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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor

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The translator's choice for the verb "need" is regrettable. The chosen phrase (hace falta) requires a definite stance on the meaning of "Or a woman": either a woman is the only thing a man needs ("O una mujer.") or wine is the only thing a woman needs (this is the interpretation given by the translator: "O a una mujer."). Had she used another verb (necesita), the ambiguity would have remained intact (and this verb would work just as well, so it isn't a matter of style or flow). As it is, the sentence structure leaves no room for doubt for Spanish speakers that he was saying wine is all that a man - or a woman - needs, really to the same extent as the French edition, though the French translator apparently took way more liberty in twisting the phrase. A simple verb change would not only have kept the meaning as ambiguous as in English, but also would have clued readers in that Sandor was not, in fact, saying that women just need a little wine.

I agree with this, the whole phrase could've been easily translated as "Una jarra de vino amargo, oscuro como la sangre, es todo lo que un hombre necesita. O una mujer." Which is a literal translation from the English and keeps the original ambiguity. Instead, the translator wrote what could be re-translated into English as "A flagon of sour red, dark as blood, is all a man or a woman could want for." The hacer falta verb implies something is missing, like in the secondary meaning of the English want/wanting that alludes to feeling the absence of something or lacking something.

Another thing I'd object to from the Spanish edition is that they've translated Sandor's nickname as El Perro, "The Dog," and seemingly didn't think of using the literal translation of Hound that is Sabueso, which also doesn't convey to readers that there's a differentiation when he's called The Hound and when he's called Dog as an insult, or the way Joffrey does for example. He's The Dog all the time. The other translations listed do keep this distinction, for example the German translator made a decision the Spanish one could have followed: he is called Der Bluthund, "The Bloodhound," instead of just Der Hund, because "Hund" means dog, and that allows for discernment as to when he's called by his sobriquet and when he's being insulted.

Nevertheless, for all its flaws, the Spanish edition is decent compared to the French and Italian translations, which are the biggest head-scratchers amongst the editions I possess.

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DogLover, Brashcandy, and Milady - terrific thread and great job shepherding it. CatherineLaw - excellent essay. Very informative and enjoyable. Also, the comments on this thread have been wonderfully insightful...by too many contributors to call out by name. I appreciate all of your efforts.

The theme of "identity" figures prominently in these novels and with regard to Sandor, the Hound, brother to the malevolent Mountain That Rides, sword shield to the malignant King Joffrey, and absolutely Not A Ser. Whenever I read this thread, I think about how our perceptions of the Hound are altered upon deeper examination of the text. We have learned how the Hound was shaped from childhood and by service to the Lannisters: the Hound is a ferociously strong watchdog. However, as we begin to glimpse SANDOR (as opposed to the Hound), via Sansa and Arya, we learn there is far more to this man. I hope that Sansa's prayer is completely realized and that we see Sandor resolve and master the 'rage' within, to emerge stronger and wiser. Then, in my dreams, I hope he prays for the gentling of the rage within Arya and that she, too, will find a better way. But that is another topic...

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On the fifth Sansa chapter of A Storm of Swords, she escapes King’s Landing in a song worthy fashion with Florian’s story in the background.

Musing a bit more on the Serpentine scene, it occurred to me that the encounter of Sandor and Sansa has a mirror in another scene in later books. In the mentioned ASOS Sansa V chapter, there's this passage describing how Ser Dontos and Sansa's escape:

He was so drunk that sometimes Sansa had to lend him her arm to keep him from falling. The bells were ringing out across the city, more and more of them joining in. She kept her head down and stayed in the shadows, close behind Dontos. While descending the serpentine steps he stumbled to his knees and retched. My poor Florian, she thought, as he wiped his mouth with a floppy sleeve. Dress dark, he’d said, yet under his brown hooded cloak he was wearing his old surcoat; red and pink horizontal stripes beneath a black chief bearing three gold crowns, the arms of House Hollard. “Why are you wearing your surcoat? Joff decreed it was death if you were caught dressed as a knight again, he... oh...” Nothing Joff had decreed mattered any longer.

“I wanted to be a knight. For this, at least.”

Here they're going through the same Serpentine stairs where she had the meeting with her real "Florian," and it can be sensed that the author is intentionally using Dontos as a foil to Sandor, making a distinction between the fake and the true fool-knight figures. First, there's the choice of location: Dontos and Sansa could've escaped through any other, more discreet route, as there's no indication that the Serpentine is the only way out of Maegor's Holdfast, and besides these steps are quite high-traffic from what we read in the books, a lot of people go there, so they could've been inconveniently spotted, as it did happen because Varys' little birds saw them; so this indicates Martin wanted them to go through the Serpentine. Then, there's the fact that Dontos is a drunk, a legitimate alcoholic, not an occasional drinker who happens to be inebriated that night off duty like Sandor, who even though drunk in that scene and voicing inappropriate desires, is far from consumed by vice to the point of embarrassment and social ostracism. Thirdly, Dontos, once a knight and now a fool, is acting like a pretend-knight for Sansa here, all the while he's in reality just a pathetic drunkard jester, and accordingly she refers to him as her Florian yet pities him when he stumbles and throws up, forcing her to be his comforter. It's Jonquil the one that's helping and taking care of Florian, not the other way round like it happened in the original encounter when the unacknowledged Florian, a non-knight that was acting like a fool due to his attraction to her, effectively had her back in front of Boros and emboldened her. The inadequacy of Dontos as a rescuer is further highlighted by his vomiting in the very place where the one that'd have been more adequate as her protector found her before, as if the author wished to underscore the bitter irony of this false rescue by a false saviour that in reality is a betrayer and will die shortly.

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I wasn't able to keep up with this thread for a while because of work commitments. But, I have been recently been able to catch up and I all I have to say is that there have been some really awesome insights here.



I really enjoyed your essay Catherine Law. Enjoyed the insights about Florian and Jonquil. I've always known that it was important for Sandor's story, but I've been a bit clueless piecing together its meaning and significance.







Musing a bit more on the Serpentine scene, it occurred to me that the encounter of Sandor and Sansa has a mirror in another scene in later books. In the mentioned ASOS Sansa V chapter, there's this passage describing how Ser Dontos and Sansa's escape:



He was so drunk that sometimes Sansa had to lend him her arm to keep him from falling. The bells were ringing out across the city, more and more of them joining in. She kept her head down and stayed in the shadows, close behind Dontos. While descending the serpentine steps he stumbled to his knees and retched. My poor Florian, she thought, as he wiped his mouth with a floppy sleeve. Dress dark, he’d said, yet under his brown hooded cloak he was wearing his old surcoat; red and pink horizontal stripes beneath a black chief bearing three gold crowns, the arms of House Hollard. “Why are you wearing your surcoat? Joff decreed it was death if you were caught dressed as a knight again, he... oh...” Nothing Joff had decreed mattered any longer.


“I wanted to be a knight. For this, at least.”



Here they're going through the same Serpentine stairs where she had the meeting with her real "Florian," and it can be sensed that the author is intentionally using Dontos as a foil to Sandor, making a distinction between the fake and the true fool-knight figures.




Florian is nothing but a pure fool. While Sandor is capable of acting knightly and, at times, when it comes to Sansa, at least, acting a bit foolish. Like the whole, Robb needs me thing. LOL, ok Sandor.


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I have never thought Sandor’s “Or a woman” comment ambiguous, as I never interpreted it any other way. I suppose Sandor could be advocating equal opportunity drinking, but his other remarks when observing Sansa’s body contextually frames the comment as a sexually charged one.

I interpreted it 'woman needs wine' while reading and 'man needs woman' only on afterthought. It's like those black and white pictures where an adult would see a couple making love while a child would see but dolphins.

The correct interpretation is the 'woman' one, but it maight be that Sansa misinterpreted it just like she did with the song request.

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The correct interpretation is the 'woman' one, but it maight be that Sansa misinterpreted it just like she did with the song request.

Sansa did indeed misinterpret the song remark as literally meant, but she did not herself interpret the wine line in any manner. There's no inner commentary nor outward reaction on her part to his words, she simply registers what Sandor says without pondering on the meaning. Sandor doesn't give her a chance to process it in situ, either, because he immediately makes a self-derisive joke and then tells her he'll escort her back to her bedchambers.

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Musing a bit more on the Serpentine scene, it occurred to me that the encounter of Sandor and Sansa has a mirror in another scene in later books. In the mentioned ASOS Sansa V chapter, there's this passage describing how Ser Dontos and Sansa's escape:

He was so drunk that sometimes Sansa had to lend him her arm to keep him from falling. The bells were ringing out across the city, more and more of them joining in. She kept her head down and stayed in the shadows, close behind Dontos. While descending the serpentine steps he stumbled to his knees and retched. My poor Florian, she thought, as he wiped his mouth with a floppy sleeve. Dress dark, he’d said, yet under his brown hooded cloak he was wearing his old surcoat; red and pink horizontal stripes beneath a black chief bearing three gold crowns, the arms of House Hollard. “Why are you wearing your surcoat? Joff decreed it was death if you were caught dressed as a knight again, he... oh...” Nothing Joff had decreed mattered any longer.

“I wanted to be a knight. For this, at least.”

Here they're going through the same Serpentine stairs where she had the meeting with her real "Florian," and it can be sensed that the author is intentionally using Dontos as a foil to Sandor, making a distinction between the fake and the true fool-knight figures. First, there's the choice of location: Dontos and Sansa could've escaped through any other, more discreet route, as there's no indication that the Serpentine is the only way out of Maegor's Holdfast, and besides these steps are quite high-traffic from what we read in the books, a lot of people go there, so they could've been inconveniently spotted, as it did happen because Varys' little birds saw them; so this indicates Martin wanted them to go through the Serpentine. Then, there's the fact that Dontos is a drunk, a legitimate alcoholic, not an occasional drinker who happens to be inebriated that night off duty like Sandor, who even though drunk in that scene and voicing inappropriate desires, is far from consumed by vice to the point of embarrassment and social ostracism. Thirdly, Dontos, once a knight and now a fool, is acting like a pretend-knight for Sansa here, all the while he's in reality just a pathetic drunkard jester, and accordingly she refers to him as her Florian yet pities him when he stumbles and throws up, forcing her to be his comforter. It's Jonquil the one that's helping and taking care of Florian, not the other way round like it happened in the original encounter when the unacknowledged Florian, a non-knight that was acting like a fool due to his attraction to her, effectively had her back in front of Boros and emboldened her. The inadequacy of Dontos as a rescuer is further highlighted by his vomiting in the very place where the one that'd have been more adequate as her protector found her before, as if the author wished to underscore the bitter irony of this false rescue by a false saviour that in reality is a betrayer and will die shortly.

Well, thanks for making sense of this, Milady. I always thought escape via the Serpentine stairs an oddly dangerous route to take. This line stands out to me: "He was so drunk that sometimes Sansa had to lend him her arm to keep him from falling," since it was a drunk Sandor who caught Sansa and prevented her from falling down the stairs. A bitter irony, indeed.

Dontos wearing his surcoat suggests he convinced himself that he was Sansa's true Florian, acting on her behalf and not as the betrayer he was, making his death all the sadder in a pathetic kind of way. This delusion also contrasts with Sandor's intense regret for not having done more for Sansa.

