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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

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In general idioms can make for sketchy textual evidence because the whole phrase is a vocabulary word on to itself. That doesn't mean the author can't play with the turn of phrase or otherwise intentionally use it. To Milady's point, the specific word choice Davos uses isn't a metaphor but an idiom and thus Davos's failure to use House sigils in a metaphor is not in and of itself a significant piece of evidence to herald deeper meaning in his word choice. Davos is lowborn and tends towards simpler speech patterns too. Tyrion and Sansa would be POVs from whom we might expect a more colorful or poetic description.

That being said, I happen to like ornitorrinca's post. The comparison fits well with the overall theme of Sansa and Sandor being juxtaposed throughout all the Blackwater POV's. It doesn't stand in isolation requiring the word choice of Davos's thoughts to be of a peculiar intent by the author to have some potential meaning in the overall context.

...

Cersei's dismissal of the men as "cocks" shows that, though she envies men for the power they're given simply by being men (and, crass as she can be, she probably meant it as a double entendre), she does not appreciate the valor these men show when they go out to, as Sandor said, fight, kill and perhaps even die. Davos, on the opposite side in this battle, calls some of these same men "wolves." This attitude contrasts with Sansa, who, as Brashcandy said, has gained a deeper understanding of what war means, what it does to men and what it means to be brave. Here we see that she also understands what it does to women, and she is willing to get involved to help both men and women. As has been said, both Sansa and Sandor distinguish themselves as leaders in these chapters, with the imagery of being wolves linking them.

...

The war comment stuck out. Throughout the carnage that fills this series many characters continue to focus on and reference The Game referring to the game of thrones. Arya's Riverlands horrors, the death toll here at the Blackwater, the impending starvation in the North, are all the price of playing that game. There are some who prefer to avoid war for various political or religious reasons, but I can only recall two characters who explicitly disdain war as a game-- Ned and Benjen.

“Your Boy King lost ten thousand men taking the place, and another fifty trying to hold it. Someone should have told him that war isn’t a game.”

“None of us is ever ready,” he said.
“For knighthood?”
“For death.” Gently Ned covered the boy with his cloak, a bloodstained bit of blue bordered in crescent moons. When his mother asked why her son was dead, he reflected bitterly, they would tell her he had fought to honor the King’s Hand, Eddard Stark. “This was needless. War should not be a game.” Ned turned to the woman beside the cart, shrouded in grey, face hidden but for her eyes. The silent sisters prepared men for the grave, and it was ill fortune to look on the face of death. “Send his armor home to the Vale. The mother will want to have it.”
“It is worth a fair piece of silver,” Ser Barristan said. “The boy had it forged special for the tourney. Plain work, but good. I do not know if he had finished paying the smith.”
“He paid yesterday, my lord, and he paid dearly,” Ned replied. And to the silent sister he said, “Send the mother the armor. I will deal with this smith.”

These two stand out because they are both warriors and leaders of warriors. They are hardly pacifists. This series will end when a critical mass of people reach the end state of Ned and Benjen at the opening of the story. While my initial thoughts ran to Sansa given Ned was speaking of a Tourney, there are Sandor implications here as well. His rooftop talk with Sansa was about glorifying killing and battle as an end in itself. Sandor's breaking here is in part about finding a reason not to fight in contrast with his earlier statements to Sansa. Sandor does make a choice here that could be described as ceasing to treat war as a game. I suppose the path he takes when book six is published will determine how relevant this may be, but at a minimum he chooses to stop being someone else's pawn in the game.

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In general idioms can make for sketchy textual evidence because the whole phrase is a vocabulary word on to itself. That doesn't mean the author can't play with the turn of phrase or otherwise intentionally use it. To Milady's point, the specific word choice Davos uses isn't a metaphor but an idiom and thus Davos's failure to use House sigils in a metaphor is not in and of itself a significant piece of evidence to herald deeper meaning in his word choice. Davos is lowborn and tends towards simpler speech patterns too. Tyrion and Sansa would be POVs from whom we might expect a more colorful or poetic description.

That being said, I happen to like ornitorrinca's post. The comparison fits well with the overall theme of Sansa and Sandor being juxtaposed throughout all the Blackwater POV's. It doesn't stand in isolation requiring the word choice of Davos's thoughts to be of a peculiar intent by the author to have some potential meaning in the overall context.

The authorial intent is clear enough, as this particular figure of speech is used again by Martin to convey exactly the same meaning of a rout in the battlefield that happens in the Blackwater, in a Jon chapter:

“The numbers would be greatly against us,” Ser Ottyn had objected. “Craster said he was gathering a great host. Many thousands. Without Qhorin, we are only two hundred.”

Send two hundred wolves against ten thousand sheep, ser, and see what happens,” said Smallwood confidently.

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Our dearest Lummel is only pulling his little sister Lyanna's pigtails when he talks of Sandor trolling the poor people of Westeros in a hair shirt using his terrible visage to force them to listen to readings of the Seven Pointed Watchtower.

Oh, indeed! However, I have to say, the more pronounced the religious themes in Sandor's arc, the more concerned for his ultimate fate I become. :lol:

Mercy is a series wide theme. First Men justice and looking into the sentenced's eyes is all about mercy. Dontos, the false Florian standing in for Sandor, was spared because Selmy, the man Sandor replaced, asked him to be spared as a mercy. Mercy is amongst the primary contrasts between the Starks and Lannisters. Ned's "stupidity" in telling Cersei he knew was about mercy in contrast to Tywin's Rains of Castamere which is all about showing no mercy. Ned's mercy toward Cersei's children is contrasted with Cersei's lack of mercy toward his own children including Sansa's treatment, her desire to have Arya killed for what happened to Joffrey on the Trident, and even Joffrey's hiring of the catspaw to kill Bran-- he overheard Robert talking of how death would be a mercy. Sandor is right in the metaphorical middle of all of that.

In full disclosure, aside from the Shakespearean quote being a rather famous literary commentary on mercy, I have been pondering whether Arya's first Faceless Man assassination assignment in Braavos is a bit of an inversion of the Merchant of Venice. If so, what does that tell us about the series wide theme of mercy? I don't want to derail Sandor with an Arya exploration but it does seem like there's a rather rich vein of mercy to mine.

Agreed. I also find it intriguing that Lady Stoneheart--a.k.a. Mother Merciless--is looking for Sandor with the intent of showing him no mercy--the exact gift he taught Arya and showed Sansa. I also think the white cloak transferred from Barristan to Sandor is a symbol of mercy that intertwines Barristan, Sandor, Sansa, Dontos (for a short time), and quite possibly Arya (still working on the Arya connection and hope our analysis of ASoS will unveil it). As you noted, Barristan asked that Dontos be shown mercy, Sansa kneels on Barristan's cloak begging for mercy for her father, a cloak that Sandor, Sansa's true Florian, will then assume and discard in disgust, which will then be possessed and valued by Sansa.

