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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa X

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...To conclude, from real life military history, it seems a fearsome reputation was generally seen as a good thing, and that armies at war tend to realise fairly quickly which commander gave them victories (or at least avoid defeat and routing) and which commander failed at giving his side victory and loot. The armies during the 30 year war were also ragtag and of several different nationalities and with different interests, which the commanders would have to bend to their will and impress with their skill, while not enjoying the privilege of absolute power a monarch/liege lord has.

Sandor certainly has the reputation (and even the animal moniker ready to go!) and the skillset too. The only thing he really needs is to manage to convince the northerners of him being on their side and that he wants them to win.

Nelson got wounded as a commander, he was already an admiral when he lost his right hand and lower arm and later lost the sight of one eye at the battle of the nile. None of which prevented him from hanging would be revolutionaries, cursing all non-Danish foreigners and having an affair with Lady Hamilton, who was herself pretty interesting a blacksmith's daughter who became famous for posing in dramatic tableau and married Lord Hamilton on the strength of that.

Your old Swedes were solid battle commanders but Sandor isn't. He only had the one command that we know of and that ended with his running away and abandoning his own troops. He could possibly over come being a southerner, even being a Lannister dog, but a coward?

I remain unconvinced, and on this question in mild disagreement with you :)

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Nelson got wounded as a commander, he was already an admiral when he lost his right hand and lower arm and later lost the sight of one eye at the battle of the nile. None of which prevented him from hanging would be revolutionaries, cursing all non-Danish foreigners and having an affair with Lady Hamilton, who was herself pretty interesting a blacksmith's daughter who became famous for posing in dramatic tableau and married Lord Hamilton on the strength of that.

I think this strengthens my old opinion that reality is often stranger than fiction. :P

Your old Swedes were solid battle commanders but Sandor isn't. He only had the one command that we know of and that ended with his running away and abandoning his own troops. He could possibly over come being a southerner, even being a Lannister dog, but a coward?

I remain unconvinced, and on this question in mild disagreement with you :)

They were at the time, but they weren't always as "solid" as they got at the end. Wiki doesn't cover it, but especially Torstenson didn't have a straight trip to the top at all, and Baner's greatest feats are not his successes in battles, but what he was best at was "tactical retreat", i.e. forced marches, i.e. organised operations of fleeing.

Knowing when to quit and retreat is not necessarily a bad thing in a commander either, but as you say: will his "weakness" be seen as fatal? It should probably be mitigating circumstances that he walked out on the Lannisters and not anyone sympathetic to the Stark cause. After all, people *want* the Lannister allies to walk out on them, don't they?

I feel this could go both ways, but when shit really hits the fan? As we've discussed before, there are not a huge amount of eligible lords left in the North. Bolton swapped sides, the Greatjon is imprisoned etc. and it really all relies on what the Starks say, especially now when the perhaps strongest opposition candidates are weakened or removed. We saw with Jon that as a Stark, it is possible for him to wield considerable influence and to get the hill clans to fight for Stannis, although Stannis was Robb's enemy as well. In the end I think it will come down to: who is the Stark (or Starks) in Winterfell, and what do they say about it?

Regarding the reputation thing, I wonder how well known it is that Sandor deserted during the Battle of the Blackwater due to fear of fire? Do people generally know this, or is the belief that he just had enough of Lannister command? Arya comments on it at some point, but she also travels with him so knows things better.

His deserting also doesn't seem to have affected Kevan's or Jaime's view of him as a very dangerous man, either. In fact, their view of his potential seems the same before and after and they do not seem to believe at all that he has "lost his belly for fighting". Especially since it is rumoured that he has joined a band of outlaws, it seems to contradict that he's suddenly turned craven.

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Hmm.....I view this safe vs. unsafe thing a bit differently. Loras is 'safe' because even though perhaps technically he is more likely a suitor for Sansa than Sandor is, he is physically unthreatening towards her. He is 'beautiful' and elegant, like a flower....not very threatening. He touches her only to offer an arm to escort her, and is totally uninterested in Sansa 'that way'. He is someone who she can fantasize about without feeling physically threatened.

Sandor on the other hand is literally a looming presence over her from the first minute they meet (when he puts a hand on her shoulder on the Kingsroad). After that, there is a lot of random touching going on them while they are in KL. At that time, while they were both in KL together, Sandor was *not* someone who would be safe to fantasize about, because of that very physical element of their relationship that was already present. Its like, too much to fantasize about something that actually-could-maybe-kinda-sorta-totally-happen if you are not ready for it yet. (This is all entirely subconscious of course...)

I hope that makes some sort of sense.....

It does make sense. Different views are probably depended on the definition of "safe" and "unsafe". I'm actually with you concerning the issue but thought that looking at it from a different perspective was also possible and was curious to see what others think. So thanks for sharing!

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I did Lyanna. Now I think I should express that idea with a stronger emphasis and say that knighthood is a failed institution in Westeros. It's a struggle to find many who conform to the ideals given in the knighting scene in "The Hedge Knight" (and that only explicitly gives I think about half of the duties expected of a knight). When the two finest knights in the sense of being true to those ideals can never formally be knights then you know you are dealing with a flawed concept.

I think GRRM is harking back to the round table with that idea. You know Lancelot is meant to be the pinnacle of knighthood - and in terms of being able to gallop about on a horse and use a lance or sword obviously he is but at the same time he's in this menage a trois with the Queen. And indeed when it comes to the Grail quest of all the knights at King Arthur's court only three get close to the Grail.

ie the reality of westerosi knighthood is Sandor's man with horse and a sword. They have almost all become the Laughing Knight.

One of the basic themes I feel in ASOIAF is that the world is off kilter - not balanced - and the flawed institutions are as much a symptom of that as the unnatural seasons.

I had the thought in the learning to lead thread that Daenerys is a transformative, carnival type figure. Turning the world upside down, well Westeros is certainly in need of that. (hmm the tune of the

came from the song
- but surely that's too obscure a joke even for GRRM)

I suppose I ought to link that to Sansa. Again coming out of the Daenerys and Jon reread I see her as the person potentially best able to combine head and heart, principles and plotting and perhaps for the long term a significant leader in a future Westeros.

