Bloodraven: what’s the three-eyed raven’s secret plan?

Bloodraven: what’s the three-eyed raven’s secret plan?

This video’s sponsored by Audible – for
a free audiobook, visit In the Game of Thrones show, the three-eyed
raven is a pretty standard character. He’s like Obi-Wan or Dumbledore – a wise
old mentor who teaches a hero magic, and then dies. But in the books, he has a rich backstory
– he was a warrior who fought his brothers, a spymaster who ruled a kingdom, and a leader
of the Night’s Watch, who becomes one of the most powerful and mysterious characters in
the series. His grand plan involves the old gods and Azor
Ahai, Bran Stark and Jon Snow, maybe Daenerys, and Quaithe and even Euron Greyjoy. In the books, he’s called the three-eyed
crow – but his real name is Brynden Rivers. Brynden was born one hundred and twenty-five
years ago. The King of Westeros back then was Aegon the
Fourth Targaryen, a terrible, selfish, lustful king . He was married to his sister Naerys
– cause the Targaryens love incest – and they had a son called Daeron. But Aegon took many other women as lovers,
and fathered bastard children including Daemon Waters, Aegor Rivers, Shiera Seastar, and
Brynden Rivers – the man who would become the three-eyed crow. Brynden was an albino, with pale skin, white
hair and red eyes. He had a winestain birthmark on his face that
was shaped kinda like a raven – so Brynden was called Bloodraven. Brynden wasn’t as big and strong as his
half-brothers , but he was smart , and good with a longbow. Brynden’s half-sister Shiera was famously
beautiful – and Brynden and Aegor competed for her love. Shiera chose Brynden as her lover , but Brynden
and Aegor came to hate each other – Aegor was called “Bittersteel” . Daemon, meanwhile,
was a golden boy who everyone loved – which complicated politics. Cause when King Aegon died, his trueborn son
Daeron inherited the throne. But some people preferred Daemon. So with the help of Bittersteel, Daemon rebelled. He took the name Blackfyre, and fought a war
against Daeron for the throne. This was the first Blackfyre Rebellion, and
it ended with the Battle of the Redgrass Field. Brynden fought for Daeron and the loyalists
– he rained arrows on the Blackfyres, killing Daemon and two of his sons . Then Bittersteel
attacked and fought a “duel” with Brynden. Brynden lost an eye in this fight – but
in the end, Aegor fled . So Brynden helped to save the realm from Blackfyre rebels, but
to do it he killed his own half-brother Daemon – kinslaying is a terrible crime in Westeros
. But Brynden is willing to bad things for the sake of the greater good – and for the
sake of defeating Bittersteel. Bittersteel went east, founded an army called
the Golden Company, and plotted with the surviving Blackfyres. King Daeron later died in a plague, so Daeron’s
son Aerys became the new king . But Aerys wasn’t much interested in being king – he
was obsessed with old books about magic and prophecy . So Aerys chose Brynden to be his
Hand of the King – and Brynden basically ruled the realm for him .
Brynden was a spymaster, with a huge network of informers. It was said that Bloodraven had a “thousand
eyes and one” – the one eye on his face, and the thousand eyes of his spies. Brynden watched for anyone who spoke treason
against the Targaryens – or supported the surviving Blackfyres. He was so focussed on the Blackfyres that
he ignored an ironborn invasion . And the realm also suffered from drought and other
problems. So many people hated Bloodraven – they called
him a kinslayer, a bastard, and a “sorcerer” . Cause like Aerys, Brynden was known to study
magic . It was said that he and his lover Shiera used sorcery to uncover secrets – and
that Brynden could “change his face” or his shape . Which might actually be true. In a Game of Thrones prequel book, Daemon
Blackfyre’s son tries to start a second Blackfyre rebellion – but Bloodraven’s
spies uncover the plot , with the help of a really suspicious guy called Maynard Plumm
. Plumm knows too much, he makes weird references to Bloodraven, and there’s something strange
about his face . Plumm disappears from the story just before Bloodraven arrives . So
it’s strongly hinted that Maynard Plumm is actually Bloodraven in disguise. Plumm wears a “moonstone brooch” , which
suggests that Bloodraven uses a glamour – the same kind of magic that Melisandre uses with
her ruby . So there’s truth to these rumours – Bloodraven uses magic to spy and control
the kingdom. Years later, there was a Third Blackfyre Rebellion
– where Brynden beat Bittersteel again . And after that, King Aerys died, and his brother
Maekar became king. Then when Maekar died, there was a succession
problem – cause most of Maekar’s children were dead or dumb or– female. So Bloodraven called a big meeting to decide
who should be the next king . He even invited a surviving Blackfyre to the council. Bloodraven pinky-promised that he totally
