seen for months and is probably dead, and Sansa is now his sister-in-law. Brienne demands that Jaime look her in the eye and say that Sansa is safe in King’s Landing; Jaime is unable to do so.
Brienne is present at the wedding feast of King Joffrey and Queen Margaery. She greets the king and queen with a bow, which earns her a brash reaction from Cersei. Joffrey mistakes her for the one who assassinated Renly Baratheon, which Margaery quickly corrects. Right after, Cersei thanks her for bringing her brother back to King’s Landing safely. Brienne adds that Jaime saved her on multiple occasions, which irritates Cersei. Cersei finds it interesting that Brienne served Renly, followed by Catelyn Stark, and now Jaime. Brienne states that she does not serve her brother, but Cersei wonders aloud if Brienne is in love with him; Brienne does not answer the question before leaving.
Following Sansa Stark’s escape from King’s Landing, Jaime tasks Brienne with finding her and taking her somewhere safe, far away from his sister. As parting gifts, he gives her a new suit of armour and lets her keep his Valyrian steel sword, as it was reforged from Eddard Stark’s great sword Ice, and it would be appropriate to protect Ned Stark’s daughter with a sword forged from his. He also sends her Tyrion’s former squire Podrick Payne to accompany Brienne on her travels. During an emotional farewell on the Kingsroad, Jaime asks her to name the sword, and after a moment’s thought, she chooses to call it “Oath keeper”.
While on the road, Podrick proves to be more a hindrance than a help to Brienne. He has problems with his horse and accidentally sets fire to a rabbit they were cooking. Brienne tries to get rid of Podrick by releasing him from the vow he swore as her squire, but to no avail. They are bound for Castle Black, where Brienne believes Sansa may have taken refuge with her half-brother, Jon Snow. Brienne questions Podrick about his duties as squire to Tyrion. He tells her his job was mostly pouring wine, alongside other menial tasks. Brienne then asks if Podrick did anything related to combat. Podrick reveals how he killed Ser Mandon Moore of the Kings guard by shoving a spear through his head when he tried to kill Tyrion. Brienne then allows Podrick to help her remove her armour.
Later on, Brienne and Podrick stop at an inn where they are served kidney pie made by Hot Pie, who tells them at length the process in finding the right ingredients. Brienne tells him that she is in Lady Stark’s service and is sworn to find and protect Sansa Stark. Hot Pie backs off, declaring the Starks traitors.
As Brienne and Podrick prepare to leave the inn, Podrick reminds Brienne that telling people of their quest could be dangerous, but Brienne’s honesty is swiftly rewarded when Hot Pie approaches and gives them some bread baked in the shape of a wolf. He adds that while he knows nothing of Sansa, he has seen her sister Arya, who was in the company of a man who matches the description of Sandor Clegane. Podrick, having memorised the complex family trees of the Great Houses, suggests that they head to the Eyrie, home of Lysa Arryn, Arya’s aunt and the Hound’s last chance for a ransom, which seems to impress Brienne, who questions why Arya would go the Eyrie.
En route to the Bloody Gate, Brienne and Podrick stumble upon Arya and the Hound, who have just returned from The Eyrie after learning of Lysa Arryn’s death. Determined to honour her vow to Catelyn Stark, Brienne urges Arya to come with her and promises to take her to safety, but both spot Oath keeper and assume that it a reward for turning her cloak to Lannisters.
Arya is wary and refuses, suspecting she is working for the Lannisters after the Hound points out the golden Lannister lion on Oath keeper’s hilt. He sneers that there is no safety for Arya, as all her adult relatives are either dead or captured, and Winterfell is a ruin. When the Hound cites that, if she is unaware that nowhere is safe then she is unfit to protect Arya, she retorts that he is embracing such a fact and protecting her anyway. Both warrior draw swords at this.
