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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

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Whoo, what's left to say here? You all made very interesting points and I wish there was a like feature...

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.

Couldn't agree more. We know how the offer of becoming a sworn sword is like:

The tall girl knelt awkwardly, unsheathed Renly's longsword, and laid it at her feet. "Then I am yours, my lady. Your liege man, or . . . whatever you would have me be. I will shield your back and keep your counsel and give my life for yours, if need be. I swear it by the old gods and the new." (Brienne to Catelyn; ACOK)

First of all, Sandor never offers himself as her subordinate, which is definitely the most important part of this vow or of any other relationship between protectors and their employers. Doesn't matter if it's a sworn sword, a sellsword, a kingsguard or a household knight. His language (speech and gesture) are very forward. There is a lack of courtesies or any other attention to rules as Rag has eloquently demonstrated above.

Secondly, there's no formal offer of giving her counsel. He has already been counselling her for a while and again, without the constraints of the rules: how you address a highborn lady, what you tell a highborn lady, what you tell a hostage.

And finally, he doesn't take vows.

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.

Sansa should just wish more. :P

I also found it interesting that the Knight of Flowers was leading the vanguard that "won the fight". Dressed in Renly's "green armor, with the fires shimmering off his golden antlers!"

There's the Tourney of the Hand, where he declared Sandor the champion for saving him from certain death after giving Sansa a red rose. With the detail of Sandor throwing a piece of Renly's golden antler to the crowd. There's the nickname: Knight of Flowers in harmony with Florian and Jonquil. Here he is winning a battle Sandor thought lost. And later on he'll get similar burns. (I'm repeating myself, I know, I'm sorry.) He's the epitome of handsome in Sansa's mind, too.

He's sort of a foil to Sandor and maybe something else I'm not good enough to spot.

I was wrong, nothing to read here. Thank you Milady for telling me.

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I also found it interesting that the Knight of Flowers was leading the vanguard that "won the fight". Dressed in Renly's "green armor, with the fires shimmering off his golden antlers!"

A small clarification: according to the books, Loras wasn't the one that wore Renly's armour at Blackwater, not exactly due to lack of wanting but due to a matter of size. As it happens, Loras himself confirmed it wasn't him when Jaime asks him in ASOS:

"It's said you fought magnificiently in the battle... almost as well as Lord Renly's ghost beside you. A Sworn Brother has no secrets from his Lord Commander. Tell me, ser. Who was wearing Renly's armor?"

For a moment Loras Tyrell looked as though he might refuse, but in the end he remembered his vows. "My brother," he said sullenly. "Renly was taller than me, and broader in the chest. His armor was too loose on me, but it suited Garlan well."

If you'll recall, the Baratheon brothers are all three of them very tall men, and so Renly is no exception. Loras, on the other hand, isn't tall but average, and besides that he's also lithe, so the armour would've been too big for him, uncomfortable and impossible to wear. That's the reason Garlan wore it, as he's taller and has a thicker build than his little brother. It's in the show where Loras wore the armour, because Garlan doesn't exist in show-canon.

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The passage that has piqued my interest is

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.

Martin is big on foreshadowing. While some passages offer tea leaves for specific plot points such as Doran placing the black dragon cyvasse piece into Arianne's hand, many are more focused on thematic character development. Dany's three fever dreams seem to be an overview of her arc culminating in her transformation into a dragon that allows her to fly through the red door. This passage seems to be a similar thematic glimpse into Sandor's future.

Sandor is always standing in the shadows, or more precisely we see him repeatedly emerging from the shadows. Based on the Varys riddle shadows are associated with power, but a closer look is required to understand the dynamic with Sandor.

Varys smiled. “Here, then. Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”
“So power is a mummer’s trick?”
“A shadow on the wall,” Varys murmured, “yet shadows can kill. And ofttimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”

The discussion of Sandor's past and how it shaped his worldview has led to a man who believed power resided with the Lannisters. At first this was very much true for him. Present day Sandor is perfectly capable of protecting himself from Gregor but the Sandor who arrived on Tywin's doorstep was not. The rules of the world as he came to understand them were based on power and his belief in that system has made him a shadow projected by the Lannisters. The dynamic is best summed up in, "I’m honest. It’s the world that’s awful."

This idea that the shadow is not at the root of power but rather what projects the shadow is expressed by Mel to Davos.

“You are more ignorant than a child, ser knight. There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.”

No shadow is more a child of fire than Sandor Clegane. Sansa glimpses Sandor being the one to project a shadow rather than being shrouded in shadows projected by others. This scene is the one immediately following Sandor's choice to leave Lannister service, to stop being a shadow of their projected power and to become his own man. The illuminated glimpse seems to be the eventual end state of that choice. There are aspects of conquering the fear and rage spawned by fire that have dictated his destiny, but the facet I'd like to focus on is what replaces that legacy of fire--eyes glowing like a dog's in the glare.

Eyes do not seem to be an insignificant feature in Martin's writing. I think enough has been made of Sandor's eyes on their own to focus on this, but there is also his role as a Lady replacement and the attention given to the direwolf eyes. If I recall correctly the dead direwolf in the snow scene was the first image GRRM had for this story. Eyes play prominently in that scene.

Bran glimpsed blind eyes crawling with maggots, a wide mouth full of yellowed teeth.

Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.

The direwolf eyes continue to be a meaningful symbol and are often noted by the POV character. Just a sample:

She looked at him with bright golden eyes, and he ruffled her thick grey fur. (Ned and Lady)

Shaggydog ran at his heels, spinning and snapping if the other wolves came too close. His fur had darkened until he was all black, and his eyes were green fire. Bran’s Summer came last. He was silver and smoke, with eyes of yellow gold that saw all there was to see.


