Queen Cersei Lannister is a member of House Lannister and the eldest child of Lord Tywin Lannister. She is the Queen of King Robert Baratheon, and has three children, Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen Baratheon. She is the twin sister of Ser Jaime Lannister, and the older sister of Tyrion Lannister, whom she despises due to a prophecy that the "valonqar" would kill her. Although Tywin promised she would marry Prince Rhaegar, Cersei ended up Robert's disillusioned and resentful bride. After Robert's death, she became the grasping, murderous and scheming queen mother and self-proclaimed queen on the Iron Throne.
Appearance and Character
She is described as very beautiful, and has many aspects classic of House Lannister, including her golden hair and her green eyes. She has fair skin and a slender figure, however she starts to gain weight during the series due to her high alcohol consumption and starts to lose her beauty with age. She always dresses extravagantly and accentuates her family's wealth at every opportunity. She is extremely similar to her twin brother Jaime.
Cersei's amazing beauty is a mask for her true nature. She is willful, grasping, instinctively narcissistic, extremely cruel, manipulative and ferociously determined to achieve her goals, no matter what the cost to others. She is exceptionally reliant on the reputation, power and influence of her name so much that she has become blind to the deeply precarious position that she has put House Lannister in. Cersei is somewhat violent and temperamental, reacting aggressively when things don't go her way or when she feels she is being threatened, contradicted or undermined. She adores her eldest son Joffrey and spoiled him rotten, utterly blind to the psychopathic monster he became thanks to her doting. She is also somewhat ignorant of Tommen and Myrcella, the former of whom she sees as a poor replacement to Joffrey.
She is actually rather intelligent in her own right, but has the fatal weakness of being extremely arrogant, selfish and narcissistic to a fault. Obsessed with maintaining her own personal power and totally crushing those she believes to oppose her, Cersei sees enemies in almost every shadow - most commonly she perceives her hated brother Tyrion to be behind all crimes that happen within close proximity of either of them, especially the murder of Joffrey. There are very few things spoken in her presence that she does not take personally. She believes herself to be brilliant and equivalent to her father Tywin, and is enraged when people do not respect her as they respected him, even though she behaves and strategises differently to him. Tywin never surrounded himself with sycophants so eagerly as she did, and his decisions were always firm and effective, whereas Cersei's commonly focused on whatever was troubling her at the time. Cersei is a hypocrite and unfaithful to Jaime, utilising sexual favours to other (lesser) men to get what she wants, yet expecting total devotion from him.
Cersei has always been especially violent, resorting to physically traumatising an infant Tyrion whenever she lost her temper. As an adult, she threatened to murder her husband Robert if he ever disciplined Joffrey with violence again. Cersei carried out the massacre of Robert Baratheon's children without a shred of guilt, deeply offended by his unfaithfulness to her despite the fact that she surpassed his crimes considerably with her relationship with Jaime. She would react irrationally and almost childishly to open slights taken against her, or those she cares for. In many ways, she is actually similar to Rhaenyra Targaryen, who was fierce and proud and viewed as insane near the end of her life; like Rhaenyra, Cersei covets power for herself, but the difference is that Rhaenyra was well suited to the throne and had been trained to rule, whereas Cersei was neither, having been all but neglected by her father for her childhood.
Cersei is categorised by the weakness that she is completely unable to sympathise with other people, the hallmark of a true narcissist. She always sees people, events and circumstances from a narrow and self-serving perspective, thinking that certain things people do are done with the direct intent of insulting or damaging her. She effortlessly used Sansa Stark's childish love for Joffrey as a method of defeating Ned Stark, mistreated and abused her throughout her captivity in the Red Keep, and yet seemed utterly awestruck at the idea that Sansa would 'betray' her 'kindness'. Cersei also refuses to accept responsibility for events she is directly responsible for; she played an utterly pivotal part in starting the War of the Five Kings by installing Joffrey on the throne, thus decimating her family and the Seven Kingdoms as a whole. She blames Eddard Stark, or Stannis, among several others for starting the war. In addition, Cersei actually complains about how 'willful' Joffrey has become, especially since he became king, but she turned Joffrey into the monster that he became and cannot see nor take responsibility for it.
