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Re-reading Sansa's last chapter, ASOS

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  • So they said, “We cannot hide her away in the black ground.” And they had made a coffin of clear glass, so as to be looked into from all sides, and they laid her in it, and wrote in golden letters upon it her name, and that she was a King’s daughter. Then they set the coffin out upon the mountain, and one of them always remained by it to watch. And the birds came too, and mourned for Snow-white, first an owl, then a raven, and lastly, a dove. Now, for a long while Snow-white lay in the coffin and never changed, but looked as if she were asleep, for she was still as white as snow, as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony.(Grimm, the tale of Snow-White)


Up here where the slope was steepest, the steps wound back and forth rather than plunging straight down. Sansa Stark went up the mountain, but Alayne Stone is coming down. It was a strange thought. (Alayne II AFFC)


Hi everyone ! I'll purpose here a litterar analysis of the chapter Sansa VII ASOS, which is the very last one of the 3rd book, just before the epilogue and first LSH's appearance. The following analysis is a translation/adaptation of a long study in 4 parts in my personnal blog, consecrated to litterar analysis of ASOIAF for people who speak french (the 4th isn't achieved yet, or truer  : it's achieved but I diidn't let it online because I must entirely rewrite it). I began to work on the parallelisms between Sansa Stark and Snow-white more than 2 years ago, with this particular chapter, in which I saw first princess Sansa dying and proceeding to her proper burying in a snow/ice/glass castel with the help of the so ambivalent giant - small man Littlefinger. I re-visited my first analysis one year later, but it needed a 3rd re-working to have a certainly not perfect, but coherent stuff, and quite different from what I wrote 2 years and a half ago.

Specials thanks to @Seams, @ravenous reader, for so many details i wasn't able to see last year, for pointing puns, wordplay and similarities between events/facts/pictures which seemed opposite at first sight, and for your true love for the text ! To @The Fattest Leech for Bran/Pinocchio and @sweetsunray for the essay on the Bear and the Maid, both opening for me some different and stimulating perspectives. Even if my proper way isn't, I think you'll recognize some trails of your own reflexions/work. 

Let's go for the introduction :

Snow-White isn't the ultimate word to explain Sansa : we'll see that GRRM uses the trope to write his own interpretation of the story, as a real litterar project, always with huge internal coherence in the storytelling and in the symbolism = both reading are strongly imbricated, that's why I used Snow-White's trope as my "red thread".

So, Sansa Stark as Snow-White is the unfortunate princess successively mistreated by bad queens (Cersei and Lysa) after the father's death (Ned), protected by a hunter (the Hound) and some dwarves (Tyrion... and Littlefinger), and waiting desperatly for her promised prince (the fair (and fake) Aegon ?). Ok, that's the first sight, or Sansa's dream. The reality and the text are a bit more complex and I confess I had some surprises with the roles, especially with Snow-White and her promised prince. 

I choosed this chapter (Sansa VII ASOS) because it concludes a long cycle which began with AGOT : the fall of the powerfull house Stark. All Starks are yet dead really or symbollically and/or disappeared. The pack is dispatched, Winterfell destroyed and winter is coming. In a way, the Stark are before all people in the heart of their long night. In this chapter, the reader discovers also who murdered lord Jon Arryn, murder which whas the reason why Eddard Stark went south as king's hand, the beginning of all the tragedy.

The chapter is built in two parts - we could say in 2 acts - each part following same schem : 1. a meditative solo from Sansa in her bedchamber 2. the call of something (the snow)/someone (Lysa throw Marillion) which makes her going outside the bedchamber 3. A trio/trial (Sansa/snow/LF and Sansa/Marillion/Lysa) begins 4. A "forth" character enters and put an end to the trio/trial by a brutal and destructive act (Robert Arryn destroying the snow castle and LF ejecting Lysa out of the scene). My analysis will simply follow the order of the text

Here is the general plan : 


1.Wolf's time at the Eyrie (Sansa wakes up)

2.The Warrioress Maiden in the Garden (she goes out in the courtyard/garden)

3. Prayers of the Snowmaiden (she begins to play with the snow)

4. The Frozen Queen (building of the snow castle)


1. "Come-into-my-castle" (LF is helping)

2. Biting, kissing, wedding (LF is "helping", part 2 !)

3. Robert the Heir (Sweetrobin's entry)

4. "Maiden and Monsters" (destruction of the castle)


1. Interlude (Sansa's return in her bedchamber)

2. Birds of misfortune, watchers of the dead (Marillion enters)

3. Frozen lice, frozen heart (in the great hall of the Eyrie)

4. Icy eye, justice's eye, (Sansa faces Lysa sitting in the weirwood throne)


1. Tell me the truth, all the truth (Lysa's confessing her misfortunes)

2. The monster beyond-the-door (the "lesson" of the moondoor)

3. Oh F... holy S...! My husband ! (LF enters)

And at least... a general conclusion

First part tomorrow, because it's time to sleep here now ^^




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Thank you for the mention @GloubieBoulga. Allow me a little time to re-read Sansa's last ASOS chapter, and any other related book info before I get going. I will say that for me, Sansa is a character whos interest grew on me after re-reads. I am curious to see where she is by story's end.

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How do, thank you for the tag. I will indeed to be interested in this. My interest in Sansa grew as the story progressed and the more you read her, the better her story gets!  

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WARNING : Quote from the chapter Sansa VII ASOS are in purple color. 

Before enter the subject, I'll make a little point about the Eyrie, where the chapter takes place :

- The Eyrie means hawk/eagle's nest : it's a bird's place

- They are the highest castle of Westeros, very hardly accessible, so physically "out of the world".

- "Out of the world" symbollically too, and I give some elements :

  • to join the Eyrie you need to pass through the castle "Gates of the Moon". In ASOIAF, "gates" are passages from one world to another and the character who passes through a door changes his/her "state" in the same time. So, there is the Black Gate at Fort Night, a mouth which swallows Bran and his companions (Bran becomes a greenseer beyond the Wall), or regurgitates Sam, Gilly and the babe (permitting that they survive); there is the Bloody Gate with the story of the singer Tom :

    "The Tullys have never been lucky for old Tom. It was that Lysa sent me up the high road, when the moon men took my gold and my horse and all my clothes as well. There's knights in the Vale still telling how I came walking up to the Bloody Gate with only my harp to keep me modest. They made me sing 'The Name Day Boy' and 'The King Without Courage' before they opened that gate. My only solace was that three of them died laughing. I haven't been back to the Eyrie since, and I won't sing '(Arya VIII ASOS)

     the symbol is here a humoristic birth and the gate a vagina. Third example - another birth - when Jaime escapes from Riverrun, passing throw a gate (the Water Gate) completely drunk, with the mancles as a umbical cord and the cloak as a placenta; at dawn, he is like a newborn discovering the living world with his senses (Jaime I ASOS), and Brienne compared to a milk cow plays the nurse/the mother.
    • After the Gates of the Moon, you must pass through 3 keeps, Stone, Snow and at least Sky. Litteraly, the Eyrie are beyond the sky. Bonus, from the bottom, the castle is invisible for the eye even if you know its place under the mountain Giant's Lance and beneath the waterfall Alyssa's Tears : 


      "It's there, beside Alyssa's Tears. All you can see from here is a flash of white every now and then, if you look hard and the sun hits the walls just right."
      Seven towers, Ned had told her, like white daggers thrust into the belly of the sky, so high you can stand on the parapets and look down on the clouds.(Catelyn VI AGOT)


      the white light can be linked to Bran's vision : 


      Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. And he looked past the Wall, past endless forests cloaked in snow, past the frozen shore and the great blue-white rivers of ice and the dead plains where nothing grew or lived. North and north and north he looked, to the curtain of light at the end of the world, and then beyond that curtain. He looked deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks.(Bran III AGOT)

      For my purpose here, I'll notice the flight of Bran-bird, up and far that ends "deep", so at the complete opposite (up and down) : in fact, Sansa's chapter will show same mix where up=down. I'll also notice Jon "the bastard" as a litteral Snow-White in his ice coffin. The mention of the memory seems for me essential, because all present characters are telling us a part of an ancient and original story, a Stark story, illustrating this sentence :


       "You may read it here. It is old and fragile." He studied her, frowning. "Archmaester Rigney once wrote that history is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again, he said. I think of that whenever I contemplate the Crow's Eye. Euron Greyjoy sounds queerly like Urron Greyiron to these old ears.(the Kraken's Daughter, AFFC)


      -As we came back to Snow-White throw Jon, we can also notice the 7 towers of the Eyrie, like 7 gods, but like 7 dwarves, giant when you are in the castle but little ("daggers", not "swords") if you are far enough. But daggers as a defense or as a threat ?No evidence with GRRM. Bonus : the white daggers in sunlight are 7 little lightbringer... oh nooooo ! 6 are too more ! But 6 will come back in Sansa's chapter. 

1.Wolf's time at the Eyrie

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was. She had dreamt that she was little, still sharing a bedchamber with her sister Arya. But it was her maid she heard tossing in sleep, not her sister, and this was not Winterfell, but the Eyrie. And I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl. The room was cold and black, though she was warm beneath the blankets. Dawn had not yet come. Sometimes she dreamed of Ser Ilyn Payne and woke with her heart thumping, but this dream had not been like that. Home. It was a dream of home.
The Eyrie was no home. 

These are first words of the chapter, saying that the scene begin before dawn, when the night is the coldest (and the blackest, following the common belief). It is the wolf's time. "Dawn" in its own short sentence is highlighted ; this recalls us the main concern of the saga, the Long Night and the (second ?) Battle of the Dawn to put an end to eternal winter. In this way, Sansa's narration is a part of the global internal mythology of ASOIAF. If I'm not able to predict Sansa's participation to an hypothetical huge battle (to be honest, I'm not interested with), I can see that an individual and violent battle has for long time begun for Sansa, in her heart and her mind, and the battle seems lost ! 

If Winterfell and the Eyrie are totally different at first sight (geography, location, color, land, and so on...) Sansa's dream makes a direct connection between them. Plus, Eyrie are described as a dead castle, as a grave, and our princess awake in a bedchamber "cold and black"; the other locations "cold and black" are at Winterfell : the pool at heart tree's feet (Catelyn I AGOT) and the graves of dead Stark in the crypt (cold and black are associated in other circumstances, but they all repeat the theme of the pool - Dany pregnant bathing in the lake Womb of the World (Dany V AGOT) - or of the grave - Arya in the Red Keep feeling Varys and Illyrio emerging from a well of darkness or touching the skulls of the dead dragons (Arya III AGOT)).

So the Eyrie are here a particular face of Winterfell : not the Winterfell that Sansa liked when she was a child, the one idealized through her dreams, but the "frozen hell" reserved to the Stark : 


Eddard Stark dreamed of a frozen hell reserved for the Starks of Winterfell.(Eddard IV AGOT)

This is the Winterfell as heart of winter. And Sansa is the dreamer wanting to escape the cruel reality by sleeping and dreaming "beneath the blankets".


The footfalls sounded heavy to Bran, slow, ponderous, scraping against the stone. It must be huge. Mad Axe had been a big man in Old Nan's story, and the thing that came in the night had been monstrous. Back in Winterfell, Sansa had told him that the demons of the dark couldn't touch him if he hid beneath his blanket. He almost did that now, before he remembered that he was a prince, and almost a man grown.(Bran IV ASOS)


The post isn't achieved yet, I will edit it later.

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Hi everybody ! I'm back after near one year, and after I entirely re-worked my stuff about this last Sansa's chapter in ASOS. I didn't change to many things in the first part, but many in the 3 others, especially in the 3rd and 4th.

Of course, it was very long because not my first occupation, and after I was finished with this re-writing, I couldn't no more hear from Sansa or ASOIAF, and just wanted to have little holidays with !

I just hope I didn't loose the interested readers now.

So, I give back the general plan (which follows the text of the chapter), with 3rd and 4th new parts :

1- Wolf's time in Eyrie
2- A warrior Maid in the garden
3- The prayers of the "snow Maid"
4- Frozen Queen
1- "Come into my castle"
2- Biting, kissing and wedding
3- Robert the Heir
4- "Maiden and Monsters"

1- "Who brings you to this place, presumptuous mortal?"
2- A "good", a "bad", a "ugly", three sons has the Crow.
3- The Queen Mother Weirwood.
4- The queen in the arena: eye of ice and heart of stone.
1- The Raven Queen
2- The jousting game
3- Intimate confessions
4- At the edge of the abyss
5- The monster behind the door
6- "Every flight begins with a fall"
- Conclusion -

The quote from the chapter Sansa VII ASOS are "amethyst color". The quotes from others chapters are blue (and I give the reference). And I put back the beginning.

Let's go


1.Wolf's time at the Eyrie

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was. She had dreamt that she was little, still sharing a bedchamber with her sister Arya. But it was her maid she heard tossing in sleep, not her sister, and this was not Winterfell, but the Eyrie. And I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl. The room was cold and black, though she was warm beneath the blankets. Dawn had not yet come. Sometimes she dreamed of Ser Ilyn Payne and woke with her heart thumping, but this dream had not been like that. Home. It was a dream of home.
The Eyrie was no home. 

These are first words of the chapter, saying that the scene begin before dawn, when the night is the coldest (and the blackest, following the common belief). It is the wolf's time. "Dawn" in its own short sentence is highlighted ; this recalls us the main concern of the saga, the Long Night and the (second ?) Battle of the Dawn to put an end to eternal winter. In this way, Sansa's narration is a part of the global internal mythology of ASOIAF. If I'm not able to predict Sansa's participation to an hypothetical huge battle (to be honest, I'm not interested with), I can see that an individual and violent battle has for long time begun for Sansa, in her heart and her mind, and the battle seems lost ! 

If Winterfell and the Eyrie are totally different at first sight (geography, location, color, land, and so on...) Sansa's dream makes a direct connection between them. Plus, Eyrie are described as a dead castle, as a grave, and our princess awake in a bedchamber "cold and black"; the other locations "cold and black" are at Winterfell : the pool at heart tree's feet (Catelyn I AGOT) and the graves of dead Stark in the crypt (cold and black are associated in other circumstances, but they all repeat the theme of the pool - Dany pregnant bathing in the lake Womb of the World (Dany V AGOT) - or of the grave - Arya in the Red Keep feeling Varys and Illyrio emerging from a well of darkness or touching the skulls of the dead dragons (Arya III AGOT)).

So the Eyrie are here a particular face of Winterfell : not the Winterfell that Sansa liked when she was a child, the one idealized through her dreams, but a "frozen hell" :

Eddard Stark dreamed of a frozen hell reserved for the Starks of Winterfell.(Eddard IV AGOT)

This is the Winterfell as heart of winter. And Sansa is the dreamer wanting to escape the cruel reality by sleeping and dreaming "beneath the blankets".

The footfalls sounded heavy to Bran, slow, ponderous, scraping against the stone. It must be huge. Mad Axe had been a big man in Old Nan's story, and the thing that came in the night had been monstrous. Back in Winterfell, Sansa had told him that the demons of the dark couldn't touch him if he hid beneath his blanket. He almost did that now, before he remembered that he was a prince, and almost a man grown.(Bran IV ASOS)

Thow a blanket is softer than a glass coffin, it seems to me that they play here the same symbolic part : Snow White receives protection from her coffin, as Stark children beneath their blankets, but all are buried and can't live a real life. This is only a kind of soft death (we'll be back to this theme later, whith Sansa in the garden of the Eyrie)


Sansa's awakening is followed by a first description of the Eyrie, a castle where life is sorely lacking :

The Eyrie was no home. It was no bigger than Maegor's Holdfast, and outside its sheer white walls was only the mountain and the long treacherous descent past Sky and Snow and Stone to the Gates of the Moon on the valley floor. There was no place to go and little to do. The older servants said these halls rang with laughter when her father and Robert Baratheon had been Jon Arryn's wards, but those days were many years gone. Her aunt kept a small household, and seldom permitted any guests to ascend past the Gates of the Moon.

Sansa wakes up in a world of ghosts and shadows from the past and the only names mentioned are those of the dead. Lysa Arryn, Jon Arryn's widow, has a very small household, allows very few visits and leads a solitary life. In other words, Sansa is in Eyrie like in a tomb, whereas by the physical and symbolic situation of the castle - very difficult to access and placed above the fort "Sky" - she was already outside the world of the living, in an inversion effect with Winterfell : in Winterfell, you have to go down and sink into the crypts to find the graves.

We must imagine a flat and shimmering sea, with a castle that is reflected in the waters: we have the "over" and the "under" the sea, that only the optical illusion makes different. "Under the sea" is precisely the expression with which Patchface begins most of his songs. Moreover, in Sansa's case, the narrative does not include the ascent to the Eyrie, which is ignored; on the contrary, the path that leads her to the heart of this kingdom of the dead begins with Joffrey's death by poisoning in the Red Keep (parallelism with Snow White : in the tale, SW dies poisoned by an apple, but before that, the evil queen disguised as a crone try to kill her with a poisoned haircomb and with a belt that strangles SW; so Joffrey's poisoning reunites the 3 attempts, even the crone with grand'ma Olenna) : Sansa then crosses the sacred wood, then under the guidance of a fool ferryman/smugler (no, not Davos, but his proper part is interesting by freeing people from the death) descends a great cliff before taking the boat. In this journey we find the common geography of the areas of transition between the world of the living and the world of the dead, namely a dark forest, a "staircase" and a river or lake that must be crossed, and although Sansa arrives at the highest castle in Westeros, the text describes only a "descent" to the world of the dead.

