Kingslayer: how will Jaime’s story end?
At the start of Game of Thrones, Jaime Lannister is like an R-rated version of Shrek’s Prince Charming – he’s an arrogant, selfish, violent knight, who roots his sister, and tries to murder a child. Jaime’s a bad guy, and it looks like author George Martin originally planned to keep him that way. In an old outline of the series, written before the first book, Martin says that Jaime would become king – taking the Throne by murdering everyone in his way . It also says that Sansa
Would have a child with Joffrey, Tyrion would fall in love with Arya, and that Catelyn would be killed by white walkers. So the actual story turned out very different to this outline. Because Martin doesn’t like to stick to a plan when he writes. He says he writes not like an architect, but like a gardener – he lets his characters gradually develop and grow, and he follows where they lead.
Which means sometimes his characters surprise him – and become something he didn’t expect. Jaime is a great example of this – cause over five books and seven seasons, he grows into someone much more complex than even the author imagined. In the first couple books, Jaime really is just awful. He’s arrogant and vain , wearing glittering gilded armour . He’s impulsive, reckless, and violent – willing to kill anyone who gets in his way . He tries to kill Bran for
Seeing him with Cersei. He kills three Stark men to intimidate Ned . He implies he’d have hurt or killed Arya if he’d caught her . And he uses cruel words to hurt people . Apart from his twin sister Cersei, his brother Tyrion, and his father Tywin, Jaime doesn’t seem to care about anyone , or anything . He doesn’t believe in anything. He thinks that knights and the Kingsguard are corrupt , that gods and religion are bullshit
. When confronted with the evils of the world, Jaime just laughs . Catelyn thinks Jaime is “vile” . “There is nothing here but arrogance and pride” – “If there was ever a spark of honor in him, it is long dead” . Jaime seems irredeemable, but in Book 3, we start to learn why Jaime is the way he is. Jaime was born the son and heir of the rich and powerful Lord Tywin Lannister. Jaime grew tall and beautiful , with golden hair, like his twin Cersei – who he had
An incestuous relationship with from a young age . Jaime’s other love was the sword – he was a highly skilled fighter , and dreamed of being a great warrior . When he was fifteen, he fought outlaws alongside the famous Arthur Dayne, and was knighted on the battlefield . Later, he joined the Kingsguard, a famed brotherhood sworn to protect the king. Kingsguard can’t marry or hold land – so Jaime gave up his claim as heir to Casterly Rock.
But Jaime had never wanted to rule . He wanted “Honor and glory” as a brother of the Kingsguard – and he wanted to be close to Cersei at King’s Landing . So at fifteen, the Kingsguard seemed like everything Jaime had ever wanted – but it soon soured . It turned out that the king, Aerys Targaryen, only took Jaime into the Kingsguard to piss off Tywin and to use Jaime as a sort of a hostage – ““He’ll win no glory here,” the king had said” . Tywin got mad and left the capital with Cersei – separating Jaime
From his twin and lover who he joined the guard for in the first place. So Jaime got no Cersei, and no glory – and was stuck serving a mad king. Aerys grew more and more violent and cruel – he liked to burn men alive, and he attacked his wife Rhaella . And since Jaime had sworn to obey, he could only stand and watch – trying to “look without seeing” the burning men that would haunt him all his life . Eventually, the kingdoms rose against Aerys, in Robert’s Rebellion.
And near the end of the war, Jaime killed Aerys – the king he’d sworn to protect. Westerosi society takes sacred oaths seriously – so forever after, Jaime is hated as the Kingslayer, an oathbreaker, “A man with shit for honor” . The irony is that people hate Jaime for best thing he ever did . We learn in Book 3 that the reason why Jaime killed Aerys was that Aerys planned to burn down King’s Landing – to kill thousands of innocent people with wildfire . Jaime killed the king to save the
City – but no one knows this. Cause after Jaime killed Aerys, Eddard Stark arrived and looked at Jaime with cold eyes “full of judgement” . Ned didn’t wanna hear Jaime’s explanations – “He only had to look at to judge guilty” . So it seems that Jaime felt he couldn’t explain the wildfire plot to people – that no one would listen, or believe him. But what really gets to Jaime is the judgement.
Jaime is haunted by memories of Ned Stark, Prince Rhaegar, the Kingsguard. They represent Jaime’s failures – his broken oaths, the blood on his hands – not only of Aerys, but of Rhaegar’s family, who died under Jaime’s watch . Deep down, Jaime’s ashamed at the man he became . And the way he deals with this is to hide his insecurities, and laugh at everything , and pretend he doesn’t care . People say he’s a bad knight and a bad Kingsguard – so Jaime mocks knighthood and Kingsguard, says it’s
All corrupt anyway . People say the gods will punish him, so Jaime says gods aren’t real . All his cynicism, sarcasm, nihilism are defence mechanisms to protect him from criticism. It’s kinda like what Tyrion says, to wear your identity like armour . Tyrion plays the Imp, Sandor plays the Hound, and Jaime plays the callous uncaring Kingslayer. It’s easier to play a villain than to face the pain of old trauma, to grapple with grey morality and the shame and guilt of failure.
