Cersei Lannister

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Cersei Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire character
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
First appearance Novel:
A Game of Thrones (1996)
"Winter Is Coming" (2011)
Video game:
"Iron From Ice" (2014)
Created by George R. R. Martin
Portrayed by Lena Headey; Nell Williams (young)
Game of Thrones
Aliases Light of the West
Gender Female
Title Queen Regent
Lady Paramount of the Westerlands
Lady of Casterly Rock
Family House Lannister
House Baratheon
Spouse(s) Robert Baratheon
Children Joffrey Baratheon
Myrcella Baratheon
Tommen Baratheon
(with Jaime)
Relatives Tywin Lannister (father)
Joanna Lannister (mother)
Jaime Lannister (twin brother)
Tyrion Lannister (brother)
Kingdom The Westerlands
The Crownlands

Cersei Lannister is a fictional character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels by American author George R. R. Martin, and its television adaptation Game of Thrones. She becomes a prominent point of view character in the novels beginning with the 2005 fourth installment A Feast for Crows.

Introduced in 1996's A Game of Thrones, Cersei is the politically ambitious, manipulative and sadistic eldest child of Lord Tywin Lannister and Lady Joanna. She is the twin sister of Ser Jaime Lannister, with whom she shares an incestuous relationship. Fifteen years before the events of the series, Cersei married King Robert Baratheon and became Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, but she neither loves nor respects Robert. She has three children, but all three are fathered by Jaime rather than Robert. In her role, Cersei proves herself to be cunning in handling political turmoil, however, as the series progresses, her incompetencies become more conspicuous. Cersei grows increasingly paranoid and unstable, believing her younger dwarf brother to be the center of all of her problems after being haunted by a prophecy in her childhood.

Cersei is portrayed by Lena Headey on the HBO series Game of Thrones. In 2014 she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her performance.[1][2] In season 5, Nell Williams will play a younger version of the character in flashbacks.[3]

Character description[edit]


A Game of Thrones[edit]

After the death of Jon Arryn, Cersei accompanies her husband, King Robert Baratheon, to Winterfell. When Robert and most of the castle go on a hunting trip, Cersei remains behind, as does her brother Ser Jaime. The two are caught having sex by Bran Stark, and when Cersei insists that they must do something to prevent the boy from telling anyone, Jaime immediately pushes him off a tower. She later berates Jaime for his impulsiveness, arguing that attempting to kill the boy was foolish when they could have simply intimidated him into silence.

While the royal procession travels back to King's Landing, Prince Joffrey bullies a common boy, Mycah, prompting Arya Stark and her direwolf to attack and disarm him. Joffrey tells his parents that Arya and her wolf attacked him without provocation. Cersei takes his side and argues that the girl should lose a hand in accordance with the ancient penalty for striking a prince of royal blood. When Robert refuses this, she talks her brother Jaime into maiming or killing Arya for her, using sex as bribe. Jaime secretly searches for the girl to do his sister's bidding, but Arya is found by Stark guards first. Robert again resists Cersei's call for severely punishing Arya, but Cersei successfully pressures him into ordering the execution of another direwolf as a proxy.

When Tyrion is abducted by Catelyn Stark, Cersei argues with Robert, insulting his manhood for his failure to immediately avenge the insult to her family. The king strikes her in response, but Cersei tells him she intends to wear the bruise "as a badge of honor." Eddard Stark, who is present, does not approve of his friend's action; Robert admits that it was "not kingly," but blames Cersei for provoking him. Eddard, who has been appointed the Hand of the King, investigates Jon Arryn's death and discovers the truth about the royal children's parentage. He confronts Cersei, and she admits that his accusation is true. She promises to make it worth his while if Eddard allies with her and keeps her secret, but he refuses. Not wanting to see the children harmed, Eddard warns her that he intends to tell Robert the truth and urges her to flee with the princes and princess.

She instead uses the time to arrange a hunting "accident" for Robert. She provides his squire Lancel, one of her lovers, with fortified strongwine, telling him it is Robert's favorite vintage. Lancel serves it to the king during the hunt, and as the wine is far stronger than Robert expects, he becomes drunk and is fatally injured by a boar. On his deathbed Robert names Eddard Stark regent until his 13-year-old heir Joffrey comes of age, but the morning after Robert's death, Cersei seizes power, denouncing Lord Eddard as a traitor who conspired against King Joffrey. She has Eddard imprisoned and is named Queen Regent, heading Joffrey's small council.

