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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor

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Thanks for the welcome and lovely to see so many new faces. :)



ornitorrinca, could you please stop using that ghastly font. The default one is far easier on the eyes. I would very much like to read what you and others have to say, but I must admit strange and unpleasant fonts really put me off what is actually written!







Sandor is famous for his scars, not for his battle exploits. IIRC, we never hear any battle stories about him. We don't even know if he fought in Robert's Rebellion, do we? He presumably fought in Balon Greyjoy's Rebellion, but again we hear nothing about it. He doesn't seem to tell war stories about himself. Interesting, considering his opinions about battle.






Not so. The Ned himself rates Sandor as the second most dangerous man after Jaime himself. He did fight in Robert's Rebellion and very likely in the Greyjoy rebellion as well, and given how well he does at jousting, plus the interlude in ASOIAF with the Frey men (when Sandor and Arya were disguised), we can assume Sandor is quite famous, and not just for his scars.


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Alright, Lyanna Stark, I've edited the font to Arial. Hopefully you'll take a look at my posts. Courier New has never looked ghastly to me, though, just reminiscent of type-writer text.



Doubts on the Relationship between Sandor and Tyrion



By the time we reach Sandor’s final scene with Arya, it is clear that Sandor hates Tyrion Lannister and we have witnessed several reasons that factor into that hatred. The tension between the two mounts throughout ACoK, but I must admit that in this first exchange, their words don’t seem very harsh.




Tyrion’s usually acidic tongue does not deliver here, at least not IMO. Considering his word-slapping (and actual slapping) of Joffrey, the sentence “I’m in no mood for your insolence” seems quite tame. Sandor’s “mummer’s farce” must get a lot of mileage when entertaining someone like Joffrey, but we know that, while not as witty as the Imp, Sandor certainly has a well-defined sense of humor. Is this really his brand of humor? His insults are usually more jarring, either for their coarseness or for their ability to wound the recipient’s pride, and his jokes are quite dark. This joke seems mainly for Joff’s amusement, not solely for Tyrion’s torment ("Really? Another short joke? How innovative"). To me, their conversation is almost, almost civil. It ends normally enough, with Tyrion asking about his brother and Sandor pointing him in the right direction.






With regard to the Sandor-Tyrion animosity, I would say that the most plausible reason, other than narrative necessity, can be found in the Lannister internal dynamics, particularly the Cersei-Tyrion conflict mentioned already.



...



As for Sansa: let’s bear in mind that by the time Sansa entered his storyline, he and Tyrion were already in bad terms, so this doesn’t have to do anything with her in the start. The enmity developed over years and reached a boil at Blackwater due to Tyrion’s actions...





By no means am I suggesting that the animosity that Sandor displays later has not developed at this point; surely GRRM has a back-story that, as yet, has not come to light. I just don’t see the fervent dislike between them here that people have often suggested. In fact, Tyrion didn't come across to me as finding Sandor loathsome or despicable, and at first Sandor seems to think of Tyrion in similar terms of what Tywin thinks (a highborn abomination who runs his mouth way too much). I can mention the emotions that stand out to me when we get to the relevant chapters, but hatred isn’t one of them. Maybe I've missed an important quote; I'm thinking of his words to Sansa pre-Battle of Blackwater Bay. What cues are those who subscribe to their long-standing enmity using? I hope other posters will shed more light on this fascinating issue.



The question I was left with as Tyrion waddled off to breakfast was “Why does he comment on the Hound’s temper?” It seems related somehow to the conversation. This is the first time we hear of Sandor’s anger issues, which are as much as part of his character as his scars, voice and helm. Is it that when he puts on the "Hound" persona, the bad traits take center stage? I couldn’t think of any explanation for this comment about his foul mood, so Milady of York’s suggestion that it has to do with lack of sleep due to Summer’s howling makes a lot of sense.


