The second season of Game of Thrones hinted at the existence of a resistance group known as the Brotherhood Without Banners. Tywin Lannister hears reports of his supply lines being harassed and his troops being ambushed by a group of outlaws, led by a man that several of his soldiers had claimed to have killed already.
Arya Stark finally meets the Brotherhood in Season 3 of Game of Thrones. We are introduced to Beric, the leader of the group who keeps coming back from the dead, Thoros, the false priest who found his faith (and a received a bunch of cool supernatural powers), and Anguy, the master archer. The Brotherhood disappeared for two seasons, before finally returning to the story at the end of Season 6.
We are here today to look at the most notorious outlaw outfit in all of Westeros– from their horrific undead leader in the books, to their current plans with the Tullys.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Brotherhood Without Banners.
15. Beric Sacrificed His Life To Save Catelyn Stark
Lord Beric Dondarrion just can’t seem to stay dead. He’s been hung, cut open with a sword, and had a lance rammed through his rib cage.
The Lord of Light seems to have plans for Beric, as Thoros is able to wish him (and seemingly only him) back to life with a prayer. This video game style extra life system has taken its toll on Beric, as he comes back with fewer memories each time.
That seems to be the case in the show. In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, however, Beric has achieved a final death.
After the Red Wedding, the Freys dumped Catelyn Stark’s body into the river. The corpse is discovered by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Beric asks Thoros to try and bring her back, but he refuses, as her body had begun to decay.
Beric decided to try to do the deed himself, as he was still technically acting in Ned Stark’s name and wanted to bring his wife back into the world. He kissed Catelyn’s body and passed the last of the fire that was keeping him alive into her body.
14. The Group Was Created By Tywin’s Stupidity
Many pick on Ned Stark for being a bad Hand of the King, but Tywin Lannister was no better, since he managed to start the War of the Five Kings due to his incompetence.
The Brotherhood Without Banners were originally a group formed by Ned Stark to bring Gregor Clegane to justice. Tywin had ordered Gregor to start reaving in the Riverlands, due to the fact that Catelyn had imprisoned Tyrion.
The reason Tywin did this was that he wanted to lure Ned out of King’s Landing so he could capture him. Ned was taken out of commission during his fight with Jamie, so he sent Beric and a group of loyal men with the King’s banner to root out and kill Gregor.
Tywin launched his trap and assaulted men performing a royal duty, which should have led to him being stripped of his titles and being declared a traitor. Tywin only survived because Robert Baratheon happened to go an extended hunting trip and was the victim of the most slapdash assassination plot of all time.
13. Gendry Is Still With The Brotherhood In The Books
Gendry is one of Arya’s companions throughout the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. He is the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon, though he is unaware of his true lineage. The fact that he becomes friends with Arya is intended to mirror the fact that their parents were also friends in their youth.
In Game of Thrones, the Brotherhood Without Banners sell Gendry to Melisandre. This storyline was actually invented for the TV show. In the books, Genrdy is still a member of the Brotherhood.
After Arya escapes from the Brotherhood Without Banners, Gendry is knighted by Beric and becomes a Ser. His official title is Ser Gendry, knight of Hollow Hill. He encounters Brienne during her journey through the Riverlands and saves her life.
Brienne is terrified of Gendry due to his strong resemblance to Renly Baratheon. She wonders in her wounded delirium if he is Renly’s vengeful ghost, who is still angry about not being saved from the shadow monster.
12. Catelyn Stark Is The New Leader Of The Brotherhood
When Beric Dondarrian gave his life to bring Catelyn Stark back from the grave, she had already been dead for several days.
Her throat had been cut and her face had several deep scratches that she inflicted upon herself in her grief. The woman that was Catelyn Stark remained dead. In her place was an undead monstrosity, who took on the name Lady Stoneheart.
As the new leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, Lady Stoneheart began a campaign of revenge against the Freys and the Lannisters. Those who were captured would end up hanging from the end of a rope. Several members of the Brotherhood left the group, due to their disgust at Stoneheart’s methods.
Lady Stoneheart is one of the most significant characters from the books to not make it into the show. Though Beric is still alive in Game of Thrones, which means that he may bring another person back from the grave…
11. They Were Introduced In The First Book As Champions At A Tournament
George R. R. Martin is known for introducing characters in a throwaway manner, only for them to return later on and become important. The Brotherhood Without Banners might be the best example of this, as they were introduced as early as the first book in the series, yet didn’t become important until A Storm of Swords.