Cersei's actions are influenced, in some way, shape or form, by the prophecy of Maggy the Frog she received when she was a child: she believes Margaery to be the younger, more beautiful one who will cast her down; she believes Tyrion to be the valonqar who will destroy her when she has lost everything; she is terrified of losing her other children, as Maggy prophecised 'gold will be their crowns, and gold their shrouds'; she is aware and hypocritically resentful of Robert Baratheon's bastards, the six-and-ten children that the king would have according to Maggy. In the latter case, she is a total hypocrite, as she has mothered three bastards of her own and passed them off as princes and princesses - bastards of golden hair, increasing the certainty of her fateful prophecy coming true.
A Game of Thrones
Cersei rides to Winterfell with Robert when he chooses to name Lord Eddard Stark as the successor to Jon Arryn as Hand of the King. She suggests that Robert not visit the Winterfell Crypts to see the resting place of Lyanna Stark but he rebuffs her. Cersei is escorted into the feast that evening by Eddard. Jon Snow sees through her smile and thinks that she is cold and angry. She later sneaks off to the abandoned tower of Winterfell with her brother Jaime. There they talk about Eddard's appointment and the threat posed by Lysa Arryn. They make love, until Cersei spots Bran Stark spying on them. Jaime tries to silence Bran by pushing him out of the window of the tower and reducing him to a comatose cripple, to Cersei's disapproval. Cersei is present at Castle Darry after the attack on Joffrey by Arya Stark and Nymeria. She insists on having one direwolf executed, and so has Lady killed. Ned, who does the killing, has the pelt sent north, however, so that Cersei can never have the direwolf's furs.
Cersei attends the feast after the first day of the Hand's Tourney, where she sits with Robert. Towards the end of the feast, Robert loses his temper with her, and shouts about he will ride on the following day. Cersei then abruptly leaves, attended by several servants.
When Catelyn Stark abducts Tyrion, Cersei argues with Robert to the point where he strikes her across the face. After Lord Stark figures out the true heritage of Cersei's children, born of incest between Cersei and Jaime, he confronts Cersei and reveals that he plans to tell Robert the truth. However, Cersei has her cousin Lancel give Robert strongwine to dull his senses during a hunt, causing him to be fatally wounded by a boar. Upon Robert's death, Joffrey is King and Cersei has Eddard arrested for treason, although things turn awry when Joffrey has Eddard executed despite Cersei's wishes.
A Clash of Kings
A bitter power struggle erupts between Cersei and Tyrion, when the latter is named the new Hand of the King while Tywin is absent. Cersei uses Pycelle as an agent until Tyrion finds him out and has him arrested, also sending Myrcella to Dorne. Cersei becomes livid with her little brother, and arrests a whore believed to be sleeping with Tyrion named Alayaya. She uses Alayaya as leverage over Tyrion, who proceeds to threaten Cersei. During the Battle of the Blackwater, Cersei stays in the Red Keep with the noblewomen, as well as Ser Ilyn Payne who is instructed to kill them all if the battle is lost to prevent them from becoming hostages. She also has Joffrey retreat, damaging the army's morale and almost causing the Lannisters to lose, if not for Tywin and the Tyrells.
A Storm of Swords
Cersei is furious after Tywin reveals to her that he plans to marry her off to either, as Cersei puts it, "the old squid or the crippled dog boy". On Joffrey and Margaery's wedding day, Joffrey is killed at the feast when his wine is poisoned. Cersei, distraught, immediately blames Tyrion and his wife, Sansa Stark. While Sansa escapes, Cersei has Tyrion arrested, and Tyrion demands trial by combat. Cersei names Ser Gregor Clegane as her champion, prompting Oberyn Martell to become Tyrion's. The trial by combat results in Oberyn fatally wounding Gregor, although the latter still kills Oberyn, therefore condemning Tyrion to death.