Nymeria nipped eagerly at her hand as Arya untied her. She had yellow eyes. When they caught the sunlight, they gleamed like two golden coins.
The she-wolf regarded him silently with her dark golden eyes.


His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning.
Ghost looked up, silent, and fixed the dog with those hot red eyes.


The wolf was looking at her. Its jaws were red and wet and its eyes glowed golden in the dark room. It was Bran’s wolf, she realized.

Summer stayed where he was, his eyes on Bran and the man beside him. He growled. His muzzle was wet and red, but his eyes burned.

And then there was movement beside the bed, and something landed lightly on his legs. He felt nothing. A pair of yellow eyes looked into his own, shining like the sun.

Jon in particular is heavily influenced by his wolf's eyes as their color being weirwood red instead of flaming red is what gives him his epiphany to turn down Winterfell from Stannis. Despite Jon's observation the wolf eyes are often described as burning or in some way related to an aspect of fire. With that in mind and considering Sandor's past and future relationship with fire, what are we to make of green fire illuminating his nature as a dog after he's managed to finally step out of the shadows and project his own power?

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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.

. . . . .

Eyes do not seem to be an insignificant feature in Martin's writing. I think enough has been made of Sandor's eyes on their own to focus on this, but there is also his role as a Lady replacement and the attention given to the direwolf eyes. If I recall correctly the dead direwolf in the snow scene was the first image GRRM had for this story. Eyes play prominently in that scene.

You asked me if there was a pattern in characters' observations about Sandor's eyes, and indeed there's some interesting patterns, specifically with the Stark sisters, who are the ones that focus on his eyes the most, and that you may perhaps tie in with your direwolf eyes observations.

Sansa usually doesn't look him in the eye, not an easy feat considering how tall he is, she observes more his face and notices his voice; but in the three occasions she does look him directly in the eye and describes what she finds, this what she sees:

In AGOT Sansa II:

His fingers held her jaw as hard as an iron trap. His eyes watched hers. Drunken eyes, sullen with anger. She had to look.

. . . . .

The rest of the way into the city, Sandor Clegane said not a word. He led her to where the carts were waiting, told a driver to take them back to the Red Keep, and climbed in after her. They rode in silence through the King’s Gate and up torchlit city streets. He opened the postern door and led her into the castle, his burned face twitching and his eyes brooding, and he was one step behind her as they climbed the tower stairs. He took her safe all the way to the corridor outside her bedchamber.

In ACOK Sansa IV:

She made herself look at that face now, really look. It was only courteous, and a lady must never forget her courtesies. The scars are not the worst part, nor even the way his mouth twitches. It’s his eyes. She had never seen eyes so full of anger. “I . . . I should have come to you after,” she said haltingly. “To thank you, for . . . for saving me . . . you were so brave.”

. . . . .

Clegane’s eyes turned toward the distant fires. “All this burning.” He sheathed his sword. “Only cowards fight with fire.”

In ACOK Sansa VI:

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.

The thematic thread I'm seeing here is that the anger Sansa observes in Sandor's eyes and that she so dislikes isn't a perpetual emotion that's always there; instead, it's an emotion she observes precisely in the context of fire. The first time, he's telling her how he was burnt, the second time, he's on the rooftop overlooking the future battlefield and quite aware of the fact that fire will be used as a weapon, which also adds more weight to his "only cowards fight with fire" remark. The third time, there's no longer that anger in his eyes but pure terror, because Sandor no longer has just been reminiscing or looking at fire, he's actually come out of fire again, and it shows in his eyes. This is the same emotion Tyrion notices when he orders him to go fight in the fires:

The blood on Clegane’s face glistened red, but his eyes showed white. He drew his longsword.

He is afraid, Tyrion realized, shocked. The Hound is frightened. He tried to explain their need. “They’ve taken a ram to the gate, you can hear them, we need to disperse them—”

The "white" in his eyes means fear, because when eyes widen, more of the "white" part of the eye shows, usually due to surprise or terror. So in front of Sansa his eyes have expressed anger and fright and all instances due to fire; and she might be subconsciously aware of this link, hence why she specifically loathes what she sees there.

Then we have Arya. For the younger Stark girl, the Hound's eyes express two sets of emotions, one which her sister has seen too, and another only for her benefit. Besides, that, near the end there is also a parallel with the first observation of Sandor's eyes by Ned.

In ASOS Arya VI:

The Hound’s lank dark hair was plastered to his brow in a sheen of sweat. Wine sweat, Arya thought, remembering that he’d been taken drunk. She thought she could see the beginnings of fear wake in his eyes. He’s going to lose, she told herself, exulting, as Lord Beric’s flaming sword whirled and slashed. In one wild flurry, the lightning lord took back all the ground the Hound had gained, sending Clegane staggering to the very edge of the firepit once more. He is, he is, he’s going to die. She stood on her toes for a better look.

This is the first emotion she sees in his eyes: fear. And again, it's due to fire as Beric is using a flaming sword and pushing Sandor towards the bonfire in the middle of the cave, so Sandor is fighting two enemies here: his own fear of fire and Dondarrion. Interesting that Arya doesn't describe what exactly she saw that made her think he's afraid, there's no "his eyes were white" here, and she isn't that convinced: she only "thinks" she sees it. The only instance of her noticing the "whites" of his eyes is in ASOS Arya X, when Sandor is disguised as a farmer, with his head covered by a hood, and she says that "So long as he kept his eyes down you could not see his face, only the whites of his eyes peering out." But this is merely a description of what can be seen under his cowl, not a description of emotions expressed: When one person's face is covered, you cannot distinguish the irises and pupils, but you could see the sclera, the white part, so it doesn't have really any meaning in that case as with Sansa and the Imp.