Cersei intends to have Eddard convicted of treason but allowed to take the black, thus discrediting him and removing him as a factor in the political arena without antagonizing the North. She arranges a public confession for him on the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor, assuring the High Septon that he will be offered forgiveness and the holy ground will not be profaned with blood. However, she underestimates Joffrey's willfulness and taste for cruelty. He foolishly ignores her advice and instead orders Lord Stark's immediate execution. Janos Slynt and Ser Ilyn Payne carry out the king's imprudent command before Cersei can intervene, deeply offending the Faith and rendering peace between Stark and Lannister impossible. Cersei keeps the news of Renly Baratheon's coronation from Joffrey for a time, fearing he might take the field at the head of a force of Gold Cloaks. She commands her father Lord Tywin to come to the defense of the capital against Renly and the Tyrells.

A Clash of Kings[edit]

As Hand, Cersei's younger brother, Tyrion struggles to wrest control from her, finally resorting to poisoning her to ger her out of the way for a few days. He nullifies most of Cersei's decisions, recalling the Gold Cloaks who are killing off Robert's bastards at her behest.

In Jaime's absence, Cersei begins taking other lovers into her bed. After Tyrion sends away her personal guard, she tries to employ three sellswords to replace them - Osney, Osmund and Osfryd Kettleblack - but Tyrion finds out and buys their loyalty. The Kettleblacks are actually loyal to Petyr Baelish, but neither Cersei nor Tyrion figure this out.

Tyrion sends off Princess Myrcella to Sunspear in an effort to win over the Martells. Before doing so, his counter intelligence methods mean that Cersei's agent, Grand Maester Pycelle, is no longer a useful source against him. After Myrcella is sent off, Cersei is among those who is caught up in the Riot of King's Landing provoked by a thoughtless comment she makes to King Joffrey about a dead baby. Jaime later wonders if Varys had advance knowledge of the riot, since he wasn't there for it.

As King Stannis Baratheon moves on King's Landing, Cersei decided to get her son Tommen out of the city for safety, but Tyrion's men intercept the party and take Tommen into his custody. Fed up with Tyrion's efforts to rule, Cersei had Alayaya, a whore she believed Tyrion was sleeping with, arrested and beaten, and used her as a hostage in return for Tommen's safe return. She also removes Ser Boros Blount from the Kingsguard for his failure to resist Tyrion's men, and although removing the cowardly Blount from the Kingsguard was considered to have been one of her few wiser decisions, she replaces him with Osmund Kettleblack, a man just as hollow.

As the battle for King's Landing begins, Cersei hosts a banquet for all the noblewomen in the Red Keep in an effort to keep their minds off the fighting, she says, but she invites Ser Ilyn the headman to be on hand to kill them off if the city is taken, to prevent them from becoming hostages. When she hears that the River Gate is under attack, she has Joffrey summoned back to the Red Keep. Seeing the king flee back to the castle damaged morale and caused the men to rout, nearly costing her the city. This outrages Lancel Lannister, who feels they could have held the gates if Cersei hadn't recalled the King. If not for the timely arrival and attack on Stannis's flank by the army of Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell, the battle would have been lost for the Lannisters. Due to Tyrion's wounds, she is able to lie to her father and turn her father's prejudice against Tyrion to her advantage, all but completely stripping Tyrion's power from him by the time her brother's convalescence is over.

A Storm of Swords[edit]

Tywin bends Cersei to his will and later makes it clear she is no longer wanted on the council and plans to marry her off again, either to Willas Tyrell, Balon Greyjoy (whose wife was elderly and had failing health) or Oberyn Martell. After Joffrey offends Tywin through his ungracious behaviour, Tywin is furious and asks where the boy could have learnt such amoral sentiments. Cersei tries to place the blame on Robert but it is clear to all in the room, including Kevan, that it is Cersei's belief system too.

Joff is killed at his own wedding feast and Cersei accuses her brother Tyrion and his wife, Sansa Stark, falsely believing them responsible. Cersei names Ser Gregor Clegane champion if there is to be a trial by combat. This move, however, leads Oberyn Martell, whose sister was murdered by Gregor over a dozen years ago, to champion Tyrion. Oberyn is killed in the duel, and Ser Gregor is fatally wounded.

