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Alton Lannister appears in season 2 of Game of Thrones. He's sent by the Starks to King's Landing to bring Robb Stark's peace terms.

After his arrival Cersei tears up the paper and sends him back to Starks' camp to deliver the crown's answer.

My question is: why did they send a Lannister, a member of their own family, back to the Starks, so that he could be their hostage? Wouldn't it be better to sent just a less important common sellsword or seriously anyone else but Alton?

Alton Lannister later in Jaime's cage

This decision costs the Lannisters a life, cause Alton is later killed by Jaime, who wants to escape from the camp. If they sent another person, Alton Lannister would be alive and well.

  • They sent him back so Jamie could escape. – Edlothiad Aug 10 '17 at 20:24
  • What? Explain it, cause i don't understand. it's not like the Starks were going to make a trade and give the Lannisters Jaime for Alton. – Martin Aug 10 '17 at 20:28
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    Jamie had to kill Alton to escape. Cersei must've known. It is known. – Edlothiad Aug 10 '17 at 20:35
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    It's hilarious to assume that... Jaime says to Alton in cage that he knows how to escape but that had been impossible up to that point. Jaime needed SOMEONE to be in a cage. he killed Alton so that a guard would enter the cage and Jaime could escape. He didn't need Alton! He needed SOMEONE. And how could Cersei know? Did master of whispers tell her about Jaime's plan that he made up in a cage? of course she didn't know, and even if she did, she could have sent someone else and not her own blood. Jaime literally needed anybody! – Martin Aug 10 '17 at 20:40
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    Plus, Alton was not supposed to be in the same cage as Jaime in the first place. Starks' camp had to many captives and Robb ordered to put Alton in Jaime's cage while a new cell was being made for him. – Martin Aug 10 '17 at 20:45
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Show:

It's not made clear. It's possible Cersei assumed that a Lannister would be put in the same cage as Jaime, giving Jaime a change in situation he could use to his advantage. It's also possible the show's creators didn't really think it through, and wanted us to have a brief connection to the character (via his squire story) before killing him.


Books:

It isn't Alton Lannister who makes the trip; it's a different Lannister cousin, Ser Cleos Frey. The difference is slight, but crucial: Ser Cleos swears to the Starks on his honor as a knight that he would return, after delivering their terms, to become their captive again. Cersei and Tyrion (the acting Hand of the King at the time) know they have to send someone with their counterterms, and Ser Cleos wants to keep his oath, so he returns to the Starks.

  • Thanks for that answer! I'm only now reading the first book, so i'm not well caught up with this. It does seem to be better thought through in the books. – Martin Aug 10 '17 at 21:19
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Oh, names they are such a confusing thing... I chalk this up to another "don't confuse the audience with similar names" with a mix of "give more important characters the important things to do" effort. In the books it is Ser Cleos Frey who is replaced by Ser Alton Lannister.

Cleos of the books has some exciting adventures. When he returns to the Stark camp he is the one to bring Ned's bones (a duty given to Littlefinger in the show). He does also help Jaime escape, but not by being murdered (it involves Brienne and the boat). Ultimately Cleos is killed during this trip, rather unceremoniously.

So from the show's perspective it keeps the having to keep an extra actor whose fate as a minor character ends up the same. Making him a Lannister prevents confusion and having to be told

Your grandfather Lord Walder pledged me his support and that of House Frey. Many of your cousins and uncles rode with us in the Whispering Wood, but you chose to fight beneath the lion banner. That makes you a Lannister, not a Frey.

A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I

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