Great observation! I love this and completely agree. Another example is the fact that the Night's Watch has also become flawed, a garbage pit of humanity when at first it was a great honor to be a part of it and was made up of truly honorable men.

Both of you touch on something I've been thinking about this week and have brought up in this thread and others. I see all the time mentions that this is a world based upon medieval culture and as such reflects that world. I really don't think that is the case at all. Obviously, this is fantasy and everything we see is made up, even though much is inspired by real-life events. But, I think Martin created a broken world with Westeros that happens to resemble a medieval setting.

The problem with knighthood and the NW has already been explained by Lummel and Elba so I won't elaborate on that other than to say these same problems extend to the KG, which is supposed to be the most noble and honorable institution there is. But, there is quite a bit more that isn't working. Marriages are supposed to be the institution that heals rifts and cements alliances yet from what we see, spouses kill each other, marriages are forced, and people seem to die at them at a rather alarming rate. The very thing that is supposed to provide stability isn't working. We also see that religious extremism is on the rise and some of it is very frightening (WoS anyone?). The maesters are supposed to serve yet we are getting hints that they have an agenda of their own. The magic reflects this broken world with the unnatural seasonl. The very institutions that are supposed to hold this society together are the ones that are the most broken. This whole world is rotten, nothing works the way it is supposed too.

So, then we have Dany, who has grown up and lives apart from Westeros so she isn't a part of its broken culture the same way may other characters are. She doesn't have the sense of history or experiences of Westeros to color her memory or impressions. I also think that Dany's influences in Slaver's Bay and her decision to end slavery point to her broader role than merely that of a ruler. She's a force for change or an agent of chaos if you want to call it that. Is anyone familiar with the idea of interim leaders in the corporate world? I've seen this happen quite a bit when an institution is broken in some way. Someone will come in to introduce the needed dramatic change but is only there for that purpose. They leave when their role is done. I don't know if Dany will sit the IT or not, but I think she has the potential to introduce the same type of dramatic change in Westeros than she did in Slaver's Bay. She is a ruler in her own right with an independent source of power (dragons). She's a force for positive chaos and events are being set up in Westeros in the form of winter, war, and the assumed invasion by the Others almost as if to prepare the way for Dany to make the kind of impact that I hope she will have.

This world is off-balance and I don't see that being changed unless something like this happens. Westeros doesn't need small reforms, it needs dramatic change to force it back in to a sense of balance.

Or at least that's my interpretation. I wonder if there is an OP in this somewhere?

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Or at least that's my interpretation. I wonder if there is an OP in this somewhere?

I'm actually hoping this will be the one of the issues we explore in the thread we're planning - which I will begin to formulate in a matter of days! :) I'm currently writing up my Bran and Rickon presentation for this thread.

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Very interesting points both of them. I think judging by what she has gone through, Sansa would be ready to accept the change that Dany would bring. Perhaps this is why we have seen more women in positions of power: when it comes to accepting and driving through change, they are more ready and willing to join forces with that goal, unlike perhaps the old patriarchal male leadership that used to rule.

Martin likes the theme of oppositional forces in balance, the series title certainly points to that. I believe this applies really well with you are saying here. If we look at the previous generation and their actions, it seems like much of the patriarchal world led to the current problems we are now seeing. The KG that stood by while the king raped his wife, the arranged marriages for political gain and alliance, Lyanna running away from an unwanted marriage (I am assuming), and Catelyn forced to live with proof of her husband's infidelity. The world out of balance is what led to the story we are now reading. It's patriarchy carried to an unhealthy extreme or you could say its run amok even. There's no balance in place. I think that is why we are seeing women in positions to assume power and driving the changes. The patriarchy in Westeros, unsustainable and unworkable, ended up creating the problem. More of it will not solve anything. A growth in female leadership can.

I feel like I should be inserting some sort of Star Wars "bringing balance to the force" type of quote here or something.

Good question. From my perspective, I don't know if Sansa is ever going to verbalise to readers, yes, I'm attracted to Sandor Clegane, the Hound, but I believe at this point that she is "aware" of those feelings. What's interesting in the final example when Mya Randa asks her if she knows what goes in the marriage bed, is that this is a very deliberate choice to associate him with sex and desire, so I would argue that he's fulfilled that cognitive recognition at the least.

I agree. I remember reading that passage in AFFC for the first time and going !!!!!!!! when I saw it, since it struck me as very overt and on a very conscious level, to boot, compared to what we'd seen before. Especially since I've been submerged in a deluge of naysayers for so long on these boards (we had more of the "but his feelings were really just brotherly" people back then :P ).

No surprise I am sure, but I agree with both of you. I've seen similar issues come up in other threads related to Sansa's character. There is an idea that she isn't having certain thoughts or that her actions don't represent something because her thoughts do not match what a reader perceives them to be. But, this is a series with a POV structure. Sansa is thinking and we are given glimpses inside of her head. Her thoughts are her own, they aren't for us as an audience. So, there is no need for her to ever verbalize her attraction to Sandor. We can figure it out by recognizing what her thoughts are telling us. As you both say, that passage in Feast is a perfect example of this. Sansa doesn't need to think that her association between him and the marriage bed means that she attracted to him. We recognize it as a conscious thought on her part and figure out the meaning behind it.

Her thought patterns tend to come up in other threads when it comes to marriage too. People recognize that she wants to be loved for herself rather than her claim but the next step isn't always taken. Sansa is thinking that she wants love, not necessarily the political aspect of marriage. And that's the feminist statement in Sansa's character that is sometimes overlooked.

Regarding the Fisher King.....I had been thinking of something similar to what you're saying. Right now Sandor is out of commission. His physical condition isn't so great (and neither is his mental state). More than likely he's unable to physically fight in batte. I guess in a way, you could say that it does make him "impotent". He's a swordsman-- he doesn't know how to do anything else.

:agree: On the impotent, I think it's important that Sandor offered his protection via his skill with a sword to Sansa too. He didn't have anything else to give her, so when making the offer to escape, he gave that which he most prized, his skill. To his mind, it is the one thing that he could offer Sansa yet now it has been taken away. I think this further reinforces the idea of him as impotent, at least for now.

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I'm actually hoping this will be the one of the issues we explore in the thread we're planning - which I will begin to formulate in a matter of days! :) I'm currently writing up my Bran and Rickon presentation for this thread.

