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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XXI

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Good afternoon PtP!


To begin, I'd like to say how much I enjoyed brashcandy's essay above. Setting, especially in Sansa's arc, plays such an important role in ASoIaF as do the senses, all wonderful links to the gothic. In particular, the inclusion of the towers, and Milady of York's lovely follow up on the archetype of the princess in the tower segues neatly into a topic near and dear to me.


Some weeks ago, Milady of York asked me if I would be interested in submitting an Arthurian analysis of Sansa for PtP. I have written a series of short essays on the subject of Arthurian parallels here, but hadn't yet tackled Sansa. Sansa proved so rich in material that the resulting essay has outstripped anything I've previously posted in length and depth by a long margin. Many thanks to Milady for her advice and encouragement in this undertaking. It's truly been a pleasure! My lengthy essay will appear shortly in the following post.


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The Maiden in the Tower/Grail Maiden: An Arthurian reading of Sansa Stark

In mythology and legend, the tale of the abduction and captivity of a princess is an archetype that conveys one of the central mysteries of chthonic cults, that of rebirth and regeneration, at the same time that it reassuringly conveys the balance of masculine and feminine. At the narrative heart of the abduction myth is the theme of the captive princess. This tale becomes in the telling increasingly complex and distant from its chthonic origins. However, all tales of rescuing a damsel in distress have their roots here. Early in Sansa Stark's story arc she travels to King's Landing as the bethrothed of Prince Joffrey Baratheon and takes up residence in the Tower of the Hand. From there, as events progress, she becomes a captive in the upper reaches of Maegor's Holdfast. After a short period of release, which is spent as an unhappy wife, she is taken away once more, this time alighting (ultimately) in the Maiden's Tower of the Eyrie, from which she emerges during her final chapter in Feast. Our little bird has spent the final months of her girlhood in a cage, represented by a succession of towers. Her periods of controlled release, while in themselves stagnant, can be seen to represent the fruition of growth in her arc, as in this poignant reminder from Ser Osmund as she descends from her chamber in Maegor's for the final time:

"Do as you're told sweetling, it won't be so bad. Wolves are supposed to brave aren't they?" Brave. Sansa took a deep breath. I am a Stark, yes, I can be brave.

ASoS, chapter 28

Compare with her descent from the Eyrie where she has found a bravery of a different sort

Sansa Stark went up the mountain, but Alayne Stone is coming down … Alayne was an older woman, and bastard brave.

AFfC, chapter 41

The well-known story of Persephone, torn from her mother's protection by Hades, the god of the underworld and forced to remain as his wife for a part of each year after partaking of the symbolic pomegranate, is at once a tale of regeneration and balance. In the Persephone myth, Demeter spends the months of her captivity searching in vain for her daughter while the landscape (the fertility of which is dependent upon her, the goddess of the harvest) grows increasingly barren and lifeless. Persephone's ingestion of the pomegranate seeds ties her irrevocably to the underworld, and forces her annual return to her position as the consort of its ruler. We see echoes of this in Catelyn Stark, as Lady Stoneheart, searching in vain for her daughters in the wasteland that the Riverlands has become. Then too there is this scene that marks the beginning of Sansa’s second captivity

Petyr cut a pomegranate in two with his dagger, offering half to Sansa. “You should try and eat, my lady.” “Thank you, my lord.” Pomegranate seeds were so messy; Sansa chose a pear instead…

ASoS, chapter 68

In choosing the much less symbolically fraught pear, Sansa rejects the cyclical captivity of Persephone for a more temporary version.

We also find a version of the captive princess theme in H.C. Andersen's famous atmospheric tale The Snow Queen. In Andersen's story, the young boy Kai is taken by the wicked Snow Queen to her fortress in the far North where he is ultimately rescued by his innocent young friend Gerda, who proves the power of love to conquer evil. There is early foreshadowing of Sansa's role as the captive princess in AGoT and the tale of the Hand's Tourney. Cersei, who has yet to reveal her true colors to Sansa, quarrels publicly with Robert at the evening feast. Note the description of Cersei:

The queen's face was a mask, so bloodless that it might have been sculpted from snow.

AGoT, chapter 29

Here we are given clear notice that Cersei is hiding her true self (behind a mask) and her future role as captor in the description that so closely echoes the description of the Snow Queen when Kai first beholds her

She was delicate and beautiful but made of blinding, glimmering ice.

H.C. Andersen, The Snow Queen: Second Story

The union of Hades and Persephone can be seen as a hieros gamos, or sacred marriage, where the representative of the Earth annually marries a sacrificial king in order to secure a bountiful harvest, with the hidden, underground aspect of Hades representing the potential of fertility, while Persephone represents the culmination of fertility. The hieros gamos is present in many world cultures, perhaps most significantly in Britain, where some have speculated that the union of King Arthur and Gwenhwyfar draws on ancient British traditions involving the sacrificial king and the triple goddess, as evidenced by references to three Gwenhwyfars in the Welsh triads. All these tales hold in common the idea of a union between masculine and feminine which harks back to the earlier mysteries. But it is the tale of Arthur's Gwenhwyfar which represents the union of the chthonic themes of Persephone with the romantic notion of the damsel in distress. The Arthurian scholar Roger Sherman Loomis finds that behind the tradition of Gwenhwyfar's abduction by Melwas (alternatively Meleagant in Chretien's The Knight of the Cart) lay a myth of "the Persephone type" with the important distinction that Gwenhwyfar is held captive in a tower on an island that stands in for the fairy underworld of the early Welsh Arthurian tale The Spoils of Annwn. In The Knight of the Cart Meleagant challenges Arthur to send his Queen to him with a knight. If he defeats the knight in single combat, he will release a number of Arthur's subjects whom he holds captive. Arthur sends Gwenhwyfar with his foster brother Kay, who is defeated and Gwenhwyfar is seized and imprisoned. Gawain and Lancelot also set out, separately, to attempt a rescue. Gawain comes upon Lancelot walking behind a cart whose dwarf driver tells him to get in if he would have news of the Queen. Lancelot hesitates for two steps because the cart (or pillory) is a mode of transport reserved for criminals and not befitting a knight. He does mount, in most interpretations owning his treasonous affection for the Queen, and thereafter passes every test of his devotion to her. Ultimately he slays Meleagant and restores the Queen to her husband. Arthur however is diminished, in the same way the annual king of the hieros gamos must be as his year wanes. At the Tourney of the Hand we are introduced to Sandor as Sansa's rescuer, when Joffrey commands him to escort her back to the castle. During their brief journey together we learn that Sandor's early longing to be a knight has been transformed into utter scorn for the institution by his vicious brother's elevation to that rank. He has become instead the Lannisters' guard dog, illustrated by his "snarling" and "growling" speech. Yet he foreshadows his future as her personal knight errant when he climbs into the back of a cart with her and returns her to her father's protection. Just as the tale of The Knight of the Cart symbolizes Lancelot's willingness to stain his knightly honor in the defense of his true love, so Sandor's story starkly illustrates that true knights aren't necessarily without flaws and that rescue can come from places unlooked for.

Running in tandem with themes of sacred love, regeneration and rescue we have the Grail legend. While the sacred marriage tells of the need to maintain balance between masculine and feminine, the Grail legend tells of a distressingly out of balance relationship. Psychiatrist Emma Jung finds in the Grail legend a collective meditation on the particular problems of the medieval society-- that the masculine, in particular the warlike masculine, has been elevated at the expense of the feminine at the same time that the dark side of divinity has been denied. By stripping away the mysteries of the Earth mother and making sexuality something to be despised rather than revered and throwing up in its place the snow white image of the Virgin, whose "pure" procreation is at odds not only with the human psyche but with the very reality humans lived from day to day, medieval society (led by the Catholic church) created a psychic wound in the collective that could only be healed through a metaphoric journey to reclaim the feminine. In addition, the separation of light and dark in the divine element simultaneously led to a rift between the sacred and the profane that could not be resolved. To be fair, Jung never claims that the medieval mindset was aware of any such thing. Rather this is the work of a collective unconscious, which brings us to the image of the Grail castle. The Grail castle, according to Jung, can be seen as an expression of that archetypal concept of the unconscious. The Grail itself, hidden away in the castle, represents the Self, the spiritual experience of wholeness and the process of achieving balance between the conscious and unconscious which is present in all people. The Grail Maiden then is the guardian of Self, while the Fisher King (the Lord of the Castle) represents the wounded unconscious who must die or be healed for the good of the collective, or as Emma Jung put it "the Grail King is, as it were, the archetypal image of Christian man as he is viewed from the perspective of the unconscious." (Jung and von Franz, The Grail Legend)

In The Snow Queen, Kai receives two kisses from the enchantress. The first makes him forget the cold while the second makes him forget his family. To apply Jung’s ideas to Kai, he becomes lost in a wasteland, out of touch with his Self and with a deeply wounded consciousness. After Robert's death, with her father set to remove her and her sister from danger, Sansa disobeys her father and chooses the warmth of the south over the cold north of her birth by going to Cersei seeking help. She ends up a prisoner in the highest tower of Maegor's Holdfast while Lannisters arrest her father and slaughter his household. After her second audience with Cersei days later she is convinced to write letters to her family requesting their continued loyalty to King Joffrey. When she returns to her tower room that evening she realizes she has forgotten to ask about her sister. Sansa has received the equivalent of the boy’s two kisses from her own enchantress and become a prisoner in her heart as well as her body. The transformation is symbolically complete when Sansa, dressed in mourning (she has dyed her stained white gown black) kneels on the cast off Kingsguard cloak of Ser Barristan Selmy to plead for her father's life. Her innocent Self, represented by the white gown, has been wounded, as represented by the blood orange stain. Yet she covers this wound with black dye and presents herself to the Lannisters as their captive, kneeling on the symbol of their disregard for knightly honor (the cast off cloak) In truth, Sansa's life has gone from song to nightmare quicker than Littlefinger can remind her that life is not a song. So begins her season of despair and torment. Her chapters in Game end with Sandor saving her from pushing Joffrey off the ramparts, and a surprisingly tender moment as he wipes the blood, caused by Ser Meryn’s blows, from her face.

