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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XXI

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Many thanks for this lovely contribution to our Female Influences project, Gwyn; it's a valuable analysis that's going straight to our Resources master list just updated with the latest.


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Very thoroughly researched Lady Gwyn! It was always clear there was some amount of association between the two sisters, on the surface in a yin & yang way. But on this evidence it's incredible how closely connected Arya' and Sansa's arcs are - in their similarities. The case you've given does give some indication that grrm might be planning to reunite them further down the line, as you surmise.

The shield and sword theme is one I really like, and the observation regarding Ned's execution is a good one.

Great catches on noticing both sisters forgetting each other, Sansa being called a mouse (after this is linked so heavily to Arya at Harrenhal), and the bravery, honesty, leadership, judgement qualities wrt the Stark identity.

Overall, with such a good presentation and collection of quotes put together like this, it's a great case for grrm having weaved together the arcs of Sansa and Arya in tandem.

Good work!

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On thematic patterns in Sansa’s clothing

{snip}

The blue dress II: The Tully roots of a bastard girl

After Joffrey’s horrendous public humiliation of her, we never again see Sansa wearing blue, until she becomes a prisoner a second time, one year later. This time it’s one of the colours of House Tully, her mother’s family, that will serve to assert her real identity when she’s made to impersonate a bastard girl in the Vale.

The first scene has her wearing a blue dress as she builds a snow castle in the likeness of her home, which also assists her in professing and maintaining her emotional connection to her true roots; and this is also the only time this far, apart from her wedding, in which we see her wearing a white cloak, one of the House Stark colours:

ASOS SANSA VII: BUILDING SNOW WINTERFELL

Sansa left the shutters open as she dressed. It would be cold, she knew, though the Eyrie’s towers encircled the garden and protected it from the worst of the mountain winds. She donned silken smallclothes and a linen shift, and over that a warm dress of blue lambswool. Two pairs of hose for her legs, boots that laced up to her knees, heavy leather gloves, and finally a hooded cloak of soft white fox fur.

Nice post Milady! On the warm dress of blue lambswool, I am sure this must have come up before but I don't remember seeing this pointed out, but it really struck me reading this that Sansa is a wolf in sheep's clothing here. Perhaps this is another hint that Petyr better watch out as he doesn't recognize that she is hiding her wolf nature to appear gentle as a lamb.

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<snip>

The sun and the moon, the shield and the sword do not exist without each other but move in concert, each complementing the other. So do these sisters. To paraphrase the words of GRRM: they have issues to work out, but they need each other. One day we hope they will meet again to prove that the solidarity of sisterhood can overcome even the most diametrically different personalities.

Great analysis Gwyn :) I really like the complementary approach you took, as it provides a much needed positive reframing of their relationship and how they can ultimately work together during the winter. To that end, I think these quotes you listed under "judgement" are instructive:

The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword […] you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.

AGoT, chapter 2

But when the septon climbed on high and called upon the gods to protect and

defend their true and noble king, Sansa got to her feet. […] Let his sword break

and his shield shatter, Sansa thought coldly as she shoved out through the

doors, let his courage fail him and every man desert him.

ACoK, chapter 57

Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling, The Tickler and the Hound. Ser

Ilyn, Ser Meryn, King Joffrey, Queen Cersei…

I agree with your assessment that Arya and Sansa can be unyielding as the North, but it also brings to mind the one character that interacts with them after their father is killed, Sandor Clegane, and the mercy he elicits from them both. Sandor can be seen as representing a man who does not deserve to die, and the recognition of this by the sisters in two very different "praying" situations is another example of how they both embody their House values, and suggests that this relationship could be directly beneficial in the future for the Starks. The Hound is able to appreciate, respect and identify with them in very different circumstances and experiences, and that definitely highlights the solidarity of sisterhood in my book.

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What I find interesting about Sansor's relationship to the Stark girls, is that during most of the time he spent with them they were captives. Sansa was a captive of the Lannisters, and Arya was captive of Sandor himself. Even tho both were captives, he did try to change their captive status and get them back either to WF or family members.



What was so interesting to me was after the RW, Arya for all intents and purposes became his ward as his prospects for ransom dwindled to nothing. And Arya, after the RW could of run off, and had many chances to do so, but didn't.



In the end Arya couldn't kill him but left him to his fate.


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Great analysis Gwyn :) I really like the complementary approach you took, as it provides a much needed positive reframing of their relationship and how they can ultimately work together during the winter. To that end, I think these quotes you listed under "judgement" are instructive:

I agree with your assessment that Arya and Sansa can be unyielding as the North, but it also brings to mind the one character that interacts with them after their father is killed, Sandor Clegane, and the mercy he elicits from them both. Sandor can be seen as representing a man who does not deserve to die, and the recognition of this by the sisters in two very different "praying" situations is another example of how they both embody their House values, and suggests that this relationship could be directly beneficial in the future for the Starks. The Hound is able to appreciate, respect and identify with them in very different circumstances and experiences, and that definitely highlights the solidarity of sisterhood in my book.

Thanks Brash! That's a great observation! I agree completely and would like to add to it, with the passages:

In Storm, we remember Sansa praying for the Hound before the Battle of the Blackwater:

"...and finally, toward the end, she even sang for Tyrion the Imp and for the Hound. He is no true knight , but he saved me all the same, she told the Mother. Save him if you can, and gentle the rage inside him. ACoK, chapter 57

And of course, she delivers his "song", the Hymn of the Mother which is all about mercy, in their final interaction.

After he seizes Arya, in their confrontation with Polliver and the Tickler, the Hound finds out that the little bird has flown King's Landing:

"A pretty girl, I hear," said the Tickler. "Honey sweet." He smacked his lips and smiled.

"And courteous," the Hound agreed. "A proper little lady. Not like her bloody sister." ASoS, chapter 74

He sees the clear difference (even invoking shades of the shield and sword metaphor, when he refers to Sansa's courtesy and Arya as "wolf girl") but, as you say he appreciates and identifies with both.

Arya's "mercy" is of a different sort. Foreshadowed by this, after she leaves his name out of her "prayers":

Sandor moaned and she rolled onto her side to look at him. She had left his name out too, she realized. Why had she done that? She tried to think of Mycah, but it was hard to remember what he'd looked like. She hadn't known him all that long. All he ever did was play at swords with me. "The Hound," she whispered, and "Valar morghulis." Maybe he'd be dead by morning… ASoS, chapter 74

And finally at the end, harking back to Eddard's quote that you referenced:

"Do it! The gift of mercy … avenge your little Michael …"

"Mycah." Arya stepped away from him. "You don't deserve the gift of mercy. ASoS, chapter 74

As we see with Dareon, Arya has no trouble wielding her blade when she has determined that death is deserved. In this case, what she must really be saying then is that the Hound does not deserve to die.

It's absolutely true that this is one of those points of intersection that are significant for the future, not to mention that the significance of the Hound's influence on both girls might just be that through their interactions with him each moves a little closer to the other from their seemingly opposite positions.

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Hi all! :) The following is a bit of analysis I put together for the Pawn to Player: Women In Power series. My portion was to discuss the power dynamic and sibling relationship of Sansa/Robb and Arianne/Quentyn. Many thanks to brashcandy for inviting me to participate in this project, I was deeply flattered to be asked to join the hallowed pages of Pawn to Player as a contributor.



Upon starting this project it became immediately clear how insightful was the framing brashcandy and Milady of York chose for the subject. The essay fairly wrote itself, more to the credit of this framing than my own work. So I have to thank them, further, for directing me to such fertile ground for analysis. Because of this I've gained further insight into a pair of relationships I might not otherwise have thought too much about, and I hope this will be the case for everyone who reads my analysis. Thanks for reading!