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These two stand out because they are both warriors and leaders of warriors. They are hardly pacifists. This series will end when a critical mass of people reach the end state of Ned and Benjen at the opening of the story. While my initial thoughts ran to Sansa given Ned was speaking of a Tourney, there are Sandor implications here as well. His rooftop talk with Sansa was about glorifying killing and battle as an end in itself. Sandor's breaking here is in part about finding a reason not to fight in contrast with his earlier statements to Sansa. Sandor does make a choice here that could be described as ceasing to treat war as a game. I suppose the path he takes when book six is published will determine how relevant this may be, but at a minimum he chooses to stop being someone else's pawn in the game.

You have similar thoughts in Jon's and Daenerys' storylines too, with how they wish to avoid war, but may end up with warfare anyway because that is how things are, not because they necessarily wish it. War is not a game and ASOAIF is not for the knights of summer. There's a big difference between being pacifist (like perhaps the Lamb men?) and trying to avoid warfare and suffering. Ned and Barristan know well what war means, characters like Jon and Dany learn and Sandor certainly knows too. Then on the other hand we have characters like Tywin, who are content with waging war for cynical gain, like his thrashing of the Riverlands as a sort of preventative measure in answer to Tyrion being abducted. It is difficult to see Ned or Barristan making a similar decision, and it is very doubtful decision makers like Dany or Jon would engage in preventative or "saving face" war like Tywin does since they are far too focused on that warfare brings more than just land gains in a map.

In a way, the Broken Men, the famine and chaos in the Riverlands and Sandor's breaking away from the Lannisters are some of the end results of war as a political game, instead of war as a last way out when no other can be found.

Our dearest Lummel is only pulling his little sister Lyanna's pigtails when he talks of Sandor trolling the poor people of Westeros in a hair shirt using his terrible visage to force them to listen to readings of the Seven Pointed Watchtower.

Lummel is the cruelest of men. :crying: Here we all were, hoping for long passages of fat pink masts, both kinds of swords, Lord's kisses, suns that never set and bulbous purple heads, and ..... actually, the extra readings of the Seven Pointed Watchtowers might be preferable given the circumstances.

EDIT: As a side note, when will the next installment be up?

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EDIT: As a side note, when will the next installment be up?

The final chapter analysis for ACOK was delayed due to some schedule issues the guest poster whom we invited to tackle Sandor VI is having. We're hoping it'll be up by mid-week at the latest.

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We now move on to the final chapter analysis for ACOK, written by Miodrag Zarkovic our longtime friend and collaborator. Miodrag was kind enough to agree right away to do this analysis when we asked him months ago, and through all his other commitments and busy schedule, he made sure to see it completed, albeit with a bit of a delay for which he sends sincerest apologies :)


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SANDOR VI



Going away



by Miodrag Zarković



  • Sansa VII
  • Sansa VIII



One thing Sandor Clegane seems to share with the Starks: he doesn’t take killing lightly. Undoing humans is his trade, his day job, so he obviously doesn’t harbor any moral objections to the idea of bringing death upon someone (as if anyone in Westeros does!), but, opposite to that other, even bigger fellow, that goes by the family name Clegane, Sandor doesn’t look like someone who found any joy in ending lives. So far there’s not a hint at some developed philosophy similar to “A man who passes the sentence should swing the sword” in his mind, but it is true that Sandor Clegane was swinging the sword only when ordered, or when the situation couldn’t be resolved any other way.



Such a record from a man who, when it comes to physical and sword-handling prowess, hardly has a match in the entire realm, is quite telling.



It doesn’t mean Sandor hasn’t sinned with his sword. Finding any justification for killing poor Mycah is a fool’s errand, albeit in that instance he was, strictly speaking, acting on orders again. But, that killing presents a serious business for Sandor Clegane, and not a hobby, is probably as good as proven.



That’s why this line of his has to be taken seriously, too:



“Bloody dwarf. Should have killed him. Years ago.”



Some other professional killer saying something like that wouldn’t necessarily imply he actually means it. We all make empty, meaningless threats. But, Sandor Clegane isn’t fooling around when it comes to killing, even if he’s just talking about it. When he says he should’ve killed the “bloody dwarf” years ago, it does mean the bloody dwarf’s damn lucky Sandor didn’t think about this earlier.



All of which indicates Sandor shares one more thing with the Starks: disdain for the Lannisters. Not just for Tyrion, but for the entire family.



Whatever immediate reason Sandor has for wishing Tyrion’s dead (and the reason is insignificant in no way, which will be addressed a little later), the “years ago” remark suggests deeper and definitely more lasting resentment toward the “bloody dwarf”. Now, in five books published so far, there’s not a single hint at any personal incident between Tyrion and Sandor that would merit such a resentment. No love is lost between the two, as evidenced from their very first interaction in AGOT (when Tyrion disciplines Joffrey for not offering any comfort to the Starks), but disliking someone is not the same as lamenting over the fact the same someone wasn’t killed by your hand years ago. We’re given no exact cause for Sandor to wish he’d killed Tyrion way before the chronological start of the novels. Not even Tyrion’s POV offers any hint at some personal problems or incidents the two ever had. They dislike each other, which is hardly unusual considering neither is making oneself easy to like, but that’s it. No sign of any harm done by Tyrion in the past. (And besides, it doesn’t look like Sandor was ever wronged by anyone who isn’t his older brother.)



If there really isn’t any explicit reason for Sandor to wish he killed Tyrion years ago, then it has to be a reflection of his, Sandor’s, true feelings for Tyrion, and, by extension, for the Lannisters. Arguably, Tyrion is the most sympathetic member of his family. Whatever he annoys you for, Cersei is bound to disturb you even more, and not to mention ever arrogant Tywin. Hence, if Sandor wouldn’t see a single problem in killing Tyrion for no apparent reason, then it’s not illogical to conclude he’d also kill any other Lannister with the same ease.



However, he’s serving the Lannisters. They are his masters. Also, he’s supposed to be a dog. That’s the sigil of his house. And, as he explains to Sansa earlier in ACOK, a dog will never hesitate to give own life to save the master, meaning, a dog values the master’s life more than its own. Having all that in mind, this:



“Bloody dwarf. Should have killed him. Years ago”,



shouldn’t be the thought that can ever find its place in Sandor’s universe. Dogs don’t regret they didn’t kill their masters years ago. Period.



So, Sandor is a very peculiar dog. One that doesn’t care at all for his masters. He serves them, he’s killing for them, perhaps he’ll even die for them (though not from the wildfire), but he just doesn’t care one bit for them.



What does Sandor care about, then? Believe it or not, there is an answer to this question. He does care for something and for someone.



