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Petyr Baelish: a man healed, or in disguise?


Sir_Kyle_Bonesky

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Storm of Swords, Sansa:

"Her aunt had brought only three ladies with her, so they pressed Sansa to help them undress Lord Petyr and march him up to his marriage bed. He submitted with good grace and a wicked tongue, giving as good as he got. By the time they had gotten him into the tower and out of his clothes, the other women were flushed, with laces unlaced, kirtles crooked, and skirts in disarray. But Littlefinger only smiled at Sansa as they marched him up to the bedchamber where his lady wife was waiting.

When I first read this, I asked, "Why would GRRM leave out the large scar left by Brandon Stark?" 

I do believe this is the only instance in the five novels where Petyr is undressed, and being that the severity of the scar is 'part of his backstory', I'm curious if it was purposely left out, and why.

Did GRRM see no use for it? Seems odd and unlikely, as I'm sure all four ladies would have gasped or stared at the scar. I mean, Stark's strike almost killed him.

Is there no scar? We don't know too many details of his rest and healing besides the crazy Lysa story, but it seems unlikely unless there was some magic in play that we're all unaware of right now.

Is someone disguised as Petyr Baelish? I don't know all the details about wearing faces, binding shadows, etc., but this would make the most sense if the scar was left out of the above passage because it wasn't there. It would be another clever piece of not-writing by George to hint that Petyr isn't Petyr.

Curious as to everyones thoughts on why GRRM didn't include the scar in that scene.

Wishing you all a great weekend!

 

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I think the more likely explanation is that it just slipped Martin’s mind to mention it. But I’m sure many, of if not a majority, will say it’s another faux identity and that he is, in reality, Rhaella or something equally outlandish. 

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Ooh good find!

I'd put it to a literary decision, Petyr risking his life and honor for a wild love fuled adventure is not the message that Alayne is supposed to learn. The mysteriousness that surrounds LF is lost onto Sansa and perhaps GRRM figured she shouldn't be privy to that information.

But, no doubt, she shoulda seen it

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18 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

I think the more likely explanation is that it just slipped Martin’s mind to mention it. But I’m sure many, of if not a majority, will say it’s another faux identity and that he is, in reality, Rhaella or something equally outlandish. 

I can definitely see that, yes :). If Petyr is still Petyr, do you think the Baelish household could be from the Rhaenyra + Daemon OR Strong children line?  

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17 hours ago, Hugorfonics said:

Ooh good find!

I'd put it to a literary decision, Petyr risking his life and honor for a wild love fuled adventure is not the message that Alayne is supposed to learn. The mysteriousness that surrounds LF is lost onto Sansa and perhaps GRRM figured she shouldn't be privy to that information.

But, no doubt, she shoulda seen it

Ahhh, I quickly forget how we're supposed to read the chapters from the POV of each character—another reason GRRM is a genius. Thank you for the reminder!  

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21 hours ago, Sir_Kyle_Bonesky said:

"Why would GRRM leave out the large scar left by Brandon Stark?"

Where is it said that it's a "large" scar? Catelyn reminds that Brandon scarred Petyr without any additional qualifier, and then Petyr tells Ned that he still carries a "token" of his late brother's "esteem".

Couldn't it just be a small, not particularly noticeable scar that after 20 years can be easily overlooked ?

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8 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Where is it said that it's a "large" scar? Catelyn reminds that Brandon scarred Petyr without any additional qualifier, and then Petyr tells Ned that he still carries a "token" of his late brother's "esteem".

Couldn't it just be a small, not particularly noticeable scar that after 20 years can be easily overlooked ?

She recalls it being a deep cut to Petyr's ribs, and that it was almost fatal. I would agree with you if it was a piercing stab, but a cut from a large sword brandished by big brandon, doubtful it wouldn't leave a mark.

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9 hours ago, Sir_Kyle_Bonesky said:

She recalls it being a deep cut to Petyr's ribs, and that it was almost fatal. I would agree with you if it was a piercing stab, but a cut from a large sword brandished by big brandon, doubtful it wouldn't leave a mark.

