- "People have been calling me "Blackfish" for so long they don't remember my real name."
Brynden Tully is the younger brother of Hoster Tully. Hoster was the Lord of Riverrun and the head of House Tully. He is the uncle of Catelyn Stark, Edmure Tully, and Lysa Arryn. Brynden is a respected knight and formidable battle commander, who first distinguished himself in the War of the Ninepenny Kings (nearly forty years before the War of the Five Kings).
Brynden often argued with his older brother Hoster, particularly over the fact that Brynden never married. When Brynden returned home from the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Hoster had already arranged for him to marry Bethany Redwyne, of the wealthy and powerful House Redwyne. Brynden refused this generous match, however, refusing to be told when and whom to marry. Hoster was angry that Brynden would not do his duty to their family and enter into a marriage-alliance to improve their fortunes, and said that he was the black goat of the Tully herd. Brynden joked that given that the Tully sigil is a trout, it would be more fitting to say that he was the "black fish" of the Tully school. The nickname stuck, and Ser Brynden became popularly known as "The Blackfish" ever since. Brynden even took to using a black fish in his own personal heraldry: like the standard Tully heraldry it uses a red and blue background, but swaps out the normal silver trout for a black one. Hoster would attempt to contract other arranged marriage-alliances for Brynden over the years, many of them very promising matches, but Brynden turned down them all, which led to constant bickering between the two brothers throughout their lives.
Despite his disagreements with his brother over his refusal to marry, Brynden is very devoted to his family.
During the funeral of Hoster Tully, an annoyed Brynden takes the place of his nephew, Lord Edmure, after the latter fails several times to hit the funeral boat with flaming arrows. Later on he also chides Edmure for calling Robb "nephew" instead of treating him as his King as Edmure defends his course of action that led to the Battle of Stone Mill. He also consoles Catelyn when she muses about her father's funeral and whether she will ever see Bran and Rickon, whose whereabouts are unknown following the Sack of Winterfell.
The Blackfish brings Rickard Karstark and his men before King Robb after they brutally murdered Willem and Martyn Lannister as revenge against House Lannister. Brynden is highly offended when Karstark calls King Robb "boy" and punches him in the face in retaliation. Brynden counsels King Robb not to execute Lord Karstark but instead to keep him as a hostage, thus keeping the Karstark forces loyal to the Starks. King Robb disagrees, however, and executes Lord Karstark under charges of treason while Brynden watches on along with Edmure, Talisa and Catelyn.
The Blackfish is again present when "Black Walder" and Lothar Frey come to Riverrun to discuss an alliance between House Stark and House Frey. The Freys demand that Edmure must marry one of Lord Walder Frey's daughters if the alliance is to go ahead. Edmure is reluctant to agree to these terms but Brynden tells him that he must if they have any hope of winning the war.
During the wedding feast, he goes outside to relieve himself on a tree. He escaped the massacre of Robb Stark, Talisa Stark, Catelyn Stark, and all their soldiers during the Red Wedding. His whereabouts are unknown.
- "Even in war's darkest days, in most places in the world absolutely nothing is happening."
- ―Brynden to Catelyn Stark
|Season Three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
Behind the scenesEdit
Brynden Tully was announced as appearing in Game of Thrones and was expected to debut in the second season based on comments by George R.R. Martin. He debuted in the first novel, however his introduction to the TV series was pushed back due to time constraints. He was not cast for the first and second seasons, however, a press release confirmed he would be cast in Season 3. He is played by Clive Russell.
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Blackfish is a canny and respected warrior. He is tall and clean-shaven, and dons a red and blue Tully cape, like his nephew Edmure. Brynden possessed the distinctive auburn hair of the Tully family in his youth, but it has now gone mostly grey.
Brynden is an experienced battlefield commander. He rose to particular distinction during the War of the Ninepenny Kings which was fought over the Stepstones, in which he fought alongside Ser Barristan Selmy. The young Jaime Lannister highly revered him and was eager to hear of his exploits in the war.
Brynden took up the nickname "the Blackfish", after he refused to marry Bethany Redwyne, which would have advanced the family's fortunes. This led to years of bitter quarrels and estrangement with his brother Hoster. After one such quarrel with his elder brother, when Lord Hoster called him the "black goat of the Tully herd", Ser Brynden pointed out that their sigil was a fish, so he took the name "Blackfish", and changed the color scheme of his personal sigil to a jumping black trout (which is normally silver in the Tully sigil).
So far, the books have never made exactly clear why Brynden has never married, i.e. if he loved a woman who did not return his attraction, or if his brother refused to allow him to marry anyone else if he wouldn't go through with the arranged marriage to Bethany Redwyne. As the younger brother of Hoster, Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, Brynden was certainly one of the more eligible bachelors in Westeros. This has led to some fan speculation that Brynden may be a homosexual, and that this in-part caused the rift with his older brother when he refused to take part in a marriage-alliance he had brokered, but so far the books have given no particular hint that this is the case. Others speculate that Brynden may have loved Minisa Whent, but after she married his older brother Hoster, he refused to ever love again. Whatever the reason why Brynden never married, it is something of an open secret among his immediate family members: at one point Catelyn comments in passing to Edmure, regarding Brynden's disagreements with her father, that they both know why he never married.
In the novels he is first encountered serving in the Vale of Arryn, where he serves his niece, the Lady Lysa, following the death of her husband, as the Knight of the Gate, who commands the Bloody Gate. After Catelyn asks for his assistance, he agrees to return to the Riverlands and help in the growing struggle against the Lannisters. In the TV series, some of Brynden's activities in the Vale have been taken over by Ser Vardis Egen.
Along with Edmure, he becomes one of King Robb Stark's most trusted lieutenants, his "eyes and ears". Theon Greyjoy references the Blackfish's talent for battle and strategy.
The Blackfish is not present during the events of the Red Wedding because Robb had left him holding Riverrun as "Warden of the Southern Marches", overseeing the defenses of the Stark-loyal territories of the Riverlands, and protecting his Queen, Jeyne Westerling (the book's counterpart of Talisa Maegyr), who also remained at Riverrun.
|Lord:||Edmure Tully||Heir:||Bran Stark|
|Title(s):||Lord Paramount of the Riverlands · Lord of Riverrun|
|Current members:||Brynden Tully · Roslin Tully|
|Deceased members:||Catelyn Stark · Hoster Tully · Minisa Tully · Lysa Arryn|
|Household:||Brienne of Tarth|