”Thank you,” she said when he was done. She was a good girl and always remembered her courtesies.

AGoT, chapter 67

Her disillusion is complete, but she has learned the valuable lesson that, pawn though she may be, she can find protection in a lady's courtesy.

While the tale of the Fisher King reimagines the hieros gamos, Perceval's quest represents the need to connect with the Self, to ask the questions that provide one with a numinous experience of one's inner center. That the numinous, or spiritual, must needs be a balance between masculine and feminine, light and dark is what has been lost. To accomplish his quest, he must save the Fisher King by asking the question which reveals the Grail ("Whom does the Grail serve?") Perceval takes many wrong turnings and fails to save the Fisher King on their first encounter. As renowned Jungian analyst Roger Woolger puts it: "The wound of the Fisher King is the medieval image of that damaged consciousness and the terrible alienation from the Earth Mother it has wrought."

Or to put it another way "The Christian fear of the pagan outlook has damaged the whole con­sciousness of Man." (D.H. Lawrence, Apocalypse)

The quest then, is a search for sensuality and balance that has been denied. Perceval, the pure simple youth in touch with the sensual, is the only Arthurian figure to truly achieve the Grail through his quest(ion)ing. (For more on Perceval and his parallels to Sandor, see this essay by Ragnorak.) On the eve of the Battle of the Blackwater Sansa’s relationship with the Hound comes full circle when he breaks during the inferno and seeks refuge in her chamber. In his extremity he offers to take her with him as he flees the city. She finally delivers the song he has been demanding, in that moment inverting their relationship and becoming his saviour, transforming herself from Gwenhwyfar (the captive) into the Grail maiden, the song representing the answer to the question he has asked her many times but not in the correct way until this moment. Sandor suffers from a psychological wound that terrifies her at the same that she possesses the sole power to heal it. It can be no accident that the proposed matches to Willas Tyrell and her cousin Robert Arryn (which precede the actual matches with Tyrion and Harry the Heir) will prompt her to begin to misremember her final meeting with Sandor, fabricating a romantic kiss where none existed. In a further inversion, Sansa now resembles The Snow Queen's Gerda, rather than the captive Kai:

"I can give her no greater power than she has already," said the woman; "don't you see how strong that is? How men and animals are obliged to serve her, and how well she has got through the world, barefooted as she is. She cannot receive any power from me greater than she now has, which consists in her own purity and innocence of heart. If she cannot herself obtain access to the Snow Queen, and remove the glass fragments from little Kai, we can do nothing to help her...

Andersen, The Snow Queen: Sixth Story

Sansa's arc in Clash is marked by the continuation of her torment at Joffrey's hands which at the same time brings about a period of growth and strengthening that can best be compared with Persephone's months outside of the Underworld of her husband. On the other hand, most of her chapters in Storm represent a period of stagnation which compares with Persephone's months of captivity with Hades. It is a time of waiting. She has moments of hope, but overall is in stasis- waiting to be whisked away first by Dontos, then by the Tyrells. After her forced marriage to Tyrion she seems resigned to her fate:

Tyrell or Lannister, it makes no matter, it's not me they want, only my claim.

ASoS, chapter 28

As Gwenhwyfar was rescued from Meleagant's tower by her white knight (Lancelot) only to be returned to her unhappy marriage, so is Sansa escorted to from Maegor's to her union with Tyrion by a pair of white knights (Ser Osmund and Ser Boros) For that matter, in her final descent from the Eyrie she is accompanied by Sweetrobin in his white bearskin cloak. Of note is that this chapter and her future descent from the Eyrie deal with the subject of Sansa's marriage and the Stark maiden cloak as a powerful symbol of her identity as Princess of Winterfell. In both, there is someone standing in stead of her father who does not have her best interest at heart. Also in both, the groom or proposed groom is a mere surrogate for a larger interest. Sansa has learned to her sorrow that those who wish to claim her are mostly interested in her real estate. The presence of the white cloaks in both chapters also serves to draw attention to the missing white cloak of the only masculine figure in her life who has no interest in her "claim" and stands as her true protector-- Sandor Clegane.

Joffrey's wedding day dawns with Sansa waking from a dream of Winterfell. When she looks out her window she sees an amazing castle in the clouds-- two castles actually, which soon merge and become one. Like another castle associated with Sansa, much analysis has been applied to this scene. In terms of Sansa's longing the merging of the two cloud castles into one which resembles her home can only represent her unconscious need to continue to be a Stark (her True Self) which is in contrast to her conscious thought moments later

They have made me a Lannister, Sansa thought bitterly.

ASoS, chapter 59

The end of the cloud castle passage is also highly reminiscent of this passage from The Waste Land:

"What is that sound high in the air

Murmur of maternal lamentation

Who are those hooded hordes swarming

Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth

Ringed by the flat horizon only

What is the city over the mountains

Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air

Falling towers

Jerusalem Athens Alexandria

Vienna London

Unreal "

T.S.Eliot

Sansa's own wasteland is her perpetual entrapment. Her unconscious longs for home and to rediscover her Self. Her conscious mind, in spite of brief moments of hope which reveal the Self waiting to be discovered, focuses on her continued captivity. Sansa's upset stomach on Joffrey's wedding morning can no doubt be attributed to nerves as we later learn that she has hidden clothing in the castle godswood, preparatory to her escape in the aftermath of the wedding. She goes to the Lannister wedding on the arm of her Lannister husband telling herself

I must be brave, like Robb

ASoS, chapter 59

The allusion to Robb holds high significance when the parallels with the RW are considered. Sansa has reached an ending, like her brother, and at this wedding a king will die and a new chapter will begin, furthering the parallels with the myth of sacrifice and regeneration.

As Sansa prepares to embark on her journey into the unknown with Dontos, like Gwenhwyfar fleeing her death sentence with Lancelot, she dons a deep green cloak with a large hood. Worrying that the pearls on her bodice will gleam in the dark she reassures herself "The cloak will cover them." The attention is drawn back to Sansa sheltering under another cloak, on another night

She shook out the torn cloak and huddled beneath it on the floor, shivering

ACoK, chapter 62

Sandor has rejected the cloak for symbolizing his failure to her ("I stood there in my white cloak and let them beat her") but we know that to Sansa the cloak is inevitably the symbol of protection

She had dreamed of her wedding a thousand times, and always she had pictured how her betrothed would stand behind her tall and strong, sweep the cloak of his protection over her shoulders, and tenderly kiss her cheek as he leaned forward to fasten the clasp.

ASoS, chapter 28

The cloak is a powerful metaphor of protection. By donning it, she unconsciously acknowledges Sandor's power to protect her, even as she continues to deny his "knighthood." As she unknowingly moves to her new captivity she hides Sansa Stark in a Grail Castle of her own making, as will be seen when she arrives in the Vale.

