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«illustration credit 1 illustration credit 2 The World of Ice & Fire is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the ...»

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Once Loren the Last gave up his crown, the Lannisters were reduced to lords. Though their vast wealth remained untouched, they did not have close ties to House Targaryen (unlike the Baratheons) and unlike the Tullys they were too proud to at once scrabble for a place of prominence beneath the Iron Throne.

It was not until a generation later, when Prince Aegon and Princess Rhaena sought refuge from King Maegor the Cruel, that the Lannisters once again began to make a greater mark on the realm.

Lord Lyman Lannister protected the prince and princess under his roof, extending guest right and refusing all the king’s demands to turn them over. Yet his lordship did not pledge his swords to the fugitive prince and princess, nor did he bestir himself until after Prince Aegon had perished at his uncle’s hands during the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye. Yet when Aegon’s youngest brother Jaehaerys put forward his own claim to the Iron Throne, the Lannisters rallied to his support.

King Maegor’s death and King Jaehaerys’s coronation moved House Lannister closer to the Iron Throne, though the Velaryons, the Arryns, the Hightowers, the Tullys, and the Baratheons still eclipsed them in influence. Lord Tymond Lannister was present at the Great Council of 101 AC that decided the succession, famously arriving with a huge retinue of three hundred bannermen, men-atarms, and servants … only to be outdone by Lord Matthos Tyrell of Highgarden, who counted five hundred in his retinue. The Lannisters chose to side with Prince Viserys in the deliberations—a choice remembered and rewarded some years later, when Viserys ascended the Iron Throne and made Lord Jason Lannister’s twin brother Ser Tyland his master of ships. Later, Ser Tyland became master of coin for King Aegon II, and his close association with the Iron Throne and favored position at court brought his brother, Lord Jason, into the Dance of the Dragons on Aegon’s side.

As the struggle for succession continued, however, Ser Tyland suffered greatly for hiding the greater part of the crown’s gold where Rhaenyra Targaryen could not reach it when she took King’s Landing. And the Lannisters’ association with the Iron Throne proved ill-fated when the Red Kraken and his reavers fell upon the undefended westerlands whilst Lord Jason marched east at King Aegon II’s behest. Queen Rhaenyra’s supporters met his host at the crossing of the Red Fork, where Lord Jason fell in battle, mortally wounded by the grizzled squire Pate of Longleaf (knighted after the battle, this lowborn warrior was known as the Lionslayer for the rest of his days). The Lannister host continued to march, winning victories under Ser Adrian Tarbeck, then under Lord Lefford, before he perished at the Fishfeed, where his westermen were slaughtered among three armies.

Ser Tyland Lannister, meanwhile, fell prisoner to Queen Rhaenyra after she seized King’s Landing.

Cruelly tortured to force him to reveal where he had hidden the bulk of the crown’s gold, Ser Tyland steadfastly refused to talk. When Aegon II and his loyalists won back the city, he was found to have been blinded, mutilated, and gelded. Yet his wits remained intact, and King Aegon retained him as master of coin. In the last days of his rule, Aegon II even sent Ser Tyland to the Free Cities in search of sellswords to support his cause against Rhaenyra’s son, the future Aegon III, and his supporters.

A regency followed the end of the fighting since the new king, Aegon III, was but eleven years of age when he ascended the Iron Throne. In hopes of binding up the deep wounds left by the Dance, Ser Tyland Lannister was made Hand of the King. Perhaps those who had been his enemies deemed him too blind and broken to be a threat to them, but Ser Tyland served ably for the better part of two years, before dying of the Winter Fever in 133 AC.

In the years that followed, the Lannisters stood with the Targaryens against Daemon Blackfyre, though the Black Dragon’s rebels won victories of note in the westerlands—especially at Lannisport and the Golden Tooth, where Ser Quentyn Ball, the hot-tempered knight renowned as Fireball, slew Lord Lefford and sent Lord Damon Lannister (later famed as the Grey Lion) into retreat.

Following the Grey Lion’s passing in 210 AC, his son Tybolt succeeded him as Lord of Casterly Rock, only to perish himself two years later under suspicious circumstances. A young man in his prime, Lord Tybolt left no heir of the body save for a daughter, Cerelle, three years of age, whose reign as Lady of Casterly Rock proved cruelly short. In less than a year, she too was dead, whereupon the Rock and the westerlands and all the wealth and power of House Lannister passed to her uncle, Gerold, the late Lord Tybolt’s younger brother.

