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Brandon Stark, typically called Bran, is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of epic fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones.

Bran Stark
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Game of Thrones
character
Bran Stark - Isaac Hempstead-Wright.jpeg
First appearance
Last appearance
Created byGeorge R. R. Martin
Portrayed byIsaac Hempstead Wright
(Game of Thrones)
Information
Alias
  • Novels:
  • The Winged Wolf
  • Television:
  • Little Lord
  • Three-Eyed Raven
  • Bran the Broken
GenderMale
Title
  • Lord of Winterfell
  • Prince (of Winterfell)
  • Television:
  • King of the Andals and the First Men
  • Lord of the Six Kingdoms
  • Protector of the Realm
FamilyHouse Stark
Relatives
KingdomThe North

Introduced in 1996's A Game of Thrones, Bran is the second eldest son and fourth child of Eddard Stark, the honorable lord of Winterfell, an ancient fortress in the North of the fictional kingdom of Westeros. He subsequently appeared in Martin's A Clash of Kings (1998) and A Storm of Swords (2000). Bran was one of a few prominent characters that were not included in 2005's A Feast for Crows, but returned in the next novel A Dance with Dragons (2011). Bran dreams of becoming a knight, but is rendered paraplegic by Jaime Lannister early into the first novel after discovering the latter's incestuous affair with Cersei Lannister. He is subsequently plagued by dreams of a mysterious figure beckoning him to travel beyond the Wall. Bran's journey alongside a variety companions lead him deeper into the lore and magic of the North, where he begins to discover various mysterious powers and abilities.

Martin told Rolling Stone in 2014 that Bran's momentous chapter with Jaime and Cersei is what "hooked" many readers early in the first novel.[1]

Bran is portrayed by English actor Isaac Hempstead Wright in the HBO television adaptation.[2] Bran's characterization in later seasons of the show, including his relationship to the White Walkers and the Night King, have generated many theories in the fandom, as well as significant critical interest.

Contents

Character overviewEdit

The very first — and youngest — point of view character in the novels, Bran was set up by Martin as a young hero of the series. Mikal Gilmore of Rolling Stone noted in 2014 that the moment in A Game of Thrones in which Jaime Lannister pushes Bran to his likely death "grabs you by the throat".[1] Martin commented in the interview:

I've had a million people tell me that was the moment that hooked them, where they said, "Well, this is just not the same story I read a million times before." Bran is the first viewpoint character. In the back of their heads, people are thinking Bran is the hero of the story. He's young King Arthur. We're going to follow this young boy–and then, boom: You don't expect something like that to happen to him. So that was successful [laughs].[1]

In 2000, Martin called Bran the hardest character to write:

Number one, he is the youngest of the major viewpoint characters, and kids are difficult to write about. I think the younger they are, the more difficult. Also, he is the character most deeply involved in magic, and the handling of magic and sorcery and the whole supernatural aspect of the books is something I'm trying to be very careful with. So I have to watch that fairly sharply. All of which makes Bran's chapters tricky to write.[3]

Booklist cited Bran as a notable character in 1999,[4] and the Publishers Weekly review of A Game of Thrones noted, "It is fascinating to watch Martin's characters mature and grow, particularly Stark's children, who stand at the center of the book."[5]

Noting Bran's absence in 2005's A Feast for Crows, James Poniewozik of Time wrote in his review of A Dance with Dragons (2011):

Some favorite characters were MIA for eleven long years. ADWD brings them back—bastard warrior Jon Snow, exiled dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen, fugitive dwarf Tyrion Lannister and crippled, mystical Bran Stark, among others—and almost from the get-go that gives it a narrative edge over its companion book. Each, in his or her own way, is dealing with a question of power.[6]

DescriptionEdit

Bran is seven years old at the beginning of A Game of Thrones (1996). He is the fourth child and second son of Eddard "Ned" Stark and his wife Lady Catelyn, and has five siblings: an older brother Robb, two older sisters Sansa and Arya, a younger brother Rickon, and an illegitimate older half-brother Jon Snow. Bran is constantly accompanied by his direwolf Summer, the simpleton stableboy Hodor (who carries him around after his crippling), and the Reed siblings Meera and Jojen.

