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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

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Welcome to the second edition of Rereading Sandor!



As stated in the beginning, DogLover, Brashcandy and I envision as the project’s purpose to closely examine Sandor Clegane’s depiction and character development throughout the current five novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. And in keeping with this goal, it’s worth reiterating that our discussion aims to approach Sandor on his own terms and for his own sake, meaning that although the POV chapters’ original narrators are others, it is Sandor’s viewpoint in each situation that will be established in delving inside his characteristics, the inner and outward conflicts, the controversies and, of course, the connections he is able to foster with other characters that interact and cross paths with him along his journey.



For proper discussion of each chapter, our analyses will be posted once per week. And as main guidelines for debating and posting, we recommend to stay within topics examined after each chapter and not jump ahead or go off-topic; as well as be open-minded and constructive. Of course, to maintain a friendly atmosphere, to be polite and respectful, avoiding ad hominem and confrontational posting is required.



Happy posting!




AGOT Chapter Analyses:




ACOK Chapter List:




ASOS Chapter List:



  • SANDOR I: THE HOUND IS MISSING

Jaime I (Ch. 1)


Arya I (Ch. 3)


Tyrion I (Ch. 4)


Tyrion II (Ch. 12)


Arya III (Ch. 17)


Jaime III (Ch. 21)


  • SANDOR II: IN A GIRL'S DREAMS

Sansa I (Ch. 6)


Sansa II (Ch. 16)


Sansa III (Ch. 28)


  • SANDOR III: CAPTURE AND TRIAL

Arya V (Ch. 29)


Arya VI (Ch. 34)


  • SANDOR IV: HOW TO KIDNAP A LITTLE WOLF

Arya VII (Ch. 37)


Arya VIII (Ch. 43)


  • SANDOR V: TO A BLOODY WEDDING WE GO

Arya IX (Ch. 47)


  • SANDOR VI: THE END OF ALL HOPES

Arya X (Ch. 50)


Arya XI (Ch. 52)


  • SANDOR VII: THE LONG ROAD TO NOWHERE

Tyrion VIII (Ch. 60)


Sansa V (Ch. 61)


Jaime VII (Ch. 67)


Arya XII (Ch. 65)


Tyrion IX (Ch. 66)


Jaime VIII (Ch. 67)


  • SANDOR VIII: A DREAM

Sansa VI (Ch. 68)


  • SANDOR IX: THE LAST FIGHT

Arya XIII (Ch. 74)


Epilogue


Edited by Milady of York

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Welcome! We do hope the Sandor reread participants continue to offer their insights and strongly encourage lurkers chime in. The more voices, the richer the conversation.



Milady, I really enjoyed your Kennelmaster mini-essay! Not only was it entertaining, but also really cleared up my pre-conceived notion that a kennelmaster held a very low position in a royal or noble household: I always envisioned the kennelmaster job close to indentured servitude. Considering the Lannisters are so rich and Tytos so generous, it does stand to reason that the Clegane household lived a fairly comfortable lifestyle for the time. Taking into account the pride Sandor evokes when speaking of his grandfather's elevation to Landed Knight and his disillusionment of knighthood as a result of his brother's and father's treatment of him, this provides an important framework for understanding Sandor's very complex subverted knight arc. His grandfather apparently had a strong work ethic and was rewarded for loyalty and a job well done. On the complete other end of the spectrum, we have Gregor, who viciously abused Sandor and continued to commit atrocious crimes, but, regardless, was elevated to knighthood. All the while, Sandor's own father chose to act as if nothing happened for the sake of his eldest son's elevation to a position he never truly earned.

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Wonderful, a new thread! To kick us off, the lovely and astute Lyanna Stark will be posting the chapter summary and analysis for Sandor IV, the first of three guest presenters who will see us through to the end of A Clash of Kings. Our thanks to all those who made the first thread such an enjoyable and rewarding space for analysis, and we look forward to the continuation of more insights into Sandor's arc.


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SANDOR IV: WAITING FOR BLACKWATER
Chapters: ACOK Sansa IV, Tyrion XII
Summary
Sansa IV opens with this ominous line about the state in Kings Landing.
The southern sky was black with smoke.

Sansa meets with Dontos in the Godswood. Tyrion has been setting everything outside the walls on fire, Stannis is "smoking out Tyrion's savages" and allegedly the "wildlings", meaning the clansmen from the Vale, are setting fires of their own too. We hear from Dontos who heard it from Tyrion who told Cersei that Stannis ought to try and teach his horses to eat ash since they'd find no grass to eat.
When Dontos tells Sansa not to be afraid, she remembers the Bread riots where the mob assaulted her.
They had hemmed her in and thrown filth at her and tried to pull her off her horse, and would have done worse if the Hound had not cut his way to her side.

After the meeting with Dontos, she passes by her bedchamber and decides to climb up to the roof of the Red Keep to look out over Kings Landing. When she reaches the top, she feels a stab of pain in her belly which later turns out to be her first menstruation and she nearly falls, but is caught by the Hound who've apparently also made the trek up to the roof.
Sandor and Sansa end up having a conversation fraught with disagreements and where their respective world views clash.
Sandor begins rather harshly even for him by referencing Bran as Sansa's "crippled brother" and asks her if she wants to end up like him. Then he goes on to referencing the Bread riots and how she had been happy to see him then even if she could not bear to look at him now, interpreting her looking away as rejection once again.
"The little bird still can't bear to look at me, can she?" The Hound released her. "You were glad enough to see my face when the mob had you, though. Remember?"

Sansa remembers the Bread riots only too well, and since a lady must never forget her courtesies, she decides that she needs to look at him, really look.

The scars are not the worst part, nor even the way his mouth twitches. It's his eyes. She had never seen eyes so full of anger.

She tells him she should have come to him afterwards to thank him for saving her and for being brave, yet he only snarls back and describes the rioters as "rats" who had him thirty to one.
Unlike most conversations in Kings Landing where Sansa is compliant, subdued or outright submissive, she decides to question Sandor honestly about his, frankly, rather mean-spirited posturing here.

She hated the way he talked, always so harsh and angry. "Does it give you joy to scare people?"
"No, it gives me joy to kill people". His mouth twitched. "Wrinkle up your face all you like, but spare me the false piety. You were a high lord's get. Don't tell me Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell never killed a man."

Sansa goes on to claim that was his duty, which Sandor rejects as a lie. He then goes on to draw his longsword and talk about how that is the truth, and how the Ned might be of a long and noble line, but he died all the same and "did a little dance" when Ilyn Payne cut off his head.

Sansa hugged herself, suddenly cold. "Why are you always so hateful? I was thanking you..."
"Just as if I was one of those true knights you love so well, yes. What do you think a knight is for, girl? You think it's all taking favors from ladies and looking fine in gold plate? Knights are for killing." He laid the edge of his longsword against her neck, just under her ear. Sansa could feel the sharpness of the steel.

Sandor then goes on to tell her that he killed his first man at twelve, and then a long list of the various people he's killed since, how they are the meat and he is the butcher how they can have their Sers as long as he has his sword, and as long as he has it, there is no man he needs to fear.
Except your brother, Sansa thought, but she had better sense than to say it aloud. He is a dog, just as he says. A half-wild, mean-tempered dog that bites any hand that tries to pet him, and yet will savage any man who tries to hurt his masters.

Then their conversation turns to Stannis and what will come during the battle for Kings Landing. Sansa questions Sandor what he will do and whether he is afraid, at which point they have a theological discussion where we see their different views of faith and Gods really clash.

"Aren't you afraid? The gods might send you down to some terrible hell for all the evil you've done."
"What evil?" He laughed. "What gods?"

The theological discussion then segues into further debate on True Knights and their nature after which Sansa declares just what she thinks of Sandor's view on the world.

Sansa backed away from him. "You're awful."
"I'm honest. It's the world that's awful. Now fly away, little bird, I'm sick of you peeping at me."

The chapter then concludes with Sansa dreaming about the bread riot again, and this time Sandor is absent from the long list of saviours and champions she is calling for. The dream ends with her experiencing that she has succumbed to the rioters and get stabbed repeatedly in the stomach, after which she wakes up to realise she has just had her first period and then goes on to set all her clothes and bedding on fire. Cersei invites Sansa to breakfast and imparts her queenly wisdom.