Sansa and Robb



Early on in GoT, both Sansa and Robb are positioned as rising power players. Robb will one day be Lord of Winterfell, and is left as de facto Lord after the departure of Ned first and later Catelyn to King's Landing. Sansa is betrothed to Joffrey to one day reign as Queen and become one of the most powerful women in the Seven Kingdoms. This, of course, is all ultimately set awry.



Their arcs inform one another from the beginning, and we quickly learn that different things will be required of each on their paths to potential power. Both have formative experiences with their direwolves. In Robb's case, Greywind (and Summer) are instrumental in saving Bran from the wildlings they meet while riding in the wolfswood. In constrast, Sansa learns to her sorrow that wolfishness can be costly in the south. After Joffrey attacks Mycah and Arya and Nymeria respond, Lady is made a sacrifice to Cersei's twisted sense of justice. Robb's and Sansa's arcs both are presaged here; Robb's path will involve violence and brashness and open hostility will serve his ends; Sansa will have to contain her anger and remain courteous or else face dire consequences. They'll operate in different spheres of power, Robb will live on the battlefield while Sansa will live in court, and they'll have to learn different skills to meet these exigencies.



Ned's death sends them in opposite directions, exasperating the divide between the lives they'll lead and the skills they'll need to survive. Robb is raised to King in the North, while Sansa is (eventually) reduced from Joffreys' future Queen to merely Sansa Stark, potential Lady of Winterfell (not that she's complaining). Interestingly, both are parties in some capacity to broken marriage contracts, Robb with a Frey daughter and Sansa with Joffrey. The broken vows sets up later weddings that have dire consequences for the contract breakers: Robb dies at Edmure's wedding while Joffrey dies at his own wedding.



And with this an exclamation point is put on the end of their divergent power arcs. Robb failed to learn the courtly skills that Sansa must master in her arc, insulting the Freys and running afoul custom and courtesy to his demise. Robb's arc ends at this wedding, while Sansa's arc opens to new possibility as she is freed from captivity in King's Landing. More on that later.



Arianne and Quentyn



Arianne and Quentyn grow up in the opposite circumstance to Sansa and Robb. Arianne is the eldest daughter and by Dornish custom will one day inherit Dorne as Princess. Quentyn is as Sansa is, marriageable but not likely to inherit power in his own right.



Secretly, however, Arianne was once betrothed to to marry Viserys and become Queen, while Quentyn was meant to inherit Dorne. This arrangement is swapped after the death of Viserys, and Arianne is intended to follow Doran as ruler of Dorne while Quentyn is to marry Daenerys and become King. Or, this was the case, until certain conflagrant developments in ADWD. More on that, too, later.



Arianne offers one of the more aggressive critiques of the gendered power structure that we see in the series. Having read a letter some time ago from Doran to Quentyn referring to him one day ruling Dorne, she believes Doran means to disinherit her and give Dorne to Quentyn instead, which she will not allow. In AFFC she plots to crown Myrcella Queen of the Seven Kingdoms as the eldest living child of Robert and Cersei, while also defending her birthright to become Princess of Dorne after her father's death. In doing so she seeks to confirm Dornish law in Dorne as well as expand it across the whole of the Seven Kingdoms. In the process she means to take revenge against the Iron Throne for past injustices. She is nothing if not ambitious. Her plan, of course, fails, and she learns that Doran did not mean to disinherit her but instead to make her Queen through Viserys.



Quentyn's journey is less ambitious in terms of critiquing gendered power structure, although it is noteworthy that he seeks to empower himself through a woman. His journey is, however, astoundingly ambitious in terms of 'what-the-hell-were-you-thinking' gall. He crosses the Narrow Sea and joins up with a sellsword company to reach Slaver's Bay before defecting to propose marriage to Daenerys, in lieu of Viserys' death and the broken contract between him and Arianne. Upon being spurned, he plots to steal her dragons. His plan, too, fails.



And so Arianne and Quentyn find their paths diverging as Sansa's and Robb's did. The former goes forth with greater knowledge and experience, and perhaps with lessens learned, while the latter has failed to his death.



The Lot of Them: Unwitting Sibling Rivalry



There are a number of interesting parallels between the Arianne, Sansa, Robb, and Quentyn. Their arcs are largely instigated on similar terms, and they end up in similar circumstances. Intriguingly, the potential of each for power and station stands in tension to the others.



Their fathers, Ned and Doran, are similar men. Both are basically compassionate, often deliberate rather than rash, haunted by the past, and following paths decided for them by Robert's Rebellion. Neither man sees fit to trust their eldest daughter, Sansa or Arianne, with crucial information that could only have avoided hardship. Ned doesn't explain the dangers of King's Landing to Sansa, and Doran doesn't tell Arianne that he has sent Quentyn away to marry Daenerys. Ned's decisions, albeit less than intentionally, send Robb to claim a crown and Sansa to captivity. Doran does the same to his son and daughter with more intentionality.



Both Sansa and Arianne spend time plotting their own liberation, Sansa from King's Landing and Arianne from potential disempowerment by her brother. Each has a 'soiled' Knight for a confidant, Dontos for Sansa and Arys for Arianne. When their plans come to fruition both of their confidants are killed, and they find themselves in captivity. Arianne is put in a tower in Sunspear, while Sansa is taken to the Eyrie. In captivity Arianne learns to be humble, a skill Sansa has been honing for the entirety of her arc.



Robb and Quentyn both go to war, Robb in the Riverlands and Westerlands, and Quentyn with a sellsword company in Astapor. Both break contracts, Robb with the Freys and Quentyn to the Windblown; after breaking these contracts both men die. Both have companions who beg them to turn back and set aside their crown (or potential crown).



An interesting feature of all their relationships is that for one of them to be King/Queen, the others must not be. They're turned into unwitting enemies of one another in terms of who has power. When Arianne is to be Viserys' Queen, Quentyn is to be 'Prince,' or basically a Lord. When Sansa is to be Joffrey's Queen, Robb is to be a Lord. Viserys' death reduces Arianne's potential to being a mere Princess while raising Quentyn to potential Kingship, Robb taking up his crown makes certain that Joffrey will set Sansa aside and she won't become Queen.



In the case of Arianne and Quentyn, they become active rivals in Arianne's imagining. She begins to make moves to counter his power. In the case of Sansa and Robb, they're turned into enemies in another way, though less willingly. Sansa must make a show of being opposed to Robb, and Robb disinherits Sansa after her marriage to Tyrion.



Their families are broadly on the opposite side of the major conflicts in Westeros, both now and in the past. The Starks were rebels while the Martells were loyalists, now the Starks are declaring independence from the Iron Throne while the Martells are trying to reclaim the Iron Throne for the Targaryens. It might have been the case that Sansa became Queen only to be deposed by Arianne and Viserys, or Quentyn and Daenerys. It's unlikely that Robb, had he lived, would have been allowed to remain King in the North had either Arianne or Quentyn come to power. In this way they all stand in conflict with one another. Their attachments to one another are either as close as siblings or as far as a continent apart, but they find themselves opponents, in theory, based on the decisions of their forbears.



The Future



With the strong parallels between this set of characters, there's a fair bit of interesting speculation we can engage in. Both Robb and Quentyn are, of course, dead, and both their deaths have massive repercussions for Sansa and Arianne, and they've both got a bit of unfinished business out in the world. Sansa and Arianne are both brimming with possibility, and both are more experienced and world-wiser.



Both Robb and Quentyn affix their signatures to documents before their deaths, and it will be interesting to see whether these plans are moot points only meant as red herrings before both their spectacular downfalls, or whether they'll be important. Robb has declared Jon heir to the North, while Quentyn has promised the Tattered Prince Pentos. The last acts of these men might still prove powerful going forward, it remains to be seen.



