A Song of Hate to Love: Jaime Lannister
I have it bad for Jaime Lannister. There isn't any other way to describe it. I fear I might be a little twisted, as he isn't really the kind of man that most women would want as a book boyfriend. However, I would challenge you by saying, well you don't really know him yet. Two seasons of the television series, Game of Thrones is over, but this is just where Jaime's story starts to get interesting, and I reckon, by the end of season 3, many may have changed their tune. Although, I hope you don't, because that will mean less Jaime for me.
I am a dedicated book fan of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, and it is always a long time between drinks and being able to indulge in my Jaime love. At least the tv series helps to keep him fresh in my mind. I loathed Jaime with a passion until Book 3 of the series, A Storm of Swords. Then, that wickedly clever Martin changed my viewpoint and, miraculously, loathing turned to love. Is it possible to do an about face when it comes to a character? Yes,it is.
Major spoilers after the jump. Enter if you dare. I wouldn't if you haven't read all the books. I did warn you.
Love to Hate Him
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"There are no men like me. There's only me." 1
Arrogance is a quality Jaime has in abundance. The same could be said of his sister Cersei. A genetic trait perhaps? With Bran, he really thought he would get away with it. It is also this arrogance that makes men dislike him. Well, one of many reasons, after all, he is described as handsome, rich and belonging to a powerful family. He believes he is above others given his station in life. And these qualities do not endear him to others.
Another nail in his coffin is that Jaime is having an incestuous relationship with his sister, Queen Cersei and has done so for some fifteen years. He is the father of the heirs to the kingdom; Joffery, Tommen and Myrcella. Although to all the world their father is meant to be Robert Baratheon. However, it is worth noting he is not a father to them in any real sense, but merely breeding stock. Cersei does not allow him to have anything to do with the children. It is this relationship with Cersei that dictates so many of Jaime's actions in the book series. He is tied to her by the bonds of kinship, lover and breeder. They are ties that Jaime cannot undo for a long time.
Jaime is also a member of the Kingsguard. Meant to defend the King (and, incidentally, to be celibate). Notorious for having killed the Mad King Aerys, Jaime is referred to by all as Kingslayer. In Martin's world, it is apparently acceptable to allow your mad, insane king to burn men alive in their armor and stand at his side as if this is normal. After all, the Kingsguard's duty is to protect the King, no one else. The book plays into the idea of the divine rights of kings. The king's word is law and there is no swaying from that, hence when Jaime killed Aerys, he is forever tainted by that brush. All his deeds and actions reflect on this one instance in his life, when Jaime had to make a decision. You could argue that this decision set in motion later events in the series. After all, with Aerys dead, the reign of Baratheon started and the game of thrones begun in earnest.
This all boils down to the reader loving to hate Jaime Lannister. You want him to meet a dastardly end. Preferably at the end of a sword or his head stuck on a pike. He is the villain you want to see dead. He might be handsome, but boy can he be evil and immoral to our sensitive modern standards. When he is captured by The King in the North, Robb Stark, we hoped that, finally, justice would be dealt to Jaime for what he did to Bran. But there is a little voice that tells you, he is a very valuable hostage and his life can't be over yet, not this easily.
So I hated him
So I whiled away the time planning Jaime's death. And there was always a wait between books, so I was imagining all kinds of grisly (and creative) endings for him at the hands of the Starks and their bannersmen. Hung, drawn and quartered would have been too good for him. In A Clash of Kings there is barely a whisper of Jaime. We hear the odd murmur along the grapevine, but basically he is in captivity, until near the end. This left me in doubt as to what was happening with him, but also thinking good riddance. Sneaky Martin, very sneaky. Catelyn Stark lets Jaime go under the proviso that he will be swapped for her daughters, Arya and Sansa, who are "apparently" in Kings Landing. Jaime is thrust into the care of the Maid of Tarth, Brienne, and Cleos Frey. And this is when things start getting interesting. Still hating him though, I assure you. Pistols at dawn if they had them.
And then I started to love him
Clever, clever George R.R. Martin. How do you, as an author, change readers minds about a much hated character? Give them their own point of view of course! Suddenly, the evil, dark creature starts to show tints and shades of grey, and things get complicated. Yet interesting. Slowly, my hardened heart melted and before I knew it, I was a goner. The quote below kind of sucker punched me and Jaime Lannister became my book boyfriend. Yeah that's right, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to love a one handed man.
“Jaime," Brienne whispered, so faintly he thought he was dreaming it. "Jaime, what are you doing?""Dying," he whispered back."No," she said, "no, you must live."He wanted to laugh. "Stop telling me what to do, wench. I'll die if it pleases me.""Are you so craven?"The words shocked him. He was Jaime Lannister, a knight of the Kingsguard, he was the Kingslayer. No man had ever called him craven. Other things they called him, yes; oathbreaker, liar, murderer. They said he was cruel, treacherous, reckless. But never craven. "What else can I do, but die?""Live," she said, "live, and fight, and take revenge."Craven, Jaime thought.... Can it be? They took my sword hand. Was that all I was, a sword hand? Gods be good, is it true?The wench had the right of it. He could not die.” 2
So early on in A Storm of Swords Martin uses the clever trick of introducing a new POV for the reader; Jaime Lannister. Suddenly, we get to see the inner workings of this man. Who, until this point, we have only known through hearsay and rumour. Before you know it, Jaime Lannister becomes much more than just the Kingslayer. He muses that people often forget he has a real name. One act has defined who he is and when Vargo Hoat (The Goat) cuts off Jaime's hand, he faces a decision. To live or to die.