A Feast for Crows[edit]

Cersei is awoken to the news of her father's death, and is filled with rage upon learning that the deed was done by none other than Tyrion. She meets Jaime in Tywin's chambers, demanding that the vast network of tunnels under the Red Keep be searched for any signs of her imp brother. Cersei orders the Kettleback brothers to dispose of Shae's corpse, and keep her location in Tywin's bed as a secret. Upon sending informants to search Tyrion's cell, only a Tyrell coin is found, prompting suspicion and a hunch that the Tyrell's may have been behind Tywin's murder. Cersei considers her uncle Kevan Lannister for the role of the new Hand of the King, distrustful of Lords Mathis Rowan and Paxter Redwyne, and angry of Jaime's refusal to take up the position. During Tywin's funeral, in which she accompanies Tommen, Cersei is frustrated by Lady Olenna Tyrell's underhand remarks. She is, however, attracted to Lady Taena Merryweather's offers to help bring Tyrion to justice. Cersei later meets with Kevan, proposing that he become the new hand, and is infuriated when he refuses, throwing wine in his face.

Cersei begins to hire out mercaneries with the task of finding and killing her convicted brother, but is only further disappointed when they return with the severed heads of random dwarves, none bearing any resemblance to Tyrion. During the wedding of her son, Tommen, to Margaery Tyrell, Cersei has the ceremony under close supervision in order to prevent any danger from reaching her son. She remains passive and coldly isolated for much of the wedding, finding solace only in Lady Taena, who gives her information regarding one of Margaery's maids spying oner the Queen for her. That night, Cersei sets the Tower of the Hand on fire and watches it burn with satisfaction.

Cersei eventually settles on Harys Swift as her new hand and assembles an entirely new Small Council consisting of new additions like Aurane Waters and Orton Merryweather. Her hatred for Margaery also grows due to her influence over Tommen, and plots to overthrow her. She seduces Osney Kettleback and commands him to try to initiate sexual interaction with the young queen, in order to expose her as a harlot and ruin her image with the public. She sends her brother, Loras Tyrell, to try to take Dragonstone from Stannis, to Margaery's horror. After she and Qyburn torture the Blue Bard, a known companion of Margaery, for information (though lacking validity) concerning Margaery's various "partners", they are able to compile a list of names including Osney, Jalabhar Xho, Bayard Norcross, Ser Tallad the Tall, Hugh Clifton, Hamish the Harper, Lambert Turnberry, and Mark Mullendore. Cersei then frames Margaery, who is imprisoned by the Faith shortly afterwards.

When Cersei visits Margaery in her cell, they engage in a heated confrontation, before Cersei herself is arrested and charged with treason by the High Septon after Osney is interrogated, revealing the Queen's plans. She is forbidden from having visitors, and is furious with rage. She writes a letter to Jaime, pleading for help, but Jaime abandons her to her fate, having learned the truth of her infidelity from Tyrion.

A Dance with Dragons[edit]

Cersei still remains a prisoner of the Faith. To try and gain access to visitors, Cersei decides to confess to the High Septon that she did have relations with her cousin Lancel Lannister and all three of the Kettleblack brothers, knowing that such sins would not earn her an execution. She continues to deny having ordered Osney Kettleblack to kill the previous High Septon, or that she was involved in King Robert's death. The High Septon agrees to allow her one visitor a day. Cersei then learns about Myrcella's injury and of Arys Oakheart's death, which leaves a vacancy in the Kingsguard. Cersei then sends word to Lord Qyburn that the time has come. Before her trial, the Faith requires Cersei to submit to a penance walk from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep. Cersei is shaved of hair from her entire body, then stripped naked. Just prior to the walk, at the Great Sept of Baelor she realizes that no Lannisters are there to support her, and this ordeal is hers alone.

Cersei eventually breaks down in tears just before finishing and entering the Keep. Upon her entrance, Jocelyn Swyft has her body covered. Cersei is then carried into the castle by a silent eight-foot-tall knight covered head to heel in thick enamelled white plate, with a great helm concealing his face. Qyburn then appears and introduces Cersei to the newest member of the Kingsguard, "Ser Robert Strong," her champion. Cersei dines with her uncle, Ser Kevan, on the night of his death. She requests that Lady Taena Merryweather attend again her once her innocence is proved. When Kevan has no news of Jaime, Cersei seems certain of his safety. She believes that if he were dead, she would know it.

Family tree of House Lannister[edit]



  1. ^ Jacobs, Matthew (July 10, 2014). "Emmy Nominations 2014: Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black Among Top Nominees". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ Brown, Tracy (July 10, 2014). "Emmys 2014: Complete list of nominees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Young Cersei cast!". Watchers On The Wall.