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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XX

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Yay, more essays! Great job Milady and Brash! I'm really excited for these because I do find it fascinating how LF and the Hound have been set up as opposites in Sansa's chapters. Their size, the way they dress, the way they "operate", etc. are all diametrically opposed. I do believe that what GRRM is going for here is the idea of the scents masking the underlying character beneath. Sandor's scents are very real and he does not try to hide them whereas the LF is all about appearances.

Thanks Elba :)

Yes, I think that's a critical element of GRRM's purpose here. It's fascinating that LF's habit of chewing mint extends all the way back to his childhood times with Cat and Lysa, and in the present day we see the latter woman still blindly appreciative of this scent, whereas LF is trying to use Sansa as his ideal Cat replacement. So the minty breath is established as a metaphor for his duplicity, and a kind of motif which connects Sansa's experiences to those of her mother's.

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What a wonderful beginning to another exciting project!

While I initially never assigned any significance to the scents Sansa mentally registers, the writing is so detailed that whenever I think of Sansa and the Hound, I first think of the smell of sour wine and blood, blood, blood. And with LF, the scent of mint. After reading Apple Martini's thread "Lies and Arbor Gold" (actually, I think it was titled something different, but can't recall), in which sour wine was associated with hard truths, your essay associating mint with covering up something unpleasant--in LF's case, his lies and projection--further reveals the distinction between Sandor and LF, and their respective roles in Sansa's narrative. Their scents, what they symbolize, andt how Sansa responds, certainly indicates very different intentions. Amazing analysis, Milady and brashcandy!

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Their scents, what they symbolize, and how Sansa responds, certainly indicates very different intentions. Amazing analysis, Milady and brashcandy!

Glad you liked it, DL :) Those "different intentions" are quite significant, and as we noted in the essay, there are no positive associations for Sansa with LF’s minty breath, and his penchant for forcing kisses on her is only likely to reinforce that distastefulness.

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Wonderful essay, Milady (and Brash) and I look forward to the rest.

(All the earlier essays in the thread were excellent as well I just kept getting pulled by life and didn't have time to comment.)

One of the immediate connections the notion of scent brings to mind is the direwolves. We don't exactly get a direwolf POV but we do get snippets of them being warged. Here's Bran from his first conscious warging experience in the last chapter of CoK.

The wind blew hot and rich with the smell of blood and burnt meat, so strong he began to slaver.

Yet as one smell drew them onward, others warned them back. He sniffed at the drifting smoke. Men, many men, many horses, and fire, fire, fire. No smell was more dangerous, not even the hard cold smell of iron, the stuff of man-claws and hardskin.

As with most of these direwolf passages smell is the primary sense at play in perceiving the world. Even the cognitive notion of the danger of armed men is reduced to a smell. Above we see these scents being carried on the wind. Breath is the medium for words which, as the saying goes, are wind. So there is a certain wolf-like quality to Sansa's olfactory perceptions of breath.

Twice in the chapter she meets Sandor on the Serpentine Steps the notion of smelling lies comes up.

Sansa found herself thinking of Lady again. She could smell out falsehood, she could, but she was dead

Sandor Clegane snorted. “Pretty thing, and such a bad liar. A dog can smell a lie, you know. Look around you, and take a good whiff. They’re all liars here… and every one better than you.”

Often this is looked at in light of Sandor as a possible Lady replacement given Sansa's wish for Lady who can smell falsehoods and Sandor as the dog who can smell lies, but there is also Sandor's instructions to "take a good whiff." The implication is that Sansa could smell the lies too. As a side note, with all the perceiving Arya tries in the Lying Game the idea of smelling the lies never comes up.

The exact same phrasing of "she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath" is used in GoT when Sandor tells the story of how his face was burned and in the godswood when she meets Dontos. I suspect that phrasing is intentional and supposed to link these two scenes.

When he moved closer, she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath. “Me.” He reached out a hand.

Sansa shrank back. “Don’t!” She slid her hand under her cloak, to her hidden knife.

“I’ll tell you what it was, girl,” he said, a voice from the night, a shadow leaning so close now that she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath.

With Sandor the smell was more an indication of just how close he was, but with Dontos when he stepped "closer" he was still far enough to need to reach out a hand so it seems more an indication of the fact that he reeks of wine.

"The Truth" was also central to her encounter with the Hound. He told her the truth of how he was burned dispelling "the lies" others tell about his wound. But the catalyst for his confessing the truth of that tale was Sansa's internal insistence on telling the truth herself. The Hound had asked her about Gregor's performance during the Tourney where he had killed the squire.

“No one could withstand him,” she managed at last, proud of herself. It was no lie.

Whereas we know that lies were at the center of her meeting with Dontos.

Another difference is the senses that were at play. She sees Dontos while Sandor is shrouded in darkness so is mostly heard.

He wore a dark grey robe with the cowl pulled forward, but when a thin sliver of moonlight touched his cheek, she knew him at once by the blotchy skin and web of broken veins beneath. “Ser Dontos,”

“I’ll tell you what it was, girl,” he said, a voice from the night, a shadow leaning so close now that she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath.

The rasping voice trailed off. He squatted silently before her, a hulking black shape shrouded in the night, hidden from her eyes. Sansa could hear his ragged breathing. She was sad for him, she realized. Somehow, the fear had gone away.

The sliver of moonlight allows Sansa to see Dontos (at least his cheek) and recognize him while Sandor is specifically hidden from her eyes perceived mostly through sounds coming from the night. The cheek is also a parallel given the role Sandor's burned face played in that first encounter. The difference in the sense of sight makes me think of "Look around you, and take a good whiff."

There is also the significant difference in her fear. We see her note that her fear had gone away during the Hound encounter but her initial reaction to Dontos was to jump back and pull a knife-- not exactly the hallmark of feelings of safety. Her jumping back and pulling the knife is somewhat akin to a wolf backing away and baring its teeth.

Again, very keen observations on the smell of their breath and very nice catch in tying it back to Lysa and Cat.

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Great observations, Rag.

Twice in the chapter she meets Sandor on the Serpentine Steps the notion of smelling lies comes up.

Often this is looked at in light of Sandor as a possible Lady replacement given Sansa's wish for Lady who can smell falsehoods and Sandor as the dog who can smell lies, but there is also Sandor's instructions to "take a good whiff." The implication is that Sansa could smell the lies too. As a side note, with all the perceiving Arya tries in the Lying Game the idea of smelling the lies never comes up.