Let’s start with the something part, and with the circumstances in which he says the line about Tyrion. It’s all happening in the bedchamber of Sansa Stark, during the Battle of the Blackwater. To her initial shock, Sansa, after escaping one of the saddest parties in the history of fiction, finds Sandor right by her bed, hidden in the dark. It’s soon revealed he fled the battleground once the wildfire approached him too close. Just like Sansa realizes, his lifelong fear of fire, caused by the childhood trauma only she knows about, was a reason enough for him to run away.


And, before he reveals his untimely wish for Tyrion, he says this:



“I only know who’s lost. Me.”



When Sansa asks him “What have you lost?”, he replies:



“All.”



Few lines later, however, Sandor explains how he plans to leave the town:



“I have the white cloak. And I have this.” He patted the pommel of his sword. “The man who tries to stop me is a dead man. Unless he’s on fire.” He laughed bitterly.



Few more lines later, and Sandor invites Sansa to go with him. This is the offer:



“I could keep you safe,” he rasped. “They’re all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I’d kill them.”



Now, does that sound like a man who lost all?! He knows he can’t be stopped by other Lannister soldiers. He knows they’re all afraid of him. He knows he can kill anyone who tries to hurt Sansa. What loss was he talking about a moment ago, then? How can a man, who’s very aware he’s so feared by everyone and so impossible to beat by anyone, even think he lost – all?



Only if by “all” he wasn’t referring to what others think of him, but to what he himself does.



Yes, Sandor Clegane probably knows very well that, in the case of Stannis’ defeat, he could go back to serve Joffrey and nobody would say a word. Even if Stannis takes the city, he can join Tywin’s forces, without anyone accusing him of anything. He knows he still didn’t lose the position he had with the Lannisters (their reactions, of which he’s not aware but never mind, only confirm that). As a swordsman, and especially in the times of war, he’s just too valuable to be scrapped by anyone. So, the loss he’s talking about has nothing to do with his masters.



It has everything to do with him, Sandor Clegane.



By leaving the battle, Sandor broke something we could describe as his personal code. He knows he ran away. It doesn’t matter if they are going to find out, because they’re all afraid of him anyway and none of them will ever dare to say a word. But he knows. And that’s all it takes for him to lose all.



As a matter of fact, that’s a testament to a rather strong personal code. Even though ASOIAF doesn’t lack characters that take honor pretty seriously, the importance Sandor’s personal code seems to carry for him is something remarkable and rarely seen. It doesn’t happen too often we meet a man who’s giving up his entire life solely because he somewhat disappointed himself.


What he tries to substitute his previous life with is not a bit less remarkable and memorable: a life with Sansa Stark. The girl who represents the “someone” part in that question from before. She is someone who Sandor obviously cares about. He cares about her great deal.



There is literally no other explanation for his decision to wait for Sansa in her bedchamber; he wants to see her one more time before leaving King’s Landing for good. And he wants to invite her to come with him. In that dreadful moment in which he lost all, looks like the only thing that can bring a new purpose to his life would be Sansa’s acceptance to go with him.



With Sansa by his side, he’d never care for all he lost in that battle. He’d have something new, something possibly even more fulfilling and more important and definitely more beautiful than what he had in life that just ended with his escape. His personal code would be at peace again, and probably more than ever before: he obviously didn’t care for the Lannisters, but he evidently cares very much for Sansa.



In Sansa, he recognizes not the true master, but something even better: the person he could love, and who could love him back.



That revelation surprises him, too, possibly disturbs him even. Never before he thought the life can have such a magnificent meaning. Serve, obey, kill, don’t get killed, and preserve your personal code along the way; that’s what his life was all about – before he met Sansa. Now, looks like she’s the only thing that maters any more. At the very least, she’s the only thing he’d take from the life he abandoned the moment he fled the battle.



Though definitely not nice, his physically aggressive behavior that ensues after he realizes Sansa isn’t going to accept his invitation, can be explained by the inner turmoil he had to go through ever since he met her. She shook his entire world, from the foundation to the roof. That couldn’t be easy for a guy unpracticed in caring for others.



But it’s even more than that, actually. It is about Sandor’s unique position in the world created by George R. R. Martin.



In the culture that is depicted in “A Song of Ice and Fire,” people are dealing with emotions much differently than we do today. More precisely, they are much more in control of what they feel and how are they dealing with it. Otherwise, the basic premise that holds the entire system, and that is the sense of duty, would collapse.



The concept of the Night’s Watch is the first one we meet in the books, and it’s such a strange concept at first, because in our own reality there is hardly anything similar: swearing a vow that lasts for life. The only thing that comes close are various life-long devotions to a specific religious groups, but there is also a significant difference – in the Night’s Watch, there is no everyday contact with the core purpose of one’s devotion. People that dedicate their entire life to religion are serving daily rituals through which they remain constantly active in their idea of service to the higher power they recognize, but in Night’s Watch there’s nothing like that. What is then behind the very idea of joining the Night’s Watch (other than, of course, being forced to, in case you are a criminal)? The sense of duty, that isn’t associated with anything palpable, but with an ancient perception that there might be a need for that, possibly not in one’s lifetime, but still.



Soon, readers are introduced to a relatively similar concept of Kingsguard, which is also for life and, naturally, not as abstract as that of the Night’s Watch – because, after all, the King and his family actually need a constant protection – but also highly dependent on the sense of duty. And little later on, we realize the main concept of Westeros: duty to one’s family. Definitely much more discernible than the previous ones, this form of duty is also the strongest, because is doesn’t depend on spoken pledges or some other initiation rituals, but on the ever-present feeling a person receives from own upbringing and never abandons it.



In other words, Westeros it the world that rests on duties. And what is the duty Sandor Clegane was serving up to this point in the novels?



None. For almost two entire books, and large ones at that, Sandor practically recognized not a single duty of his. He feels no connection to his family, e.g. to his older brother Gregor, other than the deep desire to put the sword through Gregor’s heart. He belongs to no order at first, and later, when the ruling Lannisters forcibly and against all regulations make room for him in the Kingsguard, he does accept of course, but it is pretty clear from the get-go that he follows his own rules and not those the rest of the Kingsguard is subjected to.



He also has no lasting ambition, like, to be a knight – God forbid – or something.



His one allegiance is to the Lannister family, but in this chapter in Sansa’s chamber, when he laments the fact he didn’t kill The Imp years ago, it’s evident that was really not the firmest of allegiances – not the least because of the fact that, without the wildfire, which is the acute reason Sandor wishes Tyrion dead, King’s Landing would already fall under Stannis’ command and Lannisters would probably be dead or imprisoned by now, which is an outcome Sandor would have no problem with.



In effect, Sandor Clegane had no duty besides protecting Joffrey, which is a job description, and not something that can be compared to the service in the Night’s Watch or in some demanding noble family like, say, Tyrells. The Hound is a man with no strings attached, which pretty much does make him a unique case among the characters, especially if we consider that he also doesn’t belong to the likes of Bronn (a sellsword) or common people, because he actually comes from a house which is not big or influential by any means, but is recognized as nobility, even the lowest one.



