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BlogJuly, 2009
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 response (505).

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.

 
    © 2008 Ilan Mochari  
Ilan Mochari