Jaime distracts himself with the two things he’s good at – fighting with swords, and sex with Cersei . Cause in combat and sex, you don’t have to think about the past or the future, you live only in the moment – Jaime says time sleeps when swords wake . But in Book 3, Jaime loses these distractions, and is forced to face his past and his future. Jaime is captured by Robb Stark, then he’s freed by Catelyn on the promise that he’ll return Sansa and Arya to the Starks . So Jaime travels to King’s Landing with Brienne.
But along the way, they’re captured by the Brave Companions, or Locke in the show, who suddenly, brutally, cut off Jaime’s hand – his sword hand, the part of him that him that makes him who his is . It’s the hand Jaime used to kill Aerys, to cripple Bran, to love Cersei . He loses “his glory and his shame, both at once. Leaving what? Who am I now?”
Jaime asks . Proud Jaime Lannister is devastated, brought low , he almost just gives up and dies – but he’s urged to live by Brienne. Brienne and Jaime have a complex relationship. At first, they hate each other. Jaime calls Brienne “wench” , and thinks she’s a “stupid” “ugly” “freak”. Brienne calls Jaime Kingslayer, and thinks he’s a “monster” for his crimes . But
Jaime and Brienne have some things in common. They’re both outsiders in society – Jaime as the Kingslayer, and Brienne as a misfit female warrior. Eventually, they start to respect each other – not as Kingslayer and wench, but as Jaime and Brienne. They learn from each other.
Jaime shows Brienne that doing the right thing can be more complicated than she thought. And Brienne shows Jaime that even in cruel complex world, a true knight persists. Even when she fails, even when no one believes in her – Brienne keeps her word, and defends the weak, and does what’s right . And so should Jaime. So Jaime learns from Brienne’s example. He heroically rescues Brienne from a bear, and later he gives her a priceless Valyrian
Sword called Oathkeeper – so Brienne can keep Jaime’s oath to return Sansa to the Starks. “ is my last chance for honor”, Jaime says. So Brienne looks for her – for Catelyn’s sake, and for Jaime’s . Jaime returns to King’s Landing a changed man . He’s gone through hell, he’s lost his hand, and he has no more patience for lies and schemes . Which frustrates his lying
Scheming family. Tywin wants Jaime to leave the Kingsguard, and get married and rule the Rock – Jaime refuses, so Tywin disowns him , and is later killed by Tyrion. Jaime saves Tyrion from execution, but in the books the brothers have a falling-out when Jaime reveals he lied about Tyrion’s first wife Tysha . And from Tyrion, Jaime learns of Cersei’s infidelity.
He increasingly sees her as a lying , manipulative , fool . And Cersei rejects this changed Jaime . So gradually, the lifelong lovers begin to break up. By the end of Book 3, Jaime feels he’s lost everything – his sister and lover, his brother, his father, and his hand . Everything that makes him who is his, everything that he loved, is gone. All he has left is the Kingsguard – so Jaime turns to the White Book.
The White Book records the history of each member of the Kingsguard. There’re all these great heroes, like Arthur Dayne, with all these great deeds written in their pages. Jaime’s page doesn’t say much apart from his killing King Aerys. But there’s still lots of blank space there – Jaime realises he can fill his page, write his future, with “Whatever he ”.
In the show, Jaime chooses to stand by Cersei for three more seasons. But the books are different. In Book 4, Jaime travels the riverlands, mopping up the last of the war. And he starts to build a new identity as a more honourable man. He’s sick of people hating him for being an oathbreaker , so he tries to keep his promises to Catelyn – not only by sending Brienne after Sansa, but by ending the Siege of Riverrun
Without fighting Tullys, which was another of the oaths Jaime made . He starts taking his Kingsguard and knights’ vows more seriously . He protects innocent people like Pia , and gets mad when the Mountain kills an innocent boy – when Jaime himself had once tried to kill an innocent boy. Jaime does justice – executing criminals, and sorting out conflict between Loras and Brienne.
Jaime’s still often rude and aggressive . But he is less reckless and less arrogant – at one point he refuses to wear his gold prosthetic hand. “Let them see the cripple”, Jaime thinks. He “would not show the crowds a golden lie” . Jaime even starts being nice to people sometimes – he’s kind to Pia , and Jeyne Westerling , and lets Lord Blackwood keep his daughter . Jaime even decides to take an interest in his children, Myrcella and Tommen.
He used to think of his kids as “no more … than a squirt of seed in Cersei’s cunt” . But now he decides he wants to help them grow up right, even to tell Myrcella that he’s her father. He also decides to help fix the politics in King’s Landing . So Jaime is trying to build a better legacy for himself – he hopes to be known not as the Kingslayer, but maybe as “Goldenhand the Just” . But some people aren’t convinced.