"Robert wanted to be loved.. My brother Tyrion has the same disease. Do you want to be loved Sansa?"
"Everyone wants to be loved."
"I see flowering hasn't made you any brighter," said Cersei. "Sansa, permit me to share a bit of womanly wisdom with you on this very special day. Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same."

Tyrion XII
Tyrion has a lavish dinner with Cersei which opens up with the news of Theon's murder of Bran and Rickon. Tyrion points out that they had better take care of Sansa or they may lose Jaime. They continue to discuss the political situation, Littlefinger's potential success or failing at Bitterbridge, Varys' secrets and Cersei reveals that Varys' has been tattling to her about Tyrion's plans for Sandor.
"For years, I was convinced I had no truer friend at court, but now..." She studied his face for a moment. "He says you mean to take the Hound from Joffrey."

Tyrion comments that he needs Sandor for more important duties and they argue.
"I need Balon Swann and the Hound to lead sorties, to make certain Stannis gets no toehold on our side of the Blackwater."

Tyrion and Cersei then have an altercation about Alayaya and Tyrion goes off to see Shae, whom Varys has brought to his chambers via a secret passage. UnfortunatelyTyrion is greatly worried about the entire situation and suffers a somewhat embarrassing erectile dysfunction.
Edited by Lyanna Stark

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ANALYSIS

To start of with - Some points people often overlook
To start the analysis, there are some things about the discussion Sansa and Sandor have that people often overlook.
The first is that Sandor is already on top of the Red Keep when Sansa arrives, the second is that although Sansa admits that he scares her on general principles, she is comfortable enough around him that she can challenge his opinions openly without fear of repercussions from him, and although he ends up putting his sword next to her throat, she does not once indicate a worry that he will hurt her with it. In fact, just afterwards she expresses a wish that Dontos would be better with some of the Hound's ferocity. Given these facts, it puts a unique light on how strangely safe Sansa feels in Sandor's company, despite his strange and often unpardonable behaviour towards her.


Valar Morghulis - All men must die


Death hangs like a spectre over these chapters and the one in between (Jon VII, at the Skirling Pass "He is staying to die", RIP Squire Dalbridge). It opens up with Sansa describing how afraid everyone is in Kings Landing and that fear is of the death that comes with a sacking. As Cersei puts it later "there is a dearth of good sacking songs" and that is for a good reason. When Sansa meets Sandor on the top of the Red Keep a lot of their discussion deals with death.

"What will you do when he [stannis] crosses?"
"Fight. Kill. Die, maybe."
"Aren't you afraid? The gods might send you down to some terrible hell for all the evil you've done."




Sandor deflects and answers only the question about the gods and then goes on to tell Sansa how people who can't protect themselves should get out of the way . Just before the talk about Stannis, he's been telling Sansa in detail about Eddard Stark's death and pontificated about how thousands of years of heritage and he died all the same like any other man would. Valar Morghulis Eddard Stark. Everyone is mortal.

Overall, this is quite a lot of macho posturing and and Sansa finds his Everything Dies, there are no Gods, no forgiveness and sheep should get out of the way - narrative quite frustrating. Further, it's also untrue as she is living proof of. Had Sandor actually practised what he preaches, he would have left Sansa at the bread riots in the style of Trant and Blount, yet we know that he didn't, and that he actually tried to get to Aron Santagar and honestly did not see Lollys either.

This also ties in further with the theme of True Knights, whether they exist and what they are meant for. Are they only for killing or is there something more? Are the men who cares about deeds only silly Knights of Summer, or is there value in deeds that will be sung of in years to come when you've decided to walk through fire or snow to save the Ned's little girl? To quote something from my own ancestors on the Valar Morghulis theme and what remains of dead men, from the poetic Edda, Havamal:

Deyr fé,
deyja frændur,
deyr sjálfur ið sama.
Eg veit einn,
að aldrei deyr;
dómur um dauðan hvern.


...

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead.



Perhaps it matters not just that everyone and everything dies, but how you go and what you believe in, too.


I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.


“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”




In the light of Valar Morghulis and how all men must die, Sansa notes how Kings Landing is a city saturated by fear. Dontos tells her to not be afraid, but she feels i does nothing. Tyrion is so worried about the Kings Landing siege and the Shae/Alayaya situation he cannot get it up for Shae (oh noes), yet Sandor neatly dodges the question of fear. Yet given the setting, we can ask ourselves, why is he up at the top of the red keep, looking out over the fires he loathes so much? Why does he talk and talk of death, and how he has killed anyone and everyone? Can it maybe, possibly be a way to deal with the fear, the mind-killer?

As we learn, Stannis is no coward, and his army is certainly not made up of rats who Sandor can defeat even if they have him 30 to 1. Now the danger is very real and very, very near, yet Sandor has no outlet for his fear, no Shae who can hold him and reassure him, and instead, he lashes out and bites the hand that might pet him.
Regarding Sansa's reaction to Sandor in this chapter, she admits to being afraid of him, but it is clear from her actions that she does not seem overly disturbed when he puts a sword against her neck (which is in itself rather remarkable), she is very comfortable with contradicting him and challenging his opinions. She also looks at his face and states that his scars are not the worst part, what really disturbs her is his anger. It stands in stark contrast to her feelings for Joffrey and the absolute terror she feels at the thought of having to marry him, and the wary fear she displays in Cersei's company. Even despite his abominable behaviour and the rather unproductive outcome of their conversation, Sansa's fear is directed elsewhere.

Only a man who's been burned knows what hell is truly like

Kings Landing is surrounded by fires, and fires and burning is what Sandor fears the most. During the bread riots, Tyrion suspected that the fear he saw in the Hounds' eyes was indeed his terror of fires, but he never considered the full ramifications of it, and he does not know the background. Sansa knows though, and correctly surmises just why Sandor may suffer a huge extra dosage of fear and stress for what's to come. Here his fear if fire and his brother Gregor are tightly linked within the chapter.

We also get forewarning from Tyrion's chapter of how he is planning for the Hound and Balon Swann to lead the sorties in Jaime's place, while Kettleblack no 1 and Meryn Trant are left guarding Joffrey since they are deemed too incompetent to lead men into battle.



A few other miscellaneous thematic observations:

Love is Poison
Cersei Imparts her Wisdom, part N, where N approaches infinity. Sansa reflectively answers that everyone wants to be loved, which Cersei rejects as silliness. Yet if we are looking at characters like Tyrion and Sandors, the two "monsters" in these chapters, and also at Jon and Ygritte (telling the Bael the Bard story) then yes, I think it's fairly clear most people do want to be loved. Although for Sansa, the prospect of being Joffrey's "lady love" is becoming ever more frightening and fraught with danger in this chapter, as she has her first period and officially crosses the threshold to womanhood.


Of Gods and Prayers - Is there anybody out there?
Sandor claims there are no Gods and in the beginning of the chapter Sansa seems inclined to agree with him, yet Dontos cautions her when she tells him she wants the Great Sept of Baelor burned.

"I want it burned"
"Hush, child, the gods will hear you."
"Why would they? They never hear my prayers."

Dontos claimed they sent him, yet Sansa is peeved that he has not yet taken her home. As we discussed whether Dontos or Sandor is the "real" Florian sent to Sansa as an answer to her prayers, this could be a rather ironic constellation with Sandor the God-denier being the answer to a prayer. And on a more general note of prayers answered: will the Great Sept of Baelor end up burnt to the ground? Will the Gods hear Sansa's prayer for Sandor (which is yet to come)? Is he himself a somewhat ironic answer to a prayer?

Holy phallic imagery!
Instead of writing this one up from the very beginning, I am just going to link to brashcandy's original write up of all the very manly phallic imagery in this chapter and what they point towards, which we will also see more of in the next section and which Cersei will also later helpfully comment on (in her life lesson "Cersei Imparts her Wisdom, part N+1" ) with her "men like to use their swords, both kinds of swords".