The fight descends rapidly into violent fisticuffs, in which Brienne shatters Sandor’s teeth, which he returns with a heavy punched to gut. Brienne ultimately wins by pushing him down a cliff, collapsing exhausted on the ground following the fight. When she returns to Podrick (who was supposed to be keeping an eye on Arya, but was watching the fight instead), Arya is gone. Exhausted and infuriated by her fight with the Hound, Brienne screams Arya’s name repeatedly, while Arya sneaks away from them.
After failing to locate Arya, Podrick asks Brienne if they intend to journey to Castle Black to see if Sansa Stark has been taken in by her half-brother Jon Snow. Brienne dismisses the idea of the two of them continuing to travel together, as Podrick is now hundreds of miles from the dangers of King’s Landing. Podrick wishes to remain with Brienne as her squire in order to locate Sansa, but she sharply reminds him that she is not a knight, nor his mother. Brienne laments that the only thing she ever wanted was to fight for a lord she believed in, but now all the good lords are dead and the rest are monsters.
While dining at an inn, Podrick identifies Sansa Stark sitting with Petyr Baelish. Although they are surrounded by guards, Brienne approaches them and reveals to Sansa that she swore an oath to her mother to keep her safe, but doesn’t mention her run-in with Arya in Baelish’s presence. Baelish counters by telling Sansa that Brienne, a complete stranger, swore oaths to protect both Catelyn and Renly Baratheon and failed at both. Sansa rejects Brienne’s offer of protection while Petyr insists that Brienne stay with their group, as the roads are not safe.
Sensing the trap, Brienne escapes with Podrick on stolen horses and are pursued by the guards. Brienne is forced to let Sansa and Petyr escape, since she was separated from Podrick during the chase. Brienne rescues him by slaying two of the pursuing guards, and the duo prepare to pursue Sansa and Petyr. Podrick argues that Sansa has dismissed her therefore released from her oath, but Brienne insists that she is not safe with Little finger.
Brienne and Podrick witness Petyr and Sansa approach Moat Cailin. Realising that following them through the castle would be futile, she decides to bypass Moat Cailin by going around. Although Podrick is worried about losing sight of them, Brienne tells him that they don’t need to follow them so closely because she knows where they are going.
Making camp, Brienne learns how Podrick became Tyrion Lannister’s squire. Podrick praises Brienne’s martial prowess and is quite proud to be her squire, despite her behaviour towards him. Brienne apologises for her rude behaviour towards Podrick and offers to teach him how to wield a sword and ride a horse properly. Podrick then questions Brienne about her past with Renly Baratheon. She reveals that as a young girl, her father held a ball and invited dozens of young lords in order to find a good match for her. Brienne was captivated by all the attention she was getting, but her happiness turned to embarrassment when Brienne realised they were all just toying with her. Before she could run away, Renly took Brienne into his arms and told her that those “nasty little shits aren’t worth crying over” and danced with her.
Brienne also acknowledges that Renly was only interested in men, but it didn’t stop her from loving him. She says that there is nothing more hateful than failing to protect the ones you love, and intends to avenge Renly by killing Stannis Baratheon, whom she believes played a role in Renly’s murder due to Melisandre’s shadow resembling Stannis.
Brienne and Podrick finally reach Winterfell and take a room at a nearby inn in the winter town. Podrick muses that Sansa is home now, but Brienne counters that a Winterfell full of Boltons is hardly safe at all. When a servant comes to bring food, Brienne engages him. Although reluctant to trust southerners, the man listens to Brienne when she says she is sworn to Lady Catelyn and is impressed when she says that her death does not release her from her vows. Brienne then reveals that Sansa is in Winterfell and she needs the old man to get a message to her.
Brienne and Podrick continue to wait for Sansa’s signal, watching the window of the tower at every opportunity. Still awaiting Sansa’s signal, Brienne is alerted by Podrick of the arrival of Stannis and what is left of his army. She reluctantly abandons her mission of saving Sansa, with the candle in the tower being lit by Sansa just a few seconds after Brienne leaves. After the battle, which results in the complete annihilation of the remainder of Stannis’ army,
Brienne finds Stannis wounded in the Wolfs wood. Stannis takes her for a woman fighting for the Boltons, but Brienne tells him her name and real allegiance. Stannis confesses his involvement in the assassination of his younger brother Renly, whom Brienne had sworn to protect as member of his kings guard. Brienne draws her sword and sentences Stannis to death. When asked for any last words, Stannis urges Brienne to do her duty, after which she beheads him with a single stroke.