Oh, me too. Are you at the point you want to start working on this?

The feminist lens for this series, my most favorite one of all....

Also, I'm slowly working on the Jaime one. It's going to be an exploration of themes and parallels as they don't actually have any scenes of significance together.

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Oh, me too. Are you at the point you want to start working on this?

The feminist lens for this series, my most favorite one of all....

Yes, in a few days, so I'll PM you. ;)

Also, I'm slowly working on the Jaime one. It's going to be an exploration of themes and parallels as they don't actually have any scenes of significance together.

This is a similar approach to what I'm doing with Bran and Rickon.

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So many excellent posts, so little time! I can't say enough about how reading these threads gives me a new appreciation of the books. Everyone is full of good ideas and discussions. :read: :wub:

I found the comparison of Sandor to the Fisher King interesting and I want to go back and re-read some of the posts. I do recall that Stranger refused to be gelded, yes, so the shipper in me is very happy.

I also agree with the idea that GRRM is showing us the corruption of much of what lies under Westerosi traditions, institutions and gender roles. The Night's Watch and the Kingsguard, once honorable occupations, are wretched hives of scum and villainy. While there are a few happy arranged marriages, far more wind up either hating each other (like Robert and Cersei), barely able to tolerate one another (Stannis and Selyse), beards (Renly and Margaery - at least he was only screwing his wife's brother, not his own brother, though I think Stannis would have objected) or meet a really bad end (whoever is married to Ramsay Bolton). The idea of knighthood is laughable.

It's interesting to see Dany being the trickster figure (even more than Petyr) with her dragons, coming in from a foreign culture to rule a land she doesn't really know. I see it important that she is a woman; I am not the only one to have noticed the seeming ascendance of women in the series - we could well end ADOS with Dany on the Iron Throne, Sansa as Queen in the North, the Vale, or both, Asha Queen of the Iron Islands, Wynafryd Manderly Lady of White Harbor, Arianne Martell as Princess of Dorne, Alys Karstark/Thenn either heiress of Karhold or at least founder of a new Great House, and even little Shireen Baratheon spared by Dany and living a quiet life as Lady of Storm's End. Westeros will be wall-to-wall women at the end and I think that this is GRRM's intention (and he is not trolling). Patriarchal rule is being questioned here as much as the other entrenched institutions of a medieval-fantasy world. I really like to think that things will be different, that the irregular seasons are a symptom of something much more rotten at the core in Westeros, and this generation of women and young men are going to help to - if not fix the whole world - at least put things back into balance.

I would say that the power differential between men and women is so unbalanced it is unhealthy. It could be that the time for harsh male rule is gone, and so the time for perfect knights, but now is the time for a more balanced place for the sexes in society. (I read somewhere that the 16th century - a hundred years after the Wars of the Roses - had quite a few female rulers in various countries.

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Yes, in a few days, so I'll PM you. ;) This is a similar approach to what I'm doing with Bran and Rickon.

Also, I'm slowly working on the Jaime one. It's going to be an exploration of themes and parallels as they don't actually have any scenes of significance together.

Just wanted to say that I'm looking forward to reading both your topics ladies. The two of you always come up with some well thought out posts. :thumbsup: :)

Also, I forgot to say earlier: nice to see you back Lyanna! :)

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Some thoughts on Sansa and Jon:

Sansa and Jon are, as far as I can tell, the only two Starks we never actually see interact in "present" time, and I don't think that's a coincidence from a literary standpoint. Everything we know of their past interactions comes via someone's reminiscences, so each is present in the other's life, but only in the past, never in the present. If Jon and Sansa meet in the future, it will doubtless come across to readers, in a very real way, as their very first meeting. Given the changes they've both undergone since their last meeting, that type of dynamic makes a certain amount of literary sense.

At the beginning of the series, Jon and Sansa seemed to sit at two opposite ends of the "Stark" children's cultural spectrum: Sansa is viewed by other characters as the most culturally "southern" of the children, (and she did initially seem to value "southern" courtly culture more than Northern culture), while Jon is viewed as the most culturally "Northern" of the Starks because he does not associate with southern-based institutions. Sansa was the Stark child most heavily and explicitly associated with the Faith of the Seven (she was always with her septa and she's the Stark child we see actually worshiping in the sept the most), while Jon was, at the beginning of the series, the most heavily associated with the Old Gods (given that he's the only one of the children who does not keep the Faith at all, not to mention Ghost's physical resemblance to a weirwood tree). Of the boys, Jon looks the most like Ned, while Sansa looks the most (out of the girls) like Catelyn---superficially, readers were encouraged, in the beginning, to associate Sansa and Jon with two different "regions", one with the South and one with the North.

In AGOT, Sansa and Jon occupied two very different, inherently non-overlapping worlds, and each person's understanding of how "the world" worked implicitly contained no real "place" for the other. By that I mean: Jon loved to fight, occupied a world in which fighting was the primary activity, and at the beginning had a great deal of difficulty interacting with people incapable of fighting. Look at his initial attitude toward Tyrion as well as the other Watch recruits, for example. Sansa is the one Stark child inherently incapable of fighting. She loved knitting, dancing, listening to singers, things that Jon had no use for---there was no room for Sansa in Jon's "world".

And Sansa's "world" contained no real "place" for Jon. She believed that knighthood and its accompanying (southern) chivalric code were the celebrated foundations of the world, and interpreted everything she saw through that cultural lens. Sansa knew her "world of chivalry" clearly viewed a bastard like Jon with suspicion, and because of that, I think Sansa probably had difficulty holding what seemed like two contradictory notions in her head: on the one hand, Jon was her brother, raised along with her and someone she never seemed to have any open conflicts with (unlike Arya, for example), and on the other hand, as the occupier of a "place" (bastard) that her social code condemned.

