Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Jaime I, ASOS

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“He remembered the pail Lady Catelyn had kicked over in his cell. A strange woman, to trust her girls to a man with shit for honor.”

Synopsis: Brienne takes Jaime and Ser Cleos down the river, where they are almost caught by Ser Robin Ryger.

SPOILER WARNING: This chapter analysis, and all following, will contain spoilers for all Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones episodes. Caveat lector.

Political Analysis:

From the vantage point of sixteen years, and two (hopefully soon to be three) books later, it’s somewhat hard to remember how revelatory this chapter was back in 2000 when A Storm of Swords was first released. Theon I in ACOK was the first instance of a former secondary character turning into a POV character – and in retrospect, we can also see it as a trial run for George R.R Martin for trying to make an unsympathetic POV engaging, so that we care when their tragic fall takes place. Theon, however, was only a minor character in AGOT, and one on the side of the Stark protagonists to boot.

Jaime Lannister, by contrast, was not only a major character from the very beginning, but was arguably one of the biggest villains in the series to date. It was Jaime Lannister who flung Bran from the tower, who attacked Ned in King’s Landing, and whose defeat by Robb is the major Stark victory to date. And here GRRM drops us inside his head and keeps us there for nine chapters in ASOS alone. Also, GRRM decides to go with a somewhat different path with Jaime – while Theon’s story in ACOK ends with him getting his comeuppance, here he puts the comeuppance relatively early in Jaime’s story so that the story becomes about how Jaime struggles to redefine himself in the aftermath.

And so while the cudgel of empathy is still in full effect, it works differently in this case – whereas in Theon’s case the point seems to be that vicariously wishing harm to people, even people who’ve done horrible things, ultimately rebounds upon us all, here the emphasis is on the way that empathy created through suffering can have an educational effect. As we experience his POV and especially his memories of the past, we begin to learn more about who Jaime is as a person, and our sympathies change because of this hard-won knowledge. At the same time, it is only because of his suffering that Jaime finally begins to interrogate himself, to ask who Jaime Lannister is besides a sword hand and how his past decisions have brought him to this place. In this fashion, Jaime eventually learns the lessons of Aeschylus, who wrote:

“Zeus, who guided mortals to be wise,
has established his fixed law—
wisdom comes through suffering.
Trouble, with its memories of pain,
drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,
so men against their will
learn to practice moderation.
Favours come to us from gods
seated on their solemn thrones—
such grace is harsh and violent.”

The Man Who Learned Nothing

But before he undergoes his cruel education, before we can get to the moment of empathetic reversal, we first get pure and unfiltered Jaime Lannister. And what is hard to remember from the vantage point of a re-reader is how incredibly unpleasant early Jaime POVs are; this is a man who is profoundly arrogant, selfish, and self-absorbed. We could already tell this from Catelyn VII of ACOK, but when you can see what he’s thinking, it’s even worse.

So let’s start from the very beginning of the chapter, where Jaime is reflecting on having been freed by Lady Catelyn. On the one hand (hee!), we share in the sheer joy of his liberation from shackles:

He wore iron manacles on his wrists and a matching pair about his ankles, joined by a length of heavy chain no more than a foot long. “You’d think my word as a Lannister was not good enough,” he’d japed as they bound him. He’d been very drunk by then, thanks to Catelyn Stark. Of their escape from Riverrun, he recalled only bits and pieces.

The wine had made him sleepy, and it felt good to stretch, a luxury his chains had not permitted him in the cell. Jaime had long ago learned to snatch sleep in the saddle during a march. This was no harder. Tyrion is going to laugh himself sick when he hears how I slept through my own escape. He was awake now, though, and the fetters were irksome. “My lady,” he called out, “if you’ll strike off these chains, I’ll spell you at those oars.”

The desire for freedom is a profoundly human emotion, and it is at the very heart of Jaime’s storyline in ASOS; from this chapter through Jaime VI, he’ll be either trying to escape, getting recaptured, or negotiating for his freedom, and then from Jaime VII through IX, he’ll be trying to escape the constraints of his family and his former identity. At the same time, we also begin to learn the way in which Jaime uses humor to hide the truth from others and from himself – for example, how his jest about his word not being enough resonates with his deep insecurity over his honor, or when he thinks about joking with Tyrion about his escape to mask how deeply he resents his imprisonment – enough to engage in some profoundly self-defeating actions later on.

On the other hand, however, Jaime’s blase attitude toward his liberation makes it feel entirely unearned. And this gets even worse when he starts to think about Catelyn’s actions and we learn for the first time how he perceived their interactions in Catelyn VII:

They’d all done a deal of vowing back in that cell, Jaime most of all. That was Lady Catelyn’s price for loosing him. She had laid the point of the big wench’s sword against his heart and said, “Swear that you will never again take up arms against Stark nor Tully. Swear that you will compel your brother to honor his pledge to return my daughters safe and unharmed. Swear on your honor as a knight, on your honor as a Lannister, on your honor as a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard. Swear it by your sister’s life, and your father’s, and your son’s, by the old gods and the new, and I’ll send you back to your sister. Refuse, and I will have your blood.” He remembered the prick of the steel through his rags as she twisted the point of the sword.

I wonder what the High Septon would have to say about the sanctity of oaths sworn while dead drunk, chained to a wall, with a sword pressed to your chest? Not that Jaime was truly concerned about that fat fraud, or the gods he claimed to serve. He remembered the pail Lady Catelyn had kicked over in his cell. A strange woman, to trust her girls to a man with shit for honor. Though she was trusting him as little as she dared. She is putting her hope in Tyrion, not in me.

This last paragraph makes it quite clear that Jaime has no intention of carrying through with his promises; he’s already thinking about ways to wriggle out of his oath by claiming it was made under duress and while not of right mind, and pointing out that his (quite Tywin-esque) atheism means that any religious bindings won’t hold him. And last of all, Jaime uses his rebel goth identity as the “man with shit for honor” to imply that, having broken one oath once in his life, no other oaths are binding on him, which is pretty similar to how children use crossed fingers behind their backs and Freys use “mayhaps” to argue that the social contract shouldn’t count for them.

At the same time, Jaime’s oath is quite interesting. He’s making promises that he doesn’t necessarily have the power to carry out, namely that he “will compel your brother to honor his pledge to return my daughters safe and unharmed.” Even if Tyrion hadn’t fallen from power and was thus no longer able to free the Stark daughters, Jaime has no authority to compel the Hand of the King to do anything, let alone fulfill a pledge that was made in bad faith to begin with.

I’ll talk more about whether Jaime actually does keep his oath in future chapters, but I also want to talk about what he swears by. We know that Jaime doesn’t care about the Old Gods or the New, and he thinks very little for his honor “as a knight…as a Lannister…[or] as a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard.” The one thing he does care about, though, the only thing he cares about, is his family. And it’s interesting that of the three lives he swears by – “your sister’s life, and your father’s, and your son’s – two will die before the book is over, and the third is prophesied to die at his hands. It does make you wonder whether GRRM the fates think he’s kept his promise or not.