 The evocation of Eddard Stark, father of Sansa, who had lived during his youth in the Eyrie, allows us to continue the link between the Eyrie and Winterfell, and we can compare the description of this lifeless castle with the deserted Winterfell that Jon traverses in his dreams, in chapter Jon VII AGOT, where it is the graves of the Stark in the crypts that are qualified as "black and cold". Winterfell, this is where Lady, Sansa's she-wolf, is buried, sacrificed in AGOT to quell the anger - let's say the thirst for blood - of Queen Cersei. Sansa herself is full of the feeling of being buried alive in a place that is not her home a priori, a grave that she did not choose, and where Lord Petyr Baelish/Littlefinger brought her through manipulations and lies, as she will remind her later in the chapter:

"That was unchivalrously done, my lady."
"As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home."

The parallel can thus be drawn between Littlefinger and Eddard, who both assume the role of father/hunter for Queen Cersei, and protect Sansa, each by killing a part of her: Eddard, in the first volume, must kill the wolf Lady, whose skin Cersei claims. If Eddard kills Lady well, he sends her remains to Winterfell so that she can be buried in the cemetery reserved for the members of the household and Cersei will never have her skin. That's for the "wolf part. Littlefinger kidnapped Sansa Stark after Joffrey's death for which she was accused, and symbolically killed her by forcing her to assume the identity of her bastard daughter, Alayne Stone, and taking her out of the world; in doing so, he too removed Sansa's skin (=the name Stark) from the claws of the evil queen. Wolf identity and name Stark are indeed the same thing : one is concrete (the wolf part), and the other is symbollic (the family name).

 We can imagine that the challenge for Sansa would be to appropriate the grave Eyrie and to take an active part in his own symbolic funeral, a first step towards freedom. But to be free from who and what ? In the tale of Snow White, death puts an end to the threat of the evil queen and prepares the princess for the Prince's liberating kiss. Hidden in the Eyrie and Vale under a new identity, Sansa escapes the queen mother Cersei, totally obsessed with her two main targets: her daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell, whom she thinks she is the "younger and more beautiful" queen who will take away everything she cares about most, and her brother the dwarf Tyrion. And Littlefinger wants to engage her to the young, handsome and dashing Harry the Heir (distant cousin and heir of little sick Lord Robert Arryn). A priori, the contract "saving the princess" looks good, and the scheme is respected; however, with GRRMartin, Sansa's princes are beasts under a man's skin, so there is a good chance that the scheme will go wrong at some point... or that this one who plays openly on a known tune, plays discreetly another that we will have to find in the text.


Let's go back to Sansa's awakening.

I am not going back to sleep, Sansa realized. My head is all a tumult.

"tumult"is used on other very specific occasions in the text : once to describe the deafening noise of the sea, and all other times for a human crowd screaming. Let us add that the waves sometimes seams to pronounce words to certain characters (Davos in Davos I ASOS, Brienne at the Whispers in AFFC, or Aeron Greyjoy). Then, we have to admit that the "tumult" in Sansa's head could correspond to one or more voices that a part of her may have perceived, without being able to analyse or identify anything; but given the very strong link between the Stark children and Winterfell, and the fact that Sansa was dreaming precisely of this castle, it is easy to assume that the "tumult" comes from there. We could wonder why this "tumult" is not more precise: is it because of the geographical distance between the Eyrie and Winterfell? The absence of a weirwood with murmuring leaves? Has the death of Lady cut short the development of Sansa's skinchanging capabilities? However, her instinct has remained intact, or rather, we can consider that the link with Winterfell (where Lady is buried) is anchored in her, and her dreams bring her back there, in the same way as other Stark children dream about it and/or have wolves' dreams that they do not control. This could explain the apparent distortion between her clearly expressed consciousness and her actions guided by something deeper, as we have a glaring example when she flees the feast room where Joffrey has just died: a grief she does not know is expressed despite her desire to exult in joy and relief:

The bells were ringing, slow and mournful. Ringing, ringing, ringing. They had rung for King Robert the same way. Joffrey was dead, he was dead, he was dead, dead, dead. Why was she crying, when she wanted to dance ? Were they tears of joy ?
(Sansa V, ASOS)

On the other hand, the possibility of voices being heard may come close to Jon's dreams reported to us by Sam, precisely after Stannis' victory over Mance Rayder, and just before he offered legitimacy and Winterfell to the bastard:

"All my dreams are of the crypts, of the stone kings on their thrones. Sometimes I hear Robb's voice, and my father's, as if they were at a feast. But there's a wall between us, and I know that no place has been set for me."
The living have no place at the feasts of the dead.

(Samwell IV, ASOS)

In this new link between Jon and Sansa, the idea that emerges is about voices of dead seeking to be heard, ghosts who seem to want to escape from their graves, now that there is no longer a Stark in Winterfell. However, if Jon identifies Robb and Eddard's, this is not the case with Sansa, where the tumult remains an indefinite tumult. The same idea of sleep disturbed by the voices of the unfulfilled spirits of the dead is present in the Dwarf of High Heart, the old prophetess of the Riverland who lives in a grove of cut weirwoods (only stumps remain), and who is at the origin of the prophecy of the "Promised Prince" specifically attached to a branch of the Targaryen line. The Dwarf says that the voices are from "old gods" (Davos and Areon are also thinking to their gods) :

Her flesh was whiter, the color of milk, and it seemed to Arya that her eyes were red, though it was hard to tell from the bushes. "The old gods stir and will not let me sleep," she heard the woman say. "I dreamt I saw a shadow with a burning heart butchering a golden stag, aye. I dreamt of a man without a face, waiting on a bridge that swayed and swung. On his shoulder perched a drowned crow with seaweed hanging from his wings. I dreamt of a roaring river and a woman that was a fish. Dead she drifted, with red tears on her cheeks, but when her eyes did open, oh, I woke from terror. All this I dreamt, and more. Do you have gifts for me, to pay me for my dreams?"(Arya IV , ASOS)


In any case, unlike the previous volumes where she would bury herself in her bed, warm, and hide to sleep and forget, this time Sansa listens to the "call", gets up and goes to the window. And there:

Snow was falling on the Eyrie.

"Snow" is the name for bastards. The sentence is particularly highlighted in the text since it is a paragraph in itself. GRRM insists, and develops the image :

Outside the flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. Was this what woke me ? Already the snowfall lay thick upon the garden below, blanketing the grass, dusting the shrubs and statues with white and weighing down the branches of the trees. The sight took Sansa back to cold nights long ago, in the long summer of her childhood.

 "Silent" and "white" like Ghost, Jon Snow's direwolf.

I will draw a parallel with Daenerys : when the Targaryen are dreaming of fire and dragons, Sansa, at the time of the wolf, has therefore explicitly called upon the memory of Winterfell, which manifests itself in snow. A snow that speaks of a bastard, like Sansa is in her new identity as Alayne Stone; but associated with "memory" and "silence", she not only evokes Jon with her albino and silent wolf, but also expresses a potentially older and taboo memory : an original bastardy of Winterfell's Stark, a bastardy carried by their blood. But bastardy in relation to what and to whom ?
Let's stop for a moment on this image that responds to others in the saga.
First of all, the silent memory like the Ghost Wolf can be compared to one of Daenerys' visions in the HOTU (ACOK): presiding over a feast whose guests lie slaughtered and shattered, a dead wolf-headed man crowned with iron, seams to call Daenerys with sad eyes, but remains silent.

In a throne above them sat a dead man with the head of a wolf. He wore an iron crown and held a leg of lamb in one hand as a king might hold a scepter, and his eyes followed Dany with mute appeal.
(Daenerys IV, tome 2 A Clash of Kings)

Then, the Stark device is "Winter is coming". It finds a materialization directly in the name of the lordly seat, Winterfell, which can be interpreted both as the place where winter stops, where "it has fallen", and the one from which it radiates. If the expression immediately reminds us of the season, the absence of an article in front of "Winter/Hiver" opens another perspective, a proper name, like Summer is the name for Bran Stark's direwolf.
 The verb "to fall/fell" is precisely the one used for falling snow, and the association between winter and snow is established from the first chapter of the saga, while a snow deeper than the "summer snow" seems to announce the end of the summer season. In other words, not only does the literary parallel between the Eyrie and Winterfell continue, but snow could also constitute a concrete representation of a man or woman who was once alive and now forgotten, a ghost of the past.

 In this context, "Winter is coming" takes on a very special meaning: if "Winter" was the name or nickname of a character from the past (or his favorite animal if it was a skinchange), then it can be assumed that if "Winter fell/was killed" once in the past, he is likely to "return" from the dead (by the way, "fell" is also an old English word for a hill, that could be a barrow/a mound, an artificial hill that serves as a grave).
And if so, who would be Winter and how would it relate to the character of Sansa, apart from the fact that she is a Stark of Winterfell ? What would be the link with his narrative arc and the references to Snow White's tale ? It appears that in ADWD, Bran has the vision of a man executed at the feet of the hearttree of Winterfell :

 "No," said Bran, "no, don't," but they could not hear him, no more than his father had. The woman grabbed the captive by the hair, hooked the sickle round his throat, and slashed. And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man's feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood.
(Bran III, ADWD)

Did Brandon Stark tasted Winter's blood ? And did he received "wolf's blood" at this moment, for the future Stark of Winterfell ?

Some two or three months before this scene, Winterfell was caught and set on fire by Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton's bastard son, who made his crime look like the Ironborn crime led by Theon Greyjoy. Winterfell dissipated in smoke would then arrive by air to the Eyrie, and his shadow would manifest itself concretely in Sansa, silent for the living, but noisy if we pass to the other side, to the dead (it is the "tumult" preventing Sansa from going back to sleep). It may be objected that the ashes are not snowflakes, but GRRMartin precisely associates the two during certain significant moments, as here :

Behind its crumbling red brick walls, Astapor was still asmolder, though by now most of the great fires had burned out. Ashes floated lazy on the breeze like fat grey snowflakes. (The Windblown, ADWD)

Grey is the colour of the Stark and associating it with snowflakes is therefore not incongruous. On the other hand, the images of the destruction of Astapor by Yunkai's armies recall the destruction of Winterfell by fire, seen through the wolf of Bran, Summer: plumes of black and greasy smoke also look like large snakes there... a large black dragon with wings, for example.

And fires, fires everywhere. He could close his eyes and see them still: flames whirling from brick pyramids larger than any castle he had ever seen, plumes of greasy smoke coiling upward like great black snakes. (The Windblown, ADWD)

Men, many men, many horses, and fire, fire, fire. No smell was more dangerous, not even the hard cold smell of iron, the stuff of man-claws and hardskin. The smoke and ash clouded his eyes, and in the sky he saw a great winged snake whose roar was a river of flame. He bared his teeth, but then the snake was gone. (Bran VII, ACOK)


Finally, as a last point to link Winterfell and the Eyrie, the Sansa's chapter that we are studying here is directly preceded by a chapter of Jon Snow, where he is proposed for the second time by Stannis Baratheon a legitimization, the recovery of Winterfell and the suzerainty of the North, as the son of Lord Eddard Stark. Stannis had the idea of relying on the power of the North to conquer the Iron Throne. Jon was strongly tempted, because his position in the Night's Watch had become uncertain - he risked death there - but his unexpected election as Lord Commander of the Nightwatch put an end to his dream. It is in this same chapter that Ghost, Jon's silent direwolf ("silent as memory"!), returns to his "master", reminding him of the emptiness and vanity of Winterfell's dream, because even legitimized, Jon remains a bastard in his blood : Ghost's presence physically reminds him that the old Stark kings buried in the castle's crypts seem to want to repel him at all costs. At least, that's how Jon interprets the hostility he feels, but this interpretation could be wrong for a part (and let's keep in mind that when he dreams that he goes down into the crypts, he is also attracted by some kind of unidentified call).

 By way of comparison, when Theon Greyjoy took Winterfell and proclaimed himself the "Prince" (... promized, hu hu), he began to have horrible and bloody nightmares, as if he was being repelled by Winterfell's heart. However, on closer examination, these nightmares of Theon were more a sign of a full and complete entry into "the frozen hell of the Stark", to use Eddard's expression : as a new "Prince of Winterfell", Theon is not rejected, as evidenced by the fact that in his dreams he takes part in a feast of the Stark dead without being rejected; and indeed his fate in Ramsay Snow's hands will be at least a symbolic death if not physical for one part. This acceptance of Theon's "Stark blood" is confirmed in ADWD, when he is called "kinslayer" for the murders of Bran and Rickon Stark - with whom he has been raised since he was ten years old as a hostage (fraternal ties have been established mainly with Robb, the eldest of the Stark) (I know the hypothesis about the muller's sons, but it is for the moment an hypothesis, not a fact). During his visit to the crypts with Lady Barbrey Dustin, he remembers a ancient Stark King who had the same first name as him: Theon, nicknamed the "Hungry Wolf" for his thirst for conquests.

But let us return to Jon Snow who refuses the suzerainty of Winterfell and physically feels that it is not up to him to raise it from its ruins. Not in the immediate future at least (here, I don't anticipate anything, but I just note that things can change later in the saga, even if personnally, I think Winterfell will definitively disappear at the end and will never be raise again).

 Through the layout of the chapters and the choice of words, Jon Snow symbolically transmits the relay to Sansa : the snowflakes, qualified as "ghostly" in Sansa's chapter (in other words, like "Ghost", Jon Snow's wolf), are literary and concrete intermediaries. As for "memory", it is linked in the saga to the powers of Bran Stark as greenseer. Jon gives Sansa the hard task to be the "princess promized". You're on your own, sweetheart !

 I will not decide here on the possible magic at work, because reading supports as much the interpretation of a concrete link between the different wolves of the Stark pack, as a symbolic link, i.e. intended only for the reader (and his desire to interpret between the lines). Moreover, the snow that falls immediately arouses in Sansa the memory of the last time she saw Winterfell, the day she left for Kingslanding with the royal convoy. She sees her inhabitants and again her sister Arya. In the first part of this chapter, the member of her siblings who comes to mind most spontaneously is Arya and always for moments of happy sharing. No bitterness or resentment disturbed these memories, an unmistakable sign that the two sisters' quarrels may well have been "summer quarrels". The Winterfell of her memories takes on the air of a lost paradise, a place where children did not die but played at fighting, for laughter.

In a follower post , we will follow Sansa outside her bedroom, as a warrior Maid.


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2- A warrior Maid in the garden

Before going out in the garden, Sansa dresses warmly, mixing feminine and masculine clothes: dress, trousers and high boots. There are two things to note here, for our purpose.

- The first is that if Sansa is not preparing herself by coquetry, her choice of clothing remains a language in itself: she is no longer a high-ranking damsel at a royal court, nor a princess heir to a kingdom and hostage, she is a warrior who aims for efficiency, as if she were going into battle. Certainly, the first explanation - which fully contributes to GRRMartin's realism - is that the pants and boots are adapted to the weather (and it's reassuring about Sansa's mental state!), but at the same time, the precise details of the clothing do not come out of nowhere: the coat she chooses is made of fox fur and she wears a blue lambskin tunic in Arryn colours, like her aunt Lysa: literally, Sansa is a lamb who dresses like a cunning predator since she wears lambskin under the fox skin. On the other hand, the association of the lamb with the Arryn colours suggests that the real immediate prey could be Lysa herself, competing on her own land, in her castle with a future queen. We would find here an echo anticipating a revelation about Cersei: we learn in AFFC that the regent queen is haunted by an old prophecy predicting the loss of everything she cares about most to a younger and more beautiful queen. In other words, GRRMartin already suggests the same role played by Lysa, Cersei, Catelyn or Sansa: the young will one day replace the old, before being replaced in turn, without fundamentally changing history. Tyrion expressed this idea earlier, before he killed his father:

It all goes back and back, Tyrion thought, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance on in our steads.
(Tyrion X, ASOS)

The tale of Snow White doesn't focus on the princess once she becomes queen: her future is well defined and has already been told through two queen's figures, the evil one who dies wanting power for her, and the kind one who dies just as much but laying down heirs (the moral of the story ensures that she is happy about it, but as Littlefinger would say to Sansa, "life is not a song"). It is this end of the story that GRRMartin seems for me to question hardly, first of all by not making it an end precisely, but another part of the story that awaits the princess, at least as important if not more so. Characters in ASOIAF are trapped in known and unchanged tale's strings (beautifull tales to hear, terrific to live), tales that are written and told by another than themselves. And the truth in them stay untold.

 - The second thing to note is a little more speculative: the figure of the lamb - as the little one of the ram - is associated with all the figures of sheep, rams, goats and other scapegoats, themselves closely associated with bastardisation (the black sheep of the herd, of course). Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton's bastard son, for example, is described as a greedy beast, with a big mouth, and even bears in his name the reference to the ram. Ramsay hides his nature under a luxurious ermine coat. Craster, described as a ram (sheepskin jerkin for pelt, and heavy ring for one horn, grey-white hair, flat nose, aso...), is also a bastard.

Craster's sheepskin jerkin and cloak of sewn skins made a shabby contrast, but around one thick wrist was a heavy ring that had the glint of gold. He looked to be a powerful man, though well into the winter of his days now, his mane of hair grey going to white. A flat nose and a drooping mouth gave him a cruel look (Jon III, ACOK)

Jon Snow, for his part, wins a sheep's wool coat when he is "adopted" by Mance Rayder's wildlings and shares their lives for a while: he is then a wolf dressed as a sheep. Or rather a "crow" (nickname of the Black Guards) disguised as a lamb since his rallying to Mance Rayder is nothing more than a lie and a cover. A black sheep in the true sense of the word.
The fact that Sansa appears as a lamb dressed as a predator would therefore be a way of anchoring her new bastardisation as Alayne Stone in her, or of revealing an original bastardy of the Stark of Winterfell, at the same time as designating her as a victim to be sacrificed.
The link between the Starks and the lamb sacrificed to a wolf is also directly establish in one of Daenerys' visions at the HOTU (I have already quoted the excerpt above, on the theme "silent wolf" or perhaps more precisely inaudible):

Farther on she came upon a feast of corpses. Savagely slaughtered, the feasters lay strewn across overturned chairs and hacked trestle tables, asprawl in pools of congealing blood. Some had lost limbs, even heads. Severed hands clutched bloody cups, wooden spoons, roast fowl, heels of bread. In a throne above them sat a dead man with the head of a wolf. He wore an iron crown and held a leg of lamb in one hand as a king might hold a scepter, and his eyes followed Dany with mute appeal. (Daenerys IV, ACOK)

To finish on the clothing, the blue that Sansa wears is probably not only an Arryn color: it is also the blue of the eyes of the Others, this icy and celestial blue, "the blue of the eyes of death", to use an expression from a Eddard's chapter, when he recalls in his dreams his fight against Arthur Dayne and the death of his sister Lyanna, at the Tower of Joy. Once again, the reader is invited to reliate this episode to what is happening beyond the Wall, beyond death, and to question what may have happened in the Stark's past to make the current fall so severe.


