First of all, oops. This was supposed to go up last night but didn’t. Mea culpa. As such, there will be two entries today.
(Image by Jen Bartel from Draw ‘Em With the Pointy End)
I confess, the first time I read the books, Margaery Tyrell made far less of an impression on me than her redoubtable grandmother the Queen of Thorns, but I have a weakness for mouthy old ladies, perhaps on account of having grown up with two though-they-be-little-they-be-fierce Indian grandmothers. But later rereads have prompted me to look more closely at her character, particularly in light of the choices made by the showrunners and screenwriters on Game of Thrones.
But before we get into that, let us drink to Queen Margaery. You were the smartest person in the Great Sept that day and I wish that had been enough to save you from Cersei’s towering inferno. Here’s to you. RIP.
(The second bottle whose label isn’t clearly visible is Chartreuse)
Queen of Roses
1 ½ oz Boodles gin
½ oz lime juice
¼ oz green Chartreuse
Top with dry sparkling wine
Gold sugar rim
Twist of lime
This is a small variation on the French 75, a cocktail I fell in love with in 2011 when I tried it at the French 75 bar in New Orleans. All I’ve really done is substitute lime for lemon and add a little bit of Chartreuse for a nice, herby kick. I’ve tried a few different gins in this drink and my favorite is probably Flag Hill Distillery’s Karner Blue Gin, but Boodles has a similar citrus note and works very well. In lieu of simple syrup, I did a gold sugar rim for House Tyrell since the drink itself comes out a lovely pale green, perfect for the late rose of Highgarden.
George R.R. Martin has remarked that, had he known the books’ scope—and that his planned “five-year gap” between Books 3 and 4 would ultimately fall apart—he would have made most of the younger characters several years older, but that isn’t how it worked out. The showrunners decided to keep it simple and just age everyone up a year or two.
One of the characters affected in sadly not unexpected ways is Margaery Tyrell. In the books, she is fifteen when we first encounter her as Joffrey’s fiancée, but with the show ageing her up to 18, and casting the 30-year-old Natalie Dormer in the part, I had a sneaking suspicion as to where they were going. And I say this as a huge Natalie Dormer fan. Her portrayal of Anne Boleyn on The Tudors was the best I’ve seen since Geneviève Bujold, and that is saying something. Furthermore, on Game of Thrones, she did a wonderful job with the material she was given, and it’s not her fault that material was flawed.
I normally love the costumes on Game of Thrones, but some of Margaery’s early dresses were a bit…um. Much? But I will forgive pretty much every one of those bizarre cutouts because of that spectacular Purple Wedding gown.
Anyway. Costume digression over.
In the books, one of the main sources of Margaery’s power—perceived or otherwise—is her ability to build alliances, if not quite friendships, with people who might otherwise be her enemies. We see the most clearly in her interactions with Sansa, although she makes at least a few attempts to charm Cersei, all of which fail miserably, because Cersei refuses to trust any and all other women (more on that another day).
I did appreciate that we got to see Margaery on her own in the show. The way the revolving POVs function in the books, we only see her through Sansa (romanticized at first, later betrayed and wistful), Tyrion (curious and mildly perturbed), and Cersei (paranoid and, by the time we get to her POV, unbalanced). I do think that the show plays up her duplicity and manipulation—maybe they’re taking Cersei at her word (a dodgy proposition at best) or they just can’t conceive of women using other ways to gain power.
Case in point. I still don’t buy that Margaery wasn’t part of the conspiracy to murder Joffrey—after all, she was the one who handed him the poisoned wine glass, even if someone else added the Strangler to it. The show wants us to believe in Margaery’s innocence (c.f. the exchange between her and Olenna about her bad luck with husbands) but I just don’t believe it. Those two are thick as thieves, and it was a dangerous plan, so I doubt Olenna would send her precious granddaughter in blind. Sansa, yes. Margaery, not so much.
And, of course, Margaery was doomed pretty much the second she was separated from her grandmother. Olenna keeps her safe and watches out for her the way nobody else can, and as soon as Olenna’s gone, Cersei is able to move in for the kill.
One thing I do enjoy in the show is how Margaery and Cersei are set up as foils—one rules through love, the other through fear (clearly both have read their Machiavelli); one is constantly surrounded by other women, the other is always alone, trusting nobody; one has a brother who she loves completely and would do anything to protect, the other has a funhouse mirror of herself with all the power she lacks, who she adores and resents in equal measure. There is so much I could say about these differing modes of queenship, but I will just point out that I’ve already said it in print here (see Chapter 1).
House Tyrell may be lopped, but the roots remain. As do the thorns. Drink up.