So, neither society nor he himself have any expectation of Sandor Clegane, other than to do his job. That is why The Hound is possibly the most unrestrained man in Westeros. He doesn’t have to feel anything at all. Or he may feel whatever he damn pleases, as much as he desires. It’s all on him.



And, obviously, so far in life Sandor Clegane was determined not to entertain that freedom. He chose to restrain from any kind of attachment.



Imagine then what it must be like for such a man to suddenly, surprising to him even, start feeling something binding, for the first time in his life. And on top of that, it’s connected to the only individual he’s absolutely not supposed to feel anything similar about: Joffrey’s betrothed!



Because of all that, the relationship between Sandor and Sansa (I’m calling it “relationship” for better understanding, even though at this point there were no traditional elements of a proper relationship between them) is also a stand-alone case in the entire saga. It is, of course, different to any preordained marriage agreement, but it’s also very different in nature from, say, Jaime and Cersei’s love affair. With Jaime and Cersei, yes, they also aren’t a traditional relationship by any means, but it’s more a case of “why shouldn’t we?” than anything else. They are not exercising a rather unconventional possibility, so much as breaking conventions, but in a very controlled way. It could be said, therefore, that, despite the highly irregular (and inappropriate) essence, Jaime and Cersei’s relationship is a very traditional one in form, as evidenced by the Cersei’s firm refusal to go public when Jaime suggests it later in ASOS, and also Jaime’s pretty cerebral decision to move away from Cersei at the end of AFFC.



Ygritte and Jon are also unconventional in the sense that she’s a wildling and he’s a sworn brother, but in the end he, though in love with her, wasn’t willing to pursue life with her. It can be even said that he was never even seriously tempted to do so, according to his thoughts which we were familiar with all the time. Their emotions weren’t strictly controlled, but on the other hand neither Ygritte nor Jon were controlled by their emotions.



Dany and Daario’s relationship is also something that defies conventions, but on the other hand they are both firmly in control of their feelings in it. Dany makes a rational decision to enter the sexual affair with Daario and, later on, she also makes a rational decision to step out of it.



Sam and Gilly are an interesting case, but for now it would be a stretch to call it a relationship, although in the physical sense they went way further than Sandor and Sansa ever did. The thing is, both Sam and Gilly are pretty much directed at each other: she is a survivor of the Craster’s Horror House and everything she experiences after entering the Seven Kingdoms is completely new for her, and Sam is always there to help and guide her; Gilly, on the other hand, from the very beginning was the closest Sam ever came to a normal relation to a female individual that isn’t his mother. While they aren’t following the rules (at least, he isn’t), they are also not renouncing them and therefore their relationship is hardly a symbol of free choice.



But Sandor and Sansa’s very much is, at least to the extent of how aware of their feelings they happen to be. Due to his age and experience, Sandor seems to be quite aware, and it was never as obvious as in this chapter. So yes, he may be the only character in the entire saga to make a completely personal, unrestricted, uninfluenced and in every way free decision to pursue his own feelings for his love interest. He’s not looking for a sexual affair like Daenerys, nor conquering a dragon queen like Daario. He’s not mocking the society’s norms by secretly engaging in a sexual activity with his twin sister. He’s not waiting for the right moment to let his duties overcome his emotions once again. He’s not finally accepting the only option life has ever thrown his way. No, he is a totally free man making his own choices, as evidenced in his reply to Sansa’s “Where will you go?” question:



“Away from here. Away from the fires. Go out the Iron Gate, I suppose. North somewhere, anywhere.”



That’s right, he can really go anywhere. And he’s inviting her to come with him. How many couples in the series ever faced that possibility?



Her refusal was perhaps not surprising to him, but it was not an easy thing to hear. While his somewhat physical reaction was really nothing to be proud of, to his credit, he stopped way before inflicting any damage. All in all, he surely didn’t do anything dishonorable. At least Sansa, the center of this new reality he found himself in, was not hurt in any way


.


The only one who’s hurt was him, actually, because she turned down his offer. All things considering, however, it can even be said he took her decision pretty well, before leaving the only person who could give a true purpose to his life.



That is why, if the two of them ever meet again, Sansa may be faced with the same invitation once more. It’s not too realistic to expect Martin’s going to pass on such an opportunity.


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Excellent analysis, Miodrag! I especially like your take on the Imp-Hound (non)relationship, and your thoughts on his actions towards Sansa in her bedchamber.





So, Sandor is a very peculiar dog. One that doesn’t care at all for his masters. He serves them, he’s killing for them, perhaps he’ll even die for them (though not from the wildfire), but he just doesn’t care one bit for them.





I'd not thought of interpreting Sandor's hostility towards Tyrion as representative of his larger low opinion of the Lannister clan in its entirety, yet with the reasoning presented by you, it does actually make a lot of sense. Examining his behaviour towards them and his words about his masters, we never get the sense that he's particularly respectful of anyone in the family; in fact, I'd go as far as saying the only Lannister he truly treats with deference is Cersei, and that's mostly an impression conveyed through scattered bits and pieces, for there's not a single interaction between them both even when there are scenes in which both share the stage. With Joffrey, his lack of respect is evident, for although he is courteous with the boy and addresses him properly and formally ("Your Grace"), he often sounds as if he's speaking to a little boy, not his superior, and in some occasions he openly mocks him but Joff isn't smart enough to notice the mockery. The viciousness of his "Bugger Joffrey, bugger the queen, and bugger that little gargoyle she calls a brother . . ." reply to Arya underscores just how deep his contempt for them runs, and it's interesting that he mentions these three Lannisters and omits the rest, and this happens before he learns of Sansa's forced marriage, when he again exhibits lack of an emotional response to Joffrey's death and remembers Cersei only in the context of wanting her to bring the fires of hell on her Imp brother.



Considering that the Lannisters themselves don't value Sandor as anything but a loyal tool for their dirty tasks, is this even surprising, though? They didn't mistreat him that we know, but being a good master involves more than just the absence of outright abusiveness towards your liegeman, and the Lannisters did indeed misuse Sandor since childhood. Take for example the Sack of King's Landing, in which he killed his first man; take Tywin's unethical protection and use of Gregor, take the foul orders Cersei gives him that go against his code and twist justice, take Joffrey's absurdities and following in his mother's steps and ordering him to beat the girl he fancies, and take Tyrion's arrogance; then add to this the whole toxic environment of the court, with the constant low-intensity warring between the Lannister and Baratheon households, and you have the picture: it's not necessary for Sandor to have been physically mistreated by his masters to feel like he was indeed not treated as respectfully as a loyal liegeman deserves. A feudal bond is a two-way alley: you just don't demand respect and loyalty if you don't do your part of the treaty; and the Lannisters didn't.





