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Giant Ice Spider

Bloodraven, Bittersteel, and Bastard Names

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Of all the brothers in the Song of Ice & Fire, Lord Brynden & Ser Aegor Rivers had perhaps the worst relationship. That is not what perplexes me.

What perplexes me is their names. Specifically, the fact that, although their father legitimised them both on his deathbed, they both retained the bastard's name Rivers. We see generally that when a bastard is legitimised, he takes a new name: Daemon Waters became Daemon Blackfyre, and Ramsay Snow became Ramsay Bolton. The former chose a completely new name, the latter the surname of his father. Both Bloodraven & Bittersteel could easily have taken the Targaryen name, or followed their half-brother Daemon in choosing one for themselves. And yet they did not.

My question is: why do you think this is? Would it not make to (at least partially) rid oneself of the taint of bastardy?

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There is talk that Bloodraven may have kept the Rivers to show his 'modesty' to the trueborn Targaryen kin he was sucking up to - Daeron II and his sons.

Whether Bittersteel actually continued to call himself Rivers or was only called that by other we don't know. I could see Bittersteel calling himself Targaryen.

Daemon Blackfyre had taken his own new (in my opinion stupid) house name before he was legitimized.

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On ‎7‎/‎22‎/‎2018 at 4:07 PM, Lord Varys said:

There is talk that Bloodraven may have kept the Rivers to show his 'modesty' to the trueborn Targaryen kin he was sucking up to - Daeron II and his sons.

Whether Bittersteel actually continued to call himself Rivers or was only called that by other we don't know. I could see Bittersteel calling himself Targaryen.

Daemon Blackfyre had taken his own new (in my opinion stupid) house name before he was legitimized.

I'm pretty he was actually legitimised once he won that melee

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4 minutes ago, Giant Ice Spider said:

I'm pretty he was actually legitimised once he won that melee

Nope. When he got Blackfyre he was merely acknowledged as the king's bastard son. Before that, Daemon Waters had been the fatherless son of Princess Daena.

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Just now, Lord Varys said:

Nope. When he got Blackfyre he was merely acknowledged as the king's bastard son. Before that, Daemon Waters had been the fatherless son of Princess Daena.

Oops, I had misunderstood. I had thought, since he changed his name, that he had been legitimised.

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The case of Ramsay Snow is distinguishable since Ramsay was the legitimized with the attention of having him succeed as Lord of House Bolton (or at least that's what Roose has said). 

As to the Great Bastards, I would agree with @Lord Varysthat Daemon could very well have taken the name Blackfyre before he was legitimized. And Bloodraven was a loyal servant of House Targaryen. Taking the Targaryen name might have been an affront to King Daeron and the other trueborn sons of the royal house. On ther hand, it would not surprise me to learn that Bittersteel was to. Utter to take the Targaryen name. (I got a silver stag says he drank a lot of lemon water.) I would be very interested to know what any children he had with Calla Blackfyre were called. 

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In Brynden's case he was very loyal to Daeron and probably didn't want to incite anything.

In Aegor's case he really didn't like House Targaryen. Pardon the pun but he was very bitter towards them for sending him and his mother away from Kings Landing, and then being replaced by a Blackwood of all people. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't take the name of the House that I hated. 

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1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

The case of Ramsay Snow is distinguishable since Ramsay was the legitimized with the attention of having him succeed as Lord of House Bolton (or at least that's what Roose has said). 

If you are legitimized you get the name of the house of your father - hence Addam and Alyn of Hull become Addam and Alyn Velaryon, Ramsay Snow becomes Ramsay Bolton, Jon Snow would have become Jon Stark if he had accepted Stannis' offer, etc.

1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

As to the Great Bastards, I would agree with @Lord Varysthat Daemon could very well have taken the name Blackfyre before he was legitimized.

I think that's already sort of confirmed. Daemon was a pretty big fish long before he became legitimized, and betrothed to the daughter of the Archon of Tyrosh. He was a royal bastard about to found his own 'bastard house' when his father legitimized him and the other bastards on his deathbed.

1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

And Bloodraven was a loyal servant of House Targaryen. Taking the Targaryen name might have been an affront to King Daeron and the other trueborn sons of the royal house. On ther hand, it would not surprise me to learn that Bittersteel was to. Utter to take the Targaryen name. (I got a silver stag says he drank a lot of lemon water.) I would be very interested to know what any children he had with Calla Blackfyre were called. 

I guess they were Targaryens, considering that Bittersteel would have been a Targaryen, too.