Now, I think it's worth noting that, although bastards have far lesser status in Westerosi society, there are "places" that can be carved out for them nonetheless, especially for paternally-acknowledged highborn bastards like Jon: we're told that bastards have served in the Kingsguard, a bastard (Sam Stone) serves as Master-At-Arms for House Royce of Runestone, a bastard ends up on Cersei's Small Council, at least one bastard served as Hand of the King, bastards freely join the Citadel and the Faith, etc., etc. But the issue with Jon is that Sansa, during AGOT, pretty clearly viewed knighthood as the central aspect of a man's worth. To "properly" occupy an honored place in "Sansa's world", Jon would have to first be a knight---not just a fighter, but an actual anointed knight, with all of the accompanying chivalric duties and responsibilities. (Look at how she thinks about Jory vs. how she thinks of Alyn in AGOT for an illustration of this.) Jon clearly had the fighting ability to attain knighthood, but unlike the other Starks, he has never kept the Seven at all. Knighthood was never a real possibility for him, as it was for Robb/Bran/Rickon, and presumably Sansa recognized that. I think it was difficult for her, especially early on, to really find a positive place for Jon in her understanding of the world, because he obviously couldn't be a septon, he couldn't join the Citadel (she would have recognized Jon wasn't exactly a bookworm), he was not in line for lordship, and he wasn't going to be a knight . . . but deep down she loved him nonetheless. So what was he? Where did he fit? How could she believe that knighthood and chivalry were the cornerstones of her society while simultaneously having a relationship with her non-knight bastard brother? I think this is why Sansa was, in the beginning, so very, very keen on pointing out Jon's exact relationship to her: her half-brother, a bastard. I think deep down Jon really confused her, and this was her way of repeatedly clarifying to herself exactly who Jon was, of seeking a measure of control over a relationship that must have confuzzled her greatly, because its very existence contradicted her understanding of how the world was supposed to work.

Because while Jon and Sansa seemed to have the most "distant" relationship of the Stark children, it's pretty clear that Jon and Sansa did always love each other deep down. At the Wall, Jon mentioned that he missed Sansa. In ADWD, when he thinks of his lost siblings, right before he starts making plans to head to Winterfell, an image of Sansa brushing Lady's coat and singing is included. And even in AGOT, though Sansa rarely thought about Jon, when he did enter her thoughts we saw her seem to subconsciously want Jon to occupy a "positive" position in her understanding of the world order. We know from Jon that Sansa tried to teach him how to talk to girls, and though he mentions that she always called him her "half"-brother, there's no indication she tried to ignore or insult him, as other trueborn children might have done to a bastard. Her love for him was clearly not as "free" as Arya's love for him was---Sansa's world of chivalry and knighthood was a stumbling block to such a relationship, so it's easy for readers to overlook that she did love him. But even in AGOT, look at her reaction to Yoren:

She had always imagined the Night's Watch to be men like Uncle Benjen. In the songs, they were called the black knights of the Wall. But this man had been crookbacked and hideous, and he looked as though he might have lice. If this was what the Night's Watch was truly like, she felt sorry for her bastard half brother, Jon.

It's easy for readers to focus on her calling Jon her "bastard half brother" here, but if we look a little deeper, we notice how she also thinks to herself that the singers called the Watch "the black knights of the Wall". This is important because we know what a huge premium Sansa was putting on the idea of knighthood. Though religion seemingly prevents Jon from attaining knighthood, Sansa seemed to subconsciously look for a loophole there, and found one in the songs: her beloved singers could "grant" Jon a sort of honorary knighthood as a member of the Watch, so that is the route her thoughts took.

(And here we also see that Jon and Sansa, though superficially incredibly divergent, actually did look at the world in somewhat similar ways: each believed in the stories and songs, in honor---just different stories and different methods of honor. Each believed Benjen Stark was the prototypical Watchman. Jon believed all Watchmen were true and honorable, Sansa believed all knights were true and honorable. They each had specific ideas about how a specific place was supposed to be (the Wall and the South), and each of them had those ideas dashed by reality.)

As ASOIAF has progressed, we've seen Jon and Sansa slip into each other's roles, into each other's shoes. Jon becomes a Lord in ASOS, the same book in which Sansa ceases "being" a Lady. Robb disinherited Sansa at the same time (if the will says what many suspect it does) that he declared he wanted Jon to inherit. Becoming Alayne meant Sansa became a bastard, just like Jon, (and Jon could very well have been declared trueborn by Robb's will, which would mean that Sansa "became" a bastard and Jon "became" a trueborn Stark). Sansa began her story by loving singers, and has progressed toward disliking them (Marillion), while Jon initially seemed to have no use for singers . . . until he met the singer Mance Rayder. The Littlefinger/Lysa/Sansa dynamic played out almost as a vicious, over-the-top caricature of the Ned/Catelyn/Jon dynamic, with Sansa forced to literally stand in a (heavily skewed and sensationalized) version of Jon's shoes: Catelyn saw Jon as a living representation of another woman that she feared Ned loved more than her, and Lysa saw Sansa as a living representation of Catelyn, the woman that Lysa (rightly) feared Littlefinger loved more than her. Sansa seemed to have a much closer relationship with her mother than with her father (the exact opposite of Jon), but "Alayne" had a much "closer" relationship with Littlefinger than with Lysa---Sansa takes on with Littlefinger (a much skeevier version of) the relatively close father/child relationship that Jon had with Ned.

In her final chapter of AFFC, Sansa thinks to herself:

She had not thought of Jon in ages.

Or so Sansa tells herself. But I think there's a pretty good chance Sansa had actually been subconsciously thinking about Jon ever since she took on the Alayne Stone identity, because Sansa seems to be subconsciously patterning her "Alayne Stone" persona around Jon Snow. Sansa wants "Alayne" to be 14 years old, because "She had decided that Alayne Stone should be older than Sansa Stark". How old was Jon the last time Sansa saw him? 14 years old. She becomes worried at the prospect of dancing, because she seems to think that, for some unexplained reason, Alayne Stone might not enjoy dancing:

What would she do when the music began to play? It was a vexing question, to which her heart and head gave different answers. Sansa loved to dance, but Alayne...