Author's notes: Thank you for letting me take part in this wonderful re-read project! This little write-up is posted with sincere apologies and admiration for Alice Cooper, my viking ancestors, the Bene Gesserit, Type O Negative and all of you lovely hostesses of this thread,

Edited by Lyanna Stark

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The chapter then concludes with Sansa dreaming about the bread riot again, and this time Sandor is absent from the long list of saviours and champions she is calling for. The dream ends with her experiencing that she has succumbed to the rioters and get stabbed repeatedly in the stomach

That's actually a very interesting observation. She has a list of saviors in mind, she gets attacked, calls out for them, no one comes. This shows that at least on a subconscious level, Sansa adopts the Hound's "there are no true knights" point of view of the world. It would've been interesting to see what would have happened if she called for the Hound to rescue her in that dream, as interesting as reading about the Hound's reaction to Joff's order for him to hit Sansa if Tyrion had not intervened. Martin cleverly left out the two major relationship defining moments from the story.

Later, after Sandor left KL, she wishes he was here and would offer her advice. The same goes for Lady, after Lady is gone, Sansa wishes she was here and that she could smell a lie. There is most definitely a parallel between Sandor and Sansa's wolf here. Hopefully, unlike Lady, Sandor will come back to serve Sansa. If not, I suppose Sansa would then adopt Mya's view of the world.

"Men come and go. They lie, or die, or leave you."

Sansa met her share of liars, her father got executed, and as far as she knows, Sandor fits in to the leave you category. If he does return, he would destroy this perception of him and become a true knight (or at least something fairly close to that).

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That's actually a very interesting observation. She has a list of saviors in mind, she gets attacked, calls out for them, no one comes. This shows that at least on a subconscious level, Sansa adopts the Hound's "there are no true knights" point of view of the world. It would've been interesting to see what would have happened if she called for the Hound to rescue her in that dream, as interesting as reading about the Hound's reaction to Joff's order for him to hit Sansa if Tyrion had not intervened.

Yes, I have always wondered why he is left out of the list of people she rattles off here, since in reality, he was there and was her de facto saviour. Whether it points to that he cannot save her from her period "unfurling a banner of Lannister crimson" and the impending wedding to Joffrey, or whether he doesn't fit the mould of a True Knight in her mind, I cannot say. Perhaps it is left ambiguous by design. I've read some more or less outlandish theories for what it means, but I tend to go with the simplest solution(s) where possible.

A small addition and comparison between Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire

A thing I left out because I am embarrassed to use movie resources and the quotations from the novels defeated me (mea culpa) is a comparison I had in mind between the pre-battle scenes and the fear-of-death scenes in Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire. As this will be somewhat incorrect since the movies mangles the novels to a degree (although less than the GOT show runners are mangling ASOIAF since the LOTR people even sourced material from the LOTR appendices, so respect to that), take it with a grain of salt. However I find it rather illustrative of the type of scenes we are perhaps given to expect, compared to what we are presented by GRRM with the Battle of the Blackwater.

First, if we compare Sansa's and Sandor's and perhaps Cersei's and Tyrion's one the one hand unproductive and frustrating conversation at the top of the Red Keep and on the other hand the outright antagonistic and even more frustrating conversation and altercation between Cersei and Tyrion with the far more traditional epic fantasy version of Lord of the Rings, we get a rather interesting contrast. Here, hope is scarce, but our heroes hold up even despite overwhelming odds. In ASOIAF, we end up rooting for both sides, since on the one hand we have Tyrion, Sansa and Sandor, on the other we have Davos, Davos' sons and Stannis, but then we also have Joffrey, Cersei, Meryn Trant and Boros Blount, and is Stannis really that nice after all? He burnt the Godswood at Storms End. In any case, the Kings Landing bunch is far from as convinced in their righteous cause and in their hope as the Minas Tirith gang.

Secondly, the theological debate Sandor and Sansa engages in, and which Sansa also touches upon with Dontos, whether there are any Gods and if they are listening to any of the prayers given, is at least mostly pretty depressing. The world seems more or less abandoned by the gods and Sansa, who is one of the more religious people in the series, doubts the Gods hear her prayers. Sandor rejects them outright and claim there are no gods, that he won't be judged for any evil deeds by them, oh no. This is also very different from the deeply devout belief that underpins Tolkien's writings. While these quotes are taken out of their original context, they are still very close to the source material, just placed in a different setting, and help illustrate what a huge contrast Lord of the Rings often is to A Song of Ice and Fire. I would even say that the two works are in conversation with each other: the latter would not be what it is if the former had not dealt a certain way with these themes. You cannot deconstruct something that does not exist. :)

The contrast between "Valar Morghulis" and "Death is just another path, one we all must take..." (I have to admit, it may be a movie version I have some issues with, but this passage still gives me Major Shivers ) is also enormous. One is death as an end, while the other contains a solid faith in the afterlife.

In Lord of the Rings, a cock crows, dawn breaks, the Rohirrim attacks and there is great symbolism in Hope and Light, while in Kings Landing, the Day of (Possible and Probable) Defeat on the Blackwater dawns for many, which will be dealt with in the next Sandor episode. Perhaps ASOIAF will eventually have a heroic "Stand and Fight, Men of the West(eros)" moment, but I actually doubt it. The heroics in A Song of Ice and Fire are often smaller, or they come with a twist that make them far less straight forward. (I also envision a Dany/Jon amalgamation as Azor Ahai taking the place as the Witch King of Angmar with a dragon instead of a Nazgûl mount, heh.)

Edited by Lyanna Stark

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Phew, there has been so much good stuff going on here lately. Particularly appreciated Milady's commentary on the Florian figures on the Serpentines.

Doglover mentioned a parallel between the Beauty and the Beast’s ring and Floris and Blanchefleur’s and it made me think of the library the Beast gives to Beauty and the books the kids share in the palace of Almeria. Floris and Blanchefleur fall in love through reading about these romantic stories in the gardens with the birds singing in the background.

It is later replicated in the Emir of Babylon’s gardens, where the singing comes from mechanical birds and the books Blanchefleur says to be reading have a more sexual content as they are meant to help her learn how to please the man who holds her captive and ambitions to wed her.

This essay of Milady’s explains the importance of singing and bonding. I’ll quote a bit:

Not Tyrion “The last thing my wife needs is more songs” Lannister, and not Petyr “Life is not a song, sweetling” Baelish. Which is revealing in two ways: it indicates inability to bond emotionally with her and disinterest in/disregard for her feelings. (…) Compared to the scene with Sandor taking her back to her room from the serpentine steps, in which he’s cupping her chin whilst he requests a song, we see no sign of discomfort on her part but a willing offer of singing her favourite ballad, whereas Baelish has made an eleven-year-old Sansa feel ill at ease three times in just the first book: when introducing himself at the Hand’s Tourney and touching her hair, when telling her the quoted line whilst touching her face, and when she was summoned to the council meeting and she registered that the manner he looked at her made her feel naked. Furthermore, his use of songs and singers as tools for deceit and manipulation outside of this specific scene strengthens this interpretation.

To start the analysis, there are some things about the discussion Sansa and Sandor have that people often overlook.
The first is that Sandor is already on top of the Red Keep when Sansa arrives, the second is that although Sansa admits that he scares her on general principles, she is comfortable enough around him that she can challenge his opinions openly without fear of repercussions from him, and although he ends up putting his sword next to her throat, she does not once indicate a worry that he will hurt her with it. In fact, just afterwards she expresses a wish that Dontos would be better with some of the Hound's ferocity. Given these facts, it puts a unique light on how strangely safe Sansa feels in Sandor's company, despite his strange and often unpardonable behaviour towards her.

I always wondered what was Sandor doing in Maegor’s just chilling in the shadows. Waiting for his favorite Stark girl to need his gentle and strong hands to steady her yet again? :P

Some time ago I thought maybe he wanted to be close to her chambers in case she’d go to the Godswood and get in trouble as he knows she’s hiding something but your interpretation that he may be looking to the burning Kingswood and mentally preparing for battle makes much more sense.

The reason he was not in her nightmare was probably because he had actually saved her in rl. The nightmare juxtaposed her expectations with reality. She was dreaming of those she expected would protect her, but the help she received the day it actually happened came from an unlikely ally. Note that she mentions Ser Dontos, who she believes is a friend, her father and brothers whom by westerosi custom are to protect her, Lady and the heroes from the songs. There’s no Kingsguard member, no random person from King’s Landing, not anyone who was truly down there with her.

