Kingslayer. Oathbreaker. Man without honor. Jaime Lannister has been called a great many things, all of which are more than fair assessments. Yet he is also an oath keeper, (he has kept his vows to Lady Catelyn thus far) and a man WITH honor (he saved Brienne from both rapists and the bear pit when he didn’t have to do either), which makes him one of George R.R. Martin’s most complex—and popular—characters. It’s this complexity that makes Ser Jaime the perfect anti-hero. His resume is stacked with horrible misdeeds (crippling and almost killing Bran, and that whole twincest thing, for starters) but he also freed Tyrion, saving him from execution, and we see him constantly struggle to do what’s right not just for his house, but for the realm.
With the conclusion of Game of Thrones getting closer by the second (it returns for its second-to-last season July 16) we thought we’d take a closer look at one of the series’ most interesting characters. We’re not yet sure what his role will be in the show’s endgame, but we know he and his golden hand will very likely play a pivotal part. Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Jaime Lannister.
15. Much of Cersei’s season six storyline was originally meant for him
When three pages of his original outline for the Song of Ice and Fire book series were released last year, it was revealed that George R.R. Martin originally had a very different plan for the character of Jaime Lannister. A snippet from the outline almost seems shocking now: “Jaime Lannister will follow Joffrey on the throne of the Seven Kingdoms, by the simple expedient of killing everyone ahead of him in the line of succession and blaming his brother Tyrion for the murders.” Woah!
Considering that the Jaime we know threw his honor in the garbage when he chose to slay the Mad King to save all the denizens of King’s Landing, this original version of the Kingslayer surprised us. Plus, Jaime’s soft spot for Tyrion is one of his most redeeming qualities both on the show and in the books, so we’re glad Mr. Martin made some changes to his original outline.
14. He dreamt about Brienne and the Bear before it happened
After leaving Harrenhal with Qyburn and a bunch of Bolton men, Jaime learns that Brienne’s ransom was refused by her captors, and that she is in definite danger as a result. In the show, that was enough to make him go back for her. But in the books, he was moved by something else entirely: a dream he had about both Brienne and a bear. It was a weird, scattered fever dream that likely resulted from his injured hand, and Jaime is by no means a seer with magic powers, but its contents were certainly interesting.
In his dream, a meandering Jaime runs into Brienne in a dank underground cellar. Unsure of where they are, Brienne asks him: “Do they keep a bear down here…A cave lion? Direwolves? Some bear? Tell me, Jaime. What lives here?” While they don’t actually see a bear, Jaime is clearly disturbed when he wakes up, and immediately coerces Bolton’s men to take him back for Brienne. When Brienne asks him why he came back for her, he simply tells her the truth: “I dreamed of you.” Jealous much, Cersei?
13. He both envies and respects House Targaryen
Sure, he envies the Targaryens largely because they have a storied tradition of marrying their siblings, but it’s much more complicated than that. There are several moments in the books where Jaime does reference how he wishes he could openly marry Cersei, because “the dragons always married their sisters,” and at one point, in A Storm of Swords, Jaime wishes House Lannister were above the laws of the realm, “like gods and Targaryens.”
But Ser Jaime also had a deep respect for Rhaegar Targaryen, despite the fact that he killed Rhaegar’s father, the Mad King. Jaime wanted to fight alongside Rhaegar in the Battle of the Trident, but the Mad King wouldn’t have it. They weren’t exactly best friends, but Rhaegar knew his dad was a lunatic, and he and Jaime were definitely on the same side and held each other in high regard.
12. He was made a Knight at 15 by Ser Arthur Dayne
Remember the season six episode “Oathbreaker,” in which a young Ned Stark and five of his bannermen confronted two Kingsguard in front of that huge tower while searching for his sister Lyanna? And remember how that one solitary member of the Kingsguard wielded a sword in each hand and took out every one of Ned’s men and would have killed Ned too if Howland Reed hadn’t stabbed him?
That incredibly deft warrioring badass was Ser Arthur Dayne, the most famous swordsman in the history of Westeros—and it was Ser Arthur who made Jaime a knight when he was a wee lad of 15. Jaime served as Ser Arthur’s squire, and was knighted right on the battlefield after he fought beside Ser Arthur and helped him defeat a band of outlaws called the Kingswood Brotherhood. Up until he slew the Mad King, Jamie was considered by many to be one of the bravest and most benevolent warriors in Westeros.
11. He was almost played by another Jamie—Jamie Bamber
Jamie Bamber as Jaime Lannister? Chalk that one up to one of the show’s most intriguing “what might have been” casting decisions. It turns out that Battlestar Galactica‘s resident justice-seeking good guy read for the role of one of Westeros’ most loathed men. Bamber acknowledged in an interview that he had gone out for the part of Jaime Lannister, but he didn’t reveal much more than that about the show’s casting or decision-making process.