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SANDOR III:


Rescuing Maidens Isn’t Like the Songs



  • Sansa III (Ch. 32)
  • Tyrion VIII (Ch. 36)
  • Tyrion IX (Ch. 41)
  • Tyrion X (Ch. 44)
  • Arya IX (Ch. 47)


SUMMARY



“The longer you keep him waiting, the worse it will go for you,” Sandor Clegane warned her.



The Hound’s words, delivered in an ominous tone, and the look he gives her upon arriving to fetch her on orders from the king, have Sansa on the verge of panic, as she fears her secret meetings might have been discovered. She tries to pretty herself up, deciding to wear the dress the king prefers best in an attempt at appeasing Joffrey were he in a bad mood. Not only that, she also solicits from Sandor a clue on what has happened to better prepare herself:



“Tell me what I’ve done.”


“Not you. Your kingly brother.”


“Robb’s a traitor.” Sansa knew the words by rote. “I had no part in whatever he did.”



Used to her parroted replies, Sandor snorts at her saying how traitorous her brother is, remarking that she is so well-trained. He escorts her to the archery butts, where a big throng has gathered round an infuriated Joffrey, who on seeing his betrothed come and kneel submissively before him, grows angrier and warns her that such humble gestures won’t save her, and gives Sandor what appears to be the second order of the day involving her:



“Get her up!”


The Hound pulled her to her feet, not ungently.



The Hound stands by as, to her horror, she learns about the manner Lannister troops were ambushed and slaughtered at the Battle of Oxcross by Robb Stark’s army. Joffrey means to make her answer for that, though she doesn’t have anything to say. He rejects the intervention of her “Florian,” points the crossbow at her face and accuses her and her northmen of being unnatural, of using wolves to attack people, mistakenly recalling Lady did that to him. Sansa defends her late direwolf, and is rebuked with a reminder of her father’s execution and of how gladly Joffrey would do the same to her if that didn’t endanger his uncle. Sandor gets then his third order of the day:



”I’d shoot you too, but if I do Mother says they’d kill my uncle Jaime. Instead you’ll just be punished and we’ll send word to your brother about what will happen to you if he doesn’t yield. Dog, hit her.”



Dontos’ scrambling to whack her over the head with a melon “morningstar” prevents Sandor’s direct reaction, but Joffrey is far from amused and orders Boros Blount and Meryn Trant to carry out the punishment in what’s an extremely graphic description of a beating that will compel Sandor to defy the king and try to stop it:



Boros slammed a fist into Sansa’s belly, driving the air out of her. When she doubled over, the knight grabbed her hair and drew his sword, and for one hideous instant she was certain he meant to open her throat. As he laid the flat of the blade across her thighs, she thought her legs might break from the force of the blow. Sansa screamed. Tears welled in her eyes. It will be over soon. She soon lost count of the blows.


“Enough,” she heard the Hound rasp.


“No, it isn’t,” the king replied. “Boros, make her naked.”



Blount obeys, and as he is about to beat a now half-naked Sansa, the Imp appears in the scene with Bronn and Timett by his side, and lashes out furiously at Ser Boros, to which the knight counters he’s only serving his king and is backed up by Meryn threateningly moving to his side. Tyrion demands to cover the beaten victim, plea that Sandor hears:



“Someone give the girl something to cover herself with,” the Imp said. Sandor Clegane unfastened his cloak and tossed it at her. Sansa clutched it against her chest, fists bunched hard in the white wool. The coarse weave was scratchy against her skin, but no velvet had ever felt so fine.



His uncle reminds Joffrey that “this girl’s to be your queen,” therefore he should value her honour more, to which the entitled boy-king says he can do as he likes. After an impasse with the Kingsguard for his harsh words towards his nephew and threatening Boros to have him killed on the spot if he opened his mouth again, as well as to call Cersei to witness the scene, Tyrion takes her away to be bathed and have her bruises treated. Recovering in momentary safety, the little bird reflects bitterly that no knight helped her and agrees with Sandor’s hatred of them:



As they scrubbed her down with soap and sluiced warm water over her head, all she could see were the faces from the bailey. Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women, and fight for the right, but none of them did a thing. Only Ser Dontos had tried to help, and he was no longer a knight, no more than the Imp was, nor the Hound . . . the Hound hated knights . . . I hate them too, Sansa thought. They are no true knights, not one of them.



She rejects Tyrion’s offer to have her permanently guarded and escorted by his Clansmen, with the excuse that they’re too frightening to her. In answer, the Imp says something that could be read as alluding to Sandor, lumping him in with the rest of the abusive Kingsguard that always do as Joffrey wishes:



“Me as well. But more to the point, they frighten Joffrey and that nest of sly vipers and lickspittle dogs he calls a Kingsguard. With Chella or Timett by your side, no one would dare offer you harm.”



Now aware that Joffrey’s sadism is “a matter of some pretty teats,” correctly surmising it’s further fuelled by his hormones and believing that sexual initiation would “sweeten the boy,” the younger Lannister plots to have him secretly visit a luxury brothel, for which he needs Sandor out of the picture lest Tyrion finds the queen breathing on his neck in no time, thus ruining his plans. He enlists Varys for information on Sandor’s routine:



“The dog is never far from his master’s heels,” he’d observed to Varys, “but all men sleep. And some gamble and whore and visit winesinks as well.”


“The Hound does all these things, if that is your question.”


“No,” said Tyrion. “My question is when.”


Varys had laid a finger on his cheek, smiling enigmatically. “My lord, a suspicious man might think you wished to find a time when Sandor Clegane was not protecting King Joffrey, the better to do the boy some harm.”



The plan has to be put aside for the moment, though. Nevertheless, thenceforward the Imp and his pets have to always count the Hound in every time Tyrion wants to do something with his nephews, the thin one and the plump one, like when later he’ll order Bronn to ambush the retinue taking Tommen out of the city:



Bronn was not concerned. “The Hound is Joffrey’s dog, he won’t leave him. Ironhand’s gold cloaks should be able to handle the others easy enough.”



Not long after, a royal party have to go to the docks to bid Myrcella farewell on her way to Dorne. This is a day when the Hound is on duty to guard the king whilst Mandon Moore has the same responsibility with the sovereign’s betrothed. As has become his custom, Joffrey behaves abusively towards his brother and Sansa at the harbour, although on their way back to the castle, when accosted by a hostile crowd whence a poor woman sprang forth with a dead baby to face them, he listens to her counsel and instead of riding the woman down, throws a silver coin at her. The pauperised citizens start a fight over that paltry coin, and the baby’s mother suddenly comes out of her trance-like state to scream insults at Cersei. Someone throws dung at Joffrey, hitting the mark and enraging him so much that he offers a hundred golden dragons to anyone who brings the culprit to him. The guilty had hidden somewhere on the rooftops or balconies, so Joffrey gives Sandor an unreasonable order, heedless of Sansa begging him not to:



“Bring me the man who flung that filth!” Joffrey commanded. “He’ll lick it off me or I’ll have his head. Dog, you bring him here!”


Obedient, Sandor Clegane swung down from his saddle, but there was no way through that wall of flesh, let alone to the roof. Those closest to him began to squirm and shove to get away, while others pushed forward to see. Tyrion smelled disaster. “Clegane, leave off, the man is long fled.”


“I want him!” Joffrey pointed at the roof. “He was up there! Dog, cut through them and bring—”



This brings the fire to the fuse and a riot explodes. Joffrey doesn’t lose his life only because Mandon Moore cuts down his attacker, and he, Cersei, Tommen, Lancel and Tyrion are able to narrowly escape by the efforts of the Gold Cloaks of Bywater, who violently make way at spear-point for them to reach the Red Keep:



The Hound had vanished behind, though his riderless horse galloped beside them. Tyrion saw Aron Santagar pulled from the saddle, the gold-and-black Baratheon stag torn from his grasp. Ser Balon Swann dropped the Lannister lion to draw his longsword. He slashed right and left as the fallen banner was ripped apart, the thousand ragged pieces swirling away like crimson leaves in a stormwind. In an instant they were gone. Someone staggered in front of Joffrey’s horse and shrieked as the king rode him down. Whether it had been man, woman, or child Tyrion could not have said. Joffrey was galloping at his side, whey-faced, with Ser Mandon Moore a white shadow on his left.



It’s not until all of them are safely within the red walls of the fortress that Tyrion realises they’ve lost their best man, and slaps his hysterical nephew with much force, knocking him to the floor:



“You blind bloody fool.”


“They were traitors,” Joffrey squealed from the ground. “They called me names and attacked me!”


“You set your dog on them! What did you imagine they would do, bend the knee meekly while the Hound lopped off some limbs? You spoiled witless little boy, you’ve killed Clegane and gods know how many more, and yet you come through unscratched. Damn you!” And he kicked him. It felt so good he might have done more, but Ser Mandon Moore pulled him off as Joffrey howled, and then Bronn was there to take him in hand. Cersei knelt over her son, while Ser Balon Swann restrained Ser Lancel. Tyrion wrenched free of Bronn’s grip.



The situation is much worse than that, though, because the Hound isn’t the only person missing. Their most valuable hostage is nowhere to be seen either:



Finally Joffrey said, “She was riding by me. I don’t know where she went.”


Tyrion pressed blunt fingers into his throbbing temples. If Sansa Stark had come to harm, Jaime was as good as dead. “Ser Mandon, you were her shield.”


Ser Mandon Moore remained untroubled. “When they mobbed the Hound, I thought first of the king.”



An ugly verbal confrontation with the Kingsguard over neglecting the girl and their refusal to go out again and find her threatens to become an armed brawl, but the opportune arrival of the two people believed disappeared in the streets stifles it before it erupts:



Sandor Clegane cantered briskly through the gates astride Sansa’s chestnut courser. The girl was seated behind, both arms tight around the Hound’s chest.


Tyrion called to her. “Are you hurt, Lady Sansa?”


Blood was trickling down Sansa’s brow from a deep gash on her scalp. “They . . . they were throwing things . . . rocks and filth, eggs . . . I tried to tell them, I had no bread to give them. A man tried to pull me from the saddle. The Hound killed him, I think . . . his arm . . .” Her eyes widened and she put a hand over her mouth. “He cut off his arm.”


Clegane lifted her to the ground. His white cloak was torn and stained, and blood seeped through a jagged tear in his left sleeve. “The little bird’s bleeding. Someone take her back to her cage and see to that cut.” Maester Frenken scurried forward to obey.



Clegane reports to the Imp who of their party he has seen fall, and answers with a negative to Lady Stokeworth’s anxious enquiry about whether he saw her disabled daughter, too. Someone shouts that fires have started in Flea Bottom, advancing dangerously towards other districts, which could set alight the wildfire stocks. Tyrion decides to send men to fight it, amongst them the Hound, an order that reveals to him for the first time how afraid he is of flames as well as that he’s willing to face it when there’s motivation:



“Bronn, take as many men as you need and see that the water wagons are not molested,” Gods be good, the wildfire, if any blaze should reach that . . . “We can lose all of Flea Bottom if we must, but on no account must the fire reach the Guildhall of the Alchemists, is that understood? Clegane, you’ll go with him.”


