Jump to content
Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

Recommended Posts

Maybe Sandor tought about Tyrion and Lollys because they are misfits, just like him or worst, weak misfits that can't defend agaisnt the world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the compliments, very kind of you.






Excellent write-up and analysis as usual, Rag.



Just thought I'd step into the question of leading a forth sortie. I'd always wondered why Tyrion insisted on the fighting taking place outside the gates. He chose Sandor to lead, knowing men would follow because, as you noted, he was apparently a good commander and not just another Lannister face.



Why Tyrion wouldn't listen to the counsel of a seasoned captain is puzzling. Not that Sandor presented his advice in a deferential way, but still...



We know that Sandor and Tyrion don't have the best of relationships. Did Tyrion try to one-up the Hound here? Was it pride or trying to save face that made Tyrion insist on having the men outside the walls again, or did he fear that Stannis inside the gates would further hurt morale? It seemed perfectly reasonable to let the attackers stay outside to burn and surround them when they came in.





I think Milady fairly well covered it. Tyrion received most of the same education as any other lord's son but likely not the same actual training so his limited experience is even more limited. Tyrion was never even anyone's squire. The extremely green knights of Summer marching with Renly still actually practiced. They would have gone at it with other warriors in the training yard. They would have fought in melees which are sometimes designed as mock battles. As a dwarf Tyrion would not really have participated in those exercises and even if he did it would have been a bunch of Lannister bannermen being rather cautious about damaging their liege's son. So his time at the Greenfork is really the whole of his battlefield participation or experience. His knowledge is heavily skewed toward textbook over practical (or high level strategy vs. hands on tactics) and the most basic textbook rule is keep the enemy on the other side of the wall. A man on the wall may be worth 5, 10 or even 500 outside the wall but still only worth one inside the wall.



Both men seem far too stressed to be gaming each other here. We get Tyrion's POV and he seems in legitimate earnest. From last chapter we have Sandor's quip about Robert not letting a river stop him so we know Sandor is well aware that the real assault doesn't start until the main force breaches the Blackwater. Best I can guess is that Tyrion's inexperience left him believing the gates must remain inviolate during an assault-- which would be completely true if there were 25,000 men outside instead of 25. Maester Rommel is not likely to write something like this out in a book. There won't be a foot note or an asterisk in Defending Walls Against Assault for when 95% of the enemy is still on the other side of a river because an experienced battlefield commander would be operating from Defending a Naval River Crossing without a Ford. A small band at a gate is a small unit tactics issue that gets picked up in mock battles and the training yard or during one's squiring years-- not something a maester would address in a forging an iron link epic Tyrion would likely have read.







An exceptional analysis, Rag. I liked the broken men parallel and your outlining of how Sandor differs from it in certain aspects, especially the point on his breaking reflecting the return to an idealism associated with his connection to Sansa.




“True knights would never harm women and children.” The words rang hollow in her ears even as she said them.

“True knights.” The queen seemed to find that wonderfully amusing. “No doubt you’re right. So why don’t you just eat your broth like a good girl and wait for Symeon Star-Eyes and Prince Aemon the Dragonknight to come rescue you, sweetling. I’m sure it won’t be very long now.”


Of course, it's precisely his failure to be a true knight to Sansa that causes Sandor so much anguish, so even here as Cersei scoffs at Sansa's innocence, Sandor is in the process of losing faith in a service that has been eroded by the failure to protect such ideals. We see further thematic connections to Sandor in the songs of Florian and Jonquil and Aemon the Dragonknight which you mentioned in the summary portion of the analysis, and there's another link to him when Cersei questions Sansa about her moonblood:



“You look pale, Sansa,” Cersei observed. “Is your red flower still blooming?”

“Yes.”

“How apt. The men will bleed out there, and you in here."


Sandor was present for Sansa's first menstruation and this comment symbolically establishes a sense of their fates being linked or at least Sansa having a stake in what happens to Sandor in the battle, a concern that was already showcased in her prayer for him in the sept. These connections, where Sandor is present in the "women's world" of sheltering from the battle, prefigure his eventually being "saved" by Sansa's singing of the Mother's prayer and signify that meaning for him does not have to be found on the battlefield or in being a warrior.


The sheer hell of the war is evoked quite viscerally in Davos' chapter, and then the spectre of the Hound - "a shadow detached itself from the shadow of the wall" - who is "dead on his feet" as Tyrion observes, really drives the point home on just how terrifying and profoundly dehumanising war can be. Despite the glorious narratives it can inspire after the fact, war is death and destruction. I spent some time examining these topics for my Peacemaker essay, and one of the theorists looked at speaks eloquently to an understanding of Sandor's predicament:


If men were so eager to be fighters, we would not need drafts, training in misogyny, and macho heroes, nor would we have to entice the morally sensitive with myths of patriotic duty and just cause. Indeed, history suggests that men have an even more ambivalent relation to the fighting expected of them than women do to the mothering work for which they are said to be "naturally suited." Some men thrill to battle and to the sexually predatory violence it allows. Others partake with mixed feelings but minimal questions simply because fighting is expected of them. Some of these men later report that they took pleasure not only in excitement and camaraderie but also in destruction, cruelty, and the bizarre deaths around them. But there are others, as well as these same men on other days, who are ashamed and disgusted by the killing. Then in every war, are men who with clear-sighted courage refuse to fight, often at great cost to themselves.

(Sara Ruddick, Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace)


Sandor has already bravely fought at great cost to himself when we consider his traumatic fear of fire, but his decision to stop fighting is also no less courageous or costly as it means disobeying the orders of his superior and being branded as cowardly when he deserts. As Ruddick further notes:



Virtually no one denies that military thinking is imbued with masculine values. Yet a boy is not born, but rather becomes, a soldier. Becoming a soldier means learning to control fears and domestic longings that are explicitly labeled "feminine." The soldier earns the right to violence and sex; to fail is to remain womanly while losing the right to women. This much has long been familiar.


Tyrion speaks of the "death and shame" that awaits them despite admitting that the on-going war is "madness." It's particularly relevant to Sandor's development that he refuses to partake in more of the madness, and does end up retreating to the individual's room where his "domestic longings" have been increasingly located throughout Clash.


Nice analysis on the symbolism of the ship names. "Dog's nose" brought to mind Sandor's comment about a dog being able to smell a lie, but I can't pinpoint how it would be relevant in this battle.






Brash, I'm really glad you brought up the Jungian male/female archetypes (my shorthand paraphrasing) at play because one of the most striking things to me in preparing this was how the Mother and Warrior songs were juxtaposed, contrasted and then reversed for both Sansa and Sandor. Sansa goes to the sept, which seems to be the proper feminine role for this battle, and performs her duty with sincerity until she feels the purpose is perverted by prayers for Joffrey. She stops contributing to the female song, expels herself from the feminine place, and turns toward the masculine song in silent prayers to the Warrior. Sandor is much the same in reverse. He starts off in the proper masculine role and place and performs his duty well and with sincerity until he too reaches a breaking point. He also expels himself from the masculine place and role, stops contributing to the Warrior song of battle and turns (next chapter) towards the feminine song. Both characters start in their respective isolated roles and songs, break away from gravitational pull of their respective roles, and begin to move toward the opposite role against a backdrop that mingles the two characters' isolated songs into one strange and fearful music.



It really is a fascinating bit of high level symbolism in contrasting song aspects, especially for a series named for contrasting aspects within a song. It is a far more complex dynamic than a mere seeking of balance.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sandor V

The Great Battle

~~~snip~~~

Analysis

Sandor the Broken Man?

For reference here is the Broken Man’s tale from Septon Meribald but keep in mind our reread isn't at the Broken Isle yet, just the breaking point:

~~snip~~~

“Then they get a taste of battle.

For some, that one taste is enough to break them. Others go on for years, until they lose count of all the battles they have fought in...

~snip~~~

The Symbolism of Ships

There are many others but these seem to refer to Sandor: Dog’s Nose and Loyal Man. ~~~snip~~~

but the fiery heart had been raised over Joffrey’s Loyal Man.

Stag of the Sea split one of Joffrey’s galleys clean in two, but Dog’s Nose was afire and Queen Alysanne was locked between Lady of Silk and Lady’s Shame, her crew fighting the boarders rail-to-rail.