wouldn’t kill the Blackfyre when he arrived, and when he arrived, Bloodraven totally killed
him . The council chose Aegon the Fifth Targaryen, or Egg, to be king. And the first thing King Egg did was to arrest
Bloodraven. Cause if the Hand of the King goes round killing
people he promised not to kill, people would stop trusting the government. Brynden argued “that he had sacrificed his
own … honor for the good of the realm” . But still, he had to be punished. So he was sent to join the Night’s Watch
on the Wall – Maester Aemon joined the Watch at the same time . Brynden eventually became
Lord Commander of the Watch, and led them for years, until one day, he went off for
a ciggy and never came back – presumed dead beyond the Wall . The next time we see Brynden,
it’s fifty years later, when Bran meets him as the three-eyed crow. So what happened? How did this Targaryen bastard become an ancient
tree wizard? And what does he want? Magic in Game of Thrones is connected to family
heritage, or blood. The Targaryen family, with the blood of Valyria,
are connected to dragons and fire magic. The Stark family, with the blood of the First
Men, are connected to the old gods, weirwood trees and warging magic. Bloodraven is special because he has the blood
of both Valyria and the First Men – his father is a Targaryen, and his mother is a
Blackwood. The Blackwood family descend from the First
Men, and their heraldry is a weirwood tree – a symbol of the old gods. [] It’s hinted that Brynden was into the
old gods from early on. His longbow at the Redgrass Field was made
of weirwood . Brynden’s pale skin and red eyes look just like a weirwood’s face, with
white bark and red sap eyes. And the rumours that Brynden could transform
into a dog and control wolves and spy with crows sounds just like skinchanging powers
– like how Bran wargs into animals – maybe young Brynden could that too. He might also have had green dreams – visions
of the future like Jojen has . And at the Night’s Watch, Brynden might have seen the
threat of the white walkers. [] So Brynden was drawn north, beyond the
Wall, to a cave beneath a great weirwood tree. Brynden merged with the weirwood, its roots
growing through his body, extending his life, and heightening his power as a greenseer – which
means he skinchanges into animals, sees through the eyes of trees, and has visions of future
and past . Brynden sat dreaming, watching, and scheming for fifty years, waiting for
Bran Stark. [] Apparently, Bran has a special destiny
as a greenseer like Brynden . So Brynden visits Bran in dreams in the form of a three-eyed
crow, and tells him to fly, to wake his magic , and he sends Jojen to take Bran north . Brynden
says Bran is important for the war against the white walkers . And it looks like he’s
right – in the show, Bran uses his powers to spy on the walkers with ravens, and he
has psychic contact with the Night King . It looks like Brynden succeeds in empowering
Bran to fight for life against the night – but Brynden’s influence goes much deeper. When Jon Snow joins the Night’s Watch, Lord
Commander Mormont has a pet raven. And the raven speaks – usually just repeating
words that it hears, but sometimes it seems to understand what’s happening, and influences
the story. When the Watch elects a new Lord Commander,
the raven says “Snow, snow, snow”, and lands on Jon’s shoulder – which helps
get Jon chosen as leader . The bird often says “King” around Jon – in Book 5,
it says “King … Snow, Jon Snow” . And just before that, the raven appears in a dream
Jon has, where he fights “dead men” with a burning sword . So what’s happening here? Many readers believe that this raven is controlled
from afar by Bloodraven. We do know that he uses birds to spy and enter
dreams. So he’s probably using this bird to spy
on the Night’s Watch, and to influence Jon. Brynden not only helps Jon lead the Watch,
it looks like he wants Jon to be King of Westeros. Which might be why in Season 6, Brynden shows
Bran Jon’s birth – as the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon is “the
heir to the Iron Throne” . And he has the blood of both the First Men and Valyria, just
like Bloodraven. This dream of the dead and a burning sword
sounds like Azor Ahai, a hero prophesied to save the world from darkness. Brynden’s interest in this prophecy might
come from his Targaryen side. Cause as Brynden says “There have always
been Targaryens who dreamed of things to come” – who had visions of the future. And many Targaryens are especially interested
in Azor Ahai. Rhaegar was into this prophecy – it might
have been why he ran off with Lyanna and fathered Jon. Rhaegar’s parents Aerys and Rhaella got
married because a witch said that Azor Ahai “would be born of their line” . Aemon
was into this prophecy , and Brynden served with Aemon on the Wall for nineteen years
. King Aerys was into prophecy , and Shiera was into “ancient scrolls” . So, much
