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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa II

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Just one problem with that interpretation: Sansa in the books does not desire to be queen any more, she wants to have a home back and reunite with her family (including Jon Snow, her bastard brother).

Sansa does not desire a blond prince anymore, or to be a queen, but that doesn't mean she can't become a queen anymore. After all, she certainly didn't desire to marry Tyrion (but she was forced to) or to play stepmom/stepsister to Sweetrobin, but it happened or is happening anyway, and the latter thing she is actually very good at.

Arguably, Sansa has been receiving training in how to be a queen and how not to be one, in ACOK and ASOS, and coupled with LF's insights on "the Game" it does look a lot like Sansa is being prepared by GRRM to act as a queen (or at least a lady of an important keep/region) in due time. Sansa is one of the remaining original POV's from AGOT, there will be a payoff for that down the line. During the battle of the Blackwater, Sansa was contrasted deliberately and very favouredly to Cersei (especially in the books), and I don't think this was done by Martin on accident. I expect Sansa to do much better and different than Cersei, when the time comes.

Sansa breaching tradition and refusing any sort of arranged/political marriage is a possibility and would also be a payoff of sorts, but I doubt that is where Martin will be going with her. In my view, Sansa is a girl from the songs (...of ice and fire), like queen Naerys (if I have the right song in mind) and the more sceptical and cynical she'll become about the songs and reality, the more it may turn out her life is right out of the songs she used to love.

And we already have some girls who have done away with tradition; Lyanna seems a clear example, we have Asha and Brienne who go against societal norms, and I doubt Arya would ever go for a political marriage, so Sansa ending up as the proverbial innkeeper's wife or farmer's wife is not something I think will happen as it - IMO - would duplicate what happens to those other non-conventional characters.

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@ Wouter,

And we already have some girls who have done away with tradition; Lyanna seems a clear example, we have Asha and Brienne who go against societal norms, and I doubt Arya would ever go for a political marriage, so Sansa ending up as the proverbial innkeeper's wife or farmer's wife is not something I think will happen as it - IMO - would duplicate what happens to those other non-conventional characters.

True, and what happened to the girls going against tradition? Lyanna died and managed to help start a Westeros total war. Asha is on the run from a forced marriage and Brienne is accused of regicide and feels like a total failure for not being either a proper son or a daughter to her father. Overall, not a happy or very successful bunch.

There is also a huge, huge gap between Queenship and becoming an innkeeper's wife. The people Sansa has been thrown together with have been Littlefinger, Cersei, Queen of Thorns and Tyrion, none of them traditional figures and all of them attempting to "rule behind the scenes" with varying degrees of success.

To me, it also seems that the all encompassing arc that Sansa is on is of realising what she wants, stop being moved around by other people and become someone who acts instead of being acted upon. But Sansa can't do that by taking the route of Asha, Brienne or Arya because she's not a badass ninja assassin, so she needs to go another route. If we're looking at sacrificing herself for duty, this seems far more Jon Snow's and Dany's arc, not Sansa's. She started out as dutiful, pretty and obedient (hence the "little trained little bird") but she's had to learn to break free from it.

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Does anyone else see the similarities between Sansa/Petry and Elizabeth I/Tom Seymour?

Both were highly inappropriate, take place with the man in a father-like position, both the women were very young and red-haired. Both men tried to make the object of their desire into prominent wielders of power.

More importantly, it is theorised that Seymour's inappropriateness may have traumatise Queen Bess and kept her from marrying later in life.

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How Sansa will deal with the potential trauma related to LF's perverted attentions is an interesting topic to explore. She was able to recover fairly well from the forced marriage to Tyrion in the sense that she is not afraid of sex or intimacy, but LF's behaviour is a lot more insidious and unnatural. He's posing as her father, and wants the required loyalty and affection for that role, but he's also acting like a lover, and requiring the kisses and close contact that entails as well. Sansa is really going to have to see him like she did in the first chapter of AFFC: as Littlefinger and Petyr, or better yet, to realise that both LF and Petyr are equally dangerous, and neither persona has her best interest at heart.

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@ Wouter,

True, and what happened to the girls going against tradition? Lyanna died and managed to help start a Westeros total war. Asha is on the run from a forced marriage and Brienne is accused of regicide and feels like a total failure for not being either a proper son or a daughter to her father. Overall, not a happy or very successful bunch.

Debatable. Brienne is a very honorable "knight" and a very succesful warrior and she had gained the trust of Catelyn and does have Jaime's trust. Lyanna probably gave birth to one of the saviours of humankind. Asha is on the run, and good for her because that way she is distanced from the disasters that Euron and Victarion will soon bring down on the Ironborn - while Asha will be busy mending the peace with king Stannis and the northmen. Asha will rule the Iron islands in the end I think, either directly or through Theon.

There is also a huge, huge gap between Queenship and becoming an innkeeper's wife. The people Sansa has been thrown together with have been Littlefinger, Cersei, Queen of Thorns and Tyrion, none of them traditional figures and all of them attempting to "rule behind the scenes" with varying degrees of success.

And yet, all 4 engaged in political, arranged marriages (even though LF pretended it was out of love).

And with Sansa being one of the 6 main characters in the series, I would expect GRRM to be aiming high rather than low with her and since she's not a ninja assassin like Arya...

To me, it also seems that the all encompassing arc that Sansa is on is of realising what she wants, stop being moved around by other people and become someone who acts instead of being acted upon. But Sansa can't do that by taking the route of Asha, Brienne or Arya because she's not a badass ninja assassin, so she needs to go another route.

Alys Karstark is a nice example of a strong northern girl, who acts, knows what she wants and is not moved around by other people (and she is not a badass ninja either). But yet, she married politically as well. I could see Sansa following in a similar vein.

If we're looking at sacrificing herself for duty, this seems far more Jon Snow's and Dany's arc, not Sansa's. She started out as dutiful, pretty and obedient (hence the "little trained little bird") but she's had to learn to break free from it.

Sansa is still very dutiful as of ADWD; both of her parents were dutiful as well. I suspect she will stay that way.

One thing that makes this a bit more likely IMO, is that Sansa still may get repercussions from her AGOT actions. Martin did once note in an interview that Sansa and Arya have deep issues to work out - I wonder if that (partly) means Sansa will confess she went to Cersei and this in turn may make it more likely that she would feel obliged/be pressured to "take one for the team" if necessary, so to speak.

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How Sansa will deal with the potential trauma related to LF's perverted attentions is an interesting topic to explore. She was able to recover fairly well from the forced marriage to Tyrion in the sense that she is not afraid of sex or intimacy, but LF's behaviour is a lot more insidious and unnatural. He's posing as her father, and wants the required loyalty and affection for that role, but he's also acting like a lover, and requiring the kisses and close contact that entails as well. Sansa is really going to have to see him like she did in the first chapter of AFFC: as Littlefinger and Petyr, or better yet, to realise that both LF and Petyr are equally dangerous, and neither persona has her best interest at heart.

I know a lot of people (not necessarily in this thread :P ) see Sansa as a delicate little flower, but I think she's got a spine of steel, not very unlike Cat, Arya and women like Alys Karstark. She gets scared and may have nightmares about the bad things that have happened to her, as we saw from how she reacted to the riot scene and later with Lysa's death, but despite it all she seems to put herself back together and keep on trucking.