Dancing is a pretty popular activity among women of all social classes and we know it's an activity very close to Sansa's heart, given that she was able to dance even at her own terrible wedding. But then in ADWD we discover that Jon does not appear to enjoy dancing---he refuses to dance with Alys, and Alys teases him about it when she brings up previous dances they were forced to dance together at Winterfell. If Sansa is subconsciously patterning "Alayne" on Jon Snow, then the fact that she's concerned that Alayne might not enjoy dancing makes quite a bit of sense, given that Jon's apparent dislike of dancing seems like the sort of thing Sansa would have picked up on. (In other words, if "Alayne" is patterned after Jon Snow, then the "real" reason Sansa fears Alayne won't like dancing is because Sansa knows Jon, on whom Alayne is molded, dislikes dancing.) Sansa thinks of Alayne as "bastard-brave", and since she barely knows Mya, what bastard does Sansa want Alayne to be as brave as? The obvious answer is Jon. And we see "Alayne" take on the type of caregiver role with Sweetrobin that the other Stark children (Bran and Arya, especially) seem to have associated with Jon, a role that Sansa herself seemed to take on with people like Beth Cassel and Jeyne Poole in Winterfell, but not with her own younger siblings.

He was only her half brother, but still... with Robb and Bran and Rickon dead, Jon Snow was the only brother that remained to her. I am a bastard too now, just like him. Oh, it would be so sweet, to see him once again.

This is Sansa's thought process once Myranda Royce tells her about Jon's new position as Lord Commander of the Watch. If I'm correct and she's had Jon on the brain throughout AFFC, then this right here actually serves as a breakthrough for her, because Sansa goes from subconsciously longing for Jon to explicitly longing for Jon. And her thought process here is a pretty useful distillation of how far Sansa's come from AGOT, a semi-culmination of her ideological journey thus far: the main issues she once had with Jon---that he was a bastard, that he didn't "fit" the world of knights and chivalry that Sansa loved---have been essentially nullified. She starts out with the "old" Sansa's thought patterns ("He was only her half-brother"), but then she immediately (and pretty substantially) switches gears and starts openly longing to see Jon again, expressly thinking about how she's now a bastard too. The ideological barriers between them are basically gone.

Indeed, Sansa's entire arc had been bringing her closer and closer, ideologically, to the forces (winter, the North, and the Old Gods) represented by Jon. Sansa started out in AGOT preferring the Faith of the Seven, loving knighthood, loving the south, and losing her direwolf. By AFFC, we see her (far) more heavily associated with the Old Gods, favoring a non-knight (the Hound), and in an overall sense, switching gears from the epitomization of a "summer's child" to (IMO) someone on the path to becoming a "winter's child". Jon and Sansa become the Starks who we see most heavily drawing their inner strength from the cold and the snow: Jon mentions on more than one occasion that Ghost loves the snow, we see Jon frequently seeking out the cold (not the heat) at the Wall. We see Sansa literally drawing strength from the snow and the cold at the Eyrie. In the beginning of AGOT, Sansa wanted only to be a queen in the hot south. By AFFC, we see her building a scale model of Winterfell and drawing spiritual strength from the forces of winter.

Given the way Sansa seems to have been sliding more and more "toward" Jon as her arc has progressed---given the way her arc has been bringing her closer to him both ideologically and thematically---I wonder what implications Jon's stabbing (and the potential future that stabbing could bring for him) have for Sansa's future. Because the myth of Persephone looms large over both Jon and Sansa, and given what happened to Jon at the end of ADWD, I'm very, very curious what GRRM has in store for Sansa's arc, especially now that winter has come.

Both Jon and Sansa encounter "the pomegranate": Sansa is offered a literal pomegranate by Littlefinger, while Jon's rulership arc in ADWD was confronted at every turn by the Old Pomegranate, Bowen Marsh. The pomegranate, in Greek mythology, is what causes Persephone to become Queen of the Dead in perpetuity, and it's the reason winter comes in the first place---winter, in Greek mythology, being viewed as Demeter's grief at her separation from her daughter when Persephone descends every year to rule in the Underworld. The pomegrante causes Persephone to undertake two disparate roles, to become a creature of two separate worlds: she is both the Goddess of Spring and the Queen of the Underworld simultaneously (and concurrently), she rules in both the sunlight and the darkness. That idea---of a person moving between two contradictory spheres of existence, of a person gaining strength by a capacity to move between the darkness and the light---is a theme GRRM has played around with in other works, so there's an excellent chance he's exploring it in ASOIAF as well.

Both Jon and Sansa choose to reject "the pomegranate": Jon rejects the Old Pomegranate's demands for the future of the Watch, Sansa rejects Littlefinger's attempt to have her eat an actual pomegranate. But look at what happened to Jon in ADWD: he refused to acquiese to the Old Pomegranate's wishes, but the Old Pomegranate would not quietly accept rejection, choosing to physically attack him: there's been a lot of speculation on these boards that the attack on Jon will lead to some death-based transformation, that he (like Persephone) might find himself transformed (and possibly occupying a new leadership role) because of the Old Pomegranate. GRRM apparently had some Sansa chapters prepared for ADWD, but he pushed them back to TWOW. I'm very curious about what those chapters contained.

Because winter has now come, and in winter, Persephone rules over the dead. Sansa's arc has tracked Persephone in some pretty substantial ways: at the beginning of AGOT, when summer was in swing, she was the Stark most heavily associated with the warmth and frivolity of the South, just as Persephone was the flower-loving Goddess of Spring; Sansa was forced to marry, against her will, a man heavily associated with worldly wealth (in Greek mythology, Hades is associated with wealth because gold, silver, and jewels are drawn from beneath the ground, and Hades of course rules the Underworld). As winter approaches, Sansa loses her childlike innocence and naivete. And winter has now hit Westeros, and will presumably hit with a vengeance during TWOW---so what will Sansa become in the winter? Where winter is a time of imprisonment for Persephone, with spring/summer freeing her to walk the warm world above, it seems that summer was a time of imprisonment for Sansa, and winter might end up freeing her. And the story of Persephone ends with Persephone holding dominion over the dead during the winter. This might be a hint toward our pomegranate-associated characters' future, especially given the heavy associations both Jon and Sansa have with the living dead. (With Jon, those associations are obvious---he's a living man who wears black, his direwolf is named Ghost, he's fighting wights. With Sansa, the associations are less obvious but no less profound: Sansa's direwolf is dead (and since the Starks "are" their direwolves, Sansa is both alive and dead simultaneously because part of her is dead while part of her lives on), Littlefinger associates her with Catelyn reborn (and Catelyn has literally become the walking dead), not to mention the Hound: "The Hound is dead" we are told, and this "dead man" of course hated fire---I doubt it's a coincidence that this description of the Hound, as a walking dead man who hates fire, sounds quite a bit like a wight.)

And then there's this bit from AFFC:

All around was empty air and sky, the ground falling away sharply to either side. There was ice underfoot, and broken stones just waiting to turn an ankle, and the wind was howling fiercely. It sounds like a wolf, thought Sansa. A ghost wolf, big as mountains.

It's easy to forget sometimes that AFFC and ADWD were originally meant to be one super-book. Could Sansa have been "sensing" Jon's "death" here? Is the "ghost wolf" Ghost? Or is there a hint here for Sansa herself? She's become a Stone, and she's been told that a stone is a mountain's daughter. The cold winds are howling, and she thinks the cold winds are becoming a ghost wolf---is Sansa, she of the dead direwolf, en route to her own eventual death and resurrection?

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Some thoughts on Sansa and Jon:

<snip>

Tze, you have a true gift for weaving the subtle threads of insight into a vibrant tapestry reflecting the original artist's intent. An enlightening read as always. I'm particularly grateful for this because I was never quite satisfied with the any particular explanation of the Jon symbolism in Sansa's Snow Castle chapter and here you fit it in perfectly with their theme across the whole series.

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with the dolores stroke aren't you envoking the Fisher King? That taps into a very rich mythology of it's own with the wound affecting the sexual potency of the king which is reflected in the landscape of his kingdom which become infertile and desolate. I'm not sure if that is something that GRRM is drawing into his story.

The grail quest is for a spirtual dimension to knighthood and like you say many are called but only three choosen. Possibly Brienne and Jaime are on a similar quest for meaning and a wholeness between the ideal and realities of being a knight (or person at arms).

Not sure about Sandor. Perceval was an innocent, Galahad was pure and Bors I think was their decent enough cousin. Sandor doesn't seem to me to fit in that group although no doubt he is deeply wounded. If like the Fisher King he can be cured by a touch of the weapon that wounded him then his salvation doesn't lie with Sansa that I can see anyhow he's going to become a happy monk, spreading the love of the seven aspects of god among the smallfolk. It is known.

Ok, I'm not sure if anyone is having problems with this thread and its wonkiness tonight, but I'll try and post this. :bang:

If I may, in addition to the Fisher King, mention the aspect of "the wounded healer", Chiron in Greek myth. I think it has a relation to Sandor through The Elder Brother of the QI. And in a way, Sandor sounds quite a bit like the EB before he came to the QI, himself.

Anyway, here we go:

In Greek mythology, the centaur 'Chiron was known as the "Wounded Healer" because he was poisoned by one of Hercules's arrows' by dropping it on himself. Unfortunately, 'Chiron was unable to heal himself and so suffered the pain of an incurable wound'.

It is also possible that the term "wounded healer" is derived from the ancient Greek legend of Asclepius, a physician who in identification of his own wounds creates a sanctuary at Epidaurus in order to treat others. By contrast, the figure of 'Apollo Medicus could be said to subvert the ancient folkloric motif known in Jungian discourse as the "wounded healer": the physician whose "own suffering and vulnerability...contribute crucially to the capacity to heal"'

In AFFC, Brother Narbert of the QI has this to say about the Elder Brother:

"The Seven have blessed our Elder Brother with healing hands. He has restored many a man to health that even the maesters could not cure, and many a woman too.”

And here is a little bit about the Elder Brother himself, when he met Brienne:

“No. You look more like a knight than you do a holy man.”

It was written in his chest and shoulders, and across that thick square jaw.

Why would you give up knighthood?”

“I never chose it. My father was a knight, and his before him. So were my brothers, every one. I was trained for battle since the day they deemed me old enough to hold a wooden sword. I saw my share of them, and did not disgrace myself. I had women too, and there I did disgrace myself, for some I took by force. There was a girl I wished to marry, the younger daughter of a petty lord, but I was my father’s thirdborn son and had neither land nor wealth to offer her... only a sword, a horse, a shield. All in all, I was a sad man. When I was not fighting, I was drunk. My life was writ in red, in blood and wine.”

“When did it change?” asked Brienne.

“When I died in the Battle of the Trident. I fought for Prince Rhaegar, though he never knew my name. I could not tell you why, save that the lord I served served a lord who served a lord who had decided to support the dragon rather than the stag. Had he decided elsewise, I might have been on the other side of the river. The battle was a bloody thing. The singers would have us believe it was all Rhaegar and Robert struggling in the stream for a woman both of them claimed to love, but I assure you, other men were fighting too, and I was one. I took an arrow through the thigh and another through the foot, and my horse was killed from under me, yet I fought on. I can still remember how desperate I was to find another horse, for I had no coin to buy one, and without a horse I would no longer be a knight. That was all that I was thinking of, if truth be told. I never saw the blow that felled me. I heard hooves behind my back and thought, a horse! but before I could turn something slammed into my head and knocked me back into the river, where by rights I should have drowned."

The EB sounds a lot like Sandor before he came to the QI. I feel there is a little play on words here as well. The EB stated he did not choose to become a knight--it was thrust upon him because all his brother were knights.

We know Sandor didn't choose to become a knight due to him feeling (and rightfully so) that most knights are hypocrites. Yet, we do see that Sandor does has some sort of chivalry, some kind of honor that might befit a knight. I think a majority of us here on the thread can say that Sandor does/did have a thing for Sansa, and that Sandor is a lower "rank" than her, and like the EB, he has "neither land nor wealth to offer her... only a sword, a horse, a shield" (*cough* though I hope for more *cough*). He too was a sad man---when he wasn't fighting, he was drunk. His life too was writ in red, in blood and wine.

I'm kind of drawing a parallel between the bit about the Greek mythology (the wounded healer), Chiron being wounded with an arrow, and the EB's arrow in the leg. There is also the part about Asclepius "creating a sanctuary"( the QI--yeah I know the EB didn't create it himself) as well as Brother Narbert stating the Elder Brother has "healing hands" and him "restoring many a man to health that even the maesters could not cure".

I know my Fisher King analogy posted earlier wasn't perfect, but perhaps through the Elder Brother, Sandor might have some kind of "rebirth" himself, a like the Fisher King---Sandor being healed of his physical wounds, as well as his mental ones.