With Stannis dead, Brienne and Podrick continue their search for Sansa. Eventually, they manage to find Sansa and Theon Greyjoy being apprehended by a Bolton hunting party. Brienne kills most of the soldiers on horseback, then knocks one off his horse before slitting his throat. Once all the soldiers are dead, Brienne once again offers her services to Sansa, who readily agrees this time.
Later, while making camp, Brienne informs Sansa that Arya (who she comments on looking far less ladylike than Sansa) is alive, though she was unable to find her after defeating the Hound. After resting, Brienne and Podrick accompany Sansa to meet her half-brother Jon Snow at Castle Black. However, Theon decides not to travel with them and instead to return to his family in the Iron Islands, the group allowing him to take a horse for travel.
Brienne, Podrick, and Sansa arrive at Castle Black, where Sansa and Jon are reunited. Brienne notices Tormund Giantsbane gazing at her admirably, which makes her visibly uncomfortable. Later, Brienne confronts Davos Seaworth and Melisandre, having previously met them in the Storm lands during Renly and Stannis’ parley. Having overheard Davos ask Melisandre what exactly happened at Stannis’ camp after he left, Brienne openly admits that she found and killed Stannis after he admitted to murdering Renly with blood magic.
Though she admits it is in the past, she claims she will never forgive Melisandre for her role in Renly’s death. Brienne later shares a meal with Jon, Sansa, Podrick, Tormund and Eddison Tollett, during which Jon receives a letter from Ramsay Bolton demanding Sansa back on threat of harming him and his friends, and displays obvious anger when Ramsay mentions letting his soldiers rape Sansa one by one and that he has her brother, Rickon, as his hostage. Sansa demands that she and Jon reclaim Winterfell for the sake of their family.
Brienne later accompanies Sansa to the ruins of Mole’s Town to meet with Petyr Baelish. Though Baelish offers to help Sansa against the Boltons, Sansa accuses him of deliberately giving her to Ramsay to further his own agendas and contemplates having Brienne kill him there and then, though she lets him go after he reveals that her great-uncle, Brynden Tully, has retaken Riverrun from the Freys.
At a war council, Brienne listens to Jon, Davos, and Sansa’s strategies for their upcoming war with Ramsay, and is visibly concerned when Sansa claims she learned of Brynden’s victory via one of Ramsay’s messages. Sansa tasks Brienne with locating Brynden and recruiting him to their cause, though Brienne expresses concern at leaving Sansa, trusting Jon to protect her but remaining wary of Davos and Melisandre, who helped Stannis kill Renly, and Tormund, whose admiration of her has left her uneasy. When Brienne asks Sansa why she did not trust Jon with Baelish’s information, Sansa does not answer. Brienne later leaves Castle Black with the others, starting her journey to the Riverlands with Podrick.
Brienne and Podrick travel to Riverrun to deliver Sansa Stark’s letter to Brynden Tully, who has regrouped his forces whilst under siege from the Freys. Upon arriving, they discover that the combined forces of House Lannister and House Frey are besieging the castle. Soon, they are surrounded by several Lannister horsemen. Brienne tells them that she has come to see Ser Jaime Lannister and to “tell him I have his sword”. Jaime and Brienne meet discreetly in a tent. While Brienne has found Sansa, their situation is complicated by a bounty that Cersei Lannister has placed on Sansa’s head. Brienne tells Jaime that she has come to secure Brynden’s help in seeking reinforcements for her campaign to retake Winterfell from the Boltons.
This is not possible because Jaime is laying siege to Riverrun. Brienne convinces Jaime to let her negotiate with the Blackfish so that Brynden and his men can leave the castle at night to travel to Winterfell. Before she leaves, she points out that, if she is unsuccessful, then she will be compelled by honour (to Sansa’s family) to fight against Jaime. Jaime voices his hope that it doesn’t come to that. She then offers Oath keeper back to him, stating that it was given to her for a purpose, and that purpose has been fulfilled.