The same with her reaction to Tyrion. It seemed to freak her out majorly, but despite it she seems to not be put off by Lysa's and Littlefinger's marriage (here she seems more thoughtful and reflects that the bedding would not have been so bad surrounded by people she knew and trusted), or when Mya brings up her husband dying (embarrassed, and not a strange thing either!). Not to mention her thoughts regarding the UnKiss and Lothor Brune/Mya Stone. Despite the freaky Tyrion interaction she seems decidedly normal.

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Debatable. Brienne is a very honorable "knight" and a very succesful warrior and she had gained the trust of Catelyn and does have Jaime's trust. Lyanna probably gave birth to one of the saviours of humankind. Asha is on the run, and good for her because that way she is distanced from the disasters that Euron and Victarion will soon bring down on the Ironborn - while Asha will be busy mending the peace with king Stannis and the northmen. Asha will rule the Iron islands in the end I think, either directly or through Theon.

Successful...how? Brienne is many things, but "successful" is not one of them, and she is decidedly not a knight. Lyanna may have given birth, but she freaking died??? You have completely failed to prove that being non-traditional is any real asset. It MAY be, but it isn't at all necessarily so.

And yet, all 4 engaged in political, arranged marriages (even though LF pretended it was out of love).

And with Sansa being one of the 6 main characters in the series, I would expect GRRM to be aiming high rather than low with her and since she's not a ninja assassin like Arya...

No. Cersei and Tyrion got outplayed by Tywin into marriages they did not want. The Queen of Thorns picked her own husband (she says herself that she loved him despite him being an oaf, and that she put a stop to her marrying a Targ: she definitely picked him). LF married Lysa for his own again yes, but he definitely went into that one with eyes open and only to use Lysa. Sansa as a woman cannot marry a highborn man and use him. She would be his lady wife only and have no power. For a reference, see Daario's comment to Dany about marrying Hizdahr.

Alys Karstark is a nice example of a strong northern girl, who acts, knows what she wants and is not moved around by other people (and she is not a badass ninja either). But yet, she married politically as well. I could see Sansa following in a similar vein.

Alys married the Magnar of Thenn because she was on the run and had another political marriage hanging over her head.

Sansa is still very dutiful as of ADWD; both of her parents were dutiful as well. I suspect she will stay that way.

One thing that makes this a bit more likely IMO, is that Sansa still may get repercussions from her AGOT actions. Martin did once note in an interview that Sansa and Arya have deep issues to work out - I wonder if that (partly) means Sansa will confess she went to Cersei and this in turn may make it more likely that she would feel obliged/be pressured to "take one for the team" if necessary, so to speak.

Yes, Ned and Cat were dutiful and honourable, and look where it got them. Dead. Or in Cat's case, undead. Sansa taking after her parents in this case = disaster.

I also think that Sansa and Arya's issues will need to be sorted out, sure, but Arya struck the crown prince. She should have known better. It would be shocking if the outcome would be that Sansa felt so cowed by it that she had to marry some dude she didn't like, just to "save Arya" from a political marriage. That would be terrible for everyone concerned, as it would very likely lead Sansa down a path of bitterness against her sister. Sansa's main sorrow in AFFC is that nobody will ever love her for herself. Do you really think her own sister, despite what they have been through, would be happy to see Sansa miserable? I tend to think no. Besides, Arya think marrying powerful lords is stupid, so I tend to think she would approve of a bit of rebellion from her sister. In fact, I think Arya would be far more approving of Sansa as a bastard girl than as a Queen consort or a High Lord's trophy wife.

Not to mention if Sansa gives up on what she really wants, then she's nothing more than what she was in AGOT: a pretty little talking bird. And her storyline and everything she learnt would be for nothing.

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@Lyanna :) Yeah I agree about the spine of steel. It's why I call Sansa my honey badger. Things happen to her but she seems able to shake them off and keep trucking as you put it. I think it has to do with that remarkable ability to adapt to change and incorporate new ideas and discoveries into her world view without letting it warp her mindset too much. That's why she's always reminded me of Daenerys.

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@ brashcandy,

Really good point about Dany being similar. :) She also has that capability to keep on trucking despite overwhelming odds and really horrible experiences. I think Cat shows similar strength in her chapters.

As a total tangent, did you ever post thoughts on the role of religion in Sansa's storyline? I seem to remember something about it, but I have the memory of a goldfish. :o

I've been on a Bach binge for days, and somehow it got me thinking of religion, religious music and that it can symbolise a connection with the divine, or a plea to the divine for mercy or even redemption. Sansa has all of those components in her storyline, and even more so if you include Sandor in it.

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@ brashcandy,

Really good point about Dany being similar. :) She also has that capability to keep on trucking despite overwhelming odds and really horrible experiences. I think Cat shows similar strength in her chapters.

As a total tangent, did you ever post thoughts on the role of religion in Sansa's storyline? I seem to remember something about it, but I have the memory of a goldfish. :o

I've been on a Bach binge for days, and somehow it got me thinking of religion, religious music and that it can symbolise a connection with the divine, or a plea to the divine for mercy or even redemption. Sansa has all of those components in her storyline, and even more so if you include Sandor in it.

Yes, yes, we did explore the religious role a bit in the FPTP threads, and when the Sandor threads were still active I recall a few discussions on it :) It really is an interesting aspect of her arc!

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Successful...how? Brienne is many things, but "successful" is not one of them, and she is decidedly not a knight.

A knight is a mounted and armoured warrior who is good at killing things. Which does make Brienne a knight (Sandor-approved). Brienne is even one of the best warriors of the seven kingdoms, and maybe the most honorable to boot. I don't think many would call Arthur Dayne a failure, and Brienne is actually not that far from what he was, or what Ser Barristan still is. A very good and loyal fighter. So what if she isn't an anointed knight technically, isn't that the point of being non-traditional?

And Asha will yet turn out to be very succesfull, I'm pretty sure. She has the brains in the Greyjoy family.

Lyanna may have given birth, but she freaking died??? You have completely failed to prove that being non-traditional is any real asset. It MAY be, but it isn't at all necessarily so.

Valar morghulis - childbirth was always dangerous in the middle ages, It will also be dangerous for Sansa no matter if it is the result of an arranged marriage or not. I bet Lyanna was still happier with Rhaegar than she would have been with Robert, though.

No. Cersei and Tyrion got outplayed by Tywin into marriages they did not want. The Queen of Thorns picked her own husband (she says herself that she loved him despite him being an oaf, and that she put a stop to her marrying a Targ: she definitely picked him). LF married Lysa for his own again yes, but he definitely went into that one with eyes open and only to use Lysa. Sansa as a woman cannot marry a highborn man and use him. She would be his lady wife only and have no power. For a reference, see Daario's comment to Dany about marrying Hizdahr.

You were the one who named Cersei and Tyrion as "non-traditional figures", seemingly implying that you saw them as examples of the "middle way" between being queen and being the wife of an innkeeper?