Once dressed, Sansa goes out into the garden of the Eyrie, under the snow: this garden is the center of the castle, it is surrounded by its seven white towers. It is a sacred wood lacking a priori, without a weirwood
 Failing that, it has become a pleasure garden. However, the seven towers that surround it do indeed make it a sacred space: seven is a sacred number in Westeros, symbolizing the Seven faces of the kingdom's official god. Plus, weirwood tree has the specificity of becoming a stone when it dies (due to the absence of sap), and in the saga, other stony places are thus compared to weirwoods... like Winterfell in AGOT:

To a boy, Winterfell was a grey stone labyrinth of walls and towers and courtyards and tunnels spreading out in all directions. In the older parts of the castle, the halls slanted up and down so that you couldn't even be sure what floor you were on. The place had grown over the centuries like some monstrous stone tree, Maester Luwin told him once, and its branches were gnarled and thick and twisted, its roots sunk deep into the earth. (Bran II, AGOT)

In the Iron Islands, there is also an ancient grove of petrified weirwoods, whose only remains are the trunks : the legend tells that they were bones of Nagga, a seadragon, whose bones served as pillars for the royal residence of the ancient Grey King. Also, we should not forget the dying weirwood of Raventree, the birthplace of the "last greenseer", Brynden Rivers, now known as the "Three-Eyed-Crow" and mentor of the young Bran Stark: this weirwood has lost all its leaves, but every evening it attracts thousands of crows and ravens who come to cover it and give it the appearance of a tree with black leaves.
And to finish, the weirwoods are white, like the Eyrie.
In short words, if the Eyrie do not have a weirwood, the place remains symbolically a sacred space, with its seven white towers like petrified trees and its dead queen/fallen goddess in the center: indeed, the statue of Weeping Queen Alyssa Arryn - which fell during the trial between Ser Vardis and Bronn, defending Tyrion Lannister - is still lying there, almost two years later. No one thought of lifting it up, or even getting it out of there. She is half buried under the snow. Should this be seen as a prefiguration of Sansa's sacred mission, as a song heroine, namely to throw down the old queens who cling to their thrones like moulds to their rock when they have soiled them with crimes and sacrileges, and replace them? Is this an anticipation of the fall of Lysa Arryn, which will take place at the end of the chapter? A reminder of Catelyn (who identified herself with Queen Alyssa in AGOT)? An anticipated image of Sansa buried? No doubt there is a little of all this at once, but it is above all, in my opinion, the metaphor of an forsaken and a hidden memory. The memory of a weeping and possible "evil" queen mixed with a fallen bastard.


So let's go up a few lines higher, when Sansa comes out:

When she opened the door to the garden, it was so lovely that she held her breath, unwilling to disturb such perfect beauty. The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.

The colours are Stark, and particularly of the Stark wolves. The loss of his wolf, which at first sight excluded Sansa from the Stark pack, may explain why her very first impression is that she is an intruder. It can also be interpreted as Sansa's desire for life, that does not fit into this colorless world, a dead world, perhaps the true face of Winterfell. Or, all this snow indicates the territory of "Winter" the bastard.... "pure-blood" (and trueborn ?), and if Sansa feels excluded from it - like Jon who feels excluded from Winterfell in his dreams - it may be a way for suggesting that Stark and "Winter" do not have the same origin; or/and that there is a (sibling) rivalry between them since the beginning, fratricidal struggle being one of the most important themes of the saga. Bastard brother vs legitimate brother. Blackfyre vs Targaryen, for example.
However, this does not prevent Sansa from entering this "pure world", where she feels displaced:

Yet she stepped out all the same. Her boots tore ankle-deep holes into the smooth white surface of the snow, yet made no sound. Sansa drifted past frosted shrubs and thin dark trees, and wondered if she were still dreaming. Drifting snowflakes brushed her face as light as lover's kisses, and melted on her cheeks. At the center of the garden, beside the statue of the weeping woman that lay broken and half-buried on the ground, she turned her face up to the sky and closed her eyes. She could feel the snow on her lashes, taste it on her lips. It was the taste of Winterfell. The taste of innocence. The taste of dreams.

When Sansa opened her eyes again, she was on her knees. She did not remember falling.

 Her gesture of tasting the falling snow is similar to a communion and pursues the idea of the Eyrie as an image of Winterfell, explicitly this time. Eyrie have the colour of Winterfell, the smell of Winterfell, the taste of Winterfell... but they are not Winterfell for Sansa, who still imagines herself in the dream she woke up from a few moments before!
It should be noted that this communion will be found in another form with other characters: in ADWD, Bran Stark, her little brother, is led to eat a paste of weirwood germs, in order to be able to "marry" his own weirwood and connect to it: if the paste is bitter at the first bite, the following ones will remind him of past happiness and Winterfell in particular. In AFFC, it is Arya who will have to ingest a special initiation mixture: it too will have a happy Winterfell taste, after the bitterness of the first bite (we could see here an exploration of the theme of the grail, but it would add to many things to my already long long long stuff about Snow White's theme !).
For Sansa, the contact is both, lighter but also much more immediate and obvious, but it differs mainly in the fact that snowflakes are here compared to the kisses of a lover:

 Drifting snowflakes brushed her face as light as lover's kisses, and melted on her cheeks.

And there, we fully rediscover our Snow White dreaming of her prince charming, one of Sansa's characteristics all along her narrative arc. A dream that always comes up against a reality that is at best disappointing and at worst terrifying: these metaphorical kisses have an immediate consequence, namely the fall of Sansa to her knees, next to the broken statue. They thus reverse the image of the kiss that awakens the sleeping princess: here, kisses attract into the black, white and grey world of the dead. In addition, on her knees, Sansa regained her position as Joffrey's battered betrothed, while in ACOK, in the center of the Red Keep courtyard, one of the knights of the Royal Guard had struck the back of her legs with the flat sword, so that she would bow before King Joffrey, who made her undress. Plus, at her wedding with Tyrion, Sansa showed her disagreement with a single gesture: the refusal to kneel down to be covered with the Lannister coat. The fundamental difference is the consent : in the Eyrie, she gives her consent to the bastard lover.
 With memory and dream, what emerges in the background (following the interpretation) is a couple formed by the "winter" bastard and a warrior Maid. Florian and Jonquil ? Question : were the bastard always a winter figure, or did he become one after his fall ? Or after a treason (treason is also an important theme in ASOIAF) ? This chapter won't answer to this, so let's return to Sansa.
 The kneeling position is also for prayer, and in the center of the sanctuarized Eyrie garden, Sansa physically and symbolically takes the place of the statue of Alyssa Arryn; their roads have also led Bran and Arya into sanctuaries, underground for their part. She becomes the new queen and new goddess of the place, probably not for happyness, despite the lover's kisses, but for many tears.

It seemed to her that the sky was a lighter shade of grey. Dawn, she thought. Another day. Another new day. It was the old days she hungered for. Prayed for. But who could she pray to? The garden had been meant for a godswood once, she knew, but the soil was too thin and stony for a weirwood to take root. A godswood without gods, as empty as me.

We find the feeling of emptiness in Arya, the little sister, who has also been separated from her wolf but dreams of her every night. The Stark survivors of their family's disaster are all facing the same problem: the gestation of a new identity. The mention of the gods is not insignificant here, since it is indeed a question for them of incarnating a divinity, at least on a symbolic level - the Manyfaced god for Arya, the Maiden for Sansa (it is a specificity of GRRMartin not to decide in his saga on the existence or not of the gods: the divine "incarnations" of the saga are as symbolic as they are real, and above all, they are completely unconscious on the part of the characters and do not imply a higher power, or a superheroism: they only are (re)playing old legends).
 Never mind, little Sansa, the Eyrie are the ideal place to build your sanctuary, no one occupies it! No one, really? Yet there is this snow, this bastard who gives lovers' kisses from Winterfell, which allows us to consider a new inversion of the tale's schema: it is not the princess who died and was buried, but her Prince Promised, and it is he who awaits his awakening and freedom; or failing that, tries to attract the princess to him by offering her the ice kiss, a deadly kiss. An inversion found in two images of Jon Snow on the Wall, one through visions of Bran in his coma, and the other from Daenerys during the visit in the HOTU:

Finally he looked north. He saw the Wall shining like blue crystal, and his bastard brother Jon sleeping alone in a cold bed, his skin growing pale and hard as the memory of all warmth fled from him. (Bran III, AGOT)

A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. (Daenerys IV, ACOK)

Knowing that Winterfell is adjacent to the great and ancient forest called the Wolfwood, and that immediately at the foot of the Wall, on the northern slope, the Haunted Forest begins, the image of the sleeping Snow White is doubled by that of a Sleeping Beauty (the Prince) in the Wood. A wood with thorns and... how curious, at the Wall, we found the "old pome granate" (Bowen Marsh) and ser Alliser Thorne ! And at Kings landing, the family with the thorny rose and grand'ma "queen of Thorns".

 The grey dawn don't announce better days, finally, nor the awakening of the promised prince, but on the contrary a more fateful dawn, a dawn placed under a sky with Stark colours. The promise of a cold and black tomb for the princess. Or a trial against an evil and for long dead queen and... who else ?


Next post : we will see what Sansa will do with snow.

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@Seams, @OtherFromAnotherMother, thanks to you, and a pleasure to see you again !

The stuff wasn't really ready last december : ideas were here, but confused and badly organized. For example, this time, I won't speak about Lightbringer - which is not the central subject (despite it's also very interesting) - but following Snow White inside her coffin, I will explore some others tales/myths that GRRM knows very well, like Beauty and the Beast or Orpheus ^^


I didn't notice it, but obviously, Lyanna Stark is also a figure of warrior Maid who ends as a Sleeping (dead) Beauty, with thorny roses in the hand. Disney's Sleeping Beauty is lying with a rose in the hand and is called Rose when she's hidden with the good fairies; in some variations of the story, the princess dies after she touched a thorn hidden in flowers, like in Tchaïkovsky; in Grimm's version, the princess receives the name "thorny little Rose" "Dornröschen". And Lyanna gives birth to a bastard. What is also interesting with some complete versions of the tale of Sleeping Beauty, is that she is raped when she sleeps and gives birth to little prince(s) (and princess) : in other words, she gives heirs to the hero/prince/king who raped her.

I don't tell more for the moment, only for suspens !

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On 12/20/2017 at 5:53 PM, GloubieBoulga said:
"It's there, beside Alyssa's Tears. All you can see from here is a flash of white every now and then, if you look hard and the sun hits the walls just right."
Seven towers, Ned had told her, like white daggers thrust into the belly of the sky, so high you can stand on the parapets and look down on the clouds.(Catelyn VI AGOT)


On 12/20/2017 at 5:53 PM, GloubieBoulga said:

Sansa's chapter will show same mix where up=down.

I wanted to offer a couple of connections that strike me. Don't feel obligated to comment on these, because they are tangents and not central to your Snow White topic.

I have been working on a slow re-read of A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the Dunk & Egg stories. The "up = down" observation fits with the author's use of the place called Cold Moat and The Wall - the moat around the castle, filled with water diverted from food crops needed by the small folk, is compared to the giant ice Wall that looms somewhere to the north of the setting for The Sworn Sword story. I am reading that story one more time before I write down all of my thoughts, but I am thrilled that you are making a similar "up = down" analysis of The Eyrie and the Winterfell crypt.

The other potential Dunk & Egg connection I see in your analysis may have to do with this idea of the "flash" that reveals the transition from life to death or

On 12/20/2017 at 5:53 PM, GloubieBoulga said:

In ASOIAF, "gates" are passages from one world to another and the character who passes through a door changes his/her "state" in the same time.

This moment in The Sworn Sword marks the death of a character who is stabbed by a dagger at the same time his killer "drowns" in a stream:


The weight of his armor pulled him down until his shoulder bumped the streambed. If that is down the other way is up. . . .

Dunk fumbled at his sword belt. Have I lost the dagger too? he wondered. No, there it was. His hand closed round the hilt and he wrenched it free, and drove it slowly through the churning water, through the iron rings and boiled leather beneath the arm of Lucas the Longinch, turning it as he pushed. Ser Lucas jerked and twisted, and the strength left him. Dunk shoved away and floated. His chest was on fire. A fish flashed past his face, long and white and slender. What's that? he wondered. What's that? What's that?

So your insights about the Eyrie - the author's comparison of the castle to daggers and the flash of white - are very helpful as I continue to work on Dunk & Egg.

18 hours ago, GloubieBoulga said:

. . . Sansa is not preparing herself by coquetry, her choice of clothing remains a language in itself: she is no longer a high-ranking damsel at a royal court, nor a princess heir to a kingdom and hostage, she is a warrior who aims for efficiency, as if she were going into battle. . . . the coat she chooses is made of fox fur and she wears a blue lambskin tunic in Arryn colours, like her aunt Lysa: literally, Sansa is a lamb who dresses like a cunning predator since she wears lambskin under the fox skin.

I would suggest an additional interpretation or layer of interpretation for Sansa's choice of clothing here. In ASOIAF, in addition to the House Arryn colors, the color blue is often associated with sapphires and with Brienne of Tarth. The Eyrie is built with marble quarried and shipped from Tarth (The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: The Eyrie). The woman warrior connection is strengthened by seeing Sansa choosing to wear Brienne's colors here. The lambskin might also allude to Brienne's training from Ser Goodwin, the master-at-arms at Evenfall: to help her get past her aversion to killing, he advised her to help with the slaughter of lambs.

But I suspect there is another Dunk & Egg / Sworn Sword connection as well: Lysa and Catelyn and Sansa are known for their beautiful auburn hair. When Lysa's youthful beauty diminishes, her hair remains fiery and beautiful. One of Catelyn's last thoughts is, "Don't cut my hair!" Littlefinger has Sansa dye her hair as part of her Alayne disguise. (I'm sure there is a pun on "dye" and "die".)

In The Sworn Sword, the young red widow, Rohanne Webber (whose sigil is a spider in a web), has long, red hair that she wears in a braid. Her hair is compared to a rope that chokes and binds her. At the end of the story, Dunk cuts her braid and takes the end of her long hair as a souvenir of their interaction. Is Sansa dying her hair similar to Rohanne being freed from her long hair? Is Sansa removing her silver and amethyst hair net similar to Rohanne being freed from her spider web?

Of course, Dany has her hair burned off in the funeral pyre and Cersei's hair is cut off by the septas who oversee her imprisonment. Arya's hair is cut by Yoren as he disguises her as the orphan boy, Arry. In each case, the loss of change of hair may signal a transition to warrior or a liberation of the woman who had been caught in a web.

As I say, these are just observations leading away from your central focus on Snow White. I love it when one analysis leads to another, though, so I hope you don't mind me jotting down these thoughts here.


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9 minutes ago, Seams said:

I wanted to offer a couple of connections that strike me. Don't feel obligated to comment on these, because they are tangents and not central to your Snow White topic.

Thanks for comment, you're welcome, and I have no problem with that ^^. It's also often hard for me not to take the tangent ! And with GRRM, we have many occasions to take it. :D

About the "up=down", I recall that one of your threads gave me the idea, so... i think I only replaced it in a litterar context regarding the common trope of the "catabasis" (= the way to the underworld, the kingdom of the dead, like Odysseus, Aeneas, Hercules or Orpheus)

21 minutes ago, Seams said:

I would suggest an additional interpretation or layer of interpretation for Sansa's choice of clothing here. In ASOIAF, in addition to the House Arryn colors, the color blue is often associated with sapphires and with Brienne of Tarth. The Eyrie is built with marble quarried and shipped from Tarth (The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: The Eyrie). The woman warrior connection is strengthened by seeing Sansa choosing to wear Brienne's colors here. The lambskin might also allude to Brienne's training from Ser Goodwin, the master-at-arms at Evenfall: to help her get past her aversion to killing, he advised her to help with the slaughter of lambs.

Yes, I won't speak about Brienne, but the connection is obvious, so you can developp it as many as you want ! Also Brienne is dreaming about a prince and a happy life with a strong husband and children. But she hates roses as she hates lies. And during her quest (looking for Sansa), she pretends to be looking for her sister.

The hairs as a web are well observed : long hairs are strings, in a way. They are a part of the disguise.

Further in the study of the chapter, I'll connect Sansa with Asha Greyjoy, who has short hairs too.

And now, it's time to continue :



3- The prayers of the "snow Maid"

Sansa not knowing exactly who to pray to, however, does not remain idle. She starts by making snowballs reminding her of the games with Bran and Arya:

She remembered a summer's snow in Winterfell when Arya and Bran had ambushed her as she emerged from the keep one morning. They'd each had a dozen snowballs to hand, and she'd had none. Bran had been perched on the roof of the covered bridge, out of reach, but Sansa had chased Arya through the stables and around the kitchen until both of them were breathless. She might even have caught her, but she'd slipped on some ice. Her sister came back to see if she was hurt. When she said she wasn't, Arya hit her in the face with another snowball, but Sansa grabbed her leg and pulled her down and was rubbing snow in her hair when Jory came along and pulled them apart, laughing.