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A Question of Redemption

Speaking of whether Jaime’s earned his liberation, one of the things that has always held me back from getting on board the idea that Jaime Lannister is on the road to redemption, is that he doesn’t really seem to have grappled with the moral consequences of his past actions:

“I have no words for monsters.”

Jaime hooted. “Are there monsters hereabouts?”

“…A man who would violate his own sister, murder his king, and fling an innocent child to his death deserves no other name.”

Innocent? The wretched boy was spying on us. All Jaime had wanted was an hour alone with Cersei. Their journey north had been one long torment; seeing her every day, unable to touch her, knowing that Robert stumbled drunkenly into her bed every night in that great creaking wheelhouse. Tyrion had done his best to keep him in a good humor, but it had not been enough.

We knew already that Jaime is quiet blasé about trying to kill Bran, but now we know why he did it. And contrary to a lot of fanon conceptions, he didn’t do it because he was afraid that the boy would expose his secret or that his children with Cersei were in danger. He did it for no other reason than Bran interrupted his “special time” with his sister, and he was in a bad mood because he hadn’t gotten laid in a while. (And here we were thinking that the “things I do for love” meant love in a more metaphorical sense…) And without the presumption of some larger motivation, the sheer pettiness of his motives make the attempted murder of a child even worse.

So already we see the usefulness of the POV format in shining a light on Jaime’s thinking patterns. It also illuminates a lot about his character, in that the only reason why he regrets his actions is that Cersei gave him a hard time about it:

If truth be told, Jaime had come to rue heaving Brandon Stark out that window. Cersei had given him no end of grief afterward, when the boy refused to die. “He was seven, Jaime,” she’d berated him. “Even if he understood what he saw, we should have been able to frighten him into silence.”

“I didn’t think you’d want—”

“You never think. If the boy should wake and tell his father what he saw—”

“If if if.” He had pulled her into his lap. “If he wakes we’ll say he was dreaming, we’ll call him a liar, and should worse come to worst I’ll kill Ned Stark.”

“And then what do you imagine Robert will do?”

“Let Robert do as he pleases. I’ll go to war with him if I must. The War for Cersei’s Cunt, the singers will call it.”

“Jaime, let go of me!” she raged, struggling to rise.

Instead he had kissed her. For a moment she resisted, but then her mouth opened under his. He remembered the taste of wine and cloves on her tongue. She gave a shudder. His hand went to her bodice and yanked, tearing the silk so her breasts spilled free, and for a time the Stark boy had been forgotten.

Had Cersei remembered him afterward and hired this man Lady Catelyn spoke of, to make sure the boy never woke? If she wanted him dead she would have sent me. And it is not like her to chose a catspaw who would make such a royal botch of the killing.

There’s a lot to unpack here. We see that throwing Bran from the tower was not an aberration, but rather rooted in Jaime’s impulsivity; as we see from how he thinks through how to handle Bran’s survival, Jaime knows intellectually that there were other ways to handle the situation, but his instinctual solution to every problem is violence. Indeed, the two things are linked – because Jaime thinks of himself as the best swordsman in Westeros, he believes himself to be beyond consequences. So ludicrously cocksure is he of his own abilities that he even thinks he could get away with killing the Lord Paramount of the North in Winterfell itself, let alone the King of Westeros. No wonder he didn’t think twice about throwing a boy from a tower.

Moreover, as we’ve seen before, he’s completely obsessed about his family, to the point where they’re almost the only real things in the world to him. He only cares about Bran Stark to the extent that it affected his relationship with Cersei, and he only cares about the catspaw to the extent that it might mean that Cersei turned to someone other than himself.  And we can also see that his relationship with Cersei might not be the storybook romance he believes it to be; while I loathe that scene from Season 4, we can see from this incident that Jaime thinks he can manufacture consent from Cersei any time he wants, which is a rather problematic attitude to say the least, and not that different from Robert Baratheon’s thinking.

Indeed, one of the few signs that Jaime’s not beyond saving is that, in the moment, he fins himself unable to kill Brienne despite it being in his self-interest to do so, and even that is largely subconscious: “one good swing when she comes paddling up and I’ll be free of her. Instead he found himself stretching the oar out over the water.” The other sign is his decision to cut his hair:

“Cleos, it seems I must ask you to shave me. Leave the beard, but take the hair off my head.”

“You’d be shaved bald?” asked Cleos Frey.

“The realm knows Jaime Lannister as a beardless knight with long golden hair. A bald man with a filthy yellow beard may pass unnoticed. I’d sooner not be recognized while I’m in irons.”

On the one hand, you could say this decision is largely driven by a combination of pragmatism and pride – that Jaime finds his confinement so humiliating that he’s willing to go to quite extreme lengths to make sure he goes unnoticed. However, it’s also a sign that Jaime is going to change within and without as he he undergoes his journey from Riverrun to King’s Landing.

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Brave, Brave, Brave, Brave Ser Cleos

Speaking of Jaime’s fixation with Lannisters…one of the things I found absolutely hilarious in this episode is the way that Jaime compares everyone to Lannisters. Hence, his attitude towards Ser Cleos Frey, who he despises because:

The Lannister blood runs thin in this one. Cleos was his Aunt Genna’s son by that dullard Emmon Frey, who had lived in terror of Lord Tywin Lannister since the day he wed his sister. When Lord Walder Frey had brought the Twins into the war on the side of Riverrun, Ser Emmon had chosen his wife’s allegiance over his father’s. Casterly Rock got the worst of that bargain, Jaime reflected. Ser Cleos looked like a weasel, fought like a goose, and had the courage of an especially brave ewe.

…They did defeat me with swords, you chinless cretin. Jaime smiled knowingly. Men will read all sorts of things into a knowing smile, if you let them. Has cousin Cleos truly swallowed this kettle of dung, or is he striving to ingratiate himself? What do we have here, an honest muttonhead or a lickspittle?

Ser Cleos prattled blithely on…Lickspittle.

While all of this is true – due in no small part to House Frey’s status as an “asshole family” like the Peakes or the Brackens – I just find it funny that Jaime gets to the right conclusion because he looks down on Cleos for being insufficiently Lannister. And I do feel some small shred of pity for Cleos Frey, who is one of life’s mooks, destined to die embarrassingly and be mourned by no one. But only a small shred, because we have more interesting things to  talk about.

The Wench

Like the character who will be the single most important relationship for Jaime’s story in ASOS, acting as his foil, captor, savior, and moral mirror. And how does Jaime treat the Maid of Tarth?

…the wench grumbled, scowling. Scowls suited her broad homely face better than a smile. Not that Jaime had ever seen her smiling. He amused himself by picturing her in one of Cersei’s silken gowns in place of her studded leather jerkin. As well dress a cow in silk as this one.

Because she’s a woman, of course, he has to compare her to Cersei, because if there’s one part of Lannister ideology that Jaime truly believes in, it’s a smug sense of superiority grounded on conventional beauty norms. Then again, the reason why Jaime is so interested in Brienne is that, when it comes to adherence to conventional beauty norms and gender norms for that matter, she is basically the anti-Cersei (and will serve later to make him reconsider his relationship with Cersei in profound ways). And while Jaime is familiar with the concept that other women might try and fail to attain her lofty ideal, the idea that there might be a woman who doesn’t even try (and indeed, goes in the other direction) is absolutely fascinating to him.