For half a heartbeat, Tyrion thought he glimpsed fear in the Hound’s dark eyes. Fire, he realized. The Others take me, of course he hates fire, he’s tasted it too well. The look was gone in an instant, replaced by Clegane’s familiar scowl. “I’ll go,” he said, “though not by your command. I need to find that horse.”



Then he also sends the remaining Kingsguard out to patrol, still resisting his orders until Cersei cautions them with charges of treason. This terrible day ends with a bad note for the Hand of the King, when Bywater reports that the people have decided he’s to blame for the incidents despite Joffrey’s action of sending the Hound after the mob being the cause of the riot in the first place:



Most of all?” The injustice was like to choke him. “It was Joffrey who told them to eat their dead, Joffrey who set his dog on them. How could they blame me?”


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ANALYSIS:



Abuse and Chivalry




By the middle of the Hound’s arc in A Clash of Kings, the main theme of struggling to balance a personal ethics code with the demands of service to a tyrannical monarch, a staple in his arc so far, is further complicated by the emergence of another important theme: becoming an active co-participant in the use of violence against women.



Sandor has the unenviable experience of being a Kingsguard during the reign of the first king to implicate the royal bodyguards in domestic violence. Because, although Joffrey is definitely neither the first nor the only king to ever be abusive to his queen and family members, he is certainly the first to make use of his protection service to physically abuse them. No other king has done the same, not even the worst: Aegon IV was careful to abuse and humiliate Naerys himself and preferably going down the indirect route; involving the Kingsguard would’ve meant facing their Lord Commander, his feared brother. Aerys had the complicit passivity of his Kingsguard in his sexual abuse, and that was all he needed of them. Robert beat his queen himself, as well as his offspring, and it appears that he could do violence to the Kingsguard as well, if the incident where the threw Jaime to the floor is any indication. But Joffrey, for reasons to be explained ahead, wasn’t content with anything of that sort and made his Kingsguard into a group of domestic abusers, a violent cycle that eventually dragged in the Hound, who had so far stayed by the sidelines due to a decision of the king himself but that now, also by decision of the king, is invited—no, ordered really—to be a domestic abuser too, like the rest.



Knights are for beating



Why construe beating Sansa as a case of domestic violence rather than a matter of mistreating a prisoner/hostage? To answer this, think that none of these approaches are mutually exclusive and to interpret this as mistreatment of a prisoner of war is perfectly valid. Then, let’s remember that Sansa is more than just a hostage: she is the king’s betrothed, which makes her the second highest-ranking lady of the realm after Cersei, and given the in-story stance on royal betrothals as slightly below marriages and requiring of the High Septon to be dissolved like actual marriages, she is for all intents and purposes in the same situation as if she were Joffrey’s concubine or consuetudinarian wife. Even if she weren’t a prisoner, she cannot put an end to the betrothal like a woman today would by just throwing the ring at the fiancé’s face and storming out. Thus, the first criterion for domestic violence, that the partners—both abuser and victim—are in a relationship by blood or by legal/customary union is met, placing this in the category of intimate partner violence within the types of domestic violence.



This isn’t too modern a view to apply to a world like Westeros that follows the medieval mores, rather the approach is actually applicable here because domestic violence wasn’t an alien concept then. Wife battering and domestic violence have been considered inacceptable and typified in customs law and codes before the Middle Ages: the Romans, for example, gave women the rights to sue their husbands for unjustified beatings two centuries before Christ; and during the Middle Ages, women in Wales and Ireland could divorce on grounds of battering (in the former) and physical and emotional abuse (in the latter). That exemplifies that abuse wasn’t acceptable everywhere as the exhortations to “not spare the rod” with women and children to teach them obedience and submission found in medieval writings would imply. And though wife-beating was considered a right of the man until abolished by the 19th century, it never went uncriticised and unchallenged: many a Church theologian wrote against it and argued in favour of treating women honourably based on the “they shall become one flesh” teaching, as did influential medieval female writers like Christine de Pizan and Hildegard von Bingen. And in spite of not being a punishable offence in most of Europe, it did speak poorly of a man’s character to mistreat his woman; more so if he happened to be in a high position.



Abuse dynamics tend to vary from case to case, and not all of the instances of domestic violence check every box listed in the standard profiles elaborated by professionals. However, there are some hallmarks that are commonly present, and for clarity and brevity, these descriptions by the Domestic Violence Project bulletins are the most suited for this analysis:



Domestic abuse is a learnt and chosen pattern of hurtful behaviour used to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It sometimes erupts in physical violence, but that’s not the whole of it.


[. . .]


The abuser may use coercion, intimidation, emotional abuse, threats, isolation, economic abuse, and/or the children to control his or her partner. He or she also minimizes, denies and blames her for his or her behaviour. The core issue for the abuser is to be in control of the relationship in order to have his or her needs met. If the aforementioned tactics don’t work, then the abuser enforces his threats with physical and/or sexual violence.


[. . .]


Without intervention, a batterer’s abuse increases in intensity and frequency over time. The abuser may stay at higher and higher levels of escalation, rarely dropping to lower levels.



It does read like a succinct summation of Joffrey’s behaviour, doesn’t it? Beginning with the “learnt and chosen” nature of his actions, which is also another reason for employing the lens of domestic abuse. Joffrey comes from and grew up in a household filled with domestic violence, as King Robert resorted to sexual and physical abuse against his queen, which could have been witnessed by Joffrey on occasion, and like many children with this background, he absorbed it and, now in the highest position, reproduces his parents’ situation with his own woman. This line uttered when he ordered the first beating is revealing:



“My mother tells me that it isn’t fitting that a king should strike his wife.”



The key word here is my mother. It indicates that Cersei remarked to Joffrey (or within earshot) that Robert’s violence towards her was unseemly. And Joffrey stupidly reinterpreted it as “don’t strike a woman yourself” instead of “never ever strike a woman,” which is the message in Cersei’s complaint. His craving for Robert’s approval and a wish to emulate a strong king that didn’t give a fig informs his interpretation too, because he understands that a king can do what he likes but he still has to avoid certain deeds for the sake of his image, so he reconciles both his father’s violence and his mother’s counsel by resorting to the cowardly solution of doing it through henchmen. Another indication that he’s looking for a middle ground between Robert’s and Cersei’s sides is that during the beating in this chapter, he tells Boros:



Leave her face,” Joffrey commanded. “I like her pretty.”



This could be due to Joffrey wanting to keep Sansa as pretty as usual for use as his walking & talking decorative accessory like he loves to show her in public, as well as because of the pattern of abusers to hit where the bruises won’t be seen. But on second thought, it can be traced to Cersei as well. She did everything in her power to hide the bruises in her face, also to keep her dignified and dashing image in public, but it’s unlikely that she was completely able to hide it from Sandor and from Joffrey, her closest child, as his parroting of her words on kings not beating wives hints at. Even Ned noticed a faint trace of a bruise once. So, with Sansa’s face intact and unbruised, Joffrey won’t be reminded of his mother’s bruises; he gets the pleasure from the deed without the consequences becoming visible to all.



Like his kingly charge, Sandor lived in the conflictive Baratheon-Lannister household, and he must’ve witnessed Robert hitting his wife, or at least seen the aftermath in Cersei’s face or body. It’d be impossible to hide this from a sworn shield on duty every day; the daily interaction would’ve made it hard for her to fool Sandor with powder and long sleeves, plus the couple weren’t exactly discreet about not fighting with onlookers present. If the Hound was a witness in these episodes of marital violence, that sheds more light on why he is able to give Sansa good advice on appeasing Joffrey by giving him “what he wants” and complying to save herself some beatings. It’s true that it stems from knowing Joffrey like the palm of his hand, but not entirely so. He’d have seen how Cersei got struck across the face for mouthing off to Robert at sensitive moments, which isn’t blaming her for the violence he unleashed on her, but the fact that Cersei never makes an effort to not escalate a dispute by viciously backtalking to Robert does serve to illustrate Sandor’s point that unnecessary verbal provocation of someone with violent tendencies is as wise as taunting a viper. This also could apply to his advice for her “to smile and smell sweet and be his lady love.” He’d know what exactly made Joffrey say he “can’t abide the wailing of women” and speak with contempt of his mother’s weeping at Jaime’s capture—and one has to wonder if he’s seen her crying in private for other reasons—which in turn he advises Sansa to avoid as it presses the king’s buttons.



That smiling compliance and knowing when to clamp the mouth shut would diminish the frequency of the beatings proved true, but only up to a point. It’s a fact that abuse increases in intensity and frequency over time, as mentioned previously, especially when unchecked. And when this occurs, no amount of care and pretending can save you some pain, as Sandor discovered. When he goes to fetch her, he appears still confident that his advice is as sound as at the beginning, he snorts that she was “trained well” and seems to believe Sansa’s good behaviour and mock-submission will be enough. But at the bailey, his king proves the contrary is true and his “give him what he wants” has limits and isn’t working with Joffrey anymore. It stopped working a while ago, really, when he’d sent Boros to beat her bloody upon news of Robb’s crowning as King in the North; and in this case Sansa hadn’t even been near him and hadn’t said nor done anything. At least in the other beating episodes, she had spoken: she told Joffrey she hated him, she told him maybe Robb would give her his head, she’d impulsively wished ill on Slynt . . . and from those experiences she could see how right Sandor was and she needed be more cautious for her own protection. But now, how do you protect the little bird from a king that abuses her even when she’s out of sight and she’s not done anything? What advice can you give to shield her against irrational battering? The Hound’s powerlessness couldn’t be more conspicuous than in this scene, his best advice is rendered useless, and he literally cannot do anything; because Joffrey is out of control, nothing Sandor does will suffice.



But here’s when chivalry enters the field dominated by domestic violence. Ragnorak has this great observation that these scenes of beating and rescue aren’t so tidily separated thematically in terms of only abuse and chivalry. There’s chivalry where the main theme is abuse, and there’s abuse where the main theme is chivalry.



For Sandor Clegane, the third beating is the opportunity to out himself as the one Kingsguard who’d lift a finger for Sansa. In the previous two beatings, he’d also intervened to assist her, but he’d done so discreetly and without Joffrey or anyone else realising what he’d done, and whilst this secretiveness doesn’t diminish his interventions, especially not the second instance when he taints himself to stop a murder-suicide, it’s this time that he is risking more by being direct in his intervention. As has become a constant pattern already, when the infuriated king orders to get her up, this man we know is tremendously strong and with an iron grip apt to leave bruises, decides to be gentle:



The Hound pulled her to her feet, not ungently.



This follows her “almost gently” remark the first time she was beaten and her “a delicacy surprising in such a big man” one the second time she’s beaten. It is almost as if it’s written that way for readers to notice the contrast between the brutal force of the mailed fists striking her and the softer touch of the Hound, who is being gentler on purpose for this very reason too, because in other occasions Sansa notices his grip is so strong it hurts.



