A Game of Thrones • A Song of Ice and Fire NWN2 Persistent World • Low Magic Role Play

Tyrion Lannister, The Imp

World of Westeros - People
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 18:03

9th Level (Noble 7 / Spy 2)

All that the gods had given to Cersei and Jaime, they had denied Tyrion. He was a dwarf, half his brother’s height, struggling to keep pace on stunted legs. His head was too large for his body, with a brute’s squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow. One green eye and one black one peered out from under a lank fall of hair so blonde it seemed white.
A Game of Thrones

Tyrion LannisterIf the qualities of family Lannister were all lumped together they would have enough beauty to make a queen of everlasting beauty, enough strategy to make an untouchable politician, enough bravery to make one legendary warrior, and enough kindness to make half a man. Tyrion would be that lucky half. Called “the Imp,” “the Dwarf,” and many other less savoury epithets, Tyrion Lannister has a sinister reputation. It stems partly from his surname, but more because of his physical deformities. From mismatched eyes to stunted legs, Tyrion is remarkably ugly by conventional standards.

Tyrion was the third of Tywin’s children, despised from the very outset by his father because his mother, Joanna, died giving birth to him. Tywin undoubtedly thought this a poor exchange. Bad enough that the child’s birth had killed Tywin’s beloved, but even worse that the boy was so hideous. Tywin involves himself only in the useful, and even his resourcefulness could find no use for a deformed dwarf of a second son. Tyrion became the spare child, an embarrassment to be ignored as much as possible except in time of emergencies. Starved of love, one would expect the dwarf to be the most psychologically scarred of the family. In fact, in some ways he is the most humane and most given to acts of kindness.

Tyrion is all Lannister in terms of intelligence and has no illusions about his attractiveness. What the dwarf lacks in looks, however, he makes up for in understanding. He long ago learned that the way to master a joke against oneself is to join in. Trying to make this man feel small is impossible. No one laughs louder than Tyrion at a well-aimed jest, or is faster to admit the truth of an accurate jibe. It would be wrong to class Tyrion as someone who wins friends by playing the fool, though. The dwarf’s usual technique is to add to the jest at his own expense, and then extend it to include his opponents. The bullying Alliser Thorne is a typical victim of Tyrion’s humour, humiliated by a dwarf armed with nothing but wit and a crab fork. Tyrion inevitably wins such contests, because he has little pride and a lot of brain — a rare reversal of qualities among the noble houses of Westeros.

Tyrion’s sense of humour is one of his greatest assets. Making people laugh is Tyrion’s way of getting them to relax around him. It often wins him allies, as when he encounters the tribes of the Mountains of the Moon. His sellsword, Bronn, is ready to die fighting, but Tyrion prefers a different approach. Give the dwarf time to think and talk, and he can usually find a way around anything. On this occasion he offers the clansmen money, makes them laugh, offers them more money, offers them weapons, and finally promises them an audacious amount of land, which isn’t even his to give. By the time they have agreed to let him live long enough to fulfill his outrageous promises, they have grown to trust him. They are their own men, but they have also become his men. It is a leverage Tyrion has never had before; to his credit, he treats these people with respect and they return the favour, along with their loyalty.

Tyrion is adept in talking his way out of difficult situations and has ample opportunity to practice this talent, such as when he is captured by Catelyn Stark. Tyrion is a contrast to characters like Catelyn, who rely on emotions. There is an underlying tension between Tyrion and Catelyn, because she wants to base judgements on her feelings, and Tyrion forces her to think. Catelyn is convinced that Tyrion is behind the attempt to kill Bran. Tyrion tells Catelyn that he would never incriminate himself by letting his own knife be used and logically unravels Littlefinger’s lies. Catelyn begins to finally hear him, but their highly constructive conversation ends when raiders attack. Now, however, Tyrion shows he has worth beyond his words.

The real change in dynamic between Tyrion and Catelyn occurs at this point. In the attack, he is more like his brother Jaime than he realises and responds with the courage of a true warrior. He goes to the rescue of Catelyn when every instinct tells him to let her die. Something shifts in the balance of power between them, and he goes from being bound to being allowed free movement and weapons. Catelyn says she still doesn’t trust him, but if that were true, she would never allow him to keep his axe and dagger. What she means is that she is not going to like him. She is no longer fully certain of his guilt, but is unwilling to simply dismiss the evidence she does have. The difference is subtle, but it is a start.

