“Joffrey, when your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you.” - Tywin Lannister
- 58 years old (deceased)
- Killed in King’s Landing by Tyrion Lannister
- 18 television episodes
- Portrayed by Charles Dance
Tywin Lannister, the Lord of Casterly Rock, was a bad man. Let’s not mince words, here. His treatment of his son, Tyrion, not to mention Tyrion’s first wife, Tysha, is unforgivable, and its not nearly the worst of his sins. His involvement in planning the Red Wedding, his employment of scum like Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch, his order for them to murder Princess Elia and her young children, the wiping out of the entire Houses Tarbeck and Reyne, these are all terrible crimes.
It would be easy, therefore, to simply dismiss Lord Tywin as an evil old man who got what he deserved when he was murdered on the toilet, except its not, because while it can be argued that there’s not a lot of depth to guys like Vargo Hoat or Weese the Understeward, George R. R. Martin tends not to write his more prominent characters so one-dimensionally as that.
And so it is with Tywin. He’s not so much evil as he is ruthless, a very means and ends type of person. He’s willing to do whatever it takes in order to get whatever job he’s trying to accomplish done, whether that job is securing his house’s future, winning a war or running a nation. At times accomplishing his goals quickly and efficiently has meant the killing of thousands of people, and he hasn’t shied away from that fact, but he doesn’t take pleasure in it.
The situation with Tyrion is another matter, of course. Tywin was one of the minority of characters in the story of “A Song of Ice and Fire” who truly loved his wife, Joanna. One of the few times he ever smiled was on her wedding day, and its said that after her death, he never smiled again. Joanna died giving birth to Tyrion, a fact for which Tywin could never forgive him. Of course Tywin’s other children weren’t exactly pampered with affection either. I’m sure no one ever bought him a “World’s Greatest Dad” t-shirt for Father’s Day. In the end, I think Tywin’s biggest failure, his only real failure, when you really think about it, is in his obligation as a father to his children, and just look at how they turned out.
Very little of all this matters to the common folk, though, at least those common folk who weren’t directly affected by the wars he’s waged. He’ll most likely be remembered by the majority of Westeros as the greatest King’s Hand in living memory, who administered the Seven Kingdoms through decades of peace and prosperity, as well as the man who rebuilt the dignity of House Lannister, even if it was on the foundation of the corpses of Houses Reyne and Tarbeck, or more likely because of that fact, since they’ve made the song about it one of the most popular tunes in the nation.
Well that about does it for the major Lannister characters. My apologies to the Kevan and Lancel fans out there (I assume there are such people. There seem to be fans of everything these days). Next up I’ll be posting my thoughts on the major characters of the second prominent family in “A Song of Ice and Fire”, the Starks. Winter is coming!