No wonder Tormund can’t keep his eyes off of her.
VANITY FAIR – This weekend Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin gave what has become an increasingly rare public appearance at Balticon—a Comic-Con of sorts in Baltimore. Martin appeared before the crowd several times and even read out an all-new chapter from The Winds of Winter—something he hasn’t done in years. Some show watchers might be intrigued by the timing of this new Greyjoy-centric chapter—like the release of the Dorne and Sansa chapters before it, the new Euron-heavy section seems to comment on some of adaptive choices a recent HBO episode. But the most interesting bit of news for non-book-readers actually has to do with a spoiler-free reveal about Brienne. The lady from Tarth just got a very flattering new backstory.
By most metrics, Brienne’s backstory in both the books and the show is pretty distressing. The lady warrior lost both her mother and all of her siblings and, despite her father’s efforts to marry her off, suffered through three broken engagements. She was mocked, scorned, and rejected in a way the show beautifully captured in the Season 5 scene between Podrick and Brienne when she talked about Renly, one of the only men she ever met who was kind to her. “‘Brienne the Beauty,’ they called me. Great joke. And I realized I was the ugliest girl alive—a great, lumbering beast.”
But, in one move, Martin has given Brienne’s non-dainty frame tremendous new meaning. Brienne, he announced to the Baltic crowd, is the descendent of Ser Duncan the Tall and let me explain, show watchers, what that little detail means.
Ser Duncan the Tall is one of the most famous knights in all of Westeros. Though the show doesn’t have the luxury of delving into history all that often, it made some room for Ser Duncan in Season 4 when Joffrey was flipping through the history of the knights of the Kingsguard. “Ser Duncan the Tall. Four pages for Ser Duncan. He must have been quite a man,” Joffrey sneered. “So they say,” his father/uncle Jaime replied.
But while the show hasn’t dwelled too long on Ser Duncan, the character is a particular favorite of Martin’s. The author loved him so much, he’s written a whole series of novellas about the tales of Ser Duncan “Dunk” the Tall and his squire “Egg.” The books were also turned into graphic novels released by Marvel.
And Martin recently said that if HBO were to make a spin-off of Game of Thrones, he would want them to be about Dunk and Egg. “Each of the novellas could easily be done as a two-hour stand-alone movie for television,” he said. “That would probably be the ideal way to do them, rather than as an ongoing weekly series. The Hedge Knight and its sequels are lighter [in tone] than A Song of Ice and Fire, more in the realm of action/adventure.”
The parallels between Dunk and Egg and Brienne and Pod are clear enough that book readers picked up on a possible connection years ago. Alongside a shield-related Easter egg in A Feast for Crows, Martin used the same phrase, “thick as a castle wall” to refer to both Brienne and Dunk. But by explicitly drawing a connection between Brienne and his clear favorite, Martin helps remove some of the stigma surrounding Brienne’s appearance. Dunk was famous for his height, his chivalry, and his fighting prowess. So, too, is his female descendent. No wonder Tormund is so smitten.