What's quite certain, though, is that their deaths have important and obvious consequences for Sansa and Arianne in terms of future power. With Robb dead and Bran and Rickon presumed dead, Sansa is heir to the North (so long as Robb's will doesn't bind anyone). With Quentyn dead Arianne is once again in line to possibly become Queen- this time as Aegon (probably fake, imo) Targaryen's wife. Tragically, the deaths of their siblings have cleared the way to greater power for the both of them.



Given the previous paralleling of Sansa and Arianne's arcs- both have fathers who neglect to deal with them candidly, both make plots that ultimately lead them to captivity, both are heiresses- we should expect to see their arcs to continue to parallel going forward. This is particularly the case as Arianne's captivity in Sunspear so strongly channels Sansa's time in the Eyrie, and both of them have now descended from these places. Both have now been included in the plans of their father figures, although Littlefinger has displaced Ned for Sansa/Alayne. Their 'fathers' plans for them both appear to be to wed them to powerful heirs, Sansa to Harry Hardyng and Arianne to Aegon “Targaryen.” In either case they've been brought into the planning stages, and greater knowledge has been made available to them. It remains to be seen what either of them will do with it.



I think we can all safely assume that Littlefinger does not truly have Sansa's best interests at heart, and I think this permits us to wonder whether Doran's plan is really in Arianne's best interest, even if it is almost certainly intended in her best interest. There's also some question of whether Littlefinger really intends Harry as Sansa's final match, we know he wanted to marry her in the past and has a demonstrated creepy attachment toward. It's possible he either intends her for himself ultimately, or that he might try to betroth her to Aegon. This would put Sansa and Arianne at odds, both of them could not be Aegon's queen, of course, but only one.



Another possibility is that with a claim to the North, Riverlands, and Vale, Littlefinger could be planning for Sansa to rule as Queen over these three regions. I'm quite convinced that Littlefinger will meet his end by Sansa's doing, but Littlefinger's death will not, of course, negate Sansa's claims. She stands to inherit significant power in the coming books. It is also quite possible that she could end up ruling through her younger brother Rickon, who stands also to inherit the North and Riverlands (give or take a death or tree turning-into). She would also likely command the loyality of the Vale as well, who have been notable allies to the North and Riverlands in recent past. This, too, would put Sansa and Arianne at odds, if Arianne is Queen though the Iron Throne.



Perhaps the most intriguingly looming figure in all of this is Daenerys. When she arrives in Westeros, how will Arianne and Sansa react? Arianne has strongly expressed her belief that women should stand to inherit power equally to men. Aegon, were he real, would be heir before Daenerys by Targaryen law, although it's somewhat muddled by two claims Daenerys might make. She might claim a greater claim based on being Aerys' child rather than simply Rhaegar's, although obviously inheritance usually passes through generations rather than to siblings and so would have gone through Rhaegar to his son before Dany. But Arianne has shown a powerful desire to see a woman seated on the throne, and could easily be susceptible to such an argument. The next argument is that Aegon is very probably a fake. There may be little tangible evidence one way or the other, but it seems likely to me that Dany will know him to be false based on the prophecies of the House of the Undying and from Quaithe. Might Arianne be primed to believe Dany, given her preference for female rulers, and her willingness to make radical moves to achieve this end? It seems quite possible to me that they'll end up allied.



Just as Arianne adopts some of Sansa's subtlety at the end of her captivity in AFFC, perhaps we can expect to see Sansa adopt some of Arianne's gamesmanship, and maybe even some of her views on women in power. Sansa is positioned now with a potential confidant in Myranda Royce, who seems politically aware and sexually liberal. I think it's quite possible we could see a repeat of Arianne's plot to steal away and crown Myrcella, either with Robert Arryn being stolen away from Littlefinger, or the potential Queen Sansa herself stolen away from Littlefinger. If this bit of speculation does come to pass, let's all hope it's more successful.


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Interesting read, OnionAhai.



In Sansa's chapters, Cersei and Olenna (each in her own way) both question the power that a consort really holds. They both lament that they don't hold power in their own right and that they have to use indirect means to have their way (for better or for worse it doesn't matter in this discussion).



In this aspect, Arianne's view of power is somehow self-contradictory. She is ambitious, she wants power, but I'm afraid she doesn't know what she wants to do with it, at least before her confrontation with her father where he shared his plans with him. She's happy to give up her right to be the ruling princess of Dorne in favor of becoming a king's queen. Arianne is learning, but she seems to still be confused between power itself and the symbols of power (the title).


Her sample WoW chapter reveals that she's still sort of jealous of Quentyn becoming king - a

consort king

.


Sansa, on the other hand, has learned this lesson the hard way and she's currently having more intense lessons on the nature of power, through her "apprenticeship" with Littlefinger. She's ahead of Arianne in this regard.


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Exceptionally good job, OnionAhaiReborn!



One of the things I noticed about Arianne is that despite being portrayed as a bit of a honeypot luring Arys away from his duty and vows, she actually engages in a good bit of intellectual and historical debate as well. She seems very well versed in Dornish history which is emphasized by the mural of Nymeria in the background in the first Arys POV. While it is easy to gloss over her exchange with Oakheart as Arianne simply having seduced him (not that she didn't,) she also manages to take the history of Cole and present it as an injustice by a former LC of the Kingsguard and frame Oakheart's part in the plot not only as his correcting an injustice perpetrated by a KG member, but also as his duty to protect Myrcella's rights. The seduction aspect is present throughout, but we do see an intellect and a knowledge of history at play that goes beyond the pure sexual aspect. Her manipulation of Oakheart involves a good deal more than the pure seduction we see a Shae use on Tyrion.



We also see that Arianne has a very good grasp of Dornish politics though not necessarily the same grasp on politics beyond Dorne's borders. This seems fairly similar to Sansa prior to Kings Landing. Arianne is older and is definitely more savvy than the Sansa we first meet, but doesn't seem to have ever left Dorne. Sansa has had some contact with every faction in Westeros other than the Wildlings. She's of the North, her mother is of the Riverlands, she's as well versed in the Lannisters as anyone, she's immersed in the Vale currently in addition to her connection through Lysa and Sweetrobin, she's been involved with the Tyrell women clique that seems to be the real ruling faction, she grew up with Theon for the Iron Islands connection, and she's even met the Dornish contingent of prominent lords that came to Kings Landing with Oberyn. She's met a number of Stormland lords though I'm not sure it is clear who controls the Stormlands as we progress into book six. Both women seem to have been equipped with political tools and some harshly learned lessons, but hampered with enough circumstances and need to learn more to make for the drama and challenges required for a good story.



Depending on how things turn out with Arya there may be some parallels between her and the Sand Snakes. Arya did name her direwolf Nymeria. Benjen going to the Nights Watch and Oberyn being exiled to Essos for a while also offers a little bit of an uncle parallel too.



One of my favorite parts of the Dornish storyline is Doran and his lesson of the Water Gardens. Quentyn seems to have never learned this lesson or placed enough importance on it to know he shouldn't buy that dragon lotto ticket. Quentyn's own inner monologue of his fears and reticence all directly apply to Doran's lesson of the Water Garden and demonstrate he never learned it.



I should have kissed one of the Drinkwater twins, or maybe both of them. I should have kissed them whilst I could. I should have gone to Norvos to see my mother and the place that gave her birth, so she would know that I had not forgotten her.




Cat's plea to Robb to exchange Jaime for Sansa is also rooted in the spirit of that Water Gardens lesson. She wishes for Robb much the same things Quentyn wishes for himself. Sansa's marriage to Tyrion would never have happened if Robb embraced that lesson and Arianne's likely marriage to Aegon is also going to be largely influenced by Quentyn's failure to learn that lesson. I would expect these two sisters to somehow face choices centered on the Water Gardens lesson too.



