Oh look! It’s our first Jaime chapter ever! Jaime Lannister is easily one of my favourite characters in all of ASOIAF but even I am hard pressed to defend his early chapters. I’m put in the awkward position of saying things like “I can’t wait till he loses his hand”. There’s a lot of Brienne-bashing in the early Jaime chapters, which I remember annoying me when I first read them but which got much more tolerable once I knew that Jaime’s comeuppance was on its way. This particular Jaime chapter doesn’t offer us a lot – mostly it’s just us getting used to Jaime as a POV character and Martin getting that special Jaime part of his brain warmed up. We begin a few days since Jaime’s release – which itself is supposed to come as a surprise, since we were led to believe that Catelyn killed him at the end of Clash – and already the tone for the whole first half of Jaime’s long, arduous journey to King’s Landing is set.
An east wind blew through his tangled hair, as soft and fragrant as Cersei’s fingers.
I kid you not, this is literally his first POV line. It’s like Martin wanted to remind everyone reading that Jaime was very much in love with Cersei. To an extent though, I can see the logic. At this stage in Jaime’s character development, he is very much defined by his love for Cersei. It has driven every single major life decision he has made – it is why he became a knight of the Kingsguard, it is why remained so even after becoming the Kingslayer and it is why he threw Bran out of the window. Jaime doesn’t even really know who he is outside his twisted relationship with Cersei but that’s not a limitation that his better half suffers from.
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?
We get some of the usual banter between Brienne and Jaime and at some point I’ll need to understand just why Jaime is struggling so very hard to escape. Surely he realizes that his chances of escaping with Brienne are a lot higher than without? If the price for that safety is returning (potentially) Sansa and Arya, is that really so bad? I mean, sure Cersei loses a little bit of leverage, but she gains so much in exchange surely they benefit on the whole. I’ve never understood what exactly Jaime is agitating for here and it’s always bugged me. As for the vows he swore, I’m totally with him on questioning their validity. The trouble is, Jaime has shown pretty much no reluctance in breaking vows that he willingly swore so it’s more than a little ironic that he tries so very hard to stick to the vows that he barely had any choice in making. Yet, the fact that he sticks to them at all tells us so much about his true character. Somewhere beneath those many layers of cynicism, Jaime deep down still believes in the knight’s code of chivalry and honour. It’s just very, very deep down, is all.
Innocent? The wretched boy was spying on us.
Does he actually believe that Bran had been sent up to spy on them? I can see why he would; that broken tower is an exceptionally strange place for Bran to be – the only reason Jaime and Cersei were there was because they wanted to be away from everyone else. Combine that with Cersei’s suspicions that Jon Arryn – and by proxy, Lysa, Catelyn and Ned – suspected her of incest, and there is a reasonable case to be made that Jaime had been led to believe that Bran had been spying. That still doesn’t justify his actions, of course and I, for one, would have been happier just admitting that it was a shitty thing to do instead of trying to explain it away.
“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?”
Lest we forget, it isn’t just Jaime’s journey we’re seeing here, but Brienne’s as well. Her journey technically began earlier, in Clash, but seeing how her role thus far has been marginal at best, I think it’s safe to say that her real journey is beginning here too. It is a road that will show the darker side of the militaristic code that she admires so much and make her question just what honour and all those other virtues are truly worth. Brienne is a little like Sansa in the sense that she too grew up on tales of knighthood and chivalry but unlike Sansa, Brienne saw herself on the other side of the story – she wouldn’t be the beautiful maiden who the knights rescued; instead she would be the rescuer. Apart from that though, both women shared this absolute faith in the tales and it comes crashing down around them.
Instead he found himself stretching the oar out over the water.
What is it exactly, that makes Jaime decide to extend the oar to Brienne instead of smashing her head with it? I’d argue it’s those last vestiges of morality and his tiny respect for Brienne’s capabilities. It’s almost amazing that after all he’s seen and been through, that he has such shreds of morality left. We will have much more time to probe the mind of Jaime Lannister, but for now, we shall leave the sorry trio of Cleos, Brienne and Jaime alone as we move along to Catelyn. This should be all sorts of fun.