When Ned Stark is appointed Hand of the King, a great tournament is held in his honor. Knights and commoners from all over the Seven Kingdoms arrive to test their mettle and try to earn some of the gold that was being offered as a prize for many of the events.
We are first introduced to Beric, Thoros, and Anguy through this tournament. Beric is unhorsed by Thoros during the tournament and impresses Ned enough for him to be appointed the leader of the expedition to hunt down Gregor Clegane.
Thoros wins the melee and joins Beric’s group, as the two had become friendly during the tourney. Anguy wins the archery tournament and then spends his prize money on wine and prostitutes. He goes on to join the expedition.
10. They Hanged Podrick Payne
There are a lot of people who would say that Podrick Payne is hung, though the Brotherhood Without Banners are the only ones who took it literally.
Brienne’s story in A Feast For Crows deals with her journey across the war-torn Riverlands. Jamie sends her on a quest to fulfill his oath to Catelyn Stark.
He had promised to return her daughters to Winterfell, though he was unable to perform his duty, as he had lost his hand. Brienne then spends the entirety of a book chasing rumors of Sansa and Arya’s location.
The Brienne story ends with her being taken by the Brotherhood. She is dragged before Lady Stoneheart and forced to swear to kill Jamie Lannister or be hung along with her compatriots.
9. They Have A Plan To Kill Jamie
Jamie Lannister has his own storyline in A Feast For Crows, which was eventually adapted in the sixth season of Game of Thrones. He is dispatched to the Riverlands in order to bring the last few remaining strongholds that remain loyal to Robb Stark back into the royal fold. Jamie manages to retake Riverrun and Raventree Hall with minimal casualties.
In A Dance With Dragons, Jamie meets Brienne of Tarth once more. She claims that the Hound has Sansa and that she needs his help in order to retrieve her. Jamie doesn’t realize that he is being led into a trap by Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood Without Banners.
He had previously confessed to Catelyn Stark that he was responsible for pushing Bran out of the window of the tower. How Lady Stoneheart will react to this knowledge remains to be seen.
Jamie Lannister might finally be forced to face responsibility for the crime that he has ignored for the entire series. He admits to feeling no guilt over killing the Mad King, yet he never once thinks about what he did to Bran in Winterfell.
8. One Of The Members Of The Group Is Part Of The Conspiracy To Hide Jon Snow’s True Identity
Fans of Game of Thrones who didn’t want to be spoiled about upcoming events had to walk through a minefield anytime they wanted to read about the show online.
The Internet was dark and full of spoilers for many years. The tables finally turned in season 6, when the TV show confirmed that Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
The books have yet to reveal the identity of Jon Snow’s true parentage. There is actually a conspiracy in place among the members of House Dayne to protect his identity.
One of the members of the Brotherhood Without Banners is Edric Dayne. When he meets Arya, he claims to be a “milk brother” of Jon Snow. Edric claims that he was nursed by a woman named Wylla, who had served House Dayne for many years and was Jon’s birth mother.
7. A Group Of Fans Is Referred To As The Brotherhood Without Banners
The most prominent fansite for A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones is called Westeros. It is one of the oldest websites dedicated to the book series and it is still going strong today.
The site was founded by Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, who have since gone on to work with George R. R. Martin on A Song of Ice and Fire projects. They co-authored a companion book with Martin called The World of Ice and Fire, which details different locations and historical periods of the series.
A group of dedicated fans formed their own club in the Westeros forums. They refer to themselves as the Brotherhood Without Banners and hold annual meetups at conventions across the world.
George R. R. Martin has been known to attend these gatherings, where he is known to give out knighthoods (like Beric did for Gendry). He dedicated A Dance With Dragons to all of the fans he had gotten to know over the years.
6. They Are A Twisted Version Of Robin Hood & His Merry Men
A Song of Ice and Fire is known for taking common fantasy tropes and flipping them on their head. Knights are vicious killers, while magic is a dark and terrible thing that takes a great toll on its user.
There are certain characters who exist just to show how common fantasy elements would work when faced with the real world. The main example of this is Ned Stark, who has the honorable and just spirit of a hero and yet he gets taken down by schemers and turncloaks.
The Brotherhood Without Banners is another example of a common fantasy element viewed through a realistic lens. They are essentially a twisted version of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Beric represents the mythical status that Robin Hood acquired in a short time, while Anguy represents his unparalleled skill with a bow. Lady Stoneheart is the noble lady who gets dragged into their schemes like Maid Marian. Thoros is the bumbling Friar Tuck, while Lem Lemoncloak is defined by his colorful garb, in the same manner as Will Scarlet.