The talented and charismatic Bamber would have made an interesting choice as Ser Jaime, and it would have been nice to see him play someone much darker than Lee Adama, but considering how perfect Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is in the role of the Kingslayer, we think the Thrones casting directors made the right choice.
10. There’s a missing Valyrian steel sword out there named Brightroar that’s his birthright
Book readers and fans of the show alike know how important Valyrian steel is—it’s one of the few known weapons proven to be capable of killing White Walkers. Swords made of it are extremely rare and coveted, and we know that Brienne, Jon Snow, and Samwell Tarly all have them (and there’s the smaller one that was Joffrey’s). But the Lannisters are one major house that doesn’t have one, which is odd, considering that they’re known as the wealthiest family in the realm. Turns out they DID have one—it just got lost.
The sword, Brightroar, is never mentioned in the show, and is only touched on very briefly in the books. Turns out, Tommen II, a Lannister patriarch of yore, took the sword with him when he and his great fleet sailed to post-doom Valyria. Shortly after they landed there, Tommen II, his ships, and Brightroar all disappeared. Tywin was always bothered by this lack of Valyrian steel, which would be Jaime’s if the family had managed to hang on to it.
9. His biggest confidant cannot speak
While the pairing of Bronn and Jaime as sparring/training partners on the show has been entertaining, Jaime’s choice of men to practice sword fighting within the books involved much more cunning on his part. In the books, when a maimed Jaime wants to learn how to fight with his left hand, he chooses Ser Ilyn Payne, the tongue-less executioner who took Ned Stark’s head.
Jamie selected Payne solely because of this disability—that way, Payne couldn’t tell anyone how bad the once-feared Kingslayer had gotten at sword fighting. Jaime also uses Payne as a confidant of sorts, and actually ends up telling Ser Ilyn many of his secrets. From A Feast For Crows: “Ser Ilyn made the perfect drinking companion. He never interrupted, never disagreed, never complained or asked for favors or told long pointless stories. All he did was drink and listen.” Huh. He sounds like the exact opposite of Cersei…
8. Some feel Jaime, and not Jon Snow, is the prince that was promised
This theory is more of a reach than the one that postulates Jon Snow is the savior of the realm, but the elements for Jaime to be the prince that was promised (TPTWP) and/or Azor Ahai may be all there. First, the mythos surrounding TPTWP suggests (s)he is a Targaryen. The books drop a few hints that some in the realm thought Aerys the Mad King had raped Tywin’s wife Joanna, and the result was Tyrion, partly explaining why Tywin hated him so much. But Jaime and Cersei could also be the result of the rape—if it even happened.
Targaryens have interbred for centuries, which is also a thing Jaime and Cersei are into. Targs also tend to be either good or mad, and Cersei has definitely established herself as a mad woman who digs wildfire. The prophecy of TPTWP also tells how the prince has a sword that was forged when he killed the woman he loved (more about this later), and according to new fan theories, Jaime might take Cersei out to save King’s Landing again, “forging” the sword with her blood, as Azor Ahai once did. It’s a stretch, but it’s definitely possible.
7. George R.R. Martin has compared Jaime to Woody Allen
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2014, George R.R. Martin talked about what he was thinking when he created the Kingslayer: “One of the things I wanted to explore with Jaime, and with so many of the characters, is the whole issue of redemption. When can we be redeemed? Is redemption even possible? I don’t have an answer…” Martin later went on to compare Jamie to others in the spotlight who have beyond questionable histories. Like “Woody Allen. Is Woody Allen someone that we should laud, or someone that we should despise?” Martin asks.
Claiming never to have the answers himself, Martin seems more interested in asking huge, open-ended questions and the subsequent discussions that follow in their wake, and it seems like Jaime Lannister is the perfect character to explore such ponderings.
6. He was almost betrothed to loony Lysa Tully
It’s hard to imagine this coupling, but it’s true: Jaime Lannister was once nearly betrothed to Lysa Tully. Lord Tywin tried hard to arrange the pairing, inviting Lord Hoster Tully (Catelyn and Lysa’s father) to King’s Landing to discuss a dowry and other romantic elements of arranged marriages, but for reasons we will discuss later in the list, the union never happened.
In the books, Jaime notes that he spent a fortnight at Riverrun when he was younger, and he was supposed to get acquainted with Lysa while there, but, interestingly enough, he found himself much more interested in her sister Catelyn, who was promised to some Stark lad. Jaime was also fascinated with Lysa and Cat’s uncle, Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully, and he didn’t hate the idea of joining with House Tully, but his sister sure did.
