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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

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Excellent summary and analysis, Lady Gwyn! I especially enjoyed the examination of the theme of mercy and the dog/wolf motif: a very astute observation of what dogs can do to wolves.  

 

 

Sandor III: Capture and Trial

 

 

While the threats mirror her prayers of the night before, her own thoughts reveal that she thinks those prayers have been answered “The gods had heard her prayers after all.” The cold, hard justice of the north seems about to be delivered to Sandor Clegane. But as usual things in Martin’s world are hardly so simple.

 

Your analysis here draws me back to Arya IV, wherein Arya, just after uttering her death-list prayer, wishes she had a dog after Harwin mentions who I assume is the Mad Huntsman:

 

“Dogs?” said Arya.

“Aye.” Harwin grinned. “One of our lads keeps the meanest dogs you’d ever want to see.”

“I wish I had a good mean dog,” said Arya wistfully. “A lion-killing dog.” She’d had a direwolf once, Nymeria, but she’d thrown a rocks at her until she fled, to keep the queen from killing her. Could a direwolf kill a lion? she wondered.

 

While Arya isn’t technically praying for a dog, she apparently gets what she asks for, even though she feels the gods have betrayed her by allowing Sandor to live. Considering she thinks of Nymeria directly after wishing she had a dog, there’s foreshadowing that Sandor will replace Nymeria, just as he replaced Lady. 

 

 

 

The moral of the story, taking into account characters like Ser Duncan the Tall and Brienne of Tarth, is that a “ser” does not a knight make. Honor and chivalry and adherence to a moral code do. Certainly Sandor Clegane has proved his honesty (“I don’t lie about what I am”) and an adherence to a certain kind of chivalry, as we saw in the Hand’s Tourney with his refusal to strike a blow at his monstrous brother’s unprotected head while defending the temporarily incapacitated Loras Tyrell and his contempt for Lem’s blade in this chapter (“Here’s a brave man, baring steel on a bound captive.”)

 

 

Sandor certainly calls out the cowardice and unfair practices of the BwB, highlighting exactly what he thinks of those who don’t engage in a fair fight:

 

“Call us that name again, dog, and you’ll swallow that tongue.” Lem drew his longsword.

The Hound stared at the blade with contempt. “Here’s a brave man, baring steel on a bound captive. Untie me, why don’t you? We’ll see how brave you are then.” He glanced at the Mad Huntsman behind him. “How about you? Or did you leave all your courage in the kennels?”

 

Sandor again points out the unfairness of Beric’s willingness to fight fully armored while denying Sandor his own armor. And even after Beric concedes his own armor, he still uses fire as an unfair advantage. 

 

 

 

Forced to confront his fears by the Brotherhood, his rage, pain and guilt are on display. While the BwB might bandage his hurts, his inner wounds are profound and seem beyond healing at this time. Having apparently been absolved by R’hllor and the Old Gods, it will fall to a healer blessed by The Seven to tend to his tormented soul.

 

 

 

In addition to R’hllor and the Old Gods, the image of the tree roots and Beric’s one eye is evocative of Bloodraven. Considering the crow flitting after Arya and Sandor after the fight at the Crossroads Inn has been speculated to be Bloodraven (a theory I subscribe to), Bloodraven just might have a stronger interest in Sandor than R’hollr, as Thoros might mistakenly believe. I can’t help but think it’s really Bloodraven pulling the strings here.

 

The sham trial and how Sandor is perceived, both as a Clegane and a Lannister bannerman, has been discussed at length, yet I do want to bring up a few tidbits. Just after Sandor’s capture, the Huntsman threatens to send his remains to his “bloody brother.” Rather than a threat to have his despised brother finish him off (which is how I initially interpreted it), Sandor and Gregor aren’t differentiated one from another: they’re Cleganes and Lannister men, lumped together. As we know, this will play out just before the trial, as the BwB accuse him of a myriad of crimes for which he was in no way responsible. In Arya IV there’s foreshadowing that the trial will be nothing short of a sham:

 

“A trial first!” said Anguy. “Lord Beric always give them a trial, you know that.” He smiled. “And then he hangs them.”
The judgment is always a foregone conclusion, and appears to be so with the Hound, considering they had a noose draped around his neck as they took him to Beric for judgment:

 

“They had bound his wrists with hempen rope, strung a noose around his neck, and pulled a sack over his head, but even so there was danger in the man.

 

Ragnorak, wonderful post about Sandor as godfather to Cersei, Sansa, and Arya! Absolutely brilliant.

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In Arya IV there’s foreshadowing that the trial will be nothing short of a sham:

That's not true, though. Now, we know that trials by combat are ultimately just trials of arms, and many of the people in this world clearly do, but the Brotherhood are quite sincere in their belief that the Lord of Light determines the outcome (which makes sense, since their leader is a man who has been resurrected half a dozen times).  If it was a sham, they wouldn't abide by the results; it's not like there's anybody but them there.

 

The Brotherhood are confident that he's guilty, much like a prosecutor, but that doesn't mean the trial is a sham, as far as they're concerned.

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That's not true, though. Now, we know that trials by combat are ultimately just trials of arms, and many of the people in this world clearly do, but the Brotherhood are quite sincere in their belief that the Lord of Light determines the outcome (which makes sense, since their leader is a man who has been resurrected half a dozen times).  If it was a sham, they wouldn't abide by the results; it's not like there's anybody but them there.

 

The Brotherhood are confident that he's guilty, much like a prosecutor, but that doesn't mean the trial is a sham, as far as they're concerned.