Gwenhwyfar endures two captivities in most versions of the legend. In the first, her abduction by Melwas, there is much posturing but the real danger seems to be to the knights who present themselves as her protectors (usually Kay, Gawain and Lancelot) In much the same way, Sansa's time in King's Landing is marked by danger and defeat to her father, her brother, her husband and ultimately even Sandor and Dontos. In contrast, her second captivity with Mordred is marked by real sexual menace. In the final tale of the Vulgate Cycle, Mort Artu, the elements of rescue and imprisonment in a tower are separated. Arthur discovers Gwenhwyfar's affair with Lancelot and condemns her to burn. Lancelot rescues her and transports her to his castle, Joyous Garde. In the process of the escape, Lancelot inadvertently slays Gawain's brother Gaheris and sets up the next episode in the drama: the betrayal of Mordred (Medraut). Lancelot flees Arthur's rage, returning to his own lands in France and incidentally once again returning Gwenhwyfar to her husband. Here we have echoes of Dontos, the well intentioned savior who ultimately returns Sansa to captivity when he delivers her to Littlefinger. Arthur and the vengeful Gawain follow him there, leaving Arthur's kingdom vulnerable to seizure by Mordred. Sly, untrustworthy and calculating, Mordred lurks in the background until Arthur's attention is occupied elsewhere, at which time he swoops in and seizes the Queen and the Crown. In like manner Littlefinger keeps himself "offstage" until the attention is briefly directly away from Sansa (by a plot allegedly of his own device) at which time he swoops in (almost literally, on a fast ship) and bears Sansa away to her second captivity. Unlike the distinctly liminal (in spite of Joffrey's childlike threats and her marriage to Tyrion) sexual nature of her time in King's Landing, her time in the Vale is marked not only by a sexual awakening of sorts, but by true sexual menace in the form of her natural "father." As we saw increasingly in her months in King's Landing, her thoughts remain her own, but she struggles against the pressure for her to be Alayne Stone in her mind and her heart. Her final chapter in Storm begins, as did her final day in King's Landing, with a dream of Winterfell. As she wakes she reminds herself "I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl."

In spite of her conscious thought, she remembers Winterfell as home and the sight of snow falling on the Eyrie brings her back "to cold nights long ago, in the long summer of her childhood." When she enters the Eyrie's garden, she finds "a place of whites and blacks and greys." The imagery of Winterfell is visceral, but it doesn't end there, as she begins to build a snow castle which she soon realizes is Winterfell. When Petyr discovers her within the castle walls, he asks her "May I come into your castle, my lady?" There are clear sexual connotations here, with the childhood game "Come Into My Castle" seeming to be a Westerosi version of games in which children mimic adult behavior including, though certainly not limited to, the sexual aspects of marriage and adult relationships. Sansa is wary of his intent, but allows him to help her. In a moment of playfulness she throws snow in his face. When he scolds her for being unchivalrous she replies "As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home." While his response to this comment leads Lady Lysa directly out the Moon Door, it is her internal response that is so significant

She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

Here she recognizes the power of Winterfell, her own Grail Castle, to nourish her Self.

While her first chapter in Feast begins with a memory of Winterfell and she is still clearly Sansa in her thoughts, her final two chapters illustrate the increased pressure for her to be Alayne all the time. Scholars debate over whether Gwenhwyfar's abduction by Mordred is a symbolic "wife stealing" (a theme not unfamiliar to the denizens of the North) or an otherworldly abduction (as the Melwas interval clearly is). In the same way that doubt arises over Gwenhwyfar's intentions during the affair with Mordred (was she willing or was she forced?) we begin to wonder if Sansa will become complicit in Littlefinger's plans (in particular his plans for Sweetrobin.) In this case we must be content to speculate on the outcome, since the arc is incomplete. What is clear is that as Alayne descends to the Vale, she has grown in ways that we cannot yet fully appreciate. She has become practiced at deception, yet remains Sansa in her heart, in spite of her repeated thoughts and internal exhortations to the contrary. She has grown in strength as well, and in hope. The act of literally descending from a period of growth to what is most likely going to be a period of stasis ("I must be Alayne all the time, inside and out") has strong elements of Persephone returning to Hades. Like Persephone, Sansa must put aside her true identity for a time and dance with “the devil.” If indeed Sansa Stark is the Persephone of this story, we have the symbolic foreshadowing of her ability to rebuild the dynasty of her family and regain her Self in the snow castle scene. To engage in a bit of prediction, it is easy to imagine her declaring her Self as Gwenhwyfar does in William Morris' poetic reimagining and seeing her song come true at last because, although life is not a song, Sansa holds a unique position in the Song of Ice and Fire. The maiden in the tower has a knight who has not only been her savior, but whom she has saved as well. The balance of the two would seem to ensure that one day they will be reunited, as certainly if not as romantically, as Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot are:

"She leaned eagerly,

And gave a slight spring sometimes, as she could

At last hear something really; joyfully

Her cheek grew crimson, as the headlong speed

Of the roan charger drew all men to see,

The knight who came was Launcelot at good need."

William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere

Works Cited:

Loomis, Roger Sherman (2000). The Development of Arthurian Romance. Dover Publications. ISBN 9780486409559

Jung, Emma and Marie-Louise von Franz. The Grail Legend. Translated from the German. Princeton University Press. 1998. ISBN 0691002371

Andersen, H.C. The Snow Queen, from The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen, translated by D.C. Frank and Jeffrey Frank. Houghton Mifflin Co. 2003. ISBN 0618224564

William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere

http://www.bartleby.com/42/727.html

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

http://www.bartleby.com/201/1.html

D.H. Lawrence, Apocalypse. Page 86.

http://books.google.com/books?id=qpIqaYHpQj0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Various elements of the Arthurian cycle are referenced here including Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, The Mabinogian and the Welsh Triads. Modern works also consulted include those of Mary Stewart, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Rosemary Sutcliff.

Websites of interest:

http://www.heroicage.org/issues/1/habcg.htm

http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot-project

http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Persephone.html

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The Maiden in the Tower/Grail Maiden: An Arthurian reading of Sansa Stark

In mythology and legend, the tale of the abduction and captivity of a princess is an archetype that conveys one of the central mysteries of chthonic cults, that of rebirth and regeneration, at the same time that it reassuringly conveys the balance of masculine and feminine. At the narrative heart of the abduction myth is the theme of the captive princess. This tale becomes in the telling increasingly complex and distant from its chthonic origins. However, all tales of rescuing a damsel in distress have their roots here. Early in Sansa Stark's story arc she travels to King's Landing as the bethrothed of Prince Joffrey Baratheon and takes up residence in the Tower of the Hand. From there, as events progress, she becomes a captive in the upper reaches of Maegor's Holdfast. After a short period of release, which is spent as an unhappy wife, she is taken away once more, this time alighting (ultimately) in the Maiden's Tower of the Eyrie, from which she emerges during her final chapter in Feast. Our little bird has spent the final months of her girlhood in a cage, represented by a succession of towers. Her periods of controlled release, while in themselves stagnant, can be seen to represent the fruition of growth in her arc, as in this poignant reminder from Ser Osmund as she descends from her chamber in Maegor's for the final time:

ASoS, chapter 28

Compare with her descent from the Eyrie where she has found a bravery of a different sort

AFfC, chapter 41

The well-known story of Persephone, torn from her mother's protection by Hades, the god of the underworld and forced to remain as his wife for a part of each year after partaking of the symbolic pomegranate, is at once a tale of regeneration and balance. In the Persephone myth, Demeter spends the months of her captivity searching in vain for her daughter while the landscape (the fertility of which is dependent upon her, the goddess of the harvest) grows increasingly barren and lifeless. Persephone's ingestion of the pomegranate seeds ties her irrevocably to the underworld, and forces her annual return to her position as the consort of its ruler. We see echoes of this in Catelyn Stark, as Lady Stoneheart, searching in vain for her daughters in the wasteland that the Riverlands has become. Then too there is this scene that marks the beginning of Sansa’s second captivity

ASoS, chapter 68

In choosing the much less symbolically fraught pear, Sansa rejects the cyclical captivity of Persephone for a more temporary version.

We also find a version of the captive princess theme in H.C. Andersen's famous atmospheric tale The Snow Queen. In Andersen's story, the young boy Kai is taken by the wicked Snow Queen to her fortress in the far North where he is ultimately rescued by his innocent young friend Gerda, who proves the power of love to conquer evil. There is early foreshadowing of Sansa's role as the captive princess in AGoT and the tale of the Hand's Tourney. Cersei, who has yet to reveal her true colors to Sansa, quarrels publicly with Robert at the evening feast. Note the description of Cersei:

AGoT, chapter 29

Here we are given clear notice that Cersei is hiding her true self (behind a mask) and her future role as captor in the description that so closely echoes the description of the Snow Queen when Kai first beholds her