The more I think about it, it seems significant for the purposes of this comparison that Littlefinger never gets to see Sansa with Lady or recognize the direwolf as being more than a simple emblem on the Stark banner. We've discussed before how he associates her almost completely with her mother based on superficial appearances, and takes advantage of her romantic preoccupations in the first book, using Dontos as the Florian to her Jonquil. But all the evidence we have in the text indicates that despite Lady's early death, there's still a bond that remains between them, and Sansa's wolf identity has continued to be referenced as a subtle, but integral part of her character, and one that she actively pursues.

Here is Petyr's grand proposal in her final AFFC chapter:

"... Jon Arryn’s bannermen will never love me, nor our silly, shaking Robert, but they will love their Young Falcon . . . and when they come together for his wedding, and you come out with your long auburn hair, clad in a maiden’s cloak of white and grey with a direwolf emblazoned on the back . . why, every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win you back your birthright..."

Compare this to Sansa's wedding day in ASOS:

Cersei Lannister ignored the question. “The cloak,” she commanded, and the women brought it out: a long cloak of white velvet heavy with pearls. A fierce direwolf was embroidered upon it in silver thread. Sansa looked at it with sudden dread. “Your father’s colors,” said Cersei, as they fastened it about her neck with a slender silver chain.

A maiden’s cloak. Sansa’s hand went to her throat. She would have torn the thing away if she had dared.

And it's not only Sansa who has to bear the burden of wearing a maiden's cloak with the Stark direwolf:

After a moment of silent prayer, the man and woman rose again. Ramsay undid the cloak that Theon had slipped about his bride’s shoulders moments before, the heavy white wool cloak bordered in grey fur, emblazoned with the direwolf of House Stark. In its place he fastened a pink cloak, spattered with red garnets like those upon his doublet. On its back was the flayed man of the Dreadfort done in stiff red leather, grim and grisly.

Quick as that, it was done. Weddings went more quickly in the north. It came of not having priests, Theon supposed, but whatever the reason it seemed to him a mercy.

Instead of representing a time of happiness and love for these girls, the cloak emblazoned with the Stark direwolf is a symbol of suffering, coercion and cruelty. Sansa wants to tear it off, and Jeyne resembles "a corpse buried in the snow" according to Theon.

It is only when Osmund Kettleback reminds Sansa of her "wolf-hood" that she gains the strength to go through with the marriage:

Sansa tried to run, but Cersei’s handmaid caught her before she’d gone a yard. Ser Meryn Trant gave her a look that made her cringe, but Kettleblack touched her almost gently and said, “Do as you’re told, sweetling, it won’t be so bad. Wolves are supposed to be brave, aren’t they?”

Brave. Sansa took a deep breath. I am a Stark, yes, I can be brave.

Touching her "almost gently" has been a feature of the Hound/Sansa relationship, along with the close association of him to Lady. After her erotic dream in the Fingers, it's Lady that Sansa longs for when she awakens, suggesting a desire to connect with that aspect of her identity, and experience the thrill/freedom/strength that embodying the wolf represents. If Littlefinger heard talk of the Starks being wargs or having some deeper connection with their wolves, he likely listened to the same kind of fantastical reports that enflamed Joff, and wouldn't take it seriously in any case. That he is offering the Stark direwolf on the cloak once again to Sansa (which she's already had profoundly negative experiences of wearing), and which we see can be draped around the shoulders of any imposter, reflects his neglect of Sansa's true identity, and that his talk of returning her to Winterfell is only a cover for more subjugation.

But with the sound of the "ghost wolf" when she's descending the mountain and her own awareness of LF's lies, there's reason to speculate that Sansa will not have to wear that maiden's cloak under LF's behest once again.

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A Closer Look at Littlefinger and the Hound II: The Hand’s Tourney

No true knight, no true champion

The tournament held in celebration of Lord Eddard’s investment as Hand of the King isn’t only the occasion in which Littlefinger makes his existence known to Sansa, but also the first of only two direct references that give hints about his opinion on the Hound. Before we examine how events unfolded during the last day of the jousts, it’s worthy for the purposes of this analysis to go back again to Littlefinger’s introduction to Sansa on the first day:

Her eyes were only for Ser Loras. When the white horse stopped in front of her, she thought her heart would burst.

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. She inhaled the sweet fragrance of the rose and sat clutching it long after Ser Loras had ridden off.

When Sansa finally looked up, a man was standing over her, staring. He was short, with a pointed beard and a silver streak in his hair, almost as old as her father. “You must be one of her daughters,” he said to her. He had grey-green eyes that did not smile when his mouth did. “You have the Tully look.”

“I’m Sansa Stark,” she said, ill at ease. The man wore a heavy cloak with a fur collar, fastened with a silver mockingbird, and he had the effortless manner of a high lord, but she did not know him. “I have not had the honor, my lord.”

Septa Mordane quickly took a hand. “Sweet child, this is Lord Petyr Baelish, of the king’s small council.”

“Your mother was my queen of beauty once,” the man said quietly. His breath smelled of mint. “You have her hair.” His fingers brushed against her cheek as he stroked one auburn lock. Quite abruptly he turned and walked away.

Now observe the sequence:

  • Loras Tyrell stops in front of Sansa and gives her a red rose, and flatters her comparing victories to her beauty.
  • Sansa is thrilled and concentrates on smelling her “special” rose long after he’s left,
  • And when she lifts up her head, Littlefinger is there staring at her.
  • Instead of introducing himself by name, he mentions her mother,
  • She notices his smile isn’t genuine, and tells him who she is.
  • Mordane introduces him.
  • He presents himself as her mother’s former love, caressing her whilst he speaks, then departs abruptly.

What does all of this indicate? The first salient thing is that the red rose might be hinting that possibly Loras Tyrell would’ve crowned her the Queen of Love and Beauty had he won the tourney, but out of pure gallantry and public relations rather than any particular interest in Sansa herself, as she innocently yet wrongly believed at the time due to her infatuation with him. The reasoning behind this is that in this type of tournament, decreed by the crown, in case the victor didn’t already have a lady of his own choosing in mind to crown, then the rules of courtly behaviour dictated that the chosen one should be the Queen or a royal princess as it was a royal tournament, or the wife or daughters of the high lord that presided over the tourney or in whose honour the festivities were announced. And at this event there is no indication of other ladies present that interested Loras, none of the Tyrell women were there, Queen Cersei didn’t attend the finals and neither did Princess Myrcella, who on top of that was too young to be crowned. So that left Sansa, daughter of the Hand and betrothed of the Crown Prince, as the logical choice for purely his reputation as a gallant jouster in the eyes of the populace and the court. In another type of tourney, the king or high lord presiding could crown his daughter or wife the reigning Queen of Love and Beauty, and five to seven knights would step forward to be her champions, and the rest of the participants would challenge them by turns for the right to champion her, as was the case at the Tourney of Ashford in The Hedge Knight. But this was when the celebration was in the lady’s honour, and not only in fiction but also in the real Middle Ages.

The second salient point is that apparently Littlefinger noticed Sansa because of Loras’ actions, and that he evidently observed her reaction to the red rose, which prompted him to approach her and also explains his words to her, especially his emphasis on “your mother was my Queen of Love and Beauty once.” In other words: he presented himself to Sansa as a champion, a gallant knight like Tyrell who loved her mother. Of course, he was speaking figuratively and not literally; but given that in reality he never won a tourney or a mêlée, never had Catelyn’s love and that when he tried to “champion” her by challenging Brandon Stark to a duel, she refused him her favour—which is how a lady could refuse to acknowledge a knight as her champion—and he was beaten, then this highlights his overconfidence and his willingness to deceive Sansa by setting forth an image of himself as the knightly champion he never was.

At the end of that day, however, it’s Clegane who wins a place amongst the four competitors with a chance to be the champion. Yet he’s no knight. In real-life tournaments, only knights and noblemen had the right to participate in jousts during tournaments, not common soldiers or men without a title, although squires and those who had yet to earn their knighthood could participate in mêlées with others of like rank. In the novels, this seems to be roughly the norm for the most part as well, so that leads to the question of how come Sandor Clegane could participate without formally being a knight, and the answer is: his position at court, but above all his birth. He’s the son of a landed knight, after all, hence he has the privilege by blood if his position and warrior skills weren’t enough to allow him in.

Baelish’s words on the day of the jousting finals are all of them eye-opening little gems. First, when he makes a public bet against the Hound, as soon as Jaime appears after him, he says:

“A hundred golden dragons on the Kingslayer,” Littlefinger announced loudly as Jaime Lannister entered the lists, riding an elegant blood bay destrier.

A hundred golden dragons was the reward Cersei offered for the pelt of the direwolf Nymeria [1] at the Trident, where Lady died in her stead; and here Littlefinger is offering the same amount to anyone who’ll accept the bet against the Dog. Lord Renly, the one that had mocked Joffrey back then, accepts the bet, commenting that:

“The Hound has a hungry look about him this morning.”

“Even hungry dogs know better than to bite the hand that feeds them,” Littlefinger called dryly.

Both councillors have lived at court long enough to know him fairly well, but it’s Renly who has assessed the Hound correctly and doesn’t underestimate him. It can be argued that it could be due to his anti-Lannister attitude as well, but he knows firsthand what the Hound can do with a lance and certainly read his intentions on his face. That the Hound was the first jouster to appear is already a big clue about how eager he was to fight. However, Littlefinger believes he’s just a Lannister lackey too mindful of his position to dare best a member of the family that are his overlords, which in itself is quite a valid observation as Duncan the Tall observed at Ashford that contenders avoided challenging Prince Valarr, and those who did would purposefully underperform to enable him to defeat them because he was the eldest son of the crown prince Baelor. But he’s wrong in that such a behaviour doesn’t fit in with the Hound, who has initiative and maintains a degree of independence enough to throw his liege lady’s brother into the dust as is fair play in tourneys, and wouldn’t feign to be a lesser jouster just because of who the opponent is.

Moreover, there’s a good degree of projection on Littlefinger’s part as well, since he did bite all the hands that fed him; the Tullys/Arryns to name some, to whom he owed the education of a highborn he got at Riverrun and his ascent from his first job at Gulltown to his present position. As Littlefinger relies on gold and worldly things to buy loyalties, he apparently thinks no different about the Hound. The only other direct reference to Clegane he makes has again him saying he would give a hundred silver stags to have seen his face when Cersei told him that Lord Eddard had sent men after Gregor, and pointedly mentions that even if Sandor would inherit everything, he wouldn’t be neither thankful nor happy with being robbed of the chance to finish off the Mountain, as if he’d not witnessed how the Hound behaved during the confrontation with his brother at the tourney. So, he basically seems to believe the Hound’s buttons are Lannister gold and killing his brother; therefore it’s not surprising that he’d not entertain even a fleeting suspicion that he and Sansa would come to influence each other positively.

Meanwhile, Sansa’s obvious investment in the match shows again on her face:

The hastily erected gallery trembled as the horses broke into a gallop. The Hound leaned forward as he rode, his lance rock steady, but Jaime shifted his seat deftly in the instant before impact. Clegane’s point was turned harmlessly against the golden shield with the lion blazon, while his own hit square. Wood shattered, and the Hound reeled, fighting to keep his seat.
Sansa gasped
. A ragged cheer went up from the commons.

“I wonder how I ought spend your money,” Littlefinger called down to Lord Renly.

Littlefinger makes a hasty conclusion that since Jaime broke a lance against Sandor and almost unhorsed him on the first tilt, that means he was right all along and confidently sees himself already a winner, talking about spending a money he doesn’t have yet, not entertaining the possibility that the Hound might recover on the second tilt, which again brings out just how much he underestimates the man and his skills. And recover the Hound does, not just unhorsing Jaime but doing so in a way that humiliated him, as the force of the blow that threw him off his horse dented his helm so badly he couldn’t get it off after. This hungry dog does bite lions after all…

Then, there’s this:

Sansa said, “I knew the Hound would win.”

Littlefinger overheard. “If you know who’s going to win the second match, speak up now before Lord Renly plucks me clean,” he called to her. Ned smiled.

“A pity the Imp is not here with us,” Lord Renly said. “I should have won twice as much.”

Cersei won and Lady died, but Littlefinger lost and the Dog won. History is repeating itself again for the Master of Coin, because this would be the second time in a row that he loses a bet on the Kingslayer. In the last line, Renly is inadvertently revealing that Littlefinger has lied to Catelyn and Eddard about the ownership of the dagger he supposedly lost to Tyrion, within Ned’s earshot, by implying that a Lannister always bets on a Lannister. Tywin had come to that past tournament with his household from the Rock to see his son, Cersei had bet on Jaime, Jaime had bet on himself; so why would’ve the Imp of all people been the only lion to bet against the brother he adores? Unfortunately, Ned didn’t make the connection and Baelish got away with his treachery.