 

I don't deny the BwB are sincere in their belief that the Lord of Light determines the outcome, which is demonstrated when they let Sandor free (sans his gold). I'm referring to the charges against him in the first place--accusing him of every crime they could think of with zero evidence. And I don't think they believed he was guilty of the crimes they attributed to him, including the crimes of his brother. They wanted him hanged and were determined to find a punishable crime against him, no matter how flimsy.

 

Beric also fought an unfair fight, thereby making the trial by combat unfair. In trial by combat, each of the participants should be allowed to wear their armor. But Sandor was deprived of this, and Beric was willing to fight with the unfair disadvantage of wearing his armor. It was only when Sandor cried foul that Beric removed his breastplate, yet, he still fought with sword ablaze, giving him the clear advantage.

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That's not true, though. Now, we know that trials by combat are ultimately just trials of arms, and many of the people in this world clearly do, but the Brotherhood are quite sincere in their belief that the Lord of Light determines the outcome (which makes sense, since their leader is a man who has been resurrected half a dozen times).  If it was a sham, they wouldn't abide by the results; it's not like there's anybody but them there.

 

The Brotherhood are confident that he's guilty, much like a prosecutor, but that doesn't mean the trial is a sham, as far as they're concerned.

 

Sincerity of belief does not rule out the trial being a sham.  Monty Python has a relatively famous witch burning trial that is no less a sham for sincerity of belief being a part of the joke. 

 

I do think Martin uses dramatic irony in his trials by combat.  Dunk and Tyrion are both innocent and both win their trials despite obvious cheating on behalf of their accusers.  Tyrion loses his second trial, but not before confessing to Oberyn that he's guilty of just about everything but the trial's charges.  In Dunk's and both of Tyrion's trials the ones who cheat also lose.  There are deliberate uses of poetic justice as well as injustice in Martin's trials by combat so I don't think we're looking at pure black and white scenarios.

 

Sandor is indeed guilty of killing Mycah (his own conscience tells him and us that), but he is also legally innocent.  These are men claiming to be "Robert's" and Sandor effectively killed Mycah in Robert's name and brought the body back to Robert.  There is a certain absurdity in these men putting him on trial for that crime in Robert's name.  Even so, I don't think this is supposed to be either a clear case of justice or a clear case of a complete sham.

 

The opening of Arya V is about the Battle of the Bells and we see how these smallfolk essentially hate both sides and have been victimized by both sides.  Arya gets the story of the Battle that we can't fully piece together until we get Jon Connington's POV later.  Back then the smallfolk hid Robert.  They picked a side despite Jorah's words to Dany about sewing dragon banners.  War is always horrible, but there is something different this time around.  Justice is supposed to flow from the King and the lords who serve him yet all 5 kings have not only abandoned but victimized these people.  The institutions of justice that were somehow intact enough for these people to still demonstrate loyalty to a just Lord Hoster in the Battle of the Bells are gone now.  Faith in "the system" is so damaged that they've set up their own system of justice to replace that which the King no longer offers them.  That seems to be what is being established in the events at Stoney Sept.

 

Those events also establish the tensions among justice, vengeance, and the finer points of mercy.  One of the points about not killing the Kingslayer for vengeance (or even justice if one believes he deserves such) is that he is worth a considerable ransom.  This isn't about greed but mercy for the living.  Vengeance for the dead does nothing to feed the living.  Is it justice to let people starve so the Kingslayer's head can be mounted?  These are the tensions set up before we see the system of justice these people have established applied to Sandor and the trial ought to be evaluated within the context of these themes (and others such as the convergence of all major religions, etc.)

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Once again, thanks for the excellent comments or post from Milady, Brashcandy, Doglover, Ragnorak, Lady Gwynhyvar, Longrider and everyone else.

 

With regard to your excellent essay Lady Gwynhyfvar, I have just a couple of comments I'd like to make.

 

Sandor's Trial

 

I know I've written extensively about Sandor's involvement with the killing of Mycah, and I don't wish to keep repeating myself, so please excuse me, but I have to say in my opinion perhaps the most significant thing about Sandor's trial by combat with Beric is that the trial was granted in the first place and not necessarily because Sandor was "proven" innocent because of that trial. Sandor admits what he did to Mycah and then gives a rationalization for doing that act. Upon hearing Sandor's admission, Beric doesn't decide to proceed with an immediate execution. In fact, Beric seems unsure what to do. He confers with Thoros and they decide to give Sandor a "trial". In short, it seems that Sandor had pled a prima facie valid defense in Beric's view. If Sandor had not done so, then it seems that an immediate execution of him would have been warranted.

 

Obedience to orders is part and parcel of a soldier's existence. This of course is not to advocate "just following orders" as a complete defense to all acts committed by soldiers, and I do not think that such a defense is unconditional in Westeros, as Ned Stark, for instance, passes judgment upon Gregor Clegane for his crimes upon the people of the Riverlands. However, a soldier cannot be expected to break an order if it is not sufficiently apparent that the order violates a fairly clear societal normative standard. That Beric isn't sure what to do exactly with Sandor Clegane suggest that it isn't clear whether Sandor had violated any Westerosi normative standard.

 

Also, I think it's interesting that Sandor challenges the notion of collective guilt and Beric seems to accept Sandor's point. That Beric does so suggest to me that the idea of collective punishment isn't a normative standard within Westeros.

 

Also, I think it's interesting that Sandor uses Sansa as a "witness". I think that is just an indication of how highly Sandor regards Sansa. That she allegedly backed the Lannister version of events seems to have been a bit of a mental comfort to him as he dealt with his feelings over Mycah.

 

Sandor's Commentary About Knighthood

 

Sandor's commentary about knighthood just seems to be one more indication that Sandor seems to be a misplaced Northerner, who seemingly have less regard for pageantry and pomp than their southern neighbors.

