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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XX

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Welcome Dreams and Prophecies :)

I can tell you little and less about chess, but I do appreciate those references. As Mladen noted, we might see a Dany/Sansa connection, and the taking back the castle has intriguing possibilities, the most recent of which was explored in Bran Vras' post on the bat and Harrenhal.

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What I think we can definitely agree on is that Littlefinger may - like the gods in Terry Pratchett's "The Last Hero" - have underestimated what can happen when a pawn gets all the way up the board...

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Hats of to Milady for excellent research.

Questions, comments, in particular with your citing of only a few instances of drunkenness:

- in general, even though there's only a few cited cases of drunkeness on page, does it imply that he's drunk in between scenes?

- Sandor gets found by the BWB drunk under a tree. When I read it initially it wasn't as a single instance of drunkeness/hangover, but rather as a repeating pattern of behavior, and it was just that *this time* dogs found his scent and he got caught. I filled this in as continuity with the way he left KL in the Sansa scene, as well as his underlying PTSD, depression, issues with his brother, employer etc.

- "The ale was gone in less than a day," Are we supposed to read this as ~ he had very little self-control, and couldn't make his alcohol last?

- also this line makes it seem like he'd just spend his money on wine anyway, or that alcohol is a primary motivator for him “If there’s wine as well, I’ll do it,"

- and then given the Meribald info on broken men, and given the last quote from the QI guy, the "drinking to drown his sorrow." How much of the regular broken-man syndrome are we to use to fill in the Hound's general psyche in the story?

- also, saying his drinking is only episodic may also give the Hound more benefit than he should be given credit for. Had he not been travelling in a wartorn country that's scarce on goods and without gold currency (bc he has BWB script, right?), and had wine be easier to acquire, how much do we think he'd be drinking on the road with Arya? -- I know contrafactuals aren't the best way to reason, but given the extreme non-normality of his circumstances (DSM wasn't designed with wartorn medieval circumtance in mind, but rather normal day to day lives), then are we giving Sandor credit for self-control, where it's more likely scarcity of his environment that's shaping his behaviors here?

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Thank you for the kind words, ladies and gentlemen.

Answering to KOM's questions in general: that there's just some instances of drinking doesn't necessarily imply automatically that there were more times of him drinking off-page, because if that had been the case, there would be signs, indications, little tidbits here and there that would indicate frequent off-page drunkenness, and those would reflect either directly or subtly on his demeanour, his professional performance, his other activities, the opinion people around him that have known him for years have of him, etc., because people suffering from alcohol dependence and abuse show these signs even when they're not drinking or are trying to hide the exact amounts of drink they consume (and a lot of them do try to hide it, so we are trained to recognise the telltale signs, too). And we don't have these. Sandor Clegane has no POV, yet he's seen through various POVs and from what can be gleaned from the various appearances and mentions in them, there's no indication that he drinks more than occasionally, in his days off most probably, which the textual evidence suggests weren't many due to the demands of his job. To give you an example of what would be just one sign that he drank off-page more, let's take his status as one of the best swordsmen in Westeros, an excellent jouster and Joffrey's sworn shield, plus Kingsguard later: that's one position that requires a lot of training daily, agility, concentration, exercising fine and gross motor skills, so on, which would be affected by the effects of recurrent alcohol consumption in his physical fitness as well as in his psyche.

As for his self-control where drink is concerned, the examples you gave are precisely from when he's at his lowest, and that’s when his consumption really was beginning to be a problem. We don't know what he was doing in the time since leaving King's Landing until being caught, so he could have been drinking more, but how much and how frequently, we cannot be sure, as it’s not in the text. It may very well be that this was the first time in a while that he drank and got caught, or it can be that he had been drinking more times and had the misfortune of being caught in this ocassion, but honestly, taking the episode from Blackwater as an indication of continuity in his drinking is mere guesswork, and a case can be made that he probably didn't drink as frequently considering that he was in a war zone filled with enemies of various sorts and hostile civilians, he'd have been caught much sooner, then, had he been getting stone-drunk on a regular basis. When he was with Arya and planning to ransom her, he didn't even think of wine because he was concentrating on a plan, all his energies were invested in that, and the availability of wine doesn't play a role here, as then he'd be wishing for wine even if there was none, that is exhibiting the effects of abstinence, as cravings are another side effect of withdrawal, which is more notorious precisely in the absence of drink, and it's only after all his hopes are crushed that he begins drinking and showing the behaviour you noted: that his ale is quickly gone, that he sees wine as a plus of working for the villagers, etc. You're talking about a man in the depths of depression, the lowest of his low points, in which self-control is weaker, and even so, he jumps in when the opportunity arises to find meaningful work in that godsforsaken village, and drinks only in the nights and doesn't neglect his work, so he still has a fair measure of control, until he’s expelled and his hopes are crushed again.

