Let me clarify a few things:
1.) I have borrowed the entirety of the GoT first season from the library. I’m only on disk two. Any later regrets I have for things I say here are entirely allowed. I’ve only just started the series. If a character I like turns out to be a complete wretch, well, I am allowed to retract my fondness. I was, after all, the child who went on and on about how much she loved/felt for/empathized with Briony in Atonement, right up until she royally fucked up everyone’s lives. Whoops.
2.) I am comparing, yes, the Wheel of Time series of books to Game of Thrones the show. I have not read the GoT books out of a.) resentment for the derision and pro-GoT sentiment heaped upon me when someone sees me rereading WoT, b.) a preference to avoid yet more sexist fantasy stereotypes, which I was warned ran rife in GoT even more than in WoT, and c.) trust in the opinion of my husband, who read the first GoT book and said they were dull, clunkily written and subpar to our massive series of choice. (Dated though it may now be.)
3.) Spoilers, spoilers and spoilers. For both series. (Up to season one episode four in GoT, and book 13 in WoT.) SPOILERS, in case you are skimming. One of the reasons I am so ardent about giving the warning is that I cannot stand spoilers myself. People can condescend to me over how I should be more concerned with style or the artfulness of a book/show/production than the plot, but I remain firm: the plot matters to me, and if you ruin it for me (Anna Karenina! American Beauty! The end of the Thieves’ Guild questline in Oblivion!) you will not be met with a tolerant shrug and a wry grin.
All this prefacing is merely to say that if I am questioned on my grudging fondness for Tyrion Lannister, given my outspoken disdain for Mat Cauthon of WoT and the provisional similarities between the two, I stand firm in my position. No, it’s not because Tyrion makes token (or even earnest) gestures of goodwill towards various underdogs. Mat, you will recall, fancies himself some sort of father figure for Olver as well, and far from being touched by that I find it a pathetic attempt to make us view as newly responsible and even-keeled a guy who by all rights should have had his brains melted to paste by syphilis books ago. Mat is your agonizingly stereotypical Rascal With A Heart of Gold, always going on about needing a roll in the hay (and getting said roll in the hay by winning bets or some such silly showcasing of economic prowess), but somehow managing, through baldly contrived plot devices like the boy Olver, to make appeals toward our Sensible Thinking Adult sides. You can have the best of both worlds, Mat’s characterization seems to say. You can be your kid’s dad AND his big brother who tells him all about sex and how to get it! You can retain the devil-may-care attitude of your adolescence and still make rational decisions about the fate of the world! You can be a fourteen year old boy, FOREVER!
It’s not, then, Tyrion’s occasional pause in whoring to draw up plans for the partial rehabilitation of the disabled, or the wise advice he takes the time to give those born into unfortunate circumstances as he seems to consider himself to have been born into, that warms me to him. It’s his realism. His practicality. Unlike Mat, he never once in the midst of his carousing manages to forget the outside world, how it works, or his place and power in it. We are never asked to suspend all we know about his non-sexual experiences, and to view him as simply some lovable scamp. His constant stream of droll responses aren’t just spunky or sassy; they make a point. The world is the way it is, and no preponderance of big boobs is going to change it: a poorer family would’ve left him to die if he’d been born into it; not sharing the same mother is kind of a big deal in a feudal society; and losing the use of your legs sucks. Hard.
But he works with that knowledge. He doesn’t let it rot him into some bitter husk of a man, nor is he so desperate to conquer his fear of that knowledge that he has to keep up a steady stream of defensive, snotty remarks as a kind of shield. He deals with it. Maybe not always in the most honorable or finessed way, but he deals with it. Whereas Mat’s idea of dealing with it is to either blame Aes Sedai or women in general for the world’s ills, and then to go off and get drunk off his ass playing dice in a pub somewhere.
So, go team Tyrion.