H.C. Andersen, The Snow Queen: Second Story

The union of Hades and Persephone can be seen as a hieros gamos, or sacred marriage, where the representative of the Earth annually marries a sacrificial king in order to secure a bountiful harvest, with the hidden, underground aspect of Hades representing the potential of fertility, while Persephone represents the culmination of fertility. The hieros gamos is present in many world cultures, perhaps most significantly in Britain, where some have speculated that the union of King Arthur and Gwenhwyfar draws on ancient British traditions involving the sacrificial king and the triple goddess, as evidenced by references to three Gwenhwyfars in the Welsh triads. All these tales hold in common the idea of a union between masculine and feminine which harks back to the earlier mysteries. But it is the tale of Arthur's Gwenhwyfar which represents the union of the chthonic themes of Persephone with the romantic notion of the damsel in distress. The Arthurian scholar Roger Sherman Loomis finds that behind the tradition of Gwenhwyfar's abduction by Melwas (alternatively Meleagant in Chretien's The Knight of the Cart) lay a myth of "the Persephone type" with the important distinction that Gwenhwyfar is held captive in a tower on an island that stands in for the fairy underworld of the early Welsh Arthurian tale The Spoils of Annwn. In The Knight of the Cart Meleagant challenges Arthur to send his Queen to him with a knight. If he defeats the knight in single combat, he will release a number of Arthur's subjects whom he holds captive. Arthur sends Gwenhwyfar with his foster brother Kay, who is defeated and Gwenhwyfar is seized and imprisoned. Gawain and Lancelot also set out, separately, to attempt a rescue. Gawain comes upon Lancelot walking behind a cart whose dwarf driver tells him to get in if he would have news of the Queen. Lancelot hesitates for two steps because the cart (or pillory) is a mode of transport reserved for criminals and not befitting a knight. He does mount, in most interpretations owning his treasonous affection for the Queen, and thereafter passes every test of his devotion to her. Ultimately he slays Meleagant and restores the Queen to her husband. Arthur however is diminished, in the same way the annual king of the hieros gamos must be as his year wanes. At the Tourney of the Hand we are introduced to Sandor as Sansa's rescuer, when Joffrey commands him to escort her back to the castle. During their brief journey together we learn that Sandor's early longing to be a knight has been transformed into utter scorn for the institution by his vicious brother's elevation to that rank. He has become instead the Lannisters' guard dog, illustrated by his "snarling" and "growling" speech. Yet he foreshadows his future as her personal knight errant when he climbs into the back of a cart with her and returns her to her father's protection. Just as the tale of The Knight of the Cart symbolizes Lancelot's willingness to stain his knightly honor in the defense of his true love, so Sandor's story starkly illustrates that true knights aren't necessarily without flaws and that rescue can come from places unlooked for.

Running in tandem with themes of sacred love, regeneration and rescue we have the Grail legend. While the sacred marriage tells of the need to maintain balance between masculine and feminine, the Grail legend tells of a distressingly out of balance relationship. Psychiatrist Emma Jung finds in the Grail legend a collective meditation on the particular problems of the medieval society-- that the masculine, in particular the warlike masculine, has been elevated at the expense of the feminine at the same time that the dark side of divinity has been denied. By stripping away the mysteries of the Earth mother and making sexuality something to be despised rather than revered and throwing up in its place the snow white image of the Virgin, whose "pure" procreation is at odds not only with the human psyche but with the very reality humans lived from day to day, medieval society (led by the Catholic church) created a psychic wound in the collective that could only be healed through a metaphoric journey to reclaim the feminine. In addition, the separation of light and dark in the divine element simultaneously led to a rift between the sacred and the profane that could not be resolved. To be fair, Jung never claims that the medieval mindset was aware of any such thing. Rather this is the work of a collective unconscious, which brings us to the image of the Grail castle. The Grail castle, according to Jung, can be seen as an expression of that archetypal concept of the unconscious. The Grail itself, hidden away in the castle, represents the Self, the spiritual experience of wholeness and the process of achieving balance between the conscious and unconscious which is present in all people. The Grail Maiden then is the guardian of Self, while the Fisher King (the Lord of the Castle) represents the wounded unconscious who must die or be healed for the good of the collective, or as Emma Jung put it "the Grail King is, as it were, the archetypal image of Christian man as he is viewed from the perspective of the unconscious." (Jung and von Franz, The Grail Legend)

In The Snow Queen, Kai receives two kisses from the enchantress. The first makes him forget the cold while the second makes him forget his family. To apply Jung’s ideas to Kai, he becomes lost in a wasteland, out of touch with his Self and with a deeply wounded consciousness. After Robert's death, with her father set to remove her and her sister from danger, Sansa disobeys her father and chooses the warmth of the south over the cold north of her birth by going to Cersei seeking help. She ends up a prisoner in the highest tower of Maegor's Holdfast while Lannisters arrest her father and slaughter his household. After her second audience with Cersei days later she is convinced to write letters to her family requesting their continued loyalty to King Joffrey. When she returns to her tower room that evening she realizes she has forgotten to ask about her sister. Sansa has received the equivalent of the boy’s two kisses from her own enchantress and become a prisoner in her heart as well as her body. The transformation is symbolically complete when Sansa, dressed in mourning (she has dyed her stained white gown black) kneels on the cast off Kingsguard cloak of Ser Barristan Selmy to plead for her father's life. Her innocent Self, represented by the white gown, has been wounded, as represented by the blood orange stain. Yet she covers this wound with black dye and presents herself to the Lannisters as their captive, kneeling on the symbol of their disregard for knightly honor (the cast off cloak) In truth, Sansa's life has gone from song to nightmare quicker than Littlefinger can remind her that life is not a song. So begins her season of despair and torment. Her chapters in Game end with Sandor saving her from pushing Joffrey off the ramparts, and a surprisingly tender moment as he wipes the blood, caused by Ser Meryn’s blows, from her face.

AGoT, chapter 67

Her disillusion is complete, but she has learned the valuable lesson that, pawn though she may be, she can find protection in a lady's courtesy.

While the tale of the Fisher King reimagines the hieros gamos, Perceval's quest represents the need to connect with the Self, to ask the questions that provide one with a numinous experience of one's inner center. That the numinous, or spiritual, must needs be a balance between masculine and feminine, light and dark is what has been lost. To accomplish his quest, he must save the Fisher King by asking the question which reveals the Grail ("Whom does the Grail serve?") Perceval takes many wrong turnings and fails to save the Fisher King on their first encounter. As renowned Jungian analyst Roger Woolger puts it: "The wound of the Fisher King is the medieval image of that damaged consciousness and the terrible alienation from the Earth Mother it has wrought."

Or to put it another way "The Christian fear of the pagan outlook has damaged the whole con­sciousness of Man." (D.H. Lawrence, Apocalypse)

The quest then, is a search for sensuality and balance that has been denied. Perceval, the pure simple youth in touch with the sensual, is the only Arthurian figure to truly achieve the Grail through his quest(ion)ing. (For more on Perceval and his parallels to Sandor, see this essay by Ragnorak.) On the eve of the Battle of the Blackwater Sansa’s relationship with the Hound comes full circle when he breaks during the inferno and seeks refuge in her chamber. In his extremity he offers to take her with him as he flees the city. She finally delivers the song he has been demanding, in that moment inverting their relationship and becoming his saviour, transforming herself from Gwenhwyfar (the captive) into the Grail maiden, the song representing the answer to the question he has asked her many times but not in the correct way until this moment. Sandor suffers from a psychological wound that terrifies her at the same that she possesses the sole power to heal it. It can be no accident that the proposed matches to Willas Tyrell and her cousin Robert Arryn (which precede the actual matches with Tyrion and Harry the Heir) will prompt her to begin to misremember her final meeting with Sandor, fabricating a romantic kiss where none existed. In a further inversion, Sansa now resembles The Snow Queen's Gerda, rather than the captive Kai:

Andersen, The Snow Queen: Sixth Story

Sansa's arc in Clash is marked by the continuation of her torment at Joffrey's hands which at the same time brings about a period of growth and strengthening that can best be compared with Persephone's months outside of the Underworld of her husband. On the other hand, most of her chapters in Storm represent a period of stagnation which compares with Persephone's months of captivity with Hades. It is a time of waiting. She has moments of hope, but overall is in stasis- waiting to be whisked away first by Dontos, then by the Tyrells. After her forced marriage to Tyrion she seems resigned to her fate:

ASoS, chapter 28

As Gwenhwyfar was rescued from Meleagant's tower by her white knight (Lancelot) only to be returned to her unhappy marriage, so is Sansa escorted to from Maegor's to her union with Tyrion by a pair of white knights (Ser Osmund and Ser Boros) For that matter, in her final descent from the Eyrie she is accompanied by Sweetrobin in his white bearskin cloak. Of note is that this chapter and her future descent from the Eyrie deal with the subject of Sansa's marriage and the Stark maiden cloak as a powerful symbol of her identity as Princess of Winterfell. In both, there is someone standing in stead of her father who does not have her best interest at heart. Also in both, the groom or proposed groom is a mere surrogate for a larger interest. Sansa has learned to her sorrow that those who wish to claim her are mostly interested in her real estate. The presence of the white cloaks in both chapters also serves to draw attention to the missing white cloak of the only masculine figure in her life who has no interest in her "claim" and stands as her true protector-- Sandor Clegane.