Jaime tells her to keep the sword in order to continue to fulfil the oath it was named after. Brienne fails to convince the Blackfish, but in the end, the castle is taken with him as the only casualty. Just before he goes off to meet his death, Blackfish puts Brienne and Podrick into a rowboat in a secret escape tunnel. As Brienne and Podrick row quietly away in the dawn, Jaime sees her from the castle. She meets his gaze as they both wave a quiet farewell.
Brienne and Podrick return to Winterfell in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bastards, and witness Jon Snow’s declaration of their coming war with the Night King and pardoning of Houses Umber and Karstark. She is notably surprised, along with the other lords, when Jon announces that he expects women to be trained for the fight against the Night King in addition to men, but smiles when Lyanna Mormont expresses her eagerness to this prospect.
Brienne later tutors Podrick in the Winterfell courtyard rather sternly, but is struck by Podrick when Tormund appears and momentarily distracts her. Brienne punches Podrick to the ground without hurting him seriously and rebuffs Tormund’s advances. She sees Petyr Baelish talking to Sansa on the ramparts and approaches Sansa, causing Baelish to leave. Still distrusting Baelish, Brienne asks Sansa why he is still at Winterfell. Sansa reveals that Baelish led the relief force that helped Jon Snow defeat Ramsay, though Brienne quips that Baelish is after something else.
She is also present during Jon’s second meeting, at which he announces his departure to Dragon stone and Sansa’s control over the North, delighting Brienne. After Bran returns to Winterfell, and reunites with Sansa, the two are reunited with a recently returned Arya in the gods wood. They proceed back to Winterfell’s castle courtyard together, Brienne and Podrick see them from afar, all three of Catelyn Stark’s surviving children reunited. Pod says Catelyn would be proud of Brienne, but she chides that she did next to nothing. Pod says he disagrees with “my lady”, and Brienne starts to correct him that she doesn’t consider herself a “lady”, but then stops halfway and just thanks him for the compliment.
Some time later, Brienne is going through a vigorous sword practice session with Podrick, knocking him down when he overextends himself. Impressed, Arya interrupts and says she’d like to spar with Brienne – the woman who beat the Hound in combat. Brienne goes easy on her at first, but then Arya completely outmanoeuvres Brienne using the Water Dance training she received from Syrio Forel, augmented by her training with the Faceless Men. Arya achieves many openings that would be a killing blow if she wanted them to be. Surprised that such a young girl is so skilled, Brienne stops holding back, leading to a grueling sparring session. Brienne manages to knock Needle out of Arya’s hand but she simply switches to the Valyrian steel dagger she had in her belt. Arya uses her speed and agility to compensate for Brienne’s strength and size to overwhelm her – until Brienne actually manages to bring her brute strength to bear on a fast moving target by landing a kick on Arya’s chest that sends her falling down. Ultimately, they reach a stalemate, with each of them holding a blade at the others’ throat. Arya takes her leave of Brienne, both mutually impressed.
When tensions start to arise between Sansa and Arya after the latter discovers the letter that Sansa wrote to Robb, asking him to swear fealty to Joffrey in exchange for sparing their father (which Little finger arranged for her to find), Sansa confides to Little finger, who insinuates that since Brienne swore an oath to Catelyn to protect both of her daughters, it could also mean having to protect one from the other.
Apparently plotting to undermine Arya, Sansa sends Brienne to King’s Landing to represent her at the parley with Cersei Lannister. Brienne objects to the idea, claiming that Sansa is not safe alone, especially with Little finger around, and advocates leaving Podrick behind to protect her, but Sansa refuses and sends Brienne on her way. Meanwhile, beyond the Wall, Tormund Giantsbane and Sandor Clegane, while bantering, briefly discuss Brienne when Tormund brings up his crush on her. His description of her leads Sandor to discover, to his shock, that Tormund is in love with Brienne, but he shoots down the idea of Tormund winning Brienne’s heart, remembering his own encounter and battle with the Maid of Tarth.