Stannis burned Winterfell’s godswood?

Edited by CatherineLaw

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Great analysis, Lyanna :) I'm glad you started out with those points that people often overlook, one of which is that Sandor is already atop the roof when Sansa arrives, which tells us a lot about his mindset as the battle approaches, especially knowing that he will have to fight in the suffocating and hellish atmosphere caused by all the burning on both sides. It brings to mind the old saying "you don't fight fire with fire," a memo that Cersei and Tyrion certainly didn't receive if their interplay during dinner in the following chapter is anything to go by.



The beginning of Sandor and Sansa's conversation is firmly connected to the events at the bread riot: Sansa is still suffering from the traumatic after effects of the violence there, and Sandor is still sulking from not being thanked like the true knight he claims he isn't ;) It makes for their own "fighting fire with fire" moments as both challenge and provoke the other with incendiary comments. The difference between their conversation and the one shared between Cersei and Tyrion, however, comes down to the matter of genuine affection and concern vs. the barely concealed contempt that characterizes the siblings' relationship. Despite taking her time to thank him, there's no doubt that Sansa is profoundly grateful for the Hound's rescue of her that day; and despite his attempts to downplay his heroics, Sandor's moodiness speaks to an underlying desire to have Sansa's appreciation, something which would not matter if he was not developing strong feelings for her.



Fear and love emerge as the two main factors informing Sandor's behaviour in the scene, and these emotional assaults result in him being even more on edge and harsh in his comments towards Sansa. Yet we know from his actions during the riot that Sandor is not actually invested to the extent he claims to be in an identity of "the butcher" while everyone else is "meat". It's like he needs to reinforce this violent ideology to Sansa in order to convince himself that he's not actually caring, not actually beginning to desire something else very different from the life he has lived up to now.


Edited by brashcandy

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Author's notes: Thank you for letting me take part in this wonderful re-read project! This little write-up is posted with sincere apologies and admiration for Alice Cooper, my viking ancestors, the Bene Gesserit, Type O Negative and all of you lovely hostesses of this thread,

Beautiful analysis, Lyanna! I've always loved how you put so much enthusiasm into them and make them so entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time.

Valar Morghulis - All men must die

Death hangs like a spectre over these chapters and the one in between (Jon VII, at the Skirling Pass "He is staying to die", RIP Squire Dalbridge). It opens up with Sansa describing how afraid everyone is in Kings Landing and that fear is of the death that comes with a sacking. As Cersei puts it later "there is a dearth of good sacking songs" and that is for a good reason. When Sansa meets Sandor on the top of the Red Keep a lot of their discussion deals with death.

Sandor deflects and answers only the question about the gods and then goes on to tell Sansa how people who can't protect themselves should get out of the way . Just before the talk about Stannis, he's been telling Sansa in detail about Eddard Stark's death and pontificated about how thousands of years of heritage and he died all the same like any other man would. Valar Morghulis Eddard Stark. Everyone is mortal.

Overall, this is quite a lot of macho posturing and and Sansa finds his Everything Dies, there are no Gods, no forgiveness and sheep should get out of the way - narrative quite frustrating. Further, it's also untrue as she is living proof of. Had Sandor actually practised what he preaches, he would have left Sansa at the bread riots in the style of Trant and Blount, yet we know that he didn't, and that he actually tried to get to Aron Santagar and honestly did not see Lollys either.

This also ties in further with the theme of True Knights, whether they exist and what they are meant for. Are they only for killing or is there something more? Are the men who cares about deeds only silly Knights of Summer, or is there value in deeds that will be sung of in years to come when you've decided to walk through fire or snow to save the Ned's little girl? To quote something from my own ancestors on the Valar Morghulis theme and what remains of dead men, from the poetic Edda, Havamal:

In this chapter, Sandor comes out as ruder than in any previous occasion because the viewpoint character that is narrating this episode, who also happens to be the person he tends to open up with the most and be more candid with, has found him at the end of the day when he's likely been there for hours, and the accumulation of factors have put him in an awful mood that he's now displaying.

First and before addressing those, Sandor is there at the rooftop likely for the same reason Sansa went: to escape his living quarters for a moment, because Maegor's Holdfast is the fortress where the royal family lives, and so Sandor is likely to have his quarters there as well from since he was merely Cersei's dog, as there's no mention of him ever occupying a cell in the White Sword Tower with the rest of the Kingsguard. On the rooftop, where he seems to have been for a while, he must've had plenty of time to reflect, and amongst those thoughts would be the memories of his first battle, the Sack of King's Landing, at the age of twelve, the same age Sansa is now. Only that he was in the fighting, and that sack is remembered years later as particularly vicious. Boy Sandor obviously witnessed those horrors, killed in it even, and that is bound to leave a mental scar, especially if he knew the sack was unasked for, and then what his brother did just added to the burden. Until then, who'd even bother about who Sandor was? He was just one squire in the troops of a high lord, but from that sack onwards he was a Clegane, brother to the monster who raped Elia and killed Aegon, tainted by association. And here, he's again facing another battle in the same place, again at the behest of the Lannisters, but now in a commanding position and with responsibilities: it's now on him and the other leaders to avoid the fall of King's Landing, which won't be spared another horrid sacking and thousands would die, just as they died the first time and he couldn't do anything about it.

Then there's fire and that he knows he'll fight in it. Why is he there contemplating them from the rooftop? Because he's already been told by Tyrion of what the plan is. As the Imp already has sent the clansmen to harass the Baratheon troops, he must also have given Sandor the battle plan for his troops, where he and his men will be placed, what sector they must defend, etc. And possibly he also mentioned they'd use fire, perhaps not the whole extent of it, but using fire to combat a landing army isn't uncommon and he needn't be so secretive, and I'm not speaking of wildfire but normal fire, so even if Tyrion didn't tell him, he's only to look round and see the defence positions, the trebuchets, the paltry royal navy, etc., to guess how they'll fight. Maegor's is one of the tallest towers, he'd get a good view of the whole city and the Kingswood, and he can stay there alone for hours mentally preparing himself for what's come.

And next is his brother, as he knows he's going to fight he thinks he might die in this one, and if Gregor is still alive and continues to live for long years protected by the Lannisters that protected him from the consequences of his deeds during the Sack, then that adds more to the sense of injustice and futility from Sandor's perspective.

Futility is pervasive in the Hound's attitude here, and also may factor in why he lashes out at Sansa of all people. What he says to her is quite telling about what's in his mind too: the harsh reminder of how Bran was crippled is a throwback to the day he saved her from pushing Joffrey and falling herself to her death, the demand that she look at him and saying that she was glad to see him during the riots is again a reminder of the second time he saved her life. Both his first words are about protecting her, and there's a underlying worry that if he's gone, she's no longer safe; but how to tell her that when she cannot look at him and hasn't gone to him to say anything for saving her life as she herself recognises she should have? He cannot, and falls back into posturing. From what he says, only the speech on true knights rings genuine and not induced by the stress and residual PTSD, because it's things he says in other situations when in a better mood; for the rest, he seems to be mouthing back things he's listened from the Lannisters, such as these:

“There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don’t ever believe any different.”

Obviously picked up from sweet Cersei:

“Ser Pounce must learn to defend his rights,” she told him. “In this world the weak are always the victims of the strong.”

And the theological ideology:

“All?” he mocked. “Tell me, little bird, what kind of god makes a monster like the Imp, or a halfwit like Lady Tanda’s daughter? If there are gods, they made sheep so wolves could eat mutton, and they made the weak for the strong to play with.”

Same as the Imp says in ADWD Tyrion II:

Tyrion thought of Tysha. He glanced out at the fields where once the gods had walked. “What sort of gods make rats and plagues and dwarfs?” Another passage from The Seven-Pointed Star came back to him. “The Maid brought him forth a girl as supple as a willow with eyes like deep blue pools, and Hugor declared that he would have her for his bride. So the Mother made her fertile, and the Crone foretold that she would bear the king four-and-forty mighty sons. The Warrior gave strength to their arms, whilst the Smith wrought for each a suit of iron plates.”

