I’m back for another deep dive into A Game of Thrones: What was left out. Where I talk about a small part of the books that were omitted from the series. This week we stay with the Lannisters, as we focus on one of the endless follies of Cersei, the Queen regent.
Queen Cersei as she is portrayed in the show is a far more sympathetic figure than the Queen Cersei of the novels. Lena Headly’s portrayal of the Queen is one of a far more cunning and capable ruler. Cersei of the written word is about as capable a ruler as the Mad King.
Each chapter in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire is written from the POV of a specific character. The name in bold next to the chapter denotes whose POV that chapter follows. Queen Cersei doesn’t have a POV chapter until the 4th book, meaning it’s not until A Feast for Crows that we get a peek inside her mind.
From A Feast for Crows: Jamie: Chapter 17
“I govern the realm!”
Seven save us all you do. His sister liked to think of herself as Lord Tywin with teats, but she was wrong. Their father had been as relentless and implacible as a glacier, where Cersei was all wildfire, especially when thwarted.
It certainly seems like Jamie doesn’t see his sister as the ruler her father was, what about Tyrion? This Quote comes from a part of the books that were completely scrubbed from the TV series. Tyrion is traveling to the Dragon Queen in the company of a boy who is presumably the firstborn son of Rhaegar with his Dornish wife Elia. It is to this boy (Aegon) that he is speaking
From A Dance with Dragons: Tyrion: Chapter 19
I would go west instead of east. Land in Dorne and raise my banners. The Seven Kingdoms will never be more ripe for conquest than they are now. A boy king sits the Iron Throne…
Who does that leave? Why only Cersei.
Westeros is torn and bleeding, and I do not doubt that even now my sweet sister is binding up the wounds…with salt. Cersei is as gentle as King Maegor, as selfless as Aegon the Unworthy, as wise as Mad Aerys. She never forgets a slight real or imagined. She takes caution for cowardice and dissent for defienance. And she is greedy. Greedy for power, for honor, for love. Tommens rule is bolstered by all the alliances my lord father built so carefully, but soon enough she will destroy them, every one.
That’s Book-Cersei in a nutshell for the unschooled. Who is Aurane Waters?
Waters like Snow or Flowers is the bastard name given to those born in the Crownlands. Aurane Waters is known as the Bastard of Driftmark. Driftmark is an island near Dragonstone and it’s ruled by House Velaryon.
House Velaryon is a renowned house that like the Targaryen’s traces its roots bad to Old Valyria. Like the Targaryens they are known to have the silvery-gold hair and purple eyes of Ancient Valyria. (This is important)
Driftmark is sworn to Dragonstone and during the Battle of the Blackwater Aurane Waters fought against Joffrey on the side of Stannis. He was captured and after the battle, he bent the knee to Joffrey and we don’t hear anything about him for a long time…
Until Cersei notices him. This quote comes from the wedding celebration for King Tommen and Queen Margary.
From A Feast for Crows: Cersei: Chapter 12
Margary was dancing with her cousin Alla, Megga with Ser Tallad the Tall. The other cousin, Elinor, was sharing a cup of wine with the handsome young Bastard of Driftmark, Aurane Waters. It was not the first time the queen had made note of Waters, a lean young man with grey-green eyes and long silver-gold hair. The first time she had seen him, for half a heartbeat she had almost thought Rhaegar Targaryen had returned from the ashes.
Rhaegar is the only guy Cersei ever crushed on harder than her brother Jamie. While Jamie had been in love with only his sister. Cersei, on the other hand, wanted more than anything to marry Rhaegar.
From A Feast for Crows: Cersei: Chapter 24
Had any man ever been so beautiful? He was more than a man, though. His blood was the blood of Old Valyria, the blood of dragons and gods. When she was just a little girl, her father had promised her that she would marry Rhaegar.
later in the chapter…
Next to Rhaegar, even her beautiful Jamie had seemed no more than a callow boy. The Prince is going to be my husband, she had thought, giddy with excitement, and when the old king dies I’ll be the queen.
Instead, the Mad King rejects the offer.
“Your father proposed the match,” Lady Genna told her, “but Aerys refused to hear of it. ‘You are my most able servant, Tywin’ the king said, ‘but a man does not marry his heir to his servants daughter’
(All time “get your fucking shinebox line” by the Mad King.)
So at this point, we have Cersei dubiously in charge of the realm noticing a boy who looks like her old crush. The one that got away…
From A Feast for Crows: Jamie: Chapter 16
Jamie speaking to Cersei:
“There is talk you mean to make Aurane Waters the Master of Ships”
“Has someone been informing on me?… Waters is well suited to the office. He has spent half his life on ships”
“Half his life he cannot be more than twenty.”
