From the Maester’s Desk: The Brotherhood Beyond Game of Thrones

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From the Maester’s Desk is a weekly column about the book-to-show adaptations of the characters, world and other elements from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Apart from analyzing the differences between the two mediums, it offers bits of trivia, speculation and educated guesses about the future of the story in both the books and the TV show. The article contains spoilers from ASOIAF.


Gendry: I’m not whinging. 

The Hound: Your lips are moving and you’re complaining about something. That’s whinging. This one’s been killed six times. You don’t hear him whinging about it.

Last Sunday’s episode was proof that while both the books and the show will eventually reach the same destination, the road will certainly be a different one. And I’m not talking about traveling distances or the airspeed velocity of non-unladen dragons (now, are we talking Westerosi or Valyrian dragons? The Bridge Keeper may want to know), but rather how unlikely is that we’ll see that same scenario in the books, considering the characters.

Beric Dondarrion is already dead in the novels, after giving his life force to Catelyn Stark. Can you imagine Lady Stoneheart fighting alongside Jon against a swarm of wights? Probably not, but it’s something I’d like to see fan art of.

The Brotherhood’s origin is the same in both the novels and the show. Lord Eddard Stark sends a force commanded by Lord Beric to deliver the King’s Justice to Gregor Cleagane and his men, who are terrorizing the innocent people from the Riverlands.

Beric fails this mission and gets killed by the Mountain, but is accidentally revived by Thoros of Myr, a red priest who regains his faith after said event.

After the deaths of both King Robert and Lord Eddard, Beric decides to assume command of his ragtag band instead of surrender, and to keep fighting for the common folk, who provide the Brotherhood with food and shelter in exchange for their protection.

Arya Gendry Hot PIe

It’s after Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie meet them when the paths start to diverge.

In the books, Gendry is allowed to join the Brotherhood’s ranks, but in the show, he’s given to Melisandre in exchange for gold. This proved somewhat controversial, as it turned the Brotherhood into a decidedly less noble version of their literary counterpart, but I thought it was a clever way to merge the Edric Storm subplot (a considerably minor character who was going to be sacrificed by Melisandre for his “king’s blood” and is subsequently rescued by Davos) and to make the character bond with Davos Seaworth.

This not only gave Davos something to do while Tyrion went to meet Jaime in “Eastwatch”, but also made the return of Gendry feel more satisfying (RIP all the “Still Rowing” memes).

The loss of Beric and the turning of Stoneheart as the Brotherhood’s de facto leader accelerated the band’s corruption, to the point that Thoros even laments they are no better than common criminals. Many members desert as a result, not agreeing with Stoneheart’s revenge-driven campaign, since she hangs anyone perceived as a traitor, no matter if they are actually underage and/or innocent and didn’t take part in the Red Wedding. Such is the case of Brienne of Tarth, her squire Podrick Payne and Ser Hyle Hunt (a knight who joined Brienne’s quest of looking for Sansa), who are sentenced to death unless Brienne kills Jaime Lannister.

Podrick Brienne Spoils of War

Gendry is still with the Brotherhood, working as a smith at the Inn at the Crossroads, the place where Hot Pie is working as a baker in the TV show. In the books, the original owner was hanged by Tywin Lannister, as revenge for allowing Tyrion to be taken by Catelyn Stark. In the books, the inn is now seemingly under control of the Brotherhood, who use it as a shelter for orphans. The place is now run by two of the original owner’s nieces (Jeyne and Willow).

The future of both the Brotherhood and Gendry in the books seems hazy. I think it’ll depend in part in how Brienne’s plan plays out. I don’t believe she’ll kill Jaime or turn him in to be made a prisoner of the Brotherhood, but she wouldn’t abandon Pod and Hyle either. Either they’ll trick or convince Stoneheart to be released, or they’ll kill her and the Brotherhood.

It does seem cruel to bring Catelyn back only to be killed again soon after that fact, not to mention pointless, so I doubt she’s going to die by either Brienne’s or Jaime’s hand. It is true that Thoros could revive her, but why would he, considering he’s unhappy with the direction she’s taking the Brotherhood. If anything, her demise would probably come as a relief to him.

Gendry is a small enough character in the books that I doubt he’ll have a big role to play out in either The Winds of Winter or A Dream of Spring. He’ll most likely remain low-profile, but I’m expecting to be surprised by Martin.

Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr.

In Game of Thrones, Sandor made it clear to Beric that he’s now in his last life, after Thoros was killed by the undead polar bear (how badass was that? An element from A Storm of Swords that I didn’t expect to ever see in the show). We can safely assume that he’ll remain near Jon to battle the Night King’s forces, and will probably go down doing so.