I have addressed these questions already in The Road to the Hound's Deathbed Congession: A Psychological Study, in which you can read an analysis of the circumstances of his drinking during his journey with Arya throughout the Riverlands, and how much of it can be attributed to his psychological state.

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These are from the last thread, but I just wanted to make some quick comments:

DogLover:

I was so emotionally gutted when Arya abandoned Sandor with the parting line "You should have saved my mother." He's left on his deathbed with the accusation that he failed. He failed at the one thing he does best--act as a protector. He didn't save Sansa, which is the big regret he chokes out, and he couldn't live up to Arya's expectations, even though he was ultimately willing to try.

Granted, he felt guilt, but I don't think his lack of saving her mother in that situation was a major part of it. He a veteran warrior and could see right away the situation was hopeless, with no real prospect of saving them. Arya didn't understand this, because while fierce enough, she was not mature enough - she has an exaggerated sense of what one person can do if they are brave enough, and was led too much by her emotions. Still, the Hound may have felt deep regrets about the Red Wedding and the fate of Robb and Catelyn. Aside from the fact that these people are dear to Sansa, the Hound abhors "cowardly" tactics (fire, betrayal, etc.) - and the Young Wolf was someone he could respect (even as an adversary). Plus, I think there is a general regret for his role in the war up to that point. Part of his emotional breakdown / moral reckoning was the fact that he had spent his life serving evil causes and treacherous people. Deep down some part of him knew the Lannister side was the wrong side, but by the time he's finally ready to own up to this and maybe switch sides and make amends, it is too late. In this respect Arya's final words have more symbolic meaning that literal: he should have served just causes, he could have been a better person - instead of sticking with the wrong side until it was too late to help the right one.

Sastelise:

As for Sansa’s kneeling in the TV show, I don’t see how they could have handled it differently. There would have to be build up to this defiant moment in order for it to make sense to the TV audience. Still, I disagree with the idea that the lack of development of Sansa’s character this season expresses a disinterest on the part of the producers. Though Sansa’s character is more developed in the books because we have the benefit of witnessing her observations and some internal reactions, there is also evidence in the books that she’s on a one step forward, two steps back path. In her last POV in AFFC she’s summoned by LF once she’s made her way down from the mountain with info that he has a gift for her. She’s thinking about getting a new dress when LF springs Harry the Heir on her as his “gift.”

Well, it points to the lack of Dontos, really. No drunken knight / fool = no hair net (not yet anyway), and no scene of Tyrion having to use him for a boost. I honestly think these are the result of casting decisions (which are not just about having a character there or not, but also how often on a limited budget.)

Really, much has changed in that arc of the TV story - no Willas, no Garlan, etc.

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These are from the last thread, but I just wanted to make some quick comments:

DogLover:

I was so emotionally gutted when Arya abandoned Sandor with the parting line "You should have saved my mother." He's left on his deathbed with the accusation that he failed. He failed at the one thing he does best--act as a protector. He didn't save Sansa, which is the big regret he chokes out, and he couldn't live up to Arya's expectations, even though he was ultimately willing to try.

Granted, he felt guilt, but I don't think his lack of saving her mother in that situation was a major part of it. He a veteran warrior and could see right away the situation was hopeless, with no real prospect of saving them. Arya didn't understand this, because while fierce enough, she was not mature enough - she has an exaggerated sense of what one person can do if they are brave enough, and was led too much by her emotions. Still, the Hound may have felt deep regrets about the Red Wedding and the fate of Robb and Catelyn. Aside from the fact that these people are dear to Sansa, the Hound abhors "cowardly" tactics (fire, betrayal, etc.) - and the Young Wolf was someone he could respect (even as an adversary). Plus, I think there is a general regret for his role in the war up to that point. Part of his emotional breakdown / moral reckoning was the fact that he had spent his life serving evil causes and treacherous people. Deep down some part of him knew the Lannister side was the wrong side, but by the time he's finally ready to own up to this and maybe switch sides and make amends, it is too late. In this respect Arya's final words have more symbolic meaning that literal: he should have served just causes, he could have been a better person - instead of sticking with the wrong side until it was too late to help the right one.