As a final thought about the future, we seem to be heading for some kind of replay of the Dance of the Dragons. Arianne's mention of Cole in her talk with Oakheart is one of many connections to that earlier bit of history. In that conflict the two sides were the Blacks and the Greens symbolized by gown colors the two women wore at a tournament years before the conflict. We will probably see somewhat of a replay of those two sides represented by the black and green dragons on different sides-- most likely Dany and Aegon.



I was struck by the conflict being represented by gown colors and not dragon colors which led me to reflect on Littlefinger's comment about the War of the Three Queens. Given that this is part of the Women in Power series and the original Dance was fought over whether of not a woman could wield the power of the Iron Throne, it seems worth reflecting upon. I don't think Sansa, Arianne, and Dany are the three queens LF was thinking of at the time, but they do seem likely to be the three queens in a three way dragon war. LF probably has heard about Dany but nothing about the siege in Meereen screams I'm coming to Westeros. He's likely never heard of Aegon so I can't see him seeing a Queen Arianne on the horizon. While Cersei is rather focused on her lack of rights to rule, she hungers for a throne for which she has no real claim. Sansa has a very real claim to Queen of the North in her own right as does Dany to the Iron Throne. Arianne is in line to rule Dorne in her own right and may be faced with a choice to give that up to be a king's queen. A Sansa, Dany, and Arianne dynamic would involve three women with real claims to rule in their own right. Cersei and Margaery are both marriage usurpers of a sort who clearly have no claim to the power they seek to wield. I do think we'll see a War of the Three Queens, and which of those five likely candidates fill the roles will give us a very different commentary on women in power. I suspect Dany, Sansa and Arianne and of those three I think Sansa and Arianne probably have the most interesting arcs to contrast. (Dany has fine potential too just fewer direct parallels.)



Again I'd like to emphasize what a great job you did. Such a keen distillation of a very involved plot down to the essence of what matters.




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Onion, I can’t thank you enough for agreeing to tackle the essay, not to mention doing such a bang-up job. I’m pretty happy to finally have you as a contributor too. Seriously, what took you so long? :P



Sansa and Robb aren’t thought or talked about much as a sibling pairing outside of conversations to do with her disinheritance and what Robb’s will means for Jon’s future in the North. When placed in comparison to Arianne and Quentyn, however, I think it reveals just how relevant the conversation is for considerations of female power, and this is of course what your essay explored so splendidly. Instead of imagining Sansa as disadvantaged by her brother’s actions, it may be wiser to see it through the lens of empowerment and agency.



Since becoming the heir to Winterfell after the Red Wedding, Sansa has found her claim to be a bit of an albatross around her neck, one that squeezes ever the tighter when she is confronted with a forced marriage or yet another betrothal. A recurring theme that this project has highlighted is how the Stark sibling relationships are all defined by that sense of home as a place of family and belonging, rather than home as possession or birthright. It doesn’t mean that the Starks are immune to the power plays of others and the wider political affairs, but it does argue well for them being able to resist the pitfalls of ambition that can lead to torment and death.



Sansa’s arc has steadily been tracking away from the assumption of power vested in Queenship or another traditional avenue; and her relationship with Littlefinger can more be appreciated via the metaphor of lies and arbor gold rather than any genuine investment in the man as a father figure or a lover as he seems to desire. This is why I found your conclusion so interesting:




Just as Arianne adopts some of Sansa's subtlety at the end of her captivity in AFFC, perhaps we can expect to see Sansa adopt some of Arianne's gamesmanship, and maybe even some of her views on women in power. Sansa is positioned now with a potential confidant in Myranda Royce, who seems politically aware and sexually liberal. I think it's quite possible we could see a repeat of Arianne's plot to steal away and crown Myrcella, either with Robert Arryn being stolen away from Littlefinger, or the potential Queen Sansa herself stolen away from Littlefinger. If this bit of speculation does come to pass, let's all hope it's more successful.




This speculation has definite promise based on what we’ve seen so far in the Vale. Sansa has developed a motherly relationship with Sweetrobin, and not only could Randa Royce be an important ally, but Littlefinger’s very own captain of the guards, Lothor Brune, a man that unlike Areo Hotah is not wedded to his axe, but quite taken with Mya Stone.


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I had been told this was a quite remarkable analysis, Onion, and it is indeed; thank you for contributing to our little project. Your conclusion...





Just as Arianne adopts some of Sansa's subtlety at the end of her captivity in AFFC, perhaps we can expect to see Sansa adopt some of Arianne's gamesmanship, and maybe even some of her views on women in power. Sansa is positioned now with a potential confidant in Myranda Royce, who seems politically aware and sexually liberal. I think it's quite possible we could see a repeat of Arianne's plot to steal away and crown Myrcella, either with Robert Arryn being stolen away from Littlefinger, or the potential Queen Sansa herself stolen away from Littlefinger.




... is interesting. Do you have more thoughts to elaborate on this point? We've often discussed this eventuality in the PtP in one way or another, and I'd be interested to hear how you envision this playing out.


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Great essay, Onion. I'd never thought to compare Sansa/Robb and Arianne/Quentyn before, and this was an interesting read. I like all of the parallels you've drawn.

Your speculation about the future intrigued me the mostI'm very curious to see where Dany, Sansa, and Arianne all end up wrt being allies vs. enemies. If Arianne aligns herself with Dany as you've suggested, where exactly will that leave Sansa in the end? All three women seem poised to potentially inherit some sort of power in Westeros.

Your conclusion...

... is interesting. Do you have more thoughts to elaborate on this point? We've often discussed this eventuality in the PtP in one way or another, and I'd be interested to hear how you envision this playing out.

^ Agreed, I'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on this.

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have really enjoyed these latest essays, I loved the San/Arya one as I really do see them as loving sisters who will be united as the story moves forward, I don't feel their earlier sibling quarrels are a true reflection of their feelings for one another. I really enjoyed the analysis of sansa's dresses too very well done and intriguing. And this last one was an eye opener. I do enjoy the PTP threads so much. Thank you all.

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Continuing the Female Influences series, I'm very honored to present the following:

The Sun and the Moon:

The Sisterhood of Sansa and Arya Stark

When thinking of Sansa and Arya Stark readers often tend to see them as opposites, from their first scene to their last. Though this opposition of characters is undeniable, it doesn’t mean that opposites have to be always in conflict. A complementary interpretation is possible, as the following incident illustrates:

In AGoT, chapter 65, Arya wonders why Sansa is on the steps of the Great Sept as their father is brought before the mob, and why she looks "so happy." The reader knows that Sansa has used her courtesy and her pretty words, a lady's armour and weapon, to buy her father's life:

"As it please Your Grace, I ask mercy for my father, Lord Eddard Stark, who was

Hand of the King." She had practiced the words a hundred times. […] King

Joffrey looked her up and down. "Your sweet words have moved me." He said

gallantly, nodding, as if to say all would be well. "I shall do as you ask … but

first your father has to confess …" AGoT, chapter 57

When it becomes clear that Joffrey is ordering Ned's execution, Arya

... threw herself into the crowd, drawing Needle […] Arya slashed at them with

Needle […] She could still hear Sansa screaming.

At first glance these are two very different reactions to the same situation: Sansa— accommodating and sensitive, attempts to create a shield for her father, while Arya— belligerent and headstrong, would use her sword to defend him. On closer examination, the two girls doing exactly the same thing: using their individual talents in an effort to defend and save their father's life. Their talents and actions in this situation are complementary, but their objective is the same.