~~~~~snip~~~~

"“Then they get a taste of battle.

For some, that one taste is enough to break them. Others go on for years, until they lose count of all the battles they have fought in..."Septon Meribald continued; "....And one day they look around and realize all their friends and kin are gone, that they are fighting beside strangers beneath a banner that they hardly recognize. They don't know where they are or how to get back home and the lord they're fighting for does not know their names, yet here he comes, shouting for them to form up, to make a line with their spears and scythes and sharpened hoes, to stand their ground. And the knights come down on them, faceless men clad all in steel, and the iron thunder of their charge seems to fill the world . . .

"And the man breaks."
While this does not exactly describe Sandor's experience, what Septon Meribald is getting to is what psychologically breaks the man in battle. The other half of the broken man, the physical injures that bring one near death are still to come. In the BWB, skilled warrior as he is, it was a psychological break that caused him to flee the battle and desert.
*****
but the fiery heart had been raised over Joffrey’s Loyal Man. [the Hound] "I'll go with my gold. Your own god said I'm guiltless—" "The Lord of Light gave you back your life," declared Thoros of Myr. And Thoros again "The Lord of Light is not yet done with Joffrey's Hound, it would seem." Perhaps the Lord of Light was watching over the Hound when fire is around him. Both in the BWB and the later event, he escapes fire.
************
'but Dog’s Nose was afire' 'Sandor Clegane wrenched off his helm with both hands and let it fall to the ground. The steel was scorched and dented, the left ear of the snarling hound sheared off. "
Another possibility is it could refer to the burning of the Saltpans by the men lead by the one in the Hound's helm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding job, Ragnorak! All all-around fascinating, informative, and thorough analysis!


The Symbolism of Ships analysis is something I would never have considered examining. I will definitely have to go back and read the chapter yet again, and especially pontificate the symbolic meaning of Dog's Nose.

The percentage of casualties in relation to the breaking point is completely new information to me, so thank you for the military lesson. It certainly places Sandor's abilities as a commander in perspective. In addition to leading three sorties in conditions that were not only difficult for those who never experienced severe 3rd degree burns before, but especially for someone who's tasted it all too well, his skill as a commander is clearly demonstrated to us readers by rallying and pressing his men to hold back the Baratheon forces, which also exhibits remarkable bravery.

Sandor's refusal to go back into the fiery battlefield for a fourth sortie is the first time we see how he treats men he commands, which contrasts strongly with how we know Gregor treats his own men. Sandor not only refuses to obey Tyrion's orders because he fears what can happen to himself, but he also shows concern for his men: "I've lost half my men. Horse as well. I'm not taking more into that fire." I honestly don't think he's using this as an excuse not to go back into the fire (as some may interpret). He's thinking mercifully as well as strategically. While Gregor wasn't leading men in the heat of battle, but his orders to remove the eyes of the outriders who couldn't track Robb's movements is a good indication of how he thinks of and treats those he commands. He may have his band of rats, but my guess is the common soldier under Gregor's command lived in fear. Milday recently expounded on the difference between how both also treat their warhorses. Gregor savagely beheading his because it responded to a mare in heat (and he already favored ill-tempered stallions, so what would you expect?), and here we have Sandor again showing concern for the horses, as much as the men. Now, I'm not sure how to interpret the line about losing his horse. Is Sandor saying he lost half his men AND horses, as well. Or is Sandor referring specifically to his own horse (if so, any particular reason he wouldn't ride his favorite warhorse into battle, unless he felt it was a lost cause)? Either way, I don't think it diminishes the concern he has for the horses, as well. He has a connection to animals, that one.

"Clegane's breath came ragged. Bugger that. And you." Sandor's ragged breath here brings to mind his ragged breath when he told Sansa how he received his burn scars: "The rasping voice trailed off. He squatted silently before her, a hulking black shape shrouded in the night, hidden from her eyes. Sansa could hear his ragged breathing." No doubt, fatigue is a big reason, but considering the wildfire, the resurfacing PTSD seems to be at play here.

"Let his sword break and his shield shatter, Sansa thought coldly as she shoved out through the doors, let his courage fail him and every man desert him." Well, not every man deserted him, but his best and most loyal man deserted him, so, again, Sansa received an answer to her prayer. I find her thought both amusing and ironic considering Joffrey never had courage to begin with and it's the Hound who's accused of faltering courage, even though he never fled the battle. He argued with Tyrion and was willing to continue fighting, just not lead a suicide mission. Had he known Tywin and the Tyrells were on the way, that may have swayed him, but even then, the most prudent course seemed NOT to lead yet another sortie. Also, considering Sandor probably realized all was lost (again, having no idea reinforcement was on the way), rather than tucking tail and running, made a decision: he could serve Stannis if Stannis would have him, or he could save Sansa from a violent sack and serve an even better cause.

Brash, I'm really glad you brought up the Jungian male/female archetypes (my shorthand paraphrasing) at play because one of the most striking things to me in preparing this was how the Mother and Warrior songs were juxtaposed, contrasted and then reversed for both Sansa and Sandor. Sansa goes to the sept, which seems to be the proper feminine role for this battle, and performs her duty with sincerity until she feels the purpose is perverted by prayers for Joffrey. She stops contributing to the female song, expels herself from the feminine place, and turns toward the masculine song in silent prayers to the Warrior. Sandor is much the same in reverse. He starts off in the proper masculine role and place and performs his duty well and with sincerity until he too reaches a breaking point. He also expels himself from the masculine place and role, stops contributing to the Warrior song of battle and turns (next chapter) towards the feminine song. Both characters start in their respective isolated roles and songs, break away from gravitational pull of their respective roles, and begin to move toward the opposite role against a backdrop that mingles the two characters' isolated songs into one strange and fearful music.

It really is a fascinating bit of high level symbolism in contrasting song aspects, especially for a series named for contrasting aspects within a song. It is a far more complex dynamic than a mere seeking of balance.


I don't have anything to add to this at the moment, but just fantastic, brash and Rag. :bowdown:

Edited by DogLover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both men seem far too stressed to be gaming each other here. We get Tyrion's POV and he seems in legitimate earnest. From last chapter we have Sandor's quip about Robert not letting a river stop him so we know Sandor is well aware that the real assault doesn't start until the main force breaches the Blackwater. Best I can guess is that Tyrion's inexperience left him believing the gates must remain inviolate during an assault-- which would be completely true if there were 25,000 men outside instead of 25. Maester Rommel is not likely to write something like this out in a book. There won't be a foot note or an asterisk in Defending Walls Against Assault for when 95% of the enemy is still on the other side of a river because an experienced battlefield commander would be operating from Defending a Naval River Crossing without a Ford. A small band at a gate is a small unit tactics issue that gets picked up in mock battles and the training yard or during one's squiring years-- not something a maester would address in a forging an iron link epic Tyrion would likely have read.

Grand Maester Rommel, if you please!

Concerning this, once more Tyrion's restricted experience played against him. Even if someone had written that in a book, and some commanders actually included such small-unit tactics in their memoirs or biographers have, it still takes hands-on familiarity to pick up on such details and make use of them in other situations. See the case of Maester Patton, who read Grand Maester Rommel's book and picked up a trick or three, colourfully summing up the tactics Sandor is using like this: "Before he finds out where my flanks are, I'll be cutting the bastard's throat." And that, in a nutshell, is the essence of the pincer tactics.