The full recollection that Catelyn has is: "Brandon finally ended it,with a brutal backhand cut that bit through Petyr’s rings and leather into the soft flesh below the ribs, so deep that Catelyn was certain that the wound was mortal."

The fact that Petyr was wearing leather, mail and breastplate is significant in this context. Brondon's brutal cut would leave a scar in the part that absorbed the impact, where the rings were broken, but not a long slash. The wound is described as deep, but never as "large".

Also, the fact that both fighters were facing each other, Brandon was giving a backhand cut, and Brandon's sword obviously didn't cut through the breastplate, also gives us a clear indication that the scar can't be very long (and also, only visible from one side of Petyr's naked torso)

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An intriguing idea, actually.

The wound left by Brandon is certainly presented as one of the more memorable facts we have about Littlefinger’s past - in fact, we might identify that moment as a key turning point in his young life. Even a prime motive for his dislike of the Starks. So it’s not as though this scar is an obscure piece of trivia. The fact that he mentions it as a ‘token’ means it’s surely visible whatever its size.

That George chooses to have Sansa present when LF is stripped naked is interesting, too. When else would we get to see evidence of that wound? It’s not like LF is a POV character. So if he was ever going to show us the scar it would be then. Unless we get a LF/Sansa bedroom scene in TWOW (yuck).

So yes I agree  that this is an odd choice. And it’s possible George is using ‘detail by omission’ as a device here. He does indeed like to be subtle at times. So a good catch perhaps. But as to what it points to? Healing of some sort - not impossible. I suspect this may only be ‘stage one’ of those famous 3-stage clues George likes to set out, and we may have to wait and see.

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On 5/28/2023 at 7:23 PM, kissdbyfire said:

I think the more likely explanation is that it just slipped Martin’s mind to mention it.

Hmm I think I’m gonna have to disagree with this quick dismissal here. I just don’t see George accidentally overlooking this - it’s not like a horse’s gender or someone’s eye colour.

Littlefinger is a huge character in these books and the Brandon wound is a very memorable event even on a first read. To omit it seems like a clear deliberate choice.

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3 hours ago, Sandy Clegg said:

Hmm I think I’m gonna have to disagree with this quick dismissal here. I just don’t see George accidentally overlooking this - it’s not like a horse’s gender or someone’s eye colour.

Littlefinger is a huge character in these books and the Brandon wound is a very memorable event even on a first read. To omit it seems like a clear deliberate choice.

Actually, it is exactly like a horse’s gender or someone’s eye colour if it has no real impact in the story other than providing a bit of flavour in a  background story that involves a few important characters. 

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58 minutes ago, kissdbyfire said:

Actually, it is exactly like a horse’s gender or someone’s eye colour if it has no real impact in the story other than providing a bit of flavour in a  background story that involves a few important characters. 

Well ok it's hard to argue the merits of an absence of detail, by its very nature. And it's true that Sansa makes no observation on Peter's body at all in the bedding scene. But there's curiosity value here at least.

Do we know if Sansa is even aware of his duel with Brandon? If so, then it makes it more notable that she doesn't remark on it. If she never knew he was even in a duel, then of course she wouldn't remark - it's just a plain torso. Maybe the OP can dig out a little more?

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On 5/29/2023 at 10:55 AM, The hairy bear said:

Where is it said that it's a "large" scar?

I wonder if some readers have confused the book with the TV show? In the show, Littlefinger describes the scar as running "from my neck to my waist," or something similar; I don't recall the exact words.

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In short, we can all agree that he has a scar. Let's not pretend to be experts on how big or small it is; all we can do is interpret George's writings in a few different ways.  Scars play vital roles in hero and villain labels; Jon, Tyrion, Littlefinger, Brynden, etc., and because of that and George not including the scar's reference in that scene—it's curious. 

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On 5/30/2023 at 4:48 AM, Springwatch said:

No doubt Sansa was doing her very best not to look anywhere in particular.

I agree. Also agree that we don't really know how big or obvious the scar is. Also, many men in Westeros would have scars from warfare, from learning to fight, from accidents ... and she may not see it as unusual or particularly wonder what caused it.

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