But the cow could row. Beneath her roughspun brown breeches were calves like cords of wood, and the long muscles of her arms stretched and tightened with each stroke of the oars. Even after rowing half the night, she showed no signs of tiring, which was more than could be said for his cousin Ser Cleos, laboring on the other oar. A big strong peasant wench to look at her, yet she speaks like one highborn and wears longsword and dagger. Ah, but can she use them? Jaime meant to find out, as soon as he rid himself of these fetters.

However, as Brienne is also a warrior, Jaime’s initial reaction is that he wants to fight her. There’s a couple reasons for this: first, because (we saw this above with his remembered conversation with Cersei), Jaime has something of if-all-you-have-is-a-hammer mentality when it comes to problem-solving. Second, it points to Jaime’s impulsivity and belief that he is above consequences – when you’re absolutely sure that you’re going to win every fight, there’s no reason not to fight – which is something that Jaime hasn’t learned even after his defeat at Robb’s hands at the Whispering Wood. Third, I think it speaks to the fact that fighting is the only thing Jaime really cares about; he hasn’t had a chance to fight in months, so the first time he comes up against someone who might be a worthy opponent, it’s all he can think about.

Or one of the things he can think about...

Or one of the things he can think about…

So Jaime begins an extended campaign of trying to provoke Brienne into a fight by baiting her with insults, trying to get her to fight him. And to give him credit, Jaime’s pretty good at pissing people off:

…She scowled again, her face all horse teeth and glowering suspicion. “You’ll wear your chains, Kingslayer.”

“You figure to row all the way to King’s Landing, wench?”

“You will call me Brienne. Not wench.”

“My name is Ser Jaime. Not Kingslayer.”

“Do you deny that you slew a king?”

“No. Do you deny your sex? If so, unlace those breeches and show me.” He gave her an innocent smile. “I’d ask you to open your bodice, but from the look of you that wouldn’t prove much.”

…”My name is Brienne,” she repeated, dogged as a hound.

“Lady Brienne?” She looked so uncomfortable that Jaime sensed a weakness. “Or would Ser Brienne be more to your taste?” He laughed. “No, I fear not. You can trick out a milk cow in crupper, crinet, and chamfron, and bard her all in silk, but that doesn’t mean you can ride her into battle.”

As with many bullies, Jaime identifies a weakness – here, Brienne’s issues with gender roles – and begins relentlessly poking at it. And while Brienne is remarkably good at putting up with him, readers of ACOK only have an inkling of why his insults strike home, compared to the understanding we gained after A Feast For Crows was published. In retrospect, it’s a testament to her self-control that she didn’t haul off and smack him long before their duel.

While Jaime is mostly focused on fifth-grade level insults, he does manage to tease out that his captor is the daughter of “Selwyn of Tarth, by the grace of the gods Lord of Evenfall,” which is an important little piece of information without which some pretty terrible things would have happened to Brienne. Just goes to show that you never know what’s important until later.

The War of Five Kings: The Situation in the Riverlands

While being in Jaime’s head and meeting his travelling companions is the major character thrust of the episode, the major thematic emphasis of the chapter (and as we will see, the entire book) is the cost of war:

…the war had taken its toll. They sailed past villages, but saw no villagers. An empty net, slashed and torn and hanging from some trees, was the only sign of fisherfolk. A young girl watering her horse rode off as soon as she glimpsed their sail. Later they passed a dozen peasants digging in a field beneath the shell of a burnt towerhouse. The men gazed at them with dull eyes, and went back to their labors once they decided the skiff was no threat.

It’s interesting how blasé Jaime is about the destruction of the Riverlands, given that this devastation was either caused by the Lannisters directly or happened as a result of the invasion that Jaime was one of the chief architects of. It’s doubly interesting given that we  know that he will return to the Riverlands in AFFC  with a mission (upon which he will stake much of his hopes of redemption) to bring an end to this devastation, and in the midst of that mission will be called upon to make an accounting for his past crimes.

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But before we get to that, we come to one of the most important images of the series when it comes to GRRM’s thinking on the nature of war:

…A thin grey finger crooked them on. It was rising from the south bank several miles on, twisting and curling. Below, Jaime made out the smouldering remains of a large building, and a live oak full of dead women.

The crows had scarcely started on their corpses. The thin ropes cut deeply into the soft flesh of their throats, and when the wind blew they twisted and swayed. “This was not chivalrously done,” said Brienne when they were close enough to see it clearly. “No true knight would condone such wanton butchery.”

“True knights see worse every time they ride to war, wench,” said Jaime. “And do worse, yes.”

…When he saw the crude sign hung about the neck of the highest corpse, he smiled. “They Lay With Lions,” he read. “Oh, yes, woman, this was most unchivalrously done …but by your side, not mine. I wonder who they were, these women?”

“…The girls pleasured some of my lord father’s soldiers, it would seem. Perhaps served them food and drink. That’s how they earned their traitors’ collars, with a kiss and a cup of ale.” He glanced up and down the river, to make certain they were quite alone. “This is Bracken land. Lord Jonos might have ordered them killed. My father burned his castle, I fear he loves us not.”

I’ve talked before about how GRRM uses the recurring motif of “true knighthood” to talk about the romanticization of warfare vs. the existential nature of honor. But here, the fact that Jaime, who we’ll find out later in this book was once the biggest fanboy of knighthood culture, is the one posing as the cynic points to the truth that Sandor Clegane is not the only disappointed idealist in ASOIAF.

The larger importance of “They Lay With Lions,” however, is the redefinition of the politics of the War of the Five Kings. Up until now, we’ve largely seen the Lannisters as the “bad guys” in the war: after all, they started the war, they have pursued a deliberate strategy of attacking civilian populations, and they have engaged in  torture and slavery, practices that violate Westerosi taboos. And since we’ve been seeing much of the Stark side through the eyes of Catelyn Stark, they’ve appeared to be the “good guys,” fighting to defend the Riverlands from foreign occupation.

However, no war, however good its cause, is fought with unstained hands – and we’ve already seen how the scorched earth policies of the Riverlords have affected their own people. Especially when it comes to resistance movements fighting against occupations which by their very nature compel civilians into obeying the occupying power, it is hard to tell the difference between a necessary (and perhaps even justified) policy of punishing collaborators and wanton brutality against civilians who had little choice in colluding with the enemy that makes the resistance little different from the supposed tyrants. This is especially true when it comes to reprisals against women who have sex (however willingly or unwillingly) with occupying soldiers – as we will discuss in some detail in the Historical Analysis section.

And while sometimes the rogue Karstarks are used to maintain the “good guy” status of the Starks proper, and while it’s pretty clear that Robb Stark hasn’t deliberately used attacks on civilian populations as a strategy in the same way that Tywin has, the fact that Jaime brings up Jonos Bracken here as a likely suspect should make us reconsider whether any participant in the game of thrones, however benign their motives, can be considered a “good guy.” Something to keep in mind when we encounter the political ideology of the Brotherhood Without Banners.