Well said Pod. We're currently at Arya XII in the re-read thread, and that chapter is the one where Sandor makes an attempt to comfort/counsel Arya on her mother, after she proposes that Cat might still be alive, and that they could get her out of the Twins. After this she has her wolf dream and realises that Cat is dead. But I do agree that Sandor regrets the service he held under the Lannisters, and Arya is quite adept - deliberately and otherwise - at picking at this scab, and revealing the ugly sore underneath. Her question of whether Sandor also hit Sansa with the axe, and his extreme response reveals this:

"... You ought to thank me. You ought to sing me a pretty little song, the way your sister did."

"Did you hit her with an axe too?"

"I hit you with the flat of the axe, you stupid little bitch. If I'd hit you with the blade there'd stull be chunks of your head floating down the Green Fork. Now shut your bloody mouth. If I had any sense I'd give you to the silent sisters. They cut the tongues out of girls who talk too much."

There's a double tragedy involved in Sandor's and Arya's experiences, and in their attempts and failures to reach two locations that perhaps represented a last chance before "the end" for both.

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Thanks Milady. You've put forth a convincing case that, prior to Blackwater, and given the setting/time-period, Sandor was acting fairly healthy.

" and it's only after all his hopes are crushed that he begins drinking and showing the behaviour" -- yes. And I think you're correct in that the alcohol use is more of a symptom of the underlying PTSD/depression. Clearly, Sandor is not Dontos.

I'm curious as to how you see Meribald's story of the broken men as a parallel story to Sandor. Is the broken man a parallel view to Sandor, an abstraction compared to the concrete version of Sandor? Is the broken man the end towards which Sandor, the as-yet still professional, mostly sober, highly-functioning individual is likely heading?

-

This topic might actually make a good question for GRRM at a convention. "How much of an alcoholic was Sandor?" or "post-Blackwater, what was Sandor's relationship with alcohol?"

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I appreciate your work Milady and congratulate you on your thorough discussion of Sandor's imbibing. I agree with you that he is not an "alcoholic". However, I am truly curious as to what you and other think about his preference for wine.

I posted this question on the Arya thread and didn't get much of a response, why does Sandor seems to prefer wine over any other alcoholic beverage, especially ale, a grain beverage (since these two kinds of drink seem to be most readily available and there is no mention of scotch or whiskey in Westeros)?

Martin is too deliberate draw such a strong affinity without purpose. It seems that wine, especially red wine, is an allusion to something else.

Any thoughts?

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First of all, congrats Milady of York on another job well done! It's great to have such a thorough break down of when Sandor gets drunk because there is a lot of misleading information about it. I think since the last few times we see Sandor in the story he is pretty consistently drunk or trying to get there it leaves people with the impression that he is a raging alcoholic but as you have pointed out, its just not the case. It gets muddled by the fact that he is left at his lowest most self destructive and even suicidal point, which is very different from how he appeared in AGOT.

Thanks Milady. You've put forth a convincing case that, prior to Blackwater, and given the setting/time-period, Sandor was acting fairly healthy.

" and it's only after all his hopes are crushed that he begins drinking and showing the behaviour" -- yes. And I think you're correct in that the alcohol use is more of a symptom of the underlying PTSD/depression. Clearly, Sandor is not Dontos.

I'm curious as to how you see Meribald's story of the broken men as a parallel story to Sandor. Is the broken man a parallel view to Sandor, an abstraction compared to the concrete version of Sandor? Is the broken man the end towards which Sandor, the as-yet still professional, mostly sober, highly-functioning individual is likely heading?

-

This topic might actually make a good question for GRRM at a convention. "How much of an alcoholic was Sandor?" or "post-Blackwater, what was Sandor's relationship with alcohol?"