I will dwell for a moment on this anecdote, typical of others regularly scattering the saga and who, under their innocuous and gratuitous appearance, hide different degrees of reading, often to anticipate important events in the story, but not only (long ago, I had evoked Yoren anticipating the death of Catelyn, the Hound and the Mountain, when he was explaining to Arya that he never lost a man, except 3 times – that's in Arya III, ACOK). It is possible here that the little story tells of the two sisters' future and not so cordial reunion, in Winterfell, under the gaze of a Bran out of reach because installed forever under his hill ("fell", present in Winterfell, can also mean "the hill"), in his nest throne of weirwood's roots. Rickon's absence could mean that he would never return to Winterfell or that he would be dead, like Robb. The confrontation - in which Sansa ends up taking over by deception - is interrupted by the character who comes closest to a knight and a father figure for girls: could Eddard's spirit manifest itself in one way or another and call on the two sisters to stop their quarrels? Eddard, in AGOT, explains to Arya that his quarrels with his sister are "summer quarrels", close to the games, but that when Winter comes, they must be forgotten in favour of solidarity in the siblings. Sansa's memories take her back to those summer disputing games, where we find a fleeing Arya (as in her very first chapter) and a Sansa chasing her (as in her very first chapter too). Hunter or prey in turn.

 However, there is another possible interpretation, which links the scene to the past history that the whole chapter seems to me to evoke: there, Arya should no longer be seen as the little girl Arya Stark, but we have to consider her androgynous side as well as her naive questions and those of Sansa about her possible bastardy (Arya physically looks like Jon Snow); in this configuration, Arya and Sansa would represent the bastard-maid couple, a couple formed in their childhood, as brother and sister, which is reminiscent of another incestuous couple in the saga, namely Cersei and Jaime, or the very strong affection that bound Jon and Arya, who is not an incest but whose possibility has been subtly suggested through the ties that the two characters forge on their own: Ygrid, Jon's first love, reminds him of Arya in the distance; as for Arya, she finds with Gendry a complicity known only with Jon.

 Finally, Bran, ambushed and out of reach, would represent a third character, interested in the maid (he also has his snowballs to bomb her) but not paid back (the three-way game turns almost immediately into a chase between two of the players), and for good reason, because a greenseer is cut off from the world... and there are surely better way to flirt.

What do I want with snowballs? She looked at her sad little arsenal. There's no one to throw them at. She let the one she was making drop from her hand. I could build a snow knight instead, she thought. Or even . . .

 The sudden return to the present suggests that the couple has been separated. Having no play partner, Sansa then thinks of making a snow knight: we are still in the warrior register, but our Maid has just taken a first step towards abandoning what she wants at the very beginning (and what she is): when we are a princess in distress and are as fond of songs and stories as Sansa can be, we devilishly want to call a brave knight to help us, to fight in our place. It would not be the first time, since when she was a hostage in the Red Keep, Sansa asked in the godswood for a knight... and the answer was positive, although it did not correspond at all to her idea of it.


 However, what will materialize under Sansa's hands is not a knight, whose idea she quickly abandons: it is a castle and more precisely Winterfell. Winterfell arrived in its misty form, and rebuilt in snow and ice in the courtyard of the Eyrie, who took the colors Stark for the occasion: white, grey and black. Winter - Winter? - comes at the time of the wolf, of course. But worse than that: it is presented here as a misguided desire, a "fault of better", which suggests that the ancient Maid got a castle where she wanted an equal partner (a true friend and perhaps lover) like the snow battle game shared between Sansa and Arya. The newly erected castle would thus represent the lordish or royal power, that of the "Father", and therefore a wedding with the lord of the place... and a descent. Sansa was also to become the wife of the prince and then king Joffrey, for his misfortune. Before she was kidnapped by Petyr Baelish playing surrogate fathers, she had been forced to marry the dwarf Tyrion Lannister while King Joffrey wanted to offer her as a wedding gift the head of her brother Robb, the "young wolf", kind of incarnation of a "Warrior" wearing a crown.

 We find this pattern with Daenerys' narrative arc, which goes from a partnership (which does not start at all on an equal footing, moreover) with Khal Drogo, to the search of an army of warriors dedicated to her service, then to a queen's place at the top of a pyramid, before she is forced to a wedding that ends by denaturing his "dragon's blood" (as a queen, Daenerys became a monstruous mother who smothers two of her dragon-children, like Lysa Arryn could smother little Robert). Lyanna Stark, for her part, playing incognito against three knights at the Harrenhal tournament, had escaped the wedding to Lord Robert Baratheon by fleeing with the minstrel prince Rhaegar Targaryen only to die in childbirth, "prisoner" in a tower.

The snow knight first imagined by Sansa (but not truly realized) also takes on a curious resonance since he can be both a bastard knight and an Other. The parallel with the Others is also present on Daenerys' side, when she tries to build her army: using an ambiguous formulation (in the original text), GRRMartin compares them to the Unsullied (these are also described as perfect instruments devoid of feelings and even insensitive to the slightest pain, like the bodies animated by the Others):

Others may be stronger or quicker or larger than the Unsullied. Some few may even equal their skill with sword and spear and shield. But nowhere between the seas will you ever find any more obedient. (Daenerys II, ASOS)

Through Sansa, GRRM seems to retrace the tragic story of an ancient Maid, linked to the creation of the Others after the loss of his partner - a bastard who could have worn a crown because of his blood (and who may have claimed it unlike Jon Snow). If Daenerys will build up her army and become a conqueror, Sansa moves directly to the "castle building" phasis (I must precise that I'm not decided with the Others : it's for me only one of the different hypothesis that I have about them, and that I won't explore here, if I want to stay with my Snow White exploration !). As I'm evoking Snow White, let's tell that Sansa stay right in the same part : after her burial, the Prince/king of her dreams awakes her and takes her to his castle, wher she became a queen.


 But now, let's look at this Winterfell of snow, this silent but devilishly effective prayer, which tells several stories on its own.

She pushed two of her snowballs together, added a third, packed more snow in around them, and patted the whole thing into the shape of a cylinder. When it was done, she stood it on end and used the tip of her little finger to poke holes in it for windows. The crenellations around the top took a little more care, but when they were done she had a tower.

Its first element is a tower: first a cylinder shaped with snowballs, lying down, then upright. It is a phallic symbol: it corresponds to Sansa's previous desire to shape himself into a protective knight, but it also corresponds to Winterfell's real origins: before being a great fortress, it was originally a tower. The tower is the usual place of confinement and death for women who sought true independence for a time, like those we regularly find in the saga: Eddard finds his sister Lyanna dying in a tower; Ariane Martell is locked in a tower by her father who wants to be the only master on board (her chapter in AFFC is called "The Princess in the Tower"); Sansa herself, when she is held hostage by the Lannisters after rejecting her father's authority, is held at the top of a tower in Maegor's holdfast; Ashara Dayne threw herself off a tower, and in the legend of Bael the Bard, which runs north of the Wall, this is also the case of a princess Stark, in love with Bael. The list is obviously not exhaustive.

However, Sansa has an active role here: it is she who builds the tower, then the castle as an extension, imitating the legendary Bran the Builder. It is therefore possible to read not only the misfortunes of a "princess" prisoner, but also Sansa's inner strength, already recalled in the pants she wears, as well as her desire for battles and knights. Sansa is a figure of the Maid who aspires to (be?) the Warrior, and often takes on the role, especially when she dons her "courtesy armor" and practices court dances and spiritual and verbal games. If she doesn't wield a physical sword, Sansa has other weapons that are related to it. Note that the aspiration to the Warrior is shared by Cersei Lannister, the evil queen.

 She pushed two of her snowballs together, added a third, packed more snow in around them, and patted the whole thing into the shape of a cylinder. When it was done, she stood it on end and used the tip of her little finger to poke holes in it for windows. The crenellations around the top took a little more care, but when they were done she had a tower. I need some walls now, Sansa thought, and then a keep.

 The "walls" that Sansa wants could refer to the Wall, the one supposed to protect the "human kingdoms" from Others (and other living people, by the way, which perhaps is one of the primitive goal of the Wall); as for the "little finger" (= "Littlefinger") that pierces the windows, it is a clear allusion to Petyr Baelish - nicknamed Littlefinger - and expert in spying. He is posed as a participant (inspirer?) in the construction of the castle and the burial of the princess under its stones (=Alayne Stone), unless it is only a limited access that Sansa allows him. Littlefinger's personal coat of arms is a mockingbird and its association with the tower windows is not gratuitous: it's through the window of a Winterfell's tower that Bran, the future greenseer, surprises the incest between Queen Cersei and Jaime (and consequently Joffrey's, Tommen's and Myrcella's bastardy); it is from a window that Littlefinger points to Eddard a number of spies who monitor the actions of the Hand. The window, like the door, is an open eye on hidden truths, a symbolic third eye, and therefore an instrument of power, but also the promise of a vertiginous fall: from these openings, one falls or takes flight, and sometimes both at once, like the little Bran. So we find in the vicinity of this snowy Winterfell - protection/prison of a princess and tomb of a bastard - the discreet presence of a greenseer.


The snow fell and the castle rose.

Na. It's the node. The text couldn't be clearier.

In other words, there is indeed a death at the origin of Winterfell - which will be confirmed later, in a vision of Bran through the heartree of Winterfell, in ADWD, where going back in time, he sees the first bloody sacrifice at the feet of the still young weirwood. And where Brandon Stark taste the blood. The scene with Sansa offers other snippets of this story and the possibility of formulating a hypothesis about the identity of the sacrified man.

It also seems to me that with this image given by the text of snow taking the form of Winterfell almost alone (the snow fell and the castle rose), without the intervention of human hands, we find a reference to the legendary Brandon the Builder, the ancestor of the Stark lineage, the one who is reputed to have founded Winterfell, but also built the Wall - to protect the world from Others - and to whom we also attribute the construction of other fortresses of a magical nature, among others Storms End, the seat of the Baratheon. Brandon the Builder was reputed to have benefited from the magic of the Forest Children, which allows the reader to assume that he was a greenseer. Possibly the Brandon Stark who tasted the blood of the fallen bastard ?

 At this point in the saga, the real Winterfell was partially destroyed by the legitimized bastard Ramsay Snow, then refused by Jon Snow, another (not legitimized) bastard. And it is in snow that Sansa rebuilds her Winterfell at the Eyrie. It is very tempting to see the indication that Sansa will one day own the real rebuilding of Winterfell, and that this scene would only be a dress rehearsal (and GRRM obviously plays with the reader's desire that some Stark may take revenge on the tragedy that struck them), but this end seems too optimistic and contradicts other numerous clues scattered elsewhere in the text, which argue for a definitive destruction of Winterfell, a drowning under snow or water (snow being only an icy version of water; this could also give consistency to the Drowned God and his feasts). I therefore prefer to see in the building of this snowy Winterfell the revelation (unconscious for Sansa) that the true masters of the castle are no longer the Starks, but a once sacrificed bastard. A bastard whose true story has been deliberately forgotten. Did the Ancient Maid dream of marrying this ancient bastard, and would she have married a king instead? A king of the North who could even owe him his title and legitimacy? Like legitimized Ramsay Bolton can claim to be "true Lord of Winterfell" by his marriage to the unfortunate little girl who is passed off as Arya Stark?

In ADWD, the snowstorm in Winterfell (where Ramsay and the fake Arya are married) and in Wolfwood seems to be a concrete manifestation of this fact. But there are already in AGOT ironic (and double meaning) allusions to the fact that "bastards" are true kings: they are generally interpreted as clues fo Jon Snow's Targaryen ancestry, which they are indeed, but not only, especially if we consider that Jon replays himself and in his way an old score.

Robert snorted. "Bogs and forests and fields, and scarcely a decent inn north of the Neck. I've never seen such a vast emptiness. Where are all your people?"

"Likely they were too shy to come out," Ned jested. He could feel the chill coming up the stairs, a cold breath from deep within the earth. "Kings are a rare sight in the north."

Robert snorted. "More likely they were hiding under the snow. Snow, Ned!" The king put one hand on the wall to steady himself as they descended. (Eddard I, AGOT)

 Eddard and King Robert visit Winterfell's crypts, and the sentence is turned so that what is "hiding under the snow" can be the people of the north or a king. In any case, this amounts to saying that the kingship of the Stark is symbolically fake. Robert (the throne's "robber") and the Lannisters (Lannister have also an origin's story made of robbery; at least, for them, it's not a secret !) take it for their rank later, when Arya is hunting cats in the Red Keep:

One by one Arya had chased them down and snatched them up and brought them proudly to Syrio Forel … all but this one, this one-eared black devil of a tomcat. "That's the real king of this castle right there," one of the gold cloaks had told her. "Older than sin and twice as mean. One time, the king was feasting the queen's father, and that black bastard hopped up on the table and snatched a roast quail right out of Lord Tywin's fingers. Robert laughed so hard he like to burst. You stay away from that one, child." (Arya III, AGOT)

 Incidentally, the "black bastard" will indirectly lead the warrior-maid Arya to the cellar where the skulls of the Targaryan dragons are stored, and to the couple formed by the "spider" Varys, Master of Whispers of the King's Council, and his friend Illyrio Mopatis (who organized the sale of the princess Daenerys Targaryen to the terrible horselord khal Drogo). Varys and Illyrio, two characters who share strong symbolic characteristics with the greenseers, like Littlefinger does. In a way, Arya also will discover - without knowing it - some characters of the original story of Winterfell.

 Basically, we can now resume in few words a part of this story : a greenseer wanted a princess who wanted a bastard. The bastard died and the princess was promised, by the greenseer prince's love, to happiness (or revenge) with castle and power, for her and her heirs. But she only found death. Plus, all the following building of the snow castle will tell us how the blood of the bastard helped to raise it. And consequently, that Winterfell was built with a stolen blood. Mayhaps the warrior-maid committed a treason toward the bastard.


4 - The Frozen Princess

She found twigs and fallen branches beneath the snow and broke off the ends to make the trees for the godswood. For the gravestones in the lichyard she used bits of bark. Soon her gloves and her boots were crusty white, her hands were tingling, and her feet were soaked and cold, but she did not care.

It is therefore under the slabs of the cemetery and near the sacred wood that the burial ends: Sansa is covered with snow at the ends and the blood has deserted them.

Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snows. 

The grey dawn that has risen and precedes a day that is not much more colourful does not prefigure the "battle of the dawn" that must overcome the eternal winter, but represents a false "dawn", an illusion where the "queen of Spring" never returns among the living to fertilize the world (like the waterfall "Alyssa's Tears" do not reach the Vale and therefore do not fertilize it), but remains there to become the queen of snow, sorry, the "Maid of Snow". The idea of the abduction of the Maid is here explicit and not new in the saga since beyond the Wall, this abduction is practiced openly before any union between a man and a woman. The most favourable period is when the star of the Thief is located in the constellation of the Moon Maid.
One could suppose that our princess found her beloved bastard in death, but the grey dawn that enters the garden uninvited suggests that this death was withdrawn against a promise of reign and a new day. In this case, Sansa was indeed "kidnapped" from the Red Keep in the middle of the night, by Dontos the fool knight, handled by Littlefinger: she went through the sacred woods and reached Littlefinger's boat at dawn thinking he would take her back home.
The colours of the dawn are indeed totally "winterfellian", with the grey, white and dark green of the Haunted Forest or Wolfwood in winter; we are far from spring, summer, life and it is precisely life that Sansa desires, as evidenced by her memories of a happy childhood... and summer. Everything that Winterfell can no longer offer her anyway. Our Snow White is looking for a new and real home. Her snow castle expresses this aspiration, and at the same time reproduces a characteristic feature of Sansa's character: lying down and burying herself under blankets, and sleeping to wake up only during the day, once the monsters have disappeared. Or when her prince comes.


Once the construction of the castle is well advanced, the whole thing begins to come to life, or rather tries to do so, but without success.
In reality, this semblance of life comes from the inhabitants of the Eyrie who appear more or less stealthily in the windows to look at what she is doing, as if eyes were opening and closing (for example, maester Colemon "popps"). The text remains ambiguous about these apparitions: it never specifies whether people are at the Eyrie or Winterfell windows.

She was patting down the pitched roof of the Great Hall when she heard a voice, and looked up to see her maid calling from her window. Was my lady well? Did she wish to break her fast? Sansa shook her head, and went back to shaping snow, adding a chimney to one end of the Great Hall, where the hearth would stand inside.

Yes, you have read "the hearth inside": you can literally see inside Winterfell. As it is physically impossible, the magic of the words tells us how Sansa transformed the Eyrie into Winterfell and appropriated them. Even Lysa Arryn, lady of the Eyrie, seems to be giving way:

Sansa saw Lady Lysa gazing down from her balcony, wrapped up in a blue velvet robe trimmed with fox fur, but when she looked again her aunt was gone.

The blue - the Arryn colour - stands out in this scene of Stark colours: Lysa is then all the more the Stranger (another of the Seven), that blue is also the dominant colour of the Others, of their eyes, of intense cold and death, and that Winterfell and the Wall were erected to protect the human kingdoms (but especially the Stark, at all times) from these Others. On the other hand, the fox is repeatedly associated with a particular character: the cunning Tywin Lannister, Cersei's father. The threat represented by the figure of Lysa is not a fantasy here: here she is associated with both Cersei Lannister and the Others. And like the others, Lysa has the ability to appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Let us remember, however, that Sansa also wears blue (hidden under her coat), as well as fox: she therefore poses as a direct rival of Lysa Arryn but also as her double... and as a partner of the Others. In other words, the character of Lysa can be read as an old Sansa, buried in her castle for several years and ruling over the dead, and her flash appearance-disappearance at her window plays the role of a warning to the young princess, a sad truth briefly revealed by a third eye.
 Sansa is not a candid and harmless maid: her virginity is as deadly as the experience of the old queens. She also claims to be sovereign - and this is what her birth was intended for her from the very first appearance in the saga - but the price to pay for this makes her a fool's bargain: if you look at Lysa's story, in the end, they did not live happily and did not have many children. In the tale, Snow White did not choose her prince, he is the one who imposes himself to her.  