Sandor stays silent as Joffrey hurls accusations at his betrothed for her brother’s deeds, but there are two elements in that passage that permit a decent guess at what he’d be thinking of. First, that Joffrey is armed and Sansa is not, which in itself is enough to make the king look poorly for threatening an unarmed girl. And it’s not any weapon but a crossbow. Knights tended to dislike crossbows and archery, as it’s beneath them and unchivalrous—worse, uncourageous—to shoot an opponent at a distance on a confrontation, as it was unfair advantage unless it was an archer vs. archer circumstance, otherwise it’d be like bringing a gun to a swordfight, which is definitely not cool unless you’re Indiana Jones. And Sandor might not be a ser, but he fights like a knight and from his sassing of Anguy in ASOS we know he shares the contempt for these weapons, which Jaime also hates for the same reasons. Secondly, Joffrey is bragging of his killing and wounding unarmed commoners for the crime of being hungry enough to clamour for bread. It might have been the same incident as the night of the Serpentine encounter, when the king had led a sortie to scatter protesters before the Keep, or it might have been another after that, but in any case we know for sure what Sandor thinks of Joffrey acting like this: “un brave garçon,” he had said. An irony-laden evaluation of the boy-king’s “bravery” Martin must’ve taken from Druon’s Les rois maudits, where the same phrase is uttered in a similar context of sarcastic pseudo-complimenting.



“Dog, hit her.”



The order comes as a complete surprise, because we know Sandor has never been asked to beat Sansa, and it raises the question of why now? We’d have to look at the big picture, all the circumstances surrounding the scene, to find a plausible explanation. The standout factor is that Joffrey is incredibly angry here, angrier than ever before, and in his fury he hasn’t thought this through. Not that he’s ever bothered to stop and think, but thus far he’d been as discreet as he could possibly be, in that though he’d not hidden that he’s had Sansa beaten, he’d not done it before a crowd; the witnesses were always few, mostly his guards and perhaps servants, and he even would have Sansa beaten in the privacy of her bedchamber. Now, he’s lost the last scruple holding him back, he’s now confident in his throne, he knows nobody will stop him and his mother has been so negligent as to leave him to his entertainments, so long as he didn’t kill her (which indicates Cersei did know Sansa was being abused). Next factor would be that there’s been another setback for the Lannisters in an already growing list: the great warrior Jaime was defeated and captured by Robb, they lost the North and the Riverlands to Robb as their king, and to seal the deal, a second crushing Lannister defeat happens. All this would wound his pride, because he sees himself as a Lannister, he styles himself as Joffrey of Houses Baratheon and Lannister, and he has the golden lion in his sigil, so the blunders of his mother’s House hit him personally. To add insult to injury, it’s due to Robb, the “lord of the wooden sword,” barely two years older and already a hero, with an impressive nickname that harks back to Daeron the Young Dragon, whilst Joff is useless with a sword and can hardly shoot a hare with a crossbow.



So it’s reasonable to infer that he ordered the Hound to hit the girl in a moment of blind fury, overwhelmed by the wish to hurt the Young Wolf’s sister like never before, and Sandor is the strongest of the Kingsguard. Were he to hit Sansa, the bruising would’ve been frightful to behold; he could even have broken a bone and left permanent scarring. Perhaps that’s also part of why Joffrey asked him, as his words indicate he was seeking to give Robb a lesson and a common battering like his sister had already suffered wouldn’t be enough: she needed to be hit harder and be left in a sorrier state than ever; as a beating meant to cower Robb, it needed be exquisitely brutal. Who better for this than your Hound? Maybe Dontos, for all his wine-addled brains, also realised what a beating from the Hound would do to someone as young and physically not strong as Sansa and wanted to spare her, but regardless of whether he did it due to that or genuine concern for her no matter who delivered the blows, his intervention deprived us from seeing Sandor’s reaction to the order.



The authorial intent to leave readers wondering about what he’d have done is plain to see. My own interpretation is that Sandor would have refused the order or circumvented it, based on the textual clues. First, right after Dontos’ too opportune interruption, Joffrey’s next words are: “Boros. Meryn.” It’s as if he’d suddenly forgotten that he’d asked Sandor and that he’s still there, without having opened his mouth to say aye or nay; or as if he’d come out of a trance and regretted to have involved his special pet in that. Which goes to support the possibility that he might have given the order simply out of blind rage, unthinking. An alternative is that he might’ve glanced at his dog’s face, didn’t like what he saw there, and decided to fall back to the unquestioning Boros/Meryn duo.



Then, there’s this:



Enough,” she heard the Hound rasp.


“No, it isn’t,” the king replied. “Boros, make her naked.”



It’s hard to reconcile the idea of a man who’d boldly contradict the king to his face before half the court to stop a beating with the idea that he’d have obeyed if not for the interruption. Here, he’s directly risking Joffrey’s wrath, someone he knows is hard to rein in when in a foul mood, and is trying to stop the abuse after being spared the dishonour of participating in such an action. And Joffrey ignores him, dismisses his intervention and gets more vicious, debuting in the field of sexual sadism. For Sandor, who’s himself developing an attraction to this girl, to see her beaten by two knights, and get a look at her body in these circumstances would’ve been awful, which is confirmed later as he lay dying.



Again, for the second time, the opportune appearance of Tyrion Lannister precludes our learning of what Sandor would’ve said or done after his “Enough” was contradicted, and we have to rely on his post-facto actions for plausible inferences. Before, let’s go through the ridiculous excuses the Kingsguard tell the Hand:



“Is this your notion of chivalry, Ser Boros?” […] “What sort of knight beats helpless maids?”


“The sort who serves his king, Imp.”



Boros doesn’t even blush at justifying wanton brutality with obedience to the king, a boy-king known for his misbehaviour, and doesn’t seem to consider what it tells about a king to order such beatings: if he has no regard for his own future queen’s well-being, he won’t have any for his subjects’ either; if he doesn’t respect his future queen, he won’t respect anyone else either; if he dishonours his future queen in public, people won’t honour her either and, by extension, the king can be dishonoured too. That a knight obeys his king, even if that means harming a little girl, seems to be a source of satisfaction for Boros to judge by his words. And it’s notable that following Tyrion’s harsh questioning of knighthood and chivalry, we see the Hound performing another small yet significant deed:



“Someone give the girl something to cover herself with,” the Imp said. Sandor Clegane unfastened his cloak and tossed it at her. Sansa clutched it against her chest, fists bunched hard in the white wool. The coarse weave was scratchy against her skin, but no velvet had ever felt so fine.



The Imp had asked it from no one in particular, so it could’ve been anybody if they had wanted to. Yet it’s the Hound who gives her his cloak, something that’d surely not have pleased Joffrey at all, not after what had just happened. The Hound doesn’t appear to be concerned about how it’d look to give it to the traitor’s daughter and traitor’s sister, the girl who everyone had pretended not to see nor wanted to speak with for fear of displeasing the king, and this action that everyone witnesses aligns him with the victim, though nobody realises it for the time being.



“The queen will hear of this!”


“No doubt she will. And why wait? Joffrey, shall we send for your mother?”



If handing over his own cloak hints at his possible reaction had Joffrey insisted on his continuing with the naked beating, the detail that the king only relented when Tyrion threatened to call Cersei to the scene might also indicate another reason amongst many for why Joffrey never tried to implicate the Hound in the abuse until now: Sandor has a direct line to the queen, and his past behaviour tells he could report on the boy to his mother. As we’ve surmised, Cersei is certainly not ignorant of what Joffrey does to Sansa and is an enabler of the abuse, but that she bothered to warn her son about what’d happen to his imprisoned uncle if she was killed says that she’d not be wholly unwilling to restrain her son in a circumstance that was threatening to result in irreversible damage to the girl, if only for the sake of Jaime. That might’ve been Sandor’s ace up the sleeve as it was Tyrion’s, though now we can only speculate.



Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women, and fight for the right, but none of them did a thing. Only Ser Dontos had tried to help, and he was no longer a knight, no more than the Imp was, nor the Hound . . . the Hound hated knights . . . I hate them too, Sansa thought. They are no true knights, not one of them.



The list of people who behave chivalrously in her worst beating is sad to contemplate: a fool, a dwarf and a dog. None a knight, and two of them have ulterior concerns not purely for her well-being. It’s interesting that this final brutality makes her incorporate the Hound’s worldview at last, though she puts her own spin on it: Sandor concludes “I hate knights, there are no true knights,” and she concludes “I hate knights, they are no true knights.” For him, it’s about the inexistence of true chivalry; for her, it’s about the failure to hold firm to true chivalry. It’s like as a consequence from these experiences they were being drawn out from their respective cynic/idealistic corners of the Opinion on Knighthood spectrum towards meeting at a point in the middle.


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The meaning of true chivalry



What exactly is chivalry supposed to be? Not in our modern understanding of the concept but in that of the people who cohabitated with knighthood when it existed? In Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe, historian Richard W. Kaeuper answers this question telling us how medieval people saw it:



When they spoke or wrote of chivalry (militia in Latin, chevalerie in French), any of three related meanings may have been in their minds. First, the term could mean nothing more theoretical or ethical than deeds of great valour and endurance on some field of combat, that is, heroic work with sword, shield, and lance. Second, the term could mean a group of knights. In the simplest sense this may be the body of elite warriors present on some particular field of battle. In a more abstract sense the term might refer to the entire social body of knights considered as a group stretching across space and time. Third, chivalry might be used to mean a knightly code of behaviour.



Funnily, Sandor Clegane fits into all three descriptions: he had “deeds of great valour or endurance in a field of combat” (Hand’s Tourney, Blackwater, etc.), he was trained to fight like a knight and is in the top-tier of Westerosi elite warriors, and he definitely has a personal code that sticks more to the real-world example than the literary one, because, as Kaeuper explicates:



Chivalry was not simply a code integrating generic individual and society, not simply an ideal for relations between the sexes or a means for knocking off the rough warrior edges in preparation for the European gentleman to come. The bloody-minded side of the code—even if it seems to moderns, as Twain might say, a shuddering matter—was of the essence of chivalry. The knight was a warrior and not Everyman. [. . .] the sense of honour it conveys was secured with edged weapons and bloodshed.



So, essentially, “chivalry” didn’t mean fine manners and being courteous and polished, as is usually understood in our day. That was just one component, the chief ones being valour, prowess and possessing a code of behaviour. Deeds, more plainly.



There’s one intriguing and not very known aspect of chivalry in literature: that unlike how GRRM has construed it in his fictional world, in the real one, “the great body of chivalric literature was aimed at knights even more than at their ladies,” as the cited scholar says. That is, those knightly songs and stories that Sandor laughs at weren’t meant as some type of romantic novels to have the medieval maidens sighing over and waiting for the handsome knight on a white horse to come to the rescue. It was for the men clad in breastplate, and as much as modern people would find it shocking, they did actually read—and yes, write too—romances and epics without a blush. Historian Elspeth Kennedy says:



Knights in the very real world referred frequently and familiarly to these works of literature. A ‘two-way traffic’ connected these men of war, law, and politics with Arthurian romance no less than chanson de geste. Many owned copies of these texts, which seem to have been readily passed from one set of hands to another, often registering considerable wear. Some, such as the father of the famous jurist Philippe de Beaumanoir, even wrote romance themselves. Under Isabella and Mortimer, the English Privy Wardrobe issued works of romance to male and female courtiers alike; Mortimer himself borrowed twenty-three such works and must have sponsored a romance-reading group. Geoffroi de Charny, the leading French knight of the mid-fourteenth century, apparently knew romances like the Lancelot do Lac and wrote easily (and disapprovingly) of men who would love Queen Guinevere only if they could boast of it. In addition to borrowing heavily from the imagery of the Ordene de chevalerie (Order of Chivalry; one of the vernacular manuals for knights), Ramon Llull, the former knight who wrote the most popular book on chivalry in the Middle Ages, likewise drew heavily on thirteenth-century prose romances.


