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For centuries the Maesters of the Citadel have opened the remains of the dead to gain a better understanding of life. I wished to understand death, and so I opened the living.
~ Qyburn to Jaime Lannister
Gods be good, Cersei, he rode with Vargo Hoat. The Citadel stripped him of his chain!
~ Jaime expresses his distrust in Qyburn to Cersei

Qyburn is a recurring character from A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones.

Qyburn was a former maester of the Citadel, stripped of his chain by the Archmaesters after practicing forbidden and unethical experiments. 

In the adaptation TV series, he is portrayed by Anton Lesser.

History

Qyburn studied at the citadel and was as skilled a healer as Archmaester Ebrose. Qyburn sought to surpass him though and instead of opening the bodies of the dead to discover the secrets of the living as the citadel has done for centuries, Qyburn instead opened the bodies of the still living to discover the secrets of death. He performed on living humans and studied necromancy. His experiments were unethical and forbidden from both the Citdael and the Faith of the Seven. Because of this, Qyburn, who believes only in science, thinks that beliefe is the death of reason. Eventually Qyburn was discovered and stripped from his chain and position as a maester for his unethical practices. Apparently, Qyburn performed vivisection on his patient and also used them as text subjects in his painful agonizing experiments. Qyburn is an amoral man and does this only in the name of science and progress without any compensation of sadism and malice. Qyburn resents the Citadel and claims to understand the nature of life and death better than any man in Oldtown. He was also exiled from the whole city.

Qyburn joined the Brave Companions, a sellsword company made of the worst criminals of the world, as a means to survive. Out of every maester he met, Qyburn only respects Archmaester Marwyn of the Citadel, who was the only archmaester who liked Qyburn's way of thinking about the residue of souls after death. Qyburn calls all the others archmaesters of the Enclave, the "grey sheep".

He is a polite, reasonable, clever, resourceful, and loyal man, but also extremely amoral and ingratiating, with a great lust for knowledge and no sense of ethic at all.

A Song of Ice and Fire

A Clash of Kings

When the Brave Companions turn cloak on House Lannister and switch their support to House Stark, Qyburn rides at Harrenhal, after the traitor mercenaries, the northerners, and the Freys take Harrenhal for Lord Roose Bolton. Qyburn takes over the duties of Harrenhal's maester Tothmure, who is killed by Lord Bolton for dispatching ravens to King's Landing and Casterly Rock. It is mentioned by Gendry that Qyburn is rumored to have knowledge of black magic and necromancy. When Arya Stark, posing as Nymeria, is made Roose's cupbearer, she takes residence in Harrenhal's main rooms, with the company of Qyburn, the Freys, Roose's guards, and the northern lords. In this better position, she can hear news of what's going on throughout the realm from Qyburn reading the messages to Bolton. 

A Storm of Swords

When Ser Jaime Lannister is captured and brought to Harrenhal by the Brave Companions, Roose orders Jaime to be brought to Qyburn and treated. He uses his exceptional healing abilities to prevent the infection on Jaime's severed wrist from spreading. Qyburn is successful, as later the corruption of Jaime's arm stops, avoiding the loss of the entire arm. Qyburn sends Pia to Jaime's bed, hoping to ingratiate himself with the Lannisters, but Jaime sends the girl away.

Days later, Qyburn keeps watching over Jaime's wound and when Lord Bolton decides to finally letting him go back to his father, Lord Tywin Lannister, Qyburn joins with Steelshanks Walton's guard that escorts Jaime to King's Landing.

On the road, Qyburn tells Jaime he examined Brienne of Tarth back at Harrenhal and found her maidenhead is intact, confirming that neither Vargo Hoat, Rorge, or any other Bloody Mummer has raped Brienne so far. Qyburn explains that Vargo feels cheated by Lord Selwyn Tarth because he wants the sapphires of Tarth (and Tarth doesn't have any sapphires). When Jaime decides to return to Harrenhal to rescue Brienne after dreaming of her, Qyburn, Steelshanks, and Bolton men accompany him. Qyburn tries to ingratiate himself with Jaime, which irritates the knight during their journey to King's Landing.

While Qyburn is away, his fellow Brave Companions disband and scatter everywhere throughout the Seven Kingdoms, causing havoc and terror. Vargo and the few Bloody Mummers who stay at Harrenhal meet Tywin Lannister's wrath and vengeance shortly after the Red Wedding and are all killed by Ser Gregor Clegane and his band of bandit soldiers. After the death of King Joffrey I Baratheon, Qyburn stays in King's Landing, still monitoring Jaime's healing wound and since he failed to ingratiate himself with the knight, he tries Jaime's twin sister, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister.