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I'm a sucker for any kind of love interest. It is funny though, as I have never really considered Cersei as a "love interest" for Jaime. Yes they've been banging like rabbits for years, but as I've pondered their relationship over the years, I've felt that Cersei was the one with the power in the relationship. She liked having Jaime as her pet, and at her beck and call. She also doesn't like it when Jaime returns from Harrenhaal and she can tell he appears to be an altered person. Something has changed and she isn't impressed with it.
The love interest I'm talking about is, of course, Brienne "wench" of Tarth. That I ship Jaime and Brienne together is an understatement. If something bad... okay a lot of bad things have already happened to them, so if something devastating happens to them, I am going to be drinking a lot of wine and crying myself to sleep at night. I don't think I could handle it if one of them died. I'm serious. There are two events which stick in my mind as to why I think Brienne might be Jaime's redemption and saving grace.
1. When Jaime leaves Harranhaal, Brienne is left behind, in the hope that she will be ransomed. While she is there, Jaime dreams of her. And of himself fighting against old members of the Kingsguard. Jaime has also been left in the dark, so to speak. His family has turned their backs on him, and until Brienne turned up,he stood alone. So Jaime in turn rescues Brienne, and instead of being rude and insulting when she asks why he rescued her he simply says "I dreamed of you."3 Yeah you can really hear me saying "ohhhh" and being a mushy puddle on the floor. What woman doesn't want to hear a man say that to them?
2. Much later, in A Feast for Crows, Jaime defends Brienne by punching a former potential betrothed of Brienne. And I just knew in that instance that something had to happen between them. Whether Jaime is killed by Brienne or in order to save Brienne's life, I know their destinies are intertwined. But I, for one, am eager to find out what trick Martin has waiting up his sleeve to surprise me with. But please, please don't start a prologue with them Martin. I know that spells doom.
Where is Jaime going?
Can Jaime, be a hero in this series when the final curtain comes down? Bear with me a moment. Sure, he has done some appalling things in the past, but if you look at the majority of the characters in the series, I can say there are few without flaw. Jaime's greatest flaw is the love for his sister. It has coloured much of his life to date. But a shift has occurred, especially as Cersei descends into drunken stupor that means she will not listen to reason for the good of the kingdom. Jaime can see this and is increasingly frustrated. With good reason. Cersei cannot see that she is making bad decisions and Jaime is relieved when he is given cause to leave the city. Not that he wants to go mind you. He knows his duty is with the king, his son.
It comes down to what we consider a hero to be. I personally think it was heroic that Jaime was prepared to kill his king in order to save thousands of lives. Yes, this tarnished his image, but only because he chose to stay silent about why he acted as he did. The other factor which may see Jaime end up not so tarnished is Tyrion, his brother. Although Tyrion grates on my nerves now, after his wasted time in A Dance with Dragons (No doubt you heard me snoring whilst trying to read his passage) he would be dead without Jaime. I have no doubt about that. If it does come to pass, as one theory puts it, that Tyrion is one of the three headed dragons and will have a very prominent role in the last book, then he has his brother to thank. As his sister would have cut his head off long ago. Whatever else Jaime is, he has always loved his brother. Although, perhaps not so much since his brother's actions upon his release.
"Jaime," she said, tugging on his ear, "sweetling, I have known you since you were a babe at Joanna's breast. You smile like Gerion and fight like Tyg, and there's some of Kevan in you, else you would not wear that cloak... but Tyrion is Tywin's son, not you. I said so once to your father's face, and he would not speak to me for half a year. Men are such thundering great fools. Even the sort who come along once in thousand years.” 4
Battle commander? Once Jaime leaves the confines of Kings Landing he is able to use his considerable battle experience in order to restore order in the name of the king and he does so with some success. Sure, a very important potential prisoner escapes, but peace is slowly coming to pass. At least on the outside. After all that we know about the political maneuvering going on in the background from other POVs. The final battle is not yet over.
The Spectre of Cersei. She has loomed large in Jaime's life, of course. The telling sign for the end of this relationship was when Jaime does not go to Cersei's aid. He has finally realized that he is not at her beck and call and he needs to become a man that he can live with. That means severing his ties to Cersei and moving on to safeguard the king. This won't be an easy task. As we read through later books, we see how the relationship deteriorates to a point where there is no foreseeable return. Cersei realizes that Jaime is not the man who left to be defeated at the Whispering Woods. He is a changed man, and he will never be the golden, beautiful Jaime that she knew. Instead he is more reflective and trying to do the best he can to survive his new form and outlook. Rumours circle Cersei as well, Jaime has remained faithful to her through the years, the same cannot be said for Cersei, and in the end, this solidifies Jaime change of heart in regards to his sister and their relationship. I would be surprised if he makes it back to Kings Landing while Cersei is still alive. I can't see her surviving the series. Jaime has turned his back on her and she knows it.
Potential hero? Basically I think Jaime has two options. He is either going to survive the series in the Kingsguard or he is going to die a heroic death. I'm hoping he survives, but a heroic death would make sense to me as well. I won't handle it well, but I think it might be good ending for him. Let's not forget though, this is a brutal, bloody time that the characters are living in and without these twists in Jaime's story he would have still been happy fucking his sister in Kings Landing. It is the twists and revelations in his own personal tale that have made him a far more complex and interesting character than when we are first introduced to him. With so many more facets to his story than we are first shown. His growth and journey and relationship with other favorite characters is what make me want to see him still standing as this epic story comes to an end and the final page in the final book is turned.
Let me know below if you have any book boyfriends that are not the norm. Why are you attracted to them? Did they too have a journey like Jaime's?
Special thanks to Olga Daniels for the great header and Zee the Terrible for proofing and her input.
1. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
2. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
3. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
4. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
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