KOM I can only speak for myself in saying that I have come to believe for a while now that Sandor is in fact a broken man. After doing character and POV rereads it's clear that GRRM has structured his novels very carefully with various themes running through different POVs and I feel pretty confident in saying that it is no accident that Brienne's POV in Feast is tied to the broken men story and it just so happens that a lot of her search and travels becomes about Sandor. We get Septon Meribald's description of the broken men and then the next Brienne scene involves her getting to the Quite Isle where, lo and behold, there is some novice lame gravedigger who is most likely Sandor hanging around there. Then Brienne has her little chat with the Elder Brother and his speech is all about Sandor. It's quite brilliantly placed. It's also telling that Sandor was seen during the Battle of the Blackwater fighting on the ship named "Prayer" and that Sansa has prayed for Sandor's anger to be "quieted". Given that both Septon Meribald and the EB are warriors turned broken men just like Sandor, the fact that they both have now given up that life in favor of peace is a strong indicator of where I see his life heading.

I appreciate your work Milady and congratulate you on your thorough discussion of Sandor's imbibing. I agree with you that he is not an "alcoholic". However, I am truly curious as to what you and other think about his preference for wine.

I posted this question on the Arya thread and didn't get much of a response, why does Sandor seems to prefer wine over any other alcoholic beverage, especially ale, a grain beverage (since these two kinds of drink seem to be most readily available and there is no mention of scotch or whiskey in Westeros)?

Martin is too deliberate draw such a strong affinity without purpose. It seems that wine, especially red wine, is an allusion to something else.

Any thoughts?

Blisscraft, based on some of the discussion taking place in this thread, it seems that a sour red, or unnamed simple red or dark wine means facing harsh truths. bbstark in a post on page 11 analyzed a great scene in Jon's POV from AGOT when he meets with Mormont who just got the letter that Ned has been arrested and he tells Jon to pour wine for the both of them and Jon is dreading what Mormont is going to tell him because he senses that it's bad news. It's very interesting. Also, this thread is relevant to Sansa because it makes clear that the Lies and Arbor Gold line clearly is associated with honeyed lies.

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Whilst re-reading Maurice Druon's Les rois maudits (The Accursed Kings) saga, Milady accidentally found a passage that she wished to share here, as it made her ponder on whether this could in fact be the inspiration for GRRM's fictional brand of wine he's called Arbor Gold.

In La louve de France (The She-Wolf of France), the 5th book of the seven-book series about the Capetian dynasty that ruled this kingdom for centuries, we read this:

The Papal cuisine was luxurious; and even the Friday menus were rare feasts. Fresh tunny fish, Norwegian cod, lampreys and sturgeons, prepared in twenty different ways and accompanied by twenty different sauces, succeeded each other in dish after gleam­ing dish.
The wine of Arbois flowed like gold
into the goblets
. The growths of Burgundy, the Lot or the Rhone accompanied the cheeses.

This is the only time in these novels that a wine is described as golden and from a region called Arbois, and it instantly caught Milady's eye.

Milady doesn't think this is just some coincidence, because of two reasons: First, because it's known that Martin is a big fan of these novels by French author Druon, which he has read and highly recommended to his readers. These novels were written in the later part of the '50s, decades before he wrote the first word of A Game of Thrones, the volume in which Arbor wines are first mentioned although the golden variety debuts on A Clash of Kings, and were translated into English in the '60s (my copy of the 5th book is from 1960), so we can be sure that he drank from this well for inspiration.

Second, this golden wine does actually exist in the real world. The French town of Arbois and the surrounding area, in the Jura department, is famous for its wine industry and the quality of its wines, and produces two celebrated varieties of wine that possess this distinctive yellow colouring: the Vin Jaune, or Yellow Wine, made of only one type of "white" grapes, that has to be fermented for seven years and has a characteristic light yellow colour; and the second one, the Vin de Paille, or Straw Wine, that would be our Arbois Gold proper. This is a very rare and quite expensive amber, caramel or golden-coloured wine made of three types of grapes handpicked individually late in the harvest that only render very little amounts of a sweet juice; a reason why it was a drink for the rich and powerful since the early Middle Ages, and even in our day it's very pricey and hard to find.

Here's how French sommeliers officially describe the scent and flavour of Arbois straw wine:

Bouquet:
the nose explodes in a rainbow of fruity aromas. You will discover the orange marmalade, plum, quince. Exotic fruits like pineapple and candied dates. And even tea and spices...