As for marrying a highborn man, Sansa can certainly get power that way if it is the right man. That a lady wife can have no power is not true; one of your own examples, the queen of thorns, is already an example of that. Even Cersei had a lot of power in Robert's court (look at all those Lannisters that got named in places of power or honour around Robert) and he didn't even like her! As for Dany and Hizdahr, I think the Barristan coup shows who had the real power in that marriage - and it was the one with the loyalty of the unsullied (and of the dragons, to some extent). Power is a trick, a shadow on the wall and all that...

Alys married the Magnar of Thenn because she was on the run and had another political marriage hanging over her head.

Well, you wrote that "the all encompassing arc that Sansa is on is of realising what she wants, stop being moved around by other people and become someone who acts instead of being acted upon.". And I still think that Alys is a very good example of that?

Yes, Ned and Cat were dutiful and honourable, and look where it got them. Dead. Or in Cat's case, undead. Sansa taking after her parents in this case = disaster.

Ned and Catelyn were good people, and it shows in their legacy. Anyone can be killed, but there are worse things than taking after those two.

I also think that Sansa and Arya's issues will need to be sorted out, sure, but Arya struck the crown prince. She should have known better. It would be shocking if the outcome would be that Sansa felt so cowed by it that she had to marry some dude she didn't like, just to "save Arya" from a political marriage. That would be terrible for everyone concerned, as it would very likely lead Sansa down a path of bitterness against her sister. Sansa's main sorrow in AFFC is that nobody will ever love her for herself. Do you really think her own sister, despite what they have been through, would be happy to see Sansa miserable? I tend to think no. Besides, Arya think marrying powerful lords is stupid, so I tend to think she would approve of a bit of rebellion from her sister. In fact, I think Arya would be far more approving of Sansa as a bastard girl than as a Queen consort or a High Lord's trophy wife.

I don't think Arya will tell Sansa to marry someone she doesn't want, don't get me wrong. Nor do I see it as Sansa having to save Arya from a marriage by marrying someone herself; (real) Arya marrying just will never be in the picture regardless of what Sansa does or doesn't do, I suspect. But I do see the possibility that Sansa may feel a certain need to make amends, more as pressure from herself if she fears her siblings might think less of her otherwise. And hell, Robb outright did attempt to give Edmure feelings of guilt to talk/bludgeon him into a marriage he didn't want - I don't think Arya would do that, as I said, but if Robb is willing to do that with Edmure then can we say for sure Jon or even Bran wouldn't attempt something similar if they considered it necessary?

Not to mention if Sansa gives up on what she really wants, then she's nothing more than what she was in AGOT: a pretty little talking bird. And her storyline and everything she learnt would be for nothing.

Sansa is not what she was in AGOT, whatever way she goes from now. I'm not saying your interpretation (that her arc leads her away from arranged marriage stuff and all) is wrong, but I have a different feeling where GRRM might be going. My impression is that her storyline, and everything she learnt, is meant to give her the right tools and experience and mindset to be succesful at courtly life and politics, in a way she was not in AGOT. That she doesn't particularly want that life anymore is part of it. According to LF, the same is true about Margaery, for example.

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For Lyanna Stark (an expansion on my "eve of the Blackwater conversation dynamics between Sandor and Sansa" theory) :)

Essentially, my feelings about that meeting between them is that there's a sexually charged undercurrent that runs throughout the conversation, starting with him grabbing her before she could fall and her pulling away roughly. I don't think it's meant to be coincidental that this is the night Sansa gets her period, or that he's the man who's there to witness the first stab of pain from this important threshold in a girl's life. Of course he isn't aware of it, and neither is she at this point, but her first period symbolises IMO a watershed moment for them and how they relate to one another. We see Sansa being a lot more direct and challenging Sandor on his cynicism:

She hated the way he talked, always so harsh and angry. "Does it give you joy to scare people?"

Throughout this entire converation Sandor is going out of his way to be mean and hurtful to Sansa. Telling her about her the dance Ned did when his head was chopped off, putting the longsword against her neck and asserting once again that knights are for killing. However, instead of seeing this as just the Hound being the Hound, I think we have to read between the lines here, and ask ourselves just why is he being so hateful, just why does he feel the need to put his sword against Sansa's neck? For me, I think it's that he's really scared, and instead of admitting his fears, or allowing himself to find some comfort in having a normal conversation with Sansa, he retreats back into the security of his anger and brutality, defining himself as a butcher, because he has no idea how to communicate anything else.

We don't know how long he was atop Maegor's looking out at the fires before Sansa came, but we can assume that he came there for the same reasons as she did, to escape the feeling of claustrophia and the impending sense of doom. For Sandor of course, the fires that are burning in the Kingswood are even more traumatic because of what Gregor did to him:

Clegane's eyes turned towards the distant fires. "All this burning." He sheathed his sword. "Only cowards fight with fire."

Sandor's view of his brother is evident in that statement, but just before this, Sansa had already shown her unique understanding of his inner demons. She thinks in reponse to his claims that as long as he has his sword he fears no one:

Except your brother ... but she had better than to say it aloud. He is a dog, just as he says. A half-wild, mean tempered dog that bites any hand that tries to pet him, and yet will savage any man who tries to hurt his masters.

The truth is that yeah, Sandor would like to be petted, I think very much (we see it later on when he comes to her room), and especially before facing the prospect of a hellish battle, where he could be killed any minute. But he’s unable to express these emotions and he can’t touch Sansa because of how she might react and the revulsion he thinks she feels when she looks at him, so he uses his sword to touch her, which I read as not communicating danger, but rather desire. Look at where he places it: on her neck just below her ear, and the sword itself could be seen as operating as a phallic symbol here.

The conversation is equally frustrating for both of them. Sandor adopts this extreme machismo posturing, and Sansa retreats from the nihilistic vision he puts forth. It's like a trial run for their later encounter during the Blackwater where they succeed in achieving the intimacy and understanding that evades them now.

So that's my "insight" in a nutshell. The conversation can really be read at two levels, but I think the more superficial one is focusing solely on what the Hound says here. IMO, what's really important is what isn't said, and this goes for both of them, as Sansa notes to herself that what is really fearful is not the scars, but the anger she sees in his eyes.

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I've read the first "Rethinking Sansa" topic, it was so interesting! It helped me understand her better, she was already one of my favorite characters. I'm halfway through this one.

I know a lot of people (not necessarily in this thread :P ) see Sansa as a delicate little flower, but I think she's got a spine of steel, not very unlike Cat, Arya and women like Alys Karstark. She gets scared and may have nightmares about the bad things that have happened to her, as we saw from how she reacted to the riot scene and later with Lysa's death, but despite it all she seems to put herself back together and keep on trucking.

Something very important about Sansa is her strength. Most people see her as weak and fragile, they just don't know how much strength it takes to be gentle and kind in the darkest of times. It's easy to deal with difficult moments by getting angry, destroying things, insulting at people, but it's extremely hard to keep on being polite and not losing control of yourself when your whole world and everything you believed in is falling apart and you feel you're going down too, when you're surrounded by enemies, when you can't escape. It takes a different kind of courage. And when such a situation comes upon you, it's very difficult not to forget who you are. I want to see Sansa getting through all this without losing her gentleness, her sweetness, her ladylike manners, her dreams of happiness. I hope she doesn't become a cynical, resentful woman.