of Brynden’s family was into prophecy, especially Azor Ahai. So it’s likely that Brynden was also into
this stuff. With all of his wisdom and visions as a Targaryen
and a greenseer, Brynden must have worked out that Jon is probably Azor Ahai, and this
explains why Brynden helps him. In fact, this might explain a lot of what
Brynden does. Judging by Aerys and Rhaegar’s marriages,
it seems that a particular Targaryen bloodline is expected to produce Azor Ahai. Maybe the reason why Brynden was so focussed
on stopping the Blackfyres wasn’t just politics or beef with Bittersteel, it was Brynden trying
to protect the special bloodline that he believed led to the hero who’d save the world. This might have been why King Aerys refused
to have children , why Egg was chosen as King, even why Egg married a Blackwood with the
blood of the First Men. This might all have been Bloodraven’s influence,
guiding the Targaryens on a hundred-year Bene Gesseritine eugenic quest to breed Azor Ahai. There’s no knowing how deep this goes, but
at the very least it looks like Brynden helps Jon because he believes that Jon is the hero
Westeros needs – the rightful king, Azor Ahai, the hero who’ll save the world – with
the help of the greenseer Bran. Brynden is combining the power of the Targaryens
and the old gods, fire and ice, to save the world from the Long Night. But – what about Daenerys? Daenerys obviously has a big part to play
in the song of ice and fire. Like Jon, she’s a Targaryen who could fit
the prophecy of Azor Ahai, and is making a claim on the Iron Throne. So why doesn’t Brynden help her? Dany spends most of the series in the east,
across the narrow sea, which might be Brynden’s blind spot. The magic of greensight seems limited to the
lands where weirwoods grow, so Brynden might not know that this distant dragon queen is
legit. Or, maybe, Brynden’s already got someone
on the job. In Book and Season 2, Daenerys meets Quaithe,
a mysterious masked woman who visits Dany in dreams and gives her cryptic advice. There’s a theory that Quaithe is actually
Brynden’s sister-lover Shiera Seastar. Both these characters are mysterious magical
women associated with stars . [] And of course, Shiera was born a hundred years ago, so like
Brynden, she’d need some magic to keep her alive – and as it happens, both Shiera and
her mother are said to use magic to preserve their beauty . Maybe Shiera uses magic to
extend her life as Quaithe. And the mask Quaithe wears might hide Shiera’s
famous beauty. So, there’s no strong evidence here, but
it would super cool if Quaithe is Shiera – after all these years still working with Brynden,
using sorcery to spy and influence, just as they did in King’s Landing, but now at a
greater scale. Brynden watches Jon and Bran in the west,
while Shiera watches Dany in the east – the world of ice and fire guided by the most magical
and incestuous power couple in the series. Brynden’s influence could really be godlike. He can enter dreams, see through trees, control
animals. So it’s possible that Brynden sent these
direwolf pups to keep an eye on the Starks . He might have sent the boar that killed
King Robert, and the bear that Tormund fucked . The weirwood dream that led Jaime to Brienne
. Beric’s magic in that weirwood cave , the Ghost of High Heart . Coldhands and Sam , and
Joramun’s Horn – there are a million little ways that Brynden might influence the story
… as well as through Dany and Bran and Jon and the last hundred years of Targaryen monarchy. Brynden is the Westerosilluminati, pulling
the strings, controlling everything – and it’s all towards the goal of saving the
world. So Brynden’s… a hero. A good guy – right? Bloodraven is aa spooky motherfucker. He looks like a “corpse”, a “ghastly
statue … of twisted wood, old bone, and rotted wool” , living in a dark cave that
is literally littered with skulls. He hangs out with a corpse-man and some creepy
forest elves. He tells Bran to “Never fear the darkness”,
“Darkness will make you strong” . He often sounds more like the Emperor than like Obi-Wan. So if it looks like a bad guy, and quacks
like a bad guy… Is Bloodraven a bad guy? There are theories that he’s secretly evil. Like, maybe Brynden only wants Bran because
Brynden’s old body is dying, and he plans to steal Bran’s young body – magic bodysnatching
is a thing in Book 5. Others think that Brynden is secretly helping
the white walkers wipe out humanity. Melisandre does have a vision of Brynden where
she thinks he’s with the evil Great Other . And there is the possibility that Brynden
is manipulated by the children of the forest, and their psychic weirwood hivemind – author
George Martin has written stories about evil seductive alien hiveminds. [] But what we’ve seen in the text suggests
that Brynden is something more interesting than a bad guy – he’s a guy who does bad
things for good reasons. He kills his half-brother to end a war. He lies and betrays to keep the peace. He spies, assassinates, manipulates – all
