The Next Great Noir Crime Boss: Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, Shield of Lannisport, and Warden of the West

“I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Don Corleone murmurs like a king ordering an execution.

“Say hello to my little friend,” Scarface screams in a voice full of coke and murder.

“Lannisters always pay their debts,” Tywin Lannister seethes as he skins a giant dead beast.

Tywin Lannister (played by Charles Dance) counsels as he butchers.

Yes, Tywin Lannister follows in the bloody footsteps of great noir crime bosses through history. Ruthless, deadly builders of giant crime family empires and coiners of great catchphrases. 

When we first meet Lord Tywin Lannister (played by Charles Dance) in the HBO series Game of Thrones, based upon the novels by George R.R. Martin, he is not, as the rumors would have us believe, shitting gold. He is flaying a large animal, while telling his oldest son that he should have cut out the heart of their enemy, our beloved hero, Ned Stark. The message is clear. When someone wrongs you or hurts you, you destroy them. Whether with gold or Valyrian steel, Lannisters pay their debts.

Like all the great noir crime bosses, Lord T has a mission: to be the most powerful man in the world, to create a legacy for himself that will last for the rest of time. And anyone who stands in the way of this modest goal will be in for a world of pain. Whether it’s a bullet through Moe Greene’s eye, a machine gun blast that cuts enemies to shreds, or a spear through the Adam’s apple, the results are the same.

And Tywin surrounds himself with all manner of assassins and enforcers. Just as Don Corleone had Luca Brasi, so Twyin has The Mountain That Rides, a monstrous psychopathic beast who kills for fun and profit. Heads on spikes.  Dismemberment and maiming. Burning villages and slaughtering livestock. All done with cool calculation while sitting in his tower, swathed in bling, pulling the strings like a puppet master.

Also like any great crime boss, Lord Lannister uses a combination of treachery, deceit, and old-fashioned bloody force to get his way. Before the events of Game of Thrones, he rode on Kings Landing as the mad king Aerys II Targaryen was descending into the next ring of fiery insanity. Tywin assured the king he was there to help and defend. When the loony ruler opened the gates, Lord T and his army of assassins sacked the city. His goons burned, raped, and pillaged. When they found the king’s daughter-in-law and grandchildren, The Mountain raped the lady and smashed the children’s heads to a bloody pulp. Lord T wrapped the dead children in the crimson cloth of Lannister, to better camouflage the blood, and presented the butchered children to the new king, Robert Baratheon, to whom he married off his daughter Cersei. Just another day in the life of Crime Lord Lannister.

Of course Twyin has a brood of evil spawn that befits his place in the pantheon of great crime bosses. Let’s start with his grandson, now the Boy King. Liar, coward, bully, extreme sadist. Gets off on public humiliation. Loves having singers’ tongues cut out, pouring wine down a man’s throat till he drowns, killing prostitutes with crossbows. Agrees to set free our beloved hero, Ned Stark, then just chops his damn head off. He is truly a monster.

Which makes perfect sense when you discover he is the bastard son of Tywin’s son and daughter, Jamie and Cersei, blonde twins who are as cruel as they are beautiful, who cuckolded King Robert Baratheon for over a decade. Jamie is nicknamed Kingslayer, because he stabbed the Mad King in the back when he was sworn to protect the monarch. He’s a charmer/psychopath/artist. His paintbrush is his sword, his paint is blood, and his canvas the flesh he slices into. Young boy catches him in the tower making passionate, incestuous love to his twin sister, the Queen? Throw the boy out the window! Problem solved, Lannister-style.

His twin/lover/breeding partner Cersei is just as deadly and gorgeous, only she uses words instead of steel. The Hand figures out your deadly secret: that your son, heir to the throne, is a bastard product of monstrous incest? Poison him! Problem solved, Lannister-style. Tywin’s only humane offspring is the grotesquely twisted dwarf Tyrion, nicknamed The Imp. When he comes to his loving father to get his just desserts for saving the city, dear old dad tears him to shreds with a vicious venom that chills the blood, and forces him to marry a woman who loathes him. Lion Parenting.

In great noir, the crime bosses seem to meet an end that matches their deeds. Don Corleone was a murderer, but he had a code. No women, children, or civilians were harmed. He loved his family and wanted them to thrive. He got to pass away peacefully and died a good death. Scarface was a cokehead with a hair-trigger temper and an arsenal of giant guns. He lived by the bullet and died by the bullet. Someday, may the end for the great crime boss Lord Twyin Lannister be perfect for his dark noirish deeds.

Lannister will have his debt paid.


David Henry Sterry is the author of 16 books, a performer, muckraker, educator, activist, and book doctor. His first memoir, Chicken, was an international bestseller. His anthology Hos, Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys made the front cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. Follow-up Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks features writings by people who’ve bought and sold sex. He authored The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published with his ex-agent and current wife. His novella Confessions of a Sex Maniac, was a finalist for the Henry Miller Award. He loves any sport with balls, and his girls.

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