You mentioned two details about Sandor's performance that caught my eye, the first being that he scattered the archers on the ship before they could stand in formation supported by men-at-arms. It was an effective method short-term and it served its purpose, but it was extremely risky too. The major risk is that you can get feathered down by the longbowmen, even if you're well-armoured in full breastplate, as some lucky shot can penetrate through some hole, and some longbows could pierce chainmail. The Hound must've been in full plate to have dared go headlong into the archers, I'd think. And the second risk is that being on a ship on horseback requires of a very well-trained warhorse and this one was definitely Stranger. This horse is unfairly thought of as too wild, but most of that "wildness" is just his training, because warhorses are trained to be aggressive or otherwise cannot be warhorses, and besides Stranger is way too disciplined to spook or rear away from conflagration too, for example, he disciplinedly ran alongside the royal party for a while during the riots, and in this battle he went onboard the slippery planks of a ship, all of which indicates he was trained since foalhood for battle. Sandor didn't lose his horse during Blackwater, when he says he "lost half his men. Horse as well," he probably means he lost half of the horses. Martin uses "horse" in singular to mean cavalry. He likely had to control his mount too, because no matter how experienced they are, warhorses don't react so well to boarding ships, and Stranger seems to have come out of the battle somewhat scarred too, because he was testy in the ferry crossing, and it was much calmer than the battle on the ships.

And of course, the third and most daunting of all risks: fire, not common fire but unquenchable wildfire. I'd not noted that his scorched helm meant he was actually in the fire and not just near it; and if he was in the fire, so was Stranger, who must've been protected too, since he doesn't have burns. Metal gets heated pretty quickly, so Sandor might have had some superficial burns too from an overheated armour. If so, then that one and not the Beric duel would be his second close encounter with fire after his burning as a child.

I have no idea what to make of Dog’s Nose beyond it going up in flames like the Loyal Man.

. . .

The symbolism of the ship Prayer also seems pertinent. Prayer, Piety and Devotion were three ships taken from the “pious Lord Sunglass” who “wore moonstones at throat and wrist and finger.” He tried to leave the service of Stannis after Mel burned the sept on Dragonstone and was burned himself for his troubles. Prayer is the first ship to make ground on the northern bank of the Blackwater and the one where Davos sees the Hound fighting.

It's possible that the burning of Dog's Nose holds the same symbolism as Loyal Man with regard to Sandor: the end of his ties of loyalty and service to the Lannisters. He ceased to be their "dog" and went on to be his own dog, in a way reclaiming his own nose back from their service to put it to the service of someone more aligned to his own code. "A dog can smell a lie," indeed, and as the Hound of the Lannisters he'd been forced to live in a manner that went against what he really was and/or wanted to be. Incidentally, the name smells so much of Joffrey that I'd hazard a guess and say it was him who named the ship like that, in the same fashion Tommen later chose amusing names for the new dromons.

We then transition back to Sansa sitting with Cersei among the noblewomen in Maegor’s as we hear the version of the events we’ve just witnessed being brought back to Cersei’s ears. The Hound is mentioned twice. The first is news of his assault on the archers that Davos witnessed and the second is that Ser Osmund has taken his place as Joffrey’s protector. Sansa recalls gossip that Osmund is as strong as the Hound only younger and faster which she views with skepticism.

The humorous side to this is that Sansa doesn't get the double meaning of the washerwomen's gossip, but she is indeed correct in doubting Osmund's skills. How can he be as strong as the Hound if he's much smaller, with a leaner build and less muscular? Sansa has seen displays of Sandor's amazing strength whereas Osmund . . . gets a comment on his narrow behind from Jaime. Also, whilst he's certainly younger, that it itself is hardly a compliment because the Hound isn't old either and the age difference is frankly paltry as both are in their twenties. If anything, in this it's the Hound who again would get the edge in her eyes, as he's more experienced. As for faster, she's seen Sandor materialise out of thin air practically, so whilst he may not be as quick as a weasel, he's very fast for his size, something she and others remark on. But more importantly, the Hound, for good or bad, is a legend in the realm, so to claim someone is his equal is a lofty one to make and would need proof that Osmund simply didn't provide.

Edited by Milady of York

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brash, I'm really glad you brought up the Jungian male/female archetypes (my shorthand paraphrasing) at play because one of the most striking things to me in preparing this was how the Mother and Warrior songs were juxtaposed, contrasted and then reversed for both Sansa and Sandor. Sansa goes to the sept, which seems to be the proper feminine role for this battle, and performs her duty with sincerity until she feels the purpose is perverted by prayers for Joffrey. She stops contributing to the female song, expels herself from the feminine place, and turns toward the masculine song in silent prayers to the Warrior. Sandor is much the same in reverse. He starts off in the proper masculine role and place and performs his duty well and with sincerity until he too reaches a breaking point. He also expels himself from the masculine place and role, stops contributing to the Warrior song of battle and turns (next chapter) towards the feminine song. Both characters start in their respective isolated roles and songs, break away from gravitational pull of their respective roles, and begin to move toward the opposite role against a backdrop that mingles the two characters' isolated songs into one strange and fearful music.

It really is a fascinating bit of high level symbolism in contrasting song aspects, especially for a series named for contrasting aspects within a song. It is a far more complex dynamic than a mere seeking of balance.

Great summation. To continue on this line of thought, it's significant that although Sansa's time during the battle is spent in the confines of the holdfast with the other women and children, her experience there is dominated by the misogynistic presence of Queen Cersei, who rather gleefully espouses a masculine ideology about the war and fighting and what will happen to them if Stannis wins. Cersei is dressed like a maidenly figure, yet Sansa observes her having "eyes like wildfire" and she soon declares her antipathy for the feminine role she has been made to perform during this time:

“Jaime told me once that he only feels truly alive in battle and in bed.” She lifted her cup and took a long swallow. Her salad was untouched. “I would sooner face any number of swords than sit helpless like this, pretending to enjoy the company of this flock of frightened hens.”

“You asked them here, Your Grace.”

“Certain things are expected of a queen. They will be expected of you should you ever wed Joffrey. Best learn.” The queen studied the wives, daughters, and mothers who filled the benches. “Of themselves the hens are nothing, but their cocks are important for one reason or another, and some may survive this battle. So it behooves me to give their women my protection. If my wretched dwarf of a brother should somehow manage to prevail, they will return to their husbands and fathers full of tales about how brave I was, how my courage inspired them and lifted their spirits, how I never doubted our victory even for a moment.”

“And if the castle should fall?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Cersei did not wait for a denial. “If I’m not betrayed by my own guards, I may be able to hold here for a time. Then I can go to the walls and offer to yield to Lord Stannis in person. That will spare us the worst. But if Maegor’s Holdfast should fall before Stannis can come up, why then, most of my guests are in for a bit of rape, I’d say. And you should never rule out mutilation, torture, and murder at times like these.”

Sansa was horrified. “These are women, unarmed, and gently born.”

“Their birth protects them,” Cersei admitted, “though not as much as you’d think. Each one’s worth a good ransom, but after the madness of battle, soldiers often seem to want flesh more than coin. Even so, a golden shield is better than none. Out in the streets, the women won’t be treated near as tenderly. Nor will our servants. Pretty things like that serving wench of Lady Tanda’s could be in for a lively night, but don’t imagine the old and the infirm and the ugly will be spared. Enough drink will make blind washerwomen and reeking pig girls seem as comely as you, sweetling.”

“Me?”

“Try not to sound so like a mouse, Sansa. You’re a woman now, remember? And betrothed to my firstborn.” The queen sipped at her wine. “Were it anyone else outside the gates, I might hope to beguile him. But this is Stannis Baratheon. I’d have a better chance of seducing his horse.” She noticed the look on Sansa’s face, and laughed. “Have I shocked you, my lady?” She leaned close. “You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.”