Next set of emotions is elicited by her own behaviour towards Sandor. In ASOS Arya VII:

“Complain to Lem, not me. Then tuck your tail between your legs and run. Do you know what dogs do to wolves?”

“Next time I will kill you. I’ll kill your brother too!”

“No.” His dark eyes narrowed. “That you won’t.” He turned back to Lord Beric. “Say, make my horse a knight. He never shits in the hall and doesn’t kick more than most, he deserves to be knighted. Unless you meant to steal him too.”

And in ASOS Arya IX:

They sat on damp rocks beneath an oak tree, listening to the slow patter of water dripping from the leaves as they ate a cold supper of hardbread, moldy cheese, and smoked sausage. The Hound sliced the meat with his dagger, and narrowed his eyes when he caught Arya looking at the knife. “Don’t even think about it.”

“I wasn’t,” she lied.

It's amusing that whenever Sandor catches Arya thinking of killing him, he narrows his eyes at her and as a result she doesn't carry out her wish. For humans, narrowing one's eyes has several distinct meanings, the most common ones being suspicion and evaluation/assessment of what one sees or is told. But for dogs there's only one reason for narrowing their eyes: it's a stand up and face the fight stance, a come at me challenge. For Sandor, it is both that he's assessing Arya's words and evaluating how much trouble she can give him and deciding she won't do as she says (hence his reply in the first occasion), and also challenging her to take the knife from him and try to stab him.

Finally, there's the last time she observes his eyes, in ASOS Arya XIII:

The Hound watched her saddle Craven through eyes bright with fever. Not once did he attempt to rise and stop her. But when she mounted, he said, “A real wolf would finish a wounded animal.”

Again, this is an instance of eyes not expressing any emotion but simply shining bright due to fever. However, this evokes that time when Eddard notices Sandor's eyes "glittering" through his helm when he brings Mycah's body and thusly poses an example of literary symmetry: it was that killing which got him into Arya's list and Lord Eddard was the first one to pass silent judgement on him, and now he's trying to use this to get the gift of mercy from Arya. There's also another parallel with the soldier they gave the mercy to, as that man's eyes were also bright with fever.

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Warsaw said:

“I think you are romanticizing their relationship a little bit. Saying he’s trying 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 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.”

While Sandor did ask for wine on the battlefield, the fact that Sansa notices that Sandor has a flagon of wine in her room (which he quickly empties) indicates he got drunk while there, so he didn’t go there in a drunken haze with no clear objective. It’s also implied he’s been waiting for her for quite some time:

“He is drunker than I’ve ever seen him. He was sleeping in my bed.”

He’s been there long enough to get extremely drunk and fall asleep (or pass out). His words “Little Bird. I’d knew you’d come,” also suggests he’s been waiting for a while, placing himself in a perilous situation.

While there’s no strong evidence to support the notion that one of the reasons Sandor left the battlefield was because he realized the cause was lost (having no idea Tywin and the Tyrells were on their way) and he wanted to get Sansa out of King’s Landing before it was sacked, I do think it’s a possible motivation for abandoning his post that's worth considering.

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The passage that has piqued my interest is

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.

Martin is big on foreshadowing. ... This passage seems to be a similar thematic glimpse into Sandor's future.

Sandor is always standing in the shadows, or more precisely we see him repeatedly emerging from the shadows....The rules of the world as he came to understand them were based on power and his belief in that system has made him a shadow projected by the Lannisters.

I love the connection between Sandor emerging from shadow and especially emerging from the shadow of power cast by the Lannisters. Nice catch.

The passage you quoted above is intriguing and is likely foreshadowing of some type, though I have not deciphered it yet. There are several possibilities that came to mind - first, shortly after this scene in ACOK, we have what happens to 'Bran and Rickon'. Heads are covered with tar and hung outside Winterfell. We believe them to be Bran and Rickon but later learn they are the miller's boys. Theon thinks about the power of suggestion and that people would have seen horns if he had named them ram's heads.

Second is what happens to the Hound. Here Sansa see his 'face' covered in blood black as 'tar' (dead), presaging the 'Hound' is going to die. (Then she quickly perceives Sandor is, in fact, only a "hulking darkness (shadow) in a stained cloak.")

Later, we learn that his Hound's helm (his 'mask' or his symbolic 'head covered in tar') was placed on his 'grave'. The Hound (as played by Sandor) is dead; Sandor Clegane himself is not. Likewise, 'Bran and Rickon' are dead - except they are not. Symmetry.

Abandoning the Hound's helm is impactful in many ways discussed by others here. But it strikes me that its description as a "distinctive helm sculpted into the shape of a snarling dog's head" hints at an answer to Sansa's please-gentle-his-anger prayer, as well as teeing up Sandor's possible personal and spiritual growth on QI.

As for the colors that Sansa sees (black and green), there are several mentions in the book which may be pertinent. One is Tyrion's mismatched green and black eyes. Tyrion did create the maelstrom of wildfire currently casting a green glow over Sansa's room. Second (and a verrry remote potential clue) is a reference to ancient Valyrian tattoos in green and black that purportedly make a pit fighter's skin tough as steel.

And, third: Quiet Isle. AFFC; Brienne VI - - Along the circuitous path to QI:

"Faith," urged Septon Meribald. "Believe, persist, and follow, and we shall find the peace we seek."