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I am so glad that this reread is now officially on. Thank you very much to the hosts Brashcandy, DogLover and Milady of York for their hard work. And thank you again Milady for these thought-provoking posts :)







Good point! It's thought-provoking how Ned establishes this early a pattern of lumping Sandor and Jaime together, and ascribes to the former the same clout as the latter: he sees them entering his home together and recognises them both together first, he is relieved that they're not in the room during the unfortunate Trident hearing, he wishes them both to be unhorsed and lose at the tourney in his honour, he considers Sandor the most dangerous Lannister man once Jaime is fled from the city after the fight coming from that brothel . . . and so on. He even treats them both to a session of The Ned's Stare when both men commit the killings they're most reviled for, he's their first judge. The salient difference in their introduction is that, even though Ned goes for physical description and no more for both, Jaime already has his bad reputation trailing behind him due to that passage in Dany's POV and the conversation between him and Catelyn in which they mention the Lannisters in a way that predispose to wariness towards them as the possible antagonists in the tale.


Not that it really concerns Eddard, but I would like to add that both Jaime and Sandor have issues with knighthood that are most noticeable when these men are confronted to innocent and idealistic young women. In her first post, Milady wrote that Martin's introductory techniques partly serve to lay out an important narrative theme for the character. And I believe the topic of the 'true knight' is central to Jaime's and Sandor's arc, especially when it comes to women.








With regard to the Sandor-Tyrion animosity...


Excellent point. Additionally, at this point in the story, Sandor's attacks (just like Tyrion's) are aimed at his physical aspect and not at his lack of moral, or courage, or anything that could potentially be associated with Tysha.


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Welcome, Madam Mim! Do join us in the sandbox, the more to play the merrier. And I hope you find this reread enlightening.




I'll bring the bucket and spade :D





Thanks to Milady for pointing me this way after my long absence of mostly one liners via phone posting. It is fabulous to come back to this. :)



With regards to Sandor's introduction and the theme of the beast and the beastly in ASOIAF, it is perhaps worth noting that he is not just lumped in with the rest of the Lannisters, he is one in a line of three other "beasts". Jaime, Sandor, Joffrey and Tyrion are all characters who, at various stages in the story, take on various forms of the beast, the beastly and in some cases also the monstrous. All of them also get to star in some way in a "beauty and the beast" setting, whether opposite Sansa (Sandor, Joffrey, Tyrion) or in other settings. In the cases of Jaime and Joffrey, they have all this pretty surface, but still come across to us as hardly better than monsters, at least initially in Jamie's case.




Big props to Bubug for amazing art, as always.





I think Ned's particular focus on these beastly characters is reflective of the stigma attached to beastliness in Westeros in general. Jaime, Tyrion and Sandor are defined by their beastliness; Jaime with his beastly actions, with Tyrion and Sandor defined by their hideous appearance. Their identities as people is rendered irrelevant and they are even given identity stripping labels; "The Kingslayer","The Imp" and "The Hound", These labels give them a notoriety throughout Westeros similar to the rock stars of today, with their stories spreading through Westeros like Chinese whispers until they become a distorted caricature of themselves. In the end, only the dastardly are worth remembering.



I suppose we can only speculate about the Tyrion/Sandor tension for the time being although at this early stage it seems more mocking and taunting compared to the abhorrence and loathing expressed in later books (although this hostility stems from Sandor. Tyrion seems to just continue with this antagonistic banter throughout). Tyrion commenting on Sandor's appearance as "hideous" is also interesting given that Tyrion has spent his entire life being judged, derided, ridiculed and treated in terms of his appearance yet he is doing exactly that himself. Likewise, Sandor makes jokes in reference to Tyrion's size when you would think he would be able to empathize (at least a little) and see beyond the physical deformities of his fellow beast.



Apparently there is no camaraderie even among the beasts.





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Alright, Lyanna Stark, I've edited the font to Arial. Hopefully you'll take a look at my posts. Courier New has never looked ghastly to me, though, just reminiscent of type-writer text.

Doubts on the Relationship between Sandor and Tyrion

By the time we reach Sandor’s final scene with Arya, it is clear that Sandor hates Tyrion Lannister and we have witnessed several reasons that factor into that hatred. The tension between the two mounts throughout ACoK, but I must admit that in this first exchange, their words don’t seem very harsh.

Tyrion’s usually acidic tongue does not deliver here, at least not IMO. Considering his word-slapping (and actual slapping) of Joffrey, the sentence “I’m in no mood for your insolence” seems quite tame. Sandor’s “mummer’s farce” must get a lot of mileage when entertaining someone like Joffrey, but we know that, while not as witty as the Imp, Sandor certainly has a well-defined sense of humor. Is this really his brand of humor? His insults are usually more jarring, either for their coarseness or for their ability to wound the recipient’s pride, and his jokes are quite dark. This joke seems mainly for Joff’s amusement, not solely for Tyrion’s torment ("Really? Another short joke? How innovative"). To me, their conversation is almost, almost civil. It ends normally enough, with Tyrion asking about his brother and Sandor pointing him in the right direction.