Even if you’re a fan of Lady Stoneheart, can we agree that keeping Beric and Thoros around are among the best decisions the showrunners have taken so far? Their banter with the Hound and other characters has been pure gold for me. And it doesn’t hurt to have the help of someone who wields a flaming sword.

17 705 - King's Landing - Gendry 1

As for Gendry, the Baratheon bastard is one of the few characters who I picture making it to the very end of the story. He could very well be a casualty of the Great War that’s looming, but I think there’s a good chance he’ll survive and be legitimized as a Baratheon. So that noble house that seemed to go extinct after Stannis’s death could come back from the ashes and reforge its old alliance with House Stark.

The season finale is almost here, and then there’ll only be six more episodes to go. But what a ride it has been so far, right? For me it was really exciting to see many of my favorite characters joining forces, despite their very valid reasons to hate the guts of each other. It’s like Jon told Dany- they’re fighting together against a common enemy. Together.

23 responses

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    1. “(now, are we talking Westerosi or Valyrian dragons? The Bridge Keeper may want to know)”

      I see what you did there. *wink, nudge*

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    2. Thx for that piece, M. Interesting. As the show has established, Beric seems to have a significant purpose yet to come. I thought it would be during this past episode but his final life hopefully will do Thoros’ efforts proud.

      I also believe that LSH and the BwB will serve some greater purpose. Perhaps she (and Thoros) will enable the chain of resurrected life for a worthy one recently slain, perhaps she will complete her morbid existence exacting revenge on the entire Frey House, or perhaps she will finally get the truth from Howland Reed. It would seem a waste to kill her off early in TWoW during her powwow with Jaime, Brienne, Pod and Hyle.

      I like the symbolism associated with LSH. While Beric represented the unending war, fighting again and again, his life force chipped away with each rez, LSH represents the atrocious aftermath of war, the lingering vengeful, hateful spirit. GRRM created her to serve as a vile effect of the powerful magic wielded by the red priests. What undead quirk will Jon have, when Mel/R’hllor raises him from the dead in TWoW? Will he be unlike Beric or LSH? Will Ghost play a role?

      In a way, embattled Beric represented books 1-3 while dire LSH represents books 4-5 (especially book 4). If she does pass her existence on to someone else, perhaps it will be for a more positive (or bittersweet) cause as we approach (if we ever approach) the endgame in the books.

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    3. Can we agree that keeping Beric and Thoros around are among the best decisions the showrunners have taken so far? Their banter with the Hound and other characters has been pure gold for me. And it doesn’t hurt to have the help of someone who wields a flaming sword.

      100%. It’s remarkable the degree to which I’ve grown to love Beric on the show. I always liked the character on the page (and I certainly far preferred him to LS), but Richard Dormer has been killing it ever since he returned to Game of Thrones last year. The Lightning Lord is making the absolute most of his new, last lease on life. I’m so damn happy that he’s still around. And Paul Kaye always brought such remarkable empathy to his role as Thoros – a perfect blend of sadness, self-deprecating, and good humor. I’m sad that he’s gone, but I’m looking forward to his Curtain Call later this week.

      I definitely think that a bastard child of Robert will play a role in reconstituting House Baratheon by the end of the story. It may be Edric Storm in the novels, but Gendry is well-equipped to take on that role in the show, especially given his connection to Arya. That’s not to say that Robert’s proclamation about joining a son and a daughter of their houses needs to come to fruition (I’ve become quite intrigued by the idea of Arya ending the series by heading out to explore what’s “west of Westeros.”) But the possibility certainly exists.

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    4. Im enjoying these posts, and so agree with Jared about Beric. I liked him on the page, but even more so on the show. Really gonna miss his banter with Thoros. Re LSH, I know this is controversial, but I am really happy she did not appear in the show. In the book, she does give a sense of justice to the RW, until she starts going after Brienne and co. The band of brothers in the show seem to do so more effectively.

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    5. I’m a non-reader who’s been a larger fan of Beric than the character really seemed to deserve (at least based on his screentime/story function) ever since that fight with the Hound in season 3. The character seems to represent a sort of blend of romantic idealism and cynical realism. He and his brotherhood fight for the common people above the petty politics of the nobility, but they haven’t actually succeeded in stopping their opponents and the resulting counter-insurgency (or “suppression of banditry”, as they might put it) could well have left the Riverlands worse off. His original mission was to bring Gregor Clegane to justice, but instead he got killed and his resurrections just lead to him dying more times (and the closest Gregor has come to facing justice is the result of an underhanded & hotheaded aristocrat seeking revenge, precisely what Ned rejected by choosing the more disinterested Beric). As portrayed in the show (and I’ll give credit to Dormer’s performance here, certainly something we’d rather watch than mostly mute zombie Catelyn), Beric seems to have a rather positive attitude about his mission, but he’s also steadily dehumanized by death (leading ultimately to Stoneheart) and wouldn’t want anyone else to share that fate. Martin has talked about how he didn’t want death/resurrection to be cheap (as with Gandalf the White), with Beric paying the cost in physical & mental deterioration. That makes Jon’s consequence-free resurrection rather disappointing in comparison, but that’s where we can’t compare the show to the books because the latter hasn’t done that yet.