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Welcome to the Sansa threads DaniSnowborn! :)

For Lyanna Stark (an expansion on my "eve of the Blackwater conversation dynamics between Sandor and Sansa" theory) :)

Thank you! *bows* I feel honoured. :)

Throughout this entire converation Sandor is going out of his way to be mean and hurtful to Sansa. Telling her about her the dance Ned did when his head was chopped off, putting the longsword against her neck and asserting once again that knights are for killing. However, instead of seeing this as just the Hound being the Hound, I think we have to read between the lines here, and ask ourselves just why is he being so hateful, just why does he feel the need to put his sword against Sansa's neck? For me, I think it's that he's really scared, and instead of admitting his fears, or allowing himself to find some comfort in having a normal conversation with Sansa, he retreats back into the security of his anger and brutality, defining himself as a butcher, because he has no idea how to communicate anything else.

I reread this chapter the other day after you mentioned your initial thoughts on it and got the same impression, especially since he only really goes off on one after Sansa shouts at him to let go, which he probably took as her rejecting him. It makes you wonder too what his initial thoughts were on her being there since he must have been standing really, really close to her to grab her that fast.

About retreating into the security of anger and brutality, that's what he seems to do in the Arya chapters too when he doesn't know how to handle things. Both when Arya says "Did you hit her with an axe too?" and then of course at the "death" scene where we have an veritable explosion of brutal, violent words.

Sandor's view of his brother is evident in that statement, but just before this, Sansa had already shown her unique understanding of his inner demons. She thinks in reponse to his claims that as long as he has his sword he fears no one:

Ah yes, of course, the comment about only cowards fight with fire relates to Gregor. How could I miss that! Good catch :) And it makes Sansa's internal monologue more consistent as well.

The truth is that yeah, Sandor would like to be petted, I think very much (we see it later on when he comes to her room), and especially before facing the prospect of a hellish battle, where he could be killed any minute. But he’s unable to express these emotions and he can’t touch Sansa because of how she might react and the revulsion he thinks she feels when she looks at him, so he uses his sword to touch her, which I read as not communicating danger, but rather desire. Look at where he places it: on her neck just below her ear, and the sword itself could be seen as operating as a phallic symbol here.

If the Blackwater scene wasn't enough to confirm that he would very much like her gratitude and affection, I think his constant bragging to Arya later absolutely confirms this without a doubt. I share your view that Sandor is angry and engages in silly macho posturing here because he doesn't have any other approach he knows how to take.

Interestingly here too is that Sansa in no way feels threatened by him placing a sword at her neck, so I think your interpretation definitely has merit! :) (Besides, Cersei even names swords as phallic symbols in the Drunk!Cersei chapter before the Blackwater when she says "..both kind of swords".)

So that's my "insight" in a nutshell. The conversation can really be read at two levels, but I think the more superficial one is focusing solely on what the Hound says here. IMO, what's really important is what isn't said, and this goes for both of them, as Sansa notes to herself that what is really fearful is not the scars, but the anger she sees in his eyes.

Sometimes it makes me wonder how long it took to write the Sansa chapters since there is so much important stuff that is in the unsaid. :)

I've always seen this scene as a trial run for the Blackwater, so I'm glad you do too! In the Blackwater scene he is arguably far more threatening, but the end result is still better.

Interestingly, this one gesture of acceptance seems to have, I don't know, given him either some hope, or made him a bit delusional, or wishing for more acceptance, since we know he said Robb needed him and would make him a lordling if he had the wits of a toad. Yet earlier in AGOT he rejected all that when Joffrey made him a Kingsguard, and it was not the lack of being a knight he brought up first, either.

"The king and the council have determined that no man in the Seven Kingdoms is more fit to guard and protect His Grace than his sword shield, Sandor Clegane."

"How do you like that, dog?" King Joffrey asked.

The Hound's scarred face was hard to read. He took a long moment to consider. "Why not? I have no lands nor wife to forsake, and who'd care if I did?"

Only after this does he mention the lack of knightly vows.

A lot of the nobility seems pre-occupied with landgrabs, alliances and power games. Considering how long he'd been in Lannister service and that he was always around the King even before being put on the Kingsguard, it doesn't seem unreasonable that they'd bestow some land on him, yet he never seems to jockey for position at all, unlike say, Bronn; instead of seems almost actively disdainful of it.

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@Wouter,

I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on Brienne, Asha and Lyanna since I think neither were particularly successful so far. They *may* become in the future, (the ones alive) but more due to circumstance than anything inherently superior on their choice in being different.

You were the one who named Cersei and Tyrion as "non-traditional figures", seemingly implying that you saw them as examples of the "middle way" between being queen and being the wife of an innkeeper?

I also added "with varying success". These are all high end players of the Game of Thrones, regardless of what level of success we think they have achieved.

As for marrying a highborn man, Sansa can certainly get power that way if it is the right man. That a lady wife can have no power is not true; one of your own examples, the queen of thorns, is already an example of that. Even Cersei had a lot of power in Robert's court (look at all those Lannisters that got named in places of power or honour around Robert) and he didn't even like her! As for Dany and Hizdahr, I think the Barristan coup shows who had the real power in that marriage - and it was the one with the loyalty of the unsullied (and of the dragons, to some extent). Power is a trick, a shadow on the wall and all that...

Cersei only gained power because Robert didn't care to rule and because he didn't like Stannis. Even so, her power is severely limited and she cannot make any financial or political decisions. They are all down to the king. Obviously this depends on what kind of man the King is, but I think it's silly to assume that just because a woman marries a high lord and has some understanding of politics, she will automatically become a Player. Olenna is a very good example of this as she chose to sabotage her family's attempts to marry her to a Targaryen (Aerion Brightflame?? could be interesting to ponder) and instead went for a highborn man, not extremely clever, but who clearly loved her and whom she appreciated in turn. A very shrewd choice, since in the end, the "boring" long lasting love of a marriage that will span years and years is more likely to last if it's built on that you can stand eachother and appreciate eachother than on some burning passion and infatuation. (I speak from direct experience here, too :) ).

I think you can view marriage in Westeros as two things: either as a power grab, or as something that you're going to live with for a long time and it's better to make a shrewd choice and get a partner you can come to appreciate and even love. Sansa didn't originally see the disagreement between these two views, but she does now very, very clearly. She knows Littlefinger didn't love Lysa, that was only a power grab. She knows her parents loved and respected eachother. I think from Sansa's chapters, it also very, very clear which she'd prefer with the "Nobody will ever love me for myself".

I don't think Arya will tell Sansa to marry someone she doesn't want, don't get me wrong. Nor do I see it as Sansa having to save Arya from a marriage by marrying someone herself; (real) Arya marrying just will never be in the picture regardless of what Sansa does or doesn't do, I suspect. But I do see the possibility that Sansa may feel a certain need to make amends, more as pressure from herself if she fears her siblings might think less of her otherwise. And hell, Robb outright did attempt to give Edmure feelings of guilt to talk/bludgeon him into a marriage he didn't want - I don't think Arya would do that, as I said, but if Robb is willing to do that with Edmure then can we say for sure Jon or even Bran wouldn't attempt something similar if they considered it necessary?

