The Lannisters’ Lament

A dialogue homage to the most interesting and hated noble family.

SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS OF GAME OF THRONES.

3×05 – Jaime Lannister shares the story of how he became known as the realm’s most dishonorable traitor

Jaime Lannister: There it is. There’s the look. I’ve seen it for 17 years on face after face. You all despise me. Kingslayer. Oathbreaker. A man without honor. [pauses] You’ve heard of wildfire?

Brienne of Tarth: Of course.

Jaime: The Mad King was obsessed with it. He loved to watch people burn, the way their skin blackened and blistered and melted off their bones. He burned lords he didn’t like. He burned Hands who disobeyed him. He burned anyone who was against him. Before long, half the country was against him. Aerys saw traitors everywhere. So he had his pyromancer place caches of wildfire all over the city. Beneath the Sept of Baelor and the slums of Flea Bottom. Under houses, stables, taverns. Even beneath the Red Keep itself. Finally, the day of reckoning came. Robert Baratheon marched on the capital after his victory at the Trident. But my father arrived first with the whole Lannister army at his back, promising to defend the city against the rebels. I knew my father better than that. He’s never been one to pick the losing side. I told the Mad King as much. I urged him to surrender peacefully. But the king didn’t listen to me. He didn’t listen to Varys who tried to warn him. But he did listen to Grand Maester Pycelle, that grey, sunken cunt. ‘You can trust the Lannisters,’ he said. ‘The Lannisters have always been true friends of the crown.’ So we opened the gates and my father sacked the city. Once again, I came to the king, begging him to surrender. He told me to bring him my father’s head. Then he turned to his pyromancer. ‘Burn them all,’ he said. ‘Burn them in their homes. Burn them in their beds.’ Tell me, if your precious Renly commanded you to kill your own father and stand by while thousands of men, women, and children burned alive, would you have done it? Would you have kept your oath then? First, I killed the pyromancer. And then when the king turned to flee, I drove my sword into his back. ‘Burn them all,’ he kept saying. ‘Burn them all.’ I don’t think he expected to die. He- he meant to… burn with the rest of us and rise again, reborn as a dragon to turn his enemies to ash. I slit his throat to make sure that didn’t happen. That’s where Ned Stark found me.

Brienne: If this is true… why didn’t you tell anyone? Why didn’t you tell Lord Stark?

Jaime: Stark? You think the honorable Ned Stark wanted to hear my side? He judged me guilty the moment he set eyes on me. By what right does the wolf judge the lion? By what right? [shakes uncontrollably]

Brienne: [holds him and yells for help] The Kingslayer!

Jaime: Jaime. My name’s Jaime.

2×07 – Tyrion and Cersei talking in her chambers about Joffrey, her son and the king, a sadistic psychopath who was born as the result of Cersei and Jaime’s incestuous relationship

Tyrion Lannister: Stannis Baratheon’s fleet has been spotted sailing north past Tarth … 200 ships.

Cersei Lannister: More than we have.

Tyrion: Yes, that’s more than we have. He’ll be at our gates within five days, four if he has the wind.

Cersei: We have strong, high walls. We’ll rain fire down on them from above.

Tyrion: “Rain fire on them from above.” You’re quoting father, aren’t you?

Cersei: Why not? He has a good mind for strategy, doesn’t he?

Tyrion: We call it tactics, not strategy, but, yes, he does have a good mind for it. The best mind, some would say. Sadly, he’s not here. It’s just you, me, and Joffrey, the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and protector of the realm.

Cersei: I’m sure you’ll make a point eventually.

Tyrion: He needs to start acting like a king. This war you started is coming to our doorstep. And if the entire city wants Joffrey dead…

Cersei: I’m not the one giving the boy whores to abuse.

Tyrion: I thought the girls might help him.

Cersei: Did you?

Tyrion: I was wrong. If we can’t control him…

Cersei: Do you think I haven’t tried? He doesn’t listen to me.

Tyrion: It’s hard to put a leash on a dog once you’ve put a crown on its head.

Cersei: I always hoped he’d be like Jaime. He looks like him… in a certain light.

Tyrion: The boy is more Robert than Jaime.

Cersei: Robert was a drunken fool, but he didn’t enjoy cruelty. Sometimes I wonder…

Tyrion: What?

Cersei: If this is the price for what we’ve done, for our sins.

Tyrion: Sins? The Targaryens-

Cersei: -wed brother and sister for hundreds of years, I know. That’s what Jaime and I would say to each other in our moments of doubt. It’s what I told Ned Stark when he was stupid enough to confront me. Half the Targaryens went mad, didn’t they? What’s the saying? Every time a Targaryen is born, the Gods flip a coin.

Tyrion: You’ve beaten the odds. Tommen and Myrcella are good, decent children, both of them.

Cersei: [cries quietly]

Tyrion: [walks closer to where his sister is sitting, as if to comfort her]

Cersei: [looks at him skeptically, her eyes full of tears]

Tyrion: [stands still and simply gazes at her with sympathy, the tension between them too compelling to allow a normal display of siblinglike concern]

2×08 – later, Tyrion and Cersei talk in her chambers again

Cersei: I hear Joffrey plans on fighting.

Tyrion: An inspiration for the troops. The young king in his shining armor fighting to defend the capital against the wicked old rebel.