The Pursuit

However, the war’s impact on the Riverlands is not solely a matter of theme and subtext – just as Tywin’s orders directly affected Arya’s journey through the Riverlands, so too does the course of the war impact Brienne’s attempt to bring her prisoner to King’s Landing. As Jaime himself says: “Brienne,” he said, granting her the courtesy of the name in the hopes that she might listen, “if Lord Bolton holds Harrenhal, both the Trident and the kingsroad are likely watched.”

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As we can see from the map above, Jaime is very much in the midst of enemy territory, and the capture of Harrenhal and Tywin’s march to King’s Landing, has made things even worse. Either the riverrine route or the land route will now bring him past Roose Bolton’s Northern forces, and he won’t be in reach of any Lannister forces for 750 miles. And again, as we can see from the map, Brienne and co. aren’t making very good time – 17 miles a day (which I calculated from how long it takes them to make it to the Inn of the Kneeling Man) is a bit on the slow side for a small group on the road, it’s abysmally slow for a group in a boat. (Probably due to the fact that Ser Cleos weighs 90 pounds soaking wet, Jaime’s in chains, and Brienne by herself can’t row all day…)

The problem is that the longer they tarry on the water, the more likely that someone from Riverrun is going to catch up to them, as happens almost immediately:

For the good part of an hour they played peek-and-seek with the pursuers, sweeping around bends and between small wooded isles. Just when they were starting to hope that somehow they might have left behind the pursuit, the distant sail became visible again. Ser Cleos paused in his stroke. “The Others take them.” He wiped sweat from his brow.

“Row!” Brienne said.

“That is a river galley coming after us,” Jaime announced after he’d watched for a while. With every stroke, it seemed to grow a little larger. “Nine oars on each side, which means eighteen men. More, if they crowded on fighters as well as rowers. And larger sails than ours. We cannot outrun her.”

…The galley was skimming downriver, a great wooden dragonfly. The water around her was churned white by the furious action of her oars. She was gaining visibly, the men on her deck crowding forward as she came on. Metal glinted in their hands, and Jaime could see bows as well. Archers. He hated archers.

The idea of a river galley, likely a Riverlander adaptation of the Ironborn longships used to conquer them, is such a good one that I’m kind of surprised we haven’t heard of them before. The river galley is significantly smaller than a standard Ironborn longship, although that would make it much cheaper to manufacture in greater numbers (and easier to maneuver through shallow waters), but the advantage of combining the mobility of oars and sail with the combined artillery fire of potentially a dozen or more archers and the ability to land troops behind enemy lines would especially shine in the unique terrain of the Riverlands. They would have been invaluable during the Battle of the Fords, or during the Battle of the Trident in Robert’s Rebellion, or the Battle of the Red Fork or the Fishfeed or the Butcher’s Ball in the Dance of the Dragons.

The novelty of the boat, however, doesn’t make it any less effective, and so unfortunately Jaime has to try diplomacy, a task for which he is manifestly unsuited:

…When the boats were fifty yards apart, Jaime cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted back over the water. “Come to wish me godspeed, Ser Robin?”

“Come to take you back, Kingslayer,” Ser Robin Ryger bellowed. “How is it that you’ve lost your golden hair?”

“I hope to blind my enemies with the sheen off my head. It’s worked well enough for you.”

Ser Robin was unamused. The distance between skiff and galley had shrunk to forty yards. “Throw your oars and your weapons into the river, and no one need be harmed.”

Ser Cleos twisted around. “Jaime, tell him we were freed by Lady Catelyn…an exchange of captives, lawful…”

Jaime told him, for all the good it did. “Catelyn Stark does not rule in Riverrun,” Ser Robin shouted back. Four archers crowded into position on either side of him, two standing and two kneeling. “Cast your swords into the water.

“I have no sword,” he returned, “but if I did, I’d stick it through your belly and hack the balls off those four cravens.”

A flight of arrows answered him. One thudded into the mast, two pierced the sail, and the fourth missed Jaime by a foot.

The exchange between Jaime and Ser Robin Ryger about Catelyn Stark’s “lawful” exchange of hostages brings up yet another problem with the way that Catelyn handled the situation. In addition to all of my other complaints about her strategic thinking in that decision, one of the fundamental problems with doing things the way she did is that Catelyn has no authority to prevent attempts to recapture Jaime. So with diplomacy having failed and outrunning them not being an option due to the superior speed of the river galley, Jaime has only one other option:

Ser Robin raised a hand, and his archers lowered their bows. “Say what you will, Kingslayer, but say it quickly.”

The skiff swung through a litter of broken stones as Jaime called out, “I know a better way to settle this—single combat. You and I.”

“I was not born this morning, Lannister.”

“No, but you’re like to die this afternoon.” Jaime raised his hands so the other could see the manacles. “I’ll fight you in chains. What could you fear?”

“”Not you, ser. If the choice were mine, I’d like nothing better, but I am commanded to bring you back alive if possible. Bowmen.” He signaled them on. “Notch. Draw. Loo—”

I’ve talked already about Jaime’s swordsman mentality, but we can really see it on display in this chapter. Between Jaime’s class-based hatred of archers, who take the view that hand-to-hand combat with armed and armored knights is a mug’s game, and his ridiculous idea that Ser Robin would ever take him up on his ridiculous challenge, it’s pretty clear that Jaime hasn’t really learned from his mistakes in the Whispering Woods (link). Indeed, the only reason why Jaime doesn’t get himself feathered with arrows as a testament to stupidity and arrogance is that Brienne of Tarth is a goddamn superhero:

“… a boulder the size of a cow detached itself from the top of the bluff. Ser Robin shouted in dismay. The stone tumbled through the air, struck the face of the cliff, cracked in two, and smashed down on them. The larger piece snapped the mast, tore through the sail, sent two of the archers flying into the river, and crushed the leg of a rower as he bent over his oar. The rapidity with which the galley began to fill with water suggested that the smaller fragment had punched right through her hull. The oarsman’s screams echoed off the bluff while the archers flailed wildly in the current. From the way they were splashing, neither man could swim. Jaime laughed.

…When Jaime looked up, Brienne was lumbering along the clifftop well ahead of them, having cut across a finger of land while they were following the bend in the river. She threw herself off the rock, and looked almost graceful as she folded into a dive.

The average cow weighs something around 1,400 pounds, and given that rocks as substantially more dense than cows, this is an incredible feat of strength, worthy of Hafþór Björnsson himself. The fact that Jaime thought he had any chance against Brienne after witnessing this display really does speak to his extreme arrogance.

Historical Analysis:

As I said above, one of the inescapable dilemmas of resistance against occupation is how a resistance movement deals with collaborators. And one of the ugliest aspects of all of this is the case of women who entered into sexual relationships with occupying soldiers.

These kinds of reprisals are always deeply problematic, in that they are rooted in paternalistic conceptions of ownership over “our women,” (to say nothing of how these punishments completely ignored whether the women in question truly consented to these relationships or were driven by necessity into survival prostitution) projected self-hatred of men who’ve failed to defend their father/motherland, and xenophobic if not outright racist fears that “half-breed” children somehow compromise national purity.