 And precisely, now that the castle has made good progress and has its queen, the suitors can enter the scene, to try to appropriate or liberate the princess ! That will be the subjet of the 2nd part, with the LF's and Sweet Robin's entrances.

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1 hour ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Basically, we can now resume in few words a part of this story : a greenseer wanted a princess who wanted a bastard. The bastard died and the princess was promised, by the greenseer prince's love, to happiness (or revenge) with castle and power, for her and her heirs. But she only found death. Plus, all the following building of the snow castle will tell us how the blood of the bastard helped to raise it. And consequently, that Winterfell was built with a stolen blood. Mayhaps the warrior-maid committed a treason toward the bastard.

Wow! This is another near match for the plot of The Sworn Sword. Rohanne was in love with the squire, Addam Osgrey. He died and she married many times but never for love. Finally, she had a deadline for marriage or else she would lose her castle and power. It looked as if she would be forced to marry her castellan, who was a giant and a monster and a gatekeeper who kept other suitors away from Rohanne. Instead, the castellan is slain, Rohanne is able to leave her castle to visit Addam's grave, and she is able to marry Addam's father. (For the moment, anyway. Other marriages will follow.) Addam's father had originally owned Rohanne's castle but he lost it when he committed treason. (Although the story makes clear that treason is defined by the winning side - if his side had won, Rohanne's father would have been the traitor.)

I look forward to your next insights!

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Ok, that's fine, we will see giant and monster too, and gatekeeper, and I don't tell no more about it. :thumbsup:

The speculative part, that I won't evoke at all, is that I believe that the "ancient maid" awaked form her deadly sleep after she gave birth to some children. And she fled in Essos with her own skinchanger powers and became the very first "mother of dragons", at the origins of Valyria (but it also works if it is a daughter or a son of this "ancient maid"). And finally, Targaryen and Stark of Winterfell could have a shared origin. In other words, Sansa tells the first part of the story, and Daenerys the second part. Daenerys at Winterfell, that would be a come back ! ^^

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And now the ball begins :



1- "Come into my castle"

"Come into my castle" is a game played by children from fieffed or wealthy families that allows them to learn the names and coats of arms of different lineages. It associates the castle with the lineage, with a particular blood, so that entering the princess' castle is equivalent to the foundation of a new lineage or the appropriation of the "blood" carried by this princess. The legend of Lann the Clever - legendary ancestor of the Lannisters - perfectly illustrates this fact in one of its variants told in The World of Ice and Fire. Lann would have broken into the Casterly Fortress (Casterly Roc), slept with the king's daughters, before taking over Casterly Roc and founding the Lannister dynasty. In AGOT, another quoted legend reports this time that the golden blonde of the Lannisters did not come from the Casterly but from the fact that Lann stole rays from the sun ; "sun of my days" and "moon of my nights" is the couple formed by khal Drogo and Daenerys, which by extension could suggest that Lann stole the "power" of a "prince promised" to a princess (a casterly princess), and that he married the princess in question. Just as a parenthesis, the bride/wife stolen by a hero/god is a common theme that we find in Hercules' legend : Hercules is the son of queen Alcmene, Amphitryon's wife. She loved her husband and the god Zeus took the appearance of Amphitryon to bed with her (in Excalibur movie, Uther Pendragon uses same tricks to bed with Ygerne, Gorloet's wife. Excalibur movie is following some medieval variations about Arthur's legend).
 The trick don't bring dishonor nor misfortune, on the contrary : normally, the children became heroes and/or kings, or gods.
 But not really with GRRM : we find the schema of the tricky man who captures a princess inside her own castle and "founds" a dynasty in the story of Bael the Bard: Bael had taken up a challenge from King Stark (a certain Brandon, father of only one child, a daughter), entering Winterfell under a false name - Sigerryk "the deceiver" - and singing there all evening for the king. The charmed king had offered him the "most beautiful rose of his glass garden", Bael had kidnapped the princess, remained hidden with her in the crypts until she reappeared with a son... that the sick king had then recognized for his heir. We'll find the glass garden with Sansa.
 Bael is a singer and with the false name he chooses, he places himself on the side of lying birds. Lann is nicknamed the "clever" and this is precisely the word that the fool Patchface chose in his first appearance, to describe a great white raven, a man... and a fool :

"Clever bird, clever man, clever clever fool," said Patchface, jangling. "Oh, clever clever clever fool." He began to sing. "The shadows come to dance, my lord, dance my lord, dance my lord," he sang, hopping from one foot to the other and back again. (Prologue, ACOK)

(Remember the dancing shadows, we will speak about enchanting dance further, when we'll study the scene with Lysa). I won't here developp Patchface's stuff, it would bring me to far from my subject (but you can speculate about the "clever fool" and the "foolish wise man" mocked by a red and birdy Melisandre !), but I will keep the trio : bird, man and fool.

Bird, man and fool are thus associated for their trick. This will be the case in the saga about Mance Rayder (who will disguise himself as Abel the Bard to infiltrate Winterfell incognito and remove the fake Arya Stark from the Bolton), but also about Jon Snow and his wolf, also associated with thief figures and weirwoods (the Ghost Wolf is white with red eyes, weirwood's colours, and qualified as "clever" by Dolourous Edd). Jon himself, as nightwatcher, is a "crow", a black bird.
At the end of the Sansa's chapter we are analyzing, Littlefinger will be said "clever" by Lysa. To kidnap Sansa, he used the fallen knight Dontos (=the man), who became an official fool at Joffrey's court in exchange for his life (and who played Florian the Fool in love with his Jonquil to be better listened to by the girl who loved songs and stories). At the end, the foolish man is killed by Littlefinger's man, with a crossbow (carrels, like arrows, have penns, so I see special "bird's weapons").
So we have, in addition to the sacrificed bastard and the princess, the greenseer ("clever" man-bird-fool-tree) who desires her. Here he comes in:

"Pack the snow around a stick, Sansa."

Petyr Baelish, aka, Littlefinger, the lord protector of the Vale, husband of Lysa Arryn, responsible for the fall of Eddard Stark and the kidnapping of his daughter. "The mockingbird" who took his "protégé" into an eagle's nest ("Eyrie" means "eagle's nest"). The mockingbird is the coat of arms chosen by Petyr Baelish (and in Baelish, there is "Bael").
 Our princess hears him speak before seeing him and immediately wonders how long he has been observing him, which places him on the side of the spy bird characters and whisperers: Varys the Spider with his little birds, the raven of the Lord Commander of the Nightwatch (also associated with the word "clever", and as if by chance, we have already seen earlier that Jon appeared as a Snow White on the Wall), Melisandre the red priestess (whose large skirts are compared to wings), and of course the Three-eyed Crow aka the greenseer that Bran is looking for.   
Here, Petyr Baelish is not talking Alayne Stone, his supposed bastard daughter, but to Sansa Stark (he says "Sansa"), whom he innocently offered to marry after the Lannisters had decided on the alliance with the Tyrells and the marriage between Margaery and Joffrey.

(...) and wrote on her name in golden letters, in great, beautiful capital letters, under which they also wrote that she was a princess, the daughter of a king.

 ... says the tale of Snow White.
The ambivalent Littlefinger addresses Sansa not as a father, but as a suitor who intends to teach life to a young girl through interposed metaphors: indeed, Sansa does not succeed in completing her castle, whose last elements are constantly collapsing and Petyr gives her the solution: the princess is missing a man, which is a little paradoxical because we saw above that the castle could represent this husband and this lordly authority, and that moreover its walls were made of a man's blood (I am obviously thinking of "snow"/snow - the bastard, which I have already mentioned well). What does Littlefinger mean? That the princess must have a lover - in addition to her husband - to deglaze her? That the husband is a puppet? A shadow? And that the puppeteer is the real partner? Or does it suggest something darker like a robbery (let's not forget the image of the dawn slipping into the garden "like a thief")?
Here, the princess' real partner is suggested by the stick. Let's look at the rest of the dialogue and how Littlefinger gets into the ranks:

She did not know how long he had been watching her, or when he had returned from the Vale. "A stick?" she asked.
"That will give it strength enough to stand, I'd think," Petyr said. "May I come into your castle, my lady?"

Come and dance with me, Sansa. If "come into my castle" is a childish game, the allusion is here clearly (at least for the reader) sexual, let's hear Tyrion at his proper wedding :

"I am," the Imp confessed, "but not so drunk that I cannot attend to my own bedding." He hopped down from the dais and grabbed Sansa roughly. "Come, wife, time to smash your portcullis. I want to play come-into-the-castle." (Sansa III, ASOS)

Unlike the bard Marillion and Prince Joffrey, Littlefinger asked permission. As for the word "strenght" : the adjectiv "strong" was formerly a synonym of "stark" (which once had the same meaning as German "stark", but has given way to "strong"). In other words, GRRM suggests through Littlefinger's words that Winterfell, the castle of the Stark, owes its solidity to a greenseer, or rather to its heart-tree, the weirwood of sacred wood (in Bran II AGOT, Winterfell is compared to a monstrous stone tree), and to "magic".

Sansa was wary. "Don't break it. Be . . ."
". . . gentle?"
He smiled. "Winterfell has withstood fiercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?"

 After "Come to my castle", we can guess an allusion to another childish game in the saga, "Monsters and Girls", which also has a double meaning. The meaning of the verb "to break" is refers both to the rape of a woman and the fall of Bran Stark, the broken little boy who was supposed to build "bridges" between King Robert's children and those of the Starks..  And it is precisely the Winterfell "bridges" that Sansa cannot hold : their collapses make her shouting. The little Bran, the future greenseer fell and then failed to raise bridges between people. There may well be a very "Martinian" irony in the fact that Bran falls when he has just surprised a couple - Jaime and Cersei - making love (and whose man seems to be leading an assault), and that he is pushed by Jaime, described as "strong" on this particular occasion.
For Bran, whose dream was to become a "powerful" knight, Jaime had first appeared as an absolute model: tall, handsome with his golden hair and armor, strong and of royal presence. It should be noted that these qualities are exactly the ones that Sansa had in mind for her prince charming and that she had thought she would find in Joffrey :

He was all she ever dreamt her prince should be, tall and handsome and strong, with hair like gold. (Sansa I, AGOT)

Littlefinger is precisely the opposite : little, weak (he failed to challenge Brandon Stark, once, and after that never wore a sword)... and surely cute in his way. He doesn't have gold in the hair, but some silver. How damn could he be strong enough to help Sansa achieving her castle ? How the greenseer did it for Winterfell ? I think we already have the answers : as for Bran compared to a stick after his fall, the greenseer is supposed to became wood with the time, so the weirwood tree and the greenseer are one (to heart that beat like one...); at Winterfell, the weirwood drank the blood of the sacrificed bastard, most probably his "wolf's blood", and so offers this strength to the castle... and his inhabitants, especially the Stark lineage. The story of Lann who stole the gold of the sun to transmit it to the heirs of the princess he married.

"The seed is strong" recalled Jon Arryn, and Lysa about her weak and sick son Sweet Robin, promised to the princess Sansa. Not this seed, either.

We'll examine in the next part if the suggestion of our fool bird was good and if the strength is with the Stark.
For now, let's continue our analysis : Sansa does not answer to Petyr Baelish's question, and therefore does not formally invite him to enter. The robber then goes around the castle, like the bird of prey who circles in the sky looking for the opening, or the dominant one who marks his territory and observes... or like Theon Greyjoy entered Winterfell furtively, and through the godswood, with a handful of men, climbing the walls, and making himself master of the place by tricks, without fighting.


Littlefinger then makes sure that he has guessed correctly by naming Winterfell, and evokes his dreams about him, dreams in which he always imagines him as a dark and cold place, and for good reason, that's where the girl he was in love with, Catelyn Tully, Sansa's mother, went. For Petyr, seen from the outside (he has not yet entered), his Princess Cat has buried herself and her life in the North.

He walked along outside the walls. "I used to dream of it, in those years after Cat went north with Eddard Stark. In my dreams it was ever a dark place, and cold."
"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer." She stood, towering over the great white castle. "I can't think how to do the glass roof over the gardens." (...)

When he (LF) had enough, he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels in the middle of the yard.

I spent a long time thinking about what was at stake in this brief exchange about Winterfell's temperature, and I drew several conclusions from it, so I'll let you choose your favourite!
First of all, in form, it is a transition between two stages of the construction of the  snow Winterfell, at the same time as it prepares Littlefinger's entry into a territory that is forbidden to him; in concrete terms, it gives :
from the outside the castle is frozen -> actually inside it's hot ("fy, freeze well outside") -> it's hot especially in the glass gardens, it's like summer -> omg, I don't know how to make glass gardens -> Littlefinger to the rescue "let me do it, little girl, I'll show you"...
and hop, neither seen neither known, I confuse you, I enter the castle like a thief through the garden... (compare this to Theon Greyjoy taking Winterfell and sleeping in Eddard Stark's bed with a girl he seduced).
Secondly, the opposition between the outside and inside of the castle, illustrated by the winter-summer opposition, is not without reminding us of some of Samwell's considerations during the long march to escape the First Men's Fist massacre:

Shivering, Sam released his grip on the tree and eased himself down in the snow. It was cold and wet, he knew, but he could scarcely feel it through all his clothing. He stared upward at the pale white sky as snowflakes drifted down upon his stomach and his chest and his eyelids. The snow will cover me like a thick white blanket. It will be warm under the snow, and if they speak of me they'll have to say I died a man of the Night's Watch. (Samwell I, ASOS)

It continues what we saw in first part about Sansa and the blankets, which are protection but also deadly in their way : under blankets, you just can't live, you hide and you dream, nothing more. Under snow blanket, Sam will die. The snowflakes "soft as a lover kiss" killed our princess Sansa Stark, and now she is burrying herself in the glass garden, with the help of a mocking bird. Poor Snow White !

Finally, a third possible reading of this brief exchange focuses on the capture of hot springs: they are the ones that give Winterfell its warmth and make it a kind of summer paradise in the heart of winter. We also know that glass gardens are used to grow fruits and vegetables that are inevitably lacking in winter, and in the event of a very cold and long winter (several years), they are a guarantee of survival. The hot water channeled inside the walls of the stone Winterfell plays the same role as the sticks in the snow Winterfell; in this mirror game, the hot springs become the "strength" captured for the real Winterfell, the " strength " that can be compared to the summer, the blood that irrigates a human body.
We can find exactly the same pattern in the legend of the dragon of the seas, Nagga, which the ancient Grey King of the Iron Islands (from whom the Greyjoys claim to be descendants) allegedly killed, making her ribs the pillars of his palace, her jaw his throne and her teeth his crown, after the drowned god had changed these bones into stone and captured Nagga's fire to heat the palace. Literally, the Grey King lived in a maternal womb, which echoes both Daenerys locking her dragon children in the depths of his Great Pyramid in Meereen, and a replica served by Jaime Lannister to Catelyn Stark, when she visited him in his prison in Riverrun :

"My son may be young, but if you take him for a fool, you are sadly mistaken . . . and it seems to me that you were not so quick to make challenges when you had an army at your back."

"Did the old Kings of Winter hide behind their mothers' skirts as well ?" (Catelyn VII, ACOK)

Jaime... Jaime... Jaime... Could the strength of the castle come from the princess ? Surely, the mocking bird want it.

Catelyn just told Jaime not to take his son Robb for a fool. But "fool", Robb will be, however, by marrying Jeyne Ouestrelin despite his official promise to marry a Frey. A "folly of love", therefore, which will cost him his life at the Red Wedding (note also that in a way, Robb is also a robber who tricks Tywin Lannister). If we find the theme of the fool man (and "clever" because Robb has proved he was clever in terms of military strategy), we see with the image of the glass gardens the ambiguous figure of a protective and suffocating mother at the same time, exactly as Lysa can be (and as Princess Sansa would be later on?).
 All this gives a particular insight to the fact that after seeing the heart of winter during his comatose dream, Bran names his golden-eyed direwolf Summer. It is suggested that the heart of summer could also be in Winterfell, or even that the heart of winter and the heart of summer are one and the same thing, or that they form a tragic couple. Aspiration of summer and winter come together, as shown very well by the happy memories of Sansa's summer snowfalls. And now, as a consequence, Stark children are all that : strong, fool and clever.

Next post will be to study the "wedding" between the princess and the greenseer/skinchanger (not yet the beding).




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2- Biting, kissing and wedding

She stood, towering over the great white castle. "I can't think how to do the glass roof over the gardens."
Littlefinger stroked his chin, where his beard had been before Lysa had asked him to shave it off. "The glass was locked in frames, no? Twigs are your answer. Peel them and cross them and use bark to tie them together into frames. I'll show you." He moved through the garden, gathering up twigs and sticks and shaking the snow from them. When he had enough, he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels in the middle of the yard. Sansa came closer to watch what he was doing. His hands were deft and sure, and before long he had a crisscrossing latticework of twigs, very like the one that roofed the glass gardens of Winterfell. "We will need to imagine the glass, to be sure," he said when he gave it to her.
"This is just right," she said.

