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The House of Lannister in the Game of Thrones Westeros

Updated on June 9, 2013
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Game of Thrones characters, the Lannisters

The House of Lannister is the richest and hence probably the most powerful House in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The Game of Thrones, an HBO series based on George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire fantasy book series, takes place in the fictional world of Westeros, also known as the Seven Kingdoms, and surrounding islands. The Game of Thrones Universe has been likened to medieval England in the time of the War of the Roses. Although the Lannisters did not directly wield power, after Aegon’s Conquest Westeros was ruled by the Targaryens for 300 years, followed by Robert Baratheon, their incredible wealth ensured that they had a huge influence on the way the realm was run. They cultivated their reputation through sayings such as “A Lannister always pays his debts”. This statement can also mean that they deal ruthlessly with those who opposed them. When two of their vassal houses rebelled against them, the Lannisters completely obliterated them, this was commemorated in the song ‘The Rains of Castamere’ which reminds all the Houses of the danger of having the Lannisters against you.

The Lannisters are the paramount House in the West, their seat is in Casterly Rock, their sigil is a gold lion on a red background and their motto is “Hear us Roar”. They are commonly referred to as the Lions. If the Starks are the “good guys” in the Game of Thrones, they Lannisters are “the baddies”, although the series is far too sophisticated for such simple classification.


Game of Thrones Characters: Tywin Lannister

Tywin Lannister is the Head of the clan, a ruthless, calculating man who puts the good of the House above all else. He is scarred by the memory of his own father, Tytos who was perceived as weak, openly defied by his bannermen and who almost led the family to ruin. After the death of Tywin’s mother, Tytos took a common woman as mistress, leading to further ridiculing of the family name, it is perhaps a reason for Tywin’s hatred of prostitutes and whoring. He particularly despises he younger son, the Imp, for his love of whores.

Tywin was the polar opposite of his Father, and considers it of paramount importance that the Lannister name be respected and feared. Although he bears little love for his deformed son Tyrion, he committed a huge army to sacking the Riverlands when Tyrion was abducted by Catelyn Tully. When his other son Jaime, points out to him that this seems at odds with his lack of regard for Tyrion, Tywin replies,”He is a Lannister, even if he is the least of us, if we allow this to go unpunished the Lannister name will not be feared”.

Tywin served as Hand of the king under King Aerys II, but the Mad King’s increasing paranoia and psychosis, made the position very difficult. Aerys heard one of Tywin’s knights Sir Illyn Paine boasting that it was in fact the Lannisters who ruled the Kingdoms and had his tongue torn out (Illyn Paine, then became an executioner under King Robert). To spite Tywin, Aerys nominated his son, Jaime to the Kingsguard, when Jaime was 15. Although seemingly a great honor, since the Kingsguard is a sworn brotherhood, who cannot hold land or take wives, this deprived Tywin of an heir. Aerys also did not consent to Tywin’s ambition to marry the crown prince Rhaeger to Cersei Lannister. These slights casused Tywin to resign from his position as Hand of the King.

During Robert’s Rebellion, Tywin did not choose sides, unitl Robert’s decisive victory in the Battle of the Trident. When it became clear that the rebels would win, Tywin marched his army into King’s Landing. Grand Maester Pycelle, a long term Lannister plant in the court, convinced the Mad King that Tywin was coming to help and the city gates were left open.

Gregor Clegane and Amory Loach (the latter just made his first appearance in Episode 3 of Season 2) butchered Rhaeger’s wife and children, and Tywin wrapped the bodies in a crimson (the Lannister color) cloak and presented them to Robert, so no doubt was left that he betrayed the Lannisters. Robert married Cersei Lannister to cement the relationship between the two houses.

Jaime Lannister

Jaime Lannister, known as the Kingslayer, is the eldest son of Tywin and Joanna Lannister. Jaime is incredibly handsome and dashing knight, and his prowess with the sword is legendary. He was knighted during the war against the Kingswood Brotherhood, and accepted to the Kingsguard (the White Cloaks) at the age of 15, during the Tourney at Harrenhal, the youngest person to be raised to the order. However this honor soon soured when he realised that the King only did that to spite his father, Lord Tywin, since he would not be able to inherit Casterly Rock, as the Kingsguard are not allowed to hold land. Jaime is disgusted at the Mad King’s torture and murder of Rickard and Brandon Stark, he is told by Ser Gerold Hightower that he swore a vow to guard the King, not judge him.