Sadly, Tyrion gets little chance to further prove himself to Catelyn, for they arrive in the Vale of Arryn, where her sister Lysa rules. Placed in a torturous sky cell, Tyrion proves his resourcefulness in surviving the ordeal. Tyrion is happy to confess, but he makes a mockery of the court by confessing his life’s sins — and refuting those crimes he is charged with. By turning himself into a spectacle, he gains the support of the crowd. Even if they dislike him, his showmanship earns him a measure of safety from Lysa’s tyranny.

Tyrion engages in a battle of wits with Lysa; she thinks she holds all the power, but he outfoxes her at every step. In the ensuing exchange, Tyrion demands to be treated honourably and fairly. As little love as his father bears for him, Tyrion knows these nobles still cannot offend the most powerful lord in Westeros lightly. Lysa concedes to a trial, announcing that her son, Lord Robert, will preside. Tyrion takes advantage of his one last chance and invokes a trial of combat. It is possible that he hopes to wait until his brother, Jaime, can arrive to slay Lysa’s champion. Tyrion is an excellent judge of character, however, and realises how risky any delay would be, if he remains in Lysa’s power. Tyrion knows the combat will be shameful if he actually has to fight; whether consciously or subconsciously, he must be banking on someone like Bronn to step up for him. While luck certainly helps, his preferred method of keeping a foe talking until he spots a weakness — then taking advantage of it — serves him well.

Though his relationship with Catelyn is rocky, Tyrion has a better relationship with other Starks. After Bran’s accident, Tyrion designs a saddle that will enable the boy to ride even with his paralysed legs. Jon Snow finds real friendship with Tyrion, who is only too used to being an outsider and knows every trick in the book for surviving the experience. While suspicious minds might wonder why he takes such an interest, he explains it as a tender spot in his heart, “for cripples and bastards and broken things.” Tyrion is not lying. He alone among all his family has the gift of empathy, possibly because he secretly considers himself the most broken thing of all. It is his heart and soul he refers to, though, not his stunted frame.

When Tyrion was much younger, he fell in love with a peasant girl by the name of Tysha, whom he married in secret. He was blissfully happy until Jaime confessed that the girl was in fact a whore whom he had hired so that Tyrion could have his first taste of sex. When Tywin Lannister discovered the incident, he gave the girl to his guards for their use while Tyrion watched, to teach him better than to trust a whore, and possibly punish her by proving her profession to his son and thus negating the marriage. Tywin paid the girl for her troubles, with orders for Tyrion to participate after all the others had taken their turns. It seems to have been the only lesson his father ever felt the need to give Tyrion, and a more chastening one could hardly be imagined.

The question of what Tywin hoped to teach Tyrion is still unknown, though it is certain he felt Tyrion’s choice in a wife to be an unthinkable one, far below the status of any Lannister — even one such as a misshapen, dwarfish son.

Tyrion was devastated by the experience, but he has proved too robust to let his love of life be crushed by his father. He is a sensual and loving man, whose amours are characterised by physical passion, kindness, and respect. He frequents brothels and is kind to the whores, and has proven to be gentle and generous with Shae.

Tyrion was most recently involved with a whore named Shae, and his feelings toward her grew ever more tender over time. But then, tenderness is never too far from Tyrion. Though he keeps it well hidden, he is a man of deep feeling. Emotion comes easily to him and his loyalty grows into love where it is returned. This is why there is a casual but very real affection between Tyrion and Jaime. Cersei and Tyrion do not have so easy a bond, because Tyrion is both too clever and too ugly for her. He sees through his sister and Cersei can’t forgive him for it.

Those who involve themselves with Tyrion Lannister would do well to look beyond his physical disabilities. He is a vastly intelligent man, excellent company, brave in battle, wise in council, and perhaps most rare of all, compassionate to those who need it. In the right light and under the right circumstances, one may find as Jon Snow did, that Tyrion Lannister stands as tall as a king.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 June 2011 08:42