for the sake of the realm. So Brynden’s not straight-up evil. He’s something almost scarier – a man
who gets good outcomes at any cost. Like, with Bran, Brynden empowers a hero to
save the world – but he also lures a crippled eight year old boy on a dangerous journey
that kills his friends to change Bran into something he never wanted to become. Bran comes north hoping that Brynden would
be a nice wizard who’d “fix his legs” . He never signed up to become a tree boy,
but by the time he arrives he hardly has a choice. Brynden manipulates Bran – at one point,
he magically edits Bran’s memories so that he forgets Jaime crippling him . Brynden’s
agent Coldhands secretly feeds Bran human flesh, and possibly also dead body of Jojen
– go watch that video. Also, in the show, a side-effect of Bran’s
power is that he becomes robotic and dehumanised – Meera says it’s like Bran died . So,
yeah, Brynden does terrible things. But what makes him an interesting character
is that he does these bad things for good reasons – he’s trying to save the world. Game of Thrones often explores this idea of
ends justifying means. When Stannis considers killing a child to
win the realm, he asks “what is the life of one … boy against a kingdom?” And Davos says “Everything” . If we sacrifice
our basic humanity and compassion, what kind of world are we even saving? Brynden’s extreme means may lead to unforeseen
consequences. In Bran’s dream in Book 1, Bran falls towards
spikes of ice, and Brynden tells Bran to “Fly or die” – to force him to wake his magic. Bran succeeds, and flies over the spikes. But he sees “the bones of a thousand other
dreamers impaled” below. Which might suggest that Brynden has tried
to teach magic to other people this way. He has been sitting in his cave for fifty
years – maybe in that time, he’s tried other students. [] And one theory suggests that Brynden taught
Euron Greyjoy. Euron in the books is a mystical, scary figure
– his ship is crewed by mutes, the deck painted red to hide the blood. He has a magic horn called Dragonbinder, and
he captures and tortures priests, warlocks, and pregnant women – he’s planning a mass
blood sacrifice to transform himself into a Lovecraftian god. “These are the last days”, he says, “when
the world shall be broken and remade. A new god shall be born from the graves and
charnel pits”. The inspiration for this horrific apocalypse
might inadvertently come from Bloodraven. Cause there are hints of a connection between
Euron and Brynden. Euron calls himself “the Crow’s Eye”
, and his banner is a single red eye crowned by crows – which might refer to the single
red eye of Brynden the three-eyed crow. In Book 4, Euron says that when he was a boy,
he dreamed that he could fly. That if he just tries, if he leaps from a
tower, he might fly . And this is just what happens to Bran – he falls from a tower,
and Brynden visits his dream and tells him to try to fly. So maybe Brynden had seen magic potential
in young Euron, and made contact hoping to train him as a greenseer. But when he entered Euron’s dream and flung
the boy at psychic ice spikes, something went wrong, and Euron went rogue. Maybe seeing the heart of winter, staring
deep into the void, broke Euron’s mind somehow. Maybe seeing the threat of the walkers only
inspired Euron to bring the Long Night. Maybe this tantalising taste of arcane power
led to Euron’s obsession with collecting magic artefacts, warlocks, priests, crowns,
and exploiting them to bring about his apotheosis. In the next book, Euron is set to bring some
serious grimdark shit on Westeros. And this might not have happened if it weren’t
for Bloodraven being so single-minded in his goals that he goes round psychically traumatising
children. You can make a similar argument about Brynden’s
political career – his harsh control of Westeros may have just fed more discontent
and rebellion. So you can see Bloodraven’s character as
a criticism of the idea of ends justifying means. Maybe if we forget compassion and caution
we may only create more darkness. A lot of Bloodraven’s early history is told
in the Dunk and Egg prequel stories, collected in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. It tells the story of the Blackfyre conspiracy
uncovered by Bloodraven and Maynard Plumm – plotting and scheming and talking smack
a hundred years before the main series. The Dunk and Egg stories are short, self-contained
tales of Westeros that take just a few hours to hear on audiobook. You can listen to all of these stories now
for free at with a 30-day trial at Audible. Membership gives you a free audiobook each
month, and even if you cancel, you keep the books. To sign up, visit, or text
asx to 500-500. Thank you to these artists – links to their
work are below. And check out PoorQuentyn, who writes brilliant
analysis of Euron’s eldritch apocalypse. Thank you to the Patrons, including Amelie
Ruppert, Greg Leask, Kenny Arnold and Knobiknows. Cheers.

