Tall. Brave. Loyal. Skilled. Gallant. Uncomfortable in their own skin. An unlikely hero of the Seven Kingdoms.
Brienne of Tarth, a true knight in all ways save for the actual title, is one of the purely good inhabitants of Westeros, but that description just as easily applies to another true knight of the realm, one of the most renowned and legendary members to ever wear the white cloak of the Kingsguard, Ser Duncan the Tall. And it turns out the two share more than just the same attributes, they share the same blood.
We came across this news of Martin revealing Brienne’s famous ancestor over at Vanity Fair, and for fans of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire who can’t get enough of George R.R. Martin‘s complex and vast history, this is a connection some had already speculated about. Before we get to this very cool announcement, though, let’s take a quick look at who Ser Duncan was.
Now while show watchers are very familiar with Brienne of Tarth, Ser Duncan the Tall is a beloved and central figure of Martin’s series of Dunk and Egg prequel novellas, which begin about 100 years before the start of the series (the first Dunk and Egg novella takes place in 209 A.C., and Robert Baratheon died in 298 A.C.).
The three novellas (“The Hedge Knight,” “The Sworn Sword,” and “The Mystery Knight”) are told from Ser Duncan’s point-of-view, and they about the adventures of the nearly seven-foot tall knight and his squire, Egg. However, Egg is just the nickname of Aegon, a royal prince of House Targaryen.
“The Mystery Knight” by Marc Simonetti
(This is the “Egg” that Maester Aemon references when he is dying. “Egg, I dreamed that I was old.” Maester Aemon refused the Iron Throne, and his younger brother Egg became Aegon the V, also known as Aegon the Unlikely.)
We don’t want to give too much away about these action/adventure stories because you should absolutely read them (Martin has said might make for an excellent prequel series of movies for HBO after Game of Thrones ends), but they involve some major moments in the history of the Targaryen dynasty. More importantly, they show the chivalry of Ser Duncan, who would forever remain at Aegon’s side, becoming the Lord Commander of his Kingsguard, until they two of them died together at the Tragedy of Summerhall in 259 A.C.
While Ser Duncan’s role in the history of Westeros is famous and honored, he isn’t a figure of significance on the show. They did give him his brief moment in the sun, though, when Joffrey commented on his entry in the Book of Brothers, which records the great deeds of the Kingsguard members, and he said Ser Duncan’s entry was four pages long.
Well, the big knight is back in the spotlight after this weekend, because at Balticon in Baltimore, Martin confirmed the fan theory that Brienne actually is a relative of Ser Duncan (though without giving any specifics, which we hope/imagine will be answered one day in another novella). But fans already thought that Brienne might be related to Ser Duncan for reasons that go well beyond them both being tall.
Martin had previously said that a descendant of Ser Duncan would appear in his fourth book, A Feast for Crows, and then Brienne mentioned in that novel how, as a child, she found a shield in the armory of her home at Evenfall Hall that happened to have the personal arms of Ser Duncan on them. She used those arms to travel incognito in the book.
So between his shield inexplicably being at her home, their heights, their gallantry, and their talent with a sword, fans guessed that Brienne might be exactly who Martin has now confirmed she is.
In the grand scheme of the story, this revelation might not be more than a fun bonus for fans, but Ser Duncan led a life of bravery, dedicated to the ideals of a knight pure at heart, and no one is as worthy as carrying on his bloodline as Brienne.
What do you know about Ser Duncan? What do you make of this news? Tell us in the comments below.
Brienne Images: HBO
The Hedge Knight: