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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XIX

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Ladies and sers,

A little while ago, Milady asked the brilliant and very talented graphic designer and illustrator Bubug to participate in our Beauty and the Beast project, and she amiably accepted. As art is her field, she thought it best to let her pens speak for her and so she created a beautiful poster for our project. Yes, that's so, ladies of the Pawn to Player thread, we now have our very own fan art!

For this project, she drew a new Sansa, different from the ones she's shown in her other and equally superb depictions of her, and in Milady's opinion, more beautiful even. She is very pleased with her contribution, as is Milady, who cannot thank her enough for this and hopes you like it too.

Here is the illustration, in which you will see some familiar faces as well.

This is absolutely gorgeous. I was expecting Sandor and Sansa, but Jaime and Brienne added to the drawing makes it even more amazing and truly representative of the beauty and the beast motif that Martin has created. The project hasn't been completed yet, but this is the icing on the cake :) Our very own fanart indeed, Milady! And to Bubug: thank you very much. xx

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This is absolutely gorgeous. I was expecting Sandor and Sansa, but Jaime and Brienne added to the drawing makes it even more amazing and truly representative of the beauty and the beast motif that Martin has created.

I asked Bubug to include Jaime and Brienne precisely for this reason, dear Brashcandy, and the result has been truly amazing, hasn't it? She is very talented and a great addition to the B&B project. It was a pleasure to work with her.

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If you look closely, there is a reason that Sansa has been spending so much time in the Eyrie. For being one of 8 major castles, it gets a lot of POVs. Martin is purposely building up the image of the Eyrie being a stalwart and foreboding castle. LF tells Sansa she is a pawn in the game. She begins to become a player in the GOT at the Eyrie because she is going to transform from pawn to rook. The Eyrie symbolizes the rook. That means that Sansa won't be queen. She won't be the biggest player, but she'll be very capable and dangerous on the straight aways. Look out Westeros, Sansa is about to make it to the other side of the board.

Welcome to the thread BGH, and yes, we do expect to see Sansa making a lot more direct "plays" in the next book. I agree with you that the Eyrie has been a very imposing image in terms of castles in the series, and even though it's now closed up for the winter, I think we're going to continue to see that symbolism still having an impact in one way or another.

I asked Bubug to include Jaime and Brienne precisely for this reason, dear Brashcandy, and the result has been truly amazing, hasn't it? She is very talented and a great addition to the B&B project. It was a pleasure to work with her.

I can imagine :) I love the piercing gazes of the women and the dangerous intensity of the men. It's suggestive and subtle, corresponding very much to those two relationships in the novels.

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All your essays changed the focus of my perception of Sansa and I`ll try to contribute as much as I can.

That was our intention from the inception of this thread series, so it's great to hear you've enjoyed it all. Welcome to the thread :)

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I finished reading all the posts since the last time I posted several threads ago and I must congratulate the posters for the immense achievement of reaching thread no. 19. Wow! It is also a tribute to Martin's writing that this discussion has continued to evolve. Mahaut, Milady, Brash, Danelle, Mladen, your essays were enlightening and thought provoking as always. Forgive me if I've missed a name.

Mahaut, I think it was your essay on wolves in culture. I want to know where you got the wolf and she-wolf disrupting pilgrims on the way to Mecca information. I'm a Muslim and this, as far as I remember, is the first I've heard of it. Could you clarify? Sexual congress is prohibited during all religious rites - not all shows of affection, though - but this comparison or metaphor to wolves for sexual temptation seems new to me.

Milady, thanks for the link to that gorgeous picture.

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This fanart is gorgeous! Thank you so much Bubug and Milady ^_^!

Mahaut, I think it was your essay on wolves in culture. I want to know where you got the wolf and she-wolf disrupting pilgrims on the way to Mecca information. I'm a Muslim and this, as far as I remember, is the first I've heard of it. Could you clarify? Sexual congress is prohibited during all religious rites - not all shows of affection, though - but this comparison or metaphor to wolves for sexual temptation seems new to me.

I worked with several dictionaries of symbolisms and here is the one where I found this piece of information:

CHEVALIER Jean, GHEERBRANT Alain : Dictionnaire des symboles : mythes, rêves, coutumes, gestes, formes, figures, couleurs, nombres, R. Laffont ; Jupiter, Paris, 2008

Unfortunately it’s in French as I didn’t have access to good literature in English. Sorry about that. But the meaning is similar to what I wrote in my essay. Is the pilgrimage to Mecca considered as a religious rite in Islam? (sorry for asking but I’m not Muslim). If so, sexual intercourses would be prohibited during that period, wouldn't they? So the she-wolf could be one of the symbolical dangers the pilgrims encounter on their way to Mecca. That's the only explanation I can think of since the authors don't say more than what I wrote in the essay. But I think you’re the expert here and if it’s completely wrong then I apologize to you and the other readers.

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Congrats all of you! I didn't read all the discussions (My eyes tired out easily) but I know how great posts were written in here.

ABbout something different, I had an argument (like always) with someone who said Sansa should have trusted tyrion, she should have been nicer etc etc... same old same old crap..

And it is so strange to me because for me her ice-cold behaviour there actually made me love her more.

In that forcful marriage everything was taken away from her.

She had no consent about who to marry. The marriage happened so they can take away her families heritage. If tyrion wants to he would have raped her, so even her body is taken away from her. The only single thing no force can take away from her is her actual soul, and she didn't give it. And I think that shows just how hella strong and stubborn she is.

And it reminded me to the Firefly theme song:

Take my love, take my land

Take me where I cannot stand

I don't care, I'm still free

You can't take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black

Tell them I ain't comin' back

Burn the land and boil the sea

You can't take the sky from me.

Leave the men where they lay

They'll never see another day

Lost my soul, lost my dream

You can't take the sky from me.

I feel the black reaching out

I hear its song without a doubt

I still hear and I still see

That you can't take the sky from me.

Lost my love, lost my land

Lost the last place I could stand

There's no place I can be

Since I've found Serenity

And you can't take the sky from me.

I just hope she will find her "Serenity" that gives her even more strength. Okay I know it doesn't compeletly match because in the lyrics even the soul is taken away, but that still reminds me of Sansa's stubborness and refusal to give in and break down in that situation.

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I think so. I`ve heard that people are praying, giving up food and sex during pilgrimage to Mecca. I remember one of my friends saying to me something about it, but I would need to check it first before I post anything.

Thank you for the precision and welcome to the thread too :)

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I just hope she will find her "Serenity" that gives her even more strength. Okay I know it doesn't compeletly match because in the lyrics even the soul is taken away, but that still reminds me of Sansa's stubborness and refusal to give in and break down in that situation.

Thanks for sharing that Silverin. I think it's quite appropriate given the bird imagery surrounding Sansa.

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Ladies and sers,

A little while ago, Milady asked the brilliant and very talented graphic designer and illustrator Bubug to participate in our Beauty and the Beast project, and she amiably accepted. As art is her field, she thought it best to let her pens speak for her and so she created a beautiful poster for our project. Yes, that's so, ladies of the Pawn to Player thread, we now have our very own fan art!

For this project, she drew a new Sansa, different from the ones she's shown in her other and equally superb depictions of her, and in Milady's opinion, more beautiful even. She is very pleased with her contribution, as is Milady, who cannot thank her enough for this and hopes you like it too.

:)

Here is the illustration, in which you will see some familiar faces as well.

That is beautiful work! I knew I recognized her art as soon as I saw it (as some of it reminds me of woodcuts). :) :thumbsup:

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This fanart is gorgeous! Thank you so much Bubug and Milady ^_^!

I worked abo several dictionaries of symbolisms and here is the one where I found this piece of information:

CHEVALIER Jean, GHEERBRANT Alain : Dictionnaire des symboles : mythes, rêves, coutumes, gestes, formes, figures, couleurs, nombres, R. Laffont ; Jupiter, Paris, 2008

Unfortunately it’s in French as I didn’t have access to good literature in English. Sorry about that. But the meaning is similar to what I wrote in my essay. Is the pilgrimage to Mecca considered as a religious rite in Islam? (sorry for asking but I’m not Muslim). If so, sexual intercourses would be prohibited during that period, wouldn't they? So the she-wolf could be one of the symbolical dangers the pilgrims encounter on their way to Mecca. That's the only explanation I can think of since the authors don't say more than what I wrote in the essay. But I think you’re the expert here and if it’s completely wrong then I apologize to you and the other readers.

Thanks for the clarification. I'm not exactly an expert but I've never heard this before. It might be correct or not which is why I needed to know your source material. I'll have to check it up.

Yes, sex is prohibited during the period of the greater and smaller pilgrimage and during a fast and during ritual prayer. I only wanted to know how the wolves came into it as that doesn't seem to be an Arab reference. It might be from a commentary upon this prohibition from another Muslim source so don't beat yourself up about it since I wasn't offended, only curious.

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I am truly glad you ladies loved the poster, and it has been well received by the ASOIAF fandom in other sites as well. The creative mind that drew it, Bubug, is also very pleased by your positive responses, and has some kind words she wishes to let all of you know, that you don't need to thank her as she considers it an honour to have done this for the B&B project. Speaking as the organiser of the B&B, Milady believes the honour has been hers, as it's not every day you have an artist of her calibre illustrate for a literary project created by fans.

And now, another little piece...

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An analysis of Sansa’s preference in men

Whilst re-reading, some probably have wondered if Sansa had an established preference for a certain type of men and what it would be. Milady certainly was assaulted by the Muses and did ponder on this, and so off to investigate in the books and find an answer she went.

But before we start, the major premises we will be talking about are first physical appearance, namely: height, body type, hair colour, eye colour, etc., and not necessarily personality traits of the men mentioned; and second, we’re taking into account only and exclusively those men in whom Sansa has shown interest, and not those who’ve been unilaterally interested in Sansa, because this analysis is about her preferences, not theirs.

This second point therefore narrows down the list to the following men, in chronological order:

Waymar of House Royce

Sansa set eyes on this younger son of Lord Bronze Yohn Royce of Runestone when he was making a stop at Winterfell on his way to the Wall. This young man’s appearance is described thus:

He was a handsome youth of eighteen, grey-eyed and graceful and slender as a knife. Mounted on his huge black destrier, the knight towered above Will and Gared on their smaller garrons.

AGOT, Prologue, pp. 11, e-book.

Sansa should have been more or less ten at the time (at the Hand’s tourney, she remembers Bronze Yohn had been at Winterfell two years before), and an argument can be made that this one was her first crush ever, and a short-lived one. Considering her age, it’s far from being purely speculative, as there’s no mention of any other romantic crush previous to him, and this interpretation is supported by the text. Sansa herself, whilst masquerading as Alayne in the Vale, thinks this:

She had fallen wildly in love with Ser Waymar, she remembered dimly, but that was a lifetime ago, when she was a stupid little girl.

AFFC, Alayne I, pp. 803, e-book.

Joffrey of Houses Baratheon and Lannister

This one was a parental choice as a potential husband for her in the first place, and we get a first physical description of him not through her but her brother Jon Snow:

Sansa, two years older, drew the crown prince, Joffrey Baratheon. He was twelve, younger than Jon or Robb, but taller than either, to Jon’s vast dismay. Prince Joffrey had his sister’s hair and his mother’s deep green eyes. A thick tangle of blond curls dripped down past his golden choker and high velvet collar.

AGOT, Jon I, pp. 101, e-book.

Sansa doesn’t make any remarks about his physical attractiveness before she was told about her betrothal to him but rather about his behaviour (manners), as we can read in the conversation in AGOT Arya I, in which she describes him as simply “gallant,” possibly due to how he behaved in the banquet when he sat by her side, and complimented her beauty, according to Beth Cassel. It fell to Arya to remark on his looks, twice:

Arya knew which prince she meant: Joffrey, of course. The tall, handsome one.

AGOT, Arya I, pp. 136, e-book

“Jon says he looks like a girl,” Arya said.

AGOT, Arya I, pp. 136, e-book.

It’s only after she is told that she’s going to marry the crown prince that she does fancy herself in love with him, and describes his looks for the first time:

Sansa did not really know Joffrey yet, but she was already in love with him. He was all she ever dreamt her prince should be, tall and handsome and strong, with hair like gold.

AGOT, Sansa I, pp. 272, e-book

And from then onwards a behavioural pattern emerges: she describes him as handsome precisely when he’s acting the gallant little prince toward her. For example, when at the Trident she is frightened by some men of the royal entourage, and he intervenes on his mother’s command:

“Leave her alone,” Joffrey said. He stood over her, beautiful in blue wool and black leather, his golden curls shining in the sun like a crown.

AGOT, Sansa I, pp. 284, e-book.

She then describes his acts as gallant, seemingly tying her view of him as handsome to his good behaviour. Later, at the banquet following the Hand’s tourney, she repeats this connection of attractiveness to gallantry again:

She could not hate Joffrey tonight. He was too beautiful to hate. He wore a deep blue doublet studded with a double row of golden lion’s heads, and around his brow a slim coronet made of gold and sapphires. His hair was as bright as the metal. Sansa looked at him and trembled, afraid that he might ignore her or, worse, turn hateful again and send her weeping from the table.

Instead Joffrey smiled and kissed her hand, handsome and gallant as any prince in the songs, and said, “Ser Loras has a keen eye for beauty, sweet lady.”

AGOT, Sansa II, pp. 581

There is one more occasion in which she does this again, whilst confined in the tower of Maegor’s Holdfast as the Lannisters are getting rid of opposition after King Robert’s death. Hearing the tolling of the bells, she wonders if “beautiful Joffrey” is the new king, and later she believes the “gallant” young man will listen to her if she pleads for mercy for her father, and again describes his agreeing to it as a gallant act. This is the last time, for her perception of him changes radically when he demonstrates to her his outrageous personal interpretation of being merciful:

Sansa stared at him, seeing him for the first time. He was wearing a padded crimson doublet patterned with lions and a cloth-of-gold cape with a high collar that framed his face. She wondered how she could ever have thought him handsome. His lips were as soft and red as the worms you found after a rain, and his eyes were vain and cruel. “I hate you,” she whispered.

AGOT, Sansa VII, pp. 1451, e-book.

As we can see, when Joffrey abandons all pretension of goodness, not only her feelings for him change, but also her assessment of his physical attractiveness. The next time Sansa mentions his appearance, in her very first chapter in ACOK, she gives a mere description without providing any personal appraising of it: “He was thirteen today, and tall for his age, with the green eyes and golden hair of the Lannisters,” and when he decides to behave well again, she just tells herself that he’d “decided to play the gallant” that day. Furthermore, comments similar to the one above—“his plump pink lips always made him look pouty. Sansa had liked that once, but now it made her sick,” and “those fat wormy lips of his”—will appear throughout the rest of her chapters until Joffrey’s poisoning. In the end, “bright, shining, and empty,” becomes her definition of the boy king.

Renly of House Baratheon

Sansa’s description seems to be a conscious appraisal of the younger Baratheon brother’s appearance rather than an infatuation on her part, yet given the purposes of this analysis, it’s worth including it here:

His companion was a man near twenty whose armor was steel plate of a deep forest-green. He was the handsomest man Sansa had ever set eyes upon; tall and powerfully made, with jet-black hair that fell to his shoulders and framed a clean-shaven face, and laughing green eyes to match his armor. Cradled under one arm was an antlered helm, its magnificent rack shimmering in gold
.

AGOT, Sansa I, pp. 282, e-book.

She again calls him handsome twice during the Hand’s tournament, and much later she compliments Renly as “gallant” to his widow Margaery, and when describing the songs being sung at the wedding of the Tyrell girl to Joffrey, she refers to the late lord as “handsome young prince.” Apart from Sansa, we also get a description of this young man from other characters, such as Maester Cressen, who describes him as having “wild black hair and laughing eyes,” and Sansa’s own mother, Catelyn, declares that “Renly was handsome as Robert had been handsome; long of limb and broad of shoulder, with the same coal-black hair, fine and straight, the same deep blue eyes, the same easy smile.” There’s a difference in eye colour here, a small authorial lapsus. But it’s Brienne of Tarth who gives the most complete description, when she encounters his bastard nephew Gendry: “Renly had been lean and lithe… King Renly’s hair had been that same coal black, but his had always been washed and brushed and combed. Sometimes he cut it short, and sometimes he let it fall loose to his shoulders, or tied it back behind his head with a golden ribbon, but it was never tangled or matted with sweat. And though his eyes had been that same deep blue, Lord Renly’s eyes had always been warm and welcoming, full of laughter…”

And Sansa and Brienne aren’t the only girls who consider him handsome, because Arianne Martell reveals in one of her chapters in AFFC that she “did her best to seduce him” when he was visiting Sunspear, to no avail, naturally.

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Loras of House Tyrell

She met the third Tyrell brother during the famous tournament in honour of her father, and in the first mention of him she makes, she focuses primarily on describing his feats at the jousts, his armour and what he’s doing—“pluck a single white rose from the blanket and toss it to some fair maiden in the crowd”—after each of his victories. It’s only after his display of courtesy that she finally does describe his appearance:

“To the other maidens he had given white roses, but the one he plucked for her was red. “Sweet lady,” he said, “no victory is half so beautiful as you.” Sansa took the flower timidly, struck dumb by his gallantry. His hair was a mass of lazy brown curls, his eyes like liquid gold.”

AGOT, Sansa II, pp. 577, e-book.

After this, Sansa comes to qualify Loras as a “true knight,” an ideal she still believes in, and because of this, she argues it should be him the one sent to slay the Monster, Gregor Clegane, as he was not only the Hero but “looked a true hero, so slim and beautiful, with golden roses around his slender waist and his rich brown hair tumbling down into his eyes.”

And as the apple cannot fall so far from the tree, her father Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell, of “muscled like a maiden’s fantasy” fame, also acknowledged the boy’s comely appearance:

When the Knight of Flowers made his entrance, a murmur ran through the crowd, and he heard Sansa’s fervent whisper,
“Oh, he’s so beautiful.”
Ser Loras Tyrell was slender as a reed, dressed in a suit of fabulous silver armor polished to a blinding sheen and filigreed with twining black vines and tiny blue forget-me-nots. The commons realized in the same instant as Ned that the blue of the flowers came from sapphires; a gasp went up from a thousand throats. Across the boy’s shoulders his cloak hung heavy. It was woven of forget-me-nots, real ones, hundreds of fresh blooms sewn to a heavy woolen cape.

AGOT, Eddard VII, pp. 611, e-book.

“Lord Eddard!” The shout came from the west side of the hall as a handsome stripling of a boy strode forth boldly. Out of his armor, Ser Loras Tyrell looked even younger than his sixteen years. He wore pale blue silk, his belt a linked chain of golden roses, the sigil of his House.

AGOT, Eddard XI, pp. 916, e-book.

Next time Sansa thinks of him is when she’s in the sept during the Battle of Blackwater, and she includes him in her prayers. Later, after he’s been appointed a Kingsguard, and as he escorts her to sup with his female relatives she has the opportunity to have a conversation with him for the first time; in which she realises the one-sided nature of her crush. On one hand, Sansa is thinking of how graceful and attractive he is, complimenting him in her head and remembering the red rose he gave her; and on the other hand we have Loras just spouting niceties in response to hers, and not even remembering the rose. Once Lady Olenna proposes a betrothal to a Tyrell, she believes it’s him, and goes off to fantasise about how it’d be “to pull up his tunic and caress the smooth skin underneath, to stand on her toes and kiss him, to run her fingers through those thick brown curls and drown in his deep brown eyes,” which, like the UnKiss with Sandor, is part of her sexual awakening.

However, she’s quickly disabused of that idea when they clarify that it’s the eldest, Willas, the one they’re speaking of, and she accepts him in Loras’ stead mainly so she can go out of King’s Landing to a peaceful place she could call home, struggling for a while with the comparison of Willas to his younger brother in her head, and finally determining that she would be good to him and make him love her for herself.

Her forced wedding to the Imp, who intends for her to pretend it’s Loras in her marriage bed, puts an end to all hopes to wed any Tyrell. And by the time Sansa’s living in the Eyrie, it’s evident that she’s completely outgrown the youthful infatuation she’d had with him, as shown in her inner dialogue as Robert Arryn is kissing her:

It was a little boy’s kiss, and clumsy. Everything Robert Arryn did was clumsy.
If I close my eyes I can pretend he is the Knight of Flowers.
Ser Loras had given Sansa Stark a red rose once, but he had never kissed her... and no Tyrell would ever kiss Alayne Stone. Pretty as she was, she had been born on the wrong side of the blanket.

AFFC, Alayne II, pp. 1459, e-book.

Here, instead of fantasising about a kiss from highborn Loras, she immediately replaces him with a kiss from someone lowborn:

As the boy’s lips touched her own she found herself thinking of another kiss. She could still remember how it felt, when his cruel mouth pressed down on her own. He had come to Sansa in the darkness as green fire filled the sky.
He took a song and a kiss, and left me nothing but a bloody cloak.

AFFC, Alayne II, pp. 1459, e-book.

Sandor of House Clegane

Of all those men, this is the only one that’s not traditionally attractive, from the neck up at least, and the one that’s not gone down in Sansa’s estimation. Quite the contrary. As the slow evolution of her relationship with him has been sufficiently analysed previously, here we’ll focus primarily on how she perceives his appearance. The father of the Stark pack had been the first one to remark on Sandor’s “terrible burned face” back in Winterfell, and that’s also the first thing the wolfling describes when he talks to her for the first time:

Strong hands grasped her by the shoulders, and for a moment Sansa thought it was her father, but when she turned, it was the burned face of Sandor Clegane looking down at her, his mouth twisted in a terrible mockery of a smile.

AGOT, Sansa I, pp. 283, e-book.

She admits to herself that he frightens her, but not half as much as Ilyn Payne does, from which it could be interpreted that she’s implying by this that it’s not so much his burns as his attitude and reputation, because a case can be made that, comparatively, Sandor’s “ruin of a face” is objectively worse in purely aesthetic terms. Frightening as he might be to her, she still notices his performance during the Hand’s tourney, namely that he seems “unstoppable” and jousts in “ferocious style.” But she cannot look at his face yet:

Sansa could not bear the sight of him, he frightened her so, yet she had been raised in all the ways of courtesy.
A true lady would not notice his face
, she told herself. “You rode gallantly today, Ser Sandor,” she made herself say.

AGOT Sansa II, pp. 586, e-book.

She tries to follow her ladylike training and overlook his burns, complimenting him on his skills as a jouster instead. Yet he doesn’t allow her to do this, and forces her to take a good look at his face, which she accordingly does and describes in detail:

The right side of his face was gaunt, with sharp cheekbones and a grey eye beneath a heavy brow. His nose was large and hooked, his hair thin, dark. He wore it long and brushed it sideways, because no hair grew on the other side of that face.

The left side of his face was a ruin. His ear had been burned away; there was nothing left but a hole. His eye was still good, but all around it was a twisted mass of scar, slick black flesh hard as leather, pocked with craters and fissured by deep cracks that gleamed red and wet when he moved. Down by his jaw, you could see a hint of bone where the flesh had been seared away.

AGOT, Sansa II, pp. 589, e-book.

Then he tells her the story of how he got those burns, after snuffing out the torch once he sees she’s crying, and her fright goes away, replaced by sadness, fear for him and compassion. She gets the “little bird” sobriquet there and then, and for once Sandor doesn’t mock her notion of a “true knight.” The next day at the jousts, it becomes clear that this act has changed her perception of him, because she’s eagerly watching the Hound vs. Kingslayer match, revealing that she’s bet against Lannister and in favour of Clegane, who wins. Henceforward, every time she describes his appearance, she will mention from time to time his scarred face, the twitching of his mouth, and also his grip and touch, gentle sometimes, hard other times. Interestingly, Sansa doesn’t praise his physique; the “muscled like a bull” description of his body came from Arya in her first chapter.

In the second book, in which they interact more frequently, her comments about his appearance reveal that there are three things that get her attention the most:

  • His voice. She often describes how it sounds: rough like “saw on wood,” “raspy” and “deep.” And does also hear the emotions his face doesn’t betray (“his voice thick with contempt,” “his voice was flat,” and “his voice raw and harsh as steel on stone”).
  • His laughter. He laughs very easily (eight times only in ACOK, not counting snorts), and Sansa doesn’t stop at just describing the sound of it but can differentiate when he laughs because he’s genuinely amused (as when Myrcella beat Joffrey in their verbal sparring), from when he laughs in derision or self-derision, and when his laugh is bitter. She noticed as well how it changes his features, like when he laughed after making the mob run during the riot and “his terrible burned face for a moment transformed.”
  • His facial tic. Sansa notices how the burnt side of his mouth twitches when he speaks a remarkable amount of times: two times in her first chapter, once in her second, once in her fourth, and one last time in her seventh before he leaves the city. This suggests that, contrary to Sandor’s conviction, she had actually been looking at his face more times that either of them could consciously realise, elsewise she’d not have registered this so many times. Once more, we learn how important it is to pay attention to what these two do and not just to what they say.

For all this good deal of attention, she refers to his scars themselves in surprisingly few occasions, and in two of these, she reveals that it’s not what she really minds:

The scars are not the worst part, nor even the way his mouth twitches. It’s his eyes.
She had never seen eyes so full of anger.

ACOK, Sansa IV, pp. 1325, e-book.

The blood masked the worst of his scars, but his eyes were white and wide and terrifying.

ACOK, Sansa VII, pp. 1516, e-book.

The first admission was on the rooftop of Maegor’s Holdfast; the latter comes right before she cups Sandor’s cheek in her bedchamber, and it can be inferred that it was the burnt one she cupped, based on what’s stated above, because when she touched him, she felt the blood.

After he’s gone, she reflects on knowing the secret of “his burned face” when she recalls him in her first chapter in ASOS; by then she already has the fantasy of the inexistent kiss, even though she doesn’t disclose it yet until her next chapter, the second; and when she has to marry Tyrion, she compares his appearance unfavourably to the Hound’s, as she finds the dwarf uglier. Furthermore, in the same chapter she gives one small yet significant piece of information about the physical traits of her dream bridegroom, because it reveals more about her preference. Is he handsome? No. She doesn’t list handsomeness as a requisite anymore. In her own words, she’d pictured him as “tall and strong.” This is also significant for another reason: it shows how much more mature she is, because if we look back at the first volume, naïve little Sansa had dreamt he’d be “tall and handsome and strong.”

Once out of King’s Landing, in the Fingers she recalls the raspy sound of his voice thrice; first, when recalling his words on lies and liars, Sansa says she “can almost hear his rough rasp of a voice,” then when she mistakes Lothor Brune’s similar rough tone for his, and finally in her erotic dream, in which she hears the familiar rasping:

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.

ASOS, Sansa VIII, pp. 1866, e-book.

In this dream, we observe that Sansa is undressing for a man who’s devouring her with his eyes, a clear reference to the fact that she’s looking at him in the face and registering his reaction and not flinching, otherwise she couldn’t have possibly noted the look of desire he had in his eyes, much less if he was looking at her at all; and this textual fact is reinforced by the description of his scars, because she wouldn’t have noticed this either if she hadn’t kept her eyes open and focused on his face.

So, Sansa’s preferred type is…

Apart from the conclusion that The Ned had a good pair of eyes and appreciated beauty, this detailed examination of every man that interested Sansa has led to other interesting conclusions:

  • She doesn’t just fall for any random handsome boy for his looks only, as those she’s had a crush on showed good behaviour toward her and were courteous, flattering and gallant with her; or did something for her in the case of the Hound. In sum, she reacts to their behaviour toward her. We don’t know anything about the Royce boy to speculate beyond his possible courteous treatment of her as is expected of nobles in society, but we do have textual basis to argue that Joffrey’s and Loras’ treatment of her and their real or perceived interest in her had a major impact on her crushing on them and her opinion of them as handsome. Renly also was fairly good-humoured in her presence.

As contrast, we have Jeyne Poole’s random crush on Beric Dondarrion, whom she calls handsome, but as Sansa doesn’t know him nor interacts with him, she barely registers his appearance in passing. And we have the curious case that she never ever remarks on Jaime Lannister’s looks, who’s believed to be one of the handsomest men in Westeros, if not the handsomest. Not even in passing there’s a single description of him as attractive coming out of her mouth, and interestingly, she assesses the performance of Sandor (who is far from handsome and wears drab clothes) as “riding gallantly,” but the most she can tell about Jaime (who’s strikingly beautiful and dresses well) is that he “rode brilliantly,” a compliment on his skills, not on the man’s looks or behaviour. Was it that he was an uncle to her betrothed? But Renly was, too, and even so, she did compliment his appearance. Was it because he is a Lannister? Up to that point, she had no personal reason for disliking him yet as she would later, and even Catelyn, who does have a very valid reason, doesn’t shy away from describing him as beautiful, so at least a casual remark could’ve been expected from Sansa. Was it that he fit too well in her definition of “awfully old”? Possible, but Renly does, too, and Beric, and even so, she admits they’re good-looking. The logical conclusion would therefore be that blond Jaime Lannister isn’t her type, that he didn’t particularly care to show courtesy and due regard to her or hers. Plus, later he became the first Lannister she misliked.

Another point that supports this interpretation of her tying attractiveness to behaviour toward her is the case of Joffrey. She did hate him after his appalling behaviour during the Lady incident, and they reconciled because the betrothal was still valid, she was still to marry him and he was again behaving well with her, something that changed after he beheaded her father. She then no longer talks of him as flawless in appearance, as demonstrated by the quotes on his lips. It isn’t that they’re necessarily ugly and she was blind to it before, because Megga of the Tyrells gushed in her presence that “King Joffrey has such beautiful lips;” it’s a common consequence of romantic disappointment which appears in the anger stage, specifically, and is born of emotional hurt.
  • Her preferred type of men is brunets, men with black or brown hair; the only exception is Joffrey, who was chosen for her. Eye colour varies from light to dark, though light colours are predominant: blue, green, gray.
  • Except for Joffrey, all the men Sansa has fancied have been several years older than her: Ser Waymar was 8 years older, Lord Renly (although not exactly an infatuation) was 9 years older, Ser Loras is 5 years older, and Sandor is 15 years older.
  • An interesting detail is that Waymar Royce and Sandor Clegane, as of AFFC her first crush and her last romantic interest, share the same northern colouring: dark hair and gray eyes; yet none of them is a Northman, as one is from the Vale and the other is a Westerman. We know Royce has First Men blood, yet we don’t know if Clegane does or not. And both are also tall; Clegane for a certainty, Royce’s height isn’t stated, but given Bronze Yohn’s height, it’s likely he was on the tall end of the spectrum.

This coincidence, plus the overwhelming predominance of brunets in her choices, leads me to think that Lord Stark influenced his daughter’s preference for certain physical attributes in males. This is an
unconscious
cognitive process that starts very early in childhood and usually doesn’t manifest until much later, generally in womanhood. That old popular adage that one’s partner resembles one’s parent is real enough, and it obeys partly to evolutionary biological imprinting (genetic perpetuation) and partly to cognitive shaping due to upbringing rather than some convoluted psychoanalytic hypothesis. But as with everything, there are some nuances: this pattern is more easily found in traditionally feminine, i.e. “girlie,” daughters of fathers who’re themselves a traditional image of virility, requisites met by Sansa and Eddard; and contrary to widespread belief, it’s more likely to happen if the girl grew up with the necessary emotional support from both parents and had a positive father figure. This resemblance is usually to be found first and foremost in facial metrics, i.e. shape of the face, and secondarily in hair and eye colour. Applying the latter to Sansa’s choices, if we observe the various descriptions of her father’s face by different characters—long and sharp-featured—we can notice a correlation between it and Clegane’s face—gaunt and sharp cheekbones—who’s precisely the one she develops feelings for at a time when she’s entering into womanhood. Moreover, unlike his elder brother, Eddard Stark was plain-faced, and according to GRRM, without the scars the Hound would’ve been plain-faced as well; and finally, we have the similarities in their hair and eye colour as noted above.

All points considered, we can conclude that dark-hair, light eyes, tall stature and strength seem to be the physical traits a more mature Sansa Stark appreciates in a man.

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What an insightful essay, Milady. I'd forgotten her crush on Ser Waymar and I don't think many of us remembered his looks. I particularly like the conclusion that, contrary to many a persons opinion of Sansa, she never was shallow in the preference to men she became attracted to. Joffrey also seems to stand out as not fitting the pattern of men that she prefers and not just in looks.

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Milady and Bubug thank you so much for the beautiful fan art. I loved it! It's stunning and encapsulates the Beauty and the Beast theme so perfectly by not only including Sandor and Sansa, but Jaime and Brienne as well. Milady I haven't had a chance to read your latest essays yet but I just had to come on here and mention how much I loved the artwork.

Silverin, that song is perfect for Sansa. Were you part of the discussion back last summer when we discussed the dragonfly imagery surrounding Sansa? It is prominent in the show and it gave me a real appreciation for how awesome dragonflies are. Someone linked to the etsy website where they have Sansa Stark dragonfly necklace reproductions and I bought one for myself.

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That fan art is seriously beautiful! It is definitely worthy of being he poster that promotes he thorough research of the threads, and the B&B essays! Really loved it :D

As to that essay about sansa's preference on me. It was a joy to read. It reminded us of the realistic journey sansa has undergone from the very start. I think that once Harry the heir comes along, we are going to get a very accurate description about how will Sansa be around handsome men in the future. I don't see her falling for him but it will be interesting to see the contrast from Sansa when Lora's came to escort her to his grandma to a Sansa that knows the game and is smarter that Robert baratheon version 2. Who know though. Maybe George will prove us wrong...

But, as to Sandor, rather than finding it tragically poetic that it isn't until he has gone away that Sansa slowly starts to recognize what he really meant to her, I find it a great more on George cause they both needed hat time apart to grow as individuals. I will be crying tears of joy when and if they see each other again and their reactions

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Another very enjoyable and insightful essay Milady. I think you're spot on in the conclusion that Sansa isn't simply attracted to a person's good looks, but on how they behave towards her and others. As she gets older, she's a lot more perceptive about detecting the truth behind the facade that people put on, as we see with her appraisal of Lyn Corbray. Whilst she was responsive to gallantry displayed by Loras Tyrell, Joffrey and presumably Waymar Royce, it seems that she no longer holds these types of gestures in high esteem. Not only does she reminisce on Sandor's "cruel" kiss, but also we see her appreciation for men like Lothor Brune, who are not distinguished by any grace of movement or polished speech, but do possess strength and trustworthy qualities:

The ladder to the forecastle was steep and splintery, so Sansa accepted a hand from Lothor Brune. Ser Lothor, she had to remind herself; the man had been knighted for his valor in the Battle of Blackwater. Though no proper knight would wear those patched brown breeched and scuffed boots, nor that cracked and water-stained leather jerkin. A square-faced stocky man with a squashed nose and a mat of nappy grey hair, Brune spoke seldom. He is stronger than he looks, though. She could tell by the ease with which he lifted her, as if she weighed nothing at all.

Later on she comes to believe that he would make a suitable husband for Mya Stone, a bastard girl she admires. She notices that Lothor always smiles when he talks about Mya, a clue that gives her insight into his real feelings, even though he talked about the girl being a "half mule herself". She then goes on to describe Brune as having "a common face, but an honest one" and notes:

Sober, he was a quiet man, but a strong one. And Petyr says he's loyal. He trusts him as much as he trusts anyone.

When she's descending the Mountain with Randa Royce and questions the girl about Lothor's fantasies of Mya Stone, it confirms that Sansa is very much open to the erotic possibilities with these kinds of men.

Interestingly, the only time she experiences any real discomfort during this bawdy conversation is when the topic of Littlefinger's sexual potential is broached by Randa:

"Does your father plan to wed again?"

"My father?" Alayne had never considered that. Somehow the notion made her squirm. She found herself remembering the look on Lysa Arryn's face as she'd tumbled through the Moon Door.

"We all know how devoted he was to Lady Lysa," said Myranda, "but he cannot mourn forever. He needs a pretty young wife to wash away his grief. I imagine he could have his pick of half the noble maidens in the Vale. Who could be a better husband than our own bold Lord Protector? Though I do wish he had a better name than Littlefinger. How little is it, do you know?"

"His finger?" She blushed again. "I don't... I never..."

Lady Myranda laughed so loud that Mya Stone glanced back at them. "Never you mind, Alayne, I'm sure it's large enough."

Talking about the sexuality of a parent is not a pleasant exercise for most people, but there are other reasons why Sansa is so reluctant to engage Randa's queries. She knows of course what LF did to Lysa, and even though he ostensibly did it to protect her, Sansa is aware that he's not an ideal mate. Further, and more importantly, her father/daughter relationship with LF is a sham. Not only in terms of it being literally untrue, but due to the very "unfatherly" feelings that he has shown towards her. This is the root cause of Sansa's anxiety, and her adverse physical reaction of squirming gives us a good idea of how she feels when LF is making her kiss him or sit on his lap.

Finally, to illustrate just how far she's come in her opinion of traditionally handsome knights, we see her able to tease the ones she meets in LF's solar, telling them that she took them for gallant knights. The tall one with the blonde hair also kisses her hand as he departs, but we get no reaction from Sansa at all, even though at this point she's been isolated in the Eyrie with no one but Sweetrobin showing any interest or affection towards her.

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Great essays Milady as usual. You know I always thought it was very interesting that Sansa never commented on Jaime's looks. We get her comments about every other man who is notably good looking, even ones like Renly and Beric though she had no romantic interest in them at all, yet nothing about Jaime. Even when she was fawning all over Joffrey you would have thought she would think something like Jaime is so handsome as he and Joffrey look much alike. I noticed this early on, especially when I first came to the forum a year or so ago there were a bunch of comments about how if Sansa had married Jaime instead of Tyrion she would have been happy about it because Jaime is so handsome and the only reason Sansa doesn't like Tyrion is because of his looks, blah, blah, blah, and I kept thinking, I never got that idea at all. Then on the reread we saw how Jaime is in fact the very first Lannister Sansa comes to hate, not to mention how even in GOT, when Sansa is at her most dreamy and naive state, it was clear that she was rooting for the Hound (who even without his burns would not be considered good looking) over golden by Jaime at the Hand's tourney. And that first quote about Sandor when she feels his strong hand on her shoulder and for a minute thinks it's Ned pretty much sets the foundation right there that she really wants a man who is like her father Ned (not her fake father LF), ie. not necessarily the best looking (though I still picture Ned in my head to be attractive even though he is not described as being classically good looking), but strong, brave, loyal and I'll even add honest in there since the Hound has been honest in his approach to life and to Sansa and also both he and Ned are not ones to put on airs. These are similar traits to how she thinks of Lothor Brune too as Brash pointed out.

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Jaime Lannister is the Kingslayer, the epitome of false knight. I think this could be a reason for not finding him attractive.

ETA: I loved Sansa's immage in the poster. It is very close to how I imagine her. (In my mind, she looks like Romy Schneider in Sisi)

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