Sisterhood refers to the relationship of two females who share a parent or parents. But a secondary definition of the word is "the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns." While GRRM admittedly created Arya and Sansa as complementary characters (SSM), I propose that the shared bond of their sisterhood has embedded a blueprint in the arc of each girl, that their arcs and the roads each has to travel after their parting in King's Landing move in tandem each to the other, along seemingly opposite paths, but progressing towards a common outcome: reunion with their family and the reformation of the pack. Ned's words to Arya in AGoT chapter 22 reflect the values the girls were raised with, which will affect this outcome:

"Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snows fall and the

white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. Summer is the time

for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm,

share our strengths. So if you must hate, Arya, hate those who would truly do

us harm … Sansa is your sister. You may be as different as the sun and the

moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she

needs you …"

From the beginning, we are alerted to the differences between the two girls:

"Sansa's work is as pretty as she is," Septa Mordane told their lady mother

once. "She has such fine, delicate hands." […] "Arya has the hands of a

blacksmith." AGoT, chapter 7

Sansa even points out the difference to Cersei, in a moment of self defence:

"I'm not like Arya," Sansa blurted. "She has the traitor's blood, not me. I'm

good…" AGoT, chapter 51

Yet, are they really so different? Septa Mordane, she of the blacksmith hands analogy, has this sentiment for Sansa, who loved Lady as much as Arya loved Nymeria:

"You're a good girl, Sansa, but I do vow that when it comes to that creature

you're as willful as your sister Arya." AGoT, chapter 15

Even in their occasional indifference to each other, there are similarities:

"It was not until later that night, as she was drifting off to sleep, that Sansa

realized she had forgotten to ask about her sister." AGoT, chapter 51

Not to be outdone, Arya initially spares no thought for her sister once she escapes the horrors of King's Landing:

"when at last she slept, she dreamed of home … She yearned to see her

mother again, and Robb and Bran and Rickon . . . but it was Jon Snow she

thought of most." ACoK, chapter 1

Shortly we see both girls having thoughts of their home and the "pack", coupled with assertions of their defenses:

What was it that Septa Mordane used to tell her? A lady's armour is her

courtesy, that was it. She donned her armour and said, "I'm sorry my lady

mother took you captive, my lord."

[…]

Once she had loved Prince Joffrey with all her heart, and admired and trusted

his mother, the queen. They had repaid that love and trust with her father's

head. Sansa would never make that mistake again. ACoK, chapter 2

Sansa resolves to armour herself in courtesy, steeling her heart against the girlish love and admiration that once filled it. While for Arya we see a resolution to stand fast with sword in hand:

It made her sad to think of Sansa and her father.

[…]

If she was a real water dancer, she would go out there with Needle and kill all

of them, and never run from anyone ever again

[…]

Arya wouldn't let them die for her like Syrio. She wouldn't! Shoving through the

hedge with Needle in hand, she slid into a water dancer's stance. ACoK, chapter 5

As Yoren leads her towards Harrenhal, Arya's hope that she will find someone to rescue her sounds like an echo of her sister:

That was what knights did; they kept you safe, especially women.

ACoK, chapter 14

We know Sansa has long believed in true knights, and while she still hopes, we begin to see the cracks in her conviction:

Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women and fight for the right,

but none of them did a thing.

ACoK, chapter 32

"True knights protect the weak."

He snorted. "There are no true knights, no more than there are gods." […]

Wordless, she fled … There are gods, she told herself, and there are true

knights too. All the stories can’t be lies.

ACoK, chapter 52

Arya's hope begins to fade as well after she is taken by The Mountain's men:

By the time she marched, Arya knew she was no water dancer […]Syrio would

never have sat silent in that storehouse, nor shuffled along meekly with the

other captives. The direwolf was the sigil of the Starks, but Arya felt more a

lamb, surrounded by a herd of other sheep. ACoK, chapter 26

In ACoK, chapter 18, Sansa receives a mysterious message saying "Come to the godswood if you want to go home." Her thoughts at first are full of fear of betrayal, yet she resolves to go:

"If it is some trap, better that I die than let them hurt me more."

Over the course of several months, Sansa meets Ser Dontos in the godswood of the Red Keep, forging an alliance that she believes will take her home to Winterfell once and for all. During those months, we hear the following words in her internal monologue on more than one occasion echoing the resolve she felt on her visit, "I can be brave." In fact, Sansa tells herself to "be brave" so many times in her final chapters in King's Landing, it seems to have become her mantra.

By the time she flees King's Landing in ASoS chapter 61, Sansa's emotional shield is fully functional. Her internal monologue has grown increasingly rebellious, while the façade she presents to the world is all courtesy and pleasant words. As Tyrion tells her, "You hide behind courtesy as if it were a castle wall." Yet as she flees, she feels her skin has turned "to porcelain, to ivory, to steel…"

Meanwhile at Harrenhal, Arya has been finding her courage and visiting the godswood as well. Arya uses her time in front of the heart tree to practice her needlework, recite her ever growing litany of judgement, and pray:

I was a sheep, and then I was a mouse, I couldn't do anything but hide […]

Jaqen made me brave again. He made me a ghost instead of a mouse.

ACoK, chapter 26

Help me you old gods …Help me get those men out of the dungeon so we can

kill Ser Amory, and bring me home to Winterfell. Make me a water dancer and

a wolf and not afraid again, ever.

ACoK, chapter 47

Arya finds her prayers answered in the form of Jaqen and weasel soup. Sansa's prayers for delivery seem to be answered by Ser Dontos. But prayers, as we soon see, can be answered in unexpected ways. While Dontos ultimately spirits Sansa away, it is not yet to Winterfell; and while Jaqen does help Arya to free the northmen, which leads to the death of Amory Lorch, and is indeed the agency that allows Arya to rediscover her identity and conquer her fear, neither are Arya's prayers for home answered. Both girls are set to move into a new phase of their journeys, but in paying homage to the gods of their father each has strengthened their gift-- the shield has become steel, and the sword arm stiffened.

The next major settings in the arcs of the two girls are Braavos and the Vale. In the interim, between godswoods and the destinations, each forms a brief alliance with a faction that may one day prove fortuitous: Arya with the Brotherhood without Banners and Sansa with the Tyrells. During these brief interludes (a matter of weeks really) both girls complete a reconnection with their "Stark family values."

Bravery:

Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?

That is the only time a man can be brave

Eddard to Bran, AGoT, chapter 1

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

ASoS, chapter 28

I must be brave, like Robb…

ASoS, chapter 59

... she felt calmer than she ever had in Harrenhal. The rain had washed the

guard's blood off her fingers, she wore a sword across her back, wolves were

prowling through the dark like lean grey shadows, and Arya Stark was unafraid.

ASoS, chapter 3

Honesty:

You never could lie for love nor honor, Ned Stark.

Robert Baratheon, AGoT, chapter 30

My father always told the truth […]

Joffrey is a monster. He lied about the butcher's boy and made Father kill my

wolf. When I displease him he has the Kingsguard beat me.

ASoS, chapter 6

"You are very beautiful, Sansa," he told her.

"It is good of you to say so my lord." She did not know what else to say. Should

I tell him he is handsome? He'll think me a fool or a liar. She lowered her gaze

and held her tongue.

ASoS, chapter 28

Arya, being younger, struggles with the moral implications of her survival instinct. I found this line reminiscent of Ned's "there were some secrets it was too dangerous to share":

Arya told of Yoren and their escape from King's Landing as well, and much that

had happened since, but she left out the stableboy she'd stabbed with Needle,

and the guard whose throat she'd cut to get out of Harrenhal. Telling Harwin

would be like telling her father, and there were some things she could not bear

having her father know.

ASoS, chapter 17

Leadership:

Her father used to say that a lord needed to eat with his men, if he hoped to

keep them. "Know the men who follow you," she heard him tell Robb once,

"and let them know you. Don't ask your men to die for a stranger."

AGoT, chapter 22

"Another lesson you should learn, if you hope to sit beside my son. Be gentle

on a night like this and you'll have treasons popping up all about you like

mushrooms after a hard rain […] The only way to keep your people loyal is to

make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy."