Joffrey's wedding day dawns with Sansa waking from a dream of Winterfell. When she looks out her window she sees an amazing castle in the clouds-- two castles actually, which soon merge and become one. Like another castle associated with Sansa, much analysis has been applied to this scene. In terms of Sansa's longing the merging of the two cloud castles into one which resembles her home can only represent her unconscious need to continue to be a Stark (her True Self) which is in contrast to her conscious thought moments later

ASoS, chapter 59

The end of the cloud castle passage is also highly reminiscent of this passage from The Waste Land:

"What is that sound high in the air

Murmur of maternal lamentation

Who are those hooded hordes swarming

Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth

Ringed by the flat horizon only

What is the city over the mountains

Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air

Falling towers

Jerusalem Athens Alexandria

Vienna London

Unreal "

T.S.Eliot

Sansa's own wasteland is her perpetual entrapment. Her unconscious longs for home and to rediscover her Self. Her conscious mind, in spite of brief moments of hope which reveal the Self waiting to be discovered, focuses on her continued captivity. Sansa's upset stomach on Joffrey's wedding morning can no doubt be attributed to nerves as we later learn that she has hidden clothing in the castle godswood, preparatory to her escape in the aftermath of the wedding. She goes to the Lannister wedding on the arm of her Lannister husband telling herself

ASoS, chapter 59

The allusion to Robb holds high significance when the parallels with the RW are considered. Sansa has reached an ending, like her brother, and at this wedding a king will die and a new chapter will begin, furthering the parallels with the myth of sacrifice and regeneration.

As Sansa prepares to embark on her journey into the unknown with Dontos, like Gwenhwyfar fleeing her death sentence with Lancelot, she dons a deep green cloak with a large hood. Worrying that the pearls on her bodice will gleam in the dark she reassures herself "The cloak will cover them." The attention is drawn back to Sansa sheltering under another cloak, on another night

ACoK, chapter 62

Sandor has rejected the cloak for symbolizing his failure to her ("I stood there in my white cloak and let them beat her") but we know that to Sansa the cloak is inevitably the symbol of protection

ASoS, chapter 28

The cloak is a powerful metaphor of protection. By donning it, she unconsciously acknowledges Sandor's power to protect her, even as she continues to deny his "knighthood." As she unknowingly moves to her new captivity she hides Sansa Stark in a Grail Castle of her own making, as will be seen when she arrives in the Vale.

Gwenhwyfar endures two captivities in most versions of the legend. In the first, her abduction by Melwas, there is much posturing but the real danger seems to be to the knights who present themselves as her protectors (usually Kay, Gawain and Lancelot) In much the same way, Sansa's time in King's Landing is marked by danger and defeat to her father, her brother, her husband and ultimately even Sandor and Dontos. In contrast, her second captivity with Mordred is marked by real sexual menace. In the final tale of the Vulgate Cycle, Mort Artu, the elements of rescue and imprisonment in a tower are separated. Arthur discovers Gwenhwyfar's affair with Lancelot and condemns her to burn. Lancelot rescues her and transports her to his castle, Joyous Garde. In the process of the escape, Lancelot inadvertently slays Gawain's brother Gaheris and sets up the next episode in the drama: the betrayal of Mordred (Medraut). Lancelot flees Arthur's rage, returning to his own lands in France and incidentally once again returning Gwenhwyfar to her husband. Here we have echoes of Dontos, the well intentioned savior who ultimately returns Sansa to captivity when he delivers her to Littlefinger. Arthur and the vengeful Gawain follow him there, leaving Arthur's kingdom vulnerable to seizure by Mordred. Sly, untrustworthy and calculating, Mordred lurks in the background until Arthur's attention is occupied elsewhere, at which time he swoops in and seizes the Queen and the Crown. In like manner Littlefinger keeps himself "offstage" until the attention is briefly directly away from Sansa (by a plot allegedly of his own device) at which time he swoops in (almost literally, on a fast ship) and bears Sansa away to her second captivity. Unlike the distinctly liminal (in spite of Joffrey's childlike threats and her marriage to Tyrion) sexual nature of her time in King's Landing, her time in the Vale is marked not only by a sexual awakening of sorts, but by true sexual menace in the form of her natural "father." As we saw increasingly in her months in King's Landing, her thoughts remain her own, but she struggles against the pressure for her to be Alayne Stone in her mind and her heart. Her final chapter in Storm begins, as did her final day in King's Landing, with a dream of Winterfell. As she wakes she reminds herself "I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl."

In spite of her conscious thought, she remembers Winterfell as home and the sight of snow falling on the Eyrie brings her back "to cold nights long ago, in the long summer of her childhood." When she enters the Eyrie's garden, she finds "a place of whites and blacks and greys." The imagery of Winterfell is visceral, but it doesn't end there, as she begins to build a snow castle which she soon realizes is Winterfell. When Petyr discovers her within the castle walls, he asks her "May I come into your castle, my lady?" There are clear sexual connotations here, with the childhood game "Come Into My Castle" seeming to be a Westerosi version of games in which children mimic adult behavior including, though certainly not limited to, the sexual aspects of marriage and adult relationships. Sansa is wary of his intent, but allows him to help her. In a moment of playfulness she throws snow in his face. When he scolds her for being unchivalrous she replies "As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home." While his response to this comment leads Lady Lysa directly out the Moon Door, it is her internal response that is so significant

Here she recognizes the power of Winterfell, her own Grail Castle, to nourish her Self.

While her first chapter in Feast begins with a memory of Winterfell and she is still clearly Sansa in her thoughts, her final two chapters illustrate the increased pressure for her to be Alayne all the time. Scholars debate over whether Gwenhwyfar's abduction by Mordred is a symbolic "wife stealing" (a theme not unfamiliar to the denizens of the North) or an otherworldly abduction (as the Melwas interval clearly is). In the same way that doubt arises over Gwenhwyfar's intentions during the affair with Mordred (was she willing or was she forced?) we begin to wonder if Sansa will become complicit in Littlefinger's plans (in particular his plans for Sweetrobin.) In this case we must be content to speculate on the outcome, since the arc is incomplete. What is clear is that as Alayne descends to the Vale, she has grown in ways that we cannot yet fully appreciate. She has become practiced at deception, yet remains Sansa in her heart, in spite of her repeated thoughts and internal exhortations to the contrary. She has grown in strength as well, and in hope. The act of literally descending from a period of growth to what is most likely going to be a period of stasis ("I must be Alayne all the time, inside and out") has strong elements of Persephone returning to Hades. Like Persephone, Sansa must put aside her true identity for a time and dance with “the devil.” If indeed Sansa Stark is the Persephone of this story, we have the symbolic foreshadowing of her ability to rebuild the dynasty of her family and regain her Self in the snow castle scene. To engage in a bit of prediction, it is easy to imagine her declaring her Self as Gwenhwyfar does in William Morris' poetic reimagining and seeing her song come true at last because, although life is not a song, Sansa holds a unique position in the Song of Ice and Fire. The maiden in the tower has a knight who has not only been her savior, but whom she has saved as well. The balance of the two would seem to ensure that one day they will be reunited, as certainly if not as romantically, as Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot are:

"She leaned eagerly,

And gave a slight spring sometimes, as she could

At last hear something really; joyfully

Her cheek grew crimson, as the headlong speed

Of the roan charger drew all men to see,

The knight who came was Launcelot at good need."

William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere

Works Cited:

Loomis, Roger Sherman (2000). The Development of Arthurian Romance. Dover Publications. ISBN 9780486409559

Jung, Emma and Marie-Louise von Franz. The Grail Legend. Translated from the German. Princeton University Press. 1998. ISBN 0691002371

Andersen, H.C. The Snow Queen, from The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen, translated by D.C. Frank and Jeffrey Frank. Houghton Mifflin Co. 2003. ISBN 0618224564

William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere

http://www.bartleby.com/42/727.html

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

http://www.bartleby.com/201/1.html

D.H. Lawrence, Apocalypse. Page 86.

http://books.google.com/books?id=qpIqaYHpQj0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Various elements of the Arthurian cycle are referenced here including Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, The Mabinogian and the Welsh Triads. Modern works also consulted include those of Mary Stewart, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Rosemary Sutcliff.

Websites of interest:

http://www.heroicage.org/issues/1/habcg.htm

http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot-project

http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Persephone.html

This is beyond fantastic. :bowdown:

I don't have anything to add because I think you have covered everything.

It was just breathtaking.

Also, there was another theory, (and I will have to back and find it), that not only does Sansa rebuild Winterfell, she renames it "Winter Rose," with the idea being that the fate of WF was already written in it's name, and the new name now only encompasses the blue rose symbology, but also the literal rise of the Starks.

Now, I wonder if you could do an analysis of Arya? :cool4:

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The Maiden in the Tower/Grail Maiden: An Arthurian reading of Sansa Stark

snip

This was a great read Lady Gwynhyfvar. Your knowledge of mythology & everything Arthurian, with the added ability to transpose it into very clear and precise parallels within ASoIaF, is extremely impressive. As someone not up to speed in those departments, it was presented in a way that I could still follow and fully understand the links and parallels. The passage regarding Sansa and the Hound, and how roles were changed and inverted, was something I'd not thought about before. This was accentuated perfectly by the Arthurian parallel, something you managed to do several times within the piece.