 

Obviously, Sandor's comments about knighthood are motivated by his loathing of that institution, which he sees as hypocritical and corrupt. But, to me, there is something more there, which is that the over-romanticizing of knighthood seems to lead to over-romanticizing war. War is about killing. It's ugly and it's brutal. And it ought not be romanticized. Knights kill. That is their essential function. You just can't hide that essential function with ribbons and ladies taking favors. There is something Shermanesque about Sandor's comments. I think Sandor would have appreciated many of Sherman's frank and candid comments, like "I think I know what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.”

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Also, I think it's interesting that Sandor challenges the notion of collective guilt and Beric seems to accept Sandor's point. That Beric does so suggest to me that the idea of collective punishment isn't a normative standard within Westeros.

 

Also, I think it's interesting that Sandor uses Sansa as a "witness". I think that is just an indication of how highly Sandor regards Sansa. That she allegedly backed the Lannister version of events seems to have been a bit of a mental comfort to him as he dealt with his feelings over Mycah.

 

Excellent observations, OGE! And thank you for your words.

 

On your first point, it's worth noting that whilst Beric and Thoros did in the end seemingly accept the rightness of Sandor's counterargument, that doesn't wash out the fact that they were willing to let those collective guilt accusations to pile over their prisoner until he challenged them. Thoros' words in special are pretty damning in terms on what a sham it was, because both he and Beric were present in the throneroom hearing in which these crimes by Gregor were listed and Ned dictated a sentence, so they are aware that Sandor is legally innocent. Yet even so, they're allowing these charges to be considered anyhow.

 

On the second point, I'd say that Sandor naming Sansa as a witness isn't for comfort and to feel better about what he did to Mycah. The objective fact is that Sansa is the sole witness of the deed that led to the boy's death; neither Arya nor Joffrey are witnesses, as they both are culprits and participants so their versions need to be confirmed or denied because they're not neutral in principle. The one that could confirm or deny was the eyewitness, Sansa. And in this case, Sandor is at risk of losing his life on a charge that's true, and when you're in such a dangerous position, what do you do? Cite the only witness' account, of course, which is what he's doing here. It's a purely legal argument in this stance, and I don't think we can infer from this that he got comfort from Sansa being "on his side," so to speak. From what he knows, all that he's saying is true. Besides, regardless of what he may or may not have heard or been told about what Sansa said at the hearing before Robert in Darry Castle, the plain truth is that Sandor did actually hear from Sansa's own mouth that Nymeria had savaged Joffrey. It's in ACOK Sansa III, in the scene where she's stripped bare and beaten, when Joffrey accuses her wolf Lady of savaging him and Sansa jumps to defend her pet saying it had been Nymeria. Sandor was there, standing beside her, so he heard that, and coupled with whatever he heard of Sansa's testimony at Darry, that'd have contributted to him being convinced that's the truth of the matter.

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Also, I think it's interesting that Sandor uses Sansa as a "witness". I think that is just an indication of how highly Sandor regards Sansa. That she allegedly backed the Lannister version of events seems to have been a bit of a mental comfort to him as he dealt with his feelings over Mycah.

 

I'm glad you highlighted this, OGE, and your point about it being a "mental comfort" to him is quite significant, as we've seen Sandor benefiting from a similar process when Sansa was employed as a witness to the childhood trauma he suffered as a young boy and she reacted with a compassionate response. Here again, Sandor is under a compulsion for truth telling, elicited by the same factors just differently organised: the spectre of Gregor's crimes, the sham of knighthood, the trauma associated with fire, and the presence of a Stark sister who has a simplistic understanding of concepts relating to justice and vengeance. It's interesting that although Arya is by no means going to react to Sandor with the same kind of sympathy as Sansa did, the Hound's suffering is once again foregrounded for readers: "Arya looked at him in astonishment. He’s crying like a little baby, she thought." Martin is not only complicating Arya's perception and rush to judgement, but the same reactions from readers as well. That Sandor goes on to also confess his guilt over what was done to Sansa and Ned illustrates that Mycah functions as a kind of "trigger" for his conscience, which is why the trial and his subsequent extended interactions with Arya are crucial experiences for his development. 

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On the second point, I'd say that Sandor naming Sansa as a witness isn't for comfort and to feel better about what he did to Mycah. The objective fact is that Sansa is the sole witness of the deed that led to the boy's death; neither Arya nor Joffrey are witnesses, as they both are culprits and participants so their versions need to be confirmed or denied because they're not neutral in principle. The one that could confirm or deny was the eyewitness, Sansa. And in this case, Sandor is at risk of losing his life on a charge that's true, and when you're in such a dangerous position, what do you do? Cite the only witness' account, of course, which is what he's doing here. It's a purely legal argument in this stance, and I don't think we can infer from this that he got comfort from Sansa being "on his side," so to speak. From what he knows, all that he's saying is true. Besides, regardless of what he may or may not have heard or been told about what Sansa said at the hearing before Robert in Darry Castle, the plain truth is that Sandor did actually hear from Sansa's own mouth that Nymeria had savaged Joffrey. It's in ACOK Sansa III, in the scene where she's stripped bare and beaten, when Joffrey accuses her wolf Lady of savaging him and Sansa jumps to defend her pet saying it had been Nymeria. Sandor was there, standing beside her, so he heard that, and coupled with whatever he heard of Sansa's testimony at Darry, that'd have contributted to him being convinced that's the truth of the matter.

I think what you're saying here is logical, sensible, and true. The fact of the matter is that he doesn't know what actually happened and has to take the word of other people. And I do believe that it's likely that he was told by Cersei or Joffrey that Sansa had corroborated the Lannister version of events.  And even if they didn't, then your point about the exchange between Joffrey and Sansa over Nymeria is well taken. He is simply giving out the information he actually knows.
 