"I will remember, Your Grace," said Sansa, though she had always heard that

love was a surer route to the people's loyalty than fear. If I'm ever a queen, I'll

make them love me.

ACoK, chapter 60

"Don't be afraid," she told them loudly. "The queen has raised the drawbridge.

This is the safest place in the city. There's thick walls, the moat, the spikes …"

[…]

Sansa went to to Ser Lancel and knelt beside him […] "Help him," Sansa

commanded two of the serving men.

ACoK, chapter 62

Arya took the lead, kicking her stolen horse to a brisk heedless trot […] Arya

kept them moving at a slow steady pace.

ASoS, chapter 3

Judgment:

The blood of the First Men still flows in the veins of the Starks, and we hold to

the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword […] If

you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his

final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not

deserve to die.

AGoT, chapter 2

But when the septon climbed on high and called upon the gods to protect and

defend their true and noble king, Sansa got to her feet. […] Let his sword break

and his shield shatter, Sansa thought coldly as she shoved out through the

doors, let his courage fail him and every man desert him.

ACoK, chapter 57

Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Polliver, Raff the Sweetling, The Tickler and the Hound. Ser

Ilyn, Ser Meryn, King Joffrey, Queen Cersei…

Arya's oft-repeated litany of judgement changes somewhat by the end of Storm:

Ser Gregor the Mountain… Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn and

Queen Cersei […] she was glad [Joffrey] was dead, but she wished she could

have been there to see him die, or maybe kill him herself. " ASoS, chapter 74

(emphasis mine)

Both girls have yet to complete their journey to fulfill this particularly ideal but their thoughts, cold and unyielding as the north itself, indicate they understand the Stark concept of righteous judgement.

Loyalty:

Their thoughts about Robb and their faith in his prevailing over his enemies are strikingly similar:

Robb will beat him, Sansa thought. He beat your uncle and your brother Jaime, he’ll beat your father too. Sansa, ACoK, chapter 32

Robb will kill you all, she thought, exulting. Sansa, ACoK, chapter 32

Robb has beaten them every time. He’ll beat Lord Baelish too, if he must. Sansa, ACoK, chapter 65

If the Lannisters hurt Bran and Rickon, Robb will kill them every one. He’ll never bend the knee, never, never, never. He’s not afraid of any of them. Arya, ACoK, chapter 64

"The Lannisters will soon have Riverrun under siege."

Robb will beat them.Arya, ASoS, chapter 43

In AFfC chapter 6, Arya arrives in Braavos and her thoughts turn to Winterfell, but only for half a heartbeat. Telling herself that all is lost, she determines that she doesn't need her pack:

But that was stupid. Her home was gone, her parents dead, and all her brothers

slain but Jon Snow on the Wall […] Arya never seemed to reach the place she

set out to reach […] what good had friends ever done her? I don't need any

friends, so long as I have Needle.

Yet, much as we will see with Alayne, Arya's inner thoughts are often at odds with what she says aloud or even what she wishes to think. She continues to think about Winterfell, about Old Nan and Maester Luwin and her family even as she tells herself she will not. And we know that for her Needle is

... Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and father, even Sansa… Winterfell's

grey walls, and the laughter of its people… the summer snows, Old Nan's

stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell

of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her

room… Jon Snow's smile. AFfC, chapter 22

As Arya beholds the Titan at close range, she is awed by its scale “He could step right over the walls of Winterfell,” and when Yorko Terys delivers her to the steps of the House of Black and White, she affirms her Stark identity:

I am a wolf, and will not be afraid.”

After she enters, she reveals who she is:

"I am Arya, of House Stark."

"You are," he said, "but the House of Black and White is no place for Arya, of

House Stark."

"Please," she said, "I have no place to go."

She stubbornly clings to her identity, to her Stark qualities and her memories, in spite of being told she must abandon them. And her observation about Braavos' Titan has a very interesting parallel with what is happening with her sister in the Vale.

Sansa arrives at the Eyrie at the end of Storm with no illusions that her aunt is little better than the Lannisters, with the intention of marrying her to her son to take advantage of her claim. Her thoughts are also full of Winterfell, home and her lost family, though she also spends much time thinking that she must be Alayne. Her first chapter to open at the Eyrie begins with a dream of home, of sharing a room with her sister. It continues with the oft discussed snow castle. In terms of connection with her sister's arc, one line stands out:

...he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels

in the middle of the yard. ASoS, chapter 80

In the aftermath, as Sansa is escorted by Marillion to Lysa her thoughts echo Arya’s on the steps of the HoBaW:

I am a Stark of Winterfell, she longed to tell him. Instead she nodded, and let him escort her down the tower steps and along a bridge.

Later, as Lysa drags Sansa to the Moon Door, we have echoes of Arya in Harrenhal, contrasted with Cat's bravery:

"You squeak like a mouse now, but you were bold enough in the garden,

weren't you? […] Your mother was brave at least." ASoS, chapter 80

When Petyr arrives, a ranting Lysa tells him:

"Why did you bring her to the Vale, Petyr? This isn't her place. She doesn't

belong here." ASoS, chapter 80

In her new phase, Arya begins honing the skills foreshadowed with her "needlework", while Sansa continues to develop her own foreshadowed by her “armour of courtesy”—her diplomacy and kindness, and her social and political skills. The parallels identified above, and the continued similarities in their thoughts, illustrate that their arcs, while different in approach, continue in a complementary direction.

Both Sansa and Arya assume new identities at this stage. As Alayne and No One they must present these new identities flawlessly to the world, for their own survival. But in spite of continued self-assurance that they are indeed becoming those characters, both remain Starks in their hearts:

I am not your daughter, she thought. I am Sansa Stark, Lord Eddard's daughter

and Lady Catelyn's , the blood of Winterfell. AFfC, chapter 10

"Who are you?" he would ask every day.

"No one," she would answer, she who had been Arya of House Stark, Arya

Underfoot, Arya Horseface. She had been Arry and Weasel too, and Squab and

Salty. Nan the cupbearer, a grey mouse, a sheep, the ghost of Harrenhal … but

not for true, not in her heart of hearts. In there she was Arya of Winterfell, the

daughter of Lord Eddard Stark and Lady Catelyn, who had once had brothers

named Robb and Bran and Rickon, a sister named Sansa, a direwolf named

Nymeria, a half-brother named Jon Snow. AFfC, chapter 22

As Sansa concludes her stay in the Eyrie, she focuses on presenting Alayne Stone to the world, telling herself:

I must be Alayne all the time, inside and out.

AFfC, chapter 41

And yet she is still demonstrates Stark qualities:

Bravery: "So you're brave as well as beautiful," Myranda said to her

Honesty: "Almost, I said. I saw you…"

Leadership: Alayne knew she dare not wait for Mya to return. She helped the boy

dismount, and hand in hand they walked out onto the bare stone saddle...

Judgment: One of the squires sniggered, until she said, "Terrance, lay out his

lordship's riding clothes and his warmest cloak. Giles, you may clean up that

broken chamber pot." (A minor point of justice, but a judgment nonetheless)

Arya is also focused on being No One, more importantly on not being Arya of House Stark. Yet she is still the night wolf, and her experiences with the cats of Braavos prove she cannot leave her identity wholly behind. As well, she remains a Stark. Her bravery is beyond question, she is learning to speak truth while hiding her innermost thoughts, and in learning to follow the FM learns a valuable in leadership.

As for judgment, she remembers a lesson learned from her father early in life:

The girl was not sorry, though. Dareon had been a deserter from the Night's

Watch; he deserved to die.