A Feast for Crows

He later gains favor with her by using his knowledge to torture her prisoners. Cersei eventually appoints him as master of whisperers to replace Varys after his disappearance. Qyburn also took Varys's place on the small council.

Qyburn joins the court at King's Landing. When Queen Regent Cersei Lannister calls for a maester to deal with the discovery of her father Tywin's body, Qyburn is brought to her. The queen has Qyburn and the Kettleblack brothers dispose of Shae's body. Qyburn's intelligence and discretion pleases Cersei, so she has him investigate the escape of Tyrion Lannister from the dungeons. Qyburn researches the missing gaoler Rugen, who also disappeared that night, and discovers a gold coin depicting Garth XII Gardener, King of the Reach, buried below Rugen's chamberpot. This leads Cersei to suspect the involvement of House Tyrell in Tyrion's escape. In her paranoia of her enemies possible conspiracies, Cersei has the alchemist pyromancer, Wisdom Hallyne, burning whole the Tower of the Hand with a bit of wildfire.

Before he died, Lord Tywin commanded the maesters to heal the poisoned and suffering Ser Gregor Clegane, so that he could have been executed to appease Dorne, as Gregor had confessed his crimes in front of every Dornish noble in the capital city. Because Grand Maester Pycelle has been unable to heal Clegane, Cersei commands Qyburn to examine the screaming Gregor. Later Qyburn speaks to Cersei about the dying knight and believes Prince Oberyn Martell used magic to affect the manticore venom on his poisoned spear, to prolong Gregor's death. He shows great interest and fascination at the Gregor's agonizing death, calling his pain "exquisite". He convinces Cersei to allow him to move Gregor deep into the black cells and experiment on him there, to gain knowledge of the magical poison that Oberyn used. Unlike Jaime, Cersei likes Qyburn and orders that Qyburn be given gold for his equipment and to buy clean new clothing to replace his dirty old rags. Jaime is disturbed by how close Cersei has become with the disgraced former maester, but she dismisses his concerns.

Cersei has quarrels with both her brother Jaime and her uncle Kevan, which leads the latter to leave her alone to rule. Wanting the freedom to rule, Cersei gets rid of Jaime by sending him in the riverlands with many powerful people to lift the Second Siege of Riverrun. She appoints Qyburn as master of whisperers to replace the missing Varys. The former maester spends silver to develop a network of informants. Qyburn takes Varys's place and honorary title on the small council, to the absolute disgust of Pycelle. Part of the payment for Qyburn's services to Cersei includes permission to experiment on various prisoners and enemies of Cersei's. These typically prove fatal to the subject. Cersei believes that Jon Snow, the new Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, is aiding King Stannis Baratheon in order to get revenge for House Stark, so Qyburn suggests that the crown deal with Jon Snow by sending one hundred men to the Wall, ostensibly to take the black, but in actuality to assassinate him.

Gregor Clegane reportedly dies in Qyburn's underground laboratory. He prepares the Mountain's skull to be sent to Dorne, for Prince Doran Martell to see. Cersei allows Qyburn to use various prisoners for his experiments, which typically prove fatal to the subject. As Qyburn prefers women for his studies, the prisoners include Cersei's former handmaiden, Senelle, and some female puppeteers who had been arrested for performing a treasonous play. Thinking about what's going on in Qyburn's dungeons, Cersei recalls a "foul thing screaming in the darkness". When Lady Falyse Stokeworth comes to Cersei in despair after the failure of their plans to kill Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, who had married Falyse's sister Lollys, Cersei tells Qyburn to take her for his experiments, to make her disappear, so that no one will ever hear about this, especially Tyrion. While performing his experiments and torture in the dungeons, Qyburn wears roughspun wool and a blacksmith's leather apron.

Because King Euron Greyjoy is invading the Reach with the might of the Iron Fleet, Ser Loras Tyrell leaves the Red Keep for the Siege of Dragonstone to make Stannis's garrison surrender so that the Redwyne fleet can go south to face Euron. With Loras gone Qyburn suggests to Cersei that the Kingsguard may need a replacement in case Loras dies. Qyburn orders a massive suit of armor for his proposed champion, though it is supposedly too large and heavy to be worn by any man.

Cersei has a nightmare about Maggy the Frog's prophecy of her future, and the next morning asks Qyburn about it. He identifies the name "Maggy" as a corruption of maegi, and says that her blood magic is the darkest and most powerful kind of sorcery. Cersei asks if the prophecy can be forestalled, and Qyburn intimates it can be, if she kills the younger queen who would supplant her.

