Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.
Today’s entry is Part 8 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 12 (“Cersei”).
Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Tor.com. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.
And now, the post!
Chapter 12: Cersei
On the morning of Tommen’s wedding, Cersei is in a foul mood, enraged by the necessity of the alliance with the Tyrells, and even more by their insistence that Tommen share his bed with his new bride, even if the marriage cannot be consummated yet. Jaime comes and assures her that all possible precautions have been taken to ensure Tommen’s safety, but Cersei is morbidly sure that Tyrion is still hiding in the castle somewhere, plotting to kill Tommen just as he did Joffrey. Jaime is contemptuous of her paranoia, as he is of her plans to burn the Tower of the Hand and move the court to Casterly Rock. Cersei tells him acidly that she merely wishes for that last. After he leaves, she wonders how she could ever have loved him as she had.
The ceremony is small and sedate compared to the panoply of Joffrey’s wedding, and Cersei is furious at the haste of it, as well as that the Queen of Thorns had successfully campaigned to have Tommen cloak Margaery in Baratheon colors rather than Lannister crimson. Afterward, Kevan Lannister comes to tell her that he is going to Darry to wed Lancel to his new bride, and asks if it is true that Sandor Clegane has joined Beric Dondarrion’s crew. Cersei has heard of the rumors, but says she is not sure. Kevan is upset that she has named other Lannisters her castellan and Warden of the West, but she tells him if he brings them Sandor’s head, Tommen will be grateful. Kevan comments, “When a dog goes bad, the fault lies with his master,” and leaves.
In an effort to appease her, Jaime tells Cersei that Lady Olenna and most of the rest of the Tyrells are leaving the next day, when Mace Tyrell leaves for Storm’s End, but Cersei is skeptical, and points out that Ser Loras will still be there. Margaery offers Cersei affection and condolences for Joffrey, but Cersei thinks her a filthy liar and barely restrains herself from slapping the girl. At the feast, Lady Olenna complains loudly that she had wanted to hear “The Rains of Castamere.” Olenna reminds Cersei of the sorceress Maggy the Frog, and the prophecy she had made to Cersei:
Queen you shall be, the old woman had promised, with her lips still wet and red and glistening, until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.
Cersei doesn’t think Margaery is more beautiful than she, but thinks “the world is full of fools” who might think otherwise. She sees that Jaime is as nervous as she, and overreacts when Tommen coughs at too much wine. She leaves before anyone can see her cry, only to be followed by Lady Merryweather, who tells her that Cersei’s maid Senelle is a spy for Lady Margaery. Suspicious, Cersei asks why she would tell her this, and the Myrish woman replies that her loyalty is to her husband and son, not Highgarden. Cersei recalls that she had testified to Tyrion’s guilt at his trial, and promises to reward her if her story pans out.
She returns to the feast. Jaime assures her again that Tommen is safe, and Cersei replies that no one who wears a crown is ever safe. She realizes there is no one she can rely on, even Jaime, and that she must sweep them all away and replace them with her own people. Later, Jaime asks her for a dance, and she rejects him harshly, as she does Mace Tyrell and Lancel. She makes note of the handsome Bastard of Driftmark, Aurane Waters, and his resemblance to Rhaegar Targaryen. She sees Ser Kevan talking to Mace’s son Garlan, and wonders why. Rather drunk, she calls the assemblage outside to light a candle to celebrate the union.
Outside, she gives the signal to the pyromancer Hallyne, who shoots the Tower of the Hand full of wildfire, setting it ablaze. Most of the onlookers cheer. Cersei thinks of all the Hands she had known through the years, and decides it is her day now to guide the kingdom. Soon the tower collapses, and Lady Olenna suggests it is time for the king and queen to go to bed. Cersei agrees, but stays to watch the tower burn.
I completely cannot figure out whether to be pleased or upset to watch Cersei as she systematically burns all her bridges, both literally and metaphorically.
I guess, though, that I would have to come down on the side of “pleased,” intellectually, because I doubt I would have even slightly sympathized with her before we got in her head. Plus I can’t deny that I recognize that I feel compelled to some extent to extend her a certain amount of automatic sympathy simply because she is a woman. Which, by the way, really pisses me off.
It pisses me off because it circles back into that problem of women (or any minority) not being allowed to be judged on their own merits. Because I know that Cersei being a terrible person is going to be used as an excuse to legitimize the misogyny she rails against, just because she also rails against things that, unlike the purely sexist bullshit she gets, are legitimate strikes against her.