So, Littlefinger the clever took advantage of Sansa's desire to infiltrate the snow castle. It should be noted that the "middle of the yard" can be understood as the yard of Winterfell as much as that of the Eyrie (or even the middle of a human body), and that the process of appropriation by Sansa was therefore not interrupted with the arrival of Littlefinger. Moreover, in the same movement as he tried to seize the castle and its lady by crossing the perimeter wall without being invited, she had him build the glass roof of the glass garden. Glass roof, you said? Isn't it rather the lid of the glass coffin in which Snow White is kept safe from predators until Prince Promised arrives? Or is it a metaphor for a wedding coat with which our mockingbird would cover his princess and steal her from the world ? the twigs are indeed intertwined as are the threads of a fabric or those of a spider web. I think for my part that the double function of the glass roof has to be taken into account, and that GRRM is interpreting the part of the Seven Dwarves in Snow White's tale with a disturbing ambivalence (the ambivalence is also present in Disney's movie, except the fact that the dwarves are never a threat for the princess) : Littlefinger holds Sansa prisoner in her canvas and substitutes himself for her husband and father, where Sansa is able to take advantage of the protection imposed to grow in strength, and take her true flight one day.... finally we hope so, for her !
We can note that the glass roof isn't really achieved : as LF says, there is only the web, the glass has to be imagined. In the optimistic interpretation, that could be a foreshadowing for Sansa flying out one future day and escaping the glass coffin (and her dreams). I also like to see in it another suggestion : the ancient maid really escaping the tower where she was trapped, like Jeyne Poole will do it at Winterfell, escaping from the monstruous Ramsay's hands (with the help of a dead man, Theon Greyjoy, a kind of bastard wolf rejected by both, his ironborn father and the Stark; also with the help of 6 women, one of them named Squirrel and taking her place; 6 women leaded by another "dead man", the bastard-crow-king Mance Rayder disguised as Abel the Bard, variation on Bael). Note that Alys Karstark escapes a wedding to, with the help of a grey mare and Jon Snow, the crow-bastard-"king" at the Wall... for another wedding with Sigorn : she changes her coat of arms : the silver sun becomes a fiery sun. Daenerys the silver queen on her Silver mare becomes a fiery sun with Drogon at the end of ADWD. Revenge seems following the escaping. Probably not for the better good, but that's another part of the story that we won't see in this last ASOS Sansa's chapter.

 So let's continue: after the glass roof, there's the primitive keep, and then the gargoyles.
Let us stop for a moment on them, because of a character occasionnaly compared to a gargoyle (and this, from the first appearance, in the chapter Jon I, AGOT): Tyrion Lannister, Sansa's dwarf husband, who refused to rape her when he was allowed to do it as a legitime husband and she was willing to comply with her duty as a wife (following the rules of Westeros, obviously).This is another element of the hypothesis previously formulated on the glass roof.  
The castle's gargoyles are difficult to reproduce, so Petyr will propose to Sansa to get around the problem - to cheat in a way - by giving them the appearance of simple snow lumps. It is not fully a cheating because when it snows, the snow-covered gargoyles look like lumps, but symbolically, Petyr admits that he is not able to play the protective part of the gargoyles, but he will pretend, because it is "easy" for him: and in reality, he has never protected Sansa during his stay in Port-Real, he has only used her for his own purposes. Littlefinger doesn't have Tyrion's scruples. But he can't no more than Tyrion keeping the princess under his influence : the trapp has failures. And it seems that Snow White could wake up, but not for her loved bastard nor for the mocking bird (I wanted to write the Seven Dwarves !)

And here is the final bouquet:

The Broken Tower was easier still. They made a tall tower together, kneeling side by side to roll it smooth, and when they'd raised it Sansa stuck her fingers through the top, grabbed a handful of snow, and flung it full in his face. Petyr yelped, as the snow slid down under his collar. "That was unchivalrously done, my lady."
"As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home."

Unambiguously, the new spouses in their new homes seem to heat each other, with the erection of the great tower, in order to have the many children promised by the tale. But here it is our warrior Maid who holds the handle: Littlefinger, by entering Winterfell without permission, took the place of the maid, which is metaphorically confirmed by the loss of his beard (when he enters the scene, it is recalled that he had it shaved at Lysa's request). Sansa can then play the Warrior who takes it and rapes her, by reversing roles (we can also see a reminiscence of an antic tale where the warrior-maid goddess Athena rejects the seed of Hephaïstos - the smith god -  and throws it to the earth (Gaïa), who gives birth to Erichthonios, first king of Athene's city; Erichthonios has to mothers) :
 On the other hand, we must examine the Broken Tower itself : we learn in a chapter of Bran that the tower was lightning during a violent storm that caused its partial destruction, long before the saga (there is no certain date, the only known date being given by the very young Bran "at least 100 years before his father's birth"). This tower is also the refuge of crows, and therefore an anchor point for the greenseer; its shape reminiscent of a "lens of Myr" (like the one offered to the Starks by Lysa Arryn and recommended by Littlefinger in AGOT) and its first function as a watchtower make it a privileged real and symbolic observatory, from which a jailer would watch over his prisoners, or a "father" guardian would watch over his children and his descendants. Associated with the phallic symbol that the tower represents, the fact that it is broken also recalls a castration, such as that suffered by Theon after his capture by the bastard Bolton, Ramsay Snow, the new "trueborn lord of Winterfell". My first hypothesis would see in this broken tower the visible manifestation of the real or symbolic castration of the bastard wolf prince-prisoner of Winterfell - whose "strength" has been confiscated for the benefit of another - and consequently the sterility of the couple he forms with the princess, as well as the castrating and sterilizing role played by the crow (the crow is associated in the saga with lightning and wind, but I do not detail here, the article being already very long and the subject deserving its own study); but castration/sterilization can also be that of the "crow" and testify to the mute struggle between these two rivals within Winterfell, a struggle that is mythologized among the Ironborn, through the two rival gods, who are the Drowned God and the Storm God (represented by a crow). This "broken tower" appears as the answer of the princess who was raped despite the warning - "don't break it" recommends Sansa when Littlefinger asks if he can enter the castle. Sansa is here another Asha Greyjoy, the princess whose "husband" is an axe and whose "baby" a knife, weapons of power but also castrators. In ADWD, Asha plays an almost similar scene, but more openly violent, with a certain Qarl the Maid, who has no beard and who invites himself and his "peach fuzz" without permission into Asha's room:

Qarl followed her up to Galbart Glover's bedchamber. "Get out," she told him. "I want to be alone."
"What you want is me." He tried to kiss her.
"Fuck yourself, you beardless boy."
"I'd sooner fuck you." One quick slash unlaced her jerkin. Asha reached for her axe, but Qarl dropped his knife and caught her wrist, twisting back her arm until the weapon fell from her fingers. He pushed her back onto Glover's bed, kissed her hard, and tore off her tunic to let her breasts spill out. When she tried to knee him in the groin, he twisted away and forced her legs apart with his knees. "I'll have you now."
"Do it," she spat, "and I'll kill you in your sleep."
"I am a woman wed," she reminded him, afterward. "You've despoiled me, you beardless boy. My lord husband will cut your balls off and put you in a dress."
Qarl rolled off her. "If he can get out of his chair."
The room was cold. Asha rose from Galbart Glover's bed and took off her torn clothes. The jerkin would need fresh laces, but her tunic was ruined. I never liked it anyway. She tossed it on the flames. The rest she left in a puddle by the bed. Her breasts were sore, and Qarl's seed was trickling down her thigh. She would need to brew some moon tea or risk bringing another kraken into the world. What does it matter? My father's dead, my mother's dying, my brother's being flayed, and there's naught that I can do about any of it. And I'm married. Wedded and bedded … though not by the same man.
When she slipped back beneath the furs, Qarl was asleep. "Now your life is mine. Where did I put my dagger?"
(The Wayward Bride, ADWD)

Asha's husband is an old impotent lord and she was not present at her wedding. It was her uncle Euron Crow's eye who imposed marriage on his niece. Asha won't kill Qarl this time. Despite obvious differences, the scene from which I have just quoted an extract highlights certain details (Qarl beardless, for example) in order to highlight the fact that the Asha-Qarl couple plays to the same music as the Sansa-Littlefinger couple, but the first is explicit including in the question of descent and the transmission of a "blood", where the other is almost entirely symbolic. Let's add that Tyrion in her first battles armed herself with an axe (there is an explicit and humorous reference to the popular cliché from the role-playing games of the dwarf warrior armed with an axe, but GRRMartin also uses it as an internal reference) and that while she is a hostage in the Red Keep, Sansa keeps a small cheese knife in her dress to defend herself.
The repetition of the same pattern indicates to me that these are variations on an original story, a story of the past whose repercussions are felt until the time of the saga. Following this interpretation, the story of Jon and Ygrid - especially between their bath in the cave and Jon's escape at the Queen Crowned Tower - also offers very many echoes around the themes of the bastard trapped in a castle and who would like to live there with his beloved from whom he is separated by a Wall (and a crown). With Jon, it is the bastard who is symbolically trapped in the crow, and the wild "princess" ("kissed by fire") who seeks to free him. For Jon too, the question of descent is all the more acute because his oath as a sworn brother of the Nightwatch is a symbolic castration.
 By pushing the symbolic reading a little further, Sansa in her snow coffin has become a full part of Winterfell and therefore of the bastard wolf who is already its master, and what she offers to Littlefinger is nothing more than the bite of the cold instead of a kiss. The snow flows down his neck, where the wolves bite men or beasts they want to kill (for example, the anonymous man who tried to kill Bran with a dagger that used to belong to Littlefinger, and whose throat was butchered by the anonymous wolf of the same Bran), so we can directly make a connection with the "bite" of Ice, the sword of the Stark lords that served in the saga for two decapitations : first for a fallen "crow" (a deserter of the Nightwatch, executed by the "wolf" lord of Winterfell, Eddard Stark), and second for a Stark wolf (Eddard) executed by Ilyn Payne, who has the appearance of an Other and was pushed underhand by a man of our mocking bird (Janos Slynt, who himself will end up as a black guard, beheaded by the bastard Jon Snow). There is indeed an underground struggle between the "spirit of the wolf" and the "spirit of the crow" and it is a promise of death that Littlefinger - giant compared to the snow castle - receives in full face :

"(...)And then I dreamed again of this girl, killing a fierce giant in a castle built all in snow."
(Arya VIII, volume 3 A Storm of Swords)

 Sansa's assimilation to Winterfell's "wolf's spirit" is clearly stated in the text:

She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

In other words, Littlefinger is getting a return of the ice he helped create.  
Entering the princess' and her bastard's castle is not without danger, especially for birds, even if they helped the architect.
 In passing, I would add that the parallel between Winterfell and the Wall continues: the glass roof, the keep and the gargoyles can represent both the construction of the Wall and the establishment of the Nightwatch, both protective (for the kingdoms of the south) and jailer (for the "free peoples"). For the glass roof, Littlefinger took twigs of wood and intertwined them together, and he built the keep around a stick, but we know that at Fortnight - the oldest fortress on the Wall - there was a weirwood inside the Wall itself, a very old weirwood whose mouth opens and closes like a door. And the Wall is an ice grave in old legends (like the Seventy-nine) and in the present of the saga : in ADWD, Jon lets freeze there Cregan Karstark, who tried to force his niece Alys to marry; Jon also keeps two corpses there. This closely links the Wall and Winterfell, one of which cannot go without the other.

 After the icy bite, Littlefinger replies with his own: he kisses Sansa, the "snow maid", as he called her, almost as if he wanted to eat her:

Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words. He tasted of mint. For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss . . . before she turned her face away and wrenched free. "What are you doing?"
Petyr straightened his cloak. "Kissing a snow maid."

 The alert is hot for Sansa. Without surprise, we find an interesting reuse of the Delphian Apollo, who used the mouth of the pythia to make his oracles (there is also a whole imagery of the mint, a plant symbolically linked to the underground world of the dead, which grows in damp places and in the shade, exactly the opposite in the saga of the solar lemon, which Sansa loves in the pies): Littlefinger absorbs Sansa's words to infuse her with his own and make her his talking puppet. However, the kiss did not go so far as to wake the dead-and-buried-under-the-snow princess; on the contrary, it literally took her breath away, as if she would bury herself further in her tomb, as Littlefinger pointed out to her while trying to push her advantage:

He smiled. "I wish you could see yourself, my lady. You are so beautiful. You're crusted over with snow like some little bear cub, but your face is flushed and you can scarcely breathe. How long have you been out here? You must be very cold. Let me warm you, Sansa. Take off those gloves, give me your hands."
"I won't." He sounded almost like Marillion, the night he'd gotten so drunk at the wedding.

 Sansa is too well protected in her glass coffin - which Littlefinger helped to complete - like a beautiful greenhouse plant that will be able to wait until spring. Besides, this coffin is in Winterfell. In other words, inaccessible. But our manipulative master does not admit defeat, he returns to the charge in a more gallant and apparently less aggressive mode by proposing to warm up the beauty's cold hands. If our princess does not have black hands (Sansa's death is symbolic), the allusion to the black hands of the animated corpses remains transparent. This time Sansa explicitly refuses contact. In other words, our fool bird has not obtained the love of its lady, out of its reach, but failing that, it holds its body captive in the frozen kingdom of the dead, where it only has to stay forever, while the spirit wanders elsewhere... (where the hell did he go? Where do whores go ?)  

 The "flushed face", contrasting with the white of the snow that covers the girl, reinforces the parallel with Snow White; to this, we must add an element that I have not yet mentioned: Sansa, under the identity of Alayne, Petyr Baelish's bastard daughter, has her hair dyed black. Beyond the reference, Sansa/Alayne/Snow White brings together in it the three colours that mark the journey of more than one hero of the saga: white, black and red.
 There is also another point I've already suggested : the red is the color for the blood, the vivid blood, and the fire : so, it could be that our Snow White was really woken up, but not for our bird.
 To finish, white and red are the colours of the weirwoods, which means that the "godless" garden at the beginning of the scene could have found its new goddess, or queen if you will, and a corpse queen like the legendary and mysterious corpse woman who seduced the no less legendary 13th Lord Commander of the Nightwatch. The latter captured this beautiful and cold dead woman, brought her back to Fortnight, proclaimed himself King with a Queen. King and Queen of the Night made a pact with the Others, it is said, and ruled for 13 years before being defeated by the Stark army, allied for this time with the King-beyond-the-Wall Joramun.

As for black, it is the colour of bastardy. Bastards are everywhere, though...
It should also be noted that Sansa is no longer a she-wolf or a lamb, but that the snow has transformed her into a "bear". The transformation will continue in the next book (AFFC), since the metaphor will be reused as Sansa descends from the Eyrie to the valley as Alayne Stone. The passage from wolf to bear is, in my opinion, far from insignificant, and the "bear princess" is a figure that we find linked to Jon Snow, first in the form of.... Samwell (especially in AGOT), but also through Daenerys Targaryen, rescued, protected and raised by two substitute fathers whom she nicknamed her "Old Bears". Let's say - to make it short - that here, the image associated with Sansa Stark is that of a princess buried in the distant past of the Starks, a "bear" prey of a bird who would have dressed her with a wolfskin coat (to pretend to be a "real wolf"), on the occasion of a wedding, and thus founded the lineage of the Winterfell Starks. The wolf skin must therefore be removed to reveal what it hides. The wolf Stark must die for the bear Stark to be born again (and not just the bear).

Littlefinger, however, persisting in wanting to play the liberating Prince Charming and delighting a queen for him, a new character enters the scene to save Sansa from his jailer... and smash her coffin, her dream and her nightmare all at once, as was the beautiful and monstrous Joffrey. A child. The heir. Let's make place to Sweet Robin.


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3. Robert the Heir

"A castle!"
The voice was loud, shrill, and childish. Littlefinger turned away from her. "Lord Robert." He sketched a bow. "Should you be out in the snow without your gloves?""Did you make the snow castle, Lord Littlefinger?"
"Alayne did most of it, my lord."
Sansa said, "It's meant to be Winterfell."
"Winterfell?" Robert was small for eight, a stick of a boy with splotchy skin and eyes that were always runny. Under one arm he clutched the threadbare cloth doll he carried everywhere.
"Winterfell is the seat of House Stark," Sansa told her husband-to-be. "The great castle of the north."
"It's not so great." The boy knelt before the gatehouse.

So this is Sansa's savior, the one who interrupted Littlefinger's pressing advances, the young Lord Robert Arryn, son of Lysa and her late husband, the old Jon Arryn. Before looking at his score, we will look at the costume and make-up, in other words, what his brief "description" reveals about his part in relation to our Snow White and his self-proclaimed savior.
 He has "splotchy skin" : if the term can refer to age spots - which would make it possible to interpret Sweet Robin as a character playing on the literary type of the old child full of knowledge and wisdom (by taking the opposite view), like Merlin was, for example, in some medieval novels  - I think that the spots here are like freckles and in Westeros' beauty cannon, the freckles are a trait of ugliness (the captain's daughter Theon seduces when he returns to the Iron Islands has "splotchy" skin, and it's not to the young man's taste). It's not surprising to find this detail under Sansa's PoV, because she pays very close attention to appearances and Sweet Robin is supposed to marry her later. However, Sansa sees her cousin as the absolute anti-charming Prince, not sweet at all, and this so much that, later in the chapter, she will think that she still prefers to marry Tyrion a second time. Sweet Robin marrying Sansa, it's a bit like Snow White marrying Dopey, Sneeze or Grumpy from Disney: the dwarves are nice and funny, but they're not lights nor beauties. Robert, on the other hand, is not even nice or funny.
Then, like Littlefinger earlier, his entrance is by voice, before we have the image. However, it does not occur to Sansa that he was observing before intervening, and the fact that he does not have gloves and his scream argue for the haste of the child who has just spotted a new thing and absolutely wants to play with it right away. If Robert is not a voyeur in itself, her mother was watching the scene from her window: Sansa saw her before like a flash, but we will learn later in the chapter that she saw Littlefinger's kiss. It's not impossible that she knowingly let her precious son escape so that he could interrupt her new husband's advances to another woman. Apart from this hypothesis, Robert shares many characteristics with the "bird" and "tree", in other words, the greenseer. I won't discuss here about Robin's power, I will only study the litterar/symbolic parallelisms : when she compares her young nephew Robert to Bran (only a year apart), Catelyn Stark sees the huge difference in physical and psychological maturity between the two boys; but by paying a closer attention, the reader is invited to notice the similarities between them and wonder about their meaning:
 1- Bran and Robert are two young boys who dream of knighthood but whose physical condition prevents them from a warrior future. To fill this gap, Bran succumbed to the temptation to own the giant Hodor and manipulate him like a puppet. Robert has his rag doll, his "giant" (I will talk about it later).
 2- Then there is his obsession with flight, which we see the first time we see it, in AGOT, when Catelyn brings Tyrion prisoner to the Val : Lysa organizes his trial and her son wants to "see the little man fly". There is a subtle and cruel irony in little Robert's request, after Tyrion's victory :

"Can I make the little man fly now?"