The arms of House Lannister (center) and some houses of note, past and present, (clockwise from top): Crakehall, Brax, Clegane, Farman, Lefford, Reyne, Westerling, Payne, Marbrand, Lydden, Prester, and Tarbeck. (illustration credit 126) A genial man, known to be exceedingly clever, Gerold had served as regent for his young niece, but the suddenness of her death at such a tender age set tongues to wagging, and it was whispered widely in the west that both Lady Cerelle and Tybolt had died at his hands.

No man now living can say with certainly whether there was any truth to these whispers, for Gerold Lannister soon proved himself to be an exceptionally shrewd, able, and fair-minded lord, greatly increasing the wealth of House Lannister, the power of Casterly Rock, and the trade at Lannisport. He ruled the westerlands for thirty-one years, earning the sobriquet Gerold the Golden.

Yet the tragedies that befell House Lannister in the years that followed were proof enough for Lord Gerold’s enemies. His beloved second wife, Lady Rohanne, vanished under mysterious circumstances in 230 AC, less than a year after giving birth to his lordship’s fourth and youngest son, Jason. Tywald, the eldest of his twin sons, died in battle in 233 AC whilst squiring for Lord Robert Reyne of Castamere during the Peake Uprising. Lord Robert likewise died, leaving Ser Roger Reyne (the Red Lion), his eldest son, as his heir.

The most significant death by far that stemmed from the Peake Uprising was that of King Maekar himself, but the chaos this caused has been abundantly chronicled elsewhere. Less well-known, but no less baleful, are the dire effects the battle had upon the history of the west. Tywald Lannister had long been betrothed to the Red Lion’s spirited young sister, Lady Ellyn. This strong-willed and hottempered maiden, who had for years anticipated becoming the Lady of Casterly Rock, was unwilling to forsake that dream. In the aftermath of her betrothed’s death, she persuaded his twin brother, Tion, to set aside his own betrothal to a daughter of Lord Rowan of Goldengrove and espouse her instead.

Lord Gerold, it is said, opposed this match, but grief and age and illness had left him a pale shadow of his former self, and in the end he gave way. In 235 AC, in a double wedding at Casterly Rock, Ser Tion Lannister took Ellyn Reyne to wife, whilst his younger brother Tytos wed Jeyne Marbrand, a daughter of Lord Alyn Marbrand of Ashemark.

Twice a widower, and ailing, Lord Gerold did not wed again, so after her marriage, Ellyn of House Reyne became the Lady of Casterly Rock in all but name.

As her good-father retreated to his books and his bedchamber, Lady Ellyn held a splendid court, staging a series of magnificent tourneys and balls and filling the Rock with artists, mummers, musicians … and Reynes. Her brothers Roger and Reynard were ever at her side, and offices, honors, and lands were showered upon them, and upon her uncles, cousins, and nephews and nieces as well.

Lord Gerold’s aged fool, an acerbic hunchback called Lord Toad, was heard to say, “Lady Ellyn must surely be a sorceress, for she has made it rain inside the Rock all year.” In 236 AC, the pretender Daemon Blackfyre, Third of His Name, crossed the narrow sea and landed upon Massey’s Hook with Bittersteel and the Golden Company, intent on taking the Iron Throne. King Aegon V summoned leal lords from all across the Seven Kingdoms to oppose him, and the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion began.

Lady Ellyn Reyne and Lady Jeyne Marbrand in the court of Lord Gerold Lannister. (illustration credit 127) It ended far more quickly than the pretender might have wished, at the Battle of Wendwater Bridge.

Afterward, the corpses of the Black Dragon’s slain choked the Wendwater and sent it overflowing its banks. The royalists, in turn, lost fewer than a hundred men … but amongst them was Ser Tion Lannister, heir to Casterly Rock.

The loss of the second of his “glorious twins” might well have been expected to break their grieving father, Lord Gerold. But curiously, the opposite seemed to be the case. As Ser Tion’s body was laid to rest within Casterly Rock, Gerold the Golden roused himself and took firm hold of the westerlands once more, intent on doing all he could to prepare his thirdborn son, the weak-willed and unpromising boy Tytos, to succeed him.

The “Reign of the Reynes” was at an end. Lady Ellyn’s brothers soon departed Casterly Rock for Castamere, accompanied by many of the other Reynes.