Sansa, on the other hand, had been betting on the Hound. How is it that she “knew” he’d win? Up until the night before, she hadn’t entertained the thought of rooting for him, as it was Loras she was considering as the likely champion, and so she commented to Joffrey, who was the one that believed either the Hound or Jaime would win over Tyrell. So what changed her mind and made her hope for Clegane to win should’ve been the story of his burns. But why? It’s been theorised that because she created a song in her head in which Clegane became the Gallant Knight that beat the Big Baddie in just retribution for all the pain he caused, but this isn’t a satisfactory hypothesis. Firstly, it was not known beforehand to either Sansa or anybody else who would face whom, because during the elimination rounds previous to the one-to-one final each knight had the right to challenge any of the others, and would do so in two ways: tapping his shield with his lance or riding forward to the lists after the contender, which means that if they didn’t do the former off-page, then Jaime was the one that challenged Sandor, who was the first contender to appear in the field and according to the rules could be challenged by any of the other three competitors who wished to. So, when the Hound accepted the Kingslayer’s challenge, that left Gregor to fight Loras for the last slot.

Secondly, Sansa was still on Loras’ side and was wearing the rose he gave her, so when he rode to face the Mountain this would’ve been the True Knight vs. Big Baddie match like in the songs for her, especially now that she knows what Gregor is capable of: burning his own brother and murdering a green knight by aiming at his loosely protected neck, which is foul play because the rules were to aim only to any point in the opponent’s chest, his shoulders, his helm, his shield or his lance, and if you killed someone during the jousts, then you lost points at best or were disqualified at worst, depending on whether the death was accidental or intentional. It’s therefore curious that Gregor should still be participating after that with the tourney judges’ (and the king was one of them) acquiescence, which adds more context to the Hound’s anger at Sansa’s innocent words and his “Gregor’s lance goes where Gregor wants it to go.” That explains why she also begs Ned not to let him harm Tyrell; and her later discourse on heroes and monsters when she wonders why Ned didn’t send him to arrest the Mountain supports the above interpretation.

Therefore, it looks like she made that bet because she wanted the Hound to win because of himself, independently of the rivals he’d face. The other day, she’d been composed as she observed the jousts, earning looks of approval from her septa, so she had no real emotional investment in the jousts or jousters beyond enjoying the festivities, the first she attended in her life. But now her demeanour shows more emotion: she is “moist-eyed,” “eager,” and “gasped” when her favourite almost fell. Not only that, but she seems to have been determined not to miss the finals for anything, and as her septa, Jeyne and Arya wouldn’t go, and she couldn’t be there unchaperoned and alone, she made her father promise to accompany her, and a reluctant Eddard had to keep to himself his wish that the Hound and the Kingslayer both lose when he notices his daughter’s enthusiasm for the match. Those are the first clues that Sansa didn’t decide on the spot, but that her rooting for him had been decided the day before, when she got to know him more.

It seems to have been cooking slowly, not decided purely on the basis of the story of his burns he told her but her overall thoughts based on events during the entire day, starting with what she’d already observed of his performance that day: someone who “seemed unstoppable,” “[rode] down one foe after the next in ferocious style,” sent Renly flying “backward off his charger, legs in the air,” which gives the image of a skilled warrior, therefore a serious contender for the championship. His brother is also described as unstoppable and ferocious, but Sansa can see the difference by herself, because Gregor kills a man in front of her, whereas Sandor plays according to the tourney procedures, “gallantly” as she put it, though he lacks courtly finesse. So, this means he’s not just skilled but someone that can win fairly no matter the opponent. Then comes the crowning moment, in which she gets a glimpse into his inner self, learns what really motivates him, what is behind that rage and contempt for knighthood; the piece that completes the puzzle. Completed, the picture is this: an excellent fighter, who respects the rules of this game, and has a drive to win fuelled by inner motivators the others don’t have. That could be why Sansa “knew” he’d win against Jaime, a combination of intuition and knowledge.

As the second match starts, however, the True Knight is unveiled as a dishonourable trickster:

His courser was as slim as her rider, a beautiful grey mare, built for speed. Ser Gregor’s huge stallion trumpeted as he caught her scent. […] Ser Gregor was having trouble controlling his horse. The stallion was screaming and pawing the ground, shaking his head. The Mountain kicked at the animal savagely with an armored boot. The horse reared and almost threw him.

The Knight of Flowers saluted the king, rode to the far end of the list, and couched his lance, ready. Ser Gregor brought his animal to the line, fighting with the reins. And suddenly it began. The Mountain’s stallion broke in a hard gallop, plunging forward wildly, while the mare charged as smooth as a flow of silk. Ser Gregor wrenched his shield into position, juggled with his lance, and all the while fought to hold his unruly mount on a straight line, and suddenly Loras Tyrell was on him, placing the point of his lance just there, and in an eye blink the Mountain was failing. He was so huge that he took his horse down with him in a tangle of steel and flesh.

When Jaime fell, it was his good-brother Robert who laughed most loudly; and now that Gregor has fallen, it’s his little brother’s turn to laugh. Both Lannister and Tyrell used tricks on the Cleganes, but the difference is that Jaime’s trick was a legitimate and permissible technique: in historical tournaments, what he did was called “Saddle swerve” and was done with the purpose of hitting the rival by surprise whilst avoiding being hit at the same time, and if done successfully and properly it earned the knight one point (jousts could be won by accumulation of points per run if none of the knights was unhorsed after 3 tilts), whereas Tyrell’s trick was plain bad sportsmanship; because a tournament was above all about chivalry and chivalric demeanour, and that’s the reason why some actions that were acceptable on the battlefield, such as hitting the eye slit, lancing the opponent in a badly protected body part, lancing or killing his horse, lancing the foe in the back, and the rest of the less-than-chivalrous arsenal of battlefield tricks that gave one an advantage over the other were verboten and grounds for disqualification. That he used it on another knight who also played foul doesn’t make it any less unacceptable, and leaves one wondering on whether in his past victory he could’ve used another undetectable trick to vanquish Jaime, a much more experienced tourneyer.

Then it fell on the Hound to defend this True Knight from the Big Baddie, when his sore loser of a brother hits an innocent squire and attempts at murdering Loras:

The Knight of Flowers was shouting for his own sword as Ser Gregor knocked his squire aside and made a grab for the reins of his horse. The mare scented blood and reared. Loras Tyrell kept his seat, but barely. Ser Gregor swung his sword, a savage two-handed blow that took the boy in the chest and knocked him from the saddle. The courser dashed away in panic as Ser Loras lay stunned in the dirt. But as Gregor lifted his sword for the killing blow, a rasping voice warned, “Leave him be,” and a steel-clad hand wrenched him away from the boy.

Notice that Sandor doesn’t attack his brother, he doesn’t even lift his sword threateningly or defensively. He just pushes Gregor away from Loras and warns him verbally not to hurt him.