However, if we set aside the issue of Sandor just "beating the rap" so to speak, and think for a moment about what self doubts Sandor may have had about the veracity of Joffrey's version of events, I can only think that he would find Sansa's corroboration of those events to be much more significant than the corroboration of some other person. But, perhaps, I'm just speculating here.
 
ETA:
Edited for spelling.

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However, if we set aside the issue of Sandor just "beating the rap" so to speak, and think for a moment about what self doubts Sandor may have had about the veracity of Joffre's version of events, I can only think that he would find Sansa's corroboration of those events to be much more significant than the corroboration of some other person. But, perhaps, I'm just speculating here.

 

Indeed! In that case, if we add that angle such a mental comfort would be double then: a purely legalistic perspective for having the sole eyewitness corroborate that what he did wasn't illegal, and from a more personal perspective for having such corroboration from a girl whose opinion he's come to value a lot.

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Regarding the nature of the trial, Lady Gwyn and Brashcandy were right to refer back to Ned.

 

The GoT prologue sets the stage for the first chapter's beheading.  The situation is already grey.  The readers know that the poor deserter saw the Undead Zombie Apocalypse and there seems to be a certain injustice in Ned's beheading him.  Yet the last thoughts of his sworn brother were:

 

The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon.

 

So while Gared's desertion is surely understandable and even deeply sympathetic, it was still desertion and that is punishable by death.  Will's thoughts about informing Mormont and Aemon hint at the price the of the Watch's continued ignorance of the true enemy each time the threat beyond the Wall is mentioned culminating in the battle on the Fist.  Still Ned's execution prevented him from speaking about the threat as Mormont will lament to Tyrion.  It is a deliberately convoluted set of circumstances repeatedly reminding us that justice is not a simple equation as the story unfolds.

 

Ned is introduced through fairly harsh circumstances with this beheading and the act sets a background tone for a man who emerges as a beacon of honor and mercy as the story progresses.  That willingness to kill and wield the sword himself maintains a perspective that killing Clegane smallfolk is not justice.  Ned (aside from the angel on Sandor's shoulder) is the only noble to mark Mycah's death as the loss of a human life.  He is the one who abjectly refuses to even entertain sending assassins after Dany.  In some ways he is the harshest wielder of justice's sword yet also one of our most gentle and merciful characters. The fact that his First Men justice scene with the explanation speech to Bran opens the series effectively makes it the thematic measuring stick for justice throughout the series.

 

These men are also Ned's despite their claim to be Robert's.  Robert would not have sent them.  Ned casts a long shadow that reaches this trial on many levels and we even have a young Ned as Beric's squire to remind us.  Given Ned's words they are explicitly not out here to restore wounded pride-- the purpose of vengeance.  Yet vengeance seems to be the reason behind Sandor's trial.

 

... 

 

Sandor's Trial

 

I know I've written extensively about Sandor's involvement with the killing of Mycah, and I don't wish to keep repeating myself, so please excuse me, but I have to say in my opinion perhaps the most significant thing about Sandor's trial by combat with Beric is that the trial was granted in the first place and not necessarily because Sandor was "proven" innocent because of that trial. Sandor admits what he did to Mycah and then gives a rationalization for doing that act. Upon hearing Sandor's admission, Beric doesn't decide to proceed with an immediate execution. In fact, Beric seems unsure what to do. He confers with Thoros and they decide to give Sandor a "trial". In short, it seems that Sandor had pled a prima facie valid defense in Beric's view. If Sandor had not done so, then it seems that an immediate execution of him would have been warranted.

 

...

 
There is a mob attitude towards Sandor here and it is entirely the result of his Lannister association.  The smallfolk might be forgiven for lumping him in with his brother, but Beric and Thoros definitely know better.  There are no relevant facts in dispute here.  Arya says Sandor killed Mycah and Sandor admits that he killed Mycah.  Sandor admits that he didn't see Mycah hit Joffrey, but claims that he heard it from Joffrey and claims Sansa testified in front of King Robert confirming the story.  Sansa didn't but Arya doesn't say she didn't Arya claims she lied.

 

“This one’s own sister told the same tale when she stood before your precious Robert.”
“Sansa’s just a liar,” Arya said, furious at her sister all over again. “It wasn’t like she said. It wasn’t.”

 

Arya is in effect supporting Sandor's claim that Sansa backed Joffrey's story.  That Sansa's story was told to the King means that King Robert has already judicially presided over this very matter and made his ruling. This really ought to matter to men claiming to be Robert's. The only actual "fact" seemingly in dispute is whether or not Sansa lied to King Robert when she backed Joffrey which has no bearing on Sandor's guilt or innocence.  There isn't an actual legal issue to have a trial by combat over.  The uncontested facts at Beric's disposal are that a peasant was accused of striking a royal and that royal's accusation was backed up by a highborn lady witness who is Sandor's accuser's sister.  The accusing Arya freely admits that her highborn sister bore witness to the attack.  She only contests the veracity of her sister's testimony which at best might be cause for Beric to put Sansa on trial but has no bearing on Sandor's culpability.

 

Trials by combat are supposed to allow gods to determine the truth of a legal matter when men cannot.  No such obfuscated legal truth exists here.

 

Essentially Beric is declaring, "You, Sandor Clegane, stand accused of immorally abiding by the law." 

 

The trial is an emotional and moral one held by the Lord of Light over the morality of a perfectly legal killing.  It is even presented by Beric as a trial for the gods to decide morality and not one of men, through the lawful power of a King aided by the gods, to decide truths for the rule of law.