The flats shimmered wetly all about them, mottled in half a hundred hues. The mud was such a dark brown it appeared almost black, but there were swathes of golden sand as well, upthrust rocks both grey and red, and tangles of black and green seaweed.

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Illuminating posts, Ragnorak and Milady. I especially enjoyed the analysis of Sandor's eyes, as I often questioned whether the sullen, brooding, and angry descriptors were due to specific situations rather than as a definition of Sandor's overall personality.

Ragnorak said: "There are some very curious literary nuggets to take a closer look at here. Sandor as the Lady substitute."

Sandor as Lady's replacement comes almost full circle beginning when Sansa first backs into Sandor as they made their way to King's Landing from Winterfell and ending with Sandor actually promising Sansa that he will keep her safe immediately after Sansa calls to Lady in the dark of her room, which is their last personal interaction with one another. But, as you and brash both mentioned, neither are ready to advance their relationship.

The blood/fire theme is also strongly present starting with when Sandor and Sansa confront each other on top of Maegor's holdfast. Sansa's experiencing menstrual cramps and it's Sandor who is there to steady her as she's about to buckle over. Both are there surveying the fire and discuss the upcoming battle which leads to Sandor posturing with his "they're all meat, and I'm the buthcer" proclamation.

Later that night Sansa suffers a terrible nightmare, only to wake to discover she's started her first menstrual cycle. How does she handle it? After attempting to cut the blood stain away, she then tries to burn her blood-stained clothes and bedding.

"Snatching up her knife, Sansa hacked at the sheet, cutting out the stain. If they ask me about the hole, what will I say? Tears ran down her face. She pulled the torn sheet from the bed, and the stained blanket as well. I'll have to burn them. She balled up the evidence, stuffed it in the fireplace, drenched it in oil from her bedside lamp, and lit it afire. Then she realized that the blood had soaked through the sheet into the featherbed, so she bundled that up as well, but it was big and cumbersome, hard to move. Sansa could get only half of it into the fire. She was on her knees, struggling to shove the mattress into the flames as thick grey smoke eddied around her and filled the room, when the door burst open and she heard her maid gasp."

References to blood and fire are also prominent in the Battle of the Blackwater segment (referring to the entire section for this reread). Sansa is still menstruating on this night. When she returns to her room, she finds Sandor and realizes he's been sleeping in her bed. Her first mattress has been ruined by fire and discarded due to her attempts to hide the blood stains. Now Sandor, face covered in blood, has been sleeping on Sansas new mattress, a mattress that can symbolize her transition into womanhood. Her childhood bed has been cast aside, ruined by Sansa herself through the use of fire. It's also here, on this bed, that Sansa feels Sandor's tears running down his face. Feeling tremendous shame for his behavior, he tears off his blood-and-smoke stained cloak, which Sansa drapes over herself, foreshadowing a union between the two (not necessarily in the traditional sense).

Blood and fire are Targaryen house words and considering how strongly the theme of blood and fire is threaded through Sandor and Sansa's narrative, tying them together, this could potentially foreshadow a significant event in which they will together confront Daenarys, along with Barristan Selmy (the cloak connection), and Tyrion. Sandor wishing Tyrion burned alive more than once and Tyrion's connection to Sansa via marriage points to a future meeting. Also, Tyrion still has an axe to grind with the Vale and he always pays a debt. I do predict the Vale will be the first stop on the "Conquer Westeros" itinerary.

Avlonnic, great observation that Tyrion's black and green mismatched eyes are the same colors Sansa notes: "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 dogs in the sudden glare. Then the light faded and he was only a hulking darkness in a stained white cloak."

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Hey everyone! I'm so glad to see that things are still rolling along! :cheers:

Queen of Winter, you came! What a pleasant surprise to have one more of the old-timers in the reread.

We had a hiatus due to that mess of a show, but now that the season is over, we're back to the books in full force. Brashcandy will be posting the ACOK recap soon, so if any of you have some thoughts and comments on the current chapter, please go ahead and share.

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Well Milady.....Winter IS coming! :P



Thank you for the warm welcome back. :) It's heartening to see that you, brash and the rest have carried on with the analysis (and on Sandor this time--great idea!). It's very nice to see some familiar names here as well as some new faces. I'm sure the research has been top notch as always!



I'd be happy to comment on the newer threads once I've had a chance to read them. I'm afraid I have a lot of catching up to do and I keep having problems with the forum --it crashing or other such issues. (Yes, the show was partially why I was gone for so long--I didn't care for it at all and totally dropped watching it. I'm at the point where I'm ready to give it another go, I think).


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Well Milady.....Winter IS coming! :P

Thank you for the warm welcome back. :) It's heartening to see that you, brash and the rest have carried on with the analysis (and on Sandor this time--great idea!). It's very nice to see some familiar names here as well as some new faces. I'm sure the research has been top notch as always!

I'd be happy to comment on the newer threads once I've had a chance to read them. I'm afraid I have a lot of catching up to do and I keep having problems with the forum --it crashing or other such issues. (Yes, the show was partially why I was gone for so long--I didn't care for it at all and totally dropped watching it. I'm at the point where I'm ready to give it another go, I think).

It's wonderful to see you again! :grouphug: I hope you're dusting off those mythological analyses ;)

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A CLASH OF KINGS RECAP



By the time ACOK is over, Sandor Clegane – once sworn shield to King Joffrey and KG member – has deserted from the Battle of Blackwater and his service to the Lannisters. The personal fates and fortunes of many characters might have been reversed and disturbed in this book, but there is a marked sense of deliberateness in Sandor’s actions that signify his shift away from his employers and towards the interests of Sansa Stark. Even as he continues to dismiss the organized order of knighthood, Sandor comes to embody what it is to be a “true knight,” as he attempts to protect and secure Sansa’s well-being when the abuse and danger she faces as a hostage and the king’s betrothed continues to escalate.