A Feast for Crows
Cersei is awoken in the middle of the night by Ser Osmund Kettleblack and Ser Boros Blount, who inform her of Tywin's death at the hands of Tyrion, who has escaped his cell. She then walks to the Tower of the Hand and witnesses her father's corpse before ordering the disposal of Shae's corpse. She later offers Jaime the position of King's Hand, but he rejects her. She decides that her uncle, Ser Kevan Lannister, is more fitting of the role than her brother. She attends her father's wake, and is forced into conversing with Ser Lambert Turnberry and Falyse Stokeworth, and meets Taena Merryweather, and believes that she may be useful in the future. She rejects Lord Mace Tyrell when he offers to take the position of Hand and names Lord Gyles Rosby as Master of Coin. She gives the dying Gregor Clegane to Qyburn and is rejected by Kevan when she offers him the title of the Hand.
Cersei then appears to her brother as he stands vigil over their father's corpse, asking him again to serve as the Hand, but again he rejects her. The next day she attends prayers, where Tommen is sick. She chastises him outside the Great Sept of Baelor for looking weak in front of his lords. She is impressed when Jaime devises a plan to rid her of Mace Tyrell whilst still gaining glory for herself and Tommen. Cersei spends the next few days scheming to improve her own position, trying constantly to oppose and upturn the Tyrell hold on King's Landing. Because of her excessive drinking, she becomes prone to mood swings and even starts gaining weight, losing some of her beauty. Cersei starts being even more tormented by her traumatic prophecy that she received as a child, envisioning Margaery as the younger and more beautiful woman who will supplant her.
At the same time, Cersei starts to systematically alienate herself from her entire family, accosting Tommen for any backbone he shows, inciting a rift between herself and Kevan and betraying Jaime's love for her by sleeping with other men to gain their loyalty, including the Kettleblacks. She makes a myriad of political errors and collapses, including a disagreement with the Iron Bank of Braavos and filling the small council of King's Landing with sycophants rather than able and efficient men. One of these men is the bastard Aurane Waters, for whom she constructs the royal fleet. Aurane ends up absconding later on with the fleet.
She plots to have Bronn assassinated by Ser Balman Byrch. However, the scheme crashes and burns when Ser Balman foolishly challenges Bronn to a joust and ends up dying in the fight that follows. To prevent news of the incident from tracing back to her, Cersei sends Falyse Stokeworth to Qyburn, among several others so that Qyburn can 'experiment' on them.
Sending Loras Tyrell to Dragonstone where he is reported to be gravely injured, Cersei establishes the Faith Militant and manipulates several men into "confessing" that they had adulterous affairs with Margaery, who had become Tommen's wife. Margaery is imprisoned, although this plot backfires on Cersei when the High Septon grows suspicious of Osney Kettleblack and tortures the truth out of him. Cersei is arrested and imprisoned, while the Small Council tries to repair the incredible damage Cersei caused. Cersei, meanwhile, sends a letter to Jaime, but receives no answer.
A Dance with Dragons
Still imprisoned by the Faith, Cersei decides to confess in order to be free. She does not confess all of her sins to the High Septon, however, and only admits to sleeping with Lancel Lannister and Osney Kettleblack. Cersei denies ever having slept with Jaime or having sired his children into the world, though the High Septon tells her that although she has confessed some sins, others must be determined in a trial. In the meantime, Cersei is allowed to return to the Red Keep until the trial, but first must perform a "walk of penance". Shorn of all her hair and stripped naked, Cersei is forced to walk through King's Landing, escorted by septas and Warrior's Sons, from the Great Sept to the Red Keep. Humiliated and hallucinating, Cersei eventually makes her way back to the Red Keep where Qyburn introduces Cersei to Ser Robert Strong, who will serve as her champion in the trial. Kevan Lannister visits her briefly before he is murdered by Varys.