Both these phrases are taken at face value and used against the Hound very negatively, overlooking not just the context in which they were said but also where from they came: from his own upbringing in a dysfunctional family where weakness is unforgivable, more so with Cersei as your boss. The second one on gods is also used to justify the idea that the Hound doesn't have any regard for people with physical impediments and that such is the reason behind his dislike of the Imp. But then, the Imp also thinks the same, and in a situation of utter despondency and suffering from trauma aftermath, which should indicate the nature of Sandor's words as well.

Trauma also speaks through Sandor at least twice more in this scene: when he inappropriately reminds Sansa of that dance her father's legs did on beheading. We know from later chapters in ASOS that Eddard's execution affected him deeply, as he puts that in his list of worst deeds and regrets, and I wonder if here he was trying to find some common ground with Sansa, but since for her it's even more traumatic and his wording was inadequate, it didn't render that result. The other one is more evident, when he puts his sword on her neck, he says this:

“So long as I have this,” he said, lifting the sword from her throat, “there’s no man on earth I need fear.”

He's not alone in seeking a denied comfort and denied security from hurts and doubts and fears and pain in his sword, two others who also have their own emotional baggage say the same. Such as Jaime here:

If only I had my sword, nothing could harm me.

....

Nothing can hurt me so long as I have a sword.

And Brienne, too, in ACOK Catelyn VI:

“Fighting is better than this waiting,” Brienne said. “You don’t feel so helpless when you fight. You have a sword and a horse, sometimes an axe. When you’re armored it’s hard for anyone to hurt you.

In fact, I'd say that Martin is making Brienne speak for two people here. Her words fit Sandor so well that you can almost "read" them in his voice, and as this comes in chapter 45, before the encounter at Maegor's rooftop, we can tell this phrase serves as a setup and Sandor's detailed behaviour just follows up on it. Fighting is better than waiting and you don't feel helpless, indeed. And for Sandor it gives an outlet to thoughts that he could die without leaving much behind, and if nobody can give encouragement whilst he's still alive, the same will be true if he's gone.

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Nicely done, Lyanna. It is a pleasure to see you posting again.

First an observation.

they’re all meat, and I’m the butcher. Let them have their lands and their gods and their gold. Let them have their sers.” Sandor Clegane spat at her feet to show what he thought of that. “So long as I have this,” he said, lifting the sword from her throat, “there’s no man on earth I need fear.”

Sandor seems to be expressing a bit of an opinion of the Varys Riddle from the sellsword's point of view. Power resides where men believe it resides. Though in Sandor's case here I think delving a little deeper is in order.

Sandor's first lesson in power came from Gregor and everything he tells Sansa here fits with that experience. His father, the maesters, the septons, higher nobles, etc. were all useless in protecting him. Gregor was a truly powerful swordsman and that made all those other aspects of power abandon their duty in his wake. Jaime killed a king while in the Kingsguard assigned to be defending that very king. Gregor smashed the crowned prince's brains on a wall in front of his mother before raping her. Neither of them suffered any consequence further validating his view that he need not fear any man while he can wield a sword.

The inconsistency in his expressed views of the all powerful sword lies in his Lannister service. Something in that mix of landed nobles, gods and gold managed to stay Gregor's hand against him. That implies a power beyond the sword, but one Sandor could only access through his own skill and proficiency with the sword that made him of use to House Lannister.

This view of power and the shadow of Lannister service seems to be at play in his conversation with Sansa. Slowly creeping out of its subconscious shell is the nature of his service to House Lannister and Joffrey's increasing resemblance to Gregor. At one level this can be read as his attempted reaffirmation of that worldview of power given the recent strain Joffrey's behavior has placed on Sandor as we saw with the word "Enough" during Sansa's beating.

At another level is the military situation. Stannis has an absurd numerical advantage and a very good reputation as a military commander. Sandor knows far better than most, if not better than every living person in Kings Landing, just how screwed this impending conflict is. Even if Tywin were marching toward Kings Landing now, Stannis still has the numbers to beat Tywin's host and take the city and Tywin is marching the wrong way. A Sandor Clegane may be watching those fires and wondering about how his usefulness with a sword will allow him to fare under a King Stannis. Sansa would become a Stannis hostage and his role in saving her might go far with a man like Stannis. Whom should he serve should the world change? Stannis? Would he find service following Sansa and whatever new husband a King Stannis finds for her back in Winterfell? The fires that are shaping the nature of this battle, this god of Thoros that vexed him melee after melee Stannis has taken, Tywin's reputation for dealing with disloyalty, and Gregor being in an army on the opposite side from Sandor are all things that may be going through his head. Something is certainly troubling him or he wouldn't be up on the roof in the first place.

Valar Morghulis - All men must die


Death hangs like a spectre over these chapters and the one in between (Jon VII, at the Skirling Pass "He is staying to die", RIP Squire Dalbridge). It opens up with Sansa describing how afraid everyone is in Kings Landing and that fear is of the death that comes with a sacking. As Cersei puts it later "there is a dearth of good sacking songs" and that is for a good reason. When Sansa meets Sandor on the top of the Red Keep a lot of their discussion deals with death.




Sandor deflects and answers only the question about the gods and then goes on to tell Sansa how people who can't protect themselves should get out of the way . Just before the talk about Stannis, he's been telling Sansa in detail about Eddard Stark's death and pontificated about how thousands of years of heritage and he died all the same like any other man would. Valar Morghulis Eddard Stark. Everyone is mortal.

Overall, this is quite a lot of macho posturing and and Sansa finds his Everything Dies, there are no Gods, no forgiveness and sheep should get out of the way - narrative quite frustrating. Further, it's also untrue as she is living proof of. Had Sandor actually practised what he preaches, he would have left Sansa at the bread riots in the style of Trant and Blount, yet we know that he didn't, and that he actually tried to get to Aron Santagar and honestly did not see Lollys either.

This also ties in further with the theme of True Knights, whether they exist and what they are meant for. Are they only for killing or is there something more? Are the men who cares about deeds only silly Knights of Summer, or is there value in deeds that will be sung of in years to come when you've decided to walk through fire or snow to save the Ned's little girl? To quote something from my own ancestors on the Valar Morghulis theme and what remains of dead men, from the poetic Edda, Havamal:



Perhaps it matters not just that everyone and everything dies, but how you go and what you believe in, too.

The glory of the great dead is remembered because of a legacy. Something they created or imparted lives on or they made a sacrifice to preserve something for others. Someone alive must care enough about what is preserved to sing about the greatness of the dead. When your whole self is what will be lost the question of what will be preserved looms large. In Sandor's case the status quo means he may well die by fire to preserve Joffrey. In the Great Battle ahead he will brave these fires and worse before deciding Joffrey and House Lannister are not worth dying to preserve. This scene on the roof indicates that Sandor has been asking himself the question long before he picks his answer.

That isn't to say I disagree with you that he's afraid. He most definitely is. He freely admits to Arya that he fears fire and all around him are signs that this will be a very fiery battle. For Sandor fire recalls Gregor, Gregor recalls the reasons for his Lannister service, and his Lannister service is bringing him full circle back into the literal fire far worse than Tyrion's last order to venture out into the flames as well as the figurative fire of Joffrey as Gregor 2.0.. I don't think we can separate the roots of his fear from the conflicts that have been emerging since Mycah. He's resolved himself to fight regardless of what he might or might not be hoping for in the aftermath so it makes a certain amount of sense that he's reaffirming the worldview that put him here and lashing out at the center of gravity that has been pulling him away from it.

Does Dontos seem a bit like Littlefinger?

“If you thanked him for making you a fool, he’d make you a knight again,” Sansa said sharply.
Dontos chuckled. “My Jonquil’s a clever girl, isn’t she?”
“Joffrey and his mother say I’m stupid.”
Let them. You’re safer that way, sweetling. Queen Cersei and the Imp and Lord Varys and their like, they all watch each other keen as hawks, and pay this one and that one to spy out what the others are doing, but no one ever troubles themselves about Lady Tanda’s daughter, do they?”


“Give your Florian a little kiss now. A kiss for luck.” He swayed toward her.
Sansa dodged the wet groping lips, kissed him lightly on an unshaven cheek, and bid him good night.