The Mountain pivoted in wordless fury, swinging his longsword in a killing arc with all his massive strength behind it, but the Hound caught the blow and turned it, and for what seemed an eternity the two brothers stood hammering at each other as a dazed Loras Tyrell was helped to safety. Thrice Ned saw Ser Gregor aim savage blows at the hound’s-head helmet, yet not once did Sandor send a cut at his brother’s unprotected face.

So, it’s Gregor who overreacts to that warning by attempting to kill Sandor instead of Loras, and only then Sandor uses his longsword to defend himself. The wording is clear: “killing arc with all his massive strength behind it,” “savage blows at the hound’s-head helmet,” so there’s no mistaking the Mountain’s intentions: he was seriously trying to kill his little brother. This would be the perfect opportunity, perhaps the only one, for Sandor to kill his brother, and he could do it legitimately and without legal consequences for four reasons: a. he intervened to save Loras Tyrell, b. he didn’t provoke Gregor, he was attacked first, c. he could kill or at least maim Gregor in legitimate self-defence as he was trying to murder him, d. he would’ve possibly been backed by the Hand or the King, as The Ned had shouted for someone to stop Gregor, and he still attempted one last blow at Sandor’s head after Robert ordered them to stop.

Yet, for all his talking to the four winds about his wish to send Gregor to meet his ancestors, the Hound doesn’t even try and wound his brother, not even to knock him unconscious by aiming a precise blow to his uncovered head, as hitting an opponent’s unprotected face whilst you are helmeted is dishonourable. On the contrary, the Hound put his own safety at risk by intervening to save Loras, because even if he’s a skilled fighter, his brother is crazy strong and there was a reason for his fixation on hitting Sandor’s head: a helm can protect you only until a certain point, and Gregor’s inhuman strength hammering at it would cave a helm in, causing damage to the skull as it happened with Baelor Breakspear. Gregor’s greatsword, like his lance and his fist, goes where Gregor wants it to go.

The emphasis GRRM puts on the Hound’s not aiming a cut at his brother’s unprotected head isn’t meant only to show that he has no intention of harming or killing him whereas Gregor does, it’s not meant only to set both brothers apart, to differentiate them. It has another purpose, which we can glean from this passage in The Hedge Knight:

One-eyed Ser Robyn Rhysling, a grizzled old knight with a salt-and-pepper beard, lost his helm to Lord Leo’s lance in their first course, yet refused to yield. Three times more, they rode at each other, the wind whipping Ser Robyn’s hair while the shards of broken lances flew round his bare face like wooden knives, which Dunk thought all the more wondrous when Egg told him that Ser Robyn had lost his eye to a splinter from a broken lance not five years earlier.
Leo Tyrell was too chivalrous to aim another lance at Ser Robyn’s unprotected head,
but even so Rhysling’s stubborn courage (or was it folly?) left Dunk astounded. Finally the Lord of Highgarden struck Ser Robyn’s breastplate a solid thump right over the heart and sent him cartwheeling to the earth.

Duncan the Tall, an honourable man by all accounts, considers Leo Tyrell, ancestor of Loras, too chivalrous to even try to knock his rival by hitting his head. And Eddard Stark, also by all accounts an honourable man, observes exactly the same refusal to hit an unprotected head even if here there are valid reasons such as self-defence. Therefore, that was meant to highlight that it was a chivalric deed on the Hound’s part.

“Is the Hound the champion now?” Sansa asked Ned.

“No,” he told her. “There will be one final joust, between the Hound and the Knight of Flowers.”

But Sansa had the right of it after all. A few moments later Ser Loras Tyrell walked back onto the field in a simple linen doublet and said to Sandor Clegane, “I owe you my life. The day is yours, ser.”

“I am no ser,” the Hound replied, but he took the victory, and the champion’s purse, and, for perhaps the first time in his life, the love of the commons. They cheered him as he left the lists to return to his pavilion.

Thus Sandor Clegane won the Hand’s Tourney not thanks to his jousting prowess, as he was surely expecting, but because of a good deed; and Sansa is the first one to point it out.

“This man protected the weak, as every true knight must,” replied Prince Baelor.

That line from The Hedge Knight underlines the irony of his championship: the Hound has done enough bad deeds to be labeled as a No True Knight, but became the champion of a great tournament by defending a defenceless man, doing what a True Knight is supposed to do. Very fitting considering that, after all, fomenting chivalry amongst the warrior class was the original idea for institutionalising tournaments.

___________________________

[1] AGOT Eddard III:

Robert started to walk away, but the queen was not done. “And what of the direwolf?” she called after him. “What of the beast that savaged your son?”

The king stopped, turned back, frowned. “I’d forgotten about the damned wolf.”

Ned could see Arya tense in Jory’s arms. Jory spoke up quickly. “We found no trace of the direwolf, Your Grace.”

Robert did not look unhappy. “No? So be it.”

The queen raised her voice. “A hundred golden dragons to the man who brings me its skin!”

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Brash, lots of good stuff. The other aspect of the direwolf on a maiden cloak (or any House emblem on any maiden cloak) is that it is designed to stand for surrender of that identity. While certain female characters like Cat and Cersei very much retain aspects of their original House identity both internally and in public recognition, even powerful women like the Queen of Thorns become identified with their husband's House. I suspect a large part of that dynamic relates to children. We see Cat most strongly identify herself as Cat Stark over Cat Tully in circumstances related to her children. If Joffrey were truly Robert's I suspect even Cersei would identify herself with the Stag for the same reasons she tells Sansa that she may hate Joffrey but she will love their children. Littlefinger seems to have a bit of a perverted inverse version of this maternal cross House identification in his treatment of Sansa as his daughter and his stated intent to marry her off for the very political reasons lords marry off their daughters. He's trying to make Sansa an asset of House Baelish, he's paying the dowry, he'd likely be the one to give her away, etc. The Stark maiden cloak would be a transient symbol of her identity only with respect to her claim to Winterfell with all other facets of her identity swept away just like the maiden cloak in the ceremony.

There is also the theme we see mostly in Essos with the mockery of the Westerosi House sigils-- like when Illyrio offers to introduce Tyrion to the lion in the Prince's menagerie. Through warging the Stark children, including Sansa, are their House emblem in a very real way. If Sansa successfully wargs birds she would be out doing LF in his attempt to redefine himself as a mocking bird which offers another angle to view the identity battle embodied in House sigils waged between Sansa and LF.

I did notice Dontos opens by calling her "child" but then calls her "Lady" seven times.

“I feared you would not come, child.”

“Yes, my lady.” When he moved closer, she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath.

“No one, sweet lady. I swear it on my honor as a knight.”