Last we see Sansa she is poised for the next phase, possibly one that will bring some moral ambiguity through her continued association with Petyr Baelish, but one that seems to be moving her closer to home, to Winterfell. Her sister as well is moving on to a new phase. Her conflict is clear as she is about to begin an unknown apprenticeship under the auspices of the Faceless Men. But it's also clear that she is unable to fully abandon her true self and her memories of home.

The sun and the moon, the shield and the sword do not exist without each other but move in concert, each complementing the other. So do these sisters. To paraphrase the words of GRRM: they have issues to work out, but they need each other. One day we hope they will meet again to prove that the solidarity of sisterhood can overcome even the most diametrically different personalities.

But when the septon climbed on high and called upon the gods to protect and

defend their true and noble king, Sansa got to her feet. […] Let his sword break

and his shield shatter, Sansa thought coldly as she shoved out through the

doors, let his courage fail him and every man desert him.

ACoK, chapter 57

Sword breaking--Jaime losing his sword hand

Shield shattering--Sandor leaving KL and the Kingsguard

Losing his courage--Cersei running out of the banquet hall to fetch Joffrey from the mud gate

Every man deserting him--by the end of ASoS, Joffrey's personality is enough to worry his grandfather and invite comparisons with Aerys II from Tyrion. He is poisoned at his own wedding, in a plot that involves the Tyrells, his new allies and Littlefinger, his Master of Coin and now Lord Paramount of the Riverlands and the Vale; Jaime, his natural father and the commander of his Kingsguard, is making plans to rescue the Stark girls with Brienne's help; Sandor is being nursed at the Quiet Isle and Tyrion, who is wrongfully accused of killing Joffrey, has escaped, killing his father.

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I was struck by the conflict being represented by gown colors and not dragon colors which led me to reflect on Littlefinger's comment about the War of the Three Queens. Given that this is part of the Women in Power series and the original Dance was fought over whether of not a woman could wield the power of the Iron Throne, it seems worth reflecting upon. I don't think Sansa, Arianne, and Dany are the three queens LF was thinking of at the time, but they do seem likely to be the three queens in a three way dragon war. LF probably has heard about Dany but nothing about the siege in Meereen screams I'm coming to Westeros. He's likely never heard of Aegon so I can't see him seeing a Queen Arianne on the horizon. While Cersei is rather focused on her lack of rights to rule, she hungers for a throne for which she has no real claim. Sansa has a very real claim to Queen of the North in her own right as does Dany to the Iron Throne. Arianne is in line to rule Dorne in her own right and may be faced with a choice to give that up to be a king's queen. A Sansa, Dany, and Arianne dynamic would involve three women with real claims to rule in their own right. Cersei and Margaery are both marriage usurpers of a sort who clearly have no claim to the power they seek to wield. I do think we'll see a War of the Three Queens, and which of those five likely candidates fill the roles will give us a very different commentary on women in power. I suspect Dany, Sansa and Arianne and of those three I think Sansa and Arianne probably have the most interesting arcs to contrast. (Dany has fine potential too just fewer direct parallels.)

Interesting suppositions, Rag. I tend to think that LF was talking about Dany as one of the candidates when he mentioned the war of the three queens, and it's very possible that the last news he could have heard about Daenerys was the sack of Astaphor and her gaining a slave army in her conquest. Concerning the dynamics between the three (Arianne, Dany and Sansa), it may come down not only to political claims, but what kind of personal relationships can be fostered. Not necessarily on an inter-personal basis, but a kind of sympathetic understanding or identification. Right now, based on what we've seen in the TWOW spoiler,

this doesn't look appear likely to happen between Arianne and Dany:

The secret pact that Prince Doran had made all those years called for Arianne to be wed to Prince Viserys, not Quentyn to Daenerys. It had all come undone on the Dothraki sea, when he was murdered. Crowned with a pot of molten gold. "He was killed by a Dothraki khal," said Arianne. "The dragon queen’s own husband."

"So I’ve heard. What of it?"

"Just… why did Daenerys let it happen? Viserys was her brother. All that remained of her own blood."

"The Dothraki are a savage folk. Who can know why they kill? Perhaps Viserys wiped his arse with the wrong hand."

Perhaps, thought Arianne, or perhaps Daenerys realized that once her brother was crowned and wed to me, she would be doomed to spend the rest of her life sleeping in a tent and smelling like a horse. "She is the Mad King’s daughter," the princess said. "How do we do know — "

"We cannot know," Ser Daemon said. "We can only hope."

Despite Arianne's own conflicted relationship with Quentyn, she seems to automatically assume the worst about Dany and Viserys. Perhaps it will take Sansa, the only one of the three to have a positive relationship with her brother(s) and not actively pressing a claim, to act as a mediator in the coming conflict, if she does not ally directly with Dany. Unlike Arianne, Sansa has been known before to show compassion to those dealing with deranged, unstable brothers.

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Since this thread has alarming rate of brilliant posts to read, one has to take time and read each of them carefully. So, for this time, I apologize for a petite derailment, but I have to focus on Lady Gwyn's analysis of Sansa and Arya.


The sun and the moon, the shield and the sword do not exist without each other but move in concert, each complementing the other. So do these sisters. To paraphrase the words of GRRM: they have issues to work out, but they need each other. One day we hope they will meet again to prove that the solidarity of sisterhood can overcome even the most diametrically different personalities.

Before anything, Lady Gwyn, allow me to congratulate you on this amazing work of yours... I really have become to enjoy everything you write for it has such beautiful simplicity in tackling such complex situations and issues. It is truly a talent many of us want to have, but alas...

Now, the conclusion, as the premise is rather interesting. Complementarity in both Stark girls' storyarcs is something that is wonderfully presented to us by GRRM, and one has to wonder how different the girls actually are. I have seen many analyses across the boards that narrowly debated about girls' interests, different reactions, etc. Those analyses, IMHO, never dug deep enough to comprehend that even in opposing each other, Stark girls are in many ways getting together... Something like magnetic poles where the different charge is what brings two sides together. So, as you have brilliantly pointed out, even in those distinctions (and to be clear, there are many), there is a certain complementarity that needs to be analyzed and have in mind for future events.

Ned's own paradigm for girls' distinction, sun and moon, is many times enhanced through many ways. Interestingly enough, in AGOT, Arya names her direwolf pup after Nymeria, Rhoynar Warrior Queen who has been one of the ancestors of House Martell. Sansa's story has been filled with the moonlight symbolism that wonderfully enhances her wolf nature. In terms of their wolf natures, and as butterbumps and me separately noted, and agreed upon, the continuation of that line is also extremely important - "you have the same (wolf) blood" The point of this distinction and unison in such juxtaposed manner is to simply remind us, that above all differences, above all interests, and small things that separate sisters, they are sisters and that is all that counts. GRRM has been quite diligent in presenting us different natures of the wolf kin, and so we got Brandon/Eddard wonderful parallel that IMO, puts to end the shallow discussion about Sansa not being of the North. Also, complementarity in their storyarcs is beautifully presented through what we know about Lyanna Stark (which I hope we will be discussing in the near future, when Gods give me a bit of time to sort my thoughts and put them on paper).

Also, quick biology wolf thingy regarding the girls, which is rather important in the talk about complementarity. From female POV, Sansa would be the alpha female, and Arya would be a solid beta(just remember the Winterfell feast). But, in terms solely of the girls, the male POV reverses their roles, and Arya would be alpha, and Sansa omega. But, as any good wolf biologist would say, no pack is complete without both alpha and omega... So, no pack is complete without all members, and Stark pack simply can't survive without both girls...