It is Petyr Baelish that first starts calling her clever and is fond of the nickname sweetling. He's also one with groping lips looking for inappropriate kisses that extend beyond the boundaries of the mummery relationship. The advice about being safer resembles LF's boasting about how he stays under everyone's radar since he has no army.

There's also the lies.

“Hush, child, the gods will hear you.”
“Why should they? They never hear my prayers.”
“Yes they do. They sent me to you, didn’t they?”
Sansa picked at the bark of a tree. She felt light-headed, almost feverish. “They sent you, but what good have you done? You promised you would take me home, but I’m still here.”
Dontos patted her arm. “I’ve spoken to a certain man I know, a good friend to me… and you, my lady. He will hire a swift ship to take us to safety, when the time is right.”
The time is right now,” Sansa insisted, “before the fighting starts. They’ve forgotten about me. I know we could slip away if we tried.”

Littlefinger sent Dontos and not the gods, but the embellishment is consistent with Petyr's attempts to make himself into a much bigger savior than he ever was. The promise to take her home will come up again in Snow Winterfell giving us another Baelish prelude. Sansa is correct, the time for a knight to rescue the lady is before the city is surrounded by attackers especially when they've been so kind as to advertise the violence with all that burning. Littlefinger, this time through his proxy Dontos, likes leaving Sansa in grave danger-- getting Ned killed after she pled for his life, getting her married to Tyrion, implicating her in a treasonous plot to kill a king.

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Milady, I really enjoyed your Kennelmaster mini-essay! Not only was it entertaining, but also really cleared up my pre-conceived notion that a kennelmaster held a very low position in a royal or noble household: I always envisioned the kennelmaster job close to indentured servitude. Considering the Lannisters are so rich and Tytos so generous, it does stand to reason that the Clegane household lived a fairly comfortable lifestyle for the time.

Yes, quite comfortable for a commoner and long before he became a noble. Grandfather Clegane's position and job also gives us an idea of what sort of abilities he possessed: that he was good with dogs and how to treat them from puppyhood on, from feeding them to healing their sicknesses, is obvious, since even though he'd be at the top of the staff, he'd have started from lower and had to know. He'd also have to train the hound puppies in hunting early on, and personally take care of the lords' greyhounds during the hunt. But, in addition to all of that, he must've had to be one very good huntsman, for one, since his job required that he organise the hunting expeditions with the servants and participate. That he lost his leg indicates that he didn't just unleash the hounds on the lioness and let them have at her, standing at a distance until the beasts finished fighting; it rather seems like he jumped into the fray and fought the lioness himself to try to separate his lord from her and that's where the lioness went at him in a rage, ripping off his leg. The reward of a knighthood also indicates the same, that he took the risk of facing the lioness.

Interesting that Sandor also cultivates this man's abilities, and consciously so with regard to dogs and horses, that also contrasts with his brother's lack of said abilities: the dogs fear to enter the same place as him and he killed his horse for following his natural mating instincts, which if we take into account the period's attitude towards warhorses and that a knight without a horse is no knight, is telling. And there's the implication that Sandor himself is efficient in hunting, too.

Does Dontos seem a bit like Littlefinger?

“If you thanked him for making you a fool, he’d make you a knight again,” Sansa said sharply.

Dontos chuckled. “My Jonquil’s a clever girl, isn’t she?”

“Joffrey and his mother say I’m stupid.”

Let them. You’re safer that way, sweetling. Queen Cersei and the Imp and Lord Varys and their like, they all watch each other keen as hawks, and pay this one and that one to spy out what the others are doing, but no one ever troubles themselves about Lady Tanda’s daughter, do they?”

“Give your Florian a little kiss now. A kiss for luck.” He swayed toward her.

Sansa dodged the wet groping lips, kissed him lightly on an unshaven cheek, and bid him good night.

It is Petyr Baelish that first starts calling her clever and is fond of the nickname sweetling. He's also one with groping lips looking for inappropriate kisses that extend beyond the boundaries of the mummery relationship. The advice about being safer resembles LF's boasting about how he stays under everyone's radar since he has no army.

Great observation, Ragnorak. Baelish's compliment is double-edged, though: does he tell her that because he admires her cleverness or is it his way to "give her what she wants"? I am inclined to believe the latter is truer than the former, given the situation: during all her captivity in King's Landing, Sansa is told by everyone and their dog (i.e. Sandor, too) that she's stupid and empty-headed, and that, coupled with the emotional abuse and the beatings, has taken a toll on her self-esteem. She thinks so lowly of herself and her own intellectual capabilities that she absorbs a compliment to her smarts like a sponge absorbs water. And Littlefinger is aware of how Sansa is being treated, so he'd be aware that telling her how clever she is will boost her esteem. The fact that Sansa feels "absurdly proud" when he praises her intellect and thinks proudly of how "clever" her ideas are tells as much, and that makes her not detect the "lies and Arbor Gold" whiff walfting up from his behaviour as she detects it in other aspects. She accepted she was stupid when it was repeated to her, no, beaten into her really, and now she accepts the contrary just as readily.

Edited by Milady of York

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I am glad all you lovely people read and even liked my addition!



CatherineLaw, it is of course the Godswood in Storms End that was burnt by Stannis, amended and edited as per your suggestion. :) However, Stannis does put forward the idea to Jon in ADWD that if Jon only took care of that Lord Stark title, then Stannis could take care of the Winterfell Godswood. My head clearly wanted to be in ACOK and ADWD simultaneously.






Great analysis, Lyanna :) I'm glad you started out with those points that people often overlook, one of which is that Sandor is already atop the roof when Sansa arrives, which tells us a lot about his mindset as the battle approaches, especially knowing that he will have to fight in the suffocating and hellish atmosphere caused by all the burning on both sides. It brings to mind the old saying "you don't fight fire with fire," a memo that Cersei and Tyrion certainly didn't receive if their interplay during dinner in the following chapter is anything to go by.







Yes, I often find that people somehow interpret Sandor as having stalked Sansa to the rooftop, only to be mean and threaten her with his sword after having done so. At a closer look though, it's clear that is not what is actually going on, given that he was already there, how he is clearly pre-occupied with death, dying, killing and the ever frightening fire. His goal with going up to the roof of Maegor's was most likely the same as Sansa's: to get away. He did not come there to either harass or threaten Sansa, and interestingly, while he certainly scares her and she finds him and his anger unsettling, she is still not afraid enough to leave once he lets her go, or to avoid contradicting him and questioning him. After the conversation is done, she quickly reflects that she'd like Dontos to have some of the Hound's ferocity, too.



If this is then contrasted with her absolute terror at the thought of becoming Joffrey's wife, it's the difference between being scared by a big dog and or a bunch of murdering villains who will control you for the rest of your life.






Futility is pervasive in the Hound's attitude here, and also may factor in why he lashes out at Sansa of all people. What he says to her is quite telling about what's in his mind too: the harsh reminder of how Bran was crippled is a throwback to the day he saved her from pushing Joffrey and falling herself to her death, the demand that she look at him and saying that she was glad to see him during the riots is again a reminder of the second time he saved her life. Both his first words are about protecting her, and there's a underlying worry that if he's gone, she's no longer safe; but how to tell her that when she cannot look at him and hasn't gone to him to say anything for saving her life as she herself recognises she should have? He cannot, and falls back into posturing. From what he says, only the speech on true knights rings genuine and not induced by the stress and residual PTSD, because it's things he says in other situations when in a better mood; for the rest, he seems to be mouthing back things he's listened from the Lannisters, such as these:



“There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can’t protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don’t ever believe any different.”



Obviously picked up from sweet Cersei:



“Ser Pounce must learn to defend his rights,” she told him. “In this world the weak are always the victims of the strong.”



And the theological ideology:



“All?” he mocked. “Tell me, little bird, what kind of god makes a monster like the Imp, or a halfwit like Lady Tanda’s daughter? If there are gods, they made sheep so wolves could eat mutton, and they made the weak for the strong to play with.”