You do realise Sansa has already been the victim of five different arranged marriages right? She's fed up with it, and to end it with her being forced into yet another one would be nothing but tragedy. It would make her profoundly unhappy. Dany hates her marriage with Hizdahr, if you want an analogy. She cries the morning after the wedding and Dany's arc is to a degree filled with same wishes for a fulfilling family life as Sansa's.

Sansa is not what she was in AGOT, whatever way she goes from now. I'm not saying your interpretation (that her arc leads her away from arranged marriage stuff and all) is wrong, but I have a different feeling where GRRM might be going. My impression is that her storyline, and everything she learnt, is meant to give her the right tools and experience and mindset to be succesful at courtly life and politics, in a way she was not in AGOT. That she doesn't particularly want that life anymore is part of it. According to LF, the same is true about Margaery, for example.

Littlefinger also thinks that Sansa fancies Harry the Heir and that he took Cat's maidenhead. What Littlefinger says should not always be trusted, imho.

It's also one thing to have the right tools and experience to manage courtly life, it's a completely different thing to sacrifice your happiness in life to advance the power and glory of House Stark and to save your siblings some trouble. You talk of "mindset", but what you want is for Sansa to become a different person. She may not have a head full of songs anymore, but she's always wanted love, children and a family. The other two POV characters who have straight out with the same wish are Dany and Jon. Tyrion wants love and power, but he doesn't really seem overly bothered about family, perhaps because the one he has he isn't 100% sold on. The emphasis with Sansa is on creating a loving family, while Dany and to a smaller degree Jon dream of children. Dany's scene when they are all shouting "mother" to her is really heartwrenching in this regard. She even thinks "I will never bear a living child", which is the same sort of misery as Sansa's "Nobody will ever love me for myself".

Personally I hope that both Sansa and Dany will be able to "win" in that Sansa can find someone who will love her for herself and that Dany will bear a living child.

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since in the end, the "boring" long lasting love of a marriage that will span years and years is more likely to last if it's built on that you can stand eachother and appreciate eachother than on some burning passion and infatuation. (I speak from direct experience here, too ).

I think you can view marriage in Westeros as two things: either as a power grab, or as something that you're going to live with for a long time and it's better to make a shrewd choice and get a partner you can come to appreciate and even love. Sansa didn't originally see the disagreement between these two views, but she does now very, very clearly. She knows Littlefinger didn't love Lysa, that was only a power grab. She knows her parents loved and respected eachother. I think from Sansa's chapters, it also very, very clear which she'd prefer with the "Nobody will ever love me for myself".

I'm curious, who do you see for Sansa as good for a long lasting marriage with sound foundations? I'm guessing Sandor is more about "passion", or do you see it differently? Put in those terms, I think boys like Podrick Payne (maybe "boring", but oh so loyal and brave), Edric Dayne or even Edric Storm would be good for Sansa as non-political-marriage-to-last, not in the least because they come without a lot of baggage and they are comparable in age. Of course, Sansa has not even met 2 of them. Still, I think all of them would be better prospects for a lasting marriage then guys like Tyrion, Littlefinger, Harry or even Sandor.

You do realise Sansa has already been the victim of five different arranged marriages right? She's fed up with it, and to end it with her being forced into yet another one would be nothing but tragedy. It would make her profoundly unhappy.

Not necessarily, it depends on who she (has to or chooses to) marry eventually. You're right about 5 arranged marriages (I hadn't counted them, but yep, Joffrey + Willas + Tyrion + Sweetrobin + Harry = 5 ... phew!), however, I'm not sure she would have been unhappy with Willas. Sure, the Tyrells may have exaggerated his supposed virtues, but by the sound of it Sansa could have come to be happy in Highgarden, as her mother came to be happy in her arranged marriage (but with a good, decent, loyal man) in Winterfell.

I also think it's not a coincidence that the one marriage she seemed to be OK with (besides early on with Joffrey) was one she more or less negotiated herself - or at least, the Tyrells asked (not demanded) her consent and sold the whole thing. The difference to the situation of the (post-Ned) Joffrey marriage and the Tyrion marriage is enormous, and nor Lysa nor LF seem to see the need to ask if Sansa/Alayne actually wants to marry Sweetrobin/Harry, respectively.

It's also one thing to have the right tools and experience to manage courtly life, it's a completely different thing to sacrifice your happiness in life to advance the power and glory of House Stark and to save your siblings some trouble. You talk of "mindset", but what you want is for Sansa to become a different person. She may not have a head full of songs anymore, but she's always wanted love, children and a family.

I hope she gets it, but it is Martin we're talking about here. People rarely get what they want, especially not without a twist coming back to haunt them.

We do have 2 different things here, though: Sansa being succesfull at court/in a political sense or Sansa being happy in a good marriage. I agree those 2 aims are only rarely compatible with one another. If Sansa wants to be happy/found a nice family, certainly she is better off picking her husband on those terms.

However, my impression is that Sansa has been given all those experiences at court and as a pawn (and now "trainee" of sorts) in the "game" in order to use them in some way before the end of the series. Since Sansa is unlikely to ever have power in her own right (as queen in the north she would have to pass Bran, Rickon and Jon, which seems very unlikely to me, and she has no claim in the south except maybe a longshot at Riverrun), the only way she could use her knowledge would be in the context of a marriage to a powerful lord or maybe as a regent/advisor of sorts to Rickon or Sweetrobin. Or at a stretch, maybe by taking over LF's business connections as his supposed "daughter" (but I don't see Sansa managing to not keep going unrecognised in such a capacity, too many can recognise her).

I don't know where Martin is going, but Sansa is not getting schooled in the game for nothing, of that I'm pretty sure. If she can make use of it without another political marriage, more power to her.

To explain my earlier statement about her siblings maybe pressuring her to marry: look at Jon forcing Gilly to leave her son behind. That was a really dark thing to do, especially coming from such a heroic (and normally very moral) figure as Jon Snow! However, I don't think you can say he did this to "save himself some trouble". He viewed it as a life-or-death situation for Mance's child. Jon and Bran may continue to have such concerns, and to take desperate measures at times. I'm not just thinking about them advancing "the power and glory of house Stark", I don't think for a second they would attempt to force Sansa's hand for mere "glory of the house".

I just read this, posted by someone on the TWOP forums and I would like to borrow his words to explain my view a bit more:

I think Sansa's arc is very deliberately constructed in such a way that all her potential escape routes from becoming a power player in the game of thrones have been eliminated, so that she has no choice but to train up and become a player. Rescue by her family from King's Landing? Not happening. Escape with the Hound from King's Landing? Not happening (by her choice, but still). Escape with Willas Tyrell to Highgarden? Not happening. Staying married to Tyrion as a prisoner, more or less, in a traditional marriage? Safe haven with Lysa Tully? Not happening. Enforced tutelage in the game of thrones by Littlefinger, the best player in Westeros? Definitely happening.