 

Beric had no better legal reason to put Sandor on trial before Arya's accusation than he did afterwards.  The air of "justice" involved is a mix of Arya's, the reader's and even Sandor's sense of injustice at Mycah's death.  The distinct legal and the moral issues are intentionally blurred.  It is further blurred by the vast injustice that has befallen the Riverlands and the impact this trial and its aftermath will have on Sandor's character development.  Arya's POV aligns us with the vindictive feelings of those we hear talking about their victimization in Stoney Sept, yet it also brings us full circle back to Ned with her inability to kill Sandor when she looks him in the eye.

 

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The trial is an emotional and moral one held by the Lord of Light over the morality of a perfectly legal killing. 

I agree there.  As Arya has seen, the laws of men are corrupt, and, while the Brotherhood in some sense see themselves as carrying on in Robert's name, they are in effect a revolutionary force aiming to protect the peasantry against everybody else claiming lawful authority (though given their history, they also have particular animus against the Lannisters, for good reason).  So Dondarrion puts it to the Lord of Light to adjudicate whether he deserves to live or die.  Arya herself is overwhelmingly concerned with moral correctness, more than anything else -- if the law is immoral, she views it as illegitimate (while, at the same time, Arya's moral vision is very Old Testament and rigid in terms of what the immoral deserve).

 

While we're on the subject of Arya's POV of Sandor, while the differing ways she and Sansa view him obviously tell us a lot about the personalities of each of the girls, I think it sometimes gets overlooked that GRRM also structures the plot in such a way that their interactions with him occur on very different playing fields.  For Arya, as mentioned above, Sandor is the goon who murdered her friend Mycah after a manifestly unjust trial (well, in the Hound's case, no trial at all).  Conversely, Sansa didn't like Mycah and thought he deserved what he got,* so that wasn't an issue for her when she started interacting with him later.  However much Sansa is capable of great empathy (not that Arya isn't, just not with wrongdoers) and possessed of a more nuanced view on grey morality, if we imagine some alternate version of the plot where Cersei sends the Hound to execute Jeyne Poole on trumped up charges, I rather doubt Sansa would have any interest in hearing about his sad childhood trauma and extending him sympathy.

 

* It's entirely probable that Sansa now would revise this assessment (maybe she already has), but it hasn't been shown (as far as I recall), Sansa's mind being obviously preoccupied with more immediate matters.

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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments! Much food for thought... here are a few of mine :)

 

 

In keeping track of the literary techniques Martin is using with Sandor in this reread, I took note of what I dubbed the "reintroductory thematic linking" technique he seems to be using with Sandor, possibly because he isn't a POV and he needs an inroad to come back into the storyline when he exits King's Landing. 

[...]

Some readers focus on a less plausible use of the "Gulltown girl" song that Tom sings some chapters before this, when Sandor is nowhere near, mostly in hopes for some link to Alayne in the Vale. But the text is subtler, here before he brings him back Martin has Tom singing what we will soon know is a Florian and Jonquil song, courtesy of Jaime, who enlightened us a few chapters later what the song is about and if not for that, we'd never have known what it was. And even so, it's still an overlooked detail that narratively establishes a thematic continuity because it harks back to the night of the Blackwater, Sandor's last appearance on page until his comeback in ASOS Arya V. And what was it that he wanted back then? A song, and not any song but Florian and Jonquil. Here, Martin uses a song from this cycle to reintroduce Sandor physically and keep the connection to his story with one Stark girl as he moves on to the next Stark girl, because soon after Arya informs us what he was singing, the Hound makes an appearance, as if heralded by that song.

 

Fantastic Milady! I’m always fascinated by the use of song, which we have seen frequently to be a tool that hints at the subtext. This one, tying the scene back to Sansa and the night of the Blackwater as it does, is a wonderfully subtle touch, and no less than I’d expect from GRRM.
 
 

 

 

Your analysis here draws me back to Arya IV, wherein Arya, just after uttering her death-list prayer, wishes she had a dog after Harwin mentions who I assume is the Mad Huntsman:

 

“Dogs?” said Arya.

“Aye.” Harwin grinned. “One of our lads keeps the meanest dogs you’d ever want to see.”
I wish I had a good mean dog,” said Arya wistfully. “A lion-killing dog.” She’d had a direwolf once, Nymeria, but she’d thrown a rocks at her until she fled, to keep the queen from killing her. Could a direwolf kill a lion? she wondered.

 

While Arya isn’t technically praying for a dog, she apparently gets what she asks for, even though she feels the gods have betrayed her by allowing Sandor to live. Considering she thinks of Nymeria directly after wishing she had a dog, there’s foreshadowing that Sandor will replace Nymeria, just as he replaced Lady. 

 

Such a wonderful observation DL! All I can add is that Arya was wishing for herself to possess “a good mean dog… A lion-killing dog.”  If that isn’t the perfect description of a Clegane who’s intent on serving House Stark, I don’t know what is ;)

 

 

In addition to R’hllor and the Old Gods, the image of the tree roots and Beric’s one eye is evocative of Bloodraven. Considering the crow flitting after Arya and Sandor after the fight at the Crossroads Inn has been speculated to be Bloodraven (a theory I subscribe to), Bloodraven just might have a stronger interest in Sandor than R’hollr, as Thoros might mistakenly believe. I can’t help but think it’s really Bloodraven pulling the strings here.

 

 

I know I've written extensively about Sandor's involvement with the killing of Mycah, and I don't wish to keep repeating myself, so please excuse me, but I have to say in my opinion perhaps the most significant thing about Sandor's trial by combat with Beric is that the trial was granted in the first place and not necessarily because Sandor was "proven" innocent because of that trial.

[...]

Sandor's commentary about knighthood just seems to be one more indication that Sandor seems to be a misplaced Northerner, who seemingly have less regard for pageantry and pomp than their southern neighbors.