      I know that Ned was advised to send Loras Tyrell and/or Ilyn Payne against the Mountain for political reasons. Has anyone written out a counter-factual about what would have happened then?

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    6. “Here’s the thing, fat boy. When I’m done talking, that arrow’s falling down on your fat head. So I advise you move, because I’m done talking.”
      I really miss that guy.

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    7. Abhyudeya,

      That guy? Oh An Guy🏹

      Speaking of bows and brotherhoods. Any chance Blackfish runs into them in tWoW? Oh that BF shot was pretty awesome. I think I like the show version more.

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    8. FictionIsntReal,

      I wouldn’t be so sure Jon’s resurrection is 100% consequence-free until all is said and done. The show is still trying to make sure the audience keeps it in mind–and keeping Beric around to speak to him has only emphasized Jon’s new connection to the will of the Lord of Light, something they both share. There must be some reason for that.

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    9. Hodors Bastard,
      Jared,

      I agree with both of your comments 1000% (I know, statistically impossible, but gin don’t care and neither does Dornish red…)

      As I have detailed in numerous other posts, I do have some serious problems with D&D’s adaptation. Having said that: My favorite changes are 1) losing the character of LSH (which does, imho, dilute the power of the Red Wedding, as other commenters have argued) and 2) changing the character of Jorah. I’m usually a book purist (regardless of the book) when it comes to fundamentally changing characters’ motivations and arcs, but in the case of Jorah, I make a rare exception. I think he’s far, far better onscreen than on the page.

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    10. Merging Gendry and Edric’s storylines also allowed Melisandre to speak to Thoros about the power of resurrection and to meet Arya. Neither of those things happen in the books although Arya does meet the Ghost of High Heart.

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    11. Will always wonder who the ‘red-shirt-cannon-fodder’ were, Beric’s men?, didn’t seem to be freefolk, maybe Nights-Watch? *
      Never explained what happened to Anguy.

      *(Even on the show Eastwatch was not abandoned, but we don’t any Crows about.)

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    12. Great article. I enjoyed the Brotherhood in the books until LSH happened. I am glad that D&D took them in a different direction.

      The show’s Beric and Thoros are two of my favorite minor characters. They are great soldiers on a mission that has changed along the way and that they no longer completely understand. The performances of Dormer and Kaye perfectly communicate their world weariness, the horrors of war and the joylessness of fighting for the greater good.

      FictionIsntReal:
      I’m a non-reader who’s been a larger fan of Beric than the character really seemed to deserve (at least based on his screentime/story function) ever since that fight with the Hound in season 3. The character seems to represent a sort of blend of romantic idealism and cynical realism. He and his brotherhood fight for the common people above the petty politics of the nobility, but they haven’t actually succeeded in stopping their opponents and the resulting counter-insurgency (or “suppression of banditry”, as they might put it) could well have left the Riverlands worse off.

      What a wonderful description of Beric! I am glad that the show is giving him a larger role, in part because I get to listen to more of Richard Dormer’s beautiful voice. I find myself hanging on every word that he says.

      Azor Asshai:

      I wouldn’t be so sure Jon’s resurrection is 100% consequence-free until all is said and done. The show is still trying to make sure the audience keeps it in mind–and keeping Beric around to speak to him has only emphasized Jon’s new connection to the will of the Lord of Light, something they both share. There must be some reason for that.

      Excellent point. I agree that the conversation between Beric and Jon has a purpose. That conversation was meant to carry a great deal of weight.

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    13. Azor Asshai:
      FictionIsntReal,

      I wouldn’t be so sure Jon’s resurrection is 100% consequence-free until all is said and done. The show is still trying to make sure the audience keeps it in mind–and keeping Beric around to speak to him has only emphasized Jon’s new connection to the will of the Lord of Light, something they both share. There must be some reason for that.

      Jon may have been resurrected by the force/will of R’hllor and “in fire” but could also be said to have been reborn in ice thanks to his proximity to the Wall, the coldness of the North and Stark blood.

      I know it’s massively out there but what if in Hardhome, the NK wasn’t gesturing “Come at me” but “Come join me”? The NK didn’t exactly try that hard in “Beyond the Wall” whn Jon was pretty much at his mercy, maybe he recognises something in Jon that makes him a potential ally?

