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Sandor and the Faith


chrisdaw
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Sandor and the recent truly faithful Faith are purpose made to fit together, this is the half of it.

 

The Faith Then and Now

The Faith was run by faithless, weak willed men without the belief in their convictions to challenge power on behalf of their god or people, or worse they were greedy dishonest men at heart living lavishly and sinfully. The new High Sparrow is not like them, he believes whole heartedly what he preaches and lives accordingly. GRRM has made this painfully apparent, it is not a ruse, he is not a charlatan, the man literally rips the skin from his own back because the pain makes him feel closer to god.

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"There can be no penance without pain. No man should spare himself the scourge, as I told Ser Osney. I seldom feel so close to god as when I am being whipped for mine own wickedness, though my darkest sins are no wise near as black as his."

He is as GRRM heralds through Tyrion;

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The only red priest Tyrion had ever known was Thoros of Myr, the portly, genial, wine-stained roisterer who had loitered about Robert's court swilling the king's finest vintages and setting his sword on fire for mêlées. "Give me priests who are fat and corrupt and cynical," he told Haldon, "the sort who like to sit on soft satin cushions, nibble sweetmeats, and diddle little boys. It's the ones who believe in gods who make the trouble."

The man is a fanatic, it's a plot point, GRRM wants to explore this angle. So the Faith is now a new beast, something it hasn't been for most the series, it is now honest from the top down and basically fearless.

 

Sandor Clegane and Lies and Knighthood

Sandor was victimised by his bigger stronger evil older brother Gregor, and the whole world cheered Gregor and rewarded him as a hero and he was knighted by the crown prince. At his knighting Gregor would have sworn the following oath of a knight:

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do you swear before the eyes of gods and men to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to protect all women and children, to obey your captains, your liege lord, and your king, to fight bravely when needed and do such other tasks as are laid upon you, however hard or humble or dangerous they may be?

Gregor's knighting was a mockery, a lie from the first oath. And it is far from an isolated incident. This was obviously apparent to Sandor and has caused him to have a deep hatred for lies, lying and liars, and a general rage within himself towards the whole world.

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"My father told everyone my bedding had caught fire, and our maester gave me ointments. Ointments! Gregor got his ointments too. Four years later, they anointed him with the seven oils and he recited his knightly vows and Rhaegar Targaryen tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'Arise, Ser Gregor.'"

The anointment with the seven oils is a blessing of the Faith. So Sandor hates lying, liars and knights and knighthood and refuses to become a knight.

 

How the Faith and Sandor Fit

So it should be plain to see Sandor and the Faith as it is or has become under the leadership of the the new High Septon fit together. Made for each other. The new High Septon and the Faith do not lie, they are true believers. They believe everything they say and make an honest attempt to live by it. They are the perfect antidote to Sandor's bitter and jaded view on society, and particularly knighthood. I suggest it is apparent that the High Septon would not be one to consent to a sham like the knighting of Gregor Clegane, would speak out against his actions as a knight, and do so regardless of the powerful enemies it would make him. The hypocritical system that so failed child Sandor and that he hates has been for now fixed by way of honest actors.

 

What Will Happen

The Faith's rise will coincide with Aegon taking over and by way of some benevolence and integrity and in contrast to the previous calamitous regime it will be somewhat of a mini golden age. It will be a time for hope, when the people will have cause to believe that there is justice, or that there can be justice should they be willing to make it so, as they now have the backing of those in power. Faithful knights true to their vows will step forward, and soon enough too will Sandor, willing to do his part to make a world where a child might not be afraid or at least their abuser isn't celebrated. The man who has spent the whole series protecting those who can not protect themselves, particularly two of our heroines, will make it official by say his knightly vows with the full intention of keeping to them, in front of an honest septon of a true Faith. They will grant him this privilege and honour as they will believe in him, that he will use it for good, and so he will. Sandor will go on to do great heroic deeds.

And that will be half the story, the good half before the true believers make all the trouble. The other half is why fanaticism is bad and a lie may sometimes be the lesser of two evils. What this quote below is setting the stage for and why GRRM had Sandor given an honest trial by good and honest knights of a different religion.

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Others have suggested that Viserys poisoned Baelor for the good of the realm, since the septon-king had come to believe that the Seven called on him to convert all the unbelievers in his realm. This would have led to a war with the North and the Iron Islands that would have caused great turmoil.

But I move further forward than I can sustain with where the text is.

My main point is reports of Sandor being retired from the saving and protecting business are greatly exaggerated, GRRM has set a stage here, it isn't by accident that he's first given Sandor's particular concerns regarding knighthood, then fixed them, and had Sandor fallen in with the fixers. The 7 foot sword swinging ass kicking anti-hero who has spent the whole series protecting children isn't going to spend the rest of it digging fucking ditches while dragons dance and supernatural zombies lay waste to the world. The Hound's fighting prowess was fuelled by rage, the reborn Sandor will be powered by faith, and he's coming back to give his 8 foot demon brother the gift, brave dragon's fire, have Sansa swooning, Arya raging and to save this, that and everything again, again and again, before dying completely epically and tragically. Sandor is not just an anti knighthood exposition, that's just one half of it, knighthood isn't all bad, it is at its core a noble idea and empowered and inspired many men to do good, and more than any other ASOIAF character it is True Knight Warrior's Son Kingsguard Sandor Clegane's role to prove it.