“… It is past time that Tommen had some young men about him in place of all these wrinkled old greybeards. Aurane is strong and vigorous”
Strong and vigorous and handsome…Jamie Thought
“Paxter Redwine would be a better choice. He commands the largest fleet in Westeros. Aurane Waters could command a skiff, but only if you gave him one”
“You are a child, Jamie. Redwine is Tyrell’s bannerman, and nephew to that hideous grandmother of his. I want none of Lord Tyrell’s creatures on my council”
Cersei wants no Tyrells on her small council…her allies who fought for her on the Blackwater. Aurane Waters was fighting in that battle but on the other side…this she overlooks because she thinks he is cute. She is already destroying alliances like the Imp predicted.
A Feast for Crows: Cersei: Chapter 17
This next bit all comes from Cersei’s first small council meeting as queen regent.
My councillors. Cersei had uprooted every rose, and those beholden to her brothers. In their places were men whose loyalty would be to her. She had even given them new styles, borrowed from the Free Cities; she would have no “masters” at court beside herself. Orton Merryweather was her justiciar, Gyles Rosby her lord treasurer, Aurane Waters, the dashing young Bastard of Driftmark would be her Grand Admiral.
I want to just take a small step back and put forth the theory that everything that leads to Cersei’s downfall and imprisonment by the High Sparrow can be traced back to making Aurane Waters her Grand Admiral instead of taking Jamie’s advice and choosing Paxter Redwyne. It creates a domino effect that I’m about to outline.
Domino #1: Aurane Waters is the new Grand Admiral.
Domino #2: Aurane Waters suggests that they build a new fleet.
Chapter 17 during the council meeting:
“Might we discuss the fleet” asked Aurane Waters. “Fewer than a dozen of our ships survived the inferno on the Blackwater We must needs restore our strength at sea.”
“I propose we build new dromonds,” said Aurane Waters. “Ten to start with.”
The problem is that the crown is in debt and has no money to pay for a new fleet. Cersei thinks she has the answer but it’s actually the key domino in her downfall.
“Though large, the crown incomes are not large enough to keep abreast of Robert’s debts. Acordingly, I have decided to defer our repayment of the sums owed the Holy Faith and the Iron Bank of Bravos until war’s end.” …
“The monies saved will be used for the building of our new fleet”
The lickspittles that Cersei adorned her small council with all concur, only Pycelle speaks against the idea. Grand Maester Pycelle takes a lot of shit in the movies and the book as a bit of a fool, but throughout Cersei’s time in charge all he does is give her good advice and all she does is ignore it and do the exact opposite.
“Your Grace, this will cause more trouble than you know” – Pycelle
Domino #3: Cersei defers her payment to the Iron Bank and the Holy Faith.
At this point, the domino effect splits and now two rows of dominos are falling. One row is related to not paying the Iron Bank, the other is related to not paying the Holy Faith. For this blog, we will go down the path of not paying the Holy Faith. That Domino effect has the most immediately noticeable results.
Allow me a moment of digression to talk about what’s going on with the Holy Faith at this time in the story. The Bells are ringing due to the death of the High Septon. Cersei has the High Septon assassinated for no more reason than he was appointed by Tyrion and he may have heard Lancel confess to bedding her. At the same time, scores of religious people called “sparrows” are flooding into King’s Landing. Cersei doesn’t know who will be proclaimed the New High Septon at the time she decides not to repay the Faith.
The new High Septon, known as the High Sparrow is a direct result of Cersei’s scheming and plays a key role in her downfall.
There is a lot to unpack from A Feast For Crows: Cersei: Chapter 28.
The Chapter opens with the Cersei traveling to Visenya’s Hill, to see the High Sparrow at the Sept of Baelor. She is traveling with her “best friend” Lady Taena Merryweather, wife of one of her councilors Orton Merryweather.
A note about Taena Merryweather, she is incredibly beautiful and much more than she seems but Cersei is too stupid to realize it. (It’s my personal theory that she is Littlefinger’s spy) Taena and Aurane Waters are both attractive in Cersei’s eyes and it doesn’t take much for them to win her favor.
The blessing was an empty ritual, she knew, but rituals and ceremonies had powers in the eyes of the ignorant. Aegon the Conqueror himself had dated the start of his realm from the day the High Septon anointed him in Oldtown. “This wretched priest will obey or learn how weak and human he really is”
“Orton says it is the gold he really wants. That he means to withhold his blessing until the crown resumes it’s payments”
“The Faith will have its gold as soon as we have peace”
We had to have those ships. She could not rely upon the Arbor for her navy; The Redwynes were too close to the Tyrells. She needed her own strength at sea.
