Dark and Golden: Jaime Lannister
I love my blog sisters, but the dark heroes topic threw me for a loop. Done well, dark heros are twisted, tortured creatures—not quite villain, nor really quite hero either. I find it hard to get my head and heart around them. My pick really exemplifies that challenge—Jaime Lanister, from George R.R. Martin the Songs of Fire and Ice series. If you haven’t read it, or only read parts (I don’t have HBO so I haven’t seen the series and don’t know how it compares), spoilers coming. After finding this pic, I wish I did have HBO, he’s lovely.
Jaime starts out evil. E.V.I.L. Big time. Let’s face it, when we first meet him, he killed the former king (he’s called Kingslayer) whom he was responsible for guarding, is cuckolding the current king by sleeping with his own sister, Cersei, with whom he has three children in line for the throne and he tries to kill a child who overhears he and Cersei plotting, by pushing him off a tower. Yep, you really have to hate him…at first.
And then one of the greatest soldiers in all of Westeros loses his fighting arm and Jaime Lannister can no longer even pretend to claim to be a hero. Aware finally that he is missing an integral part of himself (ain’t imagery grand), he reluctantly befriends Brienne of Tarth, a female fighter with integrity and honor to spare, and we are brought inside his head to see the humanity he’d been hiding under a rock somewhere. Its still a little dusty and a lot out of practice. His wounds open, his love of and betrayal by his sister a palpable painful thing that’s almost physical in nature. And voila, Jaime moves from villain to dark hero. It’s George Martin’s handling of the complexity of characters that shows how near the edge dark heroes really are. And why they are so fascinating–because they can go either way. No HEA guarantee here. They are not heroes, they don’t always choose good even after we hesitantly start to open our mind to the possibility of liking them.
What makes a good dark hero is how well he handles that edge. Jaime has been on both sides, which makes him hard to love, like we love a hero. But as we get to know him, see the hero he might have truly been had things been different, we can ask ourselves if he may be a hero yet (Dance of Dragons is sitting on my bedside table. If he falls either way, don’t tell me!).