Romance and other categories become indistinguishable in the minds of those who wrote and those who read.



Men of renown that would never be accused of being romantics even today were avid readers of these stories. There wasn’t a gendered “it’s dreamy thrash for the girls” attitude. Romance, epic and chanson de geste were all equally good literature, it wasn’t unmanly to read or write it, and they found it useful because, citing Kaeuper again:



The knights’ conduct, of course, also shows that the literature is reaching them, as students of chivalry have shown in case after case. Larry D. Benson’s examination of the tournament in the romances of Chrétien de Troyes and in the Histoire of William Marshal, for example, concluded that tournament wonderfully illustrates the interplay of life and art—impossible, of course, were knights not deeply steeped in chivalric romance as well as chanson.


Knights, in sum, say that they have read this literature, which itself does not distinguish genres closely; they show that they have read it by using it in their own writings, and they show by their actions that they have read it and are bringing it into their lives.



In other words, those songs and stories had practical uses, educational, role model uses that serious men of the period acknowledged and followed, and that serious scholars of today also recognise. This makes it curious that Martin chose a girl to present them as ridicule-worthy as something impractical and unrealistic that only young girls and little boys would believe in; but it reflects modern ideas and modern interpretations of what chivalry was supposed to be and assessing the discordance between historical reality and literary chivalry without the metaphorical and social contexts of the time. The major mistake is that these bodies of literature are interpreted as descriptive, that is: how it was. Ergo, when the literature presents the knight fighting the monsters and the baddies whilst the historical record presents the knight riding down peasants during a chevauchée, the immediate conclusion would be that the literature is romanticising real chivalry, which was all blood and guts and brutality. This is the approach Martin chose, one that many not quite familiar with history share and that results in the unfortunate association of medieval romantic and epic literature with the romantic genre of today, that has a different structure and purpose. As a result, Sansa has a descriptive view of the stories that a medieval person wouldn’t have, not past a certain age at least.



In reality, this literature was prescriptive, that is: how it should be.



Chivalric literature was an active social force, helping to shape attitudes about basic questions.


[…] Above all, we need to remember that these works are, in conscious intent at least, more often prescriptive than descriptive; they advance ideals for what chivalry should become, in other words, more often than they mirror an ideal already transformed into social reality.



Kaeuper is saying it acted like a manual of conduct, basically. Those stories reflected the anxieties of the time regarding topics like violence, justice, honour, feudal bonds, etc., but especially knightly violence and the need to restrain it, as violence was their main concern and their biggest social problem. They incorporated real-life incidents into their stories of knightly quests and rescues in symbolical manners that alluded to real problems, for example the rescue of damsels from bad knights and monsters that held them captive reflects the reality of female abduction, rape and forced unions that followed. The black knights, demonic knights, ogres, giants, witches, dragons and all that collection of baddies are metaphors for worrying social truths that begged for remedies, for “the ‘dark side of the force’ of knighthood (to borrow the familiar language of the popular Star Wars films), [which] could scarcely be rendered more powerfully than in the portrayal of these demon knights” and monsters, quoting the same historian.



Back to Sandor, he is a peculiar case in that he also began with a descriptive view of chivalry that resulted in his disillusionment and hatred of all things knightly, but now that he no longer embraces that belief, he’s veered closer to the prescriptive view of chivalry like a real Middle Ages knight. Almost like he “gets” the songs precisely when he has ceased to like them. Stripped of its varnish of superfluous dreamy romanticism, Aemon championing Naerys speaks of the honourable deed of a man defending an innocent queen from abuse and accusations that can cost her head and disinheritance for her son; Florian saving Jonquil and Serwyn rescuing Daeryssa speak of the honourable deeds of men doing the right thing to help a woman out of the perils of abduction and likely rape. All of these untrue stories in an embellished manner appeal to the basic human decency in men to try and do better. And he does react.



That day it was Sandor’s turn to guard the king, and Mandon Moore’s to guard Sansa. And continuing with the theme of abuse where chivalry is the main one, the opening at the docks has the Stark girl defending Tommen’s bawling his eyes out for his sister with the retort that princes do indeed cry:



“Be quiet, or I’ll have Ser Meryn give you a mortal wound,” Joffrey told his betrothed.



Joffrey had to desist from having her beaten, but he has by no means desisted from being abusive; only that now he’s back to doing it verbally as at the start, and later he’ll show that he was headed to resuming his physical abuse in the form of sexual abuse after she marries. No mention is made of whether Sandor was standing nearby, so we don’t know whether he heard. Nonetheless, the salient point here is that for once Sansa is right: it’s not unmanly for princes—and knights—to weep. TWOIAF may cause us to doubt if Aemon’s tears really happened in the wedding of his sister, but the very inclusion of a seemingly “feminine” weakness as tears from a man like him underscores the message that it’s not a shame for a knight to cry, and besides we see both Jaime and Sandor cry as well in similar contexts as Aemon supposedly did. In the real world, tears and crying in men weren’t considered unmanly either; because according to Elina Gertsman in Crying in the Middle Ages: Tears of History, tears in life and literature during that period weren’t just about expressing or representing emotions but also about “cultural meaning and social values,” so ideals, morals, religious beliefs and gender roles made crying for men acceptable, and even circumstantially expected. Chivalric heroes and brave knights from medieval literature do cry openly and unashamedly: Tristan, Lancelot, Arthur . . . It’s common enough that a British literary joke says that there are more manly tears at the end of La Morte d’Arthur than in a Mills & Boon (Harlequin, for Americans) novel.



The second instance of abusiveness and needless brutality implicates Sandor directly, when the indignant crowd shows their appreciation for Joffrey with a gift of dung for his face:



“Bring me the man who flung that filth!” Joffrey commanded. “He’ll lick it off me or I’ll have his head. Dog, you bring him here!”


Obedient, Sandor Clegane swung down from his saddle, but there was no way through that wall of flesh, let alone to the roof. Those closest to him began to squirm and shove to get away, while others pushed forward to see. Tyrion smelled disaster. “Clegane, leave off, the man is long fled.”


“I want him!” Joffrey pointed at the roof. “He was up there! Dog, cut through them and bring—”




Joffrey never learns and for a second time answers with violence to starvation. Again, he orders Sandor to attack unarmed people, the third time for him that he’s been in this position of becoming a sword instead of a shield, after Mycah and the order to beat Sansa that he was able to sidestep. This order could answer the question of why Joff was looking for Sandor that night of the Serpentine, too. The king would have been better off listening to Sansa and Uncle Imp, and so would have Sandor, who was rather too fast in obeying by sheer habit in a too volatile situation. The breaking loose of all hell as Tyrion is still speaking eliminates any chance for the Hound to listen to the counter-order to retreat, and instead he disappears swallowed by the crowd, likely having to get out fighting “thirty to one” as he later would say. During the fighting with the rioters, GRRM creates an inversion of roles that’s just brilliant:



Mandon Moore, Kingsguard on duty to protect Sansa Stark that day, saves Joffrey’s life by cutting off the hand of the rioter that was trying to unhorse him:



The king was wheeling his palfrey around in anxious circles while hands reached past the line of gold cloaks, grasping for him. One managed to get hold of his leg, but only for an instant. Ser Mandon’s sword slashed down, parting hand from wrist.



Sandor Clegane, Kingsguard on duty to protect Joffrey Baratheon that day, saves Sansa’s life by cutting off the arm of the rioter that was trying to unhorse her:



“A man tried to pull me from the saddle. The Hound killed him, I think . . . his arm . . .” Her eyes widened and she put a hand over her mouth. “He cut off his arm.”



This ties Sandor’s loyalties to the Stark girl whereas Moore’s goes to the king. And it also works as a contrast of duty vs. chivalry in the Kingsguard, with one member going for chivalry and the other for duty. Ser Mandon, as he explains to Tyrion, fell back on serving the king for duty and didn’t think of anything else. Nor did the other Kingsguard try to save others, excepting two: Preston Greenfield, who lost his life trying to assist a fallen High Septon he wasn’t actually in the obligation to help, and Sandor. He didn’t have to rescue anyone either, given the circumstances: the king was safely riding back to the castle with the rest of the royal family, protected by the Gold Cloaks, and all he had to do was fight his own way out of the mess. Yet he decided to help. And he didn’t single-mindedly go for Sansa, forgetting all else and everyone else as some seem to believe. He went first to try to save Ser Aron Santagar, who’d been the Red Keep’s master-at-arms for ages and as such might’ve trained Sandor in swordfighting alongside the rest of the court retinues that practised daily in the yard. He even speaks of him using ser unironically:



“They did for Santagar,” the Hound continued. “Four men held him down and took turns bashing at his head with a cobblestone. I gutted one, not that it did Ser Aron much good.”



It was only after Santagar was dead that he went for Sansa, who’d been left behind (he doesn’t know Lollys has been left behind too). Though he did attempt to downplay his rescue of her by contemptuously calling the rioters “rats,” there are a couple of details that demonstrate that it wasn’t really as easy and our Hound is posturing. First of those is his own “they had me thirty to one” comment, which is quite startling because it reveals the extent of the riot, and a raging mob of that magnitude is no small matter regardless of how well-armed a man is. In our times, Riot Police that were well-protected and well-armed, with tear gas and rubber bullets and such, have been known to be brought down wounded and policemen have died in particularly vicious rioting by unarmed protesters that at best had rudimentary tools and Molotov cocktails. Second, and this is my own deduction: Sandor wasn’t in armour, therefore less protected and more vulnerable to wounding and being knocked down by something as insignificant as a cobblestone hitting him in the head from afar, since he didn’t have his helm on either. He might’ve been using a boiled leather jerkin if he had some sort of protection, but definitely not chainmail nor full steel armour. I deduce that because of this line:



Clegane lifted her to the ground. His white cloak was torn and stained, and blood seeped through a jagged tear in his left sleeve.



He was wounded in the left arm, and the sleeve was torn off. If he’d been using chainmail or full armour, the mailshirt’s metallic sleeve or the vambraces (steel protections for the arms) would’ve stopped a stab to his arm and no sleeve would’ve been torn off because it was metal. In sum, he was fighting with little more than his sword and his own strength as protection, vastly outnumbered, and he definitely got a wound, the severity of which we don’t know in full because Tyrion barely has a cursory glance at it, and Sandor himself doesn’t seem to feel it in his hurry to get some maester tend to the little bird’s gash in the head. If he headed to fetch back his horse immediately, as he seems to have, then he went back to the mess wounded and still not well-protected. No wonder sweet Cersei would send Boros and Meryn, in armour both, stark naked for complaining about being ordered outside . . .