<snip>

Without jumping ahead, I think there are a number of factors at play behind Sandor's comments on Tyrion indifferent to his feelings on Tyrion. We'll get there eventually.

We don't know the backstory so the best we can do is infer. We did a Tyrion reread a while back and tried to gauge how he was viewed by Lannister bannermen to try and various answer questions such as whether Tywin's notion that Jaime was the heir was communicated to these bannermen. When Tyrion shows up in Tywin's camp at the Crossroads, he is met with fairly universal respect. After the Blackwater when he meets Addam Marbrand on his way to visit Tywin, Addam is also very respectful. He even seems to be pleading with Tyrion to intercede with Cersei about his too many Gold Cloaks problem. So Addam (Jaime's childhood friend) seems to see Tyrion as a full fledged Lannister whom he ought to tender respect. So Sandor is actually fairly unique among Lannister bannermen in his lack of deference to Tyrion as son of his liege.

I think the answer lies in Milady's noting that he would have served Tywin first. I suspect only a Tywin could give implicit permission to someone like a Sandor to mouth off to Tyrion. We get a little glimpse of Tywin's treatment of Tyrion before the Greenfork when Tywin mocks him at dinner. The others at the table laugh, but only because of Tywin's implicit permission-- these are many of the same men that had previously given him a respectful welcome at the Crossroads. Tyrion also doesn't live at Court so it isn't as if this dynamic with Sandor would have developed under Cersei in Tywin's absence at Kings Landing. If Sandor had been respectful and deferential at the Rock he would likely lapse into that during any brief visits Tyrion made to Court. Tyrion being used to this indicates it has been going on for some time.

I think that at some point Tywin must have implicitly given Sandor permission to be mouthy with Tyrion in a vaguely similar way to the permission he gave others to laugh at Tyrion at dinner before the Greenfork. I would suspect this would have occurred after he was appointed to be Cersei's shield-- or dog as Joffrey calls it. Sandor seems to have been brought into the Lannister inner circle as a pseudo-family member like we see with Old Nan and the others Ned would invite to join him at the Stark table. There is definitely a Lannister seasoning to the dynamic so it is different from the Stark relationships for which we get an inside view and have POVs with memories that spell it out for us.

I tend to agree with you that it isn't that bad. At the end when Sandor gives his advice and accurate directions my impression was that despite long standing tension they'd reached a détente of sorts-- my word for what you described as "almost civil." But, to Milday's point, on a first read Sandor is mocking the very sympathetically portrayed Tyrion and as a writing technique this has the potential to be far more off putting than the actual content of his words. On a reread when we already know, I think you're spot on that it is exceptionally mild on both of their parts. Tyrion is usually evoking mouth frothing rages and an angry Sandor at a minimum tosses out a "bugger you" if not a few colorful death threats. Still, one of the most important things in this exchange, buried under the surface, is how this second son of a landed knight is allowed to mouth off to the son (and technically heir) of his lord.

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There's a little bit of symmetry with helms and shadows between that line and one shortly after:

From a number of other passages I think Martin's metaphor, clearly spelled out in Varys's Riddle, of a projected shadow as power was in play from the very beginning. Tyrion has his line about his shadow being tall as a king and his memory of dragon skulls and shadows. At a very basic level we get Sandor projecting power. This probably relates to Bran's dream, but that's a future topic. I'd have to mull over the passage to find a meaningful distinction to the visor being up and down based on your helm observation.

While this doesn't relate to the visor being up or down, your comments bring to mind Morqorro's prophesy:

“Dragons,” Morqorro said in the Common Tongue of Westeros… “Dragons old and young, true and false, bright and dark. And you. A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of all.”

And considering how similarly descriptive, as Sandor is casting a long shadow while donning his snarling helm:

"A shadow fell across his face. He turned to find Clegane looming overheard like a cliff. His soot-dark armor seemed to blot out the sun. He had lowered the visit on his helm. It was fashioned in the likeness of a snarling black hound, fearsome to behold..."