But Sandor and Sansa’s very much is, at least to the extent of how aware of their feelings they happen to be. Due to his age and experience, Sandor seems to be quite aware, and it was never as obvious as in this chapter. So yes, he may be the only character in the entire saga to make a completely personal, unrestricted, uninfluenced and in every way free decision to pursue his own feelings for his love interest. He’s not looking for a sexual affair like Daenerys, nor conquering a dragon queen like Daario. He’s not mocking the society’s norms by secretly engaging in a sexual activity with his twin sister. He’s not waiting for the right moment to let his duties overcome his emotions once again. He’s not finally accepting the only option life has ever thrown his way. No, he is a totally free man making his own choices, as evidenced in his reply to Sansa’s “Where will you go?” question:



“Away from here. Away from the fires. Go out the Iron Gate, I suppose. North somewhere, anywhere.”



That’s right, he can really go anywhere. And he’s inviting her to come with him. How many couples in the series ever faced that possibility?




Interesting take, indeed. Sandor is the first one of the two to become aware of what he feels, mostly because of his age and experience as you say. Is this his first love? Probably, yes, but it's not relevant as it's not necessary to have experienced it before to know exactly what the emotion is. However, I'd say that the Blackwater scene is only the culmination of a long road started months ago, and definitely not the first time he voices his feelings. The first time was at the Serpentine, but in that scene his words are equivocal and from a certain standpoint could even be taken as a joke due to his tone and laughing afterwards, but Sansa definitely got the truth of it subconsciously. In this chapter, however, he's way clearer about it, especially in this line:



“I could keep you safe,” he rasped. “They’re all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I’d kill them.” He yanked her closer, and for a moment she thought he meant to kiss her.



I always took that line for a declaration of love, one as good as Sandor could tell in his messed-up state. He knows his own worth, his skills, he knows he can offer protection, which is the one skill that allowed him to rise high in service and be so feared. And he's offering himself to someone whose worst fear and constant reality is to be beaten and otherwise abused by Joffrey, so he's offering to shield her from ever experiencing that fear again. But not only that, he's also offering himself as a man. His body language must've given him away, otherwise it's not comprehensible why Sansa would think he was about to kiss her at that precise moment, right when he's declaring that as he pulls her towards his body, not before, not after; and it also puts into context yet never excuses why Sandor reacted so violently to her closing her eyes: the offer he was making was more than just merely becoming her new sworn shield, he was consciously making an attempt to eventually have his feelings be reciprocated. And Sansa, for all that the scene was botched, must've understood, as she later understood what he meant at the Serpentine, for she evolved her fantasising from both these scenes: the UnKiss comes from his declaration to keep her safe when she thinks he was going to kiss her, and in her erotic dream she hears him tell her about his song in precisely the same wording he used in the Serpentine chapter.



To complete my argument in favour of why Sandor's line is a declaration of love, I'm going to drag the Kingslayer in as witness. In AFFC Jaime I, he expresses similar feelings for sweet Cersei:



Jaime could smell the fear on her, even through the rank stench of the corpse. He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her, to bury his face in her golden curls and promise her that no one would ever hurt her . . . not here, he thought, not here in front of the gods, and Father. “No,” he said. “I cannot. Will not."



Take her in his arms, just as Sandor was pulling Sansa towards him. Kiss her, just as Sansa thought he was going to do. Promise her that no one would ever hurt her, just what Sandor said. The author tends to use parallels and repetitions to prove or reinforce a point, and in doing it here, he makes the Hound's intentions to become clear to readers.


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Thank you, Miodrag Zarković, for this insightful work and Milady of York for your added perspective. You've made this section much richer for me; now I need to go reread it!


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Exceptional analysis, Miodrag! And thank you for the contribution. It was certainly worth the wait! Like Milady, I really enjoyed your take on Sandor’s feelings for the Lannisters, as I had not interpreted it that way before. I’ve always assumed Sandor had a personal beef with Tyrion, which culminated during the battle when Tyrion shamed him. But you do argue a strong and reasonable point. Sandor really doesn’t seem to be fond of any of the Lannisters, certainly not Joffrey, to be sure.

Milady, I agree with you that Sandor’s offer to keep Sansa safe is a declaration of love, and the parallel to Jaime's thoughts about protecting Cersei certainly support that interpretation, as well as his body language and the deplorable way he responded to perceived rejection. If he didn’t have feelings for Sansa, why would he react so poorly to the perceived rejection, especially when he still thinks Sansa can’t look at him—a real sticking point for him?

Regarding Sandor’s emotional state, he’s at his absolute lowest point since he’s been introduced early on in the series. The wildfire has triggered his PTSD, he’s incredibly drunk, and Tyrion had just shamed him on the battlefield. When we discussed Sandor I (ACoK), which was presented by brashcandy, the culture of silence surrounding Sandor’s victimization at the hands of his brother, and that a culture of silence surrounding real-world crimes actually exists (high-profile athletes and sexual violence and domestic abuse is just one example), contributes to deep-rooted feelings of shame and anger on the part of the victim. Sandor’s testimony to Sansa was clearly difficult for him and he made it very clear he did not want Sansa to tell anyone about how he received his burns. In addition to Sandor not liking the Lannisters very much, Tyrion’s shaming him on the battlefield had to have had a profound impact, contributing to his reaction to Sansa’s perceived rejection—all of those suppressed emotions bubbling up to the surface, and then add alcohol to the mix. Already at a breaking point, Sansa’s response, or lack thereof, was a tipping point.

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Fascinating write up, Miodrag and one from a most interesting perspective.



I too found the Tyrion hatred as an indicator of generic Lannister distaste a novel and compelling interpretation. In pondering it the best explanation I can arrive at is rules. We all shape our worldviews based on the rules we come to learn. There is what the rules say, what the rules actually are, and eventually after our sophistication surpasses the overly simplistic outrage of "That's not fair!" we develop a sense of what we believe the rules ought to be. We all do this. The rules say bedtime is 8:00, but we eventually learn that rule really means 8:30 with Mom and 9:00 with Dad and what forms of begging, supplication, bargaining, temper tantrums, and doe-eyed innocent looks tend to increase or decrease the actual enforcement time-- what the rule says, and what the rule actually is. This understanding of rules becomes more developed and expands as we learn to read parental body language and know when to push limits and when to flee impending wrath and eventually expands to babysitters as we learn never to challenge the scary lady from across the street, but the dorky girl with braces from down the block (who seems a sophisticated older woman at the time) will let you watch anything on TV. The process goes on and on until one day our wrestling match with the rules turns into a view of the world.