Flavour:
Let yourself be carried away by the sweet lightness of straw wine. The perfect harmony between alcohol, sugar and acidity. The palate finds the fruits that had delighted the nose, with a sense of richness and density.

Fruity, sweet and rich. Now, compare this with the description of Arbor Gold when it first appears in ASOIAF, in a Sansa chapter in ACOK to be precise:

Cersei beckoned to her page for another cup of wine, a
golden vintage from the Arbor, fruity and rich.
The queen was drinking heavily, but the wine only seemed to make her more beautiful; her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes had a bright, feverish heat to them as she looked down over the hall.
Eyes of wildfire
, Sansa thought.

And then compare this description of Arbois Yellow….

A beautifully pungent nose of almonds, dried fruit, brine, river stone, and dried herbs. Bone-dry and intense on the palate with a long finish.

Plus this one...

[…] The wine's distinct flavours, characteristic of walnut, almond, spice and apple.

… to this description in ASOS Sansa VI, which is of an Arbor vintage, precisely what an Arbois Yellow is, as it must be fermented for at least 7 years (the ideal time is ten years) before drinking, and can last for centuries:

Having solid ground beneath her feet had helped already, but Sansa dutifully lifted the goblet with both hands and took a sip. The wine was very fine;
an Arbor vintage
, she thought. It tasted of oak and fruit and hot summer nights, the flavors blossoming in her mouth like flowers opening to the sun.
She only prayed that she could keep it down. Lord Petyr was being so kind, she did not want to spoil it all by retching on him.

It is evident, therefore, that Martin's Arbor Gold is based on the real Arbois Gold, and that the Arbois Yellow inspired the Arbor vintage too, and not only both share these unique colour and flavour but also the name of the region of origin, as obviously Arbois in France could have served as the basis for the Arbor in Westeros.

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It`s beautiful catch, Milady. Well done indeed. I have to say, as half-French, I do like wines, and I know Jura wines are among the best in France. There is a great chance, like you pointed out, that this wine was inspiration to Arbor gold. Well done, I would have never occured that, and I even visited Arbois. Someone should link this post to the Apple Martini`s thread about Arbor Gold.

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Quite informative, Milady. That quote you pulled from ASOS when Sansa wonders if she might retch the wine is very intriguing, considering it's right before the conversation where he impresses upon her the need to assume the disguise of Alayne Stone, and asks if she likes to play games. Notice how LF is watching her as she drinks the wine:

He was studying her over his own goblet. his bright grey-green eyes full of... was it amusement? Or something else? Sansa was not certain.

Right after this, LF calls for fruit to be brought from the ship, specifically pomegranates and oranges. If we add the pomegranate symbolism to the sensual qualities of the wine as described by Sansa, then it could be read as LF's attempt at a grand seduction scene, laying the groundwork for his entrapment of Sansa.

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This thread is wonderful as usual. I especially love Milady's post about Sandor and alcoholism. I admit until reading that post I thought of Sandor as an alchoholic myself but Milady convinced me that he's not.

I also find it interesting that Sandor is the most emotionally honest while drunk. It makes me wonder if there would be as much wonderful Sansa & Sandor reaction if he hadn't been drunk at the times when he ran into her. Would he have been as honest and open with her if he was sober? I hope so since one of Sandor's main traits IMO is his honesty. Yet it's understandably hard to tell someone emotional stories about yourself. What do you all think? Do you think Sandor's confessions to Sansa would have happened if he was sober...or not?

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This thread is wonderful as usual. I especially love Milady's post about Sandor and alcoholism. I admit until reading that post I thought of Sandor as an alchoholic myself but Milady convinced me that he's not.

I also find it interesting that Sandor is the most emotionally honest while drunk. It makes me wonder if there would be as much wonderful Sansa & Sandor reaction if he hadn't been drunk at the times when he ran into her. Would he have been as honest and open with her if he was sober? I hope so since one of Sandor's main traits IMO is his honesty. Yet it's understandably hard to tell someone emotional stories about yourself. What do you all think? Do you think Sandor's confessions to Sansa would have happened if he was sober...or not?

In vino veritas. Sometimes wine provokes the people that consume it, to reveal their true intentions and thoughts. According to Alcaeus, "Wine is a peephole on a man". Perhaps this is the case with Sandor Clegane.