Since Tywin's death, the whole capital undergone a religious riot against the nobility. This people are mostly refugees from the chaotic riverlands, where most of the war had been fought. This smallfolk rebel movement known as the Sparrows takes over the Faith and the Great Sept of Baelor, stopping the elections for the new High Septon, that had Septon Luceon Frey almost winning. The Sparrows force the Faith to elect the High Sparrow, leader of the movement. It gets worse when Cersei foolishly supports the High Sparrow in the restoration of the Faith Militant, thinking it would create a great spiritual opposition against Stannis. Soon the news of Cersei's actions spread wildly throughout the entire realm, now tired of corruption, and many lords and knights join the Faith Militant. Plotting to put the Tyrells against the Faith, Cersei plots with Qyburn and Ser Osney Kettleblack to frame Queen Margaery Tyrell of adultery and impurity, using many disliked court members as "Margaery lovers", most of them being stormlanders and reachmen (Baratheon and Tyrell men). Cersei has Qyburn torture the Blue Bard in the black cells, to convince him to give evidence against Margaery. Qyburn and Cersei force the Blue Bard to say exactly the accusing story they want to hear. The torture goes on forever and breaks the Bard's mind that even after the Blue Bard is taken by the Faith Militant and tortured by them, he persists in the story that Cersei and Qyburn had taught him. Other men falsely accused of being Margaery's lovers are given into Qyburn's care in the dungeons.

The plan backfires on Cersei, thanks to the confessions of fornication of Ser Lancel Lannister, now a Warrior's Son. This led to the High Septon arresting Ser Osney Kettleblack and torturing him. Osney confessed to have murdered the previous High Septon on Cersei's order and about Cersei's sexual intercurses with multiple people at court.

After Cersei is arrested by the Faith, Qyburn is allowed to visit her in her cell and inform her of all that has happened since her arrest. Qyburn has been dismissed from the small council, though he is allowed to work with Varys's whisperers. Qyburn's unnamed champion is ready to defend her, but Cersei informs Qyburn that she can only be represented in a trial by combat by a knight of the Kingsguard, and there are no open positions available. Cersei has him write a letter to her brother Jaime at Riverrun, begging for his help.

A Dance with Dragons

King's Landing falls under control of the Faith, but before the High Septon can solidify his power, Lord Randyll Tarly appears in the city with a whole army of reachmen and stormlanders, which results with the High Septon handing over Margaery and her cousins to Lord Tarly, without nullifying the girls'trial. Lord Regent Kevan Lannister visits Cersei in her cell, and tells her that Qyburn is still in charge of the dungeons where most of the accused lovers of Margaery Tyrell are held. Kevan also informs her that Ser Arys Oakheart has been killed in Dorne, and Cersei realizes that leaves an empty place in the Kingsguard. She asks Kevan to tell Qyburn that the time has come for his champion.

Qyburn is present at the Red Keep when Cersei completes her walk of atonement through King's Landing. He introduces Cersei to her champion and the newest member of the Kingsguard, Ser Robert Strong. Qyburn tells her that Robert has taken a vow of silence, swearing not to speak until all of King Tommen I Baratheon's enemies are dead and evil has been driven from the realm.

Qyburn, though dismissed from the small council, still works with the eunuch's whisperers. Qyburn continues to work with the whisperers, reporting information on the Golden Company and Nymeria Sand to the small council and Kevan. Margaery remains under Tarly's care until the day of her trial.


Game of Thrones

Easy, Grandmaester, I bear you no ill will. Please forgive me if you can. This pains me, my lord. Whatever your faults, you do not deserve to die alone in such a cold dark place, but sometimes before we can usher in the new... the old must be put to rest...
~ Qyburn, moments before Pycelle's death

Qyburn was held captive at Harrenhal by Ser Gregor Clegane, until the latter abandons the castle and has all the captives killed. Qyburn survives and stays at Harrenhal with Lord Roose Bolton. Later he reaches King's Landing along with Brienne of Tarth and Ser Jaime Lannister.

He starts to ingratiate himself with Queen Regent Cersei Lannister and tries to save Ser Gregor from death after the fight against Prince Oberyn Martell. With Cersei more and more relying on him, he also takes over Varys' informants and uses them to gather information. On Cersei's orders, he has his little birds investigate a rumor and finds a vast stash of wildfire underneath the Great Sept of Baelor. Together with Cersei, he organizes the complete destruction of the Sept by having one of his birds igniting the wildfire. While the sept is destroyed, killing most of Cersei's enemies, Qyburn faces Grand Maester Pycelle and has him stabbed to death by his little birds.

Qyburn later crowns Cersei in the Throne Room. It seems that he has been appointed Hand of the Queen.

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