That said, I recognize that bias (if not actual discrimination) runs both ways, and that I have to be careful on my part not to fail to judge her as she deserves, just in the opposite direction. Er, if that makes any sense.
Bleh. I don’t think I am articulating this very well, but what I’m trying to say is: Cersei sucks, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t sometimes have a legitimate point. And also: Cersei sucks, so let’s remember that sometimes she doesn’t have a legitimate point.
This may seem like an obvious statement, but I have seen way too many times the dirty debate tactic which gleefully points to one error or flaw in a person’s stance and uses it to declare that therefore, everything that person says is worthless. And in the same way, there is the tactic which seizes on one particular point of a person’s stance which is undeniably true, and uses that to declare that therefore, everything that person says must also be true.
Clearly, both of these tactics are bullshit, but I am frequently astounded (and depressed) by how often people fall for one or the other. This is also why I generally tend to refuse to watch news channel “opinion shows,” regardless of political bent, because doing one or the other of the above tactics is pretty much their bread and butter, and it makes me want to kill things every time.
Soooo, my point is… um. My point is… my point is that Cersei sucks, but so does patriarchy! Yeah!
Or… you know, something like that.
But whatever, because lookit, you guys! There was a marriage in ASOIAF, and the only thing that died in it was a building! Holy crap! IT’S AMAZING, Y’ALL. I feel like we should have a round of applause for all the survival on display here!
Though this does inevitably bring up the question of whether Melisandre’s curse on all the non-Stannis kings of Westeros still stands, or if it was only concerning the crop o’ kings that was extant at the time of said cursing. Meaning, is Tommen exempt for being a Johnny-come-lately, or is his tragic and bizarre death also just a matter of time?
Dunno. I guess we’ll find out!
But, he got through his wedding alive, which is more than Joffrey or Robb can say, so... so far so good, right?
Speaking of which, Lady Olenna complaining about there being no “Rains of Castamere” played at the feast is the most bitchily awesome display of “fuck you” bad taste ever. I believe the relevant phrase is OH NO YOU DID NOT, GIRL. Because, wow.
[Jaime:] “There can be no danger of a consummation. Tommen is much too young.”
[Cersei:] “And Ossifer Plumm was much too dead, but that did not stop him fathering a child, did it?”
Her brother looked lost. “Who was Ossifer Plumm? Was he Lord Philip’s father, or… who?”
He is near as ignorant as Robert. All his wits were in his sword hand.
Uh, I hope I’m not supposed to know who Ossifer Plumm is, because I have no clue. His name is hilarious, though. It’s like what you’d call a cop while drunk.
But aside from that, Cersei is really not doing herself any favors by alienating Jaime, methinks. Seriously, girl, he was like your ONE sure-fire ally, but you keep this up and he’ll be a worse enemy than all the rest combined – if he isn’t already.
(Well, except that he’d already freed Tyrion behind her back. But then again, that wasn’t so much in defiance of his loyalty to Cersei as it was an acknowledgment that his loyalty to Tyrion was equal in weight. Which just goes to show you what you get for loyalty, huh Jaime?)
I have no idea what’s up with the rumor about Sandor Clegane hanging out with Beric, because even if Sandor survived that seems highly unlikely, but I’m guessing someone in Beric’s crew is just using Sandor’s helmet. I will probably be proven wrong about this in due time, but for now I’m running with it.
Re: Maggy the Toad’s prophecy: ugh, that’s annoying. Believe it or not, I would like it if occasionally things in Cersei’s life weren’t attached to her being a woman, and this prophecy is such a… I don’t know, obvious type of bait that I want to roll my eyes at it. Because of course we’re going to have Cersei prophetically threatened by another, younger, prettier woman, so that we get that same old tired thing of how women can only be rivals with each other and it’s only about their youth and beauty (i.e. their market value to men), and blah blah beentheredonethatcakes.
That said, it’s probably not Margaery. If only because that would be just way too obvious. My money’s on Sansa, personally.
Also, just to continue the stereotype: Lady Merryweather is soooo playing an angle here. It’s perfectly possible that her angle is nothing more than “get in good with the queen regent in the hopes of garnering yummy perqs,” but going on previous experience I’m going to assume it ain’t nearly that simple. I also keep inadvertently picturing her as being adorably frumpy and winged, which I’m pretty sure is wholly inaccurate.
Lastly, I have no idea why this chapter made such a point of noticing this Aurane Waters guy and how he looks vaguely Targaryen-ish, but it totally did, so I am… er, also making a point of noticing him. Which I just did. Even though I don’t know why. So… okay.
And… now we’re stopping. Because! Have a week! See you next Friday! Whoo!