It's quite a fearful picture Cersei is painting for Sansa, one where women are reduced to using their wiles to secure some safety for themselves once men are inflamed by battle lust. Cersei isn't lying, of course, as many men would react in the way she predicts, but she offers no redeeming alternative to such an outcome, nothing that doesn't involve exploiting one's self. In similar fashion to the inside/outside dichotomy that structures Sansa's experiences, we have Sandor in the heat of the battle ending up boarding the ship "Prayer" which situates him with the activities happening in the sept (and Sansa's own prayers) and does present us with that redeeming potential that Cersei cannot even seem to envision. The result (when we factor in the events between Sansa and Sandor in the next chapter) is that Sansa ends up with a more nuanced appreciation for what war does to men, and what it did to Sandor in particular, which she expresses in her first chapter of ASOS:

I wish the Hound were here. The night of the battle, Sandor Clegane had come to her chambers to take her from the city, but Sansa had refused. Sometimes she lay awake at night, wondering if she’d been wise. She had his stained white cloak hidden in a cedar chest beneath her summer silks. She could not say why she’d kept it. The Hound had turned craven, she heard it said; at the height of the battle, he got so drunk the Imp had to take his men. But Sansa understood. She knew the secret of his burned face. It was only the fire he feared. That night, the wildfire had set the river itself ablaze, and filled the very air with green flame. Even in the castle, Sansa had been afraid. Outside . . . she could scarcely imagine it.

Edited by brashcandy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grand Maester Rommel, if you please!

...

You mentioned two details about Sandor's performance that caught my eye, the first being that he scattered the archers on the ship before they could stand in formation supported by men-at-arms. It was an effective method short-term and it served its purpose, but it was extremely risky too. The major risk is that you can get feathered down by the longbowmen, even if you're well-armoured in full breastplate, as some lucky shot can penetrate through some hole, and some longbows could pierce chainmail. The Hound must've been in full plate to have dared go headlong into the archers, I'd think. And the second risk is that being on a ship on horseback requires of a very well-trained warhorse and this one was definitely Stranger. This horse is unfairly thought of as too wild, but most of that "wildness" is just his training, because warhorses are trained to be aggressive or otherwise cannot be warhorses, and besides Stranger is way too disciplined to spook or rear away from conflagration too, for example, he disciplinedly ran alongside the royal party for a while during the riots, and in this battle he went onboard the slippery planks of a ship, all of which indicates he was trained since foalhood for battle. Sandor didn't lose his horse during Blackwater, when he says he "lost half his men. Horse as well," he probably means he lost half of the horses. Martin uses "horse" in singular to mean cavalry. He likely had to control his mount too, because no matter how experienced they are, warhorses don't react so well to boarding ships, and Stranger seems to have come out of the battle somewhat scarred too, because he was testy in the ferry crossing, and it was much calmer than the battle on the ships.

And of course, the third and most daunting of all risks: fire, not common fire but unquenchable wildfire. I'd not noted that his scorched helm meant he was actually in the fire and not just near it; and if he was in the fire, so was Stranger, who must've been protected too, since he doesn't have burns. Metal gets heated pretty quickly, so Sandor might have had some superficial burns too from an overheated armour. If so, then that one and not the Beric duel would be his second close encounter with fire after his burning as a child.

...

Herr Rommel has always been one of my favorites so yes I was remiss in omitting the Grand.

I have some small experience with horses. Like most of my varied and obscure "expertises" I know enough to get myself killed, maimed, and create a hazard for the general public. Untrained horses are ridiculously easy to spook. Horses can get scared of just about anything-- an orange traffic cone, a pile of firewood, a cardboard box... Training a horse for riding involves a patient battle of wills, positive reinforcement, and developing a bond of trust. A friend of mine bought and trained his own horse after learning how to ride proficiently as a final exercise or bit of a self-taught advanced course in riding. While he could ride most any horse, the horse he trained himself was far easier and definitely more quick to trust him while riding in unfamiliar areas. Horses will not normally try and jump over anything they can't see the opposite side of. So equestrian events like obstacle horses in the Olympics that involve these types of jumps require the horse to have a great deal of trust in the rider. Horses are prey in nature and their instinct is far more flight than fight. Training a horse to be ridden is one thing, training a horse to be "bombproof" as a combat mount is another.

Stranger reacts very differently to Sandor and isn't especially friendly to stableboys or others who approach him. This seems to indicate that Sandor was very involved with his training from an early stage and also took personal care of the horse in some mundane tasks normally left to servants. I doubt he mucked the stall but the level of attachment indicates that he likely groomed the horse with some frequency and would visit him in the stable regularly even on days he wasn't riding. It isn't so much how bombproof Stranger is here in the battle that indicates this, but more the personal attachment to Sandor we'll see later in Arya's POVs.

This makes a certain amount of sense. Sandor may denounce the title knight but his Military Occupational Service is still Mounted Warrior. In Jon's POV we see him clean his own weapons:

Jon was cleaning Longclaw. Some men would have given that task to a steward or a squire, but Lord Eddard had taught his sons to care for their own weapons.

Stranger is as much a weapon as a sword.

You would never expect to see a Tywin Lannister clean his own weapons as lord of Casterly Rock. Delegating menial tasks to others is part of the Lannister trappings of power. We see how that mindset carries down the chain while Arya is in Harrenhal under Tywin's rule. There is a power hierarchy at play and being able to assign tasks down the chain is an exercise of power and part of the "corporate culture" of Tywin's Harrenhal. Leadership by example and getting one's hands dirty is more the culture of the Starks in Winterfell.

Sandor's training and caring for his horse recalls both Ned's conditions for the Stark children keeping the direwolf pups and Ned's advice to Jon about caring for one's own weapons. Even Jaime only names his horse and starts to bond with it as he distances himself from the Lannister culture Tywin built. It isn't of enormous importance, but Sandor's bond with Stranger puts him far closer to the culture of Winterfell and the Starks than it does to the Lannisters who he has been serving all these long years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stranger reacts very differently to Sandor and isn't especially friendly to stableboys or others who approach him. This seems to indicate that Sandor was very involved with his training from an early stage and also took personal care of the horse in some mundane tasks normally left to servants. I doubt he mucked the stall but the level of attachment indicates that he likely groomed the horse with some frequency and would visit him in the stable regularly even on days he wasn't riding. It isn't so much how bombproof Stranger is here in the battle that indicates this, but more the personal attachment to Sandor we'll see later in Arya's POVs.

This makes a certain amount of sense. Sandor may denounce the title knight but his Military Occupational Service is still Mounted Warrior. In Jon's POV we see him clean his own weapons:

Jon was cleaning Longclaw. Some men would have given that task to a steward or a squire, but Lord Eddard had taught his sons to care for their own weapons.

Stranger is as much a weapon as a sword.

You would never expect to see a Tywin Lannister clean his own weapons as lord of Casterly Rock. Delegating menial tasks to others is part of the Lannister trappings of power. We see how that mindset carries down the chain while Arya is in Harrenhal under Tywin's rule. There is a power hierarchy at play and being able to assign tasks down the chain is an exercise of power and part of the "corporate culture" of Tywin's Harrenhal. Leadership by example and getting one's hands dirty is more the culture of the Starks in Winterfell.

Sandor's training and caring for his horse recalls both Ned's conditions for the Stark children keeping the direwolf pups and Ned's advice to Jon about caring for one's own weapons. Even Jaime only names his horse and starts to bond with it as he distances himself from the Lannister culture Tywin built. It isn't of enormous importance, but Sandor's bond with Stranger puts him far closer to the culture of Winterfell and the Starks than it does to the Lannisters who he has been serving all these long years.