The inclusion of the Persephone-esque passages I found particularly interesting because I was only recently wondering what that story might tell us about the fate of Jon Snow, who was just stabbed by 'the Old Pomegranate' and perhaps faces a spell in the underworld himself. I didn't realise Grrm had possibly used pomegranates in a similar way with regards to Sansa, until now.

Altogether - a really flowing, thought-provoking piece that managed to be thorough yet accessible. Great work!

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Time for another musical illustration of Sansa but this time with reference to Sandor too.

This is the fourth of Manuel de Falla's Seven Popular Songs: "Jota". Those songs are just what their title says, to wit, seven Spanish folk songs that de Falla reworked primarily by developing the accompaniment in the piano but leaving the words and the melody in the voice pretty much alone. De Falla was not the only composer to do this sort of thing: Aaron Copland did something similar with his "Old American Songs", and Benjamin Britten did the like with a number of old English songs, and these three are perhaps only the three best known.

Now musical this is but poetical perhaps not so much. In any case there is something in the text that seemed to me appropriate to the current circumstances of Sansa and Sandor, in that they are not seen talking because they are separated by many miles and neither knows where the other is; yet I think we have a decent idea what answer we might get if we asked her heart and his.

Here are the English translation and the original Spanish text; if there is a Spanish speaker out there who could check the translation, I would appreciate it. I know almost no Spanish and am dependent on a translation that I found for this.

"They say we are not in love

because we are not seen talking;

but let them ask

your heart and mine.

I must leave you now,

leave your house and your window;

and though your mother disapproves,

goodbye, dearest, until tomorrow.

"Dicen que no nos queremos

porque no nos ven hablar;

a tu corazón y al mio

se lo pueden preguntar.

Ya me despisdo de tíde

tu casa y tu ventana;

y aunque no quiera tu madre,

adiós, niña, hasta mañana."

Now this is plainly meant to be a man speaking to a woman, but it is usually sung by a soprano or mezzo, and this has to be Sansa to Sandor: he does not sing anyway. We don't know what momma Clegane would have thought of Sansa, but it is most unlikely that Catelyn would have approved of Sandor, so that line about her mother's disapproval looks right to me. Young Harold Hardyng on the other hand would seem rather better to Catelyn I suspect , at least until she learned about the two young women he fathered natural born children upon.

The seven popular songs are very popular with singers so for this we have a number of good performances.

We should start with a tenor, since this is supposed to be a man serenading his lover at her window.

Jose Carreras, tenor

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IjIQyPi1xvo

He is one one of the "Three Tenors" (the other two being Placido Domingo (yea!) and the late Luciano Pavarotti (boo, hiss!)). Carreras is an opera singer not a recitalist; his singing here is fine but he looks a bit uncomfortable.

Victoria de los Angeles, soprano:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FIzvhl_1Ry0

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NakGDU3hPP4

She did indeed sing like an angel. Like Carreras she is Spanish, and this is surely her métier. There are two performances here, take your pick. Both have Gerald Moore at the piano: who was the most accomplished of his generation at accompanying singers and the author of a book about doing this called "The Unashamed Accompanist". The second has (black and white) video from 1957, evidently from an old TV broadcast.

Here is the Wiki page for de los Angeles:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_de_los_%C3%81ngeles

Teresa Berganza, mezzo-soprano:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rb4xofcJXGE

She was rather young in this performance from 1960, but really nice demeanor and singing. You get the last three of the seven songs here as well, and Gerald Moore at the piano again: busy man.

By the way, an "Jota" is in origin a lively Spanish dance:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jota_(music)

Enjoy :-)

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Thank you, Lady Gwynhyfvar! Sansa has been a less-than-favorite character of mine, admittedly. Your Arthurian/Jungian analysis of her makes her far more interesting to me than the poor trapped Persephone role. Applause!


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Brilliant essay, Lady Gwynhyvfar :) I really appreciated the clear explication of the Arthurian parallels, interweaved with the connections to Persephone, Demeter and the underworld, which is a central myth at work in Sansa’s storyline. As your analysis highlighted, both she and Sandor enable each other to grow and heal from psychological wounds that manifest in the corrupt court of KL, where they are expected to play the roles of the good girl and the good dog respectively. Whereas the grey and white maiden’s cloak represents oppression and stasis within the narrative, the bloody cloak with its symbolic references to sexuality, protection and even to the red and white weirwoods of Sansa’s homeland, offers her more fulfilling and transformative possibilities.



Interestingly, Sandor again assumes the role of the Knight of the Cart on the way to the Red Wedding, using a farmer’s wayn and supplies as a disguise in order to deliver Arya to her mother.


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I just wanted to let Mahaut, butterbumps!, brashcandy, and Lady Gwynhyvar know how much I enjoyed reading their essays. Milady's follow up posts were also a joy to read. All are so beautifully written and thought-provoking (to echo yolkboy). Lady Gwynhyvar, I especially liked your analysis of the cloak and Sandor's role as the Knight of the Cart.

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Just going to throw out an idea here for discussion:



We've discussed a lot of possibilities for Sansa's future. However, perhaps this one was omitted ...



What if Sansa goes insane ?



Lysa Tully was beset by a sort of madness. At an age roughly equivalent to Sansa's she lost the boy she loved to her sister, and then exile, and then came abortion, arranged marriage, and various miscarriages and whatnot.


The end result was that Lysa - who seems not to have been emotionally fragile at an early age anyway - being paranoid, bitter, and at the very end, hysterical. Not her fault for the bad hand she got dealt, but how this damaged psyche reacted was like catnip for Littlefinger. By the time she dies, she's killed her husband, precipitated a war, betrayed her sister (and family generally), and tried to murder her innocent niece. Sane ? Not really.



Catelyn Tully comes off better, especially at first. She seemed the more emotionally strong one as a child. She ends up in a far better personal situation over the years. Nothing too wrong with her, save perhaps too much emphasis on making proper southron-style ladies out of her girls, and having an irrational grudge against Jon Snow. However, with Catelyn, her undoing is when she gets hit with grief. It begins with Bran, and she goes to pieces when he is first injured & comatose. Then she captures Tyrion at the crossroads, essentially disregarding her own advice about being extremely cautious with the Lannister threat. Then with Ned's death and the capture of her daughters, she rapidly goes from vengeful to fearful - not a little, but a lot. It's like all the training she ever had in the highborn games of power were lost on her; like it or not, the Starks and Tullys were in a war, but the iron discipline fails her. Bran and Rickon's seeming demise completes it - the grief breaks her, and she acts out of grieving desperate madness, releasing Jaime Lannister. (An objective look here would be that by doing so, she might be dooming both Sansa and Robb's survival.) Last of all, you see at the end, despite all her positive characteristics, grief and desperation are all she has and she has gone mad. Lady Stoneheart is a product of her last frame of mind, repeated obsessively as she haunts the Riverlands.



(Note: It also occurs to me that they are part Whent too, which means Harrenhal's curse enters into this.)



So, on to Sansa. She gained much from her mother, but it makes me wonder.... We have so many possible futures for Sansa ... Sansa the player, Sansa the ice maiden of Winterfell, Sansa the greenseer, and so on. Some possibilities anre strong and triumphant, some tragic, and some are frankly a squick-fest.



Sansa is also of Stark blood, of course, but her father's iron will and steady sanity does not entirely exclude her suddenly having a touch of the "wolf's blood" too.



Still, what if Sansa's destiny is to end up insane, as her mother and aunt basically did ?


Not a possibility I think we'd like, but such a tragic outcome would not exactly be out of bounds in ASOIAF.



If she did go insane, when and how would it manifest? She has endured an immense amount of stress and tragedy, but what would finally be the last straw ? Or what is there that would certainly prevent her from going mad?



Anyway, hate to be Mr. Worst Case Scenario here, but hopefully we can get some opinions on this too.

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Just going to throw out an idea here for discussion:

We've discussed a lot of possibilities for Sansa's future. However, perhaps this one was omitted ...

What if Sansa goes insane ?

Lysa Tully was beset by a sort of madness. At an age roughly equivalent to Sansa's she lost the boy she loved to her sister, and then exile, and then came abortion, arranged marriage, and various miscarriages and whatnot.

The end result was that Lysa - who seems not to have been emotionally fragile at an early age anyway - being paranoid, bitter, and at the very end, hysterical. Not her fault for the bad hand she got dealt, but how this damaged psyche reacted was like catnip for Littlefinger. By the time she dies, she's killed her husband, precipitated a war, betrayed her sister (and family generally), and tried to murder her innocent niece. Sane ? Not really.