I do agree Sansa will be a "player" of sorts by necessity, whether she wants it or not. Maybe she can do that without a political marriage (Varys could, LF had to use one though, the QoT is married to a powerful lord and Cersei to the king, Tyrion also wanted to gain power through marriage) but we'll see.

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I'm curious, who do you see for Sansa as good for a long lasting marriage with sound foundations? I'm guessing Sandor is more about "passion", or do you see it differently? Put in those terms, I think boys like Podrick Payne (maybe "boring", but oh so loyal and brave), Edric Dayne or even Edric Storm would be good for Sansa as non-political-marriage-to-last, not in the least because they come without a lot of baggage and they are comparable in age. Of course, Sansa has not even met 2 of them. Still, I think all of them would be better prospects for a lasting marriage then guys like Tyrion, Littlefinger, Harry or even Sandor.

You think what Sansa feels for Sandor is some sort of shallow infatuation? She's showed that she *can* feel that, as seen with Loras, when she gets totally bedazzled by his good looks, feels she cannot walk straight or talk when he is near etc. showing all sorts of signs that she has a massive crush on him and that it affects her both mentally a physically. She dreams of running her hands over his chest and she admires his amazing good looks. Sansa feels nothing like this around the Hound, it has a completely different flavour.

When it comes to Sandor, she has few illusions. She has seen him drunk, rude, violent, smelling of vomit and covered in blood. She's shouted and raged at him, yet despite it all she sees him as someone who would never harm her and who will tell her a lot of useful truths about people. He's got her back, you might say. Which makes the corner stone for their relationship at least on Sansa's part trust instead of infatuation or passion.

Regarding being "worthy" of Sansa, I strongly reject the notion that a woman's love is something that should be seen as a prize given out to a man who is "worthy" enough, or "good" enough. Whomever Sansa decides is good enough is good enough. One reason why Sansa favours Sandor may be that so far, almost everyone she has encountered has seen her only as either the Hands daughter, as a claim to Winterfell, or later on as LF's bastard daughter with a huge dowry. Now, Sandor didn't plunge straight into the riot to save a claim to Winterfell, he did it to save Sansa. So far, he's the only one who's selflessly gone out of his way for Sansa_the_person, without anything to gain.

Further, from a practical standpoint, Edric Dayne is an inexperiened squire, Edric Storm is a bastard, Pod is barely hanging onto nobility and if Sansa should ever need someone to reign in her hard power (i.e. a fighting force) none of these can ever do that for her, but Sandor can, as evidenced in the Battle of the Blackwater. He is not only a big brawny dude, but can act as a leader of men. Tyrion remarks on this especially in ACOK where he judges people will follow the Hound, but not someone like Ser Mandon Moore, despite the latter being a knight and a kingsguard. And Tyrion doesn't even like Sandor, yet he can see his usefulness as a battle commander.

I also think sometimes people seem to overestimate Sandor's issues. We see him mostly through Sansa's eyes where he is confronted with what clearly makes him very conflicted, yet from what can be gleaned from Ned's and Tyrion's chapters, he is a fully functional member of the Lannister retinue and not seen as a total freak or anything. Also, he worked as first Cersei's bodyguard/sworn shield and then Joffrey's, and that's hardly a job that was going to be bestowed on someone mentally unstable. During ACOK we see him at a breaking point in his life, and during his travels with Arya he's almost a broken man, with his outburst and epiphany as a sort of pinnacle of that. Even so, he's not some mentally broken monster, but mostly quite astute during his Arya trip. Disturbed, yes, deranged, no. In fact, I find Tyrion's mental headspace to be potentially far scarier than anything Sandor could throw our way.

I also think it's not a coincidence that the one marriage she seemed to be OK with (besides early on with Joffrey) was one she more or less negotiated herself - or at least, the Tyrells asked (not demanded) her consent and sold the whole thing. The difference to the situation of the (post-Ned) Joffrey marriage and the Tyrion marriage is enormous, and nor Lysa nor LF seem to see the need to ask if Sansa/Alayne actually wants to marry Sweetrobin/Harry, respectively.

I agree, the Tyrell marriage was the most palatable yet for Sansa, yet it also had its issues, since she was used by the Queen of Thorns here as a pawn, and she didn't even know it. She clearly would have been happier in Highgarden than in Kings Landing and from what we know of Willas, he seems a decent man. The fact remains though that the Tyrells in power really didn't think that much of her and only wanted her for her claim, which is what Sansa has come to loathe. Her main laments in AFFC are that she is only wanted for her claim and that nobody will love her for herself (in itself proof of who long she's come since she wanted to be Joffrey's Queen so very very badly). Even to the Tyrells, she was a piece of meat with a claim to Winterfell. It didn't matter to them if Sansa had been tall, short, fat, stupid, smart or ever been happy in Highgarden: what they wanted was her ticket to Winterfell.

I hope she gets it, but it is Martin we're talking about here. People rarely get what they want, especially not without a twist coming back to haunt them.

We do have 2 different things here, though: Sansa being succesfull at court/in a political sense or Sansa being happy in a good marriage. I agree those 2 aims are only rarely compatible with one another. If Sansa wants to be happy/found a nice family, certainly she is better off picking her husband on those terms.

With this I do agree. They are rarely compatible, but they CAN be. It just has to be firmly anchored within a cultural context and not go against society's norms. Tywin/Joanna, Olenna Redwyne/Lothor Tyrell, Ned/Cat, Garlan Tyrell/Lyonette Fossoway are examples of where the marriages were (or are!) actually really quite happy, but they are all of them realistic unions were politics does not work against the relationship. Olenna even told the story that her family wanted her married to a Targaryen prince, but that "she put a stop to that nonsense". Before Sansa was idealistic and naive and didn't realise that the role of marriage is overwhelmingly political, which means if you want to choose your partner like Olenna Tyrell did, you need to make the political situation fit your personal view of how it should be. Perhaps with some Lies and Arbor Gold? :)

Or at a stretch, maybe by taking over LF's business connections as his supposed "daughter" (but I don't see Sansa managing to not keep going unrecognised in such a capacity, too many can recognise her).

I love the theory of Sansa taking over all or part of Littlefinger's businesses after offing him. The irony is so sweet. She also wouldn't have to run them in person, nobody would expect that. I'm sure she could hire intermediaries to do the work for her (clean hands!). That said, I think Sansa will end up more as a Queen of Thorns than as Littlefinger, if nothing else because LF is obsessed with power and the QoT is not. In fact, she was against Mace trying to get the Tyrells involved in Kings Landing and she herself did not want to be married to a Targaryen prince. She plays the Game for the sake of her family, its strength and the happiness and comfort of its members. This seems far more like something Sansa could end up doing.

I'm not just thinking about them advancing "the power and glory of house Stark", I don't think for a second they would attempt to force Sansa's hand for mere "glory of the house".

I see where you are coming from, but that would mean a very, very tragic end to Sansa's arc as she'd have to do what she loathes: sell her agency and become the piece of meat again, which is what she hates. That would be equal to hoping Dany never bears a living child, I think. It *may* happen, but it would be an incredibly cruel ending, especially to Sansa who's basically been pushed around the entire series so far. Should her ending really be that she submits to being pushed around for ever?