Martin describes Bran as favoring his mother in appearance, having the thick auburn hair and deep blue eyes of the Tullys.[7] According to Martin, Bran is a strong willed, but sweet and thoughtful boy, well-loved by everyone at Winterfell. He enjoys climbing and exploring the walls and ramparts of the castle;[8][9] he is also dutiful and tough-minded.

With his dreams of being a knight dashed by the crippling attempt on his life in A Game of Thrones, duty forces Bran to overcome his new limitations and embrace his new abilities.[10] His gradual acceptance of his seemingly-prophetic visions (called the "greensight") and his ability to psychically inhabit his direwolf Summer (which marks him as a type of skinchanger known as a warg) show his growing maturity and his worth beyond the loss of his legs.[10] He also manages to enter Hodor's mind, and later skinchanges into crows and even weirwood trees under the mentorship of the Three-Eyed Crow.

StorylinesEdit

 
Coat of arms of House Stark

A Game of ThronesEdit

In A Game of Thrones (1996), Bran accidentally sees Queen Cersei Lannister and her brother Ser Jaime having sex; whereupon he is pushed from the window by Jaime to keep the incest a secret, but he survives in a coma.[9] While Bran remains unconscious, an attempt is made on his life,[11] and Catelyn delays the assassin long enough for Bran’s direwolf, Summer, to kill him. Senseless, Bran dreams of his falling from the tower and of a three-eyed crow that offers to teach him to fly. With the crow's guidance, Bran wakes; but having been crippled by the fall, he is unable to walk. Thereafter he relies on the giant simpleton Hodor, and a harness designed by Tyrion Lannister, to move. When Robb rides south to relieve Ned's arrest in King's Landing, Bran becomes the acting Lord of Winterfell.

A Clash of KingsEdit

1998's A Clash of Kings finds Robb named King in the North, and Bran, as Robb's heir, rules the castle in his brother's absence.[10] When Theon Greyjoy betrays the Starks and captures Winterfell, Bran and Rickon escape, aided by the wildling Osha. To hide his failure, Theon has two other children murdered and proclaims them to be Bran and Rickon. Theon himself is betrayed by Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose Bolton. Having been hiding in the crypts of Winterfell, Bran and his companions emerge to find the castle in ruins. They come upon a mortally wounded Maester Luwin, who advises their traveling party to split. Osha takes Rickon in the direction of White Harbor, while Bran, Hodor, Meera, and Jojen Reed set off north to seek the three-eyed raven. Meanwhile, Bran has slowly accepted the veracity of his dreams, and his ability to psychically inhabit Summer, which makes him a type of skin-changer known as a warg.[10]

A Storm of SwordsEdit

Bran, Hodor, Meera and Jojen travel north to the Wall in search of the three-eyed crow in A Storm of Swords (2000).

A Dance with DragonsEdit

In A Dance with Dragons (2011), Bran, Hodor, Meera and Jojen are joined by the mysterious Coldhands, and a Child of the Forest named Leaf takes them to the three-eyed crow (actually a human telepath), who in turn offers to train Bran in clairvoyance.

Family tree of House StarkEdit

TV adaptationEdit

 
Isaac Hempstead Wright plays the role of Bran Stark in the television series.

Bran Stark is played by Isaac Hempstead Wright in the television adaption of the series of books.

StorylinesEdit

Brandon "Bran" Stark is the second son and fourth child of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. He was named after his deceased uncle, Brandon.

Season 1Edit

Bran receives one of a litter of recovered direwolves given to the Stark children and names him Summer. During the King's visit to Winterfell, Bran accidentally interrupts the Queen, Cersei, having sex with her brother, Jaime, who shoves him from the window. While he is unconscious and recovering from his injuries, Summer kills an assassin sent to murder Bran. When he awakens Bran cannot recall the events before his fall and finds that he is crippled from the waist down, forced to be carried everywhere by the stableboy Hodor. Slowly, he realizes that he has gained the ability to assume Summer's consciousness, making him a warg or a skinchanger. After his older brother, Robb, is crowned King in the North, Bran becomes Robb's heir and the Lord of Winterfell.