Possible foreshadowing of upcoming events at the Vale? I tend to think that Sandor will be at the Vale when Tyrion arrives with dragons, and this time Tyrion and the dragons will cast a shadow over Sandor. And then there's Tyrion ordering burnt bacon after trading barbs with Sandor: "Oh, and some bacon. Burn it until it turns black." And dragons are also fearsome to behold.

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I am so glad that this reread is now officially on. Thank you very much to the hosts Brashcandy, DogLover and Milady of York for their hard work. And thank you again Milady for these thought-provoking posts :)

Not that it really concerns Eddard, but I would like to add that both Jaime and Sandor have issues with knighthood that are most noticeable when these men are confronted to innocent and idealistic young women. In her first post, Milady wrote that Martin's introductory techniques partly serve to lay out an important narrative theme for the character. And I believe the topic of the 'true knight' is central to Jaime's and Sandor's arc, especially when it comes to women.

I was hoping you'd join us soon, Mahaut, and am happy that you've arrived. If someone would bring knighthood forth, it'd be you. Your grasp of knightly stuff and courtly love will hopefully be of much use as we progress in the reread, and I'm counting on you to delve into this particular topic.

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Not that it really concerns Eddard, but I would like to add that both Jaime and Sandor have issues with knighthood that are most noticeable when these men are confronted to innocent and idealistic young women. In her first post, Milady wrote that Martin's introductory techniques partly serve to lay out an important narrative theme for the character. And I believe the topic of the 'true knight' is central to Jaime's and Sandor's arc, especially when it comes to women.

Good to see you, Mahaut! It will indeed be interesting to explore this topic and how it functions in Sandor's arc and his relationship with Sansa. Both his and Jaime's introductions at Winterfell (and later on the Kingsroad) give us the impression of both men being as far from this ideal as possible as it relates to their actions/comments on Bran. How Martin manages to challenge, subvert, and complicate these impressions will be fascinating to chart, especially as it deepens the characterisations of both men in establishing romantic subplots.

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Thanks, Ragnorak, for taking the time to point out the difference between Sandor's style of addressing Tyrion and that of Addam Marbrand et al. Tyrion is his liege lord's son, after all, even if he isn't the heir, so I shouldn't have expected the sass. Sandor is good at holding his tongue, while Tyrion acknowledges that he cannot do the same. That it is with Tywin's blessing that this happens also makes sense, seeing as how Tyrion had not been living in King's Landing. Both men would know that such permissiveness would be allowed to continue (or even be encouraged to escalate) by Tywin's daughter. Beyond Sandor's insolence, which can color Tyrion's opinion of Sandor negatively (where otherwise he may have sympathized with a fellow "beast" as Mad Madam Mim put it), I don't see evidence of a specific incident (or incidents) which informs readers' opinion that Sandor intensely dislikes Tyrion by this point and that he has felt this way since pre-AGoT. Again quoting Mad Madam Mim, "I suppose we can only speculate about the Tyrion/Sandor tension for the time being although at this early stage it seems more mocking and taunting compared to the abhorrence and loathing expressed in later books". That's just how I feel. We sense some annoyance and contempt for the loud-mouthed dwarf with a rich daddy.



As Sandor changes, his dislike for Tyrion intensifies. And Tyrion isn't the only Lannister who gets on Sandor's bad side (that'd be the left, side, right?). His shift away from Joffrey is indicative of a large-scale movement away from mindless cruelty.



Milady of York calls Sandor a pseudo-father figure, Tannim calls him a big brother – either way, Sandor is a role model for Joffrey, with all that it implies. Why wouldn’t Joffrey want to emulate Sandor? He’s tall, strong, fierce, respected, feared, sharp, everything but handsome. And most of all, he pays enough attention to satisfy Joffrey. Neither the biological father nor the presumed father interact much with Joffrey, but GRRM places Sandor with him at all times in these introductory scenes. He’s loyal to the prince. His jokes seem designed to make the prince laugh, even if nobody else finds them funny. (Well, I laughed at his peering around while exclaiming “Spirits of the air!” - it conjures up a great mental image). Can we say that he encourages or even cultivates Joffrey to appreciate and admire him?