I think I may find it in me to be a knight again, sweet lady. And all because of you…

“Sweet lady, I would be your Florian,”

“This very night? No, my lady, I fear not.

“Thank you, sweet lady.” Ser Dontos lurched clumsily to his feet

Lady, I have never been a hero, no Ryam Redwyne or Barristan the Bold. I’ve won no tourneys, no renown in war…

Sweet Lady offers potential contrast with sour breath and this is a godswood complete with a thousand unseen eyes Bloodraven reference along with Sansa specifically thinking of Lady. It was his initially calling her child that made the Lady direct addresses stand out but I'd need to see a more consistent repetition before ascribing significance to it. Lady is also the proper title and form of address for Sansa (technically "My Lady")so its usage is not exactly noteworthy. I also can't think of any other circumstance that would support "Lady" as a form of address to Sansa being an indication of her connection to Lady-- still throwing it out there in case someone else has ideas.

Milady,

As a side note I suspect the knight requirement being waved is influenced by the old gods. In The Hedge Knight we saw the knight requirement enforced so clearly this is not always the case, but the old gods are an accepted religion of the realm and largely preclude knighthood. Robert himself might be an influence since he seems to care for martial prowess far more than titles. In this case I suspect Ned is the primary factor. It is supposedly a tournament in his honor and he isn't a knight nor are the majority of his men. Any mandate for knighthood would likely preclude most if not all of the Northmen which would be an odd thing for Ned's Tournament. Still, the expectations embodied in Northern notions of honor and the chivalric expectations of knighthood seem to be essentially the same so your historical citations seem perfectly applicable regardless of the lack of knighthood required to compete in the series.

Cersei won and Lady died, but Littlefinger lost and the Dog won. History is repeating itself again for the Master of Coin, because this would be the second time in a row that he loses a bet on the Kingslayer. In the last line, Renly is inadvertently revealing that Littlefinger has lied to Catelyn and Eddard about the ownership of the dagger he supposedly lost to Tyrion, within Ned’s earshot, by implying that a Lannister always bets on a Lannister. Tywin had come to that past tournament with his household from the Rock to see his son, Cersei had bet on Jaime, Jaime had bet on himself; so why would’ve the Imp of all people been the only lion to bet against the brother he adores? Unfortunately, Ned didn’t make the connection and Baelish got away with his treachery.

I'm turning over this Cersei/Lady analogy in my head. Cersei wanted Nymeria's pelt but that wolf got away. She managed to get a surrogate wolf killed but was denied that pelt as well. LF wanted Cat but "gets" a surrogate in Sansa instead but seems on course to be denied the pelt as well. Cersei didn't have to pay the hundred gold because she convinced Robert to order it and Sansa's own father stepped in to do it-- she didn't have to pay the emerald pendant she lost in that first joust either but Jaime lost 100 gold on himself (if that part of LF's tale is to be believed). Lady, Jaime, and The Hound all have the 100 gold dragon price tag. Cersei takes Lady from Sansa but Sansa ends up taking Sandor and in some ways Jaime from Cersei. I'm not sure exactly what perspective is best to view this from. Jaime lost 100 gold to "the winner" (who was not Tyrion but probably Renly as we see play out again here) and LF loses 100 gold to Renly-- or maybe LF lost the 100 gold on both occasions since he didn't really lose the dagger. The main thing that strikes me is that Cersei only got what she wanted via a surrogate and it didn't bring her what she wanted in the end-- she never possessed the object of her revenge (the pelt.) With Lady's pelt being a very real symbol of Sansa this stands out for me in the LF analogy.

Some small things jump out like not only does LF bite the hands that feed him as you note but he also says later that he only fears the sheep and not the shepherds. Sandor seems more like one of the sheep he says he needs to fear but he never shows up on LF's radar and he seems to dismiss the Hound precisely because he is a Lannister sheep. There's some material to compare and contrast with LF and the Hound. Both had grandfathers that upjumped them to the noble side of the social structure. Both reached their respective positions through a relationship with a High Lord's daughter (though in very different circumstances.) LF's family had a martial heritage which he abandoned to advance his own position through becoming a "valuable servant." Sandor's family achieved nobility by being a valued servant and seek to continue their rise through martial prowess. Both characters see through the veneer of social structure, customs and laws with a cynical attitude and both come to embrace that which they are most cynical about (though again in very different ways.) Sandor's confessions to Arya about what he failed to do is diametrically opposed to the speech he gives Sansa regarding swords and knights while LF is maneuvering himself into the role of High Lord like the Starks and Lannisters that he mocked and exploited and discovering that the vulnerabilities he exploited are an innate facet of the job. Overall Sandor seems on a descent towards redemption while LF appears to be ascending to a fall which makes any parallels in their stories all the more interesting.

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Thanks for this lovely essay, Milady. It’s full of insightful details :)

I also like your point about Littlefinger trying to deceive Sansa with his supposed chivalrous prowess. I think this shows his quasi desperate need to seduce Sansa: he knows her soft spot for knighthood and songs, he knows she is looking for a gallant knight and tries to take advantage of it. In short, he uses the same technic he’ll use later on Nestor Royce and Lynn Corbray that consists of using lies and people’s wishes for his own benefits. On the same topic, this is completely different from Clegane’s attitude who’s honestly trying to talk Sansa out of her fanciful notions for her own good. Also, Clegane doesn’t use his martial prowess against Sansa: he doesn’t beat her and doesn’t try to lure her into thinking he’s a gallant knight in order to better seduce her. This scene could also illustrate Littlefinger’s lack of control when he is with Sansa. After all, Septa Mordane is still there, chaperoning Sansa, and I find strange that she doesn’t comment on Littlefinger’s inappropriate behaviour (touching a girl he’s not familiar with) and talk. This is a very risky move on Littlefinger’s part.

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I suspect a large part of that dynamic relates to children. We see Cat most strongly identify herself as Cat Stark over Cat Tully in circumstances related to her children. If Joffrey were truly Robert's I suspect even Cersei would identify herself with the Stag for the same reasons she tells Sansa that she may hate Joffrey but she will love their children.

Very good point. I wonder then if the example of Daenerys holds some value for considering Sansa's situation with respect to motherhood in contrast to what we've seen with the older generation of women. Dany is the mother of dragons, a unique experience that underscores her Targaryen identity and grants her considerable power in her own right. The reason I think this is an interesting comparison to make with Sansa stems initially from her thoughts when she's to marry Willas Tyrell:

She pictured the two of them sitting together in a garden with puppies in their laps, or listening to a singer strum upon a lute while they floated down the Mander on a pleasure barge. If I give him sons, he may come to love me. She would name them Eddard and Brandon and Rickon, and raise them all to be as valiant as Ser Loras. And to hate Lannisters, too. In Sansa’s dreams, her children looked just like the brothers she had lost. Sometimes there was even a girl who looked like Arya.