Cersei: He’s only a boy.

Tyrion: Younger boys are off fighting his war.

Cersei: He’s not ready.

Tyrion: What is he, 17? Remember Jaime at 17?

Cersei: Better than you. Some men have a gift for this sort of thing, some don’t. Joffrey’s place is not on the battlefield.

Tyrion: It’s not on the throne, either, sadly, for all of us.

Cersei: Do you think I’m an idiot?

Tyrion: No, I’d say you possess above-average intelligence.

Cersei: You shipped off my only daughter [Tyrion sent Myrcella to live in another place called Dorne, a beautiful region, for her safety, but Cersei’s paranoia has led her to believe that Tyrion sent Myrcella away to hurt Cersei]. And now you want to send my eldest son to the battlefield to die.

Tyrion: He’ll have his Kingsguard protecting him. He has the finest armor gold can buy. He needs to be out there. The men will fight more fiercely seeing their king fighting beside them instead of hiding behind his mother’s skirts.

-later-

Tyrion: Why are you smiling?

Cersei: Because I’m happy.

Tyrion: And why are you happy?

Cersei: Because I have your little whore.

Tyrion: I thought you preferred blondes.

Cersei: Such a droll little fellow. Tell me, have you married this one yet? No? Good. Father will be so pleased.

Tyrion: Why do you care?

Cersei: Because a Lannister always pays her debts. You stole my only daughter, you plot to have Joffrey killed.

Tyrion: This is madness. Stannis will be here in days. You need me.

Cersei: For what? Your skill in battle? Pretty thing, your whore. The bruises will heal in time.

Tyrion: You’ve forgotten the most important thing about whores.

Cersei: Oh? Well, you’re the expert. Tell me.

Tyrion: You don’t buy them, you only rent them.

Cersei: You’re usually a better liar, baby brother. This one you like. You like her very much. Could it be love? Don’t worry, she’ll be treated gently enough. Unless Joffrey is hurt. And then, every wound he suffers, she’ll suffer, too. And if he dies, there isn’t a man alive who could devise a more painful death for your little cunt.

Tyrion: I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid.

Cersei: Get. Out.

1×10 – Tyrion and Tywin, his father, with whom he shares a rocky bond, converse after Tyrion shows to be the only one in the room who understands the political game

Tywin Lannister: Madness. Madness and stupidity [referring to the diplomatic mess Cersei and Joffrey have made]. I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong.

Tyrion: Half wrong [referring to the fact that he is still a dwarf]. I’m new to strategy, but unless we want to be surrounded by three armies, it appears we can’t stay here.

Tywin: No one will stay here. Ser Gregor will head out with 500 riders and set the Riverland on fire from God’s Eye to the Red Fork. The rest of us will regroup at Harrenhal. And you will go to King’s Landing.

Tyrion: And do what?

Tywin: Rule! You will serve as Hand of the King in my stead. You will bring that boy King to heel and his mother too, if needs be. And if you get so much as a whiff of treason from any of the rest: Baelish, Varys, Pycelle …

Tyrion: Heads, spikes, walls.

Tywin: [nods]

Tyrion: Why not my Uncle? Why not anyone? Why me?

Tywin: You’re my son.

3×10 – Tyrion and Tywin discuss the hypocrisy of honor

Tywin Lannister: Do you disapprove [of my methods]?

Tyrion: I’m all for cheating. This is war. But to slaughter them at a wedding…

Tywin: Explain to me why it is more noble to kill 10,000 men in battle than a dozen at dinner.

4×06Tyrion’s murder trial, where he stands accused of killing his nephew King Joffrey

Tyrion: I wish to confess.

Tywin: You wish to confess?

Tyrion: [turns to face townspeople who are clamoring for his execution] I saved you. I saved this city and all your worthless lives. I should have let Stannis kill you all.

Tywin: Tyrion. Do you wish to confess?

Tyrion: Yes, Father. I’m guilty. Guilty. Is that what you want to hear?

Tywin: You admit you poisoned the king?

Tyrion: No. Of that I’m innocent. I’m guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I am guilty of being a dwarf.

Tywin: You are not on trial for being a dwarf.

Tyrion: Oh, yes, I am. I’ve been on trial for that my entire life.

Tywin: Have you nothing to say in your defense?

Tyrion: Nothing but this: I did not do it. I did not kill Joffrey, but I wish that I had. [glares at Cersei] Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than 1,000 lying whores! [glares at the townspeople in the audience] I wish I was the monster you think I am. I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you. I would gladly give my life to watch you all swallow it.

Tywin: Ser Meryn! Ser Meryn! Escort the prisoner back to his cell!

Tyrion: I will not give my life for Joffrey’s murder, and I know I’ll get no justice here. So I will let the gods decide my fate…I demand a trial by combat.

[Tywin and Tyrion glare unwaveringly at each other]

The Lannister family is fascinating because there is always tension between them; one does not know if they will defend their blood’s honor or murder each other in their sleep. The feelings between them are always strong, but it can be unclear whether they speak of convoluted love or raw hatred. The most rational yet the most emotional, the most cunning yet the most blind, obsessed with how others will perceive their legacy but unconcerned with the commoners’ actual opinions on their individual actions, the Lannisters send their regards.

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