In summing up Sandor’s development in this book, we can look to what Ragnorak described as a “return to idealism” – facilitated by his relationship to Sansa and her influence in reorienting him towards desires that were warped by Gregor’s abuse. Themes of chivalry, loyalty, courage and sacrifice, romantic love, the trauma of war, mercy and salvation, are all explored in charting Sandor’s journey up to his breaking point at Blackwater.



Sandor I centred on the Joffrey’s name-day tourney, where we saw Sandor telling a lie in Sansa’s favour after she risks the king’s wrath by coming to Dontos’ defence. It’s a significant act within the context of Sandor’s new role as a member of the Kingsguard, and continues the covert association begun at the end of AGOT between these two in opposition to Joffrey’s tyranny. Sansa’s relative obliviousness to Sandor’s attempts to safeguard her alerts readers to focus on Sandor’s behaviour in these scenes and what it means for the larger questions pertaining to his character. Sansa observes at the beginning of the chapter that Joffrey never asked Sandor to beat her as he did with his other KG, but we find the answer to where Sandor’s allegiance resides long before that question is asked in Sandor III.



Had someone like Arys Oakheart been in the box instead of Sandor, we can be almost assured that Sansa would have earned herself a savage beating for her challenge to the king. Arys might have been saddened by it, but he would not have made the proactive intervention that Sandor did. As Mahaut said in our follow-up discussion:



I find it also interesting that a good portion of the narrative here stresses the differences between Sandor and the other knights. Sandor does it by saying it is a tournament of gnats and not worth it. But Sansa does most of the comparisons herself and they’re all in favour of Sandor Clegane. He does not gossip, he does not beat her, he won a prestigious tournament etc. I had always assumed that Sansa compares other men to Sandor only after his departure from King’s Landing. But it actually starts as earlier as the beginning of ACOK. By that point, she has already learnt that a man does not need a ser in front of his name to act as a true knight. Looking at it this way, the white cloak being at odd with the rest of Sandor’s clothes might also symbolise his own ambiguity towards his status as a “knight”: he is ruthless and uncourteous (roughspun clothes), yet he is ready to abase himself (by lying) to rescue Sansa (white cloak).



Sandor I also illustrates the productive possibilities of Sandor as a father figure – a feature of his character that often gets obscured due to his position within the profoundly dysfunctional Lannister family.



Sandor II featured his encounter with Sansa on the Serpentine steps, and again highlights his protective stance towards her, but also introduces a clear romantic element to their relationship, which sees him drunkenly attempting to flirt and later making a more sober promise of one day getting a song. Sansa thinks that Dontos is her true knight when he shows up in the godswood with an offer to take her home, but Sandor is the one suggested to be the genuine answer to her prayer in both his warrior prowess and the sincerity that characterises their interactions. He expresses this authenticity when he tells her: “A hound will die for you, but never lie to you. And he’ll look you straight in the face.” Later, when he mentions that a dog can smell a lie, something which Sansa observed Lady was able to do, Lyanna Stark made the point that:



Coupled with other textual hint and King Bob's "Get her a dog, she'll be happier for it" I think these are the strongest arguments for Sandor as Sansa's Lady replacement.


Within the story, I also thinks it ties into the fact that there is pride in serving a honourable master, or at least a master who is more often doing what's right than doing what's wrong. Tywin and the Lannisters aren't honourable masters in AGOT/ACOK and before (especially given the Rains of Castamere). We see from Sandor's story that he thinks highly of his grandfather and his brave action to save Lord Tytos. Yet the killing of Mycah, the sack of Kings Landing, the murder of Elia's children, Joffrey's cruelty and Tywin not caring about Gregor's atrocities are hardly anything that would lend honour or credibility for anyone to be associated with. This also leads us back to the issue of what a "True knight" is.



Sandor’s decision to share the story of his grandfather enables a much more meaningful intimacy to be shared between him and Sansa at this point in their relationship than the flirtatious innuendo, and echoes the first meeting between them when he told her the truth about his burns. We see the value Sandor places in this family history, and the pride he feels which is so different from the most recent legacy of the Cleganes under Gregor’s rule of terror. Ragnorak made an excellent observation on how this story carries symbolic import for the current generation of Cleganes:



I think House Clegane's back story is important. Lord Tytos was attacked by a lioness which is a rather striking bit of symbolism given his sigil. He was defended from this attack by the future founder of House Clegane and his dogs. Being defended against an attack by one's own sigil seems symbolic of being defended against one's own nature, one's own folly, or one's own family. Fast forward to Tyrion's trial, the heir to the Clegane legacy is fighting for the lioness against the rightful heir to Casterly Rock. Instead of protecting the Lannisters against their own nature, folly and family, Gregor is the champion of the point of no return for the House that Tywin Built. He enables the lioness to destroy the lord.


Compare that with the notion of Sandor as a replacement for Lady. Sandor is protecting Sansa against her own nature and her own folly. Despite Sansa's thoughts of blaming Arya, it was Cersei who got Lady killed. In claiming Sandor, Sansa is essentially stealing Cersei's dog to replace Lady and leaving her with Gregor as a replacement.