His blurting out of Sansa’s nickname for everyone to hear tells a lot about his emotions in the moment, about the genuine concern that drove him. This is the first of only three occasions he calls her “little bird” in public, and it’s interesting that in all these occasions he is in a stressful situation: the second time it’s after he learns she’s been married and the third when he’s dying. Neither Tyrion nor Arya can make anything of it, however, and in the case of Tyrion, after initially slapping and kicking Joff as he yells “you’ve killed Clegane,” he shows less concern for the man when he reappears alive, especially in sending him to fight the fires despite realising that he’s afraid—“Of course he hates fire, he’s tasted it too well.”—which he’ll repeat later. His concern for Sansa is also coloured by fear for what’d happen to his brother if she was harmed. Except to the Hound himself, who is rather proud of this deed, the rescue doesn’t appear to matter much to the others, perhaps because for his masters it’s a given and not truly unexpected that Sandor does things like these; it’s part of his job and he’s paid good Lannister gold. His heroics are taken for granted in the Lannister circle, so to speak, as one of those peculiarities that nobody reflects on nor entertains the possibility that there’s more to it than plain being amazing at his job, that he might have ideals. And this makes it even more woeful that this rescue, one of his better and most chivalrous acts, went underappreciated and unthanked. But at the end of the day, someone was surely overjoyed at seeing him come to extricate him from the riots: Stranger.


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ANALYSIS:

Abuse and Chivalry

...

Knights are for beating

Why construe beating Sansa as a case of domestic violence rather than a matter of mistreating a prisoner/hostage? To answer this, think that none of these approaches are mutually exclusive and to interpret this as mistreatment of a prisoner of war is perfectly valid. Then, let’s remember that Sansa is more than just a hostage: she is the king’s betrothed, which makes her the second highest-ranking lady of the realm after Cersei, and given the in-story stance on royal betrothals as slightly below marriages and requiring of the High Septon to be dissolved like actual marriages, she is for all intents and purposes in the same situation as if she were Joffrey’s concubine or consuetudinarian wife. Even if she weren’t a prisoner, she cannot put an end to the betrothal like a woman today would by just throwing the ring at the fiancé’s face and storming out. Thus, the first criterion for domestic violence, that the partners—both abuser and victim—are in a relationship by blood or by legal/customary union is met, placing this in the category of intimate partner violence within the types of domestic violence.

...

Looking at Sandor's history, the Joffrey, Robb, Sansa triangle bears an imperfect resemblance to the Robert, Jaime, Cersei triangle of his past. In that case he was still Cersei's dog and the power balance of the triangle did not require his interference. The would be protective brother Jaime stood as a buffer between Sandor and Robert. If Jaime wasn't going to react, that was a clear sign Sandor ought not to either. Now, the brother figure who had previously served to remove Sandor from the conflict is the figure that draws him into it. Sandor's joining the Kingsguard makes his transition from Cersei's dog to Joffrey's official in name though with Cersei as Regent it may only be in name. That puts him in a parallel situation with Jaime who was also a King's in name only.

As an aside, did Sandor know about the incest? It isn't overly important but it would definitely shade how he viewed his protective service to Cersei while Jaime was in the Kingsguard. His lament over doing nothing with Ned tends to make me think "yes" but whether he made the connection before or after Stannis made the accusations public is an open question.

At the root of Joffrey's request to have Sandor hit Sansa is the conflict with Gregor born of his origin story. Sandor is proud of being a dog-- the loyal and protective animal that serves, shields, and sacrifices himself for his master in line with the tale of the founding of House Clegane. The request to beat Sansa and the later request to slaughter the peasant are both outside the set of tasks fitting a dog. They are both in line with Tywin's use of Gregor. Aside from the conflict between his role as shield vs. the attempts to assign him the role of sword is the conflict between the nature of a dog or a hound and that of a lord's beast. Joffrey's orders, if complied with, would turn Sandor into the type of beast his brother is. He would cease to be Cersei's dog and would become Joffrey's beast just as Gregor is Tywin's beast. While the peasant offers some meager excuse given the dung attack on Joffrey there is no way to construe Sansa as having attacked or presenting a threat to Joffrey. There is no grey in that requested treatment of the Stark girl. It is a black and white crossing of the line between dog and beast.

...

In other words, those songs and stories had practical uses, educational, role model uses that serious men of the period acknowledged and followed, and that serious scholars of today also recognise. This makes it curious that Martin chose a girl to present them as ridicule-worthy as something impractical and unrealistic that only young girls and little boys would believe in; but it reflects modern ideas and modern interpretations of what chivalry was supposed to be and assessing the discordance between historical reality and literary chivalry without the metaphorical and social contexts of the time. The major mistake is that these bodies of literature are interpreted as descriptive, that is: how it was. Ergo, when the literature presents the knight fighting the monsters and the baddies whilst the historical record presents the knight riding down peasants during a chevauchée, the immediate conclusion would be that the literature is romanticising real chivalry, which was all blood and guts and brutality. This is the approach Martin chose, one that many not quite familiar with history share and that results in the unfortunate association of medieval romantic and epic literature with the romantic genre of today, that has a different structure and purpose. As a result, Sansa has a descriptive view of the stories that a medieval person wouldn’t have, not past a certain age at least.

In reality, this literature was prescriptive, that is: how it should be.

Chivalric literature was an active social force, helping to shape attitudes about basic questions.

[…] Above all, we need to remember that these works are, in conscious intent at least, more often prescriptive than descriptive; they advance ideals for what chivalry should become, in other words, more often than they mirror an ideal already transformed into social reality.

Kaeuper is saying it acted like a manual of conduct, basically. Those stories reflected the anxieties of the time regarding topics like violence, justice, honour, feudal bonds, etc., but especially knightly violence and the need to restrain it, as violence was their main concern and their biggest social problem. They incorporated real-life incidents into their stories of knightly quests and rescues in symbolical manners that alluded to real problems, for example the rescue of damsels from bad knights and monsters that held them captive reflects the reality of female abduction, rape and forced unions that followed. The black knights, demonic knights, ogres, giants, witches, dragons and all that collection of baddies are metaphors for worrying social truths that begged for remedies, for “the ‘dark side of the force’ of knighthood (to borrow the familiar language of the popular Star Wars films), [which] could scarcely be rendered more powerfully than in the portrayal of these demon knights” and monsters, quoting the same historian.

...

I think the treatment and presentation of songs in the series resembles the path to understanding the moral of such fables and tales. At the most basic level it is: innocence, disillusionment, wisdom.

The in-series songs are hardly white washed happiness about good conquering evil. Erryk and Arryk are two brothers that kill each other in a world where kinslaying is amongst the worst of sins. Aemon the Dragonknight died protecting a sloth of a brother leaving the woman he loved defenseless against that cruel brother. Brave Danny Flint's fate is not hidden or amended in the tale to make it more suitable for the delicate ears of children. The noble characteristics of the players are heralded and celebrated and put forth to be admired and emulated, but the tragic nature of the outcomes are still present in the tales if not as prominent to a naïve listener.

Early on with Sansa we get Littlefinger claiming that life is not a song. Yet had Baelish himself has had a very song-worthy life. He just doesn't view it that way because he didn't care for the first verse. Jon expresses his admiration for the Young Dragon, but Benjen confronts him with the truth of the tale that the conquest of Dorne failed and the Young Dragon met an early grave. Martin's presentation of his own Song of Ice and Fire mimics the in-story characters' early disillusionment. The Florian and Jonquil parallels in Sansa and Sandor aren't necessarily apparent or fully understood even if spotted on a first read. The trauma of the riot tends to push out the song-like nature of her rescue by Sandor. As the story moves on the reality of life being a song begins to become more overt. Big Bucket Wull specifically says he's rescuing The Ned's Girl because men sing songs about such things. Mance's whole plan in Winterfell is born of the Bael the Bard song that inspired his last trip there. Manderly cooks three Freys in a pie and requests the Rat Cook at Ramsay's wedding. Jon Snow uses the tale of Brave Danny Flint to communicate to Tormund why he needs male and not female hostages. Life is a song and he doesn't want another verse added to Danny Flint's.

I think the songs are a bit like the prayers. The songs play out and the prayers are answered, but the characters' disillusionments obscure it. Looking forward at more advanced arcs like Jon Snow's or Theon's or Davos's we see songs more clearly representing manuals of conduct and even explicitly referenced to explain or define that conduct.

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Excellent analysis, Milady! These are chapters that require a lot of unpacking and you've produced a really thorough and insightful review that I hope will elicit similar discussion.



To get the ball rolling, there's always been a lot of dispute as to whether the Hound would have hit Sansa if Dontos had not intervened and tried to distract Joffrey by pelting the girl with fruit. However, while the writing of the scene makes it look as though Sandor didn't get a chance to refuse or execute the orders of his king, the later scene at the riot where Sandor does act immediately to do as Joffrey requests makes it obvious that he actually did refuse to beat Sansa that day, and that nothing Dontos did could have prevented that had he been set on doing so:



“Of course he died, he had my quarrel in his throat. There was a woman throwing rocks, I got her as well, but only in the arm.” Frowning, he lowered the crossbow. “I’d shoot you too, but if I do Mother says they’d kill my uncle Jaime. Instead you’ll just be punished and we’ll send word to your brother about what will happen to you if he doesn’t yield. Dog, hit her.”


“Let me beat her!” Ser Dontos shoved forward, tin armor clattering. He was armed with a “morningstar” whose head was a melon. My Florian. She could have kissed him, blotchy skin and broken veins and all. He trotted his broomstick around her, shouting “Traitor, traitor” and whacking her over the head with the melon. Sansa covered herself with her hands, staggering every time the fruit pounded her, her hair sticky by the second blow. People were laughing. The melon flew to pieces. Laugh, Joffrey, she prayed as the juice ran down her face and the front of her blue silk gown. Laugh and be satisfied.


All throughout Dontos' intervention, the Hound is disobeying the orders of his King. He does not need to be told twice to act when ordered to as the riot scene illustrates:



“Please, Your Grace, let him go,” Sansa pleaded.

The king paid her no heed. “Bring me the man who flung that filth!” Joffrey commanded. “He’ll lick it off me or I’ll have his head. Dog, you bring him here!”

Obedient, Sandor Clegane swung down from his saddle, but there was no way through that wall of flesh, let alone to the roof. Those closest to him began to squirm and shove to get away, while others pushed forward to see. Tyrion smelled disaster. “Clegane, leave off, the man is long fled.” “I want him!” Joffrey pointed at the roof. “He was up there! Dog, cut through them and bring—”


It's the Hound's refusal to beat Sansa that enables Dontos to make his feeble show of trying to protect her, not the other way around. It also explains why Joffrey moved on to Boros and Meryn and didn't simply reiterate his orders to his sworn shield.