My thoughts exactly, Ragnorak. As you said, it's not the same to train a horse to be ridden than to train him to be a weapon. The job of training warhorses was a specialty in the horse-breeder guild back in the eras when this animal was a weapon, there were people who earned their upkeep by training foals to be warhorses, as it required a lot of work during years. They had to select the newborn foals from certain breeds and assess their overall strengths and weaknesses, "a warhorse has many good, few indifferent, and no bad points" as the saying goes. So, when a foal got the seal of approval, once it was of age would go to training for years, according to whether it'd be for heavy (destriers) or light (coursers) cavalry. Not all warhorses were trained for cavalry charges, by the way, that was the most difficult part of the training and that could be used as a sort of test of fire for the horse.

That was the main reason why they were awfully expensive, in addition to them being thoroughbreds for the most part. A knight wouldn't normally train his horse personally but would instead buy it already trained from the horse dealers, but in order to accustom his mount to himself and his own type of warring, it had to spend time with it until the horse got used to him. Some, however, grew up with their future masters, as they were born in the caslte of the lords and knights and the Horse Master would take care of them, find trainers or train them himself and they got used to the presence of the humans who'd mount them eventually. In the case of Sandor, I would think he did train his horse from a young age mainly because of the attachment and affection between the two, which isn't that common. Horses aren't dogs and don't bond with humans as easily, so Stranger must've been with Sandor for long already. In fact, I'd say he went to Winterfell too and was also at the Hand's Tourney, not because he'd be his only horse necessarily but because of how loved he is and always present in Sandor's significant scenes even if unmentioned.

I am aware that there's an argument that the text says Sandor's horse in AGOT, the one he'd have taken to the North and that he took out to hunt down Mycah, is explicitly said to be a "destrier," which on glance would mean it was not Stranger, who's a courser. But then, I am not convinced it's a good enough argument to discard that possibility for three reasons:

1. The one who says it's a "destrier" is Eddard. With all due respect to The Ned, he's not exactly someone who'd know one horse from another despite his experience, he's remarkably unspecific when it comes to horses.

2. It's Arya who says its name is Stranger and that it is "a courser." And it makes sense, since she's the one who knows more about horses amongst the Starks, which makes it possible for her to know which is which and she became familiar with the horse from very close. But notice that she says Stranger is "almost as big as a destrier." Which means that to someone not paying much attention (i.e. Ned) or not taking a closer look at it, Stranger's size is enough for him to be taken for a destrier. Which leads me to . . .

3. Brienne calls Stranger a destrier. When at the Quiet Isle's stables she spots him, she refers to him as a stallion only, but then later in speaking to the Elder Brother, she calls Stranger a "destrier" in her inner thoughts reflecting on him and his master.

So, no, the destrier/courser distinction is merely circumstantial, and I can conclude that Stranger was there all along, but Martin decided to make him a more prominent "character" and give him a name in ASOS only, in keeping with his gardener writing. I wonder how Arya came to learn its name, whether she heard Sandor calling it by name or otherwise, since Sansa never did; but then, she hates riding and didn't have much chance to get to know the beast like her sister did.

Stranger also reminds me a lot of Alexander the Great's warhorse, Bucephalus, which was also a black and mean-tempered horse that made the lives of his paides basilikoi (the royal pages) a living hell with his propensity to kicking and biting and generally being difficult. He couldn't be mounted by anyone but the king, and there are anecdotes of how he threw others off his back when they tried. The story of how Bucephalus came to be the king's horse is an interesting one: he was tamed by Alexander at twelve, on a bet with his father that nobody could tame it but if he boy did, then it'd be his; which he achieved by making the horse face the sun so his shadow would be behind him as he was way too spooky and frightened. There's debate on whether the story is true or not, but one theory that I always found the most plausible was that Bucephalus was like that because he'd been mistreated, that there are some slight clues that the horse presented marks that indicated the horse dealer had struck him badly, so the secret of Alexander's taming of it was talking to him softly and sweetly until it accepted him, and then steer him gently to face the sun and mount. Given that Stranger also doesn't allow anyone else to get near him without the Hound's permission, a peculiarity which other warhorses don't present in-universe, and it only allows to be handled when Sandor says so, one could wonder if its temper is also at least partially a result of being manhandled in the past. Stranger does mirror its master so well that it'd not be surprising, but I doubt we'll find out.

Moving on from horses, and on to prayers. You said this:

Prayer

The symbolism of the ship Prayer also seems pertinent. Prayer, Piety and Devotion were three ships taken from the “pious Lord Sunglass” who “wore moonstones at throat and wrist and finger.” He tried to leave the service of Stannis after Mel burned the sept on Dragonstone and was burned himself for his troubles. Prayer is the first ship to make ground on the northern bank of the Blackwater and the one where Davos sees the Hound fighting.

That passage foreshadows his eventual destination in the Quiet Isle, a place of prayer and reflection. Just before he lead the charge, Sansa had prayed for him at the sept in the castle, specifying what she wanted for him to the Mother: "save him if you can" and "gentle the rage inside him." He did survive the battle, not without wounds physical and emotional, but he was alive, so the first part of her prayer was fulfilled.

And the second? That took longer, but was fulfilled also. What struck me from his boarding of the ships on horseback is this: he boarded precisely the one called Prayer! How much more obviously deliberate on the author's part can this be? The Faith-themed ships were three: Prayer, Piety and Devotion, and all seem to allude to the options Sandor has in order to let go of the Hound. And it's Prayer the path the gods choose for him, not Piety nor Devotion. That could be alluding to that his final destiny isn't exactly staying a monk for life: neither piety nor devotion is in store for him, it was prayer he needed and what he got. After all, if Martin wanted, he could've easily made any of the other ships touch land first and made Sandor go onboard any of the other ships.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...

Moving on from horses, and on to prayers. You said this:

Prayer

The symbolism of the ship Prayer also seems pertinent. Prayer, Piety and Devotion were three ships taken from the “pious Lord Sunglass” who “wore moonstones at throat and wrist and finger.” He tried to leave the service of Stannis after Mel burned the sept on Dragonstone and was burned himself for his troubles. Prayer is the first ship to make ground on the northern bank of the Blackwater and the one where Davos sees the Hound fighting.

That passage foreshadows his eventual destination in the Quiet Isle, a place of prayer and reflection. Just before he lead the charge, Sansa had prayed for him at the sept in the castle, specifying what she wanted for him to the Mother: "save him if you can" and "gentle the rage inside him." He did survive the battle, not without wounds physical and emotional, but he was alive, so the first part of her prayer was fulfilled.

And the second? That took longer, but was fulfilled also. What struck me from his boarding of the ships on horseback is this: he boarded precisely the one called Prayer! How much more obviously deliberate on the author's part can this be? The Faith-themed ships were three: Prayer, Piety and Devotion, and all seem to allude to the options Sandor has in order to let go of the Hound. And it's Prayer the path the gods choose for him, not Piety nor Devotion. That could be alluding to that his final destiny isn't exactly staying a monk for life: neither piety nor devotion is in store for him, it was prayer he needed and what he got. After all, if Martin wanted, he could've easily made any of the other ships touch land first and made Sandor go onboard any of the other ships.

So what do we make of the possible moonstone connection to Prayer, Piety and Devotion? Joffrey's gift to Sansa was moonstones which come up in her POV a number of times. Is there a placement parallel here similar to what seems to be a symbolic placement of Dany's dragon eggs in the Pyre? Prayer/throat, Piety/wrist, and Devotion/finger? The significance of jewelry placement is far more the purview of you ladies.

Embracing prayer but not piety fits with his being a different path from the typical Broken Man on the Quiet Isle like Septon Meribald or the Elder Brother. There has been discussion about the Elder Brother's cave resembling one of the old CotF caves but any detailed analysis of that is probably best left for when we reach the Gravedigger chapter. The old gods have prayers but seem to lack the piety and devotion aspects we see in the other religions-- just throwing out ideas.

Is there anything to Lord Sunglass's fate? Stannis only threw him in the dungeon, but during this Battle of the Blackwater Queen Selyse will name him a traitor and have him burned alive.