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I think the renewed Faith, under the leadership of the High Sparrow, is a very important institution not from a religious perspective, but from a political one. It's practically the only way that commoners, poor people and outcasts can have some semblance of authority and influence; one doesn't need to be noble-born to rise through the ranks, and even the highest position is neither exclusive to nobles nor hereditary. Like the Night's Watch, it's a bastion of meritocracy and democracy in an extremely nepotistic and undemocratic world. The High Sparrow has shown that nobles are not exempt from the morality that the commoners must abide by - not even queens, and thanks to Cersei's astoundingly stupid decision to legalise the Faith Militant, they now have the power to enforce the law (though it's a religious one, not a secular one). 

I hope that the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant aren't just destroyed so easily like in the show; I want to see it stick around and actually put some kind of permanent pressure on the nobility to behave decently. Thanks to Aegon's tutoring by Septa Lemoyne, I think he at least will be more receptive to the renewed Faith than the Lannisters or Tyrells.

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Good points made here. I agree that Sandor's story is not done yet. His retirement to the Quiet Isle is a necessary step for some healing and self-reflection. But GRRM writes heroes to use their abilities for a greater good, something Sandor almost certainly will be called to do. 

The High Sparrow is an interesting and multifaceted character, and the larger Sparrow movement serves as an important take on how the common folk can use the institutions of their faith to seize power and justice that was denied them.

Still, I don't think that story will intersect much with Sandor's. Our author does not see any real value in rigid orthodoxy, and the Sparrow movement is an extremely doctrinaire populist movement. Note that the religious folk who save Sandor were simply people who cared for others around them. Think of how Septon Meribald treated Brienne, and compare that to how the Poor Fellows treated her earlier. One cared about conformity for the cause and the other clearly cared about helping people.

I think, if anything, the Sparrow/Faith Militant movement is meant to show how legitimate grievances can fester and mutate into something that is itself toxic. Not completely unlike today's right wing populist movements, which may start out with some legitimate concerns about cultural corruption, but head inexorably toward anti-democratic and fascist sentiments.

Edited by Phylum of Alexandria
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I don't agree that the "faithful Faith" is a new phenomenon.  It has always existed, regardless of whether it was embodied in the ruling High Septon.  We have seen it in Septon Meribald, in Lancel, and in the Elder Brother.  And even, to some extent in Sansa.

So, I don't agree that Sandor's character arc will need any encounter with the High Sparrow.  He has met, first Sansa, and then the Elder Brother.  That's enough.  And I would suspect that, to the extent GRRM may see any value in religion, he probably sees it as more bottom-up than top-down.

But yes, the Ideal of the True Knight is connected to the Faith of the Seven.  And yes, I believe that Sandor's hatred of knights foreshadows his ironic destiny to become a True Knight.  Similarly, his terror of fire is an ironic foreshadowing of his destiny to slay a dragon.  

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On 11/25/2021 at 2:26 AM, Phylum of Alexandria said:

Still, I don't think that story will intersect much with Sandor's.

It will, Sandor will be front and centre. When zombies come to kill all humanity and king and Septon send Sandor, who will have taken oaths to obey them, out to kill heathen northmen, Iron Islanders, Dothraki and R'hllor worshippers instead of the ice zombies, he'll break oath and make a liar of himself.

It isn't the whole purpose of the Faith, but showing that sometimes a lie is the lesser evil is the (not sole but) primary point of Sandor.

Like so many things it is for Arya's benefit, softening and being more understanding of a lie is part of Arya's development, and Mycah and the dichotomy between Sansa and Arya (Sansa will be on the side Sandor turns from and Arya on the side Sandor turns to) is the springboard for this whole theme.

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17 hours ago, chrisdaw said:

 

It isn't the whole purpose of the Faith, but showing that sometimes a lie is the lesser evil is the (not sole but) primary point of Sandor.

Sandor claims he hates liars, but he also helps Sansa lie to Joffrey during his nameday tourney when she makes up the story about it being bad luck to kill someone on their birthday. So he’s already shown that he’s willing to lie if he thinks it’s for a good reason.

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Sansa lies a lot, right from the start. It is in addition to the lies to herself. She has survived by the lie, too. Sandor has survived a lot, as well. Sandor rescued Sansa.

Arya is interesting in that she is learning to tell lies from the truth in n intense manner.  She rescued Sandor, and perhaps it made an impression on him. Yes, I do think that Arya is learning about the house of black and white.

Both girls use disguises and slogans.

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2 hours ago, HoodedCrow said:

Sansa lies a lot, right from the start. It is in addition to the lies to herself. She has survived by the lie, too. Sandor has survived a lot, as well. Sandor rescued Sansa.

Arya is interesting in that she is learning to tell lies from the truth in n intense manner.  She rescued Sandor, and perhaps it made an impression on him. Yes, I do think that Arya is learning about the house of black and white.

Both girls use disguises and slogans.

When did Arya rescue Sandor?

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