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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XXI

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Sorry about that - it had completely slipped my mind that this was the thread to be left open.


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Thanks Angalin :)




And thanks to all of you for your lovely comments on the TV series essay. It's well worth watching once you get past the "dated" vibe.






Definitely, I can see why GRRM would wish Perlman for the role of the Hound: he understands the nature and the psyche of the Beast in whichever of its incarnations, can get under its skin and convey to the viewer what lies beneath. I also wholeheartedly echo his admiration for how Martin reinterprets all the beasts into one, and he’s doing the same with the ASOIAF Beasts as we’ve discovered throughout the various analyses for the B&B project.






In all of Perlman's interviews on the show and his character, he's just so remarkably eloquent and very sensitive to Vincent's qualities and what made him a romantic hero. There's that innate nobility to the beast and the erotic appeal he possesses which I think Martin is able to play with and complicate so well in ASOIAF. Another quote that stayed with me was Koslow's point about Catherine and Vincent making love with an exchange of ideas and feelings. It's quite pertinent when considering how the intimacy between them slowly develops over time, and if we're applying it to Sandor and Sansa, the frankness that distinguishes their relationship right from the start.



@Lady Gwyn -- Vaes Dothrak, yes, that imagery comes to mind, and Harren the Black for Ozymandias perhaps?


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Male Influence Project

Sansa's Effect on Lancel Lannister

*snip*

Before the battle commenced, we saw the people of King's Landing singing together, a communal prayer to ward off the horrors of war.

Across the city, thousands had jammed into the Great Sept of Baelor on Visenya’s Hill, and they would be singing too, their voices swelling out over the city, across the river, and up into the sky. Surely the gods must hear us, she thought.

Sansa witnessed this, and the song she sings with the crowds is rather fitting to the Ballroom scene.

She knew the hymn; her mother had taught it to her once, a long time ago in Winterfell. She joined her voice to theirs.

Gentle Mother, font of mercy, save our sons from war, we pray, stay the swords and stay the arrows, let them know a better day. Gentle Mother, strength of women, help our daughters through this fray, soothe the wrath and tame the fury, teach us all a kinder way.

It's not unreasonable to think that soldiers injured or in frightening positions would have thoughts of the Mother, representing mercy. And Sansa embodied the qualities of the Mother when she helped Lancel. In AFFC, when Lancel is discussing the moment he became decidedly pious, he pinpoints the influence of the Mother with saving him.

*snip*

An excellent analysis yolk, and so well written. Sansa's effectiveness as a mother figure during her captivity in KL and the Eyrie is quite significant, and it's why I believe this role will be key to her empowerment in TWOW. Further, in light of the comparison you highlighted between Jaime and Lancel, it's very interesting to consider the "influence" Sansa has on the former too - "Sansa Stark is my last chance for honour" - and his sending Brienne on the quest to find her.

Concerning the section I pulled out above, I'm intrigued by how Sansa's physical assistance of Lancel prefigures her later spiritual recovery of the Hound, and also precipitates Lancel's conversion as you noted. Perhaps teasing out some Sandor/Lancel parallels might be worthwhile, especially noting the prevailing theory that Lancel will act as the Faith's champion against Ungregor.

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Male Influence Project

Sansa's Effect on Lancel Lannister

*snip*

Sansa's experiences with Lancel are one of the pieces of evidence for those who see the possibility of "Sansa The Redeemer".

Sansa may be destined to become a sort of saint figure, perhaps associated with healing and peacemaking. How supernatural this quality is may be in the eye of the beholder, but she does seem to have a positive effect on those whom she encounters - at least the ones who are not irredeemably evil (Joffrey, Cersei, etc., who seem enraged by her goodness).

GRRM has incorporated a lot of medieval elements into the fantasy world of ASOIAF (for example, that the Seven are meant as some sort of general analogue to Catholicism), but no such picture would be complete without saints, which are important to the whole style of worship. Sansa is just a girl we follow the story of, but at times it is almost as if to say "if you really met a saint, would you even realize this is what she was?" Perhaps this is how such legends get going - a fairly normal tale that simply expands with each telling - basic compassion (conflicted at that) becomes elevated to the point where the subjects purity and godliness grants her divine powers and purpose.

For example, consider two versions of her interaction with Lancel:

Version A - While a hostage during the battle of the Blackwater, she called for help for an injured knight who had been left to bleed on the floor in the panic and confusion, despite the misgivings she had about helping someone who was clearly not on her side and had treated her poorly. They got him to a maester and he barely survived.

Version B - Saint Sansa came upon a knight dying of his wounds, an arrogant young man who had scorned her as an enemy and committed many other vile sins. She laid her hands upon him, prayed to the Mother, and through her holy act of compassion he was healed. Moreover, when he awoke he was a changed man, who had repented of his sins and become pious, devoting his life to the Seven forevermore.

It may sound silly, since we know what the real story of Sansa has been, but compare this to the Elder Brother, the High Sparrow, and even Baelor the Blessed, and it is not so different (perhaps exaggerated & disputable). I suppose the difference is that in this fantasy fiction, there actually are supernatural elements at work - and perhaps Sansa's tale is meant to be one of them. (Crackpot theory time: perhaps the death of Lady was actually a sort of martyrdom of the innocent, ushering her into sainthood based in the Seven, instead of being a warg serving the Old Gods?)

Anyway, enough ramblings. As you say, Sansa's effect on Lancel was much more pronounced than his effect on her.

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I'm not so sure about this idea of "Saint Sansa" ever having any in-world relevance with regard to how people come to appreciate her character. Sansa has already gained a legendary reputation from her time in KL, and it's more notorious than glorious:



“I forgot, you’ve been hiding under a rock. The northern girl. Winterfell’s daughter. We heard she killed the king with a spell, and afterward changed into a wolf with big leather wings like a bat, and flew out a tower window..."


That's the kind of supernatural (badass) prestige she's gained, and interestingly, still involving Lady and her Northern identity too.


This is not to negate the very real value of Sansa's redeeming qualities from a meta-analysis perspective.

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An excellent analysis yolk, and so well written. Sansa's effectiveness as a mother figure during her captivity in KL and the Eyrie is quite significant, and it's why I believe this role will be key to her empowerment in TWOW. Further, in light of the comparison you highlighted between Jaime and Lancel, it's very interesting to consider the "influence" Sansa has on the former too - "Sansa Stark is my last chance for honour" - and his sending Brienne on the quest to find her.

Concerning the section I pulled out above, I'm intrigued by how Sansa's physical assistance of Lancel prefigures her later spiritual recovery of the Hound, and also precipitates Lancel's conversion as you noted. Perhaps teasing out some Sandor/Lancel parallels might be worthwhile, especially noting the prevailing theory that Lancel will act as the Faith's champion against Ungregor.

Thanks, brash, it was a pleasure!

Regarding the Faith's champion and the Warrior's Sons in general - it's worth noting that this path indicates Lancel has still not shaken off the (perhaps now) subconscious desire to be like Jaime. I hope the essay went some way to prove that Cersei's influence over Lancel was more fluid and, with the help of Sansa, easier to shed than Jaime's. Jaime makes a relevant point here...

And Lancel... I suppose we should have seen this coming from afar. A life protecting the High Septon is not so different from a life protecting the king, after all. Kevan will be wroth, I fear.

If Lancel does see himself as a capable warrior now, enough so to take on the frightening UnGregor, we should remember that he is not, and never will be, anything like the fighter Jaime was. With both Cersei and Tyrion noting that Lancel is ultimately a poor excuse for a Jaime-a-like, i would be very pessimistic about his chances against Qyburn's monster. Despite the dramatic effect Sansa might have had on him during their brief interactions as a female influence, perhaps it will be Lancel's inability to reset his desire to resemble his male influence that will be his downfall.

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Lancel is almost sure about the incest. He thinks Cersei is guilty so the gods should find her guilty in the trial by combat. Plus he became an utter fool after his devotion to the Faith. I also think that the Faith is somehow manipulated by Varys, who wants nothing but chaos to open the way to fAegon. I believe finding Cersei innocent and Margaery guilty is the most chaotic scenario, which will also give us the Faith Militant Uprising. To find Cersei innocent, Lancel is one of the best choices against UnGregor.


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Hi all. I just want to say how enjoyable these last few essays were. I am always amazed at how even after over 20 threads analyzing Sansa's story, there always seems to be some new insight to be gained. Thanks for some great reading!

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If Lancel does see himself as a capable warrior now, enough so to take on the frightening UnGregor, we should remember that he is not, and never will be, anything like the fighter Jaime was. With both Cersei and Tyrion noting that Lancel is ultimately a poor excuse for a Jaime-a-like, i would be very pessimistic about his chances against Qyburn's monster. Despite the dramatic effect Sansa might have had on him during their brief interactions as a female influence, perhaps it will be Lancel's inability to reset his desire to resemble his male influence that will be his downfall.

A salient point. The marriage to Gatehouse Ami may also provide some ominous foreshadowing, in that her first husband was killed by Gregor Clegane.

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I'm not so sure about this idea of "Saint Sansa" ever having any in-world relevance with regard to how people come to appreciate her character. Sansa has already gained a legendary reputation from her time in KL, and it's more notorious than glorious:

That's the kind of supernatural (badass) prestige she's gained, and interestingly, still involving Lady and her Northern identity too.