Do you know what will be happening to you, if you are caught? While we were burning on the river, the queen was burning traitors. Servants of the dark, she named them, poor men, and the red woman sang as the fires were lit.”

Davos was unsurprised. I knew, he thought, I knew before he told me. “She took Lord Sunglass from the dungeons,” he guessed, “and Hubard Rambton’s sons.”

The singing while the fires are lit has a certain resonance with the Sansa/Sandor dynamic in this battle but no elegant way to compare them comes to mind at the moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what do we make of the possible moonstone connection to Prayer, Piety and Devotion? Joffrey's gift to Sansa was moonstones which come up in her POV a number of times. Is there a placement parallel here similar to what seems to be a symbolic placement of Dany's dragon eggs in the Pyre? Prayer/throat, Piety/wrist, and Devotion/finger? The significance of jewelry placement is far more the purview of you ladies.

There's not really any connection that I can see, at least not when it pertains to Sansa, because that Joffrey gave her the moonstones makes sense for two reasons: one, it was a gift for their betrothal, as it's a gem propitious for lovers because legends say it could open the heart and make the person faithful. Also, it supposedly could reunite lovers too, so it was a gem of choice to give to a loved one as a present, much like today you'd give diamonds in engagement rings, for example. Also, since it's a gem of not much monetary value, it was appropriate for gifting it to a very young girl, because it wasn't proper to give them costly jewels, which were reserved for older women. That it's a hairnet and not a necklace indicates as much too, because that's something you'd give a young and unmarried girl for her hair, not an older woman. And Sansa isn't wearing the moonstones during Blackwater either, so that makes it even more unlikely that there's any symbolism therein.

As for Sunglass, that's also a bit prosaic, because since the legend says it's a gem made of the rays of the moon and the moon influences the tides, it was a gem favoured by mariners and sailors, worn as an amulet for luck at sea.

Edited by Milady of York

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fascinating analysis, Ragnorak. I’m amazed with all the stuff you (and the rest of posters here) get from these chapters.



The humorous side to this is that Sansa doesn't get the double meaning of the washerwomen's gossip, but she is indeed correct in doubting Osmund's skills.

(- Milady)




I did not get the double meaning either :blushing: Do the washerwomen know Sandor that well?



Brash, I'm really glad you brought up the Jungian male/female archetypes (my shorthand paraphrasing) at play because one of the most striking things to me in preparing this was how the Mother and Warrior songs were juxtaposed, contrasted and then reversed for both Sansa and Sandor.

(-Ragnorak)




Interesting, Sandor and Sansa have a lot of parallels going on during the Blackwater Battle. It starts when Joffrey calls Sansa the same way he calls for Sandor:



Sansa!" The boyish shout rang across the yard; Joffrey had seen her. "Sansa, here!”


He calls me as if he were calling a dog, she thought.



Then Sansa goes to sing at the sept and once she comes out as the septon leads a prayer for Joffrey, she stops to listen the song Sandor and the rest of the men are making outside:



It was another sort of song, a terrible song.



Terrible is an adjective we may find reminiscent of the Hound as Sansa often uses it when describing him:



Strong hands grasped her by the shoulders, and for a moment Sansa thought it was her father, but when she turned, it was the burned face of Sandor Clegane looking down at her, his mouth twisted in a terrible mockery of a smile.



“Think I’m so drunk that I’d believe that?” He let go his grip on her arm, swaying slightly as he stood, stripes of light and darkness falling across his terrible burnt face.



The Hound leapt at them, his sword a blur of steel that trailed a red mist as it swung. When they broke and ran before him he had laughed, his terrible burned face for a moment transformed.



As mentioned earlier by Rag, he boards the galley Prayer and Sansa prays inside. Cersei remarks how apt that she’s bleeding as the men bleed outside, and Tyrion observes Sandor’s bleeding gash. And ultimately, Sansa wishes the Hound was there to protect her:



I would be gladder if it were the Hound, Sansa thought. Harsh as he was, she did not believe Sandor Clegane would let any harm come to her.



And they seem to be on the same wavelength here too…


Edited by CatherineLaw

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there anything to Lord Sunglass's fate? Stannis only threw him in the dungeon, but during this Battle of the Blackwater Queen Selyse will name him a traitor and have him burned alive.

Do you know what will be happening to you, if you are caught? While we were burning on the river, the queen was burning traitors. Servants of the dark, she named them, poor men, and the red woman sang as the fires were lit.”

Davos was unsurprised. I knew, he thought, I knew before he told me. “She took Lord Sunglass from the dungeons,” he guessed, “and Hubard Rambton’s sons.”

The singing while the fires are lit has a certain resonance with the Sansa/Sandor dynamic in this battle but no elegant way to compare them comes to mind at the moment.

There's a rough parallel to be made in what Cersei was planning to do by having Ilyn Payne present during their vigil in the holdfast. In this scenario, Sansa would have served in the role of the unfortunate sacrifice, as Cersei tells her she won't allow the Starks to have any joy from the fall of House Lannister. In what actually plays out, however, Sansa is the one who ends up retaining her faith - a different sort of red woman to Mel - and is then able to calm the panicked women in the hall, before eventually ministering to Sandor. Whereas on Dragonstone harshness and intolerance hold sway, at Blackwater we see mercy and compassion dominating. Unlike the poor Lord Sunglass whose ship he boarded, Sandor's time in the fires allows for his rebirth, not his death and what he gains from "prayer" is not persecution, but protection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<snip>

And they seem to be on the same wavelength here too…

Good points, Catherine :) It struck me that another parallel could be appreciated in how both Sansa and Sandor assume leadership positions during the battle, ultimately showing more concern towards those present in their respective surroundings than their Lannister supervisors. Sansa takes control of the hall of frightened women and children once Cersei leaves, ordering for a maester to tend to a gravely wounded Lancel, and the Hound as a commander refuses to put more of his men into the terrible fighting conditions outside the gate. We might consider Sansa's encounter with Lollys and her family on the drawbridge to the castle where she tries to tenderly convince the girl to come inside as the beginning of her showing compassion to others during the conflict. Sansa's knowledge of Lollys' pregnancy stemming from from her rape during the riots also brings into relief the Hound's role in saving her from a similar fate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did not get the double meaning either :blushing: Do the washerwomen know Sandor that well?

No, not necessarily. They're merely gossiping in a light-hearted way to pass the time in an otherwise tedious chore and a good deal of bawdy speculation goes into it, for which it's not required to have firsthand knowledge exactly. Remember that these are the lowest of the low in the household ranking, too low to have direct interaction with the king's personal guard.

It looks like this is due to the fact that Sandor however infamous his name might be in the Seven Kingdoms, is nevertheless someone of repute as a fighter, a top amongst top-tier ones, and therefore people will use him to measure others up; even Jaime, who knows of these things quite well, does measure himself up to Sandor and considers him dangerous, so it's expected that others would do likewise even if they've never seen him fighting. Look at that knight in Renly's service that Catelyn saw bragging about slaying the Hound in single combat, and the other examples mentioned in the analysis. So, when a new Kingsguard is appointed, it's easy to see why the washerwomen would be using the best warrior they know/have heard of as a measuring rod to assess the true value of newcomer Osmund. That they concluded that this Vale braggart was as strong as the Hound would suffice to give the lie to any suspicion that they have any close-quarters knowledge of Sandor. If anything, they're right about Kettleblack as younger, and that's it.

As for the double-entendre . . . The implication here isn't that the washerwomen were sleeping with Sandor, or Osmund for that matter, and then comparing their performance. These women needn't to have gotten under the sheets with them to gossip about or wonder about how they're in bed. It's more like what happens to Ser Duncan the Tall in the Dunk & Egg novellas: his towering stature attracts everyone's attention and since he's a man, young, single, and apparently attractive too, it gives way to ribald japes about his "size" down there. Of the you must be large all over sort, by men and women alike. And whilst Sandor isn't the handsomest of all, he has the same impressive and intimidating physique, and he is young and single, so of course that'll lead to the same kind of funny speculative remarks on the part of the female population as happens with the male population with regard to his martial prowess. After all, Sansa doesn't have any hands-on knowledge either, and yet, that didn't prevent her from fantasising with him.