Milady of York presented the summary and analysis for Sandor III with the primary focus on Sansa’s beating in the throne room and the later bread riot in the streets of the city – both events that feature Sandor in a distinctly chivalrous role. Analysing the former event through the lens of domestic violence, Milady noted that Sandor has to confront the reality of his advice to Sansa to give Joff want he wants gradually losing its effectiveness as the boy king grows older and more determined to punish and sexually humiliate his betrothed. Sandor’s refusal of the order to beat Sansa is clear when his inaction allows Dontos to make an intervention and when Joffrey turns to Boros and Meryn to carry out his bidding. Saying “enough” after the beating goes on too long and then giving his cloak to Sansa reveals not only the Hound’s emotional turmoil in the moment, but also shows the depth of his concern for Sansa. This is the first time Joff has attempted to implicate him directly in the beating, but what clearly weighs on him as he will express later is having to stand by and do nothing.



During the bread riot he is able to get directly involved in saving Sansa, and this becomes a source of pride for him. In outlining the prescriptive values of chivalry for informing how things ought to be, Milady writes:



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



The implications of this act continue to play out in Sandor IV, when Sandor and Sandor meet atop Maegor’s Holdfast. It’s important for discussions of Sandor’s psyche as the war approaches that his presence there before Sansa arrives is recognised. Although Sandor tries to conceal his deeper feelings beneath macho posturing, we do gain insight into the profound unease he is experiencing as the fires light the night sky and he knows he will be expected to play a major role in the Lannister offence during the battle. His words during this encounter always come across as very harsh on a surface level reading, but should be appreciated within the context of the encroaching war and Sandor’s own increasingly conflicted stance concerning his loyalty to the Lannisters. Ragnorak states:



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



The phallic imagery of Sandor putting his longsword against Sansa’s neck was also noted for its sexual suggestion and what it could foreshadow for the nature of their relationship in the future, especially when coupled with the fact that this is the night of a significant rite of passage for Sansa as she has her first period. Milady of York further interpreted the act as alluding to the medieval ritual of “kissing the sword” with Sandor receiving a symbolic blessing for his sword this way.



Sandor V examined the events of the Blackwater Battle, and Ragnorak centred his analysis on discussion ranging from the “broken men” parallels to the symbolism of ship names, and Sandor’s role as a commander of Lannister soldiers during the battle. This complex approach elucidated the themes of mercy and compassion with respect to Sandor’s character, in addition to establishing the extent to which the Hound performed courageously. Boarding a ship named “Prayer” connects him symbolically to Sansa’s prayer in the sept to the mother to save him and gentle his rage. Ragnorak wrote:



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.



Sandor’s movement towards the Mother’s song – representing salvation and mercy – reaches its climax as he goes to Sansa’s room to await her return. This takes us to the final chapter analysis of the book, done by Miodrag Zarkovic, who provides insight into the Tyrion/Sandor enmity. Miodrag asserts that Sandor’s hatred of Tyrion, expressed in particularly bitter terms on this night, is indicative of his overall contempt for the Lannister family. Despite not having any significant ties to anyone up to this point within the traditional structures of his society, Sandor does have one very personal bond that makes itself viscerally felt when he vows to protect Sansa against anyone who would hurt her. Milady of York pinpointed this as a declaration of love:



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.



Sansa’s confused and frightened response is to close her eyes, which leads to the breakdown of communication and Sandor resorts to force. Doglover explained what all led to this point:



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.



Leaving the bloody cloak behind is Sandor’s acknowledgement of his moral shortcomings and regrets in Lannister service; however, Sansa’s wearing of that cloak after he leaves opens up the possibility of a redemptive arc that can offer him a much more functional and constructive existence than he would have experienced since his torture at Gregor’s hands. Sandor demonstrates the will to change throughout ACOK and it has powerful implications for questions of his identity and where he will ultimately belong in the future.


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<snip>

Leaving the bloody cloak behind is Sandor’s acknowledgement of his moral shortcomings and regrets in Lannister service; however, Sansa’s wearing of that cloak after he leaves opens up the possibility of a redemptive arc that can offer him a much more functional and constructive existence than he would have experienced since his torture at Gregor’s hands. Sandor demonstrates the will to change throughout ACOK and it has powerful implications for questions of his identity and where he will ultimately belong in the future.

Fantanstic recap, brashcandy, which perfectly highlights that Sandor is far from an "irredeemable" character. The more we delve into Sandor Clegane's narrative arc, it's quite obvious that this is someone with a strong moral code, yet a code that has been compromised due to his allegiance to the Lannisters (early on in the reread, you mentioned something about good men in service to a bad cause). Sansa's influence on Sandor has been profound, forcing him question his service to the Lannisters and forcing him to recalibrate his moral compass in a way that aligns with his own code of conduct.

Before we move on to A Storm of Swords, I want to thank Lyanna Stark, Ragnorak, and Miodrag for enriching the reread experience with their wonderful and poignant contributions.

(I'm elated that the god-awful show has come to an end, thus ending the reread hiatus. This also coincides perfectly with me finally having a computer again! I felt as if I lost my right arm when my hard drive died, losing all of my data in the process.)

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A CLASH OF KINGS RECAP

<snip>

Yay! Thank you, brashcandy, for this recap! What a treat - I will try to find time tonight to dig in and really read it.

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Thank you for this excellent recap, Brascandy :)







Sandor’s movement towards the Mother’s song – representing salvation and mercy – reaches its climax as he goes to Sansa’s room to await her return. This takes us to the final chapter analysis of the book, done by Miodrag Zarkovic, who provides insight into the Tyrion/Sandor enmity. Miodrag asserts that Sandor’s hatred of Tyrion, expressed in particularly bitter terms on this night, is indicative of his overall contempt for the Lannister family. Despite not having any significant ties to anyone up to this point within the traditional structures of his society, Sandor does have one very personal bond that makes itself viscerally felt when he vows to protect Sansa against anyone who would hurt her. Milady of York pinpointed this as a declaration of love:



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.