Sandor's life was shaped by the difference between what the rules say and what the rules actually are. His younger self knew the rules were "don't touch Gregor's stuff" or he wouldn't have been so terrified playing with the knight. Still, the rules he understood about parents protecting children and the scope of the consequences for touching Gregor's stuff were very different before and after he played with that knight. Learning what the rules actually are became a matter of survival after that and his burns, his father's cover up, and all the trauma from the experience were a reality in direct contradiction to what the rules say. Sandor learned the rules well enough to avoid further dire contact with Gregor, to escape Casa Clegane to the one place he could survive, and to thrive in House Lannister which has its own set of rules which are also quite different from what the rules actually say.



Throughout all of this Sandor never let go of what the rules say. His outrage against knights is rooted in that discrepancy between what the rules say and what the rules are-- and outrage that indicates he's still very much attached to a worldview that what the rules say is what the rules ought to be. So while surviving the reality of Tywin's House Lannister, his need to survive and his deeply buried worldview of what the rules ought to be found a balance, or perhaps more accurately a contradictory coexistence, in his personal code. Even his great pride in the origin story of his House points at something within him clinging to what his family and father ought to have done.



Tyrion is a rule anomaly and perhaps their animosity is rooted somewhere in that. He's a Lannister and a primary rule of Tywin's realm is that Lannisters are above the rules-- except when Tyrion's not. It is easy to see how these two could come into conflict especially given their closeness in age, but whatever Tyrion did to spark the ire of The Hound it must have been an offense to Sandor's internal code or the balance he struck between that code and the rules of survival in House Lannister. There seems to be about a four year difference between their ages. Sandor may have sat through a maester's classes with Tyrion or trained with him in the yard to the extent that Tyrion participated in such activities Sandor would have arrived before the Tysha marriage and seen Tyrion both before and after his harsh lesson. He likely heard rumors about the harsh lesson as well. Tyrion was a shy innocent and idealistic boy who developed a petty cruel streak in large part because of his harsh lesson. He had an older brother who protected him in a way that Sandor's brother never did. It could be Sandor detests the way he's cruel despite having a protector, he could blame Tyrion for what was done to Tysha, he may hate the change that came over him.



The Sandor who arrived at Winterfell must have been struck by the differences between the rules of House Stark and the rules of House Lannister. The use of wooden swords is a protection of innocence and it is the first thing we see him lash out at. He has chosen the role of loyal dog and all of these Stark children, even the bastard, has a loyal direwolf protector. The injured boy gets all of the care and family affection he never experienced. This is a place where the rules are what the rules say. The harsh realities that started with Bran's fall, continued with the death of Lady, then Ned, and became more nightmarish under Joffrey's cruelty never displaced Sansa's sense of what the rules ought to be. Sansa has become the external manifestation of this deeply buried ideal of what the rules ought to be. This is the moment Sansa's worldview triumphs over Sandor's. For all Sandor's talk (helpful advice notwithstanding) of the rules of the harsh realities of the world, here is someone who validates the way things ought to be despite her suffering of those very realities. Sansa's perseverance has made her worldview, the rules of Winterfell, a reality for Sandor. It is no wonder the only sense of direction he has is "North."




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Ragnorak - Terrific job articulating the concept of "rules". This describes the disconnect between behaving as 'a true knight' and how knights actually behave: they break the rules of being a true knight. I like the comparison between House Lannister (we are the exceptions) and House Stark (the rules are the rules.) Also, it was very insightful to juxtapose the care and love that the injured young Bran received versus the coverup and lack of treatment (seriously, just an ointment?) that the injured young Sandor received. It is curious that Martin introduces the notion of 'mercy' (death as a release from suffering) so early in the novels.



Sandor has been sworn to Cersei (and now Joffrey) for many years. One of the first 'rules' he likely learned in Cersei's service is "Tyrion is the dangerous-evil-little-monkey-demon", in all its iterations. Early in GOT, Sandor is Joffrey's sworn shield. He has one job: protect Joffrey. And yet, (chapter: Tyrion I, page 86) we see Tyrion verbally harangue Joffrey before slapping him right in front of Sandor - and there is nothing Sandor can do to Tyrion, brother of the queen (exception to the rules). Tyion's abrasive tongue wins him few allies, and Sandor is not immune to his verbal disparagement ("be a good dog".) Likewise, this chapter shows that Sandor, to Joffrey's delight and amusement, has made a habit of mocking Tyrion. Tyrion is well and truly tired of disrespect and short jokes from the hired help and, in his defense, his brother Jaime would never be subjected to such insolence from lesser borns. So I think we can see any friction between Tyrion and Sandor as being rooted in the Cersei-Tyrion relationship dynamic and it has simply evolved.


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Firstly, forgive my impolite formatting (not quoting and bolding participant names), but my computer died (fix it Apple Store!), so I'm using my Kindle Fire to post. Ugh.

Secondly, I only have time for a quick post right now.

Wonderful posts, Rag and Avlonnic. Rag, your observations about what the rules say and what the rules actually are is very enlightening. I do agree that Sandor's time at Winterfell and the influence Sansa has had on him was profound and forced him to confront his own cynicism and loyalty to the Lannisters. Realizing that going North to serve masters who not only adhere to the rules, but enforce them, even futilely trying to do so with Gregor and Cersei, best aligns with Sandor's own personal code.

Regarding Sandor's strained relationship with Tyrion, I do agree with Avlonnic that Cersei's own attitude toward Tyrion and Tyrion's own obnoxious behavior played a significant role. While the true story behind Tysha was not known, what Tywin did was immensely cruel. Would Sandor not understand Tyrion's bitterness? Or would Sandor consider Tyrion complicit in the crime? I do think the juxtaposition between how Sandor copes with his trauma and Tyrion copes with the Tysha experience (I hesitate to call it trauma since Tysha was the real victim) intriguing. Both are jaded and use sarcasm to protect themselves. However, for Sandor, his feelings for a woman, a woman he's tried his best to protect, forces him to reevaluate his entire worldview. Meanwhile, Tyrion has always had, and continues to have, serious issues with women (understandably so). While Sandor has demonstrated the will to change, Tyrion continues to follow a very dark path. I do wonder if Tyrion's attitude and treatment of women had an emotional impact on Sandor when he finds out about Sansa's marriage to him.

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Thank you for the analysis, Miodrag, there are some things there I had not thought about before. Still, there are some things I find hard to agree with.



First of all, the whole desertion thing. "He could go back to serve Joffrey and nobody would say a word". Well, no. You can't say "bugger the king" to his face (was it to his face? I can't recall. Still, probably it reached him somehow) and then expect to be welcomed back. He closed that door. Desertion is a grave crime, punishable by death. It's treason. You think Joffrey, of all people, would forgive that insult? Unlikely. So, yeah, that's a thing he lost.



And he has, truly, lost all. And yes, I do believe he sounds like a man who has lost all, I don't understand why you say he doesn't, though I agree with your argument about breaking his own code. But, as he has lost all, he can do nothing but gain, so he tries to gain Sansa.