Catelyn Tully comes off better, especially at first. She seemed the more emotionally strong one as a child. She ends up in a far better personal situation over the years. Nothing too wrong with her, save perhaps too much emphasis on making proper southron-style ladies out of her girls, and having an irrational grudge against Jon Snow. However, with Catelyn, her undoing is when she gets hit with grief. It begins with Bran, and she goes to pieces when he is first injured & comatose. Then she captures Tyrion at the crossroads, essentially disregarding her own advice about being extremely cautious with the Lannister threat. Then with Ned's death and the capture of her daughters, she rapidly goes from vengeful to fearful - not a little, but a lot. It's like all the training she ever had in the highborn games of power were lost on her; like it or not, the Starks and Tullys were in a war, but the iron discipline fails her. Bran and Rickon's seeming demise completes it - the grief breaks her, and she acts out of grieving desperate madness, releasing Jaime Lannister. (An objective look here would be that by doing so, she might be dooming both Sansa and Robb's survival.) Last of all, you see at the end, despite all her positive characteristics, grief and desperation are all she has and she has gone mad. Lady Stoneheart is a product of her last frame of mind, repeated obsessively as she haunts the Riverlands.

(Note: It also occurs to me that they are part Whent too, which means Harrenhal's curse enters into this.)

So, on to Sansa. She gained much from her mother, but it makes me wonder.... We have so many possible futures for Sansa ... Sansa the player, Sansa the ice maiden of Winterfell, Sansa the greenseer, and so on. Some possibilities anre strong and triumphant, some tragic, and some are frankly a squick-fest.

Sansa is also of Stark blood, of course, but her father's iron will and steady sanity does not entirely exclude her suddenly having a touch of the "wolf's blood" too.

Still, what if Sansa's destiny is to end up insane, as her mother and aunt basically did ?

Not a possibility I think we'd like, but such a tragic outcome would not exactly be out of bounds in ASOIAF.

If she did go insane, when and how would it manifest? She has endured an immense amount of stress and tragedy, but what would finally be the last straw ? Or what is there that would certainly prevent her from going mad?

Anyway, hate to be Mr. Worst Case Scenario here, but hopefully we can get some opinions on this too.

To be fair to Cat, I don't think it was a genetic predisposition that caused her to go insane in her last moments. She saw what she believed to be her last surviving child brutally murdered in front of her eyes, the cause he fought for going down in smoke. That would make anyone snap. I don't think that Lysa's insanity was genetic either- it was just Littlefinger manipulating her through the years, making her a more paranoid person, in addition to all the traumas that she went through.

Sansa is my favorite character, but I've considered the possibility of her losing it as well. All things considered, she's held up pretty strongly. Most people would become much more bitter and vengeful after going through half of what she endures. From the end of GoT through SoS, her trials make her a much more compassionate person. However, there is still the worrying possibility of her going along with poisoning poor Sweetrobin at the end of AFFC. Like Lysa, it seems like Littlefinger brings out the worst in her.

Unlike Lysa though, she is not enamored of LF, nor is she completely blind of what he is. She admires him, but her willingness to go along with his plans is not a mark of her naivety but rather of her lack of options. I don't think that he will drive her insane, because she really isn't that emotionally invested in him (not nearly to the degree Lysa was anyways).

If anything makes her snap and become a completely bitter, angry woman it is if/when she finds out she was disinherited (assuming that's what Robb's will says). I'm sure she'd understand the logic behind it, but at the same time Sansa is a girl who has been on her own without any real friends/parental figures for most of the series. Finding out her family abandoned her before they died might help to drive her to the brink, especially if she does something like help poison SR to gain her birthright, and it turns out to be for nothing.

Much of Sansa's arc has been about isolation, so it would not surprise me too much if she started never trusting others at all.

Alternatively, seeing Lady Stoneheart might also harm Sansa's mental health. No one wants their last memory of their mother to be of a rotting zombie hanging people.

Now, I personally don't think that Sansa will poison SR, but we can't ignore the possibility. I doubt that Sansa will become Lysa or Stoneheart like either, but she might lose some of her compassion. She will never be Cersei-level though!

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Just going to throw out an idea here for discussion:

We've discussed a lot of possibilities for Sansa's future. However, perhaps this one was omitted ...

What if Sansa goes insane ?

Lysa Tully was beset by a sort of madness. At an age roughly equivalent to Sansa's she lost the boy she loved to her sister, and then exile, and then came abortion, arranged marriage, and various miscarriages and whatnot.

The end result was that Lysa - who seems not to have been emotionally fragile at an early age anyway - being paranoid, bitter, and at the very end, hysterical. Not her fault for the bad hand she got dealt, but how this damaged psyche reacted was like catnip for Littlefinger. By the time she dies, she's killed her husband, precipitated a war, betrayed her sister (and family generally), and tried to murder her innocent niece. Sane ? Not really.

Catelyn Tully comes off better, especially at first. She seemed the more emotionally strong one as a child. She ends up in a far better personal situation over the years. Nothing too wrong with her, save perhaps too much emphasis on making proper southron-style ladies out of her girls, and having an irrational grudge against Jon Snow. However, with Catelyn, her undoing is when she gets hit with grief. It begins with Bran, and she goes to pieces when he is first injured & comatose. Then she captures Tyrion at the crossroads, essentially disregarding her own advice about being extremely cautious with the Lannister threat. Then with Ned's death and the capture of her daughters, she rapidly goes from vengeful to fearful - not a little, but a lot. It's like all the training she ever had in the highborn games of power were lost on her; like it or not, the Starks and Tullys were in a war, but the iron discipline fails her. Bran and Rickon's seeming demise completes it - the grief breaks her, and she acts out of grieving desperate madness, releasing Jaime Lannister. (An objective look here would be that by doing so, she might be dooming both Sansa and Robb's survival.) Last of all, you see at the end, despite all her positive characteristics, grief and desperation are all she has and she has gone mad. Lady Stoneheart is a product of her last frame of mind, repeated obsessively as she haunts the Riverlands.

(Note: It also occurs to me that they are part Whent too, which means Harrenhal's curse enters into this.)

So, on to Sansa. She gained much from her mother, but it makes me wonder.... We have so many possible futures for Sansa ... Sansa the player, Sansa the ice maiden of Winterfell, Sansa the greenseer, and so on. Some possibilities anre strong and triumphant, some tragic, and some are frankly a squick-fest.

Sansa is also of Stark blood, of course, but her father's iron will and steady sanity does not entirely exclude her suddenly having a touch of the "wolf's blood" too.

Still, what if Sansa's destiny is to end up insane, as her mother and aunt basically did ?

Not a possibility I think we'd like, but such a tragic outcome would not exactly be out of bounds in ASOIAF.

If she did go insane, when and how would it manifest? She has endured an immense amount of stress and tragedy, but what would finally be the last straw ? Or what is there that would certainly prevent her from going mad?

Anyway, hate to be Mr. Worst Case Scenario here, but hopefully we can get some opinions on this too.

I don't know if she goes insane, but I think it's possible there will be something akin to post-traumatic stress. Because I'm a history geek, and Martin is a student of history, I tend to view everything through historical parallels and traditions. I've gone back and forth with Sansa, but I do like her and root for her, so I see her as somewhat of a historical parallel to Elizabeth Tudor.

Like Elizabeth, Sansa goes through harrowing experiences that threatens her safety and sense of personal security. First she is to be Queen, then she becomes a traitors daughter, beaten, discredited and humiliated.

She is then put through another series of abuses by LF, and the gods only know how far he'll take his behaviors in the next book, which would not be too dissimilar to a young Elizabeths experiences at the hands of Catherine Parrs second husband.

When Elizabeth says to Dudley, "I will have but one Mistress here, and no Master," I think speaks volumes about Elizabeth's psyche. There are many today who speculate one of the driving factors behind Elizabeths decision to never marry may have actually been her fear of putting her person, (security and safety), at the mercy of a husband thus making herself vulnerable again.

I think by books end, that may be what we see of Sansa, and like Lady, she sacrifices of herself, if not herself, for the greater good.

Just my humble opinion.

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If anything makes her snap and become a completely bitter, angry woman it is if/when she finds out she was disinherited (assuming that's what Robb's will says). I'm sure she'd understand the logic behind it, but at the same time Sansa is a girl who has been on her own without any real friends/parental figures for most of the series. Finding out her family abandoned her before they died might help to drive her to the brink, especially if she does something like help poison SR to gain her birthright, and it turns out to be for nothing.

Good points, but we've already seen that Sansa considers her claim to be quite a burden as it's used for exploitative gain by others, and LF is simply offering more of the same. If Sansa were to willingly and actively participate in Sweetrobin's murder then it would mean her character has already "snapped" in a significant way, not towards madness, but to a profound cruelty that is fundamentally at odds with her characterization and the relationship she has developed with Sweetrobin.

On the subject of insanity as a whole, there are different levels of resilience and reactions to trauma. Insanity is not an automatic response, even with a familial "history" behind it, and Sansa's responses to the traumatic events she's been subjected to have varied throughout the story. What's obvious is that she's quite capable of bouncing back, processing these incidents, and carrying on with resolve. With respect to her aunt and mother, both women were killed before we could see how extensive the damage to their mind really was, and Lysa displayed prior problematic behaviour which Cat did not.