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You think what Sansa feels for Sandor is some sort of shallow infatuation? She's showed that she *can* feel that, as seen with Loras, when she gets totally bedazzled by his good looks, feels she cannot walk straight or talk when he is near etc. showing all sorts of signs that she has a massive crush on him and that it affects her both mentally a physically. She dreams of running her hands over his chest and she admires his amazing good looks. Sansa feels nothing like this around the Hound, it has a completely different flavour.

<snip>

I see where you are coming from, but that would mean a very, very tragic end to Sansa's arc as she'd have to do what she loathes: sell her agency and become the piece of meat again, which is what she hates. That would be equal to hoping Dany never bears a living child, I think. It *may* happen, but it would be an incredibly cruel ending, especially to Sansa who's basically been pushed around the entire series so far. Should her ending really be that she submits to being pushed around for ever?

I have no words but...

:bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:

:agree: :agree: :agree: :agree:

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Fantastic post by Lyanna Stark, but what's new? :P

A few points I wanted to highlight for additional comment:

You think what Sansa feels for Sandor is some sort of shallow infatuation? She's showed that she *can* feel that, as seen with Loras, when she gets totally bedazzled by his good looks, feels she cannot walk straight or talk when he is near etc. showing all sorts of signs that she has a massive crush on him and that it affects her both mentally a physically. She dreams of running her hands over his chest and she admires his amazing good looks. Sansa feels nothing like this around the Hound, it has a completely different flavour. When it comes to Sandor, she has few illusions. She has seen him drunk, rude, violent, smelling of vomit and covered in blood. She's shouted and raged at him, yet despite it all she sees him as someone who would never harm her and who will tell her a lot of useful truths about people. He's got her back, you might say. Which makes the corner stone for their relationship at least on Sansa's part trust instead of infatuation or passion.

Yes, this, all of this. There's a prevailing opinion in fandom that Sansa's and Sandor's relationship is of the "burn hot, cool fast" variety, and I don't know why this is. Has the overwhelmingly miserable portrayal of relationships in ASOIAF predisposed readers to viewing any relationship that seems to have some passion and intensity as foolish and fleeting? You're absolutely right that Sansa has very few illusions about Sandor, and I think this is why the unkiss memory is so startling and revelatory. Sandor is not a man fit for easy romanticising, but the fact that Sansa ends up doing this very thing suggests a depth of feeling there that supercedes her "childish" infatuation with men like Loras Tyrell. Theirs is a relationship that might be passionate, but it was not built on the kind of passion that we are familiar with: lovers enthralled and fascinated with each other. Instead it's a profoundly realistic and even slightly perverse relationship, which developed out of cruel circumstances of fate for both of them. Sandor starts out viewing Sansa as just a silly little bird, taking it upon himself to awaken her to the brute realities of life, and for a long time Sansa could not look at him without turning away or diverting her eyes. Does it smack a bit of beauty and beast, yes, but what makes that fairytale so relevant is that it's about coming to love someone in spite of their flaws, shortcomings, and growing to value them for qualities that might not have been apparent at first. This is not the stuff that Sansa's dreams were made of when she was first introduced to us. At that point, she had a strict interpretation of what a prince or knight should be like, and of the kind of man she would marry. Sandor Clegane did not fit into that definition and it must be said that she didn't fit into his either. How could a man as lowly on the social ladder and so disfigured ever hope to fit into a world occupied by Sansa Stark, except on the periphery, acting as the bodyguard of her true prince? But it happened nevertheless, and I really like that Martin has shown both of them having to reconsider and reconceptualise their place in the world via their experiences with one another.

I also think sometimes people seem to overestimate Sandor's issues. We see him mostly through Sansa's eyes where he is confronted with what clearly makes him very conflicted, yet from what can be gleaned from Ned's and Tyrion's chapters, he is a fully functional member of the Lannister retinue and not seen as a total freak or anything. Also, he worked as first Cersei's bodyguard/sworn shield and then Joffrey's, and that's hardly a job that was going to be bestowed on someone mentally unstable. During ACOK we see him at a breaking point in his life, and during his travels with Arya he's almost a broken man, with his outburst and epiphany as a sort of pinnacle of that. Even so, he's not some mentally broken monster, but mostly quite astute during his Arya trip. Disturbed, yes, deranged, no. In fact, I find Tyrion's mental headspace to be potentially far scarier than anything Sandor could throw our way.

Indeed, and add to that LF's headspace as well. Seeing Sandor through Sansa's eyes, especially in those private moments when he's been drinking, does give us a somewhat skewed perspective on his social function and value. For one, Sansa is still a very young girl, and as is to be expected is quite daunted and intimidated by Sandor. Secondly, Sandor has conflicted and confusing feelings about her, and because of the nature of their relationship, i.e. a lot more personal and intimate than he's accustomed to, it reduces him to the level of a teenage boy who is more comfortable in lashing out because he doesn't know how to interact with the girl he fancies. Otherwise, it's very true that others like Cersei, Tyrion, Jaime and Ned appreciate Sandor's worth and skills, even if it's the case where they're more wary of him than anyone else. After the riot in KL he's the one to bring the reports of what happened, we see him participating in tourneys, and when Sansa is escorted down to Joffrey's name day, he's perfectly composed on duty, and speaks to her respectfully. Of course we know that the man has emotional problems stemming from the acute trauma he suffered, but he's still capable of offering assistance, guidance and even makes an awkward attempt to comfort Arya after the Red Wedding.

With this I do agree. They are rarely compatible, but they CAN be. It just has to be firmly anchored within a cultural context and not go against society's norms. Tywin/Joanna, Olenna Redwyne/Lothor Tyrell, Ned/Cat, Garlan Tyrell/Lyonette Fossoway are examples of where the marriages were (or are!) actually really quite happy, but they are all of them realistic unions were politics does not work against the relationship. Olenna even told the story that her family wanted her married to a Targaryen prince, but that "she put a stop to that nonsense". Before Sansa was idealistic and naive and didn't realise that the role of marriage is overwhelmingly political, which means if you want to choose your partner like Olenna Tyrell did, you need to make the political situation fit your personal view of how it should be. Perhaps with some Lies and Arbor Gold? :)

You've really posed some intriguing points worthy of further discussion, Lyanna. I think what we're seeing is that Westerosi society is changing to accomodate relationships that normally would have been considered as going against societal norms, and/or those relationships that go against societal norms may be changing Westerosi society, and creating a space for themselves. And making the political landscape accord with your personal desires might not be so daunting a task as it once was. Since the war of the five kings, we've seen a destabilization of patriarchal power in Westeros, with the nobility engulfed by claims of incest, bastardy, and treason. Unions that facilitated land grabs and the subservience of women have been thwarted and undermined (see Alys Karstark and Sansa), and the three most powerful weapons in the world are in the hands of a woman who has shown her own distaste at having to sacrifice personal happiness for political harmony. So I think that on a personal and political level, Martin is clearing the space and opening the boundaries that would make a relationship between Sansa and Sandor at least possible. I should note here as well that Sandor's affiliation with the Faith - a rising power in Westeros - could have a positive role to play in bringing him and Sansa together. There's the potential political payoff of course, but in terms of the greater theme of religion, Sandor's "conversion" or at least his immersion in religious life, and the subsequent benefits therein, could really enrich his relationship with Sansa.