That being said, I think you are romanticizing their relationship a little bit. Saying he's triying to make a life with Sansa sounds a bit forced. Remember, he's VERY drunk that night, and afraid and traumatized and abandoned his job and everything that's his in the worst possible way. He doesn't think clearly. He went to her room because he needed comfort and mostly because he was drunk, and sometimes, when you are drunk, you do things you can't really explain. I don't think he went there with a clear objective. Also, I truly believe he wasn't FULLY aware of the nature of his feelings for Sansa, not until much later, when they were separated.



And DEFINITELY, he doesn't see Sansa as someone who can love him back. He sees himself as a monster, and maidens don't love monsters, and that pains him. That's why he's so angry and clumsy with his attempts to talk to her.



Oh, and about this:





The concept of the Night’s Watch is the first one we meet in the books, and it’s such a strange concept at first, because in our own reality there is hardly anything similar: swearing a vow that lasts for life.




What about marriage? Or clergy, or any religious organisation? They're not THAT rare. And it's not really something hard to undestand for us modern folks, nor that strange.



That aside, it was a nice analysis, with some interesting points, and I like the comparison with the other couples in the series.


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That being said, I think you are romanticizing their relationship a little bit. Saying he's triying to make a life with Sansa sounds a bit forced. Remember, he's VERY drunk that night, and afraid and traumatized and abandoned his job and everything that's his in the worst possible way. He doesn't think clearly. He went to her room because he needed comfort and mostly because he was drunk, and sometimes, when you are drunk, you do things you can't really explain. I don't think he went there with a clear objective. Also, I truly believe he wasn't FULLY aware of the nature of his feelings for Sansa, not until much later, when they were separated.

Isn't the opportunity to make "a life" with him precisely what he offers Sansa that night, though? Let's look at what he says again:

“I could keep you safe,” he rasped. “They’re all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I’d kill them.”

This is not merely about helping Sansa to escape the Red Keep; he is offering her the security of a life with him where she would never have to worry about being hurt by anyone again. It's a very personal proposition, one that concerns Sandor, the man, not Sandor, the KG, or Sandor, the sworn shield, doing his duty. It's his last hope for a life that could give him some happiness as he sees it. The reasoning that Sandor showed up in Sansa's room because he was very drunk and not thinking clearly also doesn't add up when we consider their interactions on the whole and the influence Sansa gradually comes to have over him. Being drunk doesn't mean he wasn't aware of his feelings, and these feelings are what compel him to seek her out when he could have just simply left the city and not looked back. When Sansa asks why he's come to her room he mentions that she promised him a song, which is quickly revealed as just as a prelude to his real meaning for coming there: he wants her to leave with him, and to no longer be afraid of him:

“Why did you come here?”

“You promised me a song, little bird. Have you forgotten?”

She didn’t know what he meant. She couldn’t sing for him now, here, with the sky aswirl with fire and men dying in their hundreds and their thousands. “I can’t,” she said. “Let me go, you’re scaring me.”

“Everything scares you. Look at me. Look at me.”

The blood masked the worst of his scars, but his eyes were white and wide and terrifying. The burnt corner of his mouth twitched and twitched again. Sansa could smell him; a stink of sweat and sour wine and stale vomit, and over it all the reek of blood, blood, blood.

Making such an overture could not have been easy, especially for someone already in an emotionally fraught and fragile state, and it helps to explain why Sandor reacted as he did. Sansa's perceived rejection would not have caused him such angst had he not been deadly serious about his desire to have her go away with him and to acknowledge the emotional connection between them. This also proves that unlike Sansa, the Hound is the one who was quite aware of his feelings and didn't need to be separated from her to have this become more clear. Sansa's the one we see gradually becoming more cognisant of her attraction to Sandor once he leaves KL, beginning with the unkiss and later transforming into a full-fledged erotic dream where he appears in her marriage bed.

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First of all, the whole desertion thing. "He could go back to serve Joffrey and nobody would say a word". Well, no. You can't say "bugger the king" to his face (was it to his face? I can't recall. Still, probably it reached him somehow) and then expect to be welcomed back. He closed that door. Desertion is a grave crime, punishable by death. It's treason. You think Joffrey, of all people, would forgive that insult? Unlikely. So, yeah, that's a thing he lost.

I would encourage you to keep the show out of the books reread, if you please. The scene you're describing never happened in the books. Joffrey wasn't present when Sandor deserted and Sandor never said "Fuck the king" to his face. That's show only, and doesn't carry any value for our analysis.

The desertion scene happened with Tyrion, and it's to him to whom he says "bugger you." Tyrion cannot force the Hound to carry out his nonsensical sortie, and that's why Sandor defied him and refused to go out, and the lack of immediate punishment by the Hand on that disobedience would indicate clearly enough that he cannot be punished for that, not by Tyrion. And Miodrag is right in saying that Sandor could have gone back and continued fighting, because it wasn't known he'd deserted until after the battle was over, and the circumstances in which his desertion becomes known are very interesting as well as revealing, but those will be addressed next, in our analysis of the first chapter for ASOS. In the meantime, suffice to say that as the battle was still raging on, all people knew was that "the Hound's gone, no one knows where," which is the information Sansa heard in the Ballroom, and it's not known why he is missing in action; that will be clarified later and the surprised reactions of the Lannisters also hint as to what their reaction would've been if he'd come back.

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There are some very curious literary nuggets to take a closer look at here.

Sandor as the Lady substitute.

“Lady,” she whimpered softly, wondering if she would meet her wolf again when she was dead.
Then something stirred behind her, and a hand reached out of the dark and grabbed her wrist.

We also get another juxtaposition of Sandor and Dontos in the Florian role.

“Go back to your bedchamber, sweet Jonquil,” he whispered. “Lock yourself in, you’ll be safer there. I’ll come for you when the battle’s done.”
Someone will come for me, Sansa thought, but will it be you, or will it be Ser Ilyn? For a mad moment she thought of begging Dontos to defend her. He had been a knight too, trained with the sword and sworn to defend the weak. No. He has not the courage, or the skill. I would only be killing him as well.

Of course someone does come for her and offers her exactly what she wishes for from Dontos here. This raises the question of why Jonquil does not run off with Florian and that probably deserves some discussion. It has been discussed at length from Sansa's perspective, but not nearly as much from Sandor's. The short answer is that neither character is ready. From my Jungian armchair I would say that Sandor is trying to substitute a real woman for spending some overdue quality time with his anima.

On the topic of mercy and the battle of the worldviews we have Sansa's thoughts on Lancel.

“Take him to Maester Frenken.” Lancel was one of them, yet somehow she still could not bring herself to wish him dead. I am soft and weak and stupid, just as Joffrey says. I should be killing him, not helping him.

Last chapter we talked about the songs of the Warrior and Mother and how Sandor and Sansa seemed to start in one song role and move toward the other. Here we see the two songs meet.