He also has learned to control Joffrey to an extent. DogLover said "Joffrey very much looks up to Sandor, who can quite adeptly manipulate Joffrey to keep him from becoming completely unhinged" - how true! His offer to bump off Summer, which I assume most readers know was not spoken in earnest, also hints at a skilled manipulation of Joffrey: if he was also kept up all night by the direwolf’s howling, he doesn’t mention it and instead manages to vent his annoyance while making it sound like he’s at Joffrey’s service. I feel like sometimes Joffrey doesn't realize he's being manipulated, and at other times he doesn’t quite know where he stands with Sandor. Does Sandor really care about his charge’s well-being or is he simply trying to make his daily work easier? A mix of both?



At any rate, if GRRM’s intention was to establish Sandor firmly in the Lannister camp, only to pull him slowly away, he does a fine job, especially in Arya I and Tyrion I. It will be a bit shocking to remember these moments of "fierce loyalty" to Joffrey once we get into Sandor’s conversation with Polliver & Company (new Disney movie?) at the Inn. This ties in with BrashCandy's observation that "one consequence of wolves and dogs interacting is that the latter becomes less tractable and willing to serve blindly."


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Hello everyone! I am thrilled to see this project has started for my favorite non-POV character and I know the reread is in great hands with Brashcandy, Milady of York and DogLover at the helm. Thank you so much for getting this going! It's great to see some of the old gang from the PtP threads here too as well as the new posters. I'm really looking forward to this and what a way to get it started with some beautiful artwork by Bubug! I loved it, especially the rendering of little boy Sandor playing with the toy knight. I also want to give props to Lady Gwyn and yolkboy for their Radio Westeros podcast. I've been listening to them and each episode has been very enjoyable and insightful and I really love the music chosen so far. If anyone has not had the chance to listen to the "Mother's Hymn" song by Karliene in the Sandor podcast, you are truly missing something special. It was haunting and beautiful at the same time.



I appreciate that this has started off with a look at how the POV structure affects our reading and creates a purposeful bias towards the first impression we get of Martin's characters. I am always amazed upon a reread, when we can spend more time delving into how the narrative is structured and how the characters are set up, that my first impressions of Sandor and many others were so different from what we learn about them later on, but yet it was all right there in the set up. I am already in awe of the depth of discussion that has come about from some of the smallest details, such as how Sandor is mentioned in Ned's POV between Jaime and Tyrion, then followed by Joffrey who are all high ranking members of House Lannister, placing him in a position of prominence which seems out of place at first glance given his rank. Also, the discussion of how Sandor becomes the imposing and foreboding Hound when he slips on his helm, and it is only after he does this that he mentions silencing Bran's wolf, but how taken in context with the line about the howling keeping them up all night, which could seem like a throw away line, this small detail is really important to understanding the underlying motive for the Hound making that comment.



About the theme of knighthood that is so prominent in Sandor's arc and that is set up for us right away in Arya's POV with the exchange between Clegane and Cassel in the training yard, what I noted this time is how one can view this exchange as taking place between two non knights. As we now know, Sandor has never been officially knighted and while Roderick Cassel is referred to as Ser Roderick, we know that the Northmen including Roderick Cassel are not official knights as there is no institution of knighthood in the North. (Hmm, this is strange now that I think about it. Why is Roderick Cassel called Ser Roderick if he is a Northerner?) However, at this point in the books we would not have known this yet on our first reading so it's interesting that the actual language uses terms of real knighthood and draws the first time reader to conclude that real knights are involved. Arya thinks Sandor is a knight at this point, and when he calls out Roderick Cassel about not using real swords, he emphasizes the "ser". (Later we'll understand that Sandor was being sarcastic and contemptuous of the term but we wouldn't know that yet on a first read.) Cassel later responds that he is training "knights" and both that word and "ser" are highlighted in the text. Another thing that's interesting to note here is that the non-knight aspect is something that Sandor has in common with the Northmen.



Finally, this line where Sandor asks, "Are you training women here?" turns out to be ironic and prophetic at the same time doesn't it? Again it's meant to come off as scornful and sarcastic, but later Sandor will indeed be in a position where he is training a young woman named Arya and this has all taken place in her POV.


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Thanks for the warm welcome Milady and Brashcandy. I hope I won't disappoint you ;)







Good to see you, Mahaut! It will indeed be interesting to explore this topic and how it functions in Sandor's arc and his relationship with Sansa. Both his and Jaime's introductions at Winterfell (and later on the Kingsroad) give us the impression of both men being as far from this ideal as possible as it relates to their actions/comments on Bran. How Martin manages to challenge, subvert, and complicate these impressions will be fascinating to chart, especially as it deepens the characterisations of both men in establishing romantic subplots.