Edmure and Brynden stand against Jaime, showing that for all his thoughts of reform, Jaime’s still the Kingslayer in their eyes . Like, sure, Jaime technically keeps his word to the Tullys at Riverrun, but he still hands their castle to the Freys as reward for betrayal and slaughter at the Red Wedding – an atrocity plotted by Tywin, who Jaime emulates with his trebuchet threat . Ultimately, Jaime’s still serving the brutal regime that killed King Robert, crowned a bastard, savaged the riverlands – fought a terrible war that
All started with Jaime’s incest and the crippling of Bran. If Jaime really wants to be a better person, if he wants redemption – surely he must somehow answer for his crimes. How else can he escape the judgement and trauma that haunts him? If Jaime’s to have a brighter future, he must face his past. Catelyn Stark is murdered at the Red Wedding.
In the books, she’s then resurrected as Lady Stoneheart – transformed into a terrible vengeful spirit. She takes over the brotherhood without banners, and leads them to hunt down and kill everyone involved in the Red Wedding. In Book 4, Stoneheart captures Brienne, and threatens to kill her – unless Brienne brings her Jaime.
In Book 5, it looks like Brienne does – taking Jaime to Stoneheart somewhere in the riverlands . You can see Stoneheart as a symbol of the evil in Jaime’s past – a monument to all his sins. Catelyn is the mother of the boy Jaime crippled to cover up incest. Catelyn is the wife of Ned Stark, whose judgement haunts Jaime as Kingslayer. Catelyn is the woman Jaime promised he’d save Sansa and Arya – who still aren’t
Home in the books. And Catelyn’s a Stark, the family that Jaime’s family all but destroyed. So Stoneheart could represent Jaime’s guilt and regret. But unlike the Kingsguard, and Rhaegar, and Ned, Stoneheart lives, in the flesh. There is no ignoring her, no more excuses or distractions. This could be the big confrontation between Jaime and his past.
Will he be consumed by the dark, and hanged with Stoneheart’s other victims? Or will he make peace with his demons and rise up a better man – not just someone who talks about honour and justice, but someone who rights his wrongs. There are all sorts of possibilities – Jaime could join the brotherhood for Red Wedding revenge, maybe finally find Sansa or Arya. Or maybe it’ll be more about putting Stoneheart to rest, with the help of Brienne.
We won’t know til the next book comes out. But Jaime probably will survive Stoneheart – cause his destiny is with Cersei. Jaime has loved Cersei all his life. He joined the Kingsguard for her, fathered bastards with her, tried to kill kids for her. Cersei brings out the worst in Jaime – all his vanity, violence, cruelty.
If Jaime’s to be a better person, he needs to face his twin . And thing is, Cersei is obsessed with a prophecy that says she’ll be killed by her brother. She thinks this means Tyrion, but fans suspect that it means Jaime. Remember in the show, Cersei blows up the Great Sept with wildfire. There are hints she’ll use wildfire in the books as well – but she won’t just blow up the Great Sept . Fans believe that Cersei may try to burn the whole city of King’s
Landing – just like Aerys tried to do years ago . Jaime may have to save the city again by killing his sister. That would fulfil the valonqar prophecy. And it could represent Jaime finally defeating his darker half. It could also mean Jaime’s death – cause the twins both believe that just as they were born together – they will die together . This could be self-sacrifice by Jaime – heroically,
Tragically, dying with his lover in fire. The twins came into the world so similar – but they’ll die so different. Cersei dies consumed with fear and hate , but Jaime could die a hero – finally a knight worthy of the White Book. And Jaime might have an even higher destiny. Some people argue that Jaime may be Azor Ahai, the hero prophesied to save the world from
The white walkers, using a burning sword called Lightbringer. Jaime does have a mystical dream of “doom” where he wields a flaming sword that pushes back darkness . And there are some weird connections in the Valyrian language invented for the show – the words for gold and hand are similar to the words for lord and light – the god connected to Azor Ahai. And Jaime’s arc could loosely fit the story of the forging of Lightbringer – tempering
His swords first in water, then in the heart of a lion , then in his beloved wife. Cersei could be the sacrifice. And if Jaime dies with her, he could then be reborn amidst smoke and salt as Azor Ahai, his hand transformed into a burning weapon – Lightbringer. So this is sorta plausible – if you fudge some other bits of the prophecy, and believe Jaime is secretly Aerys’ son – but overall, it doesn’t seem likely.
Because Jaime’s story isn’t about the mystical fight of ice and fire – leave that stuff to Jon and Daenerys. Jaime may play some role in the fight against the walkers – that’s where he’s going in the show, with his black cloak and Valyrian sword. But Jaime’s real war is in his heart – trying to define his identity in a dark and complex world.
And that’s not about white walkers. That’s between Jaime and Aerys and Brienne and Stoneheart and Cersei. Thanks for watching. If you want to read more about Jaime, there are some really great posts on Tumblr and Reddit to check out – links in the description. Thanks also to fan artists serclegane, eluas, Katie Hillman and Ertaç Altınöz.
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