39 thoughts on “Bloodraven: what’s the three-eyed raven’s secret plan?



  3. Forget about Ramsay and the Mountain, Euron and this guy are the single most evil and horrible characters. Hopefully they die (for the good of the world).

  4. I've watched a lot of your videos, I wish the creators would of hired you because almost none of your theories came to light in the show and they are far more entertaining than any of the crap they came up with.

  5. so stupid how the show built up Bran falling and going to the three eyed raven/crow just so he could spy on them, and in the end not even tell anyone where the night king is smh

  6. Bloodravens constant thought s the weirwood cave..why did I have to kill my own brother..stupid cunt am cursed

  7. Just finished A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and immediately watched this, a perfect supplement for info I was a little fuzzy on

  8. You must have been disappointed when Bran becomes King. Are they planning a Season 9 perhaps down the road where Jon does become King?

  9. Plot twist: After season 7 GRRM decided he could not let this version of his books (season7 was a dumpster fire) and decided to drown the entire thing to force people to read the books, helping increase literacy proficiency in the population.

  10. The 3 eyed raven plot turned out to be a complete waste of time, investment, and potential. Thanks Dumb and Dumber.

  11. Ugh, the Azor Ahai prophecy, the Targaryen and the Stark blood … Jon is my king. Fuck DnD. Season 8 doesn't exist.

  12. Man I wish I didn't watch this video. It promises so much that I can't help but hope it's true. If it isn't then…

  13. I've seen a theory that states that BR is not in fact the Three Eyed Crow. It's also a very good read.

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