Probably the most famous example of these kind of reprisals took place in World War II, following the liberation of Western Europe. In France, Belgium, and Holland,  tens of thousands of women were forcibly shaved (if not worse) by jubilantly vengeful crowds who were happy to forget that most of them had collaborated as well in less visible fashions:

A crowd jeers as a woman’s head is shaved during the liberation of Marseilles

In the 2006 film Black Book, none other than the Red Priestess Carice Van Houten plays a Jewish member of the Dutch Resistance who is ordered to infiltrate the German occupation forces by entering into romantic relationships with high-ranking offices. Despite the fact that she’s literally acting under orders, Van Houten’s character is arrested following the liberation of Holland for collaboration horizontale, and only narrowly avoids the same fate that tens of thousands of women endured in the aftermath of WWII.

blackbook_pic6

While it might seem like a strange subject for ASOIAF parallels, I’ll actually be discussing WWII-era resistance movements quite a bit in my ASOS essays, especially when Arya encounters the Brotherhood Without Banners. So if this interests you, tune in!

What If?

There are quite a few hypothetical scenarios I can see for this chapter:

  • Jaime gets recaptured? Let’s say the rock is just too big for Brienne to shift or something along those lines:
    • If Jaime is returned to Riverrun, some interesting things happen. While it’s unlikely that the Red Wedding would not happen at all, I do think that Tywin would go to some lengths to make sure that the Red Wedding is a capture-not-kill scenario, given the need to keep Jaime alive for a likely prisoner exchange.
    • On the other hand, it’s quite possible that the second siege of Riverrun becomes a strange double-sided affair in which Emmon Frey threatens to hang Edmure Tully and Brynden Tully threatens in turn to hang Jaime Lannister.
    • At the same time, some important character stuff changes. Without his fateful encounter with the Bloody Mummers, Jaime likely doesn’t lose his hand, which in addition to short-circuiting his personal growth as a character, means that he doesn’t have his conflict with Tywin over leaving the Kingsguard, and means that he’s very much available as a champion for trials by combat. And most significantly, if Jaime is stuck in Riverrun, there’s no one to free Tyrion from the cell (although GRRM still has Varys on hand as his plan B).
  • Jame et al. die? Given how close Ser Robin’s arrows got to Jaime, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Brienne is just a few seconds too late to stop that last volley of arrows and Jaime falls prey to the knight’s bane. In addition to Tyrion not having anyone to let him out of the cell, a lot of things in the Riverlands changes – the sieges of Riverrun and Raventree Hall don’t end (or at least don’t end bloodlessly), and there’s no order to have the prisoners from the Twins sent to King’s Landing (creating an opening for the Brotherhood Without Banners to ambush their convoys and liberate them).
  • Jaime kills Brienne? This is a really interesting scenario. Without the duel, it’s more likely that Jaime isn’t captured and dehanded by the Bloody Mummers. However, without Brienne of Tarth, it’s quite likely that Jaime Lannister meets his end at the hands of Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood Without Banners…

 

Book vs. Show:

The show makes a rather short job of this part of Jaime and Brienne’s storyline in Season 3, so that by the end of their first episode, they are captured by not-Vargo-Hoat. And while Jaime and Brienne’s snarky dialogue is quite excellent – I quite like Jaime’s capper line “my point is, we don’t choose whom we love” although in retrospect it started the weird normalization of Jaime and Cersei’s relationship that the show started pushing in Season 4 and 5 – it is a bit of a shame we missed out on a great action sequence for Gwendoline Christie to knock out of the part.

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78 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Jaime I, ASOS

  1. Flávio says:

    Are this articles going to contain spoilers for the current season?

    Since I’m skipping it, I would like to know if it’s safe to keep reading this.

  2. David Hunt says:

    Excellent work as always, sir.

    I agree with everything that you say about Jaime. I am struck by one of the passages you quote that gives us an early hint into Cercei’s thinking. We see that Cercei was already re-writing what happened with Bran before they’re out of Winterfell. When it happens, Cercei is practically ordering Jaime to kill Bran, saying that “He saw us.” After Jaime’s murder attempt goes badly, she had nothing to do with it, claiming that she could have manipulated Bran into keeping quiet.

    It’s an early example of how nothing is ever Cerceit’s fault. If people had only done things her way, it would have worked out fine. An attitude she maintains even when people did do things exactly how she wanted. She’ll simply mentally re-write events such that she was in the right from the beginning.

    • Sean C. says:

      Being fair, “he saw us” could be read as panicked rather than a command. Not that Cersei is likely to have been at all troubled by it, given that by this point we know murdering children isn’t a problem for her.

    • Andrew says:

      That is Cersei’s narcissism in play. We also see it with her believing Sansa told her Ned’s plans when it was actually Ned. That image likely boosts her idea of herself as a political player.

      • Milk Steak says:

        Sansa told Cersei about Ned’s plan to get the kids out which helped with planning and timeline. Not as vital as Cersei makes it out to be but not nothing.

    • Thanks!

      I’m certainly of the opinion that she wanted it in the moment as a first reaction, but I do think that GRRM phrased it so as to maintain a certain ambiguity.

  3. Sean C. says:

    Jaime’s characterization going forward is an interesting mix. You’re quite right that in a lot of ways he has thus far eschewed many of the tropes of a redemptive arc — in particular, a penitent attitude for past actions. In a lot of ways, the “redemption” of Jaime as fans see is more a case of complicating his motives. In a lot of ways he’s trying to move forward and adhere more to knightly ideals without particularly reckoning with prior actions. I do wonder if Stoneheart is going to be some sort of turning point in that regard.

    • I think the moving forward vs. reckoning with the past is dead on, and I absolutely think that LSH is going to be focused precisely on that. Her whole purpose is on revenging the wrongs done to her family in her past life.

      • winnief says:

        Well said. Though I do think that Jaime is starting to regret some of the past if only sub consciously like when he remembered how he would have Arya if her father’s men hadn’t found her first.

        But he still has to come more fully to terms with what he’s done in order to do better going forward

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      I think this is the best reading of Jaime’s current arc. The only acknowledgement he really seems to be giving to how he’s fucked up in the past is by determinedly trying not to fuck up in future. He deserves all the credit in the world for trying to turn over a new leaf, but the past isn’t going to leave him alone unless he acknowledges it.

  4. Steven Xue says:

    You’re right on your analysis of being Jaime being excruciatingly self centered and indifference towards everybody except himself and members of his family. But I do wonder if he did have some semblance of honor or duty to being a ‘knight in shining armor’ before his redemption arc took shape? Although it is quite certain that he tried to kill Bran simply because he’s a dick rather than fearing the seven year old would out him for committing adultery with his sister on the one hand, on the other hand his motive for killing Aerys was to save the half a million lives in King’s Landing. That has to be a point in his favor.