Brienne and Podrick arrive in King’s Landing ahead of Jon Snow’s party and are greeted by Bronn and several Lannister men. They accompany him as he welcomes Jon’s party when they arrive, and Brienne is shocked to see Sandor Clegane alive and siding with the North. As they collectively walk to the dragon pit for the armistice meeting, Brienne tells the Hound that she thought he was dead. He remarks that she came pretty close to rendering him so. She counters that she was only trying to protect Arya, and the Hound says he was as well. Brienne tells him that Arya is alive and home at Winterfell, much to his surprise. When he asks who’s protecting her there if Brienne is here, she quips, “The only one that needs protecting is the one who gets in her way.” They share a smile over that.
At the meeting. Brienne stands with Jon Snow’s party under their canopy and shares an uneasy glance with Jaime Lannister as he escorts his sister Queen Cersei Lannister to her canopy. She sits silently during the proceedings, witnessing Queen Daenerys Targaryen’s dramatic entrance on Drogon and the revealing of the wight to Cersei and the others. In spite of this, Cersei declares that she will not stand down or help the North fight the coming war with the dead. As the meeting disperses, Brienne accosts Jaime and begs him to talk to Cersei to try to convince her to put aside their petty differences and join them in defeating the wights. Jaime doesn’t believe talking to Cersei will do any good. She is seen standing with Jon’s party when Cersei returns from speaking with Tyrion, apparently having decided to help the North after all.
Brienne returns to Winterfell alongside Jon and Daenerys’s forces and helps organise the defence of the castle.
At Jaime Lannister’s trial in the Great Hall, she speaks on his behalf, convincing Sansa, Daenerys, and Jon to spare him after telling them the story of how he saved her from Locke’s men, along with assigning her mission to find and protect the Stark girls. Later, Brienne is overseeing Podrick’s progress as he trains someone, when Jaime arrives to thank her for supporting him. Thinking he plans to insult her once again, she is surprised when he asks to serve under her command in the upcoming battle. Though hesitant at first, she accepts.
Brienne is present when Jon and the others discuss their plan of defence, refusing another of Tormund’s advances in the process. Later, she joins the Lannister brothers for wine, but orders a half cup for Podrick, since the battle could start at any moment; Tyrion serves Podrick a full cup anyway. After hearing Tormund’s story of how he earned his nickname “Giantsbane”, he questions her status among the nobility. Brienne confesses that she was never made a knight, due to tradition.
Tormund scoffs at the idea and declares that he would knight Brienne ten times over if he was a king, presumably under the assumption that only a king has the standing to perform the knighting ceremony. Jaime notes that Tormund wouldn’t need to be a king to knight Brienne, as knights are also permitted to perform the ceremony. He offers to knight her himself, and she accepts, becoming Ser Brienne. She celebrates with the others, but the festivities are cut short by three horn blasts, signalling the arrival of the White Walkers.
Brienne, Jaime, Jorah Mormont and Grey Worm lead the Northern and Targaryen forces to fight the dead in the open during the Battle of Winter fell but are quickly overwhelmed, Brienne herself being saved by Jaime during the initial onslaught. As they are forced to retreat into Winterfell, they try to fend off the wights trying to breach the walls of the castle. However, the undead army is obliterated with the death of the Night King at the hands of Arya.
After the victory over the dead, the living celebrate, and she rejects the advances of Tormund. Brienne and Jaime exchange smiles and Tyrion, now very drunk, correctly gueses Brienne is a virgin. Her smile fades and says she must relieve herself.Jaime follows her into her quarters, and they end up having sex. Despite his love for Brienne, Jaime decides to head back after the Iron Fleet ambushed the Targaryen forces near Dragon stone, horrified about Cersei’s fate if she loses. Brienne pleads with him not to leave, stating he is a good man, but he states he is as hateful as Cersei.