This is not to negate the very real value of Sansa's redeeming qualities from a meta-analysis perspective.

The wolf imagery was expected, but the rumour about Sansa has her growing the wings of a bat (rather than, say, a bird) makes her supposed abilities sounds like those of Count Dracula (who can transform into a wolf and into a bat) mixed with those of a witch (casting spells). Or it's a witch, werewolf and vampire imagery rolled into one.

GRRM seems to be drawing from popular monster archetypes when he writes the ludicrous rumours about the protagonists that circulate among the population that sees them as enemies. Dany gets an Elizabeth Bathory-inspired rumour (bathing in the blood of virgins to preserve her beauty), among other rumours, mostly of the sexual kind, which make her look like a classic female demon/seductress (sucking men's souls). IIRC, the rumours about Robb in King's Landing also had him as a werewolf figure who turns into a wolf and and he was also said to bathe in his enemies' blood, and the northmen were said to be cannibals.

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Lancel is almost sure about the incest. He thinks Cersei is guilty so the gods should find her guilty in the trial by combat. Plus he became an utter fool after his devotion to the Faith. I also think that the Faith is somehow manipulated by Varys, who wants nothing but chaos to open the way to fAegon. I believe finding Cersei innocent and Margaery guilty is the most chaotic scenario, which will also give us the Faith Militant Uprising. To find Cersei innocent, Lancel is one of the best choices against UnGregor.

Agreed. Plus, Kevan is dead, so whatever remained of the Tyrell-Lannister alliance is essentially gone, thanks to Cersei. Not sure how much influence Varys has on the Faith, but I imagine this is playing into his fAegon scenario very conveniently. But if Marg is pronounced guilty, will the Tyrells vouch for fAegon? Flee King's Landing? Attempt to kill Cersei and/or Tommen?

I also think that Cersei will pick Robert Strong and the Faith Lancel, and Lancel will obviously lose. But what if after the battle, Robert Strong is unmasked as the monster that Qyburn created? I don't see Cersei getting out of the trial that easily, and I think she's going to die in TWoW. I don't see her surviving all the way to ADoS.

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Just wanted to say Yolkboy I really enjoyed that essay. i don't think I had ever contemplated the relationship between Sansa & lancel, It would indeed seem that her influence upon him has been a contributing factor to his conversion.


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But if Marg is pronounced guilty, will the Tyrells vouch for fAegon? Flee King's Landing? Attempt to kill Cersei and/or Tommen?

fAegon does not need the Tyrells that much. He will secure the whole Stormlands to him and by marrying Arianne, he will have the Dornish spears as well. He certainly needs the Redwynes and Hightowers who are facing the ironborn threat. The Tyrells are not capable of helping them, so fAegon will take his forces to aid them and win them to his cause while Tyrells are fighting the Faith and alienating themselves in the eyes of the common folk. fAegon will appear as the champion of the Faith and saviour of the Citadel by defeating the ironborn.

I also think that Cersei will pick Robert Strong and the Faith Lancel, and Lancel will obviously lose. But what if after the battle, Robert Strong is unmasked as the monster that Qyburn created? I don't see Cersei getting out of the trial that easily, and I think she's going to die in TWoW. I don't see her surviving all the way to ADoS.

Cersei's trial will be seen first. Then the trial of Margaery will be handled. It will take some time because 7 judges will judge her and they will hear all the witnesses.

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The wolf imagery was expected, but the rumour about Sansa has her growing the wings of a bat (rather than, say, a bird) makes her supposed abilities sounds like those of Count Dracula (who can transform into a wolf and into a bat) mixed with those of a witch (casting spells). Or it's a witch, werewolf and vampire imagery rolled into one.

GRRM seems to be drawing from popular monster archetypes when he writes the ludicrous rumours about the protagonists that circulate among the population that sees them as enemies. Dany gets an Elizabeth Bathory-inspired rumour (bathing in the blood of virgins to preserve her beauty), among other rumours, mostly of the sexual kind, which make her look like a classic female demon/seductress (sucking men's souls). IIRC, the rumours about Robb in King's Landing also had him as a werewolf figure who turns into a wolf and and he was also said to bathe in his enemies' blood, and the northmen were said to be cannibals.

Good point. Also makes you wonder about the accuracy of those reports that Skagos has cannibals...

Agreed. Plus, Kevan is dead, so whatever remained of the Tyrell-Lannister alliance is essentially gone, thanks to Cersei. Not sure how much influence Varys has on the Faith, but I imagine this is playing into his fAegon scenario very conveniently. But if Marg is pronounced guilty, will the Tyrells vouch for fAegon? Flee King's Landing? Attempt to kill Cersei and/or Tommen?