During Robert’s Rebellion and the Sack of King’s Landing, as Aerys was about to order the pyromancer to burn the city, Jaime stabs the king. Although by that time Aerys II was completely insane and Jaime probably prevented the burning of innumerable numbers of people, he is still reviled because of his act of betrayal. Knights of the Kingsgard swear a holy vow to protect the life of the king at all costs, this is their duty above all. Jaime is known as the Kingslayer from that day. In a brilliant exchange with Ned Stark at the beginning of season 1, Ned mocks him for stabbing the Mad King in the back, Jaime’s reply is “Tell me if I stabbed the Mad King in the belly instead of the back would you admire me more?”

Jaime had an incestuous relationship with his twin sister Cersei, since their childhood and he fathered her three children, Joffry, Myrcella and Tommen. Cersei is the only woman he’s ever slept with and his love for her the only thing he seems to take seriously. He is quite fearless and taunting, and acts as if he does not care much about anything. He can be quite ruthless when needed, he threw Bran from the window when he witnessed he stumbled on his relationship with Cersei, hoping to kill him.

Although he is held prisoner by Robb Stark, he is raised to commander of the Kingsguard by Cersei after Joffrey assumes the crown.

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Cersei Lannister

Cersei is the daughter of Lord Tywin Lannister and Jaime Lannister’s twin sister. She always believed that she was meant for a special position, when she was young she thought she would marry Rhaegar Targaryen and become queen. When the Mad King refused Tywin this honor, and Robert’s Rebellion looked to be succeeding, Tywin joined the Baratheon side against the Targaryens and married Cersei to the new King.

The marriage was not a happy one, Cersei told Eddard Stark that she loved Robert and thought she was the happiest girl in the Seven Kingdoms on her wedding day (this was before the King became fat, and was still a handsome man). However during the wedding night, Robert, drunk, “did what little he could do” and shouted out the name: Lyanna, Eddard Stark’s sister who was betrothed to him who died after Rhaegar abducted her. Cersei could be forgiven for resuming her affair with Jaime and cheating on her drunk, whoring husband. Cersei does love her children fiercely, it is her one redeeming feature, that and her cheekbones, according to Tyrion.

Like most of the Lannisters Cersei is scheming, and heartless, however, she lacks the cunning and cleverness of Tywin, preferring to use brute force rathen than subtle deceit and creating enemies when she does not need you, this might backfire in the long run. She does appear to be very fond of dramatically tearing pieces of paper.

Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion, also known as the Imp is the youngest son of Tywin and Lady Joanna, he is a dwarf. He is despised by his Father, because of his defomity and because his mother died giving birth to him. Tywin also very strongly disapproves of Tyrion’s drinking and whoring.

What he lacks in stature Tyrion makes up for in wit. He is very well-read and clever and used his wit to get out of difficult situations, for example striking a friendship with the sellsword Bronn when captured by Catelyn Stark and convincing him to act as his champion to escape the crazed Lysa Arryn. He also recruits the wild Mountain Tribes to his cause with promises of armour and weapons, they fight under his command, their battle cry is “Halfman, halfman!”

After Jaime was captured by Robb Stark, and Tyrion escaped from the vale and immediately grasped how foolish killing Ned Stark was. Tywin appears to reconsider his poor opinion of his youngest son: ”I always thought you were a stunted fool, perhaps I was wrong” he says. “Half wrong”, replies Tyrion. Tywin sends Tyrion to King’s Landing to act as Hand in his stead. Tyrion works to bring some sanity to King’s Landing, he dispatches the horrible Lord Janos, the commander of the City Watch (Goldcloaks), to the wall, replacing him with his sellsword Bronn, and arrests Grand Maester Mycelle.


Tywin changes his mind about Tyrion

Joffrey Lannister

At the beginning of the series Joffrey is the Crown Prince although, in fact, he is the son of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. He is an odious thirteen year old psychopath, orders the execution of Eddard Stark, ruining the carefully arranged plans to offer him exhile in the Night’s Watch in return for “confessing his treason” and takes great pleasure in humiliating Sansa Stark who is betrothed to him.


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