Are there any context clues in either the book or the show to support Cersei choosing the Mountain for the trial by combat in having hopes or the foresight to know that Oberyn would choose to fight him and thus affording her with the opportunity to kill both Tyrion and an enemy of the family in one single act?

  • 4
    IIRC, she was astonished when Oberyn championed Tyrion, and she'd have chosen the Mountain anyway, since he is most likely to kill anyone else.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 17:50
  • 5
    I am re-reading ASOS at the time, and it says right there that Tywin says I intend to keep Ser Gregor far away from Oberyn Martell, which seems very contradictory to having him champion Cersei right there in King's Landing. It is even rather predicable that Oberyn would interfere somehow there. One has to wonder what Tywin was thinking there.
    – TLP
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 23:57
  • TLP, I couldn't agree more. Although my initial question may be slightly off by thinking she had the foresight, but I think the overall question/suspicion of the Lannisters and them knowing Oberyn and the Mountain's past has merit...the Lannisters are not a short-witted family, so you have to think this crossed their mind at least once!
    – Stewart C
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 1:03
  • @StewartC If nothing else, it would certainly cross Tywin's mind. Oberyn is unpredictable, proud and overconfident, crazy enough to take on Ser Gregor if they met on the street. Cersei might not realize all this, she might just have picked a crazy strong opponent to prevent Tyrion from using Bronn or someone like him again, but it seems all but impossible that Tywin would miss it.
    – TLP
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 13:26
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    In the books Oberyn is the one who suggests Tyrion to ask for a trial by combat. It would seem to me he was the one who had the foresight here, anticipating Cersei would name Ser Gregor as her champion. Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 17:56

3 Answers 3


The Mountain was chosen to fight before anyone had volunteered for Tyrion and because he is the a ruthless and effective killer. Cersei's main goal is to see Tyrion dead for the murder of Joffrey. She wants the Mountain to fight and win the trial by combat ensuring Tyrion dies. Who he kills in the process did not matter. If anything Oberyn saw the trial as an opportunity to kill the Mountain and avenge his sister rather than the other way around. It likely came as a surprise to all the Lannisters after they had tried to court him.

I no longer have copies of the books or I would find quotes but there are a couple scenes from the show that support this. These scenes contain spoilers from season 4.

Cersie does not care who the Mountain fights.

Cersie believes she has swayed Oberyn to her side.

Tywin (and by extension the Lannisters) needs Oberyn on his side.

  • Thanks a bunch for the youtube videos to back this up. Do you know of any scenes you could find on youtube that show any of the Lannisters being surprised when they find out Oberyn chose to be Tyrion's champion? I'm not sure they exist in the show since Oberyn's reveal was at the end of episode 7 and the beginning of episode 8 started with the Wildlings, so it may have been left out of the show or not apart of either the show or books, but I figured I'd ask in case I missed that also.
    – Stewart C
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 18:55
  • I guess I ask for this because maybe my initial question wasn't worded like I meant for it to be. I suppose I knew that they didn't have the foresight to choose the Mountain knowing that Oberyn would choose to fight him, but I just feel the Lannisters are not that shortsighted that they would choose the Mountain and think this would have no effect on Oberyn. I mean your last video kind of proves how openly passionate Oberyn is against the Mountain to Tywin's face and Tywin even mentions "giving" him the Mountain. It just all seems to much of a conincidence, but I guess it is a story...
    – Stewart C
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 19:04
  • I don't think its uncharacteristic of them to choose the Mountain. He's the Lannister's personal killer. I believe Tywin thought that offering Oberyn the Mountain would be enough to appease him. And he figured he could get some use out of him before turning him over. But Oberyn saw a chance to ring a public confession out of the Mountain. Having Oberyn fight the Mountain does not guarantee Oberyn's death but instead jeopardizes Tywin's plans. Tywin now either risks further damaging his relation to Dorne by Oberyn dying or letting Tyrion go free.
    – Solomon
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 19:52
  • Yeah, it makes much more sense to me now that I realize he's the same guy that lopped his horse's head off in the first season. It doesn't help that this show has countless names (and I'm perpetually bad with names), coupled with the fact they had used a different actor for him 2 different times. I had figured that the Mountain was a very random character this season hence where my thoughts of there being an underlying reason behind him being chosen. Thanks again for your help.
    – Stewart C
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 0:57

Cersei was going to pick the Mountain regardless. Gregor is probably the most dangerous fighter in single combat around, and Cersei had no real incentive to pick anyone that Tyrion could conceivably beat. It would have been an embarassment for her champion to lose the trial so it is only natural she would pick the strongest available fighter. Oberyn was just an unexpected bonus.


She wanted the Mountain to fight against Tyrion's champion because he's the most powerful warrior, and she thought Tyrion's champ was going to be Bronn, because he always fought for him.

So she picked a warrior who certainly could beat Bronn, and even better, Bronn knew that, so he wasn't going to fight (because he was a mercenary and the honor is not a priority for him). Even if someone else thought to fight for Tyrion, when they saw the opponent they rejected that idea instantly.

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