If we recall Sansa's declaration in AGOT about Joffrey, the change in her perspective on children is clear:

“He is!” Sansa insisted. “I don’t want someone brave and gentle, I want him. We’ll be ever so happy, just like in the songs, you’ll see. I’ll give him a son with golden hair, and one day he’ll be the king of all the realm, the greatest king that ever was, as brave as the wolf and as proud as the lion.”

Her priority is no longer about having children in the image of her husband, but instead there's now a shift to children looking like her siblings, with the names of her brothers, and possessing the same hatred for the Lannister family. Sansa has moved from longing for traditional dreams of motherhood, to a somewhat militant understanding of her role as a mother, and one that's centred almost exclusively on her identity as a Stark. With the Tyrion marriage we saw the complete elimination of that compulsion to give sons to one's husband, as she finally begins to understand the exploitative agenda of those around her, and how it impacts on her agency:

What does he want me to say? “That is good to know, my lord.” He wanted something from her, but Sansa did not know what it was. He looks like a starving child, but I have no food to give him. Why won’t he leave me be?

If what we're seeing therefore is Sansa using motherhood as a means for self-empowerment and fulfilment, and this is no longer dependent on an idealistic vision of a husband or suitor, then it really brings her relationship with Sweetrobin into focus. She's already reluctantly assumed the role of the boy's mother, and right now it looks as though she's the only one capable of protecting him from Littlefinger - who's acting here as the perverse parent with both of them. Sweetrobin may not be a wolf, but he's still family, and his love for the winged knight stories symbolically connects him to Sansa's "little bird" status.

As an aside, I wonder how Lady's death factors into this argument, especially as she was killed in place of Nymeria, and considering the intriguing theory that her death paid for Bran's life.

There is also the theme we see mostly in Essos with the mockery of the Westerosi House sigils-- like when Illyrio offers to introduce Tyrion to the lion in the Prince's menagerie. Through warging the Stark children, including Sansa, are their House emblem in a very real way. If Sansa successfully wargs birds she would be out doing LF in his attempt to redefine himself as a mocking bird which offers another angle to view the identity battle embodied in House sigils waged between Sansa and LF.

I really like this. Littlefinger noted in ASOS that his grandfather's sigil - the Titan of Braavos - was "too fierce" for his liking, and he much preferred his mockingbird. The Stark direwolf is another sigil that might be considered in similar terms to the Titan, and Sansa as the "little bird" has her own disguise too.

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Hi everybody,

I've been AWOL from this particular thread the past few weeks because of life and other threads I committed myself to. However, I'm caught up now and want to commend brashcandy, Milady of York, Lyanna Stark, and everyone else that's contributed an essay. You're all doing fantastic work and confirming once again why Sansa's is one of the arcs I'm most looking forward to in TWoW and ADoS.

<snip>

Excellent post, Milady. I especially like your analysis of Gregor's and Sandor's confrontation at the end of the Hand's Tourney. I had always wondered why Sandor passed up a golden opportunity to at the very least inflict some severe damage on his brother, and I think your pointing out Sandor's role as a subversion of the "true knight" is spot-on.

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What does all of this indicate? The first salient thing is that the red rose might be hinting that possibly Loras Tyrell would’ve crowned her the Queen of Love and Beauty had he won the tourney, but out of pure gallantry and public relations rather than any particular interest in Sansa herself, as she innocently yet wrongly believed at the time due to her infatuation with him. The reasoning behind this is that in this type of tournament, decreed by the crown, in case the victor didn’t already have a lady of his own choosing in mind to crown, then the rules of courtly behaviour dictated that the chosen one should be the Queen or a royal princess as it was a royal tournament, or the wife or daughters of the high lord that presided over the tourney or in whose honour the festivities were announced. And at this event there is no indication of other ladies present that interested Loras, none of the Tyrell women were there, Queen Cersei didn’t attend the finals and neither did Princess Myrcella, who on top of that was too young to be crowned. So that left Sansa, daughter of the Hand and betrothed of the Crown Prince, as the logical choice for purely his reputation as a gallant jouster in the eyes of the populace and the court. In another type of tourney, the king or high lord presiding could crown his daughter or wife the reigning Queen of Love and Beauty, and five to seven knights would step forward to be her champions, and the rest of the participants would challenge them by turns for the right to champion her, as was the case at the Tourney of Ashford in The Hedge Knight. But this was when the celebration was in the lady’s honour, and not only in fiction but also in the real Middle Ages.

The second salient point is that apparently Littlefinger noticed Sansa because of Loras’ actions, and that he evidently observed her reaction to the red rose, which prompted him to approach her and also explains his words to her, especially his emphasis on “your mother was my Queen of Love and Beauty once.” In other words: he presented himself to Sansa as a champion, a gallant knight like Tyrell who loved her mother. Of course, he was speaking figuratively and not literally; but given that in reality he never won a tourney or a mêlée, never had Catelyn’s love and that when he tried to “champion” her by challenging Brandon Stark to a duel, she refused him her favour—which is how a lady could refuse to acknowledge a knight as her champion—and he was beaten, then this highlights his overconfidence and his willingness to deceive Sansa by setting forth an image of himself as the knightly champion he never was.

*snip*

Sansa was still on Loras’ side and was wearing the rose he gave her, so when he rode to face the Mountain this would’ve been the True Knight vs. Big Baddie match like in the songs for her, especially now that she knows what Gregor is capable of ...

As the second match starts, however, the True Knight is unveiled as a dishonourable trickster...

*snip*

Yet, for all his talking to the four winds about his wish to send Gregor to meet his ancestors, the Hound doesn’t even try and wound his brother, not even to knock him unconscious by aiming a precise blow to his uncovered head, as hitting an opponent’s unprotected face whilst you are helmeted is dishonourable.

“Is the Hound the champion now?” Sansa asked Ned.

“No,” he told her. “There will be one final joust, between the Hound and the Knight of Flowers.”

But Sansa had the right of it after all. A few moments later Ser Loras Tyrell walked back onto the field in a simple linen doublet and said to Sandor Clegane, “I owe you my life. The day is yours, ser.”

“I am no ser,” the Hound replied, but he took the victory, and the champion’s purse, and, for perhaps the first time in his life, the love of the commons. They cheered him as he left the lists to return to his pavilion.

Thus Sandor Clegane won the Hand’s Tourney not thanks to his jousting prowess, as he was surely expecting, but because of a good deed; and Sansa is the first one to point it out.