 

 

The trial is an emotional and moral one held by the Lord of Light over the morality of a perfectly legal killing.  It is even presented by Beric as a trial for the gods to decide morality and not one of men, through the lawful power of a King aided by the gods, to decide truths for the rule of law.

 

 

Regarding the trial, first of all I tend to agree with Doglover on the point that Bloodraven may well be rather interested in Sandor, as hinted by the text and by Sandor’s increasing “northern-ness” we’ve all noted.
 
Further, I certainly cannot fault much of anything that has been said here or previously about it. But I want to emphasize my own feeling that there is something highly significant from a literary and thematic viewpoint (as opposed to a straight narrative analysis) that this particular trial is presented as featuring a convergence of gods, in light of the fact that Arya, at whose behest it arguably occurs, ends up in a place where many gods consider mercy in its various forms. Here we see Arya’s penchant for revenge, themes of mercy, the BwB’s apparent tradition of trials and Arya’s inability to kill Sandor herself merge into an event from which a man presumed guilty walks away having been declared innocent by many gods. Carrying forward Ragnorak’s comments about GRRM”s use of dramatic irony, in this case I believe it speaks volumes. It seems clear that Sandor has been marked in some way by the “gods” and on a meta level, the author (arguably the Supreme God of the text ;) )  

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Fantastic Milady! I’m always fascinated by the use of song, which we have seen frequently to be a tool that hints at the subtext. This one, tying the scene back to Sansa and the night of the Blackwater as it does, is a wonderfully subtle touch, and no less than I’d expect from GRRM.

 

Indeed, and besides Martin using this very song to herald his reintroduction, there's another interesting detail I almost forgot to mention: it's in this same book where the prophecy of the savage giant to be slayed in a castle made of snow is revealed, and two years previous to the publication of ASOS, The Hedge Knight was published, in which Martin reveals through Duncan the Tall observing a puppet show that the legendary Ser Florian the Fool fights a giant, apparently for Jonquil. Quite interesting in view of the prophecy of the giant and Bran's dream that appears to involve Sandor, as that makes one wonder if that'd could be a hint at a giant being in store for our metaphorical Florian as it was for the mythical Florian.

 

 

While we're on the subject of Arya's POV of Sandor, while the differing ways she and Sansa view him obviously tell us a lot about the personalities of each of the girls, I think it sometimes gets overlooked that GRRM also structures the plot in such a way that their interactions with him occur on very different playing fields.  For Arya, as mentioned above, Sandor is the goon who murdered her friend Mycah after a manifestly unjust trial (well, in the Hound's case, no trial at all).  Conversely, Sansa didn't like Mycah and thought he deserved what he got,* so that wasn't an issue for her when she started interacting with him later.  However much Sansa is capable of great empathy (not that Arya isn't, just not with wrongdoers) and possessed of a more nuanced view on grey morality, if we imagine some alternate version of the plot where Cersei sends the Hound to execute Jeyne Poole on trumped up charges, I rather doubt Sansa would have any interest in hearing about his sad childhood trauma and extending him sympathy.

 

* It's entirely probable that Sansa now would revise this assessment (maybe she already has), but it hasn't been shown (as far as I recall), Sansa's mind being obviously preoccupied with more immediate matters.

 

Not sure where the idea that Sansa thought Mycah deserved what he got is coming from. Because if it is due to that time she was having a spat with Arya over Gregor's head and her sister told her that Sandor and Jaime also deserved to be beheaded, then that's way off the mark. Sansa never thought Mycah deserved to die, and it's quite unfair to ascribe such feelings to her with no textual support. She defended Sandor's actions on the basis that he'd been ordered to kill the boy by Cersei because of his job as sworn shield, something even Ned mentioned to Arya, which pertained exclusively to the legality of what the Hound did, not to the butcher boy's fate being deserved or fair.

 

As for your hypothetical simile between Mycah and Jeyne Poole, there's irony in that this should be the hypothesis given that Jeyne is actually alive thanks to Sandor. And the premise doesn't sound right. The fact that each girl's view of Sandor is dependent on each girl's circumstances and experiences with him directly and indirectly is evident enough to anyone that has read their arcs, and there isn’t any necessity to throw in an artificial what if, much less one that veers into the same territory as those futile "Sansa/Arya would or wouldn't do X in each other's shoes." Mycah was a random commoner Arya befriended on the way to King's Landing, and whom she made play with her regardless of consequences, whereas Jeyne Poole is Sansa's lifelong best friend, born at Winterfell and that has known her from likely birth. That variance alone makes the hypothetical scenarios hard to compare. If you want to know how Sansa would react to the unfair killing of a close family friend comparable to Jeyne on orders of a Lannister, you already have it in AGOT in her reaction to Jory's murder, which is the reason she hates Jaime Lannister and calls him "wicked." And if we applied your premise, then one would've to wonder why Jaime isn't in Arya's kill list for that murder, after that outburst she had demanding his head as well and the fact that she was close to Jory. The Mycah incident carries more emotional baggage for Arya than just because of the boy being her "friend," additional factors like her feelings of guilt (she thought it was her fault that he'd died, as she told her father) for her role in it, her animosity towards Joffrey, her animosity towards Cersei, her own lying to save Nymeria, the loss of Lady instead, the tale she heard about the state of the corpse, the fallout with her sister, what Ned told her, etc. Not to mention that she'd gotten a chance to observe Sandor antagonising Ser Rodrik at the yard in Winterfell long before the Trident, which would already predispose her to an unfavourable attitude towards him as it certainly did towards the Lannisters.

