Consumer Comeback Blog

A Lannister always pays his debts

I’m on my second read-through of A Clash of Kings. I’m more or less reading along side the 2nd season of the HBO series Game of Thrones. And as a huge fan of the George R.R. Martin series A song of Ice and Fire and the show, and as a writer for this credit score blog, I feel compelled to do an ode to one of my favorite fictional characters ever written: Tyrion Lannister.

But because this is, and not my personal ASOIAF fan site, it’s the Lannister family saying that I’m going to focus on (for obvious reasons):

“A Lannister always pays his debts.”

And I’m going to write in generalities, too, so I don’t spoil anything for future readers/watchers of the show.

There is a part early in A Clash of Kings (and the show -actually, it was used as a promo for season 2) where Tyrion is having a conversation with Varys, the King’s “master of whispers”. Varys poses a riddle to Tyrion to make a point about where power resides. It goes something like this (see video):

The riddle proposes 3 (perhaps oversimplified) motivations for loyalty: religious, royalty/oath, and wealth. But it’s the “rich man” (wealth) that’s the most interesting for the series. It’s the brutal honesty that fans have come to expect and a big part of what makes the story so dynamic; Partly because it’s a theme that’s relatively rich for a fantasy series of this kind: The idea that loyalty can be bought.

So why does this matter for Tyrion Lannister? First of all, the Lannisters are the richest family in all of Westeros (the “developed” continent). But the thing is, even with all the money in the world, it would do nothing for Tyrion if people don’t believe he’d honor his promises. And that’s where the family saying comes in. A Lannister always pays his debts. And as you might imagine, in the books, “debts” is used to imply any number of things: titles, betrothals, power itself, justice…revenge, and yes: gold dragons (coins).

As clever as Tyrion is, he understands he owes a great deal of the power and influence he has to the history of great trust that comes along with being loyal to his family (thus the saying). And a number of times, and in a number of ways, Tyrion takes full advantage of this fact. Yet, in doing so, he is always careful to not abuse that trust, not even once. And that’s part of the reason he plays the game so well.

Also, he’s as clever as the Mountain is tall.

In stark contrast, however, Tyrion’s brother, Jamie, happens to lack the same influence with people. Ever since the day he broke an oath to defend his King, he forever lost this ability.  Even if the act itself was the right thing to do.  Regardless, it’s rubbed in his character’s face over and over again, being mockingly called “Kinglslayer” every time he even so much as hints at any sort of negotiation. So despite the fact that Jamie is the first born son of Tywin Lannister (he and Tyrion’s father), a strikingly handsome man, not an “Imp”, and a tremendously gifted swordsman, he could never amount to so much as a fraction of the influence Tyrion can. His history betrays him.

Now, you can say what you want about the true character of Tywin Lannister and even the mischievous and devious plots he and Tyrion employ throughout the series. They may sometimes lack honor in their motivations and even some of their actions.  You’d probably even hesitate to call either of them “honest”.  But the one thing they’re not, is liars. They say what they mean to do and they do what they say, particularly when it comes to promises made. And they draw a great deal of power and influence from that quality.

The big tie in:

So what does this all have to do with credit scores?  You might ask…

Trust is power. Break that trust, even once, and you run the risk of losing it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you aren’t trustworthy with debts, you can have a hard time getting approved for credit. So if you came here looking for ways to improve your standing with creditors: be more like Tyrion Lannister.

A Lannister always pays his debts.