Edited by Milady of York

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting, Sandor and Sansa have a lot of parallels going on during the Blackwater Battle. It starts when Joffrey calls Sansa the same way he calls for Sandor:

Sansa!" The boyish shout rang across the yard; Joffrey had seen her. "Sansa, here!”

He calls me as if he were calling a dog, she thought.

This caught my attention, as well. Clearly, Sansa is annoyed and disturbed (rightfully so) that Joffrey beckons her in such a demeaning manner. Yet, at least before Joffrey became king, Sandor preferred to be called dog. Now that Joffrey is king, it's most likely that Sandor no longer cares to be beckoned like a dog by Joffrey. Previously, Joffrey used "dog" respectfully and with admiration when referring to Sandor, but now, as king, his tone becomes increasingly patronizing and demanding. So, when Joffrey commands Sandor to do something, Sandor probably bristles just like Sansa, only adding to his final break.

ETA: Considering the references to Bloodraven when Sansa goes to the godswood for the very first time at King's Landing to meet Dontos (which Ragnorak brought up) and in Sandor's storyline in ASoS, it's interesting that this section is so heavily focused on the Faith of the Seven. Eariler, Milady mentioned that while Sandor has little interest in the gods, they sure do have an interest in him. I do wonder how much Bloodraven factors into this.

Edited by DogLover

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's not really any connection that I can see, at least not when it pertains to Sansa, because that Joffrey gave her the moonstones makes sense for two reasons: one, it was a gift for their betrothal, as it's a gem propitious for lovers because legends say it could open the heart and make the person faithful. Also, it supposedly could reunite lovers too, so it was a gem of choice to give to a loved one as a present, much like today you'd give diamonds in engagement rings, for example. Also, since it's a gem of not much monetary value, it was appropriate for gifting it to a very young girl, because it wasn't proper to give them costly jewels, which were reserved for older women. That it's a hairnet and not a necklace indicates as much too, because that's something you'd give a young and unmarried girl for her hair, not an older woman. And Sansa isn't wearing the moonstones during Blackwater either, so that makes it even more unlikely that there's any symbolism therein.

As for Sunglass, that's also a bit prosaic, because since the legend says it's a gem made of the rays of the moon and the moon influences the tides, it was a gem favoured by mariners and sailors, worn as an amulet for luck at sea.

Sigh... I suspect you may be correct. There are plenty of tasty morels with an aroma of potential. The ship Prayer named for the thing that connects Sandor to Sansa and Arya originally belonged to Lord Sunglass. His name along with his jewelry could evoke Ned's comment about them being as different as the sun and the moon. Lord Sunglass was imprisoned by the ruling masculine figure and then burned by the ruling feminine aspect which could be read as similar to Sandor's psychological history. Sunglass objected to the burning of the Seven on Dragonstone and those statues of the Seven were carved from the masts of the Targaryen ships that carried them to Dragonstone originally and despite Sandor's lack of any pious demeanor he's very connected to all the religions that appear in the series. Lots of elements fraught with potential but no unifying context I can find (without a large hammer.)

Fascinating analysis, Ragnorak. I’m amazed with all the stuff you (and the rest of posters here) get from these chapters.

I did not get the double meaning either :blushing: Do the washerwomen know Sandor that well?

Interesting, Sandor and Sansa have a lot of parallels going on during the Blackwater Battle. It starts when Joffrey calls Sansa the same way he calls for Sandor:

Sansa!" The boyish shout rang across the yard; Joffrey had seen her. "Sansa, here!”

He calls me as if he were calling a dog, she thought.

Then Sansa goes to sing at the sept and once she comes out as the septon leads a prayer for Joffrey, she stops to listen the song Sandor and the rest of the men are making outside:

It was another sort of song, a terrible song.

Terrible is an adjective we may find reminiscent of the Hound as Sansa often uses it when describing him:

Strong hands grasped her by the shoulders, and for a moment Sansa thought it was her father, but when she turned, it was the burned face of Sandor Clegane looking down at her, his mouth twisted in a terrible mockery of a smile.

“Think I’m so drunk that I’d believe that?” He let go his grip on her arm, swaying slightly as he stood, stripes of light and darkness falling across his terrible burnt face.

The Hound leapt at them, his sword a blur of steel that trailed a red mist as it swung. When they broke and ran before him he had laughed, his terrible burned face for a moment transformed.

As mentioned earlier by Rag, he boards the galley Prayer and Sansa prays inside. Cersei remarks how apt that she’s bleeding as the men bleed outside, and Tyrion observes Sandor’s bleeding gash. And ultimately, Sansa wishes the Hound was there to protect her:

I would be gladder if it were the Hound, Sansa thought. Harsh as he was, she did not believe Sandor Clegane would let any harm come to her.

And they seem to be on the same wavelength here too…

Thank you.

Yes, the parallels between Sansa and Sandor are really interwoven over the course of the Blackwater chapters on many levels. Sansa's moonblood is a sign of transitioning away from innocence while Sandor's blood from his wounds plays into his return to innocence as they contribute to his break from Lannister service and a return to his own prepubescent state of innocence. Blood, especially in these books, is loaded with symbolism.

Terrible isn't used exclusively for the Hound but it is often applied to him-- his face in particular. He also identifies himself as a terror in his upcoming trial. “This cave is dark too,” said the Hound, “but I’m the terror here. ..."

The red mist trailing his swords usually evokes the image of "ribbons" for me which recalls his speech before his trial by combat, but I tend not to read too much into it because it isn't explicitly reflected in Martin's word choices.

This caught my attention, as well. Clearly, Sansa is annoyed and disturbed (rightfully so) that Joffrey beckons her in such a demeaning manner. Yet, at least before Joffrey became king, Sandor preferred to be called dog. Now that Joffrey is king, it's most likely that Sandor no longer cares to be beckoned like a dog by Joffrey. Previously, Joffrey used "dog" respectfully and with admiration when referring to Sandor, but now, as king, his tone becomes increasingly patronizing and demanding. So, when Joffrey commands Sandor to do something, Sandor probably bristles just like Sansa, only adding to his final break.

ETA: Considering the references to Bloodraven when Sansa goes to the godswood for the very first time at King's Landing to meet Dontos (which Ragnorak brought up) and in Sandor's storyline in ASoS, it's interesting that this section is so heavily focused on the Faith of the Seven. Eariler, Milady mentioned that while Sandor has little interest in the gods, they sure do have an interest in him. I do wonder how much Bloodraven factors into this.

I find Sandor's connections to the religions of the series very curious. His origin story and the opponent and nature of this battle tie him to the Red God of fire. Even his constant placement in the shadows reflects the connection. There's tons of Faith references here along with his eventual trip to the Quiet Isle and hints he may eventually face unGregor in a Faith-centric trial by combat (maybe even trial by seven.) Robert's line about getting Sansa a dog or a pretty clear hint at his being a lady replacement. The Bloodraven hints surrounding her first trip to the godswood and Sandor being the true Florian sent in answer to her prayers all make for a very strong old gods connection. Then we have him teaching Arya the Gift of Mercy which along with his placement and removal from her list makes him significantly tied to the god of many faces of the House of Black and White. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I think Sandor might have amongst the strongest religious connections of any character in the series.

It occurs to me now that mercy is what Sam was praying for when I first noticed the subtle trend of prayers being answered. Mercy is the connection Sandor will have to both Arya and Sansa through prayer. I'm getting a sense there's a larger picture of mercy at play throughout the series. Part of that larger picture is tied to First Men justice-- one point of wielding the sword is to search for mercy reflected in the sentenced's eyes.