Following the assassination of Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne attends the trial of Tyrion Lannister. After Tyrion suggests that the lords of Seven Kingdoms choose their new king and suggests Bran Stark’s name, Brienne assents to the proposal. She is made Lord Commander of the Kings guard, with the emblem of a raven now present on the armour of the sworn brotherhood, an ode to Bran’s status as the Three-Eyed Raven. While reading the “The Book of Brothers”, she comes upon Jaime’s entry and decides to complete it. She praises his actions and says he “died defending his queen”, welling up while writing it.
Brienne later takes part in the first meeting of the Small Council, under the stewardship of Tyrion, the new Hand of the King. She tells Podrick to take Bran away from the meeting so he can focus on finding Drogon, who has been seen flying towards Volantis, using his abilities as a warg. When Bronn suggests rebuilding the city’s brothels (since all of the well-known ones were destroyed following the Battle of King’s Landing), she expresses disapproval at the thought of prioritising it over rebuilding the royal fleet, which clearly takes precedence due to the lack of ships in the Six Kingdoms following the war for Westeros.
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. These aspects of her life have resulted in her being penalised by Westeros society due to unconventionality.
Her lifetime of scorn and condescension led her to becoming extremely pragmatic and blunt. However, it has also provided her with nerves of Valyrian steel, and she is completely unafraid to face off against warriors as powerful or as intimidating as Jaime Lannister (arguably the best sword in the realm), Loras Tyrell (a renowned warrior) and even Sandor Clegane (a physically brutal and extremely intimidating person with an infamous temper).
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. 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. Brienne, much like Ned Stark, is motivated by her own sense of honour and duty, thus seeing most dishonorable acts as unacceptable. She often faces situations where her honour is eclipsed and opposed by her heart, since she confessed to Jaime that her failure to sway the Blackfish would result in the two of them fighting one another again, saying so in a tone that states outright she doesn’t want to fight him – even though she has a considerable chance of defeating him.
She can be headstrong, sarcastic, cynical 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 naively idealised concept of knighthood. Despite – or perhaps because of – the fact that she has no expectation of ever being recognised 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 adheres to the expectations and guidelines of knighthood almost formally, since she expressed at the climax of her fight with the Hound that she had no wish to kill him (which he ignored and continued to fight her), and also carried out the killing of Stannis Baratheon as if it were an official execution, even permitting him any last words. However, she incorrectly cited that Renly was the rightful king, even though he was second to Stannis, but this was done mostly out of personal loyalty. Evidently, Brienne expressed considerable joy when she was eventually knighted by Jaime prior to the Battle of Winterfell and was applauded by those who had witnessed it. This brought Brienne things she had craved for her entire life: becoming a knight surrounded by genuine companions who fully accepted her.
Brienne has proven herself to be one of the strongest fighters in Westeros, albeit the most underrated. In combat, she relies on a combination of her intimidating size, strength, and unrelenting brute force to win most fights. This unrelenting style is what allowed her to defeat Loras Tyrell and Sandor Clegane, two of the greatest swordsmen in the realm. She could fight three men at the same time, beat two armoured soldiers in a confined space and hold her ground against Jaime Lannister. Even after she was presented with a prominent disadvantage, such as being disarmed, she would resort brutally to continue fighting, shown when she proceeded to fight the Hound even after he’d ridden her of her sword. Jaime confessed that he considered her a good fighter, even before they became friends.
Brienne of Tarth is extremely noble and humble at all times, as evidenced by her confessing at several points that she was not a knight, and at one point not even a lady – even though she was inevitably a lady of Tarth as the only daughter of Lord Selwyn Tarth. This was probably motivated by her self-induced belief that she was inferior to the standards of a true knight, given that she has faced being underrated and under appreciated for her appearance and gender her whole life. The irony of the entire situation is that she exemplifies the qualities of a true knight: She is a strong and skilled fighter, is merciful and compassionate, unshakeably loyal and determined, and takes her duties as a warrior sworn to a higher authority extremely seriously. The only reason she isn’t viewed as such by the people of the Seven Kingdoms is because she is a woman.