The Three-Eyed Raven is one of Game of Thrones' most mysterious characters. Introduced at the end of Season 4, then recast as Max Von Sydow for Season 6, he is an almost omniscient ancient being, and a key to defeating the White Walkers
The character was hinted at for a long time, leading Bran to him. Now that he is gone, having passed his abilities to Bran before his death, there is still so much we don't know about this mysterious figure. Even though the Three-Eyed Raven was just introduced in the books, there is much more revealed about him and the character is depicted much differently. These changes and further details help to shed light on the Three-Eyed Raven in ways the show never did.
10 The Three-Eyed Crow
In the show, the character is only known as the Three-Eyed Raven. He has many different names and rumored names in the books, but Three-Eyed Raven is not one of them. Instead, the book refers to him as the Three-Eyed Crow. It seems like such a small alteration that you wonder why the show didn't just keep it the same.
The change fits with the trend of the show swapping out crows for ravens. Crows had always been a big part ofthe books, acting as message carriers for Westeros' castles. The show has changed the birds to ravens perhaps because ravens have a more dignified and respected reputation than the modern crow.
9 One With The Tree
The Three-Eyed Raven in the books is one of the most interesting character designs. He is a skeletal man wrapped in the tree roots which seem to be a part of his body. It's hard to tell where the man ends and the tree begins.
This design is a lot more interesting than the one we see in Game of Thrones. While Max Von Sydow does have a sort of mystical presence to him, he just looked like an old man sitting in a tree. Clearly, the book's design would be hard to achieve on screen, but it would have been interesting to see.
8 Talking Bird
In both the show and the books, the Three-Eyed Raven first connects with Bran in his dreams. Bran continues to dream of a bird with three eyes that seems to be directing him in his journey. However, one distinct difference these dream birds have in the books is their ability to talk.
Though they don't speak in full sentences, these birds use specific that offer guidance to Bran and even warn him of certain dangers to come. Likely, the show thought talking birds was maybe a step too far.
7 The Red Eye
When Bran first meets the Three-Eyed Raven in person, he tells the young Stark child that he's been watching him "with a thousand eyes and one". The thousand eyes refer to his ability to see through the eyes of the weirwood trees. The one eye is quite literal in the books as the character only has one eye.
He has a tree root running through his empty eye socket, while the other eye is red. The missing eye helps to further confirm the Three-Eyed Raven's true identity. The red eye is also intriguing. Could it have some connection to the Lord of Light?
6 Weirwood Paste
Once Bran reaches the Three-Eyed Raven in the show, they really gloss over his training to achieve the powers to see through time. The book gives a little more context to how Bran gained these abilities.
He is given a substance known as "weirwood paste" to consume which apparently unlocks these powers. However, a popular fan theory suggests the mysterious paste is actually made from Bran's friend, Jojen Reed. This might suggest there is some blood magic involved in the Three-Eyed Raven's work, though the show gives no hint of that.
Despite the character being hinted at for several seasons, once the show reveals the Three-Eyed Raven in person, he doesn't last long before being killed by the Night King. With such a short appearance, audiences hardly had a chance to understand the character, let alone get an idea of who he really was.
While the show might not be interested in such things, the books have all but confirmed his true identity. He tells Bran that, while he has had many names, the name he was given at birth was Brynden. This, along with several other clues, leads to the strong theory he is Brynden Rivers.
The name Brynden Rivers likely means very little to show watchers, but he does have a long and interesting history in the books. Brynden is a bastard son of Aegon the Unworthy, a particularly unpopular Targaryen king. Taking the bastard surname of Rivers, Brynden is also known as Bloodraven. The name derives from a blood-red birthmark that resembles a raven featured prominently on Brynden's face. It just so happened that the Three-Eyed Raven has a similar distinct red mark on his face. Though his identity seems unimportant in the show, the books make the revelation fairly obvious.
3 Blackfyre Rebellions
Bloodraven is not just any Targaryen bastard, but one of the so-called Great Bastards. Aegon the Unworthy had many bastard children, and on his deathbed, he caused chaos by legitimizing all of them. This move led to a war over the Iron Throne that was known as the Blackfyre Rebellion.
Brynden kept his bastard name but fought in the war all the same, taking the side of his half-brother Daeron II Targaryen. The result was a bloody conflict that ended with Brynden losing an eye and being declared a kinslayer.
2 Brynden’s Sad Past
Again, the show's version of the Three-Eyed Raven is given little to no backstory. Some have speculated as to his true identity, but it's likely the show will never reveal the truth. Conversely, the character in the books seems fully willing to discuss his past openly.
Though no names are mentioned, the Three-Eyed Raven tells Bran his sad past includes "a brother that he loved, a brother that he hated, and a woman that he desired". Bloodraven joined his half-brother who he loved while fighting a brother he hated (and who took his eyes) because they were in love with the same woman. All the clues seem to fit quite neatly.
1 Ulterior Motives?
Even in the novels, there's still a lot unknown about the Three-Eyed Raven. We might know his true identity, but his motivations are unclear. He appears to be helping the living fight against the army of the dead. However, his intentions could be darker.
With the potential blood magic and his dark past, some theorize that Bloodraven could be using his powers for evil purposes. Some suggest that he is in fact siding with the Night's King and Bran is a key to their victory. Others suggest he is the real villain and the Night's King is trying to stop him. Certainly interesting theories, but they seem unlikely for the show.