I also think that Cersei will pick Robert Strong and the Faith Lancel, and Lancel will obviously lose. But what if after the battle, Robert Strong is unmasked as the monster that Qyburn created? I don't see Cersei getting out of the trial that easily, and I think she's going to die in TWoW. I don't see her surviving all the way to ADoS.

Well, Cersei will survive long enough for both Tommen and Myrcella to die, and to for the Valonqar to kill her. I have to say though, for all that to happen, Cersei is gonna need some serious plot armor at this point. Hell, that might be another problem for GRRM, in finishing TWoW; the damn prophecy is binding him down, when logic dictates that Cersei can't get out of KL alive.

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The wolf imagery was expected, but the rumour about Sansa has her growing the wings of a bat (rather than, say, a bird) makes her supposed abilities sounds like those of Count Dracula (who can transform into a wolf and into a bat) mixed with those of a witch (casting spells). Or it's a witch, werewolf and vampire imagery rolled into one.

GRRM seems to be drawing from popular monster archetypes when he writes the ludicrous rumours about the protagonists that circulate among the population that sees them as enemies. Dany gets an Elizabeth Bathory-inspired rumour (bathing in the blood of virgins to preserve her beauty), among other rumours, mostly of the sexual kind, which make her look like a classic female demon/seductress (sucking men's souls). IIRC, the rumours about Robb in King's Landing also had him as a werewolf figure who turns into a wolf and and he was also said to bathe in his enemies' blood, and the northmen were said to be cannibals.

Undoubtedly Martin knows how to craft his fantastical rumours, but the one on Sansa has to be placed specifically into the context of what she has endured so far as a captive of the Lannisters. The first time Sansa ever heard of any warging was went she was sent to court to answer for the "crimes" of her brother, a scene of acute terror and powerlessness on her part. This is why the idea that she turns into a wolf with wings and flies away after killing the king is relevant. Not because Martin is using "popular monster archetypes" but because this rumour attributes to Sansa both an agency that she was long denied, and reconnects to her to an important "power" of the current generation of Starks.

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This post is to announce that this iteration is the final one in the Pawn to Player series until the publication of new Sansa material in The Winds of Winter or a released sample chapter. We will be officially on hiatus until that time, after which we plan to return with more of the rereads and rethinks we have all come to love.



Speaking of love, the amount of appreciation and support you have all given to us throughout this journey has been phenomenal, and surely would satisfy Saint Valentine himself. Upon the recent completion of our last and longest-running projects, we find ourselves filled with the satisfaction of seeing this series through to its successful end, the payoff of long hours of research and careful writing by all of you collaborators, to whom we wish to extend a special word of gratitude for dedicating your time, energies and talent to broaden the scope of Sansa’s arc whilst at the same time making these threads as best and enjoyable as possible. In twenty-five months of existence, you’ve not left out any topic that could be connected even tangentially to Sansa’s storyline unexamined and undiscussed at one point or another, from psychological analyses to feminist theory to foreshadowing to fun crackpots, and all that falls in-between, so there’s all sorts of material to satisfy anyone’s interest.



We believe that at the root of the success and longevity of the Pawn to Player has been the fact that this was always a learning experience, both for us as the hosts, our long-standing members, and, we imagine, our many faithful lurkers. When the first thread was opened two years ago, the thought of converting it into a long-running and prolific series of threads dedicated to one character wasn’t a goal we had in mind; we did not set out to provide answers but to find them by means of a chapter-by-chapter critical re-read of all Sansa POVs, to unveil and rediscover things buried or that went unnoticed on a first read, and even in this our 21st iteration, that premise holds true.



Continuing its natural evolution, the Pawn to Player went from a thread for residual discussion stemming from the re-reads to the step-by-step building of what’d become its trademark: the in-depth essays about a determined topic. That in time resulted in a large number of pieces that we now display in the Resources master list, which we hope the next wave of readers will continue to find enjoyable and informative. This Resources section may seem like a juggernaut of established knowledge, but in truth, that too requires posters to approach the collected essays with an open mind, and a willingness to engage critically with the ideas deposited there. And of course, there is the rereads, which can be read from start to finish, or simply by selecting a chapter that you might desire a deeper analysis on. The reread was the starting point to all this, and it is integral to understanding the discussions and the work we pursued in during the rethinks.



Ultimately, we hope that the Pawn to Player's legacy will be that we began a more constructive and comprehensive analysis into Sansa's story, one that is not over by any means.



We hope you will join us again when the time is due to resume these threads.



With love,


Brashcandy and Milady of York.


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