Lady Ellyn remained, but her influence dwindled, while that of Lady Jeyne grew. Soon, the rivalry between Ser Tion’s widow and Tytos’s wife became truly ugly, if the rumors set down by Maester Beldon can be believed. Beldon tells us that in 239 AC, Ellyn Reyne was accused of bedding Tytos Lannister, urging him to set aside his wife and marry her instead. However, young Tytos (then nineteen) found his brother’s widow so intimidating that he was unable to perform. Humiliated, he ran back to his wife to confess and beg her forgiveness.

Lady Jeyne was willing to pardon her young husband but was less forgiving of her good-sister, and did not hesitate to inform Lord Gerold of the incident. Furious, his lordship resolved to rid Casterly Rock of Ellyn Reyne for good and all by finding her a new husband. Ravens flew, and a hasty match was made. Within the fortnight, Ellyn Reyne was wed to Walderan Tarbeck, Lord of Tarbeck Hall, the florid fifty-five-year-old widowed lord of an ancient, honorable, but impoverished house.

Ellyn Reyne, now Lady Tarbeck, departed Casterly Rock with her husband, never to return, but the rivalry between her and Lady Jeyne was not at an end. If anything, it seemed to intensify through what Lord Toad came to call the War of the Wombs. Though Lady Ellyn had not been able to give Ser Tion an heir, she proved more fertile with Walderan Tarbeck (who, it should be noted, had a number of older sons from his first two marriages), giving him two daughters and a son. Lady Jeyne answered with children of her own, the first of whom was a son. He was given the name Tywin, and legend claims that when his grandsire Lord Gerold ruffled the babe’s golden hair, the child bit his finger.

Other children followed in good course, but Tywin, the eldest, was the only grandchild his lordship ever knew. In 244 AC, Gerold the Golden died of a bad bladder, unable to pass water. At the age of four-and-twenty, Tytos Lannister, his eldest surviving son, became Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West.

All were offices for which he was manifestly unsuited. Lord Tytos Lannister had many virtues.

Slow to anger and quick to forgive, he saw good in every man, great or small, and was too trusting by half. He was dubbed the Laughing Lion for his jovial manner, and for a time the west laughed with him … but soon enough, more were laughing at him instead.

Where matters of state were concerned, Lord Tytos proved weak-willed and indecisive. He had no taste for war and laughed away insults that would have had most of his forebears shouting for their swords. Many saw in his weakness an opportunity to grasp power, wealth, and land for themselves.

Some borrowed heavily from Casterly Rock, then failed to repay the loans. When it was seen that Lord Tytos was willing to extend such debts, even forgive them, common merchants from Lannisport and Kayce began to beg for loans as well.

Lord Tytos’s edicts were widely ignored, and corruption became widespread.

At feasts and balls, guests felt free to make mock of his lordship, even to his face. Twisting the lion’s tail, this was called, and young knights and even squires vied with one another to see who could twist the lion’s tail the hardest. It is said that no one laughed louder at these japes than Lord Tytos himself.

Maester Beldon, in one of his letters to the Citadel, wrote, “His lordship wants only to be loved.

So he laughs, and takes no offense, and forgives, and bestows honors and offices and lavish gifts on those who mock him and defy him, thinking thereby to win their loyalty. Yet the more he laughs and gives, the more they despise him.” As the power of House Lannister waned, other houses grew stronger, more defiant, and more disorderly. And by 254 AC, even lords beyond the borders of the westerlands had grown aware that the lion of Casterly Rock was no longer a beast to be feared.

Late that year, Lord Tytos agreed to wed his seven-year-old daughter, Genna, to a younger son of Walder Frey, Lord of the Crossing. Though but ten years of age, Tywin denounced the betrothal in scathing terms. Lord Tytos did not relent, yet still men could see that this iron-willed, fearless child was hard beyond his years and nothing like his amiable father.

Not long after, Lord Tytos dispatched his heir to King’s Landing, to serve as a cupbearer at King Aegon’s court. His lordship’s second son, Kevan, was sent away as well, to serve as page and later squire to the Lord of Castamere.

Old, rich, and powerful, the Reynes had prospered greatly from Lord Tytos’s misrule. Roger Reyne, the Red Lion, was widely feared for his skill at arms; many considered him the deadliest sword in the westerlands. His brother, Ser Reynard, was as charming and cunning as Ser Roger was swift and strong.

As the Reynes rose, so too did their close allies, the Tarbecks of Tarbeck Hall. After centuries of slow decline, this poor but ancient house had begun to flourish, thanks in large part to the new Lady Tarbeck, the former Ellyn Reyne.

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