Gwyn mentioned us "sword and shield" pattern, but the notion is rather transcendental on many metaphors in ASOIAF. I once discussed about Sansa being icy cold and Arya a blizzard in terms of winter, but we always come back to how essentially there is something quite similar in both sisters. Look about their ability to love. They both love passionately and undoubtedly, ready to do everything for love. Sansa got the romantic notion too, while Arya got solely the family love. But the very same passion Arya feels for her family is the passion Sansa once felt for Joffrey, when she made that tragic mistake. Then we should remember the wedding. Many have argued that Arya would scream, yell and make a scene before the wedding, while Sansa went quietly. But, at the end, just as Arya's scandalous nature would be resounding "no", Sansa did the same with her refusal to kneel. At the end, effect is the same.

Finally, as Gwyn wonderfully concluded, the girls are different in many ways, and Ned was essentially right. But, beyond all of that, deep down, they have the same core. The core inherited and strengthen by the bonds that can't be broken that easily. And that is what is most impressive in discussing the girls.

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Sansa and Robb

Early on in GoT, both Sansa and Robb are positioned as rising power players. Robb will one day be Lord of Winterfell, and is left as de facto Lord after the departure of Ned first and later Catelyn to King's Landing. Sansa is betrothed to Joffrey to one day reign as Queen and become one of the most powerful women in the Seven Kingdoms. This, of course, is all ultimately set awry.

Arianne and Quentyn

Arianne offers one of the more aggressive critiques of the gendered power structure that we see in the series. Having read a letter some time ago from Doran to Quentyn referring to him one day ruling Dorne, she believes Doran means to disinherit her and give Dorne to Quentyn instead, which she will not allow. In AFFC she plots to crown Myrcella Queen of the Seven Kingdoms as the eldest living child of Robert and Cersei, while also defending her birthright to become Princess of Dorne after her father's death. In doing so she seeks to confirm Dornish law in Dorne as well as expand it across the whole of the Seven Kingdoms. In the process she means to take revenge against the Iron Throne for past injustices. She is nothing if not ambitious. Her plan, of course, fails, and she learns that Doran did not mean to disinherit her but instead to make her Queen through Viserys.

Quentyn's journey is less ambitious in terms of critiquing gendered power structure, although it is noteworthy that he seeks to empower himself through a woman. His journey is, however, astoundingly ambitious in terms of 'what-the-hell-were-you-thinking' gall. He crosses the Narrow Sea and joins up with a sellsword company to reach Slaver's Bay before defecting to propose marriage to Daenerys, in lieu of Viserys' death and the broken contract between him and Arianne. Upon being spurned, he plots to steal her dragons. His plan, too, fails.

The Lot of Them: Unwitting Sibling Rivalry

Both Sansa and Arianne spend time plotting their own liberation ...

Given the previous paralleling of Sansa and Arianne's arcs- both have fathers who neglect to deal with them candidly, both make plots that ultimately lead them to captivity ...

It occurs to me that the downfall of both Sansa and Robb was in following their infatuations to a point where it led them straight into harm's way. Sansa with Joffrey, and Robb with Jeyne Westerling. The situations were very different of course, but it makes me wonder if (coupled with Jon's tryst with Ygritte, and Lyanna's you-know-what) this is a sort of common Stark trait: some sort of mad, doomed passion.

Of all things, I would find that to be the closest parallel with Arianne, aside from being a beautiful firstborn daughter chafing and the restraints imposed by a careful father. Sansa, prior to Ned's capture & death, was somewhat ambitious too, but Sansa was self-consciously the "good girl" while Arianne definitely plays the game as a "bad girl".

Sadly, Quentyn and Robb both are boys who are not led by ambition, but dutifully take on a man's / lord's / king's burdens, and ultimately end up dead as a result.

The idea of Arianne becoming more like Sansa, and Sansa more like Arianne is interesting. They seem like opposite ends of a spectrum, but perhaps the net effect of their bad experiences was that it taught them to moderate their behavior out of necessity.

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I was struck by the conflict being represented by gown colors and not dragon colors which led me to reflect on Littlefinger's comment about the War of the Three Queens. Given that this is part of the Women in Power series and the original Dance was fought over whether of not a woman could wield the power of the Iron Throne, it seems worth reflecting upon. I don't think Sansa, Arianne, and Dany are the three queens LF was thinking of at the time, but they do seem likely to be the three queens in a three way dragon war. LF probably has heard about Dany but nothing about the siege in Meereen screams I'm coming to Westeros. He's likely never heard of Aegon so I can't see him seeing a Queen Arianne on the horizon. ... I do think we'll see a War of the Three Queens, and which of those five likely candidates fill the roles will give us a very different commentary on women in power. I suspect Dany, Sansa and Arianne and of those three I think Sansa and Arianne probably have the most interesting arcs to contrast. (Dany has fine potential too just fewer direct parallels.)

Interesting suppositions, Rag. I tend to think that LF was talking about Dany as one of the candidates when he mentioned the war of the three queens, and it's very possible that the last news he could have heard about Daenerys was the sack of Astaphor and her gaining a slave army in her conquest. Concerning the dynamics between the three (Arianne, Dany and Sansa), it may come down not only to political claims, but what kind of personal relationships can be fostered. Not necessarily on an inter-personal basis, but a kind of sympathetic understanding or identification.

I have thought that the "three queens" LF most likely refers to are Cersei, Margaery, and Myrcella. Of course, I think LF has heard about Daenerys to some degree, but the reason I think Myrcella was the reference was that I believe LF knew about Arianne's plotting to crown her. And the reason for that is that (as stated elsewhere) I think Darkstar could be an agent of Littlefinger. Maybe I am wrong in the timing of it, but Darkstar's sudden attack on Myrcella has all the hallmarks of a LF move, creating chaos and bloodshed which pits powerful groups bitterly against each other while he sits back as a third party. He told Sansa about making such moves which have no seeming motive, and Darkstar - like Lyn Corbray - seems just the sort of violent misfit he would employ.

(There's also the 7 Kings / 7 Queens theory to consider. I'll elaborate if anyone wants to know.)

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I have thought that the "three queens" LF most likely refers to are Cersei, Margaery, and Myrcella. Of course, I think LF has heard about Daenerys to some degree, but the reason I think Myrcella was the reference was that I believe LF knew about Arianne's plotting to crown her. And the reason for that is that (as stated elsewhere) I think Darkstar could be an agent of Littlefinger. Maybe I am wrong in the timing of it, but Darkstar's sudden attack on Myrcella has all the hallmarks of a LF move, creating chaos and bloodshed which pits powerful groups bitterly against each other while he sits back as a third party. He told Sansa about making such moves which have no seeming motive, and Darkstar - like Lyn Corbray - seems just the sort of violent misfit he would employ.

(There's also the 7 Kings / 7 Queens theory to consider. I'll elaborate if anyone wants to know.)

Myrcella would also be interesting since she's always been portrayed as more able than her younger brother which adds the whole birth vs. merit dynamic which was at the root of the Blackfyre Rebellions. The Wildling culture touches on it, Asha does too and it is also another facet of the women in power theme that seems to be emerging as a strong element in the next book. I don't suspect she's one of the queens simply because she isn't a POV though that doesn't rule her out of Littlefinger's list.

I had forgot about the time lag that Brash mentions, and a Dany raising an army and sacking cities could definitely make one believe she's returning to claim the throne. I do think LF is aware of Dany, just not Aegon. In some ways Dany and Sansa are the two more prominent figures since they've been with us from the beginning. Arianne is a grown woman when we meet her while we've seen Dany and Sansa grow up before us. Dany's isolation and orphan status do set her apart.

As a small aside, I wonder if Lyanna Mormont and Wylla Manderly are subtle hints toward the women in power theme-- children as the heralds of the next generation? There is an emergence of women in power who seem likely to play significant roles in the immediate future-- Lady Waynwood, the Queen of Thorns, Cersei, Margaery, Myrcella, Asha, Mormont women, Val, Lady Dustin even Lady Stoneheart. It definitely represents a shift from the opening of the series.

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