If he preferred the name 'Rivers' he would have been pretty odd. He might have also taken the Bracken name.

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Given how both Bloodraven and Bittersteel took a mentor position and were pushing other people's claim on the throne it makes perfect sense that they would both keep to calling themselves "Rivers" as the name "Targaryen" would carry with it a heavy set of expectations and might be interpreted as a making a claim on the Iron Throne. "Rivers" on the other hand was a safer name.

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I think Bloodraven also kept it so he'd keep a sense of mystery to him, so he was both a Targ and not. 

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15 hours ago, EloImFizzy said:

In Brynden's case he was very loyal to Daeron and probably didn't want to incite anything.

In Aegor's case he really didn't like House Targaryen. Pardon the pun but he was very bitter towards them for sending him and his mother away from Kings Landing, and then being replaced by a Blackwood of all people. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't take the name of the House that I hated. 

In both cases, there would have been nothing to prevent them from creating their own names.

It just occurred to me that both keeping the Rivers name shows their connection to one another - I wonder how they felt about that (or if this was a deliberate thing by Martin as contrast to their mutual hatred).

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Inkpots's statements in ADWD indicates that Aegor was still going by Rivers when he served with the Second Sons, a dozen years after Aegon IV's deathbed legitimization of his bastards. I see no reason why he would call him by a name other than the one Aegor signed with, especially as he goes on to elaborate that Tyrion would know him as Bittersteel.

As for why, perhaps Daeron II or his court forbade or discouraged Brynden and Aegor from taking the Targaryen name, and perhaps they had no desire to create another. Aegor was only 11/12 and Brynden 8/9 when Aegon IV legitimized them and died. And while Brynden appears to have had some presence at court, Aegor was apparently raised in the riverlands.

There may also be something to the idea that neither was especially ambitious for the Targaryen name, or to make a new name of their own, and were content to use whatever power or influence they had in support of the king they served respectively. Or perhaps Bittersteel was waiting to succeed in putting a Blackfyre on the throne before taking/accepting a different surname.

Daemon, on the other hand, had been raised the son of a Targaryen princess with a claim of her own until passed over for Viserys II, even before being acknowledged as a son of Aegon IV and given the ancestral Targaryen sword. It makes sense that he was quick to throw off the Waters name.

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6 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

Daemon, on the other hand, had been raised the son of a Targaryen princess with a claim of her own until passed over for Viserys II, even before being acknowledged as a son of Aegon IV and given the ancestral Targaryen sword. It makes sense that he was quick to throw off the Waters name.

I mean, I think its reasonably clear that Daemon in particular takes the Blackfyre name because he's got royal ambitions.  Blackfyre is the only remaining symbol of Aegon the Conqueror; in many ways, the sword represents the martial traditions of the aristocracy, and how he is the better image of a feudal king.  Calling himself Blackfyre sets him apart from Daeron II personally, the the main branch Targaryens dynastically.  If he keeps the name Targaryen (or adopts it, rather), he is symbolically associating himself with the main line, which weakens his claim to the throne because he is subliminating his claim to that of his older half-brother.

By claiming to be a Blackfyre, he can basically make the argument that Daeron's claim is weaker than his own, as he's the son of two trueborn Targaryens, and not married to one of the hated Dornish.  It seems silly, but its an important distinction.  If you are a Westerosi lord, dissatisfied with Daeron II, you know that supporting a rival claim is treason.  To support a younger brother over an older one is tough, and opens up disturbing possibilities for personal succession (i.e. a younger brother could usurp an older brother's claim to your own lands), which would be incredibly destabilizing to the social and political order.  If you can cast Daemon Blackfyre as a member of an entirely new family line, however, you avoid that complication, in theory at least.  This is why Renly's claim is so dangerous, by the by.

As for Bittersteel and Bloodraven, I think someone else pointed it out.  Bloodraven doesn't want to be seen as a Targaryen, because he doesn't want to insinuate that he has royal ambition.  He wants to be the power behind the throne, the Hand and the spymaster and the puppeteer, because those are positions of real power and influence he can hold, and if he maintains his bastard name, he can do so without raising suspicions at court about whether he wants to stage a coup.  Bittersteel probably just doesn't want to be a Targaryen because he feels he and his mother were treated poorly by the court and Daeron (and Aegon IV), and doesn't want the association with the dynasty.  And once he flees to Essos, he probably wants to make it clear that his loyalties and goals have not changed; he's not looking for reconciliation with the court, he's not looking to crown himself, he's dedicating himself to putting Daemon's kids on the throne and then taking the same position Bloodraven has in the new regime.

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