    • beto2702 says:

      Always wondered how much of that was selfless action to save thousands and how much was going against “bring me your fathers head”

      • SoRefined says:

        When I first read the part of the books where he explained this, I thought it was 95% “bring me your father’s head” and 5% “saving of thousands.” Now I think it was maybe only 90% “father’s head,” but it seems like most people think it was people first and Tywin second. Since in the intervening decade and a half he has never bothered to mention Chekhov’s wildfire, I’m sticking with my gut feeling on this one.

      • So why did he first kill Rossart, then?

    • Grant says:

      With Jaime it is really, really, really hard to say. We know that he verbally objected to the Kingsguard passively allowing Aerys II to carry out his abuses, but he never did anything to stop them. A guy as fast as Jaime and with his connections, I think he could have found some way to kill Aerys or get Rhaella (Aerys’ wife) away if he really wanted to make the attempt.

      But on the other hand, we often can forget that Jaime would have been a teenager at this time (much the same way we tend to overlook the literary ages of Robb, Jon, Sandor and other characters). He was told to not judge Aerys by Gerold Hightower himself, one of the living legends of the Kingsguard.

      So honor? Love of family? Just some realization that what is happening is wrong and no words can pretty it enough to change that? Even (or maybe especially) Jaime can’t say. All we know is that on that day, something was just pushed too far and the teenage boy who had stood by his king raping, murdering and abusing couldn’t put up with it anymore.

    • Jim B says:

      I see Jaime as someone who, while still a teenager, was thrust into an ethical dilemma that could have come straight out of a textbook (or perhaps one of those questions they gave you at the start of Ultima IV to determine your character class…). He tried to do (and in my opinion did do) the “right thing,” but proceeded to get shit on by people who didn’t understand the situation.

      Then his arrogance and petulance took over, and rather than explaining himself as most people would have, he seems to have concluded that trying to do the right thing is thankless so why bother.

      • wat barleycorn says:

        I think this and the prior comment are spot on. Jaime is so broken, so effed up by realizing he can’t live with himself when he does the right OR the wrong thing.

        He is impulsive and has no fear of death because he’s sleepwalking through life. He anesthetizes himself with Cersei, a drug who is half sexual fetish and half a fantasy of returning to childhood when his mother was alive and he was a golden boy and there was happiness and meaning in his life.

        And agree, he can’t redeem himself until he faces what he allowed himself to become, and why. And I suspect he won’t be willing to do it.

        • Crystal says:

          I agree. Jamie is very messed up, psychologically – indeed, all Tywin’s children are. One of the series’ big ironies is that Tywin, in trying to rescue his family’s legacy from his father, sowed the seeds of its doom – he sowed the wind in his treatment of his children, and after his death he’s sure reaping the whirlwind.

    • I don’t know if he was quite a “knight in shining armor.” As I’ll get into later, Jaime’s backstory is someone who idolized the ideal of knighthood but wasn’t allowed to live it out, because Aerys hated and feared his father.

      • Steven Xue says:

        I suppose you’re right. In his youth, that is before he earned that notorious sobriquet, he must have been a lot more idealistic about being a knight and the oaths and responsibilities that came with it at least from a romantic point of view. But after witnessing the man he was sworn to protect commit all measures of cruelty and injustice without anybody having the guts to stop him or reigning him in before he finally takes matters into his own hands to prevent him from taking even more innocent lives. Yet for his defining moment of heroism he was spat on and scorned by everybody. No doubt this has shatter whatever idealism he must of had about knighthood and chivalry and gave him a more cynical view these things.

        But what I find interesting is what ends up making him turn over a new leaf wasn’t losing his sword hand but being haunted by the “Ghosts of Christmas Past”. Being scolded by his deceased brothers in arms, and his beloved prince for being a shitty knight has set him straight and put the fear of god in him. But I’m sure you’ll be getting into that when the time comes.

  5. winnief says:

    Excellent analysis as always Steve. The contrast between Jaime in the Riverlands here and in Affc is quite striking.

    Though on the show I *did* appreciate the actors performances quite a bit especially how turned on NCW was when he saw Brienne fight.

    Its also good to see how delusional Cat was being to think the Lannisters would ever honor their side of the prisoner exchange.

  6. artihcus022 says:

    I disagree with you that Jaime didn’t consider the political consequences of Bran seeing him and Cersei. Just because in his POV he remembers the situation in terms of the small events leading up to it, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t aware of the dangers and implications of that action. Remember that this POV is Jaime recalling the events and we don’t have access to his viewpoint as he is conducting that action.

    I do agree that Jaime doesn’t feel guilty for his actions and in his mind he does justify it as something anyone would do in that situation (well anyone who commits incest that is). Even Ned Stark reflects on it in ”A Game of Thrones” in that conversation with Cersei when he realizes why Jaime threw Bran out: If it came to that, the life of some child I did not know, against Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon, what would I do? Even more so, what would Catelyn do, if it were Jon’s life, against the children of her body?” He did not know. He prayed he never would.

    So I think it’s meant to be an ambiguous act of extremism. George RR Martin says so in this interview: At the same time, what Jaime did is interesting. I don’t have any kids myself, but I’ve talked with other people who have. Remember, Jaime isn’t just trying to kill Bran because he’s an annoying little kid. Bran has seen something that is basically a death sentence for Jaime, for Cersei, and their children – their three actual children. So I’ve asked people who do have children, “Well, what would you do in Jaime’s situation?” They say, “Well, I’m not a bad guy – I wouldn’t kill.” Are you sure? Never? If Bran tells King Robert he’s going to kill you and your sister-lover, and your three children. . . .

    Then many of them hesitate. Probably more people than not would say, “Yeah, I would kill someone else’s child to save my own child, even if that other child was innocent.” These are the difficult decisions people make, and they’re worth examining.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/george-r-r-martin-the-rolling-stone-interview-20140423?page=3

    • If anyone has access to his POV when he was doing it, it’s Jaime. And Jaime actually does think about his state of mind at the time – and he doesn’t mention his kids at all. Indeed, as we’ll see in ASOS, he doesn’t really care about his kids, never developed a relationship with them out of necessity.

      • Steven Xue says:

        I think Joffrey was the only one he didn’t care for. Jaime had nothing but complete contempt for Joffrey as he considers him “a little shit” who deserved to die which is something I think everybody (save for Cersei) can sympathize with. Even Robert wasn’t all too fond of Joffrey and he despite being an absentee father to both his bastards and ‘true born’ kids did take some measure of responsibility for all of them. Besides Joffrey I think Jaime does have some measure of paternal attachment to Cersei’s other kids (even if he doesn’t think about them all the time), and even if that weren’t the case he should still love them for Cersei’s sake.

      • Winnief says:

        True. He cared about *Cersei’s* welfare-probably more than his own even but not the children. It’s only later on he starts to bond with Tommen.

  7. Tywin of the Hill says:

    Thank God. The wait was unbearable.
    Regarding the “Jaime kills Brienne?” scenario: Wouldn’t killing Brienne actually help him avoid LSH’s judgement? After all, the only reason why he leaves his army in ADWD is that he trusts Brienne.

    • Winnief says:

      True but its also possible that LSH and the Brotherhood would have gotten to him eventually anyway-and I think Brienne might at least try to help him.

