Jaime Lannister's Fever Dream
‘Ser Jaime?’ Even in
soiled pink satin and torn lace, Brienne looked more like a man in a gown than
a proper woman. ‘I am grateful, but…you were well away. Why come back?’
A dozen quips came to
mind, each crueler than the one before, but Jaime only shrugged. ‘I dreamed of
you,’ he said.
A Storm of Swords,
p. 619 (Book III in George R. R.
Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire)
“I dreamed of you.” Four words so cheesy, so singsong, most
authors would hesitate using them, even in dialogue. Jaime Lannister
himself is initially reluctant. But the corny line tumbles from his mouth. While
Jaime literally does dream of Brienne
a few pages earlier, his answer to her – “I dreamed of you” – is misleading.
For one thing, his dream is more about Cersei – his twin
sister and lifelong lover – than it is about Brienne. For another, Brienne (a.k.a.
“the wench”) is on Jaime’s mind before
he begins to dream:
Jaime stretched out
near the fire and propped a rolled-up bearskin against a stump as a pillow for
his head. The wench would have told him he had to eat before he slept, to keep
his strength up, but he was more tired than hungry. He closed his eyes, and
hoped to dream of Cersei. The fever dreams were all so vivid… (609)
Indeed, Jaime dreams of Cersei. She appears “pale and
beautiful, a torch burning in her hand” (609). Her torch is “the only light in
the cavern” and “the only light in the world” (610). Only later in the dream,
after Cersei and the other Lannisters have left him behind, does Jaime
encounter Brienne. “The light was so dim that Jaime could scarcely see her,
though they stood a scant few feet apart. In
this light she could almost be a beauty, he thought. In this light she could almost be a knight” (610).
The light framing Cersei is in terms of absolutes (“the only
light in the world”); the light framing Brienne is in terms of almost (“she
could almost be a knight”). This imagery corresponds to Jaime’s tendency to rationalize
his feelings for Brienne as lukewarm falloffs from the white-hot Cersei ideal.
Even when his body responds to Brienne’s wet, naked figure, Jaime can only view
the arousal in comparison to Cersei:
Jaime caught a glimpse
of the thick blonde bush at the juncture of her thighs as she climbed out. She
was much hairier than his sister. Absurdly, he felt his cock stir beneath the
bathwater. Now I know I have been too long away from Cersei. He averted his eyes, troubled by his body’s
A few pages later, Jaime, feeling faint from the bath,
collapses into Brienne’s arms. “She was strong, and gentler than he would have
thought. Gentler than Cersei, he
thought as she helped him from the tub, his legs wobbly as a limp cock” (508).
In later chapters, Jaime’s father
disowns him; Cersei calls him an “angry cripple” with a “sad and small” cock. There’s
plenty in Jaime’s fever dream auguring all of this: Jaime begs Cersei to stay
but hears only “the soft sound of retreating footsteps” (610). Jaime also begs
his father for a sword to ward off future dangers; his father meanly claims to
have already given him one.
So why, then, does Jaime return
for Brienne? It is not that he dreamed of her, per se. It is more that
he dreamed of a dim world without his family, wherein Brienne's gentle
light is the only thing to guide him in the absence of Cersei's strobe.
As readers, we have never seen Jaime so desperate, so weak, or so
selfless. He tells Brienne, "I dreamed of you." His honest answer would
have been, "I had a nightmare of being alone."
Ilan Mochari's fiction has been published in Keyhole and honored by Glimmer Train.
In 2009, he received a Literature Artist Fellowship grant from the
Somerville Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts
Cultural Council. He is a former staff writer for Inc, and he has also written for Fortune Small Business and CFO. He has a B.A. in English from Yale University.