I also wanted to mention something else I noticed, which might not mean anything or could be a crackpot and it's not related to the Fisher King or the Wounded Healer.

It has to do with trees. In ASOS when Sandor is captured by the Huntsman (and I'll say it again, I find it hysterical and ironic that Sandor is captured by a man who has a pack of dogs), they found him "sleeping off a drunk under a willow tree". Later after he's wounded at the inn and traveling with Arya, they also find willows:

"Close by the water’s edge, they found some willows rising from a jumble of weathered rocks. Together the rocks and trees formed a sort of natural fort where they could hide from both river and trail. “Here will do,” the Hound said.

Shortly after, they move along then, need to stop due to Sandor's injuries. Once more they stop under trees, and he props himself up against one. This time GRRM doesn't state what kind of tree it is.

I wonder if they stopped under willow trees again? The reason is this: in one of the later Sansa chapters in ASOS, the one where she wakes up in the Eyrie to snow falling outside, it's stated that she wakes up suddenly.

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was.

Sansa is not sure what exactly woke her.

Snow was falling on the Eyrie. Outside the flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. Was this what woke me?

Even though Sansa was dreaming of home, I always took her waking up suddenly to coinciding with Sandor being badly hurt and dying after Arya left him in the Saltpans. I feel that somehow she knew something was wrong, but as we can see, she didn't know what. We know that Sandor mentions Sansa to Arya, how he "took the song from her", that she didn't give it freely, and how he "let them beat her":

He made a queer sound, and it took her a moment to realize he was sobbing. “And the little bird, your pretty sister, I stood there in my white cloak and let them beat her. I took the bloody song, she never gave it. I meant to take her too. I should have. I should have fucked her bloody and ripped her heart out before leaving her for that dwarf.” A spasm of pain twisted his face. “Do you mean to make me beg, bitch? Do it! The gift of mercy… avenge your little Michael…”

He was definitely distraught, and I think that Sansa was able to pick up on it. I think it fits, especially when you think of all the times she's thought of him out of the blue, and all the times she's "dreamed" about him. Take a look at the stories of people that form "bonds" with one another, knowing without logical means when the other is in distress or when something is wrong.

Now, bear with me a little more....if Sandor was laying under a willow tree when he was dying.....well this if what I found on willows:

The Celtic meaning of willow has a long history of symbolism associated with metaphysical and ritual practices.

Specifically, the willow wood has been (and still is) used in ceremonies intended for enhancement of psychic abilities, honoring the moon as well as increase the essence of love in our lives.

Celtic beliefs equated the willow tree to a conduit for powerful psychic forces and visions. The Celts also believed that the first human beings were descendants of trees.

Yeah, it's crackpot, but I do happen to like it! :rolleyes:

ETA: I forgot to add this last night due to brain fatigue! I think it was either Lummel or Valkyrja who brought up Jane Eyre yesterday. Well, remember in JE how Jane suddenly knows "something" has happened to Rochester and feels the need to leave St. John and his sisters and go back to Thornfield immediately? I think we're seeing the same kind of thing with Sandor and Sansa with her chapter that I mentioned.

Also you will remember in JE that Rochester loses his sight (and a hand), due to the fire at Thornfield Hall. Think of Sansa and the old blind dog in the Eyrie, how it guarded her and slept in her bed:

"On five of them it rained, while Sansa sat bored and restless by the fire, beside the old blind dog. He was too sick and toothless to walk guard with Bryen anymore, and mostly all he did was sleep, but when she patted him he whined and licked her hand, and after that they were fast friends."

"Sansa found Bryen’s old blind dog in her little alcove beneath the steps, and lay down next to him. He woke and licked her face. “You sad old hound,” she said, ruffling his fur."

"And she dreamed of her wedding night too, of Tyrion’s eyes devouring her as she undressed. Only then he was bigger than Tyrion had any right to be, and when he climbed into the bed his face was scarred only on one side. “I’ll have a song from you,” he rasped, and Sansa woke and found the old blind dog beside her once again. “I wish that you were Lady,” she said."

In JE Rochester finally regained some of his sight towards the end of the book. (As for the hand bit---I think that plays into Jaime and Brienne very nicely--seeing as Brienne was "no beauty", and Jane was I believe "average looking".)

Just some thoughts!

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This thread is back up and working!! Great posts tze and QoW. I'll be back later today with commentary.

Short note, Queen of Winter, there is a chance that her waking up has something to do with him. I looked at the timeline and it could easily be the same day. Or, she's waking up slightly afterwards when he's giving a confession to the EB. But, I think there is an argument to be made here.

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This thread is back up and working!! Great posts tze and QoW. I'll be back later today with commentary.

Short note, Queen of Winter, there is a chance that her waking up has something to do with him. I looked at the timeline and it could easily be the same day. Or, she's waking up slightly afterwards when he's giving a confession to the EB. But, I think there is an argument to be made here.

Yes,some time ago I looked back at those chapters and the timeline of events...I think it's a possibility (I brought it up in the chapter rereads, though I've not seen anyone else mention this on the board before? I guess there were no takers at the time :laugh: )

Looking forward to your comments!

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I also wanted to mention something else I noticed, which might not mean anything or could be a crackpot and it's not related to the Fisher King or the Wounded Healer.

It has to do with trees. In ASOS when Sandor is captured by the Huntsman (and I'll say it again, I find it hysterical and ironic that Sandor is captured by a man who has a pack of dogs), they found him "sleeping off a drunk under a willow tree". Later after he's wounded at the inn and traveling with Arya, they also find willows:

"Close by the water’s edge, they found some willows rising from a jumble of weathered rocks. Together the rocks and trees formed a sort of natural fort where they could hide from both river and trail. “Here will do,” the Hound said.

Shortly after, they move along then, need to stop due to Sandor's injuries. Once more they stop under trees, and he props himself up against one. This time GRRM doesn't state what kind of tree it is.

I wonder if they stopped under willow trees again? The reason is this: in one of the later Sansa chapters in ASOS, the one where she wakes up in the Eyrie to snow falling outside, it's stated that she wakes up suddenly.

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was.

Sansa is not sure what exactly woke her.

Snow was falling on the Eyrie. Outside the flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. Was this what woke me?