    • Chinoiserie says:

      I also think the what if scenarios ignore the fact that even if Varys frees Tyrion he might not be motivated enough to kill Tywin without Tysha info. Tywin alive would butterfly away Jaime’s entire Feast plot.

      • beto2702 says:

        Tywin alive changes storylines for everyone south of the Neck

      • Grant says:

        I’d say the odds are good Varys would just kill Tywin and have it be pinned on Tyrion. He’s certainly capable of murder, has all the motive needed and forensics to determine the bolt wasn’t fired from a crossbow held by a person of short stature doesn’t exist in Westeros.

        And who will people believe? Tyrion, the guy who’s just been convicted of murdering his own nephew and was well known to be held in contempt by his father?

        • winnief says:

          Varys’ s plans ALWAYS depended on Tywin’s death and the power vacuum that would create for the present regime. So yeah even if Tyrion hadn’t done it then Varys would have handled it himself.

      • Milk Steak says:

        Or Tywin dies from the poison Martel slipped him if you believe that theory. Which I do

        • wat barleycorn says:

          Yes, the stink. I miss almost everything, but even I was like, “hmmm, this stink seems very weird and they keep harping on it. Must mean something.”

          Also explains why Oberyn was
          eager to fight the Mountain–a fight he believed he could win, but still very risky. He knew he’d already killed Tywin, so the man truly responsible for his sister’s death was punished (with no one suspecting Dorne, what with the insane Lannister infighting and Tyrell alliance’s weakness) leaving him free to try and kill the man who actually carried out the order. Again, with no danger brought to Dorne.

          Dude really took advantage of his opportunitues. To be a fly on the wall when he realized how catastrophically weak and dysfunctional the Lannisters were as rulers.

          • Yes, when you realize if Oberyn does win there is no way he’d be allowed to stick around Kings Landing or be close enough to Tywin to hit his real target Oberyn’s plan comes into focus. The best part is by the time Tywin dies Oberyn and Tyrion are out of town anyway.

    • He’s not going to have his army with him when he goes to his cousin’s wedding…

      • winnief says:

        That’s what I’ve been wondering about too.

        Brienne may have saved him from Red Wedding 2.0

      • Andrew says:

        Poor Daven will likely be killed at his own wedding with his pants down. We need a POV to see what goes on there so Jaime likely will be present. I doubt LS will let him go even if he is acquitted in a trial by combat.

  8. poorquentyn says:

    Ha, I was wondering if Black Book would come up when you got to “They Lay With Lions,” given van houten. Very much looking forward to la resistance!

    Couldn’t agree more about Jaime, this is something I’ve talked a lot about: his genuine, moving interrogation of his identity is not the same thing as moral redemption for his actions, and they shouldn’t be conflated. Even the wildfire–he didn’t actually stop it, only delayed it…

  9. Chinoiserie says:

    While I do not have a trouble believing that Tywin is a atheist I not recall such thing mentioned in the books. The only things I remember recarding Tywin and religion are when he gives new crown to the new High Septon for a show and in the show where Cersei says her father believes in gods but does not like them very much.

    The potrayal of most of the Frey’s as weasels is nessecary for future plot reasons I suppose but I still do not like it very much. There is nothing except Jaime’s opinion about Cleo’s looks that makes him unlikeable and I feel sorry for him and I would imagine Genna and rest of his family mours for him at least.

    • Tywin of the Hill says:

      Also, he kisses the High Septon’s ring during one of the Small Council meetings (but that’s also for a show). And…
      “To teach me humility, the gods have condemned me to watch you waddle about wearing that proud lion that was my father’s sigil and his father’s before him.”

      So it seems Tywin wasn’t an atheist or agnostic. He just thought Gods were jerks. Which, when you see his approach to politics, makes total sense.

    • winnief says:

      True. Of course its also significant to establish that Jaime held his Frey relatives in complete contempt even before the Red Wedding. So that point in AFFC when he realized the Lannisters are no better than their “allies” at the Twins stings even harder.

    • I believe Tywin’s atheism comes up in a Cersei chapter during his funeral.

    • Space Oddity says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but I think the entire quiet POINT of Cleos is that when you scratch off people’s prejudices towards him, he’s just a normal, not particularly unpleasant guy who has the misfortune to be a) related to not one, but TWO families of incredible assholishness; b) used as a emissary in a war that will see diplomatic norms tossed out the window by both sides; and c) constantly in the wrong place at the wrong time. And so we watch kicked around by POV characters who always find convenient excuses for their kicking.

      Hence that little scene with Genna in AFFC. To remind us that this was a person, after all.

      • winnief says:

        Good point. Really besides bearing an unfortunate resemblance to a weasel what did Cleos ever do to deserve our scorn? !?

  10. Michael says:

    ‘The man looked over at the woman. “The things I do for love,” he said *with loathing*. He gave Bran a shove.’

    Couple that ‘with loathing’ with the points artihcus022 raises and there’s pretty solid backing within the text and from the mouth of the author for the case that ‘he was in a bad mood because he hadn’t gotten laid in a while’ isn’t really all there is to it when looking at his motivations for what he did to Bran.

    • The loathing is a good point, but I do think the bad mood was there, since it’s also in the text.

      • I don’t think it needs to be either or.

        Jaime can realize by Cersei’s reaction and common sense that Bran is a threat to the two of them, have a moment of disgust at killing a kid, do it anyway and easily justify it to himself. I always read the later thinking about Bran spying as part of his usual wall of delusion he uses to paper over twinges of conscious.

        If he had caught Arya at the trident he probably would have had a moment of “how awful it is I had to do this” while chopping her down while later brushing it off when Cersei claims it’s not what she wanted.

  11. I’ve always had my doubts about whether Jaime is on a redemption arc at all – as to my mind he doesn’t seem to truly feel the weight of his actions with regard to Cersei and Bran (Aerys is another matter) and all the deaths they led to. Jaime doesn’t seem so much to want to repair the damage his actions have caused, as to have everyone agree that they weren’t bad actions in the first place. He does want to be redeemed but to have everyone agree he doesn’t need to be. Which is human and quite compelling, but not quite the clear cut redemption fans seem to think it is. (Theon’s relationship with Jeyne seems much closer to that to me)

    • winnief says:

      I don’t think its others opinion of him that bothers Jaime as much as his opinion of himself. I think he’s still in a state of denial about what he’s done but its becoming shakier with every day. He just can’t quite bring himself to the final conclusions about Cersei and the Lannisters. ..at least not yet.

  12. thatrabidpotato says:

    “The fact that Jaime thought he had any chance against Brienne after witnessing this display really does speak to his extreme arrogance.”

    Ok, I agree that Jaime is an asshole at this particular point in the story, but Jaime thinking he has a chance against Brienne isn’t due to self-delusion or extreme arrogance, it’s solidly grounded in fact. Jaime Lannister with both hands and at full strength is the best swordsman currently living in Westeros and one of the best of all time. Brienne herself admits in Feast that she only wins the fight because Jaime was malnourished, out of practice, and chained at the wrist. GRRM himself said that Jaime would defeat Aragorn in single combat, for Pete’s sake!