I like that you framed Joffrey's abuse of Sansa within the construct of domestic violence because this also helps us to further appreciate just how important a role the Hound played in helping to mitigate her suffering during this time. He has no power to effect any change to her status as prisoner of war/hostage as someone like Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the King, does, for instance. Instead, he can offer her advice, give her clues via his wary looks, and in the end provide a cloak to help protect her dignity and offer her comfort. The chapter opens with Sandor in Sansa's bedroom, highlighting the "domestic" space of his influence and continuing the pattern of their meaningful interactions taking place in intimate settings. It also highlights that in this drama where Sansa is the unfortunate victim, the Hound is not cast as some mere bodyguard; he's much more involved on a personal level: implicating himself time and again to seeing that Sansa does not come to harm. Giving her his cloak is part of this: an act that supersedes comparison to chivalric codes of a knight's obligation to a lady, and enters into the field of marital relations, if we too consider how Martin uses cloak symbolism in the series. In her first chapter of Clash when Joffrey showed more of his terrible tendencies at the Name-day tourney, Sansa thought that she wouldn't mind marrying his younger brother instead. While the thought of marriage to Sandor Clegane would not have crossed her mind consciously at this point, this scene does link to that first one at the tourney of gnats where Sandor demonstrated the qualities of being a much better domestic partner. While the man himself is not directly referenced, Martin allows Sansa's appreciation of his worth to be expressed when she receives the cloak:



“Someone give the girl something to cover herself with,” the Imp said. Sandor Clegane unfastened his cloak and tossed it at her. Sansa clutched it against her chest, fists bunched hard in the white wool. The coarse weave was scratchy against her skin, but no velvet had ever felt so fine.

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Oh what a lovely surprise. Very nice and extensive analysis Milady. :)







Again, for the second time, the opportune appearance of Tyrion Lannister precludes our learning of what Sandor would’ve said or done after his “Enough” was contradicted, and we have to rely on his post-facto actions for plausible inferences. Before, let’s go through the ridiculous excuses the Kingsguard tell the Hand:



“Is this your notion of chivalry, Ser Boros?” […] “What sort of knight beats helpless maids?”


“The sort who serves his king, Imp.”



Boros doesn’t even blush at justifying wanton brutality with obedience to the king, a boy-king known for his misbehaviour, and doesn’t seem to consider what it tells about a king to order such beatings: if he has no regard for his own future queen’s well-being, he won’t have any for his subjects’ either; if he doesn’t respect his future queen, he won’t respect anyone else either; if he dishonours his future queen in public, people won’t honour her either and, by extension, the king can be dishonoured too. That a knight obeys his king, even if that means harming a little girl, seems to be a source of satisfaction for Boros to judge by his words.



(snipped)



Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women, and fight for the right, but none of them did a thing. Only Ser Dontos had tried to help, and he was no longer a knight, no more than the Imp was, nor the Hound . . . the Hound hated knights . . . I hate them too, Sansa thought. They are no true knights, not one of them.



The list of people who behave chivalrously in her worst beating is sad to contemplate: a fool, a dwarf and a dog. None a knight, and two of them have ulterior concerns not purely for her well-being. It’s interesting that this final brutality makes her incorporate the Hound’s worldview at last, though she puts her own spin on it: Sandor concludes “I hate knights, there are no true knights,” and she concludes “I hate knights, they are no true knights.” For him, it’s about the inexistence of true chivalry; for her, it’s about the failure to hold firm to true chivalry. It’s like as a consequence from these experiences they were being drawn out from their respective cynic/idealistic corners of the Opinion on Knighthood spectrum towards meeting at a point in the middle.






With regards to this part, it is also worth considering how the beating of Sansa resonates later on, with different people. We see that Boros' behaviour here (and his cowardliness in giving up Tommen) later gets him demoted to Tommen's foodtaster by Jaime. While Jaime might be a knight, he is also the Kingslayer, and he ends up sending Brienne out as his proxy to find Sansa. So she is protected by a fool, a dwarf, and a dog, and later also by a handless Kingslayer and his wench. And unlikely collection of people, but none of them really fitting the mold of what we expect in a knight, but all of them still fulfilling parts of what it means to BE a knight, I think. (Even Tyrion!)



As a tangent to this, we also have "the white cloak soiled me" stories from Sandor, Jaime, Arys Oakheart and even to a degree Ser Barry. Part of it was serving unworthy masters, but part of it also seems strongly tied to domestic violence. Sandor is greatly disturbed by Joffrey's sanctioned abuse of Sansa, Jaime thinks back both on Aerys' fires, but also on him raping Rhaella. Later on, Jaime goes on a hanging spree in the Riverlands, specifically targetting rapists. Arys lists Sansa's beatings as one of the main reasons for why he was lead further into "sin", as if her beatings had worked like a gateway drug to further soiling. While Barry doesn't think back excplicitly on Aerys raping Rhaella, he demurs when Dany asks about her parents' relationship, and he seems to think his Duskendale rescue of Aerys would have been better had it failed.




Brashcandy, I agree with your assessment that Sandor did not act upon Joffrey's order. Dontos would have been no match for him had he decided to go ahead and hit Sansa an he could easily have shoved Dontos out of the way. From what we see, Sandor makes no move towards Sansa at all, during the entire time it takes Dontos to squeeze through the crowd. Why does the ever obedient Dog stand there like a cucumber and let Dontos do the beating if he was going to do it? It makes no sense.



I always figured Sandor was pretty horrified at being asked to beat Sansa, and that he was internally clamouring for a way out of the situation that would both save his skin, and hers, but that he just couldn't think of anything. Hence why he is just standing there while Dontos walks up to her and hits her with a melon. Clearly, when Boros and Meryn get the second command to beat her, whatever confusion as to what he can put up with reaches an end point, and disregarding the chain of command, he speaks up regardless.


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...

It's the Hound's refusal to beat Sansa that enables Dontos to make his feeble show of trying to protect her, not the other way around. It also explains why Joffrey moved on to Boros and Meryn and didn't simply reiterate his orders to his sworn shield.

...

Yes. The take away from the godswood and the serpentine steps was that Dontos is a false Florian figure and that Sandor is the real one. Dontos is a mummer following a script given to him by Petyr "Life is not a Song" Baelish. The performance is supposed to elevate the one person audience's belief in heroic rescues only to destroy it with the plot twist at the end where Dontos is just a greedy mercenary leaving her actual "rescuer" to have all that remains of her shattered hope projected on to him. On a first read the Dontos distraction is meant to perpetuate this Florian illusion, but on a second read we know for certain it is in fact an illusion. All men are knights and all men are fools, but at this moment Sansa needs the Knight and not the Fool.

Joffrey changes who he orders to beat Sansa after we get the line, "Dog, hit her." and an absence of Sandor feedback. Something made him switch back to his usual girl hitting minions and the complete failure of Dontos to amuse or distract him offers no answer. Sandor, who has witnessed this before, reaches a bit of breaking point when he says "Enough" that he has not reached before. Joffrey is clearly in an emotional state that's pushing him further in his abuse than on previous occasions, but the "Enough" seems to indicate that Sandor is in a bit of an emotional state as well. He was the one sent to fetch Sansa and Joffrey leveling a loaded crossbow to her face was probably not what he had in mind when he coaxed her to come with him despite his seeming to know that Joffrey's ire was worse than usual. Tyrion tells us early on that the Hound has a temper and we also saw that Joffrey had a bit of an idolizing tendency when it came to Sandor. A look in Sandor's eyes or on his face that was a predecessor to the word "Enough" seems the most likely explanation for Joffrey's change of beating orders.

Sandor's rescue of Sansa and abandonment of Joffrey is a bit of a contrast to Barristan's thoughts about his rescue of Aerys. Sandor is the KG replacement for Selmy as we discussed earlier so the choice to heroically rescue the maiden and abandon the king stands out given Barristan's Duskendale laments.

Joffrey mentions Nymeria's attack but blames it on Lady. The Lannister defeat and the tales of wolves and wargs must have triggered his own memory of defeat at the hands of a Stark wolf. There is a direct Sandor/Lady comparison here as Joffrey is asking his dog to attack Sansa as he claims Sansa's wolf attacked him.

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Thank you, ladies! These chapters are so meaty, and will render lots of stuff to discuss.





As an aside, did Sandor know about the incest? It isn't overly important but it would definitely shade how he viewed his protective service to Cersei while Jaime was in the Kingsguard. His lament over doing nothing with Ned tends to make me think "yes" but whether he made the connection before or after Stannis made the accusations public is an open question.




With no POV from him, hard to say with one hundred percent surety. Besides, we'd not know directly from him in another POV as he interacted mainly with Sansa at King's Landing, and she's from the House rival to his masters', he obviously wasn't going to spill the beans on his liege lady to her. Also, there's the detail that he's a sworn shield, which given that it's a position similar to that of a royal bodyguard, would surely require of secrecy and to make some promise or oath to keep the lord/lady's secrets, more so if they happen to be royalty.



In assessing what Sandor may or may not know about the dirty laundry of the Lannister family, I often use Tyrion as my starting point to draw some inferences. The Imp knows a damning amount of stuff on his family, and it's to be expected, as he's one of them. But Sandor is like a pseudo-family member too, like you said, and he has lived at court for half his life, so he knows a damning deal as well. Both men have advantages on the information-gathering front that the other doesn't that can be applied to information on the twins. Substract from the equation what Tyrion learns from council meetings, official papers and private talks with his relatives (Impish advantage) and add to the equation what Sandor would learn from standing by at the door and during bedchamber visits and talks (Houndish advantage), and you have a good guess at what type of information Sandor has on Cersei and Jaime. If Tyrion was able to deduce the incest, it makes sense that so would Sandor too, who sees the twins daily and has done so for longer than Tyrion.





To get the ball rolling, there's always been a lot of dispute as to whether the Hound would have hit Sansa if Dontos had not intervened and tried to distract Joffrey by pelting the girl with fruit. However, while the writing of the scene makes it look as though Sandor didn't get a chance to refuse or execute the orders of his king, the later scene at the riot where Sandor does act immediately to do as Joffrey requests makes it obvious that he actually did refuse to beat Sansa that day, and that nothing Dontos did could have prevented that had he been set on doing so:



“Of course he died, he had my quarrel in his throat. There was a woman throwing rocks, I got her as well, but only in the arm.” Frowning, he lowered the crossbow. “I’d shoot you too, but if I do Mother says they’d kill my uncle Jaime. Instead you’ll just be punished and we’ll send word to your brother about what will happen to you if he doesn’t yield. Dog, hit her.”


“Let me beat her!” Ser Dontos shoved forward, tin armor clattering. He was armed with a “morningstar” whose head was a melon. My Florian. She could have kissed him, blotchy skin and broken veins and all. He trotted his broomstick around her, shouting “Traitor, traitor” and whacking her over the head with the melon. Sansa covered herself with her hands, staggering every time the fruit pounded her, her hair sticky by the second blow. People were laughing. The melon flew to pieces. Laugh, Joffrey, she prayed as the juice ran down her face and the front of her blue silk gown. Laugh and be satisfied.


All throughout Dontos' intervention, the Hound is disobeying the orders of his King. He does not need to be told twice to act when ordered to as the riot scene illustrates:



“Please, Your Grace, let him go,” Sansa pleaded.