I believe Milady of York makes a very good point here. Sandor Clegane offers to serve Sansa Stark both as man and as a soldier. The notion of serving the lady in all her whims and wishes is central to courtly literature. Like the one offered first by Sandor, this service can be of a military nature. Although he is not a “gallant knight”, his proposal to serve Sansa puts him in the position of the perfect courtly knight. Since he’s willing to serve his lady and to forsake his own honour doing so (for example by lying on her behalf), in this case, Sandor Clegane does not seem so different from Chrétien de Troyes’s heroes mentioned by Lady Gwynhyfvar in this post.


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Thanks for the feedback, guys :) And I echo DogLover in offering sincere appreciation to the wonderful contributors who took on the challenge of analyzing the second half of our analyses in Clash. We're going to be joined by more familiar faces in ASOS as well, so we hope readers will continue to enjoy the complexity of viewpoints and approaches.






Fantanstic recap, brashcandy, which perfectly highlights that Sandor is far from an "irredeemable" character. The more we delve into Sandor Clegane's narrative arc, it's quite obvious that this is someone with a strong moral code, yet a code that has been compromised due to his allegiance to the Lannisters (early on in the reread, you mentioned something about good men in service to a bad cause). Sansa's influence on Sandor has been profound, forcing him question his service to the Lannisters and forcing him to recalibrate his moral compass in a way that aligns with his own code of conduct.





Yes, exactly. There are so many layers to Sandor that we slowly see being revealed in this book, which is why his interaction with Sansa is so fascinating, because she's the one to really get beneath his "armour" so to speak, and challenge him to not accept the status quo or fall back into a nihilistic comfort zone. He's going through a very personal breakdown in ACOK, but it can better be understood as a breaking apart to eventually rebuild a life that has the chance to be much more fulfilling and conducive to emotional and psychological wellness. Sansa manages to reconnect him with the fundamental aspirations of his character that had become tainted and twisted the longer he continued serving the Lannisters and fueling the hatred for his brother.





Thank you for this excellent recap, Brascandy :)



I believe Milady of York makes a very good point here. Sandor Clegane offers to serve Sansa Stark both as man and as a soldier. The notion of serving the lady in all her whims and wishes is central to courtly literature. Like the one offered first by Sandor, this service can be of a military nature. Although he is not a “gallant knight”, his proposal to serve Sansa puts him in the position of the perfect courtly knight. Since he’s willing to serve his lady and to forsake his own honour doing so (for example by lying on her behalf), in this case, Sandor Clegane does not seem so different from Chrétien de Troyes’s heroes mentioned by Lady Gwynhyfvar in this post.





What always struck me about Sandor offering himself as a mate is how in doing so he's challenging not only the norms of their society but perceptions of masculinity and casual assumptions about what it takes to emotionally connect with someone from our modern perspective. From the very beginning, their relationship is characterised by an overwhelming vulnerability and sensitivity. Sandor opens up to a very painful traumatic history after the Hand's tourney, and also lays himself bare at Blackwater, with the crucial change being that he now possesses very different motivations. Without making any excuses for his initial response to Sansa's rejection, it's important to realise that he ultimately respects her choice in the matter. Sandor is very much not a "Nice Guy" and this often precludes readers from valuing him as an ideal romantic partner. However, Martin presents this relationship to us with all its messes and magic, and leaves it on the table as an example of how people don't have to have their shit perfectly together, or meet in ideal circumstances for a bond to be formed.


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In summing up Sandor’s development in this book, we can look to what Ragnorak described as a “return to idealism” – facilitated by his relationship to Sansa and her influence in reorienting him towards desires that were warped by Gregor’s abuse. Themes of chivalry, loyalty, courage and sacrifice, romantic love, the trauma of war, mercy and salvation, are all explored in charting Sandor’s journey up to his breaking point at Blackwater.



Excellent summary of ACOK, Brashcandy! Looking at the entirety of Sandor's arc in this book, it occurs to me that we witness not only a return to idealism but also a return to his true role, the one he seems to both like and want for himself: that of protector. This isn't only because of some resurfaced desire to emulate the right knightly behaviour, but also one he genuinely seems to feel is the purpose for him in life. He adopted his grandfather as a role model precisely because of the deed that earned him his ennoblement: protecting another from harm and death, and his grandfather wasn't a knight, so the deed wouldn't linked to knighthood in his view but to a philosophy worthy of living by regardless of one's station; and when he has to flee his home, the work he finds is that of a shield for Cersei after a stint as a sworn sword for his liege lord previous to that.



Unlike AGOT and ASOS where he fulfils other roles and kills for other reasons aside protection/defence (orders, mercy, etc.), ACOK is the book in which Sandor is fulfilling the role of protector in full and most exclusively, including when he's killing people, from start to finish: in Sandor I, he protects Sansa from a beating and helps save Dontos, in Sandor II, he protects Sansa from Boros, in Sandor III, he defies Joffrey to spare Sansa more harm due to the beating and later saves her from the mob, also trying to save Santagar in the process, in Sandor IV, he saves Sansa from falling on Maegor's, in Sandor V, he's defending the city and its inhabitants despite the battle being a Lannister cause, in Sandor VI, he offers Sansa his protection and to take her out of the city, and loses his temper when he thinks she rejected him. Even in the two occasions where he's outright asked to act contrary to his protective role, when Joffrey requires him to beat Sansa and when he again asks him to bring the rioter who threw dung at him, he ends up going against the required sword role that his masters seem intent on imposing upon him. And in all this, Sansa also plays a crucial part, because the Lannisters don't really care a fig about whether he likes this role or that other and won't hesitate to use him as it fits their purposes. I think that may be her best contribution to causing Sandor to recalibrate his worldview, showing him exactly why he "found no joy in service" as the Elder Brother put it: because he wasn't living according to a role he believed in and wished for.