      As I said it’s very “left field” but perhaps the resurrection has made Jon a servant of either fire or ice. Thanks to this Jon could now be the restorer of balance.

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    14. I think that Beric’s purpose was to have that conversation with Jon. I predict him to be one of the first casualties once The Last War gets into full swing.

      I also don’t think we’ve seen the full story on Jon’s resurrection yet. If he serves at the pleasure of Rhllor, he probably won’t be needed once the Night King is dead, simple as that.

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    15. Cool piece Dark Lord! I see you’re not so mean as I thought you could be towards unCat Lol

      I think this is one of the storylines that is completely different. I don’t think there will be anything resembling this in the books. They used the BWB to link Sandor to the Wall. That was weird for me mainly because Sandor is so opposed to religion and any lord. But the irony of the fire vision presenting themselves for the Hound had a bit of poetic justice to it, considering the resistance he had to brother Ray’s teachings.

      In the end I enjoyed this storyline completely because I enjoyed the acting to the n-th degree. Exchanges that I never thought possible happened (Hijvu & Rory, Dormer & Harington). And the writing of those dialogs wasn’t half bad either.

      It does seem cruel to bring Catelyn back only to be killed again soon after that fact, not to mention pointless, so I doubt she’s going to die by either Brienne’s or Jaime’s hand.

      It is one of the mysteries I’m looking forward to! Catelyn will die eventually again, but who will do it? And will the Freys die en-masse at her hand or will she join her uncle in the fight?

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    16. Fienix:
      “(now, are we talking Westerosi or Valyrian dragons? The Bridge Keeper may want to know)”

      I see what you did there. *wink, nudge*

      Please explain!!!

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    17. Brienne’s arc in Book 4 reminded me of the movie Apocalypse Now (which is based on the book “Heart of Darkness”)…
      During the Vietnam war an elite warrior (Brienne) on a mission travels with his companions (Podrick, etc) through the warzone into the (Stone)heart of darkness: during their journey they see what the war does to its soldiers and the common people. In the end the warrior is captured by a renegade officer (Stoneheart) and his followers (the Brotherhood). That high ranking officer had gotten crazy and had left the war for his personal vendetta.
      I wonder if Brienne’s arc ends the same way as the movie.

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    18. TormundsWoman: Catelyn will die eventually again, but who will do it?

      I’ve posted above that the Brienne arc in book 4 reminds me of the movie Apocalypse Now (which is based on the book “Heart of Darkness”).
      I repost the comparison:
      During the Vietnam war an elite warrior (Brienne) on a mission travels with his companions (Podrick, etc) through the warzone into the (Stone)heart of darkness: during their journey they see what the war does to its soldiers and the common people. In the end the warrior is captured by a renegade officer (Stoneheart) and his followers (the Brotherhood). That high ranking officer had gotten crazy and had left the war for his personal vendetta.

      In that movie the misson of the soldier was to kill that renegade officer.
      I think in the books it will become Brienne’s mission to kill Stoneheart.

      I think Brienne who swore an oath of loyalty to Katelyn will kill her.
      That mirrors Jaime who swore an oath of loyalty to the mad king and killed him.

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    19. Wolfish,

      Hey Wolfish! Thanks for the feedback.

      I’m glad the two have diverged regarding those characters (LSH and Jorah). Those diffs (and fAegon, JCon, Vic, Coldhands and some others, as well as the motivations behind the main characters) will let TWOW stand on its own. Given how they have continued with Beric in the show, it gives me hope that GRRM has a rather exciting ultimate purpose for LSH. I anticipate that LSH is actually an interim character whose life force may be xferred to another, R’hllor willing! I’m especially excited that BF, Sansa, Sandor, Brienne, Jaime, and Howland Reed are in relative proximity of each other too. Furthermore, we’ll see how Jon the Undead turns out too! (without Davos but with Shireen, Selyse, Mel, Val, Edd, Tycho, fArya and Wun Wun nearby!) (hint…it won’t be the same!)

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    20. Hodors Bastard,

      Late to respond because of new job, exhaustion, the usual boring minute details of errrrryday life…

      Thank you for the last comment. As usual, I agree 100%, but will emphasize… Howland Reed. Oh, man, I will be one really upset puppy if there’s no Howland Reed and Greywater Watch in S8!!!

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    21. Interesting read as we wait for the finale tonight. For what it’s worth my tinfoil is that Gendry will come back in the books and have a role to play. I feel the arc the show gave to Arya i.e. killing the Freys is going to Stoneheart and the Brotherhood and that will likely be the end of them.

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