 Across the garden, Tyrion Lannister got to his feet. "Not this little man," he said. "This little man is going down in the turnip hoist, thank you very much." (Catelyn VII, AGOT)

Tyrion does not dispute Robert's desire to see "the little man" fly, he only disputes the fact of being himself the "little man". Littlefinger is also a little man, and if in the text he is called "small", he carries "little" directly in his nickname. And of course, Robert is also particularly small. A rather popular theory claims that Robert is Petyr Baelish's son rather than Jon Arryn's; if I don't think this is the case biologically, this hypothesis makes it possible to put forward a symbolic filiation, where the descendants of the dead princess would have inherited the physical weakness of the jailer, which should be compensated by some other strength, a part played here by the puppet that the boy carries everywhere. On the other hand, the threat of falling, together with the desire to fly (or "see flying"), remains underlying.
 "Stick of a boy" has a particular meaning in the context : we saw it before, "stick" is what Littlefinger and Sansa used to "strengthen" Winterfell; and it's also what Bran looks like when he's in a coma, both a little bird and a twig :

She (Catelyn) was holding one of his hands. It looked like a claw. This was not the Bran he remembered. The flesh had all gone from him. His skin stretched tight over bones like sticks. Under the blanket, his legs bent in ways that made Jon sick. His eyes were sunken deep into black pits; open, but they saw nothing. The fall had shrunken him somehow. He looked half a leaf, as if the first strong wind would carry him off to his grave.

Then, Robert is shrilling : "shrill" is rarely used in the saga, but is therefore associated with very particular characters, moments and images. I do not review here the twenty or so occurrences, I simply mention the most "speaking" ones: the first appearance of the word qualifies the cry of the Three-eyed Crow when during Bran's dream the Crow pierces his forehead with her beak; Bran awakes. Later in the saga, the same Bran does not seem to be able to take a strong and lordly voice (which is natural at first sight for a child in panic); instead, he appears like a little bird :

"Mikken, you be silent." Bran tried to sound stern and lordly, the way Robb did when he made a command, but his voice betrayed him and the words came out in a shrill squeak.
 (Bran VI, ACOK)

Lord Mormont's raven shrills too when he repeats "dead, dead, dead", while Mormont refers to the corpses of two rangers who attacked the sworn brothers in Castleblack; Jon himself had made such a cry just before fighting with one of the corpses. And also Lysa Arryn, during Tyrion's trial, when trying to condemn him for the death of Lord Jon Arryn (Lysa's husband) and for Bran's attempted murder. "Shrill" is used overwhelmingly for characters that have a real or metaphorical, momentary or lasting connection to crows and ravens. It expresses a fear or a warning that may take the form of an injunction.
 Finally, I will quote an interesting metaphor:

The wind cut like a knife up here, and shrilled in the night like a mother mourning her slain children.
(Jon VI, volume 2 A Clash of Kings)
Jon is then in the mountains called "Icy Fangs", more precisely in the area of the Skirling Pass (the skirl is a shrill sound). The fangs and the ice, that's the mark of the "beast", it reminds us of the "spirit of the wolf" that I have already developed previously by evoking the figure of a bastard; but it also evokes the weirwoods whose largest can have their mouth wide open. The crows can also be deadly beast when they came by hundreds (and more) to slain zombies. The "mother's mourning" then could take on a particular resonance, that of a mother calling after her child devoured by a giant wolf or a weirwood (= a greenseer is gradually absorbed and digested by the weirwood to which he is attached). Is it a mother-crow who comes to hold the wolf accountable for eating her children? When in ACOK, Gilly - Craster's daughter and wife - comes one morning to ask Jon Snow for protection for herself and her future son who risks being sacrificed by Craster, she wears Samwell's black coat; when she returns without having obtained the protection requested, the black coat unfolds behind like crow's wings:

"That's for the Old Bear to say, the one you call the Lord Crow. I'm only his squire. I do not choose the road I ride."
"No." He could hear the defeat in her voice. "Sorry to be of trouble, m'lord. I only . . . they said the king keeps people safe, and I thought . . ." Despairing, she ran, Sam's cloak flapping behind her like great black wings.

Note a detail : in the south of the Wall, Mormont is called "Old Bear", and "Lord Crow" beyond ; this indicates for me the kind of wedding we were evoking above : the "bastard wolf" trapped in Winterfell is mixed with "crow's blood" (we have probably to add a pinch of "bear's blood" if we consider at least that the princess could be originaly a "bear princess"). The mixed nature can be seen in Longclaw, the Mormont's sword that Jeor gives to Jon Snow, whom he changed the pommel, the wolf's head taking the place of the bear's head.

Is the "mourning mother" a mother-crow, wife of a wolf ? In Gilly's case, Craster is an avid ram, a crow's bastard son; but Gilly came to Jon Snow (a "weirwoody" bastard wolf - his giant wolf has the colours of the weirwoods - who once became a crow's offspring on the Wall) to be his "wife" in return for protection. Note that Catelyn - as wolf's wife - could also fit this part, and this make us turn back to Bran and Sweet Robin comparison :
3- ... which brings me to the next point, the special relationship with the mother: Bran is Catelyn's favorite child, she prayed to the Seven not to go to Port Real with her father and sisters, and Bran fell and died; Robert is Lysa's only child but she smolders him and kills her husband so she can keep her child with her.  
 4- Apart from what brings him closer to the "bird" children, and finally makes him an heir to the "falcon blood" of the Arryns (well, a falcon with a very poor appearance), little Robert has one last physical feature that links him at least symbolically to the legendary and ancient Queen Alyssa Arryn: his eyes are constantly weeping. The legendary Queen Alyssa Arryn had not weeped at the death of her family and had been condemned after her own death to weep until her tears reached the valley and fertilized it, in the form of the Cascade "Alyssa's Tears", visible and audible from the Eyrie, and which descends from the mountain the Giant's Spear. Little Robert is therefore ironically the heir to a thousand-year-old curse and condemned to weep without a break.
 Here again, this is to be compared with a feature of the Stark wolf and Arya's statement that "direwolves don't cry". Arya's refusal to cry corresponds to her desire to be "strong" like a real Stark, crying being for her weakness. Yet it is not the desire to cry that she misses, as well as Bran, who repeats himself more than once that he is almost a man and draws his strength from these attempts at self-persuasion. Poor Bran and poor Stark children ! What old curse must they bear, and what kind of tears could fertilize the north and put an end to eternal winter ?  
 We will also learn at the end of this Sansa's chapter that the poison that killed Jon Arryn - the "Tears of Lys" - was poured by his wife Lysa, at Littlefinger's instigation. An undetectable poison because it is odourless, colourless and tasteless, and whose effects are similar to a devastating and debilitating disease, a kind of mirror for old Jon Arryn's attitude : he was never interested in his young wife or her distress, busy as he was by his function as the King's Hand. It is to this almost barren old husband who lost one after the other all his close heirs that we owe the sentence "the seed is strong", pronounced on his deathbed, probably about King Robert Baratheon's bastards, and that Lysa took for her very weak son.
 In short, Sweet Robin is posed here as the sacrificed heir of a deadly triad: a woman in perpetual mourning, a puppet husband emptied of his strength and a shadowy husband who poisons the couple with his advice and lies (his whispers), where the woman is replaced ad infinitum by a younger one who enters the circle by marrying the cursed offspring, and dies of mourn.
 In this configuration, Sansa Stark is well destined to die in the Eyrie with Lysa Arryn, and to be buried in her snowy Winterfell, just as the wolf Lady died in Trident and was buried in Winterfell. And to generate sons condemned to draw their strength not from themselves but from "giants" sacrificed for them.
 In the scene we are analyzing, Sansa became the new corpse queen in her ice castle, wife of a dead man and prisoner of a clever robber. The young Robert Arryn represents his descendants, the one by whom freedom could come... but at what price?


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4- "Maiden and Monsters"

This is the last part of the snow castle's analysis, regarding its destruction. This one is a bit longer than the others but also clearer regarding the internal parallelisms : it's not possible to be exhaustive, so I chosed 3 of them.

"Maiden and Monsters" is one of the other games played by the children of Westeros, like "come into my castle". We have a glimpse of it in a chapter of Davos, in ASOS, and it seems that the game consists of a chase between a "princess", a "monster" and a "saving prince". The rules are not described by GRRM, but the theme does not come out of the "real" stories, those told in the saga.

 In this case, with his doll depicting a giant who wants to enter the castle, Robert symbolically mixes the two games - M&M and Come into my Castle - with a bit tragic success :

"It's not so great." The boy knelt before the gatehouse. "Look, here comes a giant to knock it down." He stood his doll in the snow and moved it jerkily. "Tromp tromp I'm a giant, I'm a giant," he chanted. "Ho ho ho, open your gates or I'll mash them and smash them." Swinging the doll by the legs, he knocked the top off one gatehouse tower and then the other.
It was more than Sansa could stand. "Robert, stop that." Instead he swung the doll again, and a foot of wall exploded. She grabbed for his hand but she caught the doll instead. There was a loud ripping sound as the thin cloth tore. Suddenly she had the doll's head, Robert had the legs and body, and the rag-and-sawdust stuffing was spilling in the snow.

Lord Robert's mouth trembled. "You killlllllllled him," he wailed. Then he began to shake.

So here is the giant in action: he is the one who comes to free the princess from her frozen hell, the hand of the prince literally promised, since this prince must also marry the imprisoned Snow White. However, we will notice that the princess does not seem delighted, and for good reason : she is suffering the rape of her future husband. Robert's gesture with his phallus puppet is the counterpart of Littlefinger's, who previously subtly introduced (it remained a symbolic rape by the absence of explicit consent), and the metaphor is already present during Sansa's marriage with Tyrion:

"I am," the Imp confessed, "but not so drunk that I cannot wait to my own bedding." He hopped down from the dais and grabbed Sansa roughly. "Come, wife, time to smash your portcullis. I want to play come-into-the-castle."
(Sansa III, A Storm of Swords)

 However, the "giant dwarf" Tyrion had not followed his promise once alone with Sansa, assuming a protective rather than a destructive part.  Indeed, he japed to escape the "ceremony" of bedtime, king Joffrey explicitly intending to take advantage of it to rape Sansa; and at the same time Tyrion escape the vindictiveness of the little king whom he had just threatened to castrate following his humiliating words and gestures for the bride (I won't come back to castration's theme, just note that princess Sansa is surrounded by castrated "princes" and "knights", and that she is the direct or indirect cause of the castration; her words cut).
It is also amusing to note that if legends attributes the building of the real Winterfell to giants, it is a giant that comes to demolish it. This destructive giant is a picture that appears several times in the saga, and I will focus on three of them in particular, because they contain the same roles, but dispatched differently, despite a similar challenge, namely a crown (and a princess, of course) : 


                                                                - a) The giants at the Wall

First there is the giant Wun Wun who had crossed the Wall and been commissioned by Jon Snow to protect Val, the "wildling princess", whom Stannis wanted to marry to the next suzerain of the North, in order to seal the alliance with the Wildlings. To conquer his crown, Stannis did the same thing in the North as the Lannisters : he needed a castle, a marriage, and the "foundation" of a strong lordly dynasty. The castle Stannis is targeting is Winterfell. While he was working to win it back, he entrusted the promised princess to the custody of Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, the "jail-crow". And Val is housed in a tower, guarded by a giant, like the princess of a tale.
Val seems to be attracted to Jon, who is not only a crow, but also a bastard wolf, and when she returns to be a prisoner after finding Tormund, she is dressed in a white bear skin with a weirwood's brooch, and accompanied by Ghost, Jon's direwolf. Here is our bear princess wanting her bastard-wolf. A bastard-wolf prisoner of a raven (by studying the confrontation between Lysa and Sansa, we'll see the "raven queen", out from Snow White's tale)

From above came the sudden sound of wings. Mormont's raven flapped from a limb of an old oak to perch upon Jon's saddle. "Corn," it cried. "Corn, corn, corn."
"Did you follow me as well?" Jon reached to shoo the bird away but ended up stroking its feathers. The raven cocked its eye at him. "Snow," it muttered, bobbing its head knowingly. Then Ghost emerged from between two trees, with Val beside him.
They look as though they belong together. Val was clad all in white; white woolen breeches tucked into high boots of bleached white leather, white bearskin cloak pinned at the shoulder with a carved weirwood face, white tunic with bone fastenings. Her breath was white as well … but her eyes were blue, her long braid the color of dark honey, her cheeks flushed red from the cold. It had been a long while since Jon Snow had seen a sight so lovely.

(Jon XI, ADWD)

Jon notices his blue eyes and red cheeks. We find exactly the same themes and characters-types as in the snow-castle's scene, but dispatched over Jon's entire narrative arc: the castle to be (re)built (theme multiplied by Jon's concern to restore and replenish all the "castles" along the Wall), the bear princess who wants her bastard wolf, both being prisoners of a crow (for Jon, this is his oath), the colours of the weirwoods and those of the Others, and finally a "savior" and a giant whose roles are reversed, since the "savior" is in reality a predator, and the giant a defender... at least according to Jon's point of view (let's bet that ser Patrek was considering Jon as a predator and a cruel jailer).
Indeed, at the end of ADWD, the knight Ser Patrek probably tried to penetrate the princess' tower, and when Jon arrives on the scene, the giant holds Ser Patrek by one leg and smashes his head against the walls of the tower, as if he was holding a doll, let's read the text:

The screaming had stopped by the time they came to Hardin's Tower, but Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun was still roaring. The giant was dangling a bloody corpse by one leg, the same way Arya used to dangle her doll when she was small, swinging it like a morningstar when menaced by vegetables. Arya never tore her dolls to pieces, though. The dead man's sword arm was yards away, the snow beneath it turning red. (Jon XIII, ADWD)

Two little remarks : 1/Val is in Hardin's tower and Alayne Stone will be betrothed by LF to Harrold Hardyng (with the "hard-" synonym of "strong", surely the wordplay was already noticed). 2/Ser Patrek is "swinging like a morningstar" and he wears a star on his coat of arms : with the "bleeding star" we could say he is a "prince promised" sacrificed, one of those knights trying to deliver the princess (like those who try to keep excalibur from the stone) and failing. Note that ser Patrek lost his sword arm.

 This scene also takes place when Jon has decided to break his vows and help another princess trapped in a tower (in Winterfell), his sister Arya Stark - in reality the poor Jeyne Poole, Sansa's former childhood friend, who was forced to take Arya's identity to wed the "beast in human skin" Ramsay Bolton. In other words, the fight between the "bastard wolf"(the one from the pack) and the "crow" (the Night's Watcher) also takes place inside Jon : by breaking his vows, the wolf has freed himself from the crow to gallop rescuing his princess, and was murdered by some of his sworn brothers. For the added detail, Bowen Marsh, one of the main conspirators, is nicknamed "the Old Pomegranate" because of his always red face, a small nod to Snow White's apple. For irony, the conspirators could have killed the "crow's part" when they intended to kill the "wolf's part", but we quit Snow White's theme, so I won't explore it here. 
 Back to Wun Wun's scene, it imitate Tyrion protecting with his words Sansa from Joffrey's assaults, and in the same time Sweet Robin breaking down Winterfell's gates, while Jon/Snow White imitates Sansa trying to stop him. Note that in ASOS, Jon and his sworn brothers are fighting wildlings and giants who try to pass the Wall. After the first battle, Jon is sent to Mance to kill him (or be killed by Mance) and he looks at the battlefield :

There were other corpses too, strewn amidst broken barrels, hardened pitch, and patches of burnt grass, all shadowed by the Wall. Jon had no wish to linger here. He started walking toward the wildling camp, past the body of a dead giant whose head had been crushed by a stone. A raven was pulling out bits of brain from the giant's shattered skull. It looked up as he walked by. "Snow," it screamed at him. "Snow, snow." Then it opened its wings and flew away.
(Jon XI, ASOS)

 Here is another giant with crushed head, like Sweet Robin's doll. He died trying to smash the gates of the Wall. There is also an eating and speaking raven (yes, we will explore the raven queen theme with Lysa !).

Jon being the Lord Commander of the Night Watch - his head -, we could also see the Watch as Snow White buried in his coffin-Wall (the oath and the cloak are symbols of marriage in the saga, and the sworn brothers literally marry the "spirit of the crow" by taking their vows and a black cloak), who rips off the "giant's" head by killing Jon, repeating Jeor Mormont's murder beyond the Wall. And we are lucky with the metaphor, appearing that at one moment Melisandre shows to Jon the giant shadow he casts on the Wall, in the light of the moon :

"Every man who walks the earth casts a shadow on the world. Some are thin and weak, others long and dark. You should look behind you, Lord Snow. The moon has kissed you and etched your shadow upon the ice twenty feet tall."
Jon glanced over his shoulder. The shadow was there, just as she had said, etched in moonlight against the Wall. A girl in grey on a dying horse, he thought. Coming here, to you. Arya.
(Jon VI, ADWD)

The kiss of the Moon Maid changes the men into giants who defend her. But who is the Moon Maid ? Is she really Snow White or is she a young raven queen ?