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A CLASH OF KINGS RECAP

*snip

Great recap brash! Particularly the summation of the powerful implications of Sandor's will to change as illustrated in ACoK and his progression towards embodying some of the ideals of the true knight, themes that will continue to be prevalent moving into ASoS.

Just wanted to say that while my personal schedule hasn't left me much time to participate in the past weeks, I've been following along and offer kudos to all of you for the wonderful analyses and discussion. Looking forward to future installments!

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It's wonderful to see you again! :grouphug: I hope you're dusting off those mythological analyses ;)

I'm only back a few days and you're already putting me to work, huh? :P

Brash, I also would like to say that your summary was very well done. It really should not surprise me by this point in time, but I am astounded at how insightful everyone's contributions are. I wish we had the "like" button back as well. That always came in handy! :thumbsup:

Looking back at all the posts, I'm not sure if I can really add anything new this time around. And I'm definitely feeling a little rusty! :unsure:

Milady's excellent post about swords and phallic symbolism made me think of the saying "bloodying your sword".

Lyanna Stark talked about LOTR and made comparisons to ASOIAF. This was something I noticed this in Milady's

posts about knights and chivalry:

“So long as I have this,” he said, lifting the sword from her throat, “there’s no man on earth I need fear.” More than likely it probably means nothing, but I wonder if this could be LOTR type play on words? (i.e no man can kill the Witchking, etc). Or could this have some kind of other, deeper meaning?

I also liked Ragnorak's posts referring to the ship names (Stag of the Sea, et al). The "Dog's Nose" could also be a play on the word "nose" as in "knows". A dog knows a lie.

Looking forward to the next chapter! (Hopefully I'll be up to speed by then...)

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Brilliant and long-awaited recap brashcandy. Loved it! :)






Milady of York pinpointed this as a declaration of love:



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.






Ah yes, the wording is oddly similar, isn't it? I will have to dig them up later to actually compare word for word. If nothing else, it shows that Sansa may have missed the point at the time, but she definitely processed it after a while.







Lyanna Stark talked about LOTR and made comparisons to ASOIAF. This was something I noticed this in Milady's


posts about knights and chivalry:



“So long as I have this,” he said, lifting the sword from her throat, “there’s no man on earth I need fear.” More than likely it probably means nothing, but I wonder if this could be LOTR type play on words? (i.e no man can kill the Witchking, etc). Or could this have some kind of other, deeper meaning?








Big works of epic fantasy, by their very nature, are almost certainly in conversation and/or reaction to LOTR. LOTR is the giant of the genre, the grandfather of epic fantasy. Any work of fantasy, whether the writer wills it or not, will be compared to LOTR. As GRRM is also a fan of LOTR, then yes, ASOIAF is, to varying degrees, going to be both a homage, a reaction to and a conversation with LOTR. That goes without saying, I think.



Generally, I think you can tell that GRRM is a lapsed catholic while JRRT was a catholic believer. ASOIAF's view on gods, prayers and the divine is far more ambiguous and full of questions and problems, while in LOTR there may be tragedy and death (and there often are) but there is also the gods/divine as something definitive and faith as something that can "give you a light in dark places A Elbereth Gilthoniel" (not to mention that nobody in ASOIAF would ever burst out in iambic tetrameter either).



Regarding the Witch King of Angmar specifically, I always somehow figured it was just a riff of MacBeth (“Fear not, Macbeth. No man that’s born of woman


Shall e'er have power upon thee.” etc), and also perhaps more importantly that the Witch King always disregarded the ones not an obvious threat, i.e. women and hobbits. You'd think if he was unkillable by men, he'd be lethally afraid of women, children, trolls and hobbits, but clearly he wasn't blessed with the gift of Foresight.


I do believe GRRM has picked up on the second theme, that the true danger may come from sources you may not be able to predict, or Littlefinger's "pawns". In LOTR, the pawns include Frodo, Sam and Gollum while in ASOIAF they are perhaps less obvious, since some who were pawns to start with (Dany, Jon) aren't pawns anymore, and some who are more or less still pawns, like Arya and Sansa, will most likely end up being far more than that in time.


Generally, you have fewer morally ambiguous characters or characters on redemption arcs. You could argue that Boromir is on such an arc, but he has to die to redeem himself, as do Gollum and Denethor, both characters lead into temptation, and unless you see him and Faramir as one baked together entity (which I think you can make an argument for, actually, if we are looking at "second chances" for the Race of Men as a redemptive theme). Wormtongue has a more difficult journey end basically end up an enslaved cannibal, losing all his humanity before murdering his former master and then in turn got killed himself. In ASOIAF Sandor represents a far more nuanced theme of calibrating your moral compass which doesn't necessarily mean death if you've been a Bad Boy (or girl). Together with Jaime Lannister I think it can be argued that Sandor may represent one of the stronger redemptive, or "recalibrating" arcs in ASOIAF, if put alongside LOTR at least.


I might add that in addition to this, there are lots of other events and themes that overlap, from the Scouring of the Shire/Sack of Winterfell to the Fall of Numenor/The Doom of Valyria etc.

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