The king paid her no heed. “Bring me the man who flung that filth!” Joffrey commanded. “He’ll lick it off me or I’ll have his head. Dog, you bring him here!”

Obedient, Sandor Clegane swung down from his saddle, but there was no way through that wall of flesh, let alone to the roof. Those closest to him began to squirm and shove to get away, while others pushed forward to see. Tyrion smelled disaster. “Clegane, leave off, the man is long fled.” “I want him!” Joffrey pointed at the roof. “He was up there! Dog, cut through them and bring—”


It's the Hound's refusal to beat Sansa that enables Dontos to make his feeble show of trying to protect her, not the other way around. It also explains why Joffrey moved on to Boros and Meryn and didn't simply reiterate his orders to his sworn shield.





I wholly agree with this. Besides that Sandor is lightning-quick in obeying orders like you point out, his refusal to follow the order is further reinforced by the fact that he doesn't do as Meryn did as soon as Joffrey spoke:



Ser Meryn Trant seized Dontos by the arm and flung him brusquely away. The red-faced fool went sprawling, broomstick, melon, and all.



So, if Meryn used force on Dontos to get him out of his way in his readiness to obey, why could Sandor not do the same if he had no objections to the order? And he doesn't even need to use force, as he's intimidating enough to just make a move towards Sansa for Dontos to step to the side, for example.






Joffrey changes who he orders to beat Sansa after we get the line, "Dog, hit her." and an absence of Sandor feedback. Something made him switch back to his usual girl hitting minions and the complete failure of Dontos to amuse or distract him offers no answer. Sandor, who has witnessed this before, reaches a bit of breaking point when he says "Enough" that he has not reached before. Joffrey is clearly in an emotional state that's pushing him further in his abuse than on previous occasions, but the "Enough" seems to indicate that Sandor is in a bit of an emotional state as well. He was the one sent to fetch Sansa and Joffrey leveling a loaded crossbow to her face was probably not what he had in mind when he coaxed her to come with him despite his seeming to know that Joffrey's ire was worse than usual. Tyrion tells us early on that the Hound has a temper and we also saw that Joffrey had a bit of an idolizing tendency when it came to Sandor. A look in Sandor's eyes or on his face that was a predecessor to the word "Enough" seems the most likely explanation for Joffrey's change of beating orders.



Sandor's rescue of Sansa and abandonment of Joffrey is a bit of a contrast to Barristan's thoughts about his rescue of Aerys. Sandor is the KG replacement for Selmy as we discussed earlier so the choice to heroically rescue the maiden and abandon the king stands out given Barristan's Duskendale laments.





Yes, that's pretty much my understanding as well: Joffrey was particularly furious this day, more than before, and he gave the order in fury. Sandor must've rebelled with body language, both in not moving a finger immediately as he usually does, and with facial or gaze clues that Joffrey registered that derailed his plan. Also, note that the silence on Sandor in-between the "Dog, hit her" line and the "Boros. Meryn" line isn't intentional as realistically Sansa is our only POV there and she couldn't see, because she was being beaten with a melon and the juice was covering her face, so there's a possibility that the Hound might actually have done something in the meantime that she didn't register as it was out of her field of vision, and besides she was just too scared.



On the rescue, you mean metaphorically? Because he didn't abandon the king, really, he was separated from the king by the mob closing round him. It was Mandon Moore who abandoned his duty to guard Sansa, as Tyrion reminds him later, but Sandor himself didn't abandon his duty to Joffrey as he was already out of the mess and riding to the castle. In rescuing Sansa, he filled in the post abandoned by another Kingsguard.


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On the rescue, you mean metaphorically? Because he didn't abandon the king, really, he was separated from the king by the mob closing round him. It was Mandon Moore who abandoned his duty to guard Sansa, as Tyrion reminds him later, but Sandor himself didn't abandon his duty to Joffrey as he was already out of the mess and riding to the castle. In rescuing Sansa, he filled in the post abandoned by another Kingsguard.

Yes, metaphorically or thematically. Barristan's internal monologue holds himself accountable for doing his duty too well. Duskendale was one of his own example's. You had made the distinction between duty and chivalry which brought Barristan's self reproach specifically over duty and Duskendale to mind.

Both are heroic rescues involving a member of the Kingsguard going above and beyond. Sandor's technical assignment to Joffrey highlights the fact that he made a moral or personal values based decision in his rescue of Sansa. Sansa's rescue is not likely to be something that haunts him in the twilight years of his life the way Aerys does to Barristan or Joffrey's would to Sandor had he made that choice.

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With regards to this part, it is also worth considering how the beating of Sansa resonates later on, with different people. We see that Boros' behaviour here (and his cowardliness in giving up Tommen) later gets him demoted to Tommen's foodtaster by Jaime. While Jaime might be a knight, he is also the Kingslayer, and he ends up sending Brienne out as his proxy to find Sansa. So she is protected by a fool, a dwarf, and a dog, and later also by a handless Kingslayer and his wench. And unlikely collection of people, but none of them really fitting the mold of what we expect in a knight, but all of them still fulfilling parts of what it means to BE a knight, I think. (Even Tyrion!)

Indeed, Lyanna. And it's really ironic that Boros' "The sort that serves his king" excuse for beating Sansa that is essentially an interpretation that his vows to the king imply obedience at all costs supersedes ethics, is used against him by Jaime:

“I have heard it said that Joffrey made use of you to chastise Sansa Stark.” He turned the White Book around one-handed. “Here, show me where it is in our vows that we swear to beat women and children.

And Boros tries to repeat his excuse that he was just obeying the king, to which the Lord Commander presents the option they had all that time and never considered: temper that obedience and tell the adult in charge when a boy-king gives unreasonable orders.

As a tangent to this, we also have "the white cloak soiled me" stories from Sandor, Jaime, Arys Oakheart and even to a degree Ser Barry. Part of it was serving unworthy masters, but part of it also seems strongly tied to domestic violence. Sandor is greatly disturbed by Joffrey's sanctioned abuse of Sansa, Jaime thinks back both on Aerys' fires, but also on him raping Rhaella. Later on, Jaime goes on a hanging spree in the Riverlands, specifically targetting rapists. Arys lists Sansa's beatings as one of the main reasons for why he was lead further into "sin", as if her beatings had worked like a gateway drug to further soiling. While Barry doesn't think back excplicitly on Aerys raping Rhaella, he demurs when Dany asks about her parents' relationship, and he seems to think his Duskendale rescue of Aerys would have been better had it failed.

Good observations, all of those Kingsguard knights witnessed domestic violence during their service, but they hadn't the misfortune of being asked to participate in it save for Arys Oakheart and Sandor. The others were passive witnesses, complicit by inaction. Arys became an active witness and co-abuser, and Sandor was asked to be one too. And just like the others show the effects of how badly this domestic violence affected them, the Hound is also extremely touchy when Arya confronts him asking him if he also hit her sister with an axe. He alternates talking and talking emptily about beating Arya the same way Duncan the Tall is perpetually telling Egg about clouting him in the ear with tales of how he never beat Sansa, but when it comes to actually hitting her, he only does so when he needs to save the girl running into the battle at the Twins.

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Hello. Loved all your analyses, great work! Can't wait for more.


I know it's late to say this, and it's a tiny little detail, but I think it hasn't been mentioned. DogLover pointed out that Sandor wasn't really drunk at the Serpentine scene. I hadn't read it that way, but it makes sense to me now, considering that Sansa is a very sensitive character when it comes to smells. She always puts emphasis on someone's breath when they're close to her (Littlefinger, maybe Dontos, and others; I believe Milady mentions this in an essay). But she doesn't smell the wine in Sandor's breath. Surely she would've noticed it, as they were touching in this particular moment. The fact that she doesn't when he seems so very drunk at least raises an eyebrow.


Sorry for mentioning something that should've been discussed earlier!


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I know it's late to say this, and it's a tiny little detail, but I think it hasn't been mentioned. DogLover pointed out that Sandor wasn't really drunk at the Serpentine scene. I hadn't read it that way, but it makes sense to me now, considering that Sansa is a very sensitive character when it comes to smells. She always puts emphasis on someone's breath when they're close to her (Littlefinger, maybe Dontos, and others; I believe Milady mentions this in an essay). But she doesn't smell the wine in Sandor's breath. Surely she would've noticed it, as they were touching in this particular moment. The fact that she doesn't when he seems so very drunk at least raises an eyebrow.

Sorry for mentioning something that should've been discussed earlier!

Sandor was definitely drunk during that scene, that's for certain. There are signs of it, like when he reels suddenly and almost loses his balance, which isn't feigned as he has no reason to do so at that precise moment, and there's his own admission that he's been drinking. He admits it to both Sansa and Boros. He might not have been extremely drunk, which makes sense as he knew he had to return to the Red Keep and had a turn to guard the king next day. That accounts for the lack of slurring and his grip still being strong, for example, since in the other occasions he's drunk, he doesn't present those signs either, so that in itself isn't any indication. He does drink more moderately when he knows he's to work after, as during the Tourney, he drinks but isn't stone-drunk and his reflexes are as sharp as ever, but we'd not question his inebriation. It's a matter of degree rather than of whether he was or wasn't drunk. Besides, we have to consider that he's a very big man, and alcohol intake affects people in different manners; some get drunk with one cup and others can finish a bottle and still walk and talk as if they've had nothing but fruit juice.

As for the smell: yes, it was me who pointed that out in the Littlefinger vs. Hound series of essays, in conjunction with the minty breath and the sour breath. But note a couple of important details that explain how Sansa was able to detect the smell of wine in Sandor: proximity. At the Hand's Tourney, he was at eye-level and pretty close to her face as he was trying to get her to look at his scars, so she could smell him easily. And the other time, at her chambers during Blackwater, he was also with his face pretty close to her, so close that she thought he was going to kiss her. Here, however, he's not at eye-level apparently and his face isn't close to hers. With the height difference between them added in, that'd explain why she doesn't smell him. And finally, Sansa's sensitivity to smell is enhanced by her emotions too, as I explained in that essay, and the other two scenes were emotionally-charged ones in ways that this one isn't.

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I attempted to post early today when I discovered this wonderful summary and analysis but the boards were funky so my post evaporated. Excellent work, Milady!! Also, I really love the insights from Ragnorak, Lyanna Stark, and Brashcandy.

Here again we see Sandor receive unexpected warmth for selfless (knight-like) actions. The first was when he confronted Gregor at the tourney, saved Loras' life, and won the prize as well as the "love of the commons." In this second incident, he did not receive the grand prize nor a standing ovation. But his heroics enabled him to canter briskly out of the chaos and into the castle with Sansa's arms locked tightly around his chest. This underlines Sandor's role as a shield - Sansa's shield. From what we have learned, this is the role Sandor relishes: that of trusted protector and, for Sandor, Sansa's fierce grip is likely a reward in and of itself.

Milady: "But at the end of the day, someone was surely overjoyed at seeing him come to extricate him from the riots: Stranger." Interesting turn of phrase when we consider that Sandor rode out, not only to save his beloved horse (Yes, he loves Stranger.), but also to ensure the wildfire does not ignite, thereby 'removing the Stranger' from the crowds (saving countless more lives.)

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