Bran Vras and Milady, thank you for those insightful posts.

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I also find it interesting that Sandor is the most emotionally honest while drunk. It makes me wonder if there would be as much wonderful Sansa & Sandor reaction if he hadn't been drunk at the times when he ran into her. Would he have been as honest and open with her if he was sober? I hope so since one of Sandor's main traits IMO is his honesty. Yet it's understandably hard to tell someone emotional stories about yourself. What do you all think? Do you think Sandor's confessions to Sansa would have happened if he was sober...or not?

Interesting question. As I said in my previous posts, alcohol losens our inhibitions, and that`s why the greatest truths come from drunk people (there`s a scientific truth for `In vino veritas`, Danelle). But, would he be able to overcome his fears, doubts and social boundaries sober? I am not 100% sure. I think that`s why many people wrongly assumed he is alcoholic, because some of the most defining moments in Sandor`s storyarc happened while he was drunk. But, at the end, that doesn`t change the truth of his words. Inhibitions sometimes prevent us from telling it, but it`s there, buried deep inside us. So, although I am not sure that Sandor would tell Sansa the truth about his burning, I do believe it was big emotional step for him, and something he felt he needed to do. But, also, I am equally sure he would go for Sansa to save her on the night of Blackwater battle even sober.

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Interesting question. As I said in my previous posts, alcohol losens our inhibitions, and that`s why the greatest truths come from drunk people (there`s a scientific truth for `In vino veritas`, Danelle). But, would he be able to overcome his fears, doubts and social boundaries sober? I am not 100% sure. I think that`s why many people wrongly assumed he is alcoholic, because some of the most defining moments in Sandor`s storyarc happened while he was drunk. But, at the end, that doesn`t change the truth of his words. Inhibitions sometimes prevent us from telling it, but it`s there, buried deep inside us. So, although I am not sure that Sandor would tell Sansa the truth about his burning, I do believe it was big emotional step for him, and something he felt he needed to do. But, also, I am equally sure he would go for Sansa to save her on the night of Blackwater battle even sober.

I'm not sure if he would have told Sansa about his burning if he was sober either.

I agree about him going to save her on the night of the Blackwater, drunk or sober. After all, he saved her from the mob in the riots and he wasn't drunk then. :)

I just find it interesting that some of Sandor's most vulnerable moments may not have happened if he wasn't drunk at the time. But maybe that's just me. :)

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Hi, this is my first post, so sorry if this is silly, but I don't think that was Stranger the Hound was riding when he boarded the boat, (even though he seems like someone who'd care for any of his horses).

He states to Tyrion, afterwards, that he had lost his horse (pg760 of my paperback, ACoK) during the battle of blackwater. I've always thought that Stranger was Theon's ex-horse Smiler, who was described as big as a destrier but as fast as a courser by Theon himself, as well as being foul tempered, hence his name. Theon last saw his horse bolting from the stables, at Winterfell, with his mane on fire. It's not noted that the horse died, so I got the impression Sandor found Smiler as a wondering stray, like himself, and re-named him as suited the horse's aggressive temperament. The description for Smiler, during the Theon chapters was pretty specific,

"But Theon's mount was quite another sort of beast. "Where'd you get that hellhorse?" . . ."

"a stallion as with a temper as black as his hide, larger than a courser if not quite so big as most destriers . . . The animal had fire in his eyes. When he'd met his new owner, he'd pulled back his lips and tried to bite his face off. " Theon, pg348 ACoK

as was Arya's description of Stranger,

"The horse was a heavy courser, almost as big as a destrier but much faster. Stranger, the Hound called him. Arya had tried to steal him once, when Clegane was taking a piss against a tree, thinking she could ride off before he could catch her. Stranger had almost bitten her face off. He was as gentle as an old gelding with his master, but otherwise he had a temper as black as he was." Arya, pg80 ASoS 2.

He was referred to as a hellhorse in this chapter too. In my opinion, this is the same horse.

I don't know if this is worth me mentioning, but I thought it interesting considering the character arcs of both Sandor and Theon,.

Anyway thanks for reading my ramblings, sorry if you all have realised this already :) .

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snip

Please, resize the font, because it`s unreadable...

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