She didn’t know what he meant. She couldn’t sing for him now, here, with the sky aswirl with fire and men dying in their hundreds and their thousands. “I can’t,” she said. “Let me go, you’re scaring me.”
“Everything scares you. Look at me. Look at me.”

The whole set of Blackwater chapters are filled with images of fire, but here we get some noteworthy passages even if only for the descriptive metaphors that Martin likes to use in Sansa's POV.

The southern sky was aswirl with glowing, shifting colors, the reflections of the great fires that burned below. Baleful green tides moved against the bellies of the clouds, and pools of orange light spread out across the heavens. The reds and yellows of common flame warred against the emeralds and jades of wildfire, each color flaring and then fading, birthing armies of short-lived shadows to die again an instant later. Green dawns gave way to orange dusks in half a heartbeat. The air itself smelled burnt, the way a soup kettle sometimes smelled if it was left on the fire too long and all the soup boiled away. Embers drifted through the night air like swarms of fireflies.

I could speculate about foreshadowing of some fiery war between Melisandre's unnatural flames and shadows, but my thoughts are more drawn to the theme of beauty in destruction. Tyrion's POV has something similar as he marvels at the colorful banners that seem so glorious on the battlefield only to recall a world without color when he awakens on his sickbed experiencing the consequences of that beauty. In that light I find myself wondering about Sansa's views on beauty and destruction since she's about to turn around and find Sandor for whom images of fire are hardly insignificant. She shares Ned's desire to avoid war, but after her time in Kings Landing I doubt she would deny the beauty of the house that Joffrey built being put to the torch.

It is in the context of these warring colors of flame that she first sees Sandor.

Outside, a swirling lance of jade light spit at the stars, filling the room with green glare. She saw him for a moment, all black and green, the blood on his face dark as tar, his eyes glowing like a dog’s in the sudden glare. Then the light faded and he was only a hulking darkness in a stained white cloak.

The image is evocative of-- dare I say-- a knight. It is a lance of flame that illuminates him so and seems to give him some form of identifying House colors. His eyes show his true nature of a dog instead of the curtains of rage or fear that usually shroud the windows to his soul.

Black and green are the colors of the sides of the original Dance. There they represented lady's gowns but this time around for the second Dance they seem to be dragon colors. Lots of ways to read that even completely ignoring the whole Dance topic. It definitely seems to be a passage worth further discussion.

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Outside, a swirling lance of jade light spit at the stars, filling the room with green glare. She saw him for a moment, all black and green, the blood on his face dark as tar, his eyes glowing like a dog’s in the sudden glare. Then the light faded and he was only a hulking darkness in a stained white cloak.

The 'stained cloak' is a motif also mentioned by GRRM in another arc; Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer. But unlike Jaime, Sandor's cloak was stained honestly in battle, not by his 'sins' as Jaimie's is. Still, he no longer wants it and tears it off and leaves it with Sansa. He literally tears away another signifier of being a 'Lannister man', and with that he walks away from his life with the Lannisters.

Tearing off the white cloak of the Kingsgaurd completes his desertion but, he leaves it with the one he wanted to take with him; Sansa. This is also the second time he gives Sansa his cloak. And like the first time, after she had been stripped and beaten, she found comfort in it.

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There are some very curious literary nuggets to take a closer look at here.

<snip>

Great food for thought, Ragnorak. The passages during Sansa and Sandor's Blackwater encounter recall a lot of the language and imagery of their first significant conversation after the feast at the Hand's tourney, and besides serving to parallel as two key scenes that significantly enhance their connection, it may have some foreshadowing value. Both scenes begin with Sansa's acute fear of the Hound, which is then transformed into considerable empathy for him, leading her to administer a form of comfort. With respect to the dragon symbolism you noted, the Hound tells Sansa at the tourney:

Sansa began to cry. He let go of her then, and snuffed out the torch in the dirt. “No pretty words for that, girl? No little compliment the septa taught you?” When there was no answer, he continued. “Most of them, they think it was some battle. A siege, a burning tower, an enemy with a torch. One fool asked if it was dragonsbreath.” His laugh was softer this time, but just as bitter.

Perhaps not an insignificant line when we come to Blackwater and see these events playing out (minus actual dragons), and Sandor's trauma from fire being reawakened?

Sansa's singing of the mother's song connects the warrior and the mother together with one single objective to survive the fighting and to bring relief to those who are suffering. The warrior is not ennobled by his savage fighting, but by the mother's grace not an irrelevant point when we consider Martin's larger themes in the series. You are correct that neither she nor Sandor is ready to take their relationship to another level, and that's signified in Sansa failing to find the words to Florian and Jonquil when Sandor suggests it in desperation and anger. As it pertains to Sansa's finding beauty in destruction, this seems to operate in a lot of her personal relationships with others, being able to inspire and find worth in those that have been discarded or segregated from society for one reason or another. Huddling under Sandor's bloody cloak as dawn breaks over the city certainly carries symbolic weight in illustrating this theme.

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Miodrag this is a very interesting interpretation and like others have mentioned it is one I hadn't considered before. I am now realizing that this line, “Bloody dwarf. Should have killed him. Years ago.”, can be extended even further. It not only refers to Sandor's view of the Lannisters as a whole but their worldview that he adopted for much of his life after he was burned, the idea that the weak should just die and get out of the way because only the strong can survive. Now I realize that what Sandor is saying is that he should have put an end to this idea long ago, because it made him do things he now regrets very much.



Milady, I agree that Sandor's offer to Sansa about her going with him and how he would protect her and keep her from being hurt is a declaration of love. Nice job putting it in context with Jaime's thoughts about Cersei. There's also another comparison that I saw in Miodrag's later comments: "No, he is a totally free man making his own choices, as evidenced in his reply to Sansa’s “Where will you go?” question:



“Away from here. Away from the fires. Go out the Iron Gate, I suppose. North somewhere, anywhere.”



That’s right, he can really go anywhere. "



I hadn't noticed this before but highlighting it the way Miodrag did, this reminded me very much of Jaime's thoughts when looking at the white book in the white tower and thinking how it was a blank page and he could write anything he chose. This happens just after Brienne leaves Jaime probably for good for all Jaime knows, and after a time where the two of them were forced together and Jaime was challenged by Brienne's world view just as Sandor was by Sansa's.



ETA Re: "That is why, if the two of them ever meet again, Sansa may be faced with the same invitation once more. It’s not too realistic to expect Martin’s going to pass on such an opportunity."



I agree that Martin is leading up to another opportunity for a second "proposal" which will have a different outcome this time I do think that Sansa and Sandor will meet again and I believe it is heading towards this too, especially given that there are elements of Jane Eyre in this story and we have the two different "proposals" there too. (Same with Pride and Prejudice although I don't think there are quite as many P&P elements here as there are with Jane Eyre.)


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