 To resume the symbollic the Night's Watch represents the dead princess, her dead bastard and the jailer's crow, where the Wall is the giant that keep her/them "safe" in an icy jail, them progeny, savior and murderer. The continuation of the events in Castle Black is still pending, while the situation is explosive. Logically, some of the sworn brothers and the Wildlings should kill each other, and Castle Black should suffer almost total destruction, but it will be necessary to wait until the next volume to find out, and GRRM knows how to spare surprises. In any case, it seems to me that the Night's Watch is condemned to destruction, and the Wall to the fall (an avalanche or a slower melting, with drowning castles of the Watch as a result) : both are as worn out and weakened as Sweet Robin's rag doll.


-b) The giant at the Red Keep

The second picture I will mention is part of the pre-saga story, when a good fifteen years earlier, the Mountain - alias Gregor Clegane, the giant knight and Hound's brother - smashed against a wall in the Red Keep the head of little Rhaegar's son (who died on the battlefield), Aegon Targaryen, and raped his mother, the princess of Dorne Elia, before killing her too.
Gregor Clegane is Tywin Lannister's sworn knight, the "monster" manipulated by a "clever man".
We find our same characters, with the capture of a castle and a crown at stake, but it seems that the episode does not take place at the same time as the destruction of Sansa Castle, but before its construction, which is marked by the murder of children: Gregor's story would be that where the invoked giant will kill the descendants of a king so that the clever man ("man" is for Tywin Lannister, but I think that originally there is a clever "raven queen") who manipulates him ensures the power of his own lineage. Then Tywin will make his daughter a queen by marrying her to the new king. A cold and dead queen for her husband:

 Oh, Cersei is lovely to look at, truly, but cold... the way she guards her cunt, you'd think she had all the gold of Casterly Rock between her legs!
(Robert Baratheon to Eddard, in Eddard VII, AGOT)

 This king husband is gradually becoming puppet king, his court invaded by Lannister and himself drowned by drinking and feasting, until this scene reported by Jaime, where we see that like the queen, the king was symbolically dead long before his last hunting trip:

 "That was Raymun Darry's bedchamber. Where King Robert slept, on our return from Winterfell. Ned Stark's daughter had run off after her wolf savaged Joff, you'll recall. My sister wanted the girl to lose a hand. The old penalty, for striking one of the blood royal. Robert told her she was cruel and mad. They fought for half the night . . . well, Cersei fought, and Robert drank. Past midnight, the queen summoned me inside. The king was passed out snoring on the Myrish carpet. I asked my sister if she wanted me to carry him to bed. She told me I should carry her to bed, and shrugged out of her robe. I took her on Raymun Darry's bed after stepping over Robert. If His Grace had woken I would have killed him there and then. He would not have been the first king to die upon my sword . . . but you know that story, don't you?" He slashed at a tree branch, shearing it in half. "As I was fucking her, Cersei cried, 'I want.' I thought that she meant me, but it was the Stark girl that she wanted, maimed or dead." The things I do for love. "It was only by chance that Stark's own men found the girl before me. If I had come on her first . . ."
(Jaime IV, AFFC)

Let's note for completing the "dead king" the return of the same themes : past midnight the mogwai turning to gremlins a mad queen (this time daughter of a clever man) against a wolf, and Jaime as the brave knight defending his beloved queen and finally losing his sword hand (like ser Patrek).

 Briefly, the queen and the crown were well poisoned gifts, but they turned against the clever man Tywin, who was forced to support his grandson Joffrey, despite his obvious madness, and whose violent behaviour with princess Sansa would cause the Lannisters to fall as a result of snowballing: I mean, if Sansa hadn't confirmed to Margaery Tyrell - King Joffrey's new promised princess - and her so sweet grandma' Olenna that Joffrey was a cruel and unpredictable monster, he probably wouldn't have been murdered (by the Tyrell).
Joffrey - as Sweet Robin destroyed the snow castle by his convulsions - will weaken the Lannisters' house by his gratuitously cruel behaviour, before his death precipitates the fall by the bursting of his facade cohesion. Joffrey's death is followed by Tyrion's trial, concluded by a new head exploded by Gregor Clegane, the head of Elia's brother Oberyn Martell. It's also followed by Jaime refusing Casterly Rock and chosing his vows as white knight, plus Tyrion's and Cersei's obsessive hatred. The Blackwater and the Red Wedding didn't save the Lannister, at the end.
Moreover, Joffrey's poisoning and the confusion caused allowed princess Sansa to be freed from the Red Keep.

And Gregor Clegane, changed into Robert Strong, will lose his head. 


-c) The giant at the Trident


Finally, the third picture of a smashing giant is that of Lord Robert Baratheon (before he became king), in whose honour Robert Arryn was named, in love with his warhammer, with whom he killed Rhaegar:

 They had come together at the ford of the Trident while the battle crashed around them, Robert with his warhammer and his great antlered helm, the Targaryen prince armored all in black. On his breastplate was the three-headed dragon of his House, wrought all in rubies that flashed like fire in the sunlight. The waters of the Trident ran red around the hooves of their destriers as they circled and clashed, again and again, until at last a crushing blow from Robert's hammer stove in the dragon and the chest beneath it. When Ned had finally come on the scene, Rhaegar lay dead in the stream, while men of both armies scrabbled in the swirling waters for rubies knocked free of his armor.
(Eddard I, volume 1 A Game of Thrones).

 Here the dragon is both, the three-headed ruby dragon that adorned Rhaegar's armor and Rhaegar himself, and it is the warhammer that replaces the doll.
By digging this third reminiscence, we notice that in the present we have a Stark, a Robert and a Littlefinger/Baelish who once had fun playing dragon knights and "Prince of dragonflies" with the young Tully girls at Riverrun ("Prince of dragonflies" was the nickname of an heir Targaryen who had renounced to the throne after his marriage with a commoner).

 She had played at being Jenny that day, had even wound flowers in her hair. And Petyr had pretended to be her Prince of Dragonflies. Catelyn could not have been more than twelve, Petyr just a boy.
(Catelyn V, volume 3 A Storm of Swords)

 In the past, we had a Robert (Baratheon), a Stark (Lyanna) and a singer Targaryen (Rhaegar). In other words, Sansa seems to be reenacting Lyanna's situation between two suitors, one subtle hunter and singer and the other with a quite brutal strength. It is also interesting to note that Robert Baratheon is strongly associated with summer, through his appetite for life and his reproductive strength (he literally sows his bastards). However, its excesses have their drawbacks: his procreative power does not reach his own home, and his strength is suffocating or drying for others, as deadly as an excessive winter. For example:
Cersei "mocked" at her wedding night (Robert calls her "Lyanna") becomes a cold queen.
Robert deflowered a cousin of his brother Stannis' wife's, on the wedding night, in the wedding bed, and Stannis' marriage would give only one sick fruit, princess Shireen. If I don't think there is a real cause-and-effect relationship between these two facts, the link is clearly established from a symbolic point of view and at least from the point of view of the mystic queen Selyse : it is nothing less than a castration in which one (Robert) assumes the power of the other (Stannis) without anyone benefiting from it, since in the end the child who is born (Edric Storm) risks dying sacrificed; the little interest that Stannis shows in sexuality is also his response to the excesses of his older brother. The hard winter is the brother of the hot summer, two sides of the same coin !  
 However, as with the two previous pictures, if the protagonists are the same, the moment told doesn't seem the same. Killing the "last dragon" (aka Prince Rhaegar)- who had seduced and kidnapped his promised princess Lyanna - and seizing his throne, did not bring Robert any luck, because Lyanna died and the solar wife who replaced her turned out to be as cold as a corpse; and every night, he also relived in his dreams the moment he killed his rival, as if he was cursed : the tragic story can find no end and is infinitely replayed : that's the deadly curse. Although at first sight Robert Baratheon did not have any of the symbolic characteristics of the crow - and Rhaegar as a winged dragon with black armour and as a singer gets closer to it - it is nevertheless he who suffers the "curse" and dwindles over time, the kingdom breaking up in the same movement, as evidenced by the colossal debt of the Crown, which also has its symbolic value, and of which Littlefinger seems the main architect as master of coins !  

A man like Petyr Baelish, who had a gift for rubbing two golden dragons together to breed a third, was invaluable to his Hand. Littlefinger's rise had been arrow-swift. Within three years of his coming to court, he was master of coin and a member of the small council, and today the crown's revenues were ten times what they had been under his beleaguered predecessor . . . though the crown's debts had grown vast as well. A master juggler was Petyr Baelish.

Oh, he was clever. (Tyrion IV, ACOK)

In other words, the fruits are stolen by the "clever man" who feeds on them and thrives on corpses... like the scavenger bird that is the crow. After the clash of kings and the storm of swords, crows can feast.
After he won the Iron Throne, Robert Baratheon took his mentor, the surrogate father and old bird Lord Jon Arryn, as his Hand. If Jon Arryn is not depicted at all as a thief or a liar (he is seen as the exact opposite), he carries with him a sterility ("the seed is weak"!) that contaminates all his close entourage, starting with his young and unfortunate wife, mother of a very sickly child after many miscarriages. It's him again - he knows about weddings! - who negotiates Robert's with Cersei Lannister, and then introduces Littlefinger to the court. In short : the strong Stag (replacing here the direwolf) was surrounded and finally drowned by many clever symbollic birds. His seed was strong only out of the Red Keep.

This exploration of three reminiscences showed us the permanence of certain patterns and typical characters. We have seen above Sweet Robin as the symbolic heir of a weakened lineage, but as Sansa's betrothed, he also plays the part of the giant puppet husband, the one who have to marry the "dead" princess, offering his strength and his corpse to the greenseer (the crow) who want her. And in turn, the giant is trapped by the deadly curse, he becomes a monster who give birth to monsters predating maiden.

 Maybe it's a chance for Tyrion that he didn't touched Sansa.


Our dead princess trapped in her dream and hypnotized by it, fears that it will be broken and therefore defends her castle. However, far from succeeding, it precipitates its destruction, which resembles the functioning of prophecies made in GRRM : when one tries to fulfill them, they escape, but they catch up with those who want to avoid them. As for the ignorant, they may eventually benefit, even when the price paid seems very high.

 The scene of the Winterfell of Snow precisely realizes the vision that the old ghost of High Heart had described earlier in the saga to the members of the Brotherhood Without Banner:

"(...)And then I dreamed again of this girl, killing a fierce giant in a castle built all in snow."
(Arya VIII, volume 3 A Storm of Swords)

 I will not stop here on the entire vision of the Dwarf - which in my opinion tells more than just the anticipation of the Red and Purple Weddings and Sansa at the Eyrie - but on the picture of this decapitated giant finally announced in first Bran's visions :

He looked south, and saw the great blue-green rush of the Trident. He saw his father pleading with the king, his face etched with grief. He saw Sansa crying herself to sleep at night, and he saw Arya watching in silence and holding her secrets hard in her heart. There were shadows all around them. One shadow was dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful. Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.
(Bran III, volume 1 A Game of Thrones)

 "Darkness" and "thick black blood" are echoeing to what comes out of the decapitated doll:

It was more than Sansa could stand. "Robert, stop that." Instead he swung the doll again, and a foot of wall exploded. She grabbed for his hand but she caught the doll instead. There was a loud ripping sound as the thin cloth tore. Suddenly she had the doll's head, Robert had the legs and body, and the rag-and-sawdust stuffing was spilling in the snow.

Since "black blood" is clearly associated with "bastard blood" in the saga, this idea of the strength of a robbed bastard wolf used for the benefit of another is repeated. There is a very concrete illustration of a giant creature used for its sole strength through Robert Strong, the late Gregor Clegane "resurrected" by Qyburn.
 The ripping of the doll is also a metaphor of castration, repeating the earlier metaphor with LF, when with Sansa they had shaped and erected the Broken Tower, whose top Sansa had grabbed to throw at his captor's face.

Robert's violent crisis after the "death" of his giant doll (after his own mutilation, therefore) anticipates in my opinion one or more cataclysmic events of the saga. The first one I think of (and thanks to @sweetsunray for having pointed it long before) is an avalanche from the Giant's Spear that could destroy the Eyrie. Indeed, it is repeated more than once in the saga that the castle was impregnable... from below. But the possibility of an avalanche was mentioned in AGOT by Catelyn as she was climbing towards Arryn's Castle. It was also symbolically evoked through Sansa's point of view during the Tourney of the Hand: Gregor Clegane fell "like an avalanche" on the young new knight ser Hugh of the Vale and pierced his throat with his lance. The moons embroidered on the dead man's cloak are then dyed one by one with the blood flowing from the wound (considering all what already wrote here, I also see in the bloody moon all the "princess" maiden drowned successively by marrying the cursed Prince Promised : the old queen are replaced by the young, and so on and on whithout an end).  
 The second cataclysm I think of is for the essential one : it's the destruction of Winterfell after the destruction of its monstrous heart tree and the "convulsions" of the prisoner(s) of that heart tree, the heirs and family who gave their blood to the tree and the stones of the castle (this includes the destruction of the Wall after the destruction of the Night Fort's weirwood). I believe that the "destruction" of the heart tree is part of Daenerys' visions at the HOTU :

From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies . . . (Daenerys IV, ACOK)

So... if I don't mistake about the original bastardize of the Stark of Winterfell, we could have here our lie.

However, the chapter does not stop with the destruction of the castle and the crisis of the young Robert. Maester Colemon takes care of him, soothes him, recommends dreamwine so that he can sleep, and leeches to remove the bad moods of the blood. A symbolic death, but without pain and in dreams, the best that we could hope for Bran now. If my hypothesis about the destruction of Winterfell is correct, let's remember that at the end of ACOK, Maester Luwin dragged himself seriously wounded to the heart tree and asked Osha a last favor - probably the "gift of mercy" at the foot of the tree. As Maester Luwin studied "valyrian magic" at the Citadel, the choice of the weirwood to die is unlikely the result of chance. On the other hand, I won't comment on what Luwin was able to know exactly: the most likely, in my opinion, being that he performed his last possible act, betting on his post-mortem utility. Does it mean that Luwin's soul could later help the Bran boy to definitely rest in peace (like Colemon with Robert) ?

 Before being brought back to his room, Sweet Robin in tears has time to whisper that he hates "Alayne" and that she is a bastard. I suspect that there is here again a game of GRRM with two clichés: the truth that comes out of the children's mouths (he has already used it to reveal to Eddard Stark the bastardise of Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen), and "crisis" are signs of "divine" possession after which the possessed delivers a word revealing one or several taboo truths. Sansa returned to her bastardise through Alayne could paradoxically be the first step for our maid towards a deliverance from the Stark curse, and the exit from the frozen and restless hell to which they seem promised after death.




Here is the conclusion of the "snow castle", but not for the chapter.

They led the boy away. My lord husband, Sansa thought, as she contemplated the ruins of Winterfell. The snow had stopped, and it was colder than before. She wondered if Lord Robert would shake all through their wedding. At least Joffrey was sound of body. A mad rage seized hold of her. She picked up a broken branch and smashed the torn doll's head down on top of it, then pushed it down atop the shattered gatehouse of her snow castle. The servants looked aghast, but when Littlefinger saw what she'd done he laughed. "If the tales be true, that's not the first giant to end up with his head on Winterfell's walls."
"Those are only stories," she said, and left him there.

Applause. And back behind the scene, in the bedroom, by the fire.
This conclusion of the episode is intriguing because the story could have ended before, with the death of the giant and the destruction of the castle-coffin, involving the deliverance of the princess, her husband, and the appeasement for their descendants victims of the same curse (remember the feast of the dead presided over by a wolf-headed man, whose vision Daenerys has in the Hotel des Nonmourants). However, Sansa is in turn taken by some fury that responds to the crisis of little Robert, grabs the doll's head and puts it to the end of a stick that she plants at one of the ruined doors of her castle.
As she has just thought of Joffrey, this head on the ruined castle is an echo of her father's head on the ramparts of the Red Keep: Sansa takes revenge for the fall of her house and the destruction of her childlike world that had flavours of paradise, which underlay her desire to rebuild Winterfell, even in snow. I insisted a lot in my analysis on a symbolic interpretation, but it is obvious that Sansa's first motivation to build this snow castle is the desire to return home. Its destruction shattered the illusion of a return to a happy childhood and her dreams of a world of song: it also showed the real fragility of a Winterfell as a greenseer's dream. Like the Wall, holding out for centuries or even millennia is not a guarantee of eternity.
It therefore seems to me very important in this sequence that the "post-mortem" punishment inflicted on the giant is Sansa's sole initiative, and that she reproduce the murder of her father: it is her first step for the gestation of a new woman and who should in the end renounce tales, songs and stories. Littlefinger is having fun, but he shouldn't. Indeed, he is precisely the specialist in lying stories, and the sticks in the snowy Winterfell did not prevent him from being destroyed. Playing the father is dangerous too. On the other hand, if his personal coat of arms is a mockingbird, that of his family represents the Colossus of Braavos, a giant statue that serves as a doorway to Braavos, but also as a lookout and defence. A legend reported by Arya tells that he is a giant who loves little girls, and at the sight of the colossus, she think :

He could step right over the walls of Winterfell.
Then the Titan gave a mighty roar.
(Arya I, AFFC)

Exactly Littlefinger entering the snowy Winterfell.

In any case, now that our Snow White is dead and buried in her snow castle, she can enter the underworld for a face-to-face with the evil queen, and the final dance of Grimm's tale can take place





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