Does anything jump out about the theme of mercy especially tied to Sandor?

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown:

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That, in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much

To mitigate the justice of thy plea;

Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice

Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clearly, Sansa is annoyed and disturbed (rightfully so) that Joffrey beckons her in such a demeaning manner. Yet, at least before Joffrey became king, Sandor preferred to be called dog. Now that Joffrey is king, it's most likely that Sandor no longer cares to be beckoned like a dog by Joffrey. Previously, Joffrey used "dog" respectfully and with admiration when referring to Sandor, but now, as king, his tone becomes increasingly patronizing and demanding. So, when Joffrey commands ost, with me!Sandor to do something, Sandor probably bristles just like Sansa, only adding to his final break.

Joffrey does indeed call Sansa as if he were calling a pet, in fact, the "Sansa, here!" that he yells at her to beckon her from afar is reminiscent of how the Stark children call their direwolves. "Summer, here!" "Ghost, with me!"

But I am not seeing how he summons Sandor as if he were a dog. He does call him dog, but given the proprietary my attached to the word and his admirative awe of his sworn shield, it's never given me the impression that it's meant as a derogatory term like when it's Tyrion or Thoros or Lem who're calling him that. It rather appears to be an affectionate nickname of sorts, because it sounds like it might have started as child-talk when Joff was younger and couldn't spell Hound well yet and it stuck by habit, so he kept calling him that. Joffrey has known Sandor practically since he was born, and he was always beside his mother, so at some moment he might have attempted to call Sandor in any manner, and Dog was the first word that came. Besides, Sandor tends to use a single hound and not the three (save in his shield) as identifier, like on his tunic or his helm, which also reinforces the nickname. The difference is in the manner, not in the use or not of the first name: Joffrey never calls him Sandor, and prefers to go with Dog, but the way he summons him isn't disrespectful in itself although it may sound weird. Sansa is annoyed not only because she's addressed disrespectfully but also because she hates Joffrey and because she doesn't want to be near him, which adds to her irritation.

Terrible isn't used exclusively for the Hound but it is often applied to him-- his face in particular. He also identifies himself as a terror in his upcoming trial. “This cave is dark too,” said the Hound, “but I’m the terror here. ..."

True, and Sansa isn't the only one that describes his face as such. All the other adults describe his face with that word too, from the first description in AGOT by Ned onwards. In fact, the only one that doesn't describe his face as "terrible" is Arya, who also happens to be the one that's not terrified by him and also in a moment of rage tells him it's ugly. She does at another moment say he looks terrible, at the cave, though it's in relation to his overall appearance than his face alone. Tyrion is the only one who mocks the Hound's burns, by the way, the others seem to focus on the frightening factor more than anything, hence the terrible description.

Edited by Milady of York

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find Sandor's connections to the religions of the series very curious. His origin story and the opponent and nature of this battle tie him to the Red God of fire. Even his constant placement in the shadows reflects the connection. There's tons of Faith references here along with his eventual trip to the Quiet Isle and hints he may eventually face unGregor in a Faith-centric trial by combat (maybe even trial by seven.) Robert's line about getting Sansa a dog or a pretty clear hint at his being a lady replacement. The Bloodraven hints surrounding her first trip to the godswood and Sandor being the true Florian sent in answer to her prayers all make for a very strong old gods connection.

In following with this peculiar connection of Sandor to all three major religions in-story, has it occurred to you that he's actually the only one that appears to have the Old Gods-Approved stamp on his forehead amongst the men drawn to Sansa? Specifically with regard to the godswood, I am thinking.

Of those men, Baelish underestimates Northern magic and related religious aspects altogether, practical man that he is, choosing the Red Keep weirwood-free godswood as merely a place convenient for secretive rendezvous with the purpose of kidnapping a future pawn simply because it's the site where his biggest eunuch rival in the game-playing arena won't go nosing into, and thus ironically facilitating things for another even bigger player, Bloodraven, whose sandbox the goodswood is. Then comes his other player rival, the Imp, who doesn't fare much better in obtaining the favour of the gods of the North. Quite the contrary, in fact, going by his own reflections in ACOK Tyrion XI:

He remembered their godswood; the tall sentinels armored in their grey-green needles, the great oaks, the hawthorn and ash and soldier pines, and at the center the heart tree standing like some pale giant frozen in time. He could almost smell the place, earthy and brooding, the smell of centuries, and he remembered how dark the wood had been even by day. That wood was Winterfell. It was the north. I never felt so out of place as I did when I walked there, so much an unwelcome intruder. He wondered if the Greyjoys would feel it too. The castle might well be theirs, but never that godswood. Not in a year, or ten, or fifty.

Tyrion feels the godswood rejects him and makes him feel like an intruder, which goes to show just how little accepted a lion would've been in the North as was the essential idea behind marrying Sansa to him. If the old gods make you feel unwelcome, surely the people won't be much more welcoming. There's also the detail of the direwolves' attitude towards him, which even though their attacks were mainly a reaction to their child owners' feelings of mistrust of the Imp, within this context we can't disassociate from it the fact that they're considered as old gods-sent.

And none of the wolflings ever met Baelish either, which may end up being as significant long-term as the detail that Baelish is unaware of the Bloodraven/Old Gods factor. Baelish doesn't know the Starks are wargs, and Tyrion seems to dismiss the tales of warging as idle hearsay and foolish, as per his words on the Oxcross rumours.

Yet here's Sandor, who did meet and greet and got rumbled at by Lady, did act in the same capacity for Sansa as the direwolf would have within certain circumstances, and although he's never seen inside the godswood, he materialises in Sansa's path just after she'd been praying there for "a friend, a true knight" to champion her, curiously also after she'd mused her wolf would've loved the place. Does he know the Stark children are wargs? Hard to say for certain without a POV from him, but we could assume he may have caught some rumblings that there's something about those wolves and the Starks, or about the Starks themselves, because he's quite the observant fellow and he'd have noted certain slight and subtle things going on between wolves and owners either at Winterfell, during the trip south by observing Sansa, and especially by observing Arya during their Riverlands travelling, in particular at the time of the "that thing about your mother..." scene when she replied in a manner that could have made him think a tad.

Edited by Milady of York

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, it's precisely his failure to be a true knight to Sansa that causes Sandor so much anguish, so even here as Cersei scoffs at Sansa's innocence, Sandor is in the process of losing faith in a service that has been eroded by the failure to protect such ideals. We see further thematic connections to Sandor in the songs of Florian and Jonquil and Aemon the Dragonknight which you mentioned in the summary portion of the analysis, and there's another link to him when Cersei questions Sansa about her moonblood:

“You look pale, Sansa,” Cersei observed. “Is your red flower still blooming?”

“Yes.”

“How apt. The men will bleed out there, and you in here."

Sandor was present for Sansa's first menstruation and this comment symbolically establishes a sense of their fates being linked or at least Sansa having a stake in what happens to Sandor in the battle, a concern that was already showcased in her prayer for him in the sept.

I double-checked that chapter, and I don't see him being present there (they had a conversation the day before, but I don't see how that could be considered being present). I believe you're thinking of the show's version (a grievous accusation, I admit).

Edited by Colonel Green

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I double-checked that chapter, and I don't see him being present there (they had a conversation the day before, but I don't see how that could be considered being present). I believe you're thinking of the show's version (a grievous accusation, I admit).

I think Brash is referring to the fact that Sansa had her menarche pains in that conversation you're mentioning. When she goes to the rooftop, she feels a stab of pain in her belly so strong she doubles over and almost falls, whence Sandor grabs her. That was due to her period, and the actual blood came later that same night during her sleep. Speaking as a lady, menstruation starts as the mucus in the cervix that will come off with the blood sloughs off, and the day or two before the actual bleeding one can feel pain or cramps or some other form of discomfort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×