August 29, 2011

Cersei I

Cersei Lannister (Artwork by Amoka)
Cersei sits in her cell in the cold. She know has a new shift after destroying her first, and she is waiting for Jaime. The septas still don't talk to her, they only pray with her and read her from the Seven-Pointed-Star. She only gets some news from the outside by listening to the noise through her narrow window. Since the septons want her to pray, she prays much, not meaning it but trying to sway their favor. She still is asked to confess every hour and can't really sleep, and the food is scarce and bad. Finally, Cersei decides to confess to get out of the situation. She is allowed to sleep through, and in the morning is brought before the High Septon. She gets some bit of information about the situation in the city.

Then she stands before the High Septon. The man treats her cold and without any courtesy besides the absolutely necessary. He resembles Tywin Lannister eerily. Cersei confesses that the she fucked Lancel and all three Kettleblacks, since it seems safe to her. Asked why she did it she says she wanted to protect Tommen since she couldn't trust the Kingsguard. When she weeps, the Septon is still not moved, simply waiting until she stops. It's clear that he doesn't really believe her. She denies the accusations of adultery while she was married to Robert and of giving the command of killing the High Septon. She also fiercly denies fucking Jaime.

After, the High Septon tells her that she still has to have a trial. He admitts her one visitor each day. Back in her cell, she asks for Kevan, who arrives in the next morning. He tells her that he has hard news, and scolds her for having slept with Lancel, ultimately dismissing the matter, however. He tells her that Jaime is "somewhere in the Riverlands" and that he left his army with Brienne of Tarth. His main occupation, however, is otherwise. Sellsword companies landed all over the Stormlands. Kevan says he has no clue where Stannis got the gold to hire them. Mace Tyrell, who is the only one with an army here capable of dealing with them, does not bestir himself until Margaery is free.

Cersei will not be allowed to leave the Sept until she atoned her sins, which includes a walk through the city. Cersei declines at first, but then falters. Kevan then tells her the hardest tidings: Myrcella was attacked by Gerold Dayne and lost an ear. Arys Oakheart was killed. Cersei instantly suspects Tyrion to be responsible. She then grasps the opportunity to demand a trial by combat and tells Kevan to ask Qyburn about who should come into the now empty Kingsguard spot of Arys'.

Cersei's story line is picked up here exactly where we left it off in "A Feast for Crows". She sits in her cell in the mess she made. Deeply satisfying as it is, the choas obviously gets bigger even as she is removed as a major player. Aegon's landing in the Stormlands has so far deeply confused everyone. The obvious explanation seems to be Stannis, although it simply doesn't make sense - there is nothing better with the intelligence mess that Cersei's "nothing beyond the Narrow Sea is of interest" than to blame someone you know. And Mace Tyrell, who has absolutely no stake in the Stormlands and can be content holding King's Landing, can use the invasion as a bargaining chip to free Margaery.

The hand of Varys is in this. For certain, he confused the Small Council even more about the landing in the Stormlands, preparing the strike he will blow in the epilogue. Very well possible that he is a driving force behind getting Cersei free, advicing Kevan in the right direction. The reign of Lannister and Tyrell was consolidated a bit in the end of "A Feast for Crows", but now it crumbles again, all over the trial that originates in Cersei's moronic actions. It remains to be seen whether hers and Qyburns plan of using zombie Gregor will help her cause, but most likely, it will.

Her situation is practically a mirror of the situation Tyrion was in at the end of "A Storm of Swords": left by all allies and friends, accused by all opportunists and lickspittles of crimes she didn't commit and utterly helpless, she sits in jail trying to find a way out. The solution is, another resemblance, trial by combat. We don't know, of course, how her trial will end. It is possible that the theory that the Faith will use Sandor Clegane as its champion will prove right, featuering an epic duel between the two brothers, but somehow it doesn't feel like this is the way the story will go. Cersei will most likely be found innocent, which would fit the twisted justice that was portrayed through all the books and keep her as a player and character. She is an integral part of Vary's strategy, I am certain.

Another striking fact shown in the chapter is the new situation of the Faith. Its power base resembles closely the situation at the end of the reign of Aegon I. The Faith Militant provides the Faith with a power base not to be neglected, as it is witnessed by Kevan himself, who states that he has no means to liberate her by force. Therefore, the Faith is now a major player, courtesy of Cersei, and can judge and try even kings and queens. For the moment, the Faith does not usurp mundane powers, since the High Septon is a real zealot, but another High Septon, power hungry and ambitiouis, may very well thrive to extend the powers and make the Faith to a real force in the Seven Kingdoms and a contender in the game of thrones.

This will lead to a new movement of piety, requiring anyone to at least make the "pious noises" Cersei mentions and to formally declare himself a servant of the Faith if he wants to get somewhere. This situation is even more aggregated by Stannis' successes, since he forms the nature of an ordinary power struggle into a jihad. Two religions now battle each other as well, and depending on which religion the Targaryens bring with them to Westeros and the extent of Stannis' conquests, the realm might as well bleed from religious fighting as well as one for power. And as we know from our own history, fighting over religion tends to be more relentless, bloody, brutal and much more difficult to end than fighting for power. The stakes are higher now, and soon people may burn for their beliefs not only in Stannis' realm.

2 comments:

  1. Two points I think I want to mention in regards to this chapter, the implication of using zombie Gregor in Cersi's trial, as word of this hulking giant will likely reach Dorne sooner or later, and the outrage it'll cause as was implied in the Watcher chapter when Gregor's skull was brought to Dorne.

    Second, at the moment while they can't be ignored given Mace's own confidence now that he has his forces in King's Landing and the High Septon compromising in regards to Margarey's confinement with much less fuss the Faith Militant do not likely pose a sufficient threat to a proper army... for now. It's simply the fact that so many other threats are present that making another one is the cause for concern. On that same note, Aegon himself seems to be dedicated to the Faith so that issue should not be of much bother with his claim, and Stannis own problems just balancing the issue with the North's Old Gods will put the matter of religion off for now. Dany on the other hand is anyone's guess, especially if Victarion and his new red priest manage to reach her.

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