5. They Killed Biter In The Books
When Arya first leaves King’s Landing with the Night’s Watch recruits, they are escorting a cage filled with three dangerous criminals.
One of them is Jaqen H’ghar, while the other two are Rorge and Biter. The two of them ran fighting pits in King’s Landing, with Biter purposely sharpening his teeth for battle. Rorge and Biter are freed by the Lannister men and forced into service at Harrenhal. The two of them eventually run afoul of the Hound and Arya. Biter bites the Hound and is killed by him.
In the books, Rorge and Biter escape from Harrenhal and form a gang that starts attacking villages in the Riverlands. Rorge finds the Hound’s discarded helmet and wears it into battle. Brienne of Tarth hunts them down (believing Rorge to be the real hound) and kills Rorge.
4. They Have A Genuine Prophet As An Ally
The Game of Thrones books features many more prophecies than the show does. This might be due to the fact that the creators of the show were never quite sure how many seasons it was going to run for, so they didn’t want to promise too much in advance.
The main one we have seen in the show is Maggy the Frog’s prophecy to Cersei, and even that excludes a bit about how she is destined to be killed by her little brother.
In A Storm of Swords, the Brotherhood Without Banners and Arya go to visit a witch known as the Ghost of High Heart. She tells them some fairly accurate prophecies, which include predicting the death of Renly Baratheon and the assassination of Balon Greyjoy by a Faceless Man.
She also predicts the death and return of Catelyn Stark as Lady Stoneheart. The Brotherhood visit her again and she predicts the Red and Purple Weddings. The Ghost of High Heart then asks Arya to leave, as she “smells of death.”
3. The Melisandre Meeting Was Added For The Show
In the third season of Game of Thrones, Melisandre leaves the island of Dragonstone to go on a perilous journey through the war-torn Riverlands.
She is seeking out Gendry, as she wants to use his king’s blood as part of a magical ritual that will help Stannis win the war. Melisandre also encounters Arya and tells her that they will meet again in the future.
This entire sequence was created for the show. In the books, Melisandre actually creates a second shadow monster that she uses to kill the castellan of Storm’s End. Stannis wanted the castle, but he also wanted a boy who was stationed there.
Storm’s End was home to Edric Storm, who was one of the bastard sons of Robert Baratheon. Melisandre wanted to sacrifice Edric, but he was freed by Davos before it could happen.
2. Thoros Was A Faker
The Red Priests of the Lord of Light want to spread their influence into Westeros. It is for this reason that they dispatched Thoros of Myr to befriend the Mad King, as his love of fire was well-known.
Thoros was unable to befriend the Mad King before his death, so his mission changed to becoming pals with Robert Baratheon. This actually worked, and the two of them became drinking buddies. Thoros gave up on preaching about the Lord of Light, however, as he had lost his faith. He often wondered if he had any to begin with.
Like Melisandre, Thoros uses potions and powders to create effects that would seem magical to common folk. His burning sword was a fake effect that he caused with wildfire, though it often scared the hell out of his opponents.
Thoros didn’t begin to exhibit magical powers until around the time that the dragons were born. It is possible that his ability to use blood to make magical fire and to bring back the dead might be linked to them.
1. They Are Plotting Something With Edmure Tully
Edmure Tully is presented as one of the biggest screwups in the entire series. It was his inability to follow orders that allowed Tywin to form a pact with the Tyrells and rush to the aid of King’s Landing.
This act alone may have been enough to cost Robb Stark the war. Edmure is then taken captive on the day of his own wedding. The only reason he is still alive is that he managed to father an heir with Roslin Frey.
It seems that Edmure isn’t done with the great game, however. Jamie cuts a deal with Edmure to help break the siege at Riverrun. He is then left alone with a bard named Tom of Sevenstreams. Jamie doesn’t realize that Tom is actually a member of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who is acting a spy within the Lannister/Frey camp.
So what exactly does the Brotherhood want with Edmure? A wedding is due to take place between Daven Lannister and a Frey girl. Are the Brotherhood planning a Red Wedding of their own? Do they need Edmure alive so that he can reunite the Riverlands in rebellion against the crown? We’ll (hopefully) find out when The Winds of Winter is finally released.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Game of Thrones‘ Brotherhood Without Banners? Let us know in the comments!
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