    • winnief says:

      True but Jaime himself should have realized his limits given his condition. Instead he went off like he was still in fighting trim.

      • poorquentyn says:

        Yeah, Jaime KNOWS he’s “malnourished, out of practice, and chained at the wrist,” so that doesn’t really work as an excuse.

      • jossedley says:

        Jaime is astonishingly cocky. (Not entirely unjustified – Selmy himself seems to think of Jaime as one of the most gifted natural fighters ever, and even in his defeat at the Whispering Wood, Jaime cut through Rob’s battle companions like tissue paper). He seriously has no problem placing to kill Robert, or actually attaching Ned on the street. I’m sure he would take on Gregor if he had reason.

        • beto2702 says:

          That should’ve been interesting. He had a chance in Tyrion’s trial, maybe with both hands he would have gone for it. He went against a bear with no sword and one hand, he could pretty much think he has a chance against gregor.

          • Grant says:

            Against Gregor, maybe. Would he fight? I think so, but this is me looking at Jaime after all his changes. A Jaime that never lost his hand, would he go against Cersei in this? If it was Tyrion’s life I’d say probably, but what if the sentence were the Night’s Watch?

  13. They will bend the knee says:

    Nice read, as always, I’m looking forward to finally getting my hands on some Davos chapters soon. 😀 The fandom having recently been mostly preoccupied with the TV show I’m glad to get some books analyses to read and enjoy !

  14. Ser Biffy Clegane says:

    Great analysis as always.

    Remembering the early Jaime is also helpful to help remember where Tyrion started. AGOT Tyrion is a keen observer, which leads to some empathy, but at his core, he sees himself as a Lannister, and one of the best examples of that is that he admires AGOT Jaime. Jaime is kind to him, and funny, and Tyrion is confident that Jaime will kill anyone who threatens his brother, and that’s enough. (The other example of where Tyrion starts out his winding moral journey is that his response to Lysa’s disrespect is to plan seriously to destroy the Vale, in a very Tywin-esque maneuver)

  15. Andrew says:

    Another job well done.

    1. I’ll just come out and say it: I think Bracken is an asshole. He kills these women for serving his enemy soldiers, and we later see him in ADwD with a woman he took from his opponent’s side, basically having her doing what he hanged those women for.

    2. I do see a kind of dynamic between Brienne and Jaime like I see with Sansa and Sandor. The men in these situations are basically embittered former idealists who see their lost romantic idealism in their respective female counterparts, and try to break it. Yet, we see both Brienne and Sansa have an inner strength that allows them to endure the abuse they’ve suffered. Brienne looks after the orphaned squire Pod while Sansa looks after the orphaned Lord Robert Arryn, serving as mother figures to these boys.

  16. SG says:

    Given how strongly GRRM feels about the vietnam war in particular, I’m seeing parallels between jamie and the draftees in that they were both forced into a morally ambiguous war/political situation that was seen as being handed down by their fathers which they had little personal stake in. Also between the PTSD and Jamie’s honour (especially since he clearly feels that it there was no choice he could have made to retain his honour and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. Jeez, he treats it like his virginity) as ruining the people forever for something they had little stake in. Which may actually explain why grrm gives jaime so much slack on his lack of repentance on his redemption arc.

    Whats your opinion on the swap out for vargo to locke? Saved on exposition but I quite liked the inclusion of people who honestly didn’t give a crap about the land they were fighting in and were motivated by self interest in the strictest sense.

  17. dowie101 says:

    I think you missed out an interesting ‘what if?’ If Jaime was killed I. This chapter. The whole need for the Ref Wesding would have been avoided as Jaime’s death would have placated Rickard Karstark, thus preventing the Karstark desertions and Robbs punishment.
    Remember the reason for the wedding of Edmure was because Robb needed the Freys to replace the lost Karstark forces in his plans to tackle the Ironborn. With them still on side, and a united northern army the desperate Robb accepting the Freys demands and wedding need never occur.
    Again, great analysis and thanks!

    • Mmmmm…Robb still needed to cross the Twins to get back to the North, no?

    • You’re mixing the books with the show. In the show, Karstark’s men leaving was super important because, as they explicitly said, they made up half of Robb’s army (?!), and that’s why he had to make up with Walder.

      In the books, Robb and Cat already decide that he will need to placate the Freys, because Robb needs to pass by the Twins to go North and retake Winterfell, and Cat already figures out that they would want another marriage to a FREY to make up for the lack of Robb’s, in Catelyn II (the chapter where Robb returns from the Westerlands with Jeyne), before anything happens with Karstark. Karstark’s men’s desertion didn’t have anything to do with the RW, apart from the fact that Karstark’s men didn’t get to be killed there by the Frey and Bolton men.

  18. Jaime is self-justifying by telling himself that Bran was not innocent because he was “spying” (as opposed to running into them by accident), as if it was Bran’s fault. He’s not willing to accept that responsibility yet, but later in ASOS he does admit that he’s ashamed of pushing Bran from the tower. (“I’m not ashamed of loving you, just of the things I have done to hide it. That boy in Winterfell…”)

    He’s also thinking about how he came to be having sex with Cersei in the tower in the first place, trying to self-justify that as well, since that was really something he didn’t have to be doing (he just wanted some time with her, he was so frustrated because of Robert etc. etc.)

    But how you went from there to concluding “Jaime pushed Bran just because he’s annoyed that someone interrupted him having sex with Cersei, not because knew that it would mean death for both of them if Bran told anyone”… this I really don’t get. We don’t need Jaime to think in his POV about the fact that Bran telling someone about them would mean death for both him and Cersei – we already know that, and we know that he knew that. Among other things, because he is not a complete idiot. We also saw it happen. What was Cersei’s “He saw us!” all about? We also know he didn’t immediately push Bran while yelling: “You stupid boy!”, he did it only after she repeated it a few times, and he wasn’t happy he did it (“he said with loathing”). Even if you subscribe to Death of the Author and ignore GRRM’s own words on the matter, and just look at the text, your interpretation is utterly bizarre.

  19. […] subtle way.  On the other hand, she refuses to deny or minimize her guilt – very much unlike Jaime – and even talks about wearing the “Kingslayer’s empty irons” with pride, […]

  20. Dr. Toboggan says:

    Nice little bit of foreshadowing:

    “…a catspaw who would make such a royal botch of the killing.”

  21. […] quite likely that it was pure coincidence. In the second place, there are far more valuable targets running around the Riverlands at the moment. That’s not to say that there aren’t threats and dangers out there for a […]

  22. […] far, A Storm of Swords has been fairly quiet; we’ve gotten a new POV and a few recap chapters dealing with the aftermath of ACOK, but nothing really out of the […]

  23. […] she really should know better from the previous chapter that the rivers are also unsafe because of armies…and bandits too, as we learn here. (And as if to put a sharper point on the talk of bandits […]

  24. […] (as we have already seen above) the Brotherhood are not merely neutral but view the two sides as morally indistinguishable. And their ideology is likewise rather […]

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