Even though Sansa was dreaming of home, I always took her waking up suddenly to coinciding with Sandor being badly hurt and dying after Arya left him in the Saltpans. I feel that somehow she knew something was wrong, but as we can see, she didn't know what. We know that Sandor mentions Sansa to Arya, how he "took the song from her", that she didn't give it freely, and how he "let them beat her":

He made a queer sound, and it took her a moment to realize he was sobbing. “And the little bird, your pretty sister, I stood there in my white cloak and let them beat her. I took the bloody song, she never gave it. I meant to take her too. I should have. I should have fucked her bloody and ripped her heart out before leaving her for that dwarf.” A spasm of pain twisted his face. “Do you mean to make me beg, bitch? Do it! The gift of mercy… avenge your little Michael…”

He was definitely distraught, and I think that Sansa was able to pick up on it. I think it fits, especially when you think of all the times she's thought of him out of the blue, and all the times she's "dreamed" about him. Take a look at the stories of people that form "bonds" with one another, knowing without logical means when the other is in distress or when something is wrong.

Now, bear with me a little more....if Sandor was laying under a willow tree when he was dying.....well this if what I found on willows:

The Celtic meaning of willow has a long history of symbolism associated with metaphysical and ritual practices.

Specifically, the willow wood has been (and still is) used in ceremonies intended for enhancement of psychic abilities, honoring the moon as well as increase the essence of love in our lives.

Celtic beliefs equated the willow tree to a conduit for powerful psychic forces and visions. The Celts also believed that the first human beings were descendants of trees.

Yeah, it's crackpot, but I do happen to like it! :rolleyes:

This is really interesting! I wonder if it could have anything to do with the Stark children being wargs. Sansa has never really experienced what it is like entiring her wolfe and I don't think she'll be the only one who does not have that ability. Of course we know, it's different in relation to humans, but since Sandor is still referred to as the Hound and pain is "the one thing common to every creature" there might be a related connection between Sansa and Sandor. Also, the content of what she dreams isn't mentioned but I think at the beginning, before they were used to entering their wolfes, the other Starks where not sure where they were for an instant after they "woke up" as well. Again, it's just a thought...

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This is really interesting! I wonder if it could have anything to do with the Stark children being wargs. Sansa has never really experienced what it is like entiring her wolfe and I don't think she'll be the only one who does not have that ability. Of course we know, it's different in relation to humans, but since Sandor is still referred to as the Hound and pain is "the one thing common to every creature" there might be a related connection between Sansa and Sandor. Also, the content of what she dreams isn't mentioned but I think at the beginning, before they were used to entering their wolfes, the other Starks where not sure where they were for an instant after they "woke up" as well. Again, it's just a thought...

I'll be brief but someone may expand on this. There is a theory that myself and many others have related to Sansa's warging skills. We believe that it does not manifest in the same way as the other Stark kids but has turned her in to a form of an empath. There are numerous occasions where Sansa instintually does or says the right thing with another pesson. Lollys, the Hound, and Ser Sweetrobin are a few examples of this. I think it's very possible that her empath skills were at play here.

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Re Tze's interesting analysis of Sansa and Jon,

This goes a long way to disprove the notion a lot of people have that Sansa hated Jon, or that they were cold and distanced. The description of how Sansa had a hard time fitting Jon into her world view I think is spot on. It also seems to fit perfectly with how she uses Jon as somewhat of a model for Alayne Stone too (I think there is a bit of Mya in there too, but Sansa knew Jon longer, and it should be an obvious choice for her to draw on her experiences of Jon).

Again I think people project Cat onto Sansa here: because she looks like Cat, she must feel the same as Cat, but we never see Sansa showing any dislike for Jon at all, nor do we see Jon thinking of Sansa in a negative manner. He does think some snarky thoughts about how Lysa, Cat's sister, would like to support Ned's bastard son with food, but that is all.

I also share the opinion that the fact that we never see Sansa and Jon interact on the pages is by intent. It will make any future interaction have more impact, and as if they met for the first time. Which in some ways it will be, since Jon is no longer a bastard, and Sansa is no longer a lady and a possible future queen.

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...I know my Fisher King analogy posted earlier wasn't perfect, but perhaps through the Elder Brother, Sandor might have some kind of "rebirth" himself, a like the Fisher King---Sandor being healed of his physical wounds, as well as his mental ones...

I was more negative in my choice of words than I should have been Queen of Winter, sorry :(

Making analogies is either satifying for us as readers because it sparks off ideas or insightful if, by luck or chance, we stumble on something that GRRM is deliberately drawing on in ASOIAF. I would be surprised if he was consciously rewriting complete stories or mythologies into ASOIAF, but I'm sure that magpie like he's drawing on all sorts of things.

The wounded healer makes sense to me too for the Elder Brother, but I think it's a different type of story than the Fisher King, the injured healer can heal themself (physican heal thyself!) but the Fisher King type is dependant on somebody else healing him in conjunction with some external object, generally the same object or type of object that caused the injury in the first place.

Jane Eyre, in my opinion, only appears realistic on the surface, its quite fairy tale like I feel on the whole - like you say Jane mystically hears Rochester's call and Rochester is a bit of a bluebeard that Jane can, eventually, take control over, and there's more besides but all off topic.

The willow trees I think is completely crackpot. But crackpot ideas are good, like one hand clapping they get us to think differently. :) Keep it up!

The greenseer can move beyond the weirwoods and see with practice through all trees we learn in ADWD. But that would suggest that Sansa is actually very powerful in her warging and I'm not sure that fits with what we have seen in the books so far. Another alternative would be that there is a connection between Arya and Sansa, an unconscious version of the link Bran achieves with Jon in ACOK. Same problem applies I think. But that's assuming the two events are concurrent anyway, I'm not sure timeline-wise if that is so.

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I'll be brief but someone may expand on this. There is a theory that myself and many others have related to Sansa's warging skills. We believe that it does not manifest in the same way as the other Stark kids but has turned her in to a form of an empath. There are numerous occasions where Sansa instintually does or says the right thing with another pesson. Lollys, the Hound, and Ser Sweetrobin are a few examples of this. I think it's very possible that her empath skills were at play here.

Is there a thread elaborating on this? I would be interested in following up on it.

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