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Not sure where the idea that Sansa thought Mycah deserved what he got is coming from. Because if it is due to that time she was having a spat with Arya over Gregor's head and her sister told her that Sandor and Jaime also deserved to be beheaded, then that's way off the mark. Sansa never thought Mycah deserved to die, and it's quite unfair to ascribe such feelings to her with no textual support. She defended Sandor's actions on the basis that he'd been ordered to kill the boy by Cersei because of his job as sworn shield, something even Ned mentioned to Arya, which pertained exclusively to the legality of what the Hound did, not to the butcher boy's fate being deserved or fair.

 

Indeed. As for the textual evidence we do have concerning Sansa's feelings about what happened to Mycah, she tells the Tyrells in ASOS: 

 

Sansa felt as though her heart had lodged in her throat. The Queen of Thorns was so close she could smell the old woman’s sour breath. Her gaunt thin fingers were pinching her wrist. To her other side, Margaery was listening as well. A shiver went through her. “A monster,” she whispered, so tremulously she could scarcely hear her own voice. “Joffrey is a monster. He lied about the butcher’s boy and made Father kill my wolf. When I displease him, he has the Kingsguard beat me. He’s evil and cruel, my lady, it’s so. And the queen as well.”
 
Here we see Sansa acknowledging Mycah's innocence in the incident, and that it was Joffrey who lied about being attacked. The spat with Arya is more about Sansa's defence of the Hound and her wishful determination to believe in Joffrey's goodness than it is any genuine callousness towards Mycah and what happened to him. 

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Not sure where the idea that Sansa thought Mycah deserved what he got is coming from. Because if it is due to that time she was having a spat with Arya over Gregor's head and her sister told her that Sandor and Jaime also deserved to be beheaded, then that's way off the mark. Sansa never thought Mycah deserved to die, and it's quite unfair to ascribe such feelings to her with no textual support. She defended Sandor's actions on the basis that he'd been ordered to kill the boy by Cersei because of his job as sworn shield, something even Ned mentioned to Arya, which pertained exclusively to the legality of what the Hound did, not to the butcher boy's fate being deserved or fair.

The phrasing might have been overly blunt, true.  The point being, she is unconcerned about Mycah's death, and doesn't ever consider it as a negative against anyone involved, including Cersei, who ordered it.  And I think the idea that she only stands up for the legality is a bit weak, since at this point Sansa views the law and morality as pretty similar.  She is not the sort of character who excuses what she views as moral failings purely because it was legal (she certainly doesn't do so later).  The only thing that initially bothers Sansa about the Kingsroad incident, at first, is the death of Lady.

 

Mycah was a random commoner Arya befriended on the way to King's Landing, and whom she made play with her regardless of consequences, whereas Jeyne Poole is Sansa's lifelong best friend, born at Winterfell and that has known her from likely birth. That variance alone makes the hypothetical scenarios hard to compare. 

I don't think it's especially significant.  I don't think Sansa would be much more inclined to view favourably or neutrally someone involved in the unfair death of a friend of several weeks, either.

 

Here we see Sansa acknowledging Mycah's innocence in the incident, and that it was Joffrey who lied about being attacked. 

Indeed, I had a niggling thought that she had said something about it, but good to know.

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The phrasing might have been overly blunt, true.  The point being, she is unconcerned about Mycah's death, and doesn't ever consider it as a negative against anyone involved, including Cersei, who ordered it.  And I think the idea that she only stands up for the legality is a bit weak, since at this point Sansa views the law and morality as pretty similar.  She is not the sort of character who excuses what she views as moral failings purely because it was legal (she certainly doesn't do so later).  The only thing that initially bothers Sansa about the Kingsroad incident, at first, is the death of Lady.

 

Whilst I can appreciate the challenges of wording and nuance over the web, in a reread using textual support isn't a choice but a requisite, and when there's failure to use the books to support a point, then more than just phrasing is the problem. You claimed that Sansa thought Mycah deserved what he got, and failed to produce the book quote that supported that. Now you're saying that the point you wanted to make was that she was unconcerned about him and didn't use it against the Lannisters. But still, it's not clear what exactly you're arguing and why. Are you saying that Sansa didn't fret overmuch over Mycah's fate and didn't think the worse of any Lannister due to that? If so, that's hardly news, and if you had been about during the discussion of the Trident chapter, you'd have seen that we're perfectly aware that nobody lost sleep over the poor boy's fate, and amongst those you've got to include Eddard, who engaged in the same wilful blindness as his daughter, saving the differences. Only Arya cared, that's never been in question, and nobody has overlooked that each of the sisters has a view of Sandor and the Lannisters at large that's been shaped by their experiences and circumstances. it was you who thought it was pertinent to create a "Sansa vs. Arya" type of argument by asserting that if Sandor had killed Jeyne, then Sansa wouldn't have been inclined to listen to his story, thereby saying that she didn't care because Mycah wasn't her friend as he was Arya's, so she'd have reacted the same as Arya if Jeyne had been killed.

 

And frankly, it's always questionable when one has to resort to a hypothetical of this nature, especially when it looks like it was done to undermine one sister over the other and nitpicking one side of the hypothesis whilst not taking the other side into account, because such a hypothesis goes both ways and taking your own premise that Sansa would've hated Sandor if he'd killed her friend, then Arya also is likely not to have hated him if tables were reversed. That's not even taking into account the additional aspects each of the sisters carry that also influence and nuance their views of the Hound, it's not as clear-cut as one liking him for X and the other hating him for Y, as you seemed to be trying to make it. Another claim you made was that it's overlooked that the author has made each girl interact with Sandor on different playing fields, which has been a staple of this reread from the onset. In fact, I myself pointed out more than once that each of the women that tell Sandor's story view him differently and in different circumstances: Sansa is afraid of him, then sympathetic, then falling for him, Arya hates him with a passion, Brienne wants to kill him . . . And those differences add to the richness of his characterisation, give us a more whole and balanced view of him. I'd be more concerned if he were shown to be just the same by everyone, be it all positive or all negative, given the structure of these books. That you'd try to force contextualisation through swapping the sisters' circumstances instead of analysing them in their own contexts is fairly ridiculous.