5. He was the Mad King’s pawn
Everyone knows how Jaime’s history with the Mad King ended—it’s how the Kingslayer was born. But the ‘Mad King’ moniker was certainly just; Aerys was literally aroused by wildfire, and always suspicious of everyone around him, especially Tywin Lannister. He decided to keep Tywin’s heir close to him by offering him a position in his Kingsguard. This infuriated Tywin, because it meant his golden boy couldn’t father any children, so he resigned as Hand of the King and left the city.
Aerys responded by keeping Jaime by his side constantly, never giving him leave to do much of anything. Even at 15, Jaime wasn’t delusional; he knew what was going on. While reflecting on his time serving under the Mad King, he bitterly remembers in A Storm of Swords how “it was not his skill with sword and lance that had won him his white cloak, nor any feet of valor he’d performed…Aerys chosen him to spite his father, to rob Lord Tywin of his heir.” Aerys did steal Tywin’s heir, but he paid for it with his life.
4. Jaime and his POV book chapters totally predict Cersei’s wildfire antics
The textual evidence from Martin’s books linking Cersei to both Aerys and wildfire is overwhelming—and the majority of it lies in Jaime’s POV chapters. The following examples are from A Feast for Crows alone: Cersei tells Jaime she’d like to punish the city via fire. “Let all of King’s Landing see the flames. It will be a lesson to our enemies,” she tells him. “Now you sound like Aerys,” Jamie responds.
Later in the book, Cersei torches the Tower of the Hand, and Jamie is repulsed by her reaction to the flames, which she relishes watching: “The wildfire was cleansing her, burning away all her rage and fear, filling her with resolve.” He also refers to Cersei herself as wildfire more than once in his POV chapters (“Cersei was all wildfire, especially when thwarted,”) and it’s her torching of the Tower that makes him start to actually loathe her (more on this soon).
3. His hand was actually cut off by a Dothraki
On the show, Jaime’s hand was removed by Noah Taylor’s Locke, a sadistic soldier in Roose Bolton’s army. In the books, his hand is chopped off by the arakh of a “fat Dothraki” named Zollo who was a member of the sellsword company the Brave Companions. Zollo the Dothraki and his fellow sellswords were also in the employ of Lord Bolton, but Locke didn’t exist in the books, so the scene went down a bit differently.
Jaime’s hand was removed early on in A Storm of Swords, and it wasn’t his own arrogance that made someone mad enough to cut him down a notch—the leader of the Brave Companions, Vargo Hoat ordered Zollo to remove Jaime’s hand so that he could send it to Tywin as a bargaining chip, with threats to send more parts of Jaime until Tywin paid his ransom, a la Ramsay Bolton. Jaime’s maiming was very similar on the show and in the books, save for those details.
2. He joined the Kingsguard for love
Not surprisingly, Jamie’s joining of the Kingsguard at 15 was largely the result of yet another one of Cersei’s manipulations. Cersei told him it was the only way he could avoid being forced into his arranged marriage to Lysa Tully, and, after spending the night seducing him, when morning arrived, “he gave his consent, and Cersei promised to do the rest.”
Sure, Aerys would have chosen him regardless due to his mistrust and paranoia about Tywin, but Jaime still had the choice as to whether or not he would take the solemn oaths of the brothers of the Kingsguard, and his loyalty to his house was very strong. He resisted the suggestion at first, telling Cersei he felt obligated to be the heir to Casterly Rock, but she told him she would be married off as well, and this was the only way they could be in close proximity to each other. We all know how that turned out.
1. He’s way over Cersei
There will likely be a part of Jaime that is never over his twin, but the truly hideous nature of their relationship is seeping out in the series’ last two books. In A Feast for Crows, Cersei sent ravens to Jaime at Riverrun, begging for his help, asking that he return to King’s Landing to save her from the faith militant at once. What Jaime does with her letters and pleas for help is very telling: “Jaime rolled the parchment up again, as tight as one hand would allow, and handed it to Peck. “Put this in the fire,” he said.
“How could I ever have loved that wretched creature?” he wonders throughout, as Cersei starts getting more and more Aerys-like. In the books, as it stands currently, Jaime has never returned to King’s Landing to help Cersei like he has in the show. Instead, book Jaime is currently off with his real soulmate Brienne (that’s right, we said it!), who has a lead on where Sansa might be. There is also a popular fan theory that posits it might be Jaime who puts an end to Cersei’s reign himself, so it’s safe to say he’s just not that into her anymore.
What do you think? Did we miss any pertinent info about the Kingslayer?
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