The dromondss rising on the river would give her that. Her flagship would dip twice as many oars as King Robert’s Warhammer. Aurane had asked her leave to name her Lord Tywin which Cersei had been pleased to grant.
Another of the ships would be named Sweet Cersei and would bear a gilded figurehead carved in her likeness, clad in mail and a lion helm, with a spear in hand.
This next quote is from a previous chapter but I want to tie it in here as it relates to the fleet that Cersei is building.
The Grandmaester had been especially querulous in council of late. At the last session he had complained bitterly about the men that Aurane Waters had chosen to captain her dromonds. Waters meant to give the ships to younger men whilst Pycelle argued for experience, insisting the commands should go to the captains who had survived the fires of the Blackwater. “Seasoned men with proven loyalty,” he called them. Cersei called them old and sided with Waters.
Cersei has given Waters leave to build a Navy and decide who mans it. Waters who fought against them in the last major naval battle and lost his kinsmen in the bargain.
Eventually, Cersei makes it to the Great Sept of Baelor and has her meeting with the High Sparrow.
Domino #4: Cersei meets with the new High Sparrow. He forgives the crowns massive debt and will bless King Tommen with the seven holy oils and anoint him king, but in exchange is allowed to arm the Faith Militant.
What is the Faith Militant? It was two ancient military orders, The Warrior’s sons and The Poor Fellows. They had been abolished 300 years ago.
The Faith Militant reborn…that would be the answer to three hundred years of prayer, Your Grace.
Cersei thinks it the height of cleverness.
Cersei could not help but smile. Even her lord father could have done no better. At a stroke she had rid King’s Landing of the plague of sparrows, secured Tommen’s blessing, and lessened the crown’s debt by close to a million dragons. Her heart was soaring as she allowed the High Septon to escort her back to the Hall of Lamps.
In a stroke Cersei secures her downfall, she, a person with no moral code just gave an army to an unwavering religious fanatic. Then will later try to use him as a catspaw in her plot against Margery. It will backfire horribly in her face.
We cut to near the end of the book A Feast for Crows. Margery has been arrested for treason by the High Sparrow. Cersei thinks her plot is all going according to plan. She is planning to see the High Sparrow to “free Margery from false accusations” when in point of fact she’s trying to secure her death.
The problem that she won’t see until it’s too late is that if the High Sparrow now has the power to arrest one queen then why not another? That’s the last Domino.
Domino #5 The Faith now has the power to arrest queens because Cersei put aside the laws for her fleet and for Tommen’s blessing.
From A Feast for Crows: Cersei: Chapter 43
The remnants of her small council followed her out. Harys Swift appeared dazed. He stumbled at the door and might have fallen if Aurane Waters had not caught him by the arm. Even Orton Merryweather seemed anxious. “The smallfolk are fond of the little queen,” he said “They will not take well to this I fear what might happen next, Your Grace.”
“Lord Merryweather is right,” said Lord Waters. “If it please Your Grace, I will launch the rest of our new dromonds. The sight of them upon the Blackwater with King Tommen’s banner flying from thier masts will remind the city who rules here, and keep them safe should the mobs decide to run riot again.”
“A prudent measure,” the queen announced “Until this storm has passed I want your ships crewed and on the water”
Waters now with the fleet completely built just needs a reason to put them in the water and now he has it. I don’t know if he was always planning to betray the queen because he knows he can get even more out of her. She had been thinking about giving him lands and making him a Lord in truth. The second she falls from power, he understands that the fleet can easily be taken from him and given to a different Lord Admiral. Waters was smart and made sure the crews were captained and crewed by men loyal to him. So the second the queen is arrested he just peaces out and takes the fleet with him…
Same Chapter 43 much later…
“What of Lord Waters? His ships…If he brings the crews ashore, he could have enough men to…”
“As soon as word of Your Grace’s present troubles reached the river, Lord Waters raised sail, unshipped his oars, and took his fleet to sea. Ser Harys fears he means to join Lord Stannis. Pycelle believes that he is sail to the Stepstones to set himself up as a pirate.”
“All my lovely dromonds.” Cersei almost laughed. “My father used to say that bastards were treacherous by nature. Would that I had listened”
That last line is such classic Cersei. She is the ultimate hypocrite it was her treacherous nature that landed her in this position and all three of her children were bastards. Pycelle hits the nail on the head with Aurane Waters, he stole the fleet and turned to piracy. This is heavily insinuated in a pre-released Arianne Martel Chapter from The Winds of Winter
According to Valena Toland, A new pirate king has set himself up on Torture’s Deep in the Stepstones, styling himself, the Lord of the Waters.
So there you have it Cersei gives way to much power to a man who reminds her of a crush and creates a domino effect that crushes her.