Yes, exactly. It is interesting to see that Sandor and Jaime are already set apart from the other knights in their introduction at Winterfell. Three hundred people travel to Winterfell with the royal family; and among them, many knights. Yet Eddard singles out those two among all those knights he's familiar with.


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About the theme of knighthood that is so prominent in Sandor's arc and that is set up for us right away in Arya's POV with the exchange between Clegane and Cassel in the training yard, what I noted this time is how one can view this exchange as taking place between two non knights. As we now know, Sandor has never been officially knighted and while Roderick Cassel is referred to as Ser Roderick, we know that the Northmen including Roderick Cassel are not official knights as there is no institution of knighthood in the North. (Hmm, this is strange now that I think about it. Why is Roderick Cassel called Ser Roderick if he is a Northerner?) However, at this point in the books we would not have known this yet on our first reading so it's interesting that the actual language uses terms of real knighthood and draws the first time reader to conclude that real knights are involved. Arya thinks Sandor is a knight at this point, and when he calls out Roderick Cassel about not using real swords, he emphasizes the "ser". (Later we'll understand that Sandor was being sarcastic and contemptuous of the term but we wouldn't know that yet on a first read.) Cassel later responds that he is training "knights" and both that word and "ser" are highlighted in the text. Another thing that's interesting to note here is that the non-knight aspect is something that Sandor has in common with the Northmen.

Finally, this line where Sandor asks, "Are you training women here?" turns out to be ironic and prophetic at the same time doesn't it? Again it's meant to come off as scornful and sarcastic, but later Sandor will indeed be in a position where he is training a young woman named Arya and this has all taken place in her POV.

Glad to see you here, Elba! We're almost complete now.

I took that line as a sarcastic insinuation that Cassel was molly-coddling the boys he was training, with all that padding and blunt weaponry, but I like your observation on the irony it turned out to be for him with regard to the younger Stark. We could also consider his advice to Sansa on using her "armour" of courtesy in that same light.

It's true that there's few knights in the North because you need to be a follower of the Seven to be one, and the majority follows the Old Gods. But there are a few Houses and individuals who follow the Seven in the North, like the Manderlys, and can legitimately be knighted. Ser Rodrik is one such, he's genuinely a knight himself, though his nephew Jory isn't, likely because he is a weirwood-worshipper. Amongst the Starks, all of them had a strong Faith influence through their mother, and because of that we have Bran who was going to be a knight despite his paternal family's preferred ancient worship. This reminds me of a point Ragnorak mentioned that to an outsider like Sandor, even with the knowledge that the Northerners follow the Old Gods, it wouldn't be so obvious that the Stark heir and spare aren't going to be knights in the fullest sense of the word: their master-at-arms is a knight (ser as courtesy is valid, but to use ser as a nobiliary title without being one is a whole different matter), Robb might have gone to the castle Sept with his mother, and even if he didn't, Bran would've and his face as he stared wistfully at the Kingsguard members would have telegraphed to someone with the Hound's keen eye that this child was dreaming of being the next Aemon the Dragonknight, Ser Arthur and Florian all in one, which we know from his POV he certainly was. And that would impel him to challenge Rodrik's perceived diminishing of the "knights are for killing" reality that he believes in and that shouldn't be spared to boys aspiring to knighthood.

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Glad to see you too Milady. Thanks for the warm welcome and thanks for clarifying the status of Ser Rodrick. I remembered that Jory was not a knight too so that added even more confusion for me but your explanation makes sense. And even if most of the Northmen who follow the Old Gods aren't actual knights most of them seem to have a healthy respect for the institution which is why the sarcastic use of the term "Ser", by a southerner of all things, is all the more significant.


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Milady of York calls Sandor a pseudo-father figure, Tannim calls him a big brother – either way, Sandor is a role model for Joffrey, with all that it implies. Why wouldn’t Joffrey want to emulate Sandor? He’s tall, strong, fierce, respected, feared, sharp, everything but handsome. And most of all, he pays enough attention to satisfy Joffrey. Neither the biological father nor the presumed father interact much with Joffrey, but GRRM places Sandor with him at all times in these introductory scenes. He’s loyal to the prince. His jokes seem designed to make the prince laugh, even if nobody else finds them funny. (Well, I laughed at his peering around while exclaiming “Spirits of the air!” - it conjures up a great mental image). Can we say that he encourages or even cultivates Joffrey to appreciate and admire him?