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Awwh thanks guys. :) I am constantly amazed by all the thoughtful and insightsful commentary in this thread. :cheers:

There's a prevailing opinion in fandom that Sansa's and Sandor's relationship is of the "burn hot, cool fast" variety, and I don't know why this is. Has the overwhelmingly miserable portrayal of relationships in ASOIAF predisposed readers to viewing any relationship that seems to have some passion and intensity as foolish and fleeting? You're absolutely right that Sansa has very few illusions about Sandor, and I think this is why the unkiss memory is so startling and revelatory. Sandor is not a man fit for easy romanticising, but the fact that Sansa ends up doing this very thing suggests a depth of feeling there that supercedes her "childish" infatuation with men like Loras Tyrell.

This has confused me as well, to be honest. It's probably in part because people see ASOIAF as rather misanthropic and that love supposedly always means death. It could also be because it's one of the few relationships actually growing on the pages, or perhaps because especially Sandor has a fairly dramatic way of speaking? Apart from raging at him the once while looking out over the burning Kingswood Sansa is still overall very controlled, courteous and polite around him, (I suppose you might call it Ice to his Fire if we're running with the theme of the novel here, haha).

Or perhaps people subconsciously pick up on the strange intimacy between them and judges it as "infatuation"? Rereading Sansa's ACOK chapters really hit home that Sandor is often touching her in one way of another, whether it's grabbing her, getting her back up on the horse during the riot, or cupping her jaw in the chapter when he's drunk and escorts her back past Ser Boros. Especially the last example is almost overly intimate since he first makes inappropriate comments about her body, tells her he'll have a song from her one day, then puts his hand under her cheek lifting her chin and calls her "pretty thing and such a bad liar".*** I wonder if this conflicting behaviour is why people think it will be a "burn hot, cool fast" thing?

Despite their clashing, it's hardly anywhere near the type of unrealistic, shallow infatuation that's behind Sansa's crush on Loras, or Cersei's crush on Rhaegar (which manifests later in her fawning over Aurane Waters) which has nothing to do with personality or worth and is all about looks. Neither is it the type of unrequited unhealthy obsession of Littlefinger with Cat, Lysa with Littlefinger, Tyrion with Tysha, or Jorah with anyone, poor Jorah, since I don't think it has that type of desperate obsessive flavour (nor is it as of ASOS/AFFC unrequited exactly). That said, it's currently not something that is politically possible, but it may become politically possible (more on that in the next post since it's more of a separate topic).

Also looking at personality types, once we scratch a bit on the surface and Sansa isn't in "fawning over the pretty prince" mode, she's definitely a lot like Ned: thoughtful, respectful and compassionate (Ned also struck me a bit as a worrier and I think Sansa has a bit of this in her, too). Sansa of AFFC is also turning into a wary realist who's grown suspicious of everyone and everything. Sandor in turn has been described as "ever faithful", his loyalty has been emphasised several times and he's definitely a realist bordering on the cynical. None of them come across as flimsy, rash or wilful.

I agree too that people seem to forget that Sandor is supposed to be really quite ugly and come across a lot as a brawny brute and as the absolutely opposite of Sansa's mental image of her ideal suitor. He's definitely not a man fit for romanticising (which of course only makes it more curious and unexpected that she does!).

*** disregarding their conversation here and just looking at body language, I got the impression he was going to kiss her, actually.

For one, Sansa is still a very young girl, and as is to be expected is quite daunted and intimidated by Sandor. Secondly, Sandor has conflicted and confusing feelings about her, and because of the nature of their relationship, i.e. a lot more personal and intimate than he's accustomed to, it reduces him to the level of a teenage boy who is more comfortable in lashing out because he doesn't know how to interact with the girl he fancies.

To borrow from Ms Hermione Granger: "He has the emotional range of a teaspoon!". ;)

Judging by the comments he made at being made Kingsguard, I think any boyish dreams he had about a wife, children, a family etc. died fairly early on. He must have always realised that with the way he looked, anything but a sham marriage would be extremely unrealistic. Hence I think it's fairly certain any feelings he thought he might have for Sansa he would try and supress or stamp out fairly quickly, or simply deny them, and it's telling that it comes out stronger when he's drunk or when really upset/in stressful situations (like Sansa's beating or the riot). It's interesting too that he never went the ambitious route and jockeyed for land, money or titles, since he could have had that. Another sign there is a hidden idealist inside Sandor? If he can't have the "real thing", he'll have nothing and be angry about it?

Otherwise, it's very true that others like Cersei, Tyrion, Jaime and Ned appreciate Sandor's worth and skills, even if it's the case where they're more wary of him than anyone else. After the riot in KL he's the one to bring the reports of what happened, we see him participating in tourneys, and when Sansa is escorted down to Joffrey's name day, he's perfectly composed on duty, and speaks to her respectfully. Of course we know that the man has emotional problems stemming from the acute trauma he suffered, but he's still capable of offering assistance, guidance and even makes an awkward attempt to comfort Arya after the Red Wedding.

Yep, I think people forget that he's largely very competent and good at his job, and the Lannisters seem to see his defection as a fairly large blow. I doubt they would if he constantly made an arse of himself in public or embarrassed them, which never seem to have been the case: quite the contrary in fact. Joffrey and Cersei fell over themselves to make him Kingsguard, despite his status as a non-knight. Even Tyrion who seems to have a strong personal dislike for him values his usefulness and views him as competent and seems genuinely surprised at noticing his fear of fire. While Sansa often sees him drunk in her chapters, and Arya does later too, there is nothing to indicate he was ever drunk while working, nor that he was anything but diciplined. The Tickler and Polliver also don't seem surprised when he's literally engaging in "small talk" with them about the geopolitical situation in the Riverlands, quite the opposite. Robert Baratheon also hinted to Ned that he was at least sometimes having conversations with Sandor since he said he hadn't told him about the search party for Gregor, but left that to Cersei. His skill also seems to be something that's a total given, with comments from Cersei to Jaime "I did not ask you to best the Hound in single combat" as shorthand for "I did not ask you to achieve the impossible".

If we assume that Sansa will be a sort of cross between Queen of Thorns and Littlefinger moving forward, and either cause havoc in the North or in the Riverlands, he has a very good matching skillset to her future one. One of Littlefinger's weaknesses is that nobody would follow him into battle. He has no hard power. Harrenhal might be his, but he cannot claim it. He needs to rely on a lot of foul play with soft power to get what he's after. I also think Sansa would have a better chance getting Sandor to work with her than someone like say, the Blackfish (only other skilled soldier I could think of who'd be automatically inclined to be on her side), who doesn't know her at all and may regard her as just a stupid little girl. Interestingly, Tyrion snarks at Cersei that kicking out Barristan was stupid since he'd join the other side and the other side would look better for it. I wonder if an eventual display of changed alliegances for Sandor could have a similar effect? He is not Barristan the Bold, but at least he's infamous and viewed as very loyal to the Lannisters. It could show how the Lannister internal power base is breaking apart if nothing else.

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