Same as the Imp says in ADWD Tyrion II:



Tyrion thought of Tysha. He glanced out at the fields where once the gods had walked. “What sort of gods make rats and plagues and dwarfs?” Another passage from The Seven-Pointed Star came back to him. “The Maid brought him forth a girl as supple as a willow with eyes like deep blue pools, and Hugor declared that he would have her for his bride. So the Mother made her fertile, and the Crone foretold that she would bear the king four-and-forty mighty sons. The Warrior gave strength to their arms, whilst the Smith wrought for each a suit of iron plates.”



Both these phrases are taken at face value and used against the Hound very negatively, overlooking not just the context in which they were said but also where from they came: from his own upbringing in a dysfunctional family where weakness is unforgivable, more so with Cersei as your boss. The second one on gods is also used to justify the idea that the Hound doesn't have any regard for people with physical impediments and that such is the reason behind his dislike of the Imp. But then, the Imp also thinks the same, and in a situation of utter despondency and suffering from trauma aftermath, which should indicate the nature of Sandor's words as well.





The futility point is very interesting. I kept thinking about what his mindset would be to say these things, and it seems to me he is describing the world very much as a place where things can be described very negatively, but that also means that underlying this, he doesn't agree that this is the way things should be. His whole cynical spiel comes off as something someone who is now a cynic but used to be something else would say. We also know that when push comes to shove, he will wade in there and save people, even if he here claims "that's not how the world works" or that's not how the Lannister world works. Sandor's own views are here at odds with the Lannister ones and as you state, both Cersei and Tyrion espouse similar views. I'm think Tywin is the spectre that looms large in the background here. He sanctioned the Rains of Castamere and the Sack of Kings Landing (with additional bloodshed by Gregor), the gang rape of his son's wife and the walk of shame for his father's mistress. In Tywin's world, perhaps the sword doesn't always rule (sometimes it is "quills and ravens") but might certainly makes right.



Even as a Lannister lackey, Sandor may espouse these views to Sansa, but his actions belie his words.


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Great analysis Lyanna Stark. Sandor's conversation with Sansa on top of the Red Keep, just prior to, The Battle of The Blackwater is one my favorite scenes in ASOIAF. We learn an awful lot about Sandor in this scene, like don't take everything Sandor says literally. Also, I really like how Sansa keeps challenging Sandor. Sandor is, obviously. one of my favorite characters, but I think it's great how Sansa keeps contradicting him. He's probably not use to that and probably needed it badly.







Overall, this is quite a lot of macho posturing and and Sansa finds his Everything Dies, there are no Gods, no forgiveness and sheep should get out of the way - narrative quite frustrating. Further, it's also untrue as she is living proof of. Had Sandor actually practised what he preaches, he would have left Sansa at the bread riots in the style of Trant and Blount, yet we know that he didn't, and that he actually tried to get to Aron Santagar and honestly did not see Lollys either.




Yes, Sandor is doing a lot of macho posturing here. He is clearly worried about the upcoming battle as he should be. Yet, he doesn't want to admit this to Sansa, particular after giving Sansa a long spiel about he's good as any "true knight".




Also, yeah, don't take everything Sandor says literally. That's a key take-a-away from this scene I think.







Regarding Sansa's reaction to Sandor in this chapter, she admits to being afraid of him, but it is clear from her actions that she does not seem overly disturbed when he puts a sword against her neck (which is in itself rather remarkable), she is very comfortable with contradicting him and challenging his opinions. She also looks at his face and states that his scars are not the worst part, what really disturbs her is his anger.






It's interesting how Sandor thinks that Sansa is unfairly judging him because of his scars when in fact it's Sandor unfairly judging Sansa by thinking she can't get over his scars. Poor Sandor is sometimes his own worst enemy because of his deep insecurities.

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The inconsistency in his expressed views of the all powerful sword lies in his Lannister service. Something in that mix of landed nobles, gods and gold managed to stay Gregor's hand against him. That implies a power beyond the sword, but one Sandor could only access through his own skill and proficiency with the sword that made him of use to House Lannister.

This view of power and the shadow of Lannister service seems to be at play in his conversation with Sansa. Slowly creeping out of its subconscious shell is the nature of his service to House Lannister and Joffrey's increasing resemblance to Gregor. At one level this can be read as his attempted reaffirmation of that worldview of power given the recent strain Joffrey's behavior has placed on Sandor as we saw with the word "Enough" during Sansa's beating.

Good point about Varys' riddle. It does come up in various settings almost all the time. Into the mix of landed nobles, gods and gold and Gregor, we can also add to the mix that Sandor took the white cloak after having a short speech of that he holds no land and has no wife, but I do believe that given later commentary about Robb having the wit the gods gave a toad and assignment of lordships, there may be a well hidden interest in land, wife and a comfortable life and a quiet people after all. Which of course puts an extra twist onto the whole riddle. Who is Sandor fighting for, and why? Lummel earlier pointed out how Littlefinger is rather without a home, and Sandor may have found shelter with the Lannisters, but is it a home? Perhaps it was, but with Joffrey turning into Gregor...it's beginning to look like a rather hostile and negative environment.

The glory of the great dead is remembered because of a legacy. Something they created or imparted lives on or they made a sacrifice to preserve something for others. Someone alive must care enough about what is preserved to sing about the greatness of the dead. When your whole self is what will be lost the question of what will be preserved looms large. In Sandor's case the status quo means he may well die by fire to preserve Joffrey. In the Great Battle ahead he will brave these fires and worse before deciding Joffrey and House Lannister are not worth dying to preserve. This scene on the roof indicates that Sandor has been asking himself the question long before he picks his answer.

That isn't to say I disagree with you that he's afraid. He most definitely is. He freely admits to Arya that he fears fire and all around him are signs that this will be a very fiery battle. For Sandor fire recalls Gregor, Gregor recalls the reasons for his Lannister service, and his Lannister service is bringing him full circle back into the literal fire far worse than Tyrion's last order to venture out into the flames as well as the figurative fire of Joffrey as Gregor 2.0.. I don't think we can separate the roots of his fear from the conflicts that have been emerging since Mycah. He's resolved himself to fight regardless of what he might or might not be hoping for in the aftermath so it makes a certain amount of sense that he's reaffirming the worldview that put him here and lashing out at the center of gravity that has been pulling him away from it.

Brilliant analysis. I bolded my favourite parts. :)

It also highlights how the whole Stark-story in general and Sansa in particular act as a catalyst for his breaking away from the Lannisters.

Does Dontos seem a bit like Littlefinger?

Yes, yes he does! Eugh. :lol:

It's interesting how Sandor thinks that Sansa is unfairly judging him because of his scars when in fact it's Sandor unfairly judging Sansa by thinking she can't get over his scars. Poor Sandor is sometimes his own worst enemy because of his deep insecurities.

I agree! He is so strangely self conscious about his looks around Sansa and constantly gets in her face(!) with demanding that she look at him. It's both his way of making her see what she has chosen not to ("the world is an awful place!") but it's definitely about acceptance and about him wishing she'd perhaps see him beyond his ruined looks? (Even though as you correctly states, Sansa has already identified his angry eyes as what disturbs her.)

Edited by Lyanna Stark

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It's interesting how Sandor thinks that Sansa is unfairly judging him because of his scars when in fact it's Sandor unfairly judging Sansa by thinking she can't get over his scars. Poor Sandor is sometimes his own worst enemy because of his deep insecurities.

I agree! He is so strangely self conscious about his looks around Sansa and constantly gets in her face(!) with demanding that she look at him. It's both his way of making her see what she has chosen not to ("the world is an awful place!") but it's definitely about acceptance and about him wishing she'd perhaps see him beyond his ruined looks? (Even though as you correctly states, Sansa has already identified his angry eyes as what disturbs her.)

What Sandor says and does at Maegor's really needs to be kept in mind for when we come to Blackwater, and he makes that final break from the Lannisters but also has the very emotionally charged meeting with Sansa in her room. Too often, Blackwater is judged in isolation, as if Sandor wasn't questioning his loyalty to the Lannisters throughout Clash, with clear signs that his connection to Sansa was growing increasingly relevant to his outlook and sense of purpose. Maegor's really foreshadows Blackwater in a lot of interesting ways as both scenes entail very similar imagery and themes. We can't get into Blackwater in detail at this point, but I do think it's useful to keep it in mind when interpreting Sandor's words and behaviour here, and how Maegor's really represents that last attempt of his to cling to a worldview that has lost value.