He also has learned to control Joffrey to an extent. DogLover said "Joffrey very much looks up to Sandor, who can quite adeptly manipulate Joffrey to keep him from becoming completely unhinged" - how true! His offer to bump off Summer, which I assume most readers know was not spoken in earnest, also hints at a skilled manipulation of Joffrey: if he was also kept up all night by the direwolf’s howling, he doesn’t mention it and instead manages to vent his annoyance while making it sound like he’s at Joffrey’s service. I feel like sometimes Joffrey doesn't realize he's being manipulated, and at other times he doesn’t quite know where he stands with Sandor. Does Sandor really care about his charge’s well-being or is he simply trying to make his daily work easier? A mix of both?

At any rate, if GRRM’s intention was to establish Sandor firmly in the Lannister camp, only to pull him slowly away, he does a fine job, especially in Arya I and Tyrion I. It will be a bit shocking to remember these moments of "fierce loyalty" to Joffrey once we get into Sandor’s conversation with Polliver & Company (new Disney movie?) at the Inn. This ties in with BrashCandy's observation that "one consequence of wolves and dogs interacting is that the latter becomes less tractable and willing to serve blindly."

Although Sandor is beneath Joffrey in social status, Joffrey views Sandor as a cool, badass figure yet at the same time Joffrey also revels in his ownership of his scary, badass "dog". There is definitely an element of approval seeking from Joffrey and he tries to emulate Sandor's hardass persona. Joffrey even mimics Sandor's language:

“Are you training women here?” the burned man wanted to know.

Then Joffrey later says:

“I cannot abide the wailing of women.”

And yes, in turn Sandor also entertains this relationship with Joffrey and plays up his badassery with his comments about Summer and 'spirits in the air'. Sandor has definitely got the measure of Joffrey which suggests that although Sandor despises the hypocrisy of the system, he still has the social astuteness to participate in the game.

The reader is supposed to perceive Sandor as a 2D Lannister Lachey. At these early stages Sandor is described as being physically close to Joffrey; he rides next to Joffrey when he is introduced, he pushes himself in front of Joffrey the second time we come across him yet GRRM is already gives us a tiny hint at this early stage that the bond between Joffrey and Sandor may not be as robust as initially believed. When Tyrion slaps Joffrey, Sandor does....nothing! Some sworn Shield eh! This will of course parallel a later scene with Sansa when he says "enough"...but I will contain myself for now.

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Finally, this line where Sandor asks, "Are you training women here?" turns out to be ironic and prophetic at the same time doesn't it? Again it's meant to come off as scornful and sarcastic, but later Sandor will indeed be in a position where he is training a young woman named Arya and this has all taken place in her POV.

Elba, it's so nice to see you. I was wondering when you were going to show up. :) Great observation on Sandor's comment about training women. There's quite a bit of humor to that considering how irreverant Arya was during their time together--she really gave him a run for his money (that he never received). As Milady mentioned, he also trains Sansa, the "proper lady", to behave as a woman is traditionally expected to for the sake of survival.

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Although Sandor is beneath Joffrey in social status, Joffrey views Sandor as a cool, badass figure yet at the same time Joffrey also revels in his ownership of his scary, badass "dog". There is definitely an element of approval seeking from Joffrey and he tries to emulate Sandor's hardass persona. Joffrey even mimics Sandor's language:

Nice catch, Mad Madam Mim, and made me think that while Joffrey makes his snotty "I cannot abide the wailing women comment" in an effort to impress Sandor, we soon find that Sandor cannot abide Joffrey's abuse that causes a certain someone a great deal of pain and tears.

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Indeed!



We are currently seeing the established status quo of their relationship and this relationship seems to be mutually beneficial to both of them; Joffrey gets his surrogate father figure/badass dog and Sandor gets his cushy job with the Lannisters. They have a good thing going between them just so long as they don't push each other too far. What will gradually come to light is that despite his brutal, harsh persona, Sandor does have his own distinct moral code which Joffrey fails to grasp and instead gets it tragically wrong. At the moment Sandor is entertaining his relationship with Joffrey by playing up his badassery to him, the the further Joffrey sinks into depravity then the more detached Sandor seems to get.



i am hoping this re-read will unpick some interesting things in the Joffrey/Sandor relationship.