Just to reply to a few points made above ...

1 - I agree there is a good chance that had Loras won the rourney, he would have crowned Sansa as QOLAB. He is gay and so doesn't have any romantic or marriage interest in Sansa. I think his choice was one of scoring some political points. Cersei might have done as a second choice, since she was Queen, but considering the reaction among those not in-the-know about Renly and Loras, crowning another man's wife is not exactly a wise idea, much less the King's. If forget if Myrcella was there or not, but had Loras crowned her, poltically some might mistake it for a hint at a future betrothal. Sansa is a popular choice and a safe one. Popular because she is very beautiful and a northern girl which for King's Landing is somewhat exotic. The courtly folk have probably gotten jaded at all the usual girls at King's Landing, but the crown prince's new bride-to-be is something fresh, and considering the news of the betrothal, something of a starlet. Safe because poltically, she is daughter of the new Hand, thus the Tyrells curry favour with Ned, and also because she is the crown prince's bethrothed, but Joffrey is not competing in the tourney, so honouring Sansa is in a way like giving some kudos to him on his new match. Here we see the socially clever Tyrells at work already. Sansa does not get this aspect of it - she sees a comely young knight praising her beauty and gets a minor crush on Loras as a result.

2 - As to the second point about Littlefinger noticing her as a result, I had not interpreted it that way when I read it. I always thought he had been prepared to meet her there long before he introduced himself. Littlefinger does not leave many details to chance, and he would have known Sansa would be there. I always imagined him having seen her long before first she saw him, studying her intesely as she sat there, before moving to introduce himself with such calculated nostalgia. Indeed, the point you make about the scene makes me consider whether Littlefinger colluded with Loras or suggested to him the whole giving of the red rose to Sansa - each for their own reasons. He's smarter than Loras, and it sounds like something he would arrange.

3 - As you say, Loras acted a bit like a dishonourable trickster. She would not have realized that one her own, but Littlefinger of course would point it out.

4 - The Hound certainly acted more knightly than some. Curious though - he won the tourney, but did not himself name a queen of love and beauty.

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4 - The Hound certainly acted more knightly than some. Curious though - he won the tourney, but did not himself name a queen of love and beauty.

The unpredictable ending of the tourney may have been responsible for this, but the fact that he's the one to save Loras (the trickster knight), and that Sansa anticipates his victory connects them I believe in a more substantive fashion than any traditional or cursory crowning would have established. It also stands as a counterpoint to LF's interest in Sansa as his "new" Queen of Love and Beauty, where she's merely an object of desire for a reawakened obsession.

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Thanks Milady for yet another entertaining essay and well thought out analysis. First of all, even after all this time here it never occurred to me that Loras giving Sansa the red rose was the first of many examples of how the politically scheming Tyrells operate. It makes so much sense that he would single her out and give her the red rose as not only is she the daughter of the Hand in whose name the tourney is being given, but she is the betrothed to the crown prince. So, when Sansa later admitted that she had been so sure it meant something that he had given her the red rose, she was right, it did mean something, just not what she thought it meant. This brings me to Pod's comment that perhaps Littlefinger was the one who suggested the idea to Loras initially. That's an interesting thought and it could be possible given what we know of LF, however I am leaning towards it being all Loras since he is a Tyrell through and through and this is so very much a trademark Tyrell move.

The section about how Sansa came to root for the Hound over Loras is also interesting to me because of the way it plays out with the Hound facing Jaime first and never actually jousting with Loras. We never saw these two oppose each other so I never gave it much thought before. Having the Hound face off against Jaime doesn't leave much speculation as to why she was rooting for the Hound as between him and Jaime since Sansa likely had heard from Ned how Jaime had no honor and she certainly knew him as a "kingslayer". So Jaime had a very dishonorable and unchivalrous reputation in Sansa's mind. It's easy to see how she would have pegged Jaime into the "bad guy" category in the duel between Jaime and Sandor, but what if it had been Sandor and Loras who faced each other first? Whom would Sansa have rooted for? You make some good points as evidence that Sansa likely had already started rooting for the Hound as the all around winner by that point and I think it was definitely so. My guess is that it would have played out with Loras using the same trick with the mare in heat on Sandor that he used with Gregor in which case Sansa would have had to realize that had Loras won the joust then he did so with trickery.

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Whom would Sansa have rooted for? You make some good points as evidence that Sansa likely had already started rooting for the Hound as the all around winner by that point and I think it was definitely so. My guess is that it would have played out with Loras using the same trick with the mare in heat on Sandor that he used with Gregor in which case Sansa would have had to realize that had Loras won the joust then he did so with trickery.

Yeah, she seems more concerned about Gregor not hurting Loras, and when he appears, whispers: "Oh he's so beautiful." There's definite infatuation with Loras, but not so much investment in his prowess as a tourney champion.

I can't wait for Sansa to turn into a serious player who can out perform Littlefinger and bring him down

Welcome to the thread, and I can't wait for that either :)

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Hi everyone,

I apologize for intruding in this wonderful thread without directly adding something to the topic, but please hear me out nevertheless.

I'm currently writing a university paper on the attitudes of the Ice and Fire fandom towards female characters. I won't be telling you anything new if I say that in spite of being protagonists and "good guys", traditionally feminine characters such as Sansa or Cat receive hatred which can hardly be explained by just looking at their actions and characteristics in the novels. I'd like to explore the reasons for this by examining the traditional roles of female characters in fantasy as well as the demographic structure of the (online) fandom, then analysing the characters, their behaviour and the accusations leveled against them and contrasting them with other more popular characters (who may have similar faults but don't seem to be criticised for them as much).

As part of the research on this my lecturer advised me to conduct some interviews with active members of the fandom, and I honestly can't think of anyone whose opinion I'd like to hear more than that of the active contributors of this thread. I've followed most of your re-reads whenever I had some time on my hands, and you have been writing amazing essays and leading some of the most intelligent (and civil) discussions I've seen on these boards.

So, now that the flattery is done... ;) If any of you would be willing to take the time to answer a few short questions I'd be extreemly grateful if you messaged me. And if you won't, I'd still like to thank you for all the hours I spent happily reading your threads, even if unfortunately I never had the time to participate in any of them.

Keep up the great work and thanks for reading my request! :)

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I've been AWOL from the board for a bit, but brashcandy, I loved your analysis of Sansa's attitude to motherhood. My hope for Sansa is that she ends up acting as regent in the North for Rickon, and if this does come to pass, a role as 'mother' and protector will be central to her character arc, a role she's already rehearsing with Sweetrobin.

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