Season 2Edit

After Theon Greyjoy captures Winterfell, Osha helps Bran and his younger brother Rickon go into hiding. To cement his claim on Winterfell, Theon has two orphan boys killed and their bodies burned, and passes their charred bodies corpses off as Bran and Rickon. After Theon's men betray him and Winterfell is sacked, Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha and their direwolves head north to find his older brother Jon Snow for safety.

Season 3Edit

Bran and his group encounter Jojen and Meera Reed, two siblings who aid them in their quest. Jojen shares Bran's "greensight" and tutors him in his prophetic visions. After coming close to the Wall, Osha departs with Rickon for Last Hearth (to keep him safe) while Bran insists on following his visions beyond the Wall. Bran and his group encounter Sam and Gilly, who try to persuade Bran not to venture beyond the Wall, but Bran claims it is his destiny and leaves through the gate with Hodor and the Reeds.

Season 4Edit

During their travels beyond the Wall, Bran and his group stumble across Craster's Keep, where they are captured and held by Night's Watch mutineers, led by Karl Tanner. Night's Watchmen led by Jon eventually converge on Craster's Keep, but Locke, an agent of Roose Bolton, pretending to be a new Watch recruit, finds Bran first and takes him hostage. Bran wargs into Hodor and snaps Locke's neck. The group then continues on without telling Jon, who Jojen claims would stop them. Bran eventually reaches the heart tree but are set upon by wights outside the entrance. Jojen is killed in the attack, but the Children of the Forest lead Bran and his company safely into a magic cave, to meet the Three-Eyed Raven. The Three-Eyed Raven declares that Bran will not walk again but will fly, instead.

Season 6Edit

As part of his training, Bran is shown several visions of the past, including Ned Stark and Howland Reed confronting Ser Arthur Dayne and Ser Gerold Hightower at the Tower of Joy, and sees how the Children of the Forest injected one of the First Men with dragonglass in a ritual to create the Night King, the first White Walker, as a defense against the other First Men. However, the Three-Eyed Raven is always quick to withdraw Bran from the visions, warning that he may become trapped in them if he stays too long. Growing bored with his slow progress, Bran enters a vision on his own and witnesses the Night King in the present day, who sees Bran and marks him, making the Three-Eyed Raven's cave vulnerable to the White Walkers' magic.

The Three-Eyed Raven enters Bran into another vision of Winterfell's past to impart all his knowledge, but before the transfer is completed the White Walkers attack the cave, killing the Three-Eyed Raven, Summer, and the Children of the Forest. Bran, still caught in the vision, wargs into Hodor through the latter's younger self (named Wylis), and he and Meera flee as Hodor carries Bran's unconscious body out of the cave. Meera carries Bran into the forest, while Hodor gives his life to hold back the cave door against the army of wights until they overwhelm him. Bran witnesses how his warging accidentally linked Hodor's past and present mind, inducing a brain damaging seizure in young Wylis and causing him to repeat Meera's command to "hold the door" over and over, until he can only slur the word "Hodor".

After the wight army catches up to them again, Bran and Meera are rescued by Bran's uncle Benjen Stark, who had been killed by the White Walkers several years prior but was revived by the Children. Benjen whisks the duo to safety and advises that Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven and must learn to control his powers before the Night King attacks the Seven Kingdoms. Benjen leaves Bran and Meera at the weirwood in the Haunted Forest, as the Wall's magic prevents the dead (and therefore, Benjen) from passing it. Bran touches the weirwood and witnesses the rest of the vision of Ned Stark at the Tower of Joy. He discovers that Lyanna Stark died giving birth to Rhaegar Targaryen's son Aegon, whom Ned found and raised as Jon Snow at Lyanna's dying request.

Season 7Edit

Bran returns to Winterfell, which has been rebuilt and reoccupied by the remaining Starks. Jon Snow has traveled to Dragonstone to meet with Daenerys Targaryen, after which he is finally reunited at Winterfell with Sansa and Arya, who are both concerned by Bran's knowledge about their tribulations following Ned's execution. Littlefinger gives Bran a Valyrian steel dagger (the one used by Bran's would-be assassin in season one), which Bran passes to Arya. Meera leaves Winterfell to return to Greywater Watch; Bran's indifference to her departure makes her realize that Bran "died" in the Three-Eyed Raven's cave. For that reason, Bran remains aloof to his siblings as well. He uses his greenseeing abilities to discover Littlefinger's betrayal of Ned. When Sansa confronts Littlefinger about his treason towards House Stark, Bran corroborates the accusations leveled against him, and Arya executes Littlefinger at Sansa's command.