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Just popping in to say how excited I am to see this Sandor reread underway! Thank you, Milady of York, Doglover, and Brashcandy for undertaking such a wonderful project! I really appreciated the opening framing essay that considers the literary techniques at work, especially those of the Third Person Subjective, in establishing this character for later development. For me, this exploration of the subjective nature of experience is the point of the books, and I just love the prospect of triangulating multiple points of view to construct the character of Sandor.



Like several others, I am always struck by the contrasts set up with Ned's initial introduction:


Ned knew many of the riders. There came Ser Jaime Lannister with hair as bright as beaten gold, and there Sandor Clegane with his terrible burned face. The tall boy beside him could only be the crown prince, and that stunted little man behind them was surely the Imp, Tyrion Lannister.


We can see a Jaime/Sandor contrast, bright and golden vs. terrible and burned, the Joffrey/Tyrion contrast, tall vs. stunted. The structure invites us to pair Jaime and Joffrey, Sandor and Tyrion, with the first pair fitting some sort of physical ideal, the second a monstrous other. It's interesting that Joffrey alone is unnamed, he's just the crown prince. I think the structure also invites us to think chiastically, to put Jaime and Tyrion together as first and last (and their shared name, Lannister, emphasizes the point), and Sandor and Joffrey together as the middle term.



And this gold and shadows intro, in combination with all the further dark/shadows language that surrounds Sandor (and the golden imagery that surrounds Jaime in the opening chapters), also prefigures for us Bran's later vision "One shadow was as dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful." It's right there in our very first glimpse!



Regarding the scene in the yard with Tyrion, I was struck by the fact that Sandor's little schtick about Tyrion being too short for him to see was something that had apparently been enacted many times, and by how much Joffrey seems just a boy in that scene, albeit a horrid, petulant little boy. I think this effect is created in some measure by Sandor's little "mummer's farce," which seems like the kind of slapstick humor created to amuse a small child. (Though admittedly, given that Sandor is one of the tallest men in Westeros, and Tyrion one of the shortest, no doubt the contrast in height is rather remarkable.) It made me wonder what other little amusements the Hound enacts for Joffrey, whether they are of his own devising or Joffrey's; like Mad Madam Mim, I'm interested to see what this reread unearths about the Joffrey/Hound relationship.


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This is amazing...



I opened this because I saw Rag came back and I was so happy to see him and just imagine my happiness to see you all...



Milady, brash and Doglover, all the happiness on your reread. I was really happy to see that intellectual drought has ended on these boards and happier to see some old faces back.



I don't have much time at the moment, but it was great read. Congrats to Milady on beautiful essay and a lot of great things people brought up. Great job... Keep up.


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Regarding the scene in the yard with Tyrion, I was struck by the fact that Sandor's little schtick about Tyrion being too short for him to see was something that had apparently been enacted many times, and by how much Joffrey seems just a boy in that scene, albeit a horrid, petulant little boy. I think this effect is created in some measure by Sandor's little "mummer's farce," which seems like the kind of slapstick humor created to amuse a small child. (Though admittedly, given that Sandor is one of the tallest men in Westeros, and Tyrion one of the shortest, no doubt the contrast in height is rather remarkable.) It made me wonder what other little amusements the Hound enacts for Joffrey, whether they are of his own devising or Joffrey's; like Mad Madam Mim, I'm interested to see what this reread unearths about the Joffrey/Hound relationship.

Welcome to the thread, Hrafntyr! In these scenes at Winterfell, we're definitely seeing the Hound/Joffrey relationship in its "golden" period, where we get a glimpse of how the Hound manages to interest and distract a boy who tends to the more sadistic side of things when it comes to his entertainment. And it becomes no laughing matter when we consider that at some point during this visit, Joffrey arranges with a catspaw to murder Bran, which exacerbates the tensions between the Lannisters and Starks in King's Landing. It highlights that despite whatever surrogate role or mediating influence Sandor might have had in the boy's life, Joff was always a loose canon, waiting to unleash a terrible tyranny that comes much sooner than anyone would have imagined or wanted.

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