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What Sandor says and does at Maegor's really needs to be kept in mind for when we come to Blackwater, and he makes that final break from the Lannisters but also has the very emotionally charged meeting with Sansa in her room. Too often, Blackwater is judged in isolation, as if Sandor wasn't questioning his loyalty to the Lannisters throughout Clash, with clear signs that his connection to Sansa was growing increasingly relevant to his outlook and sense of purpose. Maegor's really foreshadows Blackwater in a lot of interesting ways as both scenes entail very similar imagery and themes. We can't get into Blackwater in detail at this point, but I do think it's useful to keep it in mind when interpreting Sandor's words and behaviour here, and how Maegor's really represents that last attempt of his to cling to a worldview that has lost value.

I definately agree that the wheels are turning in Sandor's head about his wordview on top of the Red Keep. And I would agree that his loyalty to the Lannisters had severly eroded. Also, I think that to a certain extent Sandor is trying to validate his worldview, or at least, what he thinks is his worldview, by getting Sansa to agree with him.

Fortunately, Sansa, in my opinion, isn't so quite willing to play ball, frustrating Sandor. And I think that is good thing because Sandor's world view was not quite correct, although I appreciate his often realistic outlook on things. I've commented before that Sandor "blames the system" a little bit. I have gotten this idea mainly from his conversation with Sansa on top of the Red Keep. I would like to think that Sansa challenging Sandor about his assertions got Sandor to think through some of his notions.

I think it's generally appreciated that Sansa needed somebody like Sandor to challenge her on some of her more naive notions. I think what perhaps is not so appreciated is that Sandor needed someone to challenge him on some of his beliefs or outwardly expressed beliefs.

Edited by OldGimletEye

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I meant to ask this question earlier but I edited down my analysis to be shorter and filled with less blathering, so it fell out! Anyway, this is something that may be a good thing to look closer at since it tends to be wielded as proof that Sandor is a dangerous psycho killer.



Why does he draw his sword and proceed to put it against Sansa's throat? Do we have a hive-mind verdict on this, or what are your thoughts? Motive? Meaning?


Edited by Lyanna Stark

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I meant to ask this question earlier but I edited down my analysis to be shorter and filled with less blathering, so it fell out! Anyway, this is something that may be a good thing to look closer at since it tends to be wielded as proof that Sandor is a dangerous psycho killer.

Why does he draw his sword and proceed to put it against Sansa's throat? Do we have a hive-mind verdict on this, or what are your thoughts? Motive? Meaning?

It was primarily a gesture to emphasize his point, a bit of theatrical mummery. Other meanings can certainly be read into it but we got our baseline for judging this gesture last chapter.

Joffrey stood in the center of the throng, winding an ornate crossbow. Ser Boros and Ser Meryn were with him. The sight of them was enough to tie her insides in knots.

“Your Grace.” She fell to her knees.

“Kneeling won’t save you now,” the king said. “Stand up. You’re here to answer for your brother’s latest treasons.”

“Your Grace, whatever my traitor brother has done, I had no part. You know that, I beg you, please—”

“Get her up!”

The Hound pulled her to her feet, not ungently.

I killed a man last night who was bigger than your father. They came to the gate shouting my name and calling for bread like I was some baker, but I taught them better. I shot the loudest one right through the throat.”

“And he died?” With the ugly iron head of the quarrel staring her in the face, it was hard to think what else to say.

“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.”

Both Sandor and Joffrey make a gesture with a deadly weapon. Both also talk of men they've killed in the past. Yet Sansa's reactions to these two scenes couldn't be more different. She is desperately deferential to Joffrey even calling her own brother a traitor. With Sandor she gives it right back to him. Not even the men across the river? And keeps giving it. Lord Stannis is no coward.

Of course Sandor is a dangerous pyscho killer-- in this series' paraphrased terms Your dangerous pyscho killer, Sansa Stark.

In LoTR terms

‘But you speak of him as if he was a friend. I thought Fangorn was dangerous.’

‘Dangerous!’ cried Gandalf. ‘And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord. And Aragorn is dangerous, and Legolas is dangerous. You are beset with dangers, Gimli son of Glóin

Whatever meaning one wants to try and read into the gesture it seems to me that it needs to fit with the context of the seemingly deliberate parallel of Joffrey's ugly iron quarrel head.

Edited by Ragnorak

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What Sandor says and does at Maegor's really needs to be kept in mind for when we come to Blackwater, and he makes that final break from the Lannisters but also has the very emotionally charged meeting with Sansa in her room.

Indeed. And in judging his words there's also the viewpoint angle to take into account, because in this chapter we're in Sansa's head so we get to know what she's thinking and feeling, but we only hear Sandor. Without the context that his own mental monologue would bring in, it's easier to focus on Sansa as having the correct interpretation of his attitude towards her inability to look at his face. From his side, due to the long experience of her acting frightened in his presence, not making or keeping eye contact with him and avoiding his face, it doesn't look like he's unfairly judging her as he's going along with the body language she gives away, that doesn't tell him he's exactly a sight she welcomes. Whilst it's true that he jumps at conclusions before she can explain herself, it's not like he does it without a motive, or what he sees as a motive. Look at how her body language in their private talks in their four casual encounters so far would look from Sandor's perspective: in their first interaction, she was really frightened of him and wrenched away from his grasp, which even though we know the reason, he doesn't and to him it says "you scare me," and that she doesn't want to be touched; in the second one, she's not even looking at him and attempts to be polite by complimenting him without eye contact, and that will obviously look insincere to him; in the third one, at the Serpentine, she avoids her face and doesn't look at him in a futile attempt to not be discovered, but he'd already identified her before she could do that, so again she unintentionally looks like she doesn't want to look at him, and by her bedchamber we know she is looking at him but he's not allowing her otherwise because he's caught her chin and has it up to look at him, and here at Maegor's, again she does give him a reason:

“You mean I scared you. And still do.”

She took a deep breath to calm herself. “I thought I was alone, I…” She glanced away.

She glanced away right after he says he scared her, so to him it does appear that she's confirming his belief by glancing away precisely at that moment. All these things considered, he really has plenty to believe Sansa cannot look at him, and it would hurt doubly both because he believes it's his scars and because it's her, the one whose validation he seeks. Would it matter as much if it weren't her? Unlikely.

We get the benefit of knowing that it's not like he thinks, that Sansa doesn't care about his scars anymore, that it's the anger that she dislikes, and that she's appreciative of what he does for her and thankful for it, that she does look at him and makes eye contact when there's no pressure or demands on her—for example, at Joff's nameday tourney, and when he tells her about his grandfather, etc.—and from the sprinkling of descriptions about his mirth and his twitch and his face in general across the books, we know she observes his features quite a lot, more than he knows. She even thinks of how his kisses would feel, and identifies him in her dream by his scars of all things.

And that's tragic. Because Sandor doesn't know that. He is good at reading people, but he's no telepath and cannot see what is in Sansa's head like we do, and so he feels the rejection only due to this disconnection between what she thinks/feels and what she does: she avoids his face, it must mean she cannot look at him; she closes her eyes, it must mean she doesn't want to look at him, and so on; and he's very sensitive about this not so much because of the scars themselves as because of what he wants from her. It cannot be just the scars for him either, because he's lived with that for two decades, and in that time he must've known all sorts of reactions to it, which is one more evidence that makes me doubt that he's as self-conscious as readers think. In-universe, besides Sansa we don't see anyone behave towards his face this way and that also adds to why it stings to him that she cannot look at him. Cersei says Tommen was like that too, but we don't confirm on-page anything but the contrary, and all the adults don't have a problem with his scars, nor the few other children either. Arya doesn't glance away ever, she stares him full in the face and even calls him ugly in anger, and eventually it's she who gets mad at people for not looking at Sandor in the face. So, if we take away what we know about Sansa's real feelings and analyse all this as if we were in the Hound's shoes, with the same amount of information, it's no longer a matter of his being unfair towards her with regard to looking or not looking but rather a communication glitch; and that he reacts hastily to the signals he is getting.

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