[NOTE: If you haven't watched this week's season finale, read no further! Spoilers ahead!]
I'm thinking that after this week's season finale, Brienne might get a lot more play. (At least, more than the eight girls who were given the name last year.) George R.R. Martin picked this variant of Brianna for his character Brienne of Tarth, a warrior woman who has served as a protector of the Starks, and now seeks to help reunite the Stark sisters with the rest of the family. And that's what led to this week's epic and brutal battle between Brienne and the Hound, a fight where no matter who won, the viewers would be bummed. (And while I think the right person won, I'll miss seeing the other one around!)
Let's call Brienne a variant of Brian, which means "strong and honorable," both traits of this noble lady. And let's call this name pretty offbeat—but still not so far off the beaten path that it seems like a big mistake.