 

 

I don't think it's especially significant.  I don't think Sansa would be much more inclined to view favourably or neutrally someone involved in the unfair death of a friend of several weeks, either.

 

Surely you can't fail to appreciate the nuances here, and how contradictory you sound now. You were saying Sansa didn't care about Mycah because he wasn't her friend, so she needed someone that was her friend to be killed so she'd feel the same as Arya. Now you're saying that Sansa wouldn't be inclined to see favourably or neutrally if it were a friend of a few weeks or a lifelong friend, which is quite odd and makes me wonder if you really think there's no difference in emotional impact between what happens to a friend that you just met or an acquaintance over a close friend, your best friend in fact. You've reduced Arya's reaction to merely friendship with the victim, and Sansa's reaction to lack of friendship with the victim, and that's illogical. Again, I ask you, if all boils down to friendship and degrees of such, why isn't Jaime in Arya's kill list for Jory, who was her friend and a family retainer? Sandor got into her list for a random butcher boy, but Jaime stays out of her list despite the murder of someone Arya loved and knew more intimately than the butcher's boy?

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Surely you can't fail to appreciate the nuances here, and how contradictory you sound now. You were saying Sansa didn't care about Mycah because he wasn't her friend, so she needed someone that was her friend to be killed so she'd feel the same as Arya. Now you're saying that Sansa wouldn't be inclined to see favourably or neutrally if it were a friend of a few weeks or a lifelong friend, which is quite odd and makes me wonder if you really think there's no difference in emotional impact between what happens to a friend that you just met or an acquaintance over a close friend, your best friend in fact. You've reduced Arya's reaction to merely friendship with the victim, and Sansa's reaction to lack of friendship with the victim, and that's illogical. Again, I ask you, if all boils down to friendship and degrees of such, why isn't Jaime in Arya's kill list for Jory, who was her friend and a family retainer? Sandor got into her list for a random butcher boy, but Jaime stays out of her list despite the murder of someone Arya loved and knew more intimately than the butcher's boy?

I'm sure there are differences between a recent acquaintance and a close acquaintance, but in terms of how it would affect your reaction to the person who killed them, I don't think for most people it would be that big a difference.  It might affect your own degree of trauma.  I haven't "reduced" it to just one thing; I noted that it's a very significant one, and that in particular that Sansa would not interact with the Hound the way she does if she viewed him as responsible for the unjust death of someone she cared about.

 

As for why Jaime isn't on Arya's list, that's an interesting question I've wondered about in the past, but the people Arya dislikes are not confined to those on the list, and one rather doubts she'd have anything other than negative thoughts toward Jaime if she met him again.

 

Anyway, I'll withdraw this point of discussion, since people don't think it's relevant or significant.

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I'm sure there are differences between a recent acquaintance and a close acquaintance, but in terms of how it would affect your reaction to the person who killed them, I don't think for most people it would be that big a difference.  It might affect your own degree of trauma.  I haven't "reduced" it to just one thing; I noted that it's a very significant one, and that in particular that Sansa would not interact with the Hound the way she does if she viewed him as responsible for the unjust death of someone she cared about.

 

As for why Jaime isn't on Arya's list, that's an interesting question I've wondered about in the past, but the people Arya dislikes are not confined to those on the list, and one rather doubts she'd have anything other than negative thoughts toward Jaime if she met him again.

 

Anyway, I'll withdraw this point of discussion, since people don't think it's relevant or significant.

 

Thank you for withdrawing your point, Colonel Green, but I hope you can appreciate our confusion for why it was even introduced in the first place. Regardless of how Sansa may or may not have felt about Mycah, her connection to Sandor didn't occur because he happened not to kill an acquaintance of hers or a close friend.. And it still doesn't work with your qualification to a "significant" factor because you're ignoring very important variables that are integral to the Sandor/Arya/Mycah situation. Without killing anyone, Sandor already had a very fearsome reputation to go along with his burned face, and Sansa had reason enough to be wary and afraid of him, especially the Sansa we meet in early AGOT who tended to equate beauty with goodness. Even when he saves Jeyne Poole during the Lannister takeover, Jeyne's delivery of the news is hardly done on glowing terms, and Sandor's role in the "killing everyone" that was going on wouldn't have led to any particular endearment if Martin ever meant their relationship to be dependent on such circumstances. When she encounters him in Winterfell, Arya was already inclined to dislike Sandor based on his statements in the yard, but as Milady of York pointed out, he makes it on to her prayer list because of specific reasons relating to Mycah's death, involving her sense of guilt and the sensational description of the killing she hears. Likewise, Sansa's connection to the Hound is similarly nuanced, based on their unique interactions, him opening up to her, and the empathy she was capable of responding with. If you're arguing that Sansa would not have entertained Sandor's revelations on the night of the Hand's tourney, then bear in mind that she never so much as asks to hear his story as she is forced to listen to it; secondly, if you're arguing that Sansa would not have demonstrated the kind of compassion and kindness we see, bear in mind that you're diminishing a central element of her characterisation, one which operates even towards those who have personally ill-treated and wronged her. And finally, if you're genuinely searching for a productive comparison involving Sansa and unjust killings, look no further than the death of Lady, done by her very own father, at the very moment the Hound returns with Mycah's body.

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My deepest apologies for not having Sandor IV posted yet. I've been absolutely slammed at work, but hope to have the analysis posted tomorrow.

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