10th Level (Noble 10)
The queen stood. “And what of my wrath, Lord Stark?” she asked softly. Her eyes searched his face. “You should have taken the realm for yourself. It was there for the taking… Such a sad mistake.”
“I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine,” Ned said, “but that was not one of them.”
“Oh but it was, my lord,” Cersei insisted. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
— Cersei Baratheon and Eddard Stark, A Game of Thrones
If there is one woman destined never to be a hearth-mate or homemaker, she is undoubtedly Cersei Lannister. The Lannister symbol is a lion and Cersei is undoubtedly a lioness, a golden-haired green-eyed feline among queens. Had she been born a whore, she would have been an empress of brothels. She was born noble, however, the first of two bright blond glittering twins fathered by Tywin Lannister and his beloved wife, Joanna. Little brother Jaime came out clutching his sister’s heel, and has been clutching other bits of her ever since.
Jaime would one day become a knight, wild and reckless of reputation. Had she been born male, Cersei would have out-Jaimed Jaime. She lacks no bravery when it comes to conflict, and would happily have slit half a dozen Targaryen throats to sit unchallenged on the Iron Throne. Unlike her brother, it would never have occurred to her to get off it. Unfortunately for Cersei, she was born female, and her path to conquest was never going to be that straightforward.
Cersei is the eldest of the Lannister children. As a male, she would be the heir to Casterly Rock, irrespective of looks, abilities, or any other factors. Because of her sex, however, she finds herself third in the line of succession. Anything she has must be given to her by her father or earned between Robert Baratheon’s bed sheets. It is not a situation designed to breed self-esteem. Kept back because of her sex and because there is room for only one Tywin-shaped ego in the family, it could be no surprise that this volatile, passionate woman’s nature would warp a little.
Under such circumstances, it might be thought that a woman like Cersei Lannister would become a Dacey Mormont or even a Mirri Maz Duur, finding power through arms or the occult. That, however, would not be Cersei’s way. She may crave self-determination, but in the end Cersei accepts the world into which she is born.
Cersei has taken on her culture’s distaste for women, so she both despises and treasures her own femininity. She has to work very hard for the gifts of command and influence given so easily to men of her station. As a result, she has no time for hapless females. At best, she will sneer at them; at worst, she will use them without a shred of pity. The world is harsh to women; to her mind, the sooner they learn how to use the rules to their own advantage, the better. If Cersei gave it a second thought, she might even argue that she does her own sex a favour by teaching them the lessons she had to learn by herself.
Cersei did indeed have difficult lessons to learn. When dealing with Lannisters, all roads lead to Casterly Rock, and the pervasive influence of Tywin. They pride themselves on a tradition of intelligence inherited from their famous ancestor, Lann the trickster. They use every resource they have to get what they want. They are abundant in wits, in wealth and in comeliness.
Like all the Lannister family — with the notable exception of Tyrion — Cersei is lovely to look upon. This alone makes her a treasure. The Lannisters understand the importance of appearances only too well. In a world where a woman’s worth is judged by her beauty, bloodline, and fertility, Cersei is worth a great deal. She may just be another breeder, but her owners can expect a fine price for her — nothing less than a crown.
Unfortunately for Cersei, the death of Lyanna Stark left Robert Baratheon an angry man. All her beauty could never mend his heart — something she could never forgive. Despite this failing, Cersei could certainly take care of his other needs. Sensual and exquisite of form, Cersei is extremely alluring. Robert Baratheon found nothing to object to in her person. This was the beginning of Cersei’s rise to power. Her father can subsidise a king, her brother can kill one, but neither can create one. That task, the creation of a Lannister monarch, came down to Cersei alone.
It would never be easy for someone of Cersei’s ego, already thwarted in ambition and expression, to become the bed mate of a man in love with another woman, though — especially a woman made ideal through death. Cersei could not even have the satisfaction of watching her rival grow old and ordinary. Lyanna Stark is forever the unattainable and tragic love in Robert’s life. The implicit rebuff, both to her status as his queen and her adequacy as his bedfellow, is more than she could possibly tolerate. She gave her royal husband three healthy, beautiful children to inherit his throne and continue his line … but none of them are his. Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are golden children, who resemble both mother and father, Cersei and Jaime Lannister.
It is hard to understand the complex link between twins, but by itself this does not explain the extent of the love between the Lannisters. They consider themselves to be bonded souls, perhaps even the same soul. It is not true. Jaime’s needs are very different to Cersei’s. Jaime may follow his sister’s lead, but he is a warrior; she is a politician.
It could be argued that Cersei’s feelings for Jaime is the nearest she will ever come to making love to herself, for they are so alike, so heroic looking, so beautiful. Whether she would love him so much were he not created in her own glorious image is a moot point. This might, however, explain Cersei’s contempt for her other brother, Tyrion. If Jaime is Cersei made male — a mirror of herself as she would wish to be — what is Tyrion but a grotesque distortion? Jaime is not the only Lannister male Cersei mirrors, though. Cersei inevitably echoes her father, the most powerful and successful being she knows in everything from her manipulation of her children to her personal disdain for Tyrion.
Her love for Jaime, however, is a radical departure from her father’s cool approach to matters of the heart. This alone is all her own feeling, and the intensity of it pulls her. It is dangerous, and yet comforting, for Jaime gives her most of the power in the relationship. While Jamie appears to be devoted to only Cersei, she in turn knows that her body is a weapon, and is willing to use it as needed, whether to deal with Robert’s occasional urges, or to attempt to seduce Eddard Stark. It is hard to tell whether she ever enjoys her lovers, or simply revels in the exercise of her personal power over men.
Incest is considered an abomination throughout the lands of Westeros, but curiously it does have a precedent in the royal house of Targaryen, where brothers and sisters become husbands and wives, kings and queens together. The theory was that it kept the blood pure. Cersei takes that precedent to heart, using it to justify her relationship with Jaime and her denial of her royal husband’s marital privileges. In at least two cases, those of Aerys II and Viserys — styled the Beggar King — the genetic inheritance seems to be mental instability, whatever the state of the blood. This situation repeats itself in the first child of Cersei and Jaime’s union: the heir to the throne of Baratheon, Prince Joffrey.
Cersei is so passionate and vivacious that even Tyrion, long since hardened to her wiles, finds her irresistible when joy overtakes her. When she is truly happy, she sparkles like a diamond. It is almost impossible not to love her. Cersei has not grown in circumstances where this bright side to her could develop, but it still reveals itself from time to time. Cersei Lannister is a brilliant but fickle friend, a proud and cunning foe, and above all, a guardian of her own power.
– A Game of Thrones, Deluxe Edition Role-Playing Game and Resource Book
I admit, this has been vey confusing. I do have to take what's said on a goofy radio show with a larger grain of salt than what's thoughtfully said to a writer doing a profile. Tom's said it's private, so there's more salt. More importantly though, actions speak louder than words. The actions of these two have had them running parallel since Thanksgiving, and Tom just put himself in Tay's inner circle by chumming with Ed.