Brynden Rivers, known as Bloodraven for the red birthmark on his cheek, was the albino son of King Aegon IV the Unworthy and a lady of House Blackwood, making him one of King Aegon’s Great Bastards. He grew to have a reputation as a sorceror and a kinslayer, following the Battle of the Redgrass Field in which he and his personal guard, the Raven’s Teeth, slew his half-brother Daemon Blackfyre and Blackfyre’s two sons. At the same battle, he lost an eye to his other half-brother, the great knight known as Bittersteel.
Since that time, Bloodraven found his way to the office of the Hand for the ineffectual King Aerys I, and was said to be the true power in the realm, controlling all access to the king and having spies throughout the Seven Kingdoms. His being chosen as Hand led to a conflict with Prince Maekar, who withdrew to Summerhall. He carried a Valyrian steel sword name Dark Sister, once wielded by Prince Aemon the Dragonknight. His paramour Lady Shiera (another of Aegon IV Great Bastards), was also reputed to use sorcery to keep herself beautiful.