Samwell Tarly arrives in Winterfell and comes to visit Bran. Bran tells Sam his discovery that Jon is the bastard son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, but Sam mentions a former High Septon's record of annulling Rhaegar's marriage to Elia Martell so that he could marry Lyanna. Bran uses greenseeing to confirm that the marriage took place, and then revisits the vision of the Tower of Joy, discovering that's Jon's real name is Aegon Targaryen. Bran declares that Jon is therefore the heir to the Iron Throne.

Season 8Edit

Bran is reunited with Jon when he returns to Winterfell with Daenerys Targaryen and her forces, and reveals to them that the Night King has reanimated Daenerys' dragon Viserion and used it to breach the Wall. Jaime later arrives at Winterfell to aid in the fight against the dead, but Bran does not reveal Jaime's role in crippling him.

At the war council before the battle against the dead, Bran reveals that the Night King desires to create an endless winter and will try to kill him during the battle, due to his ability to view humanity's collective memories. He convinces the council to let him wait in the Godswood as bait for the Night King. Theon, who has returned to Winterfell to fight the dead with his men, offers to defend Bran, and Jon and Daenerys plan to hide in wait to attack the Night King when he emerges. The Night King eventually breaches the castle and approaches Bran, killing Theon in the process. He is about to kill Bran, but Arya intervenes and manages to stab the Night King with the Valyrian steel dagger, eliminating him as well as all the other White Walkers and undead he resurrected.

In the series finale of Game of Thrones, titled "The Iron Throne", Westeros is left without a ruler when Daenerys is killed by Jon, who is arrested. Tyrion Lannister makes a case before a council of the lords and ladies of Westeros that Bran ought to be made king, reasoning that it would make a good story to unite the people. Tyrion also suggests that future kings be elected by the lords of Westeros rather than inheriting the crown. When Tyrion asks Bran if he is willing to be king, Bran replies: "Why do you think I came all this way?"[12] The council holds a vote and all acquiesce except for Sansa, who instead requests the North's independence. Bran agrees, being stylized as Bran the Broken, King of the Six Kingdoms, then appoints Tyrion as his Hand of the King; later Brienne, Bronn, Davos, and Sam form a yet-to-be-completed Small Council. Bran sentences Jon to rejoin the Night's Watch as penance for killing Daenerys. As Jon leaves, he apologizes to Bran for not being there for him, but Bran replied: "You were there exactly where you needed to be."[13] Ultimately, Bran tasks himself with finding Drogon.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Gilmore, Mikal (April 23, 2014). "George R.R. Martin: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  2. ^ "Game of Thrones Cast and Crew: Bran Stark played by Isaac Hempstead Wright". HBO. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  3. ^ Robinson, Tasha (December 11, 2000). "Interview: George R.R. Martin continues to sing a magical tale of ice and fire". Science Fiction Weekly. scifi.com. 6, No. 50 (190). Archived from the original on February 23, 2002. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  4. ^ Johnson, Roberta (January 1999). "Reviews: A Clash of Kings". Booklist. Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "Fiction review: A Game of Thrones". Publishers Weekly. July 29, 1996. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  6. ^ Poniewozik, James (July 12, 2011). "The Problems of Power: George R.R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons". Time. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  7. ^ "Game of Thrones Chapter 7". Westeros.org.
  8. ^ "Game of Thrones Chapter 6". Westeros.org.
  9. ^ a b "Game of Thrones Chapter 8". Westeros.org.
  10. ^ a b c d "A Clash of Kings: Analysis of Major Characters (Bran Stark)". SparkNotes. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Game of Thrones Chapter 14". Westeros.org.
  12. ^ Wigler, Josh. "How 'Game of Thrones' Set the Stage for That Series Finale Twist". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  13. ^ McKenna, Henry. "5 burning questions after the 'Game of Thrones' series finale". USA Today. Retrieved 20 May 2019.