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A thoughtful post on Sansa which I highly recommend checking out appeared today. Particularly insightful was the observation that Sansa doesn't look away when her father is beheaded and how this connects back to the first lesson Bran learnt in AGOT. There's always been discussion about Sansa not being able to "wield the sword" and is therefore separated from the practice of Northern justice, but Eddard's ideals were that you had to own responsibility for ending a life, that you owed the other to look him in the eyes, hear his confession and swing the sword yourself. What’s often missed is that it's not "wielding the sword" itself that is important, and so the focus is on this and thereby on the supposed physical impossibility for Sansa to wield a sword because she is a traditionally feminine woman...



But the real point of the “Northern justice” is to look at the accused in the eyes. Why? Because that way you'll know if he is innocent or guilty, and you can’t escape being responsible if you execute an innocent and being responsible for the right execution of a criminal. When Eddard lectured Bran (and Jon and Robb too) on this, he stresses on the "don't look away" part most of all, judging by Jon’s words, because that’s how you own your responsibility. A king who has a headsman, on the other hand, can just say "Off with his head!" and all is done; he is responsible but doesn't acknowledge his responsibility, doesn't own his guilt or his rightness in doing so. Hence why when Robert orders the killing of Lady, Ned challenges him to acknowledge that his hands are bloodied, which Robert doesn't even if he knows he's done wrong (as his apologies to Ned later prove), and why he also gets angry when Ned challenges him to acknowledge the wrongness of the attempted murder of Daenerys.



Therefore, even if Sansa can't wield the sword (which she could, since she's still young and growing, and this is something she can learn) herself, she can still follow her father's justice by looking the condemned in the eyes, hearing his last words and passing judgment. She'd be present at the executions, she'd "own" her responsibility by being present and not averting her gaze. Wielding the sword in itself isn't the point, it's only the weapon, an object, not the justice system itself, which is contained in the "look, hear, judge, bloody your hands" teaching from Ned.


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It makes for very good reading, and of course Sansa's ability to perform "Northern" justice is contained in the GHH's prophecy when she slays the giant in a castle of snow, and further foreshadowed by the beheading of Sweetrobin's doll in the snow model of Winterfell. I wonder if it's significant that when she participates in "sentencing" Marillion that his eyes are covered? Sansa is acting here as a witness and with great reluctance to condemn an innocent man, but for LF (the judge) it's more evidence of his perversion of Ned's justice as articulated in his "clean hands" mantra.


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I was kindly asked to re-post this here after posting it in another thread asking if Sansa and Arya had lost their “Stark ways.” This is part of the post Brashcandy and Milady spoke so kindly about.

I had to break it into parts:

IMO, Sansa does one of the best jobs of exemplifying how her father believed a person should live. I know there are debates about whether Ned was a “true Stark.” But I view Sansa as informed by her father’s morality and reverence.

In am going to add a second layer of analysis to my post that was not in the original because it was off topic. I also find Sansa’s arc to be a fascinating twist on the traditional princess/knight/monster fairy tale. In the traditional tale, the knight goes on a quest to obtain whatever items he needs to rescue the princess from the monster. The knight collects his armor, weapons, information and goes on his quest. If it’s a happy ending tale, the knight rescues the princess, slays the monster, they wed and live happily ever after as Queen and her prince.

The subversion of that story in Sansa’s arc is worth writing a book on. I think in many ways Sansa is being armed like a knight to defend herself from monsters, learning along the way. I will highlight where I think the traditional trope is being twisted or subverted. I don’t plan on being all encompassing, some of the points are fairly obvious, but others are more subtle. But its fascinating that she is betrothed to a monster (Joffrey), her greatest knight is no knight at all, he’s the opposite of a knight (The Hound) and a princess cannot rely on knights and princes, she must learn to defend herself.

The seed for this post came on my 6th re-read or so, I was listening to the audio book and came to Sansa’s first chapter after her father’s death, so I’ll start there.

A GAME OF THRONES

Sansa’s first chapter in AGOT after Ned is executed:

Sometimes her sleep was leaden and dreamless, and she woke from it more tired than when she had closed her eyes. Yet those were the best times, for when she dreamed, she dreamed of Father. Waking or sleeping, she saw him, saw the gold cloaks fling him down, saw Ser Ilyn striding forward, unsheathing Ice from the scabbard on his back, saw the moment . . . the moment when . . . she had wanted to look away, she had wanted to, her legs had gone out from under her and she had fallen to her knees, yet somehow she could not turn her head, and all the people were screaming and shouting, and her prince had smiled at her, he'd smiled and she'd felt safe, but only for a heartbeat, until he said those words, and her father's legs . . . that was what she remembered, his legs, the way they'd jerked when Ser Ilyn . . . when the sword . .

This is the first chapter after Ned’s death. It comes right after the eerie chapter when Bran and Rickon have the same dream about Ned being in the crypts. The Sansa chapter starts with her dreams, and she dreams of her father’s death just like her brothers in Winterfell did, although her dreams were different because she saw the beheading in KL.

I thought it was very interesting that she watched the entire beheading. I don’t know why I never noticed before, but this time it reminded me of Bran’s first chapter in AGOT:

Bran's bastard brother Jon Snow moved closer. "Keep the pony well in hand," he whispered. "And don't look away. Father will know if you do."



Bran kept his pony well in hand, and did not look away.

His father took off the man's head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as surnmerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.

The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy's feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head, and kicked it away.


"Ass," Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran's shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother. "You did well," Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.

It seemed colder on the long ride back to Winterfell, though the wind had died by then and the sun was higher in the sky. …

So deep in thought was he that he never heard the rest of the party until his father moved up to ride beside him. "Are you well, Bran?" he asked, not unkindly.

"Yes, Father," Bran told him. He looked up. Wrapped in his furs and leathers, mounted on his great warhorse, his lord father loomed over him like a giant. "Robb says the man died bravely, but Jon says he was afraid."

"What do you think?" his father asked.

Bran thought about it. "Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?"


"That is the only time a man can be brave," his father told him. "Do you understand why I did it?"

Sansa is very “Ned-like” in this regard. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she didn’t look away and that Bran watch was a big deal in his introductory scene. Its also interesting to compare Sansa’s view of the execution with Arya’s, Arya looked away despite the fact that she will go on to see and experience more death than her sister Sansa.

Then Sansa goes to the throne room and she has this memory/recall:

Frog-faced Lord Slynt sat at the end of the council table wearing a black velvet doublet and a shiny cloth-of-gold cape, nodding with approval every time the king pronounced a sentence. Sansa stared hard at his ugly face, remembering how he had thrown down her father for Ser Ilyn to behead, wishing she could hurt him, wishing that some hero would throw him down and cut off his head. But a voice inside her whispered, There are no heroes, and she remembered what Lord Petyr had said to her, here in this very hall. "Life is not a song, sweetling," he'd told her. "You may learn that one day to your sorrow." In life, the monsters win, she told herself, and now it was the Hound's voice she heard, a cold rasp, metal on stone. "Save yourself some pain, girl, and give him what he wants."

Sansa now finds herself in the tales she romanticized so much in the past. She is the maiden or princess in the clutches of a monster, Joffrey and she is waiting for a true knight to come save her. I’m sure much and more have been written about Sansa and the Hound but I just love the unconventional twist on him being her “true knight” and the way he rails against knights.

Indeed he goes out with her after the scene in the throne room:

From the high battlements of the gatehouse, the whole world spread out below them. Sansa could see the Great Sept of Baelor on Visenya's hill, where her father had died. At the other end of the Street of the Sisters stood the fire-blackened ruins of the Dragonpit. To the west, the swollen red sun was half-hidden behind the Gate of the Gods. The salt sea was at her back, and to the south was the fish market and the docks and the swirling torrent of the Blackwater Rush. And to the north . . .



She turned that way, and saw only the city, streets and alleys and hills and bottoms and more streets and more alleys and the stone of distant walls. Yet she knew that beyond them was open country, farms and fields and forests, and beyond that, north and north and north again, stood Winterfell.

"What are you looking at?" Joffrey said. "This is what I wanted you to see, right here."

The narration here takes on an interesting tone, as though we are in Sansa’s day dream, its almost a third person omniscient rather than limited POV. It almost reminds me of that weird end to Victarion’s chapter in ADWD.

Given the close proximity to Bran and Rickon’s dreams about the Winterfell crypts, on this read, I viewed Sansa’s day dream almost as a vision of Winterfell. There was almost something supernatural about the escapism of it. Perhaps a small hint that all the Stark children have some sort of warging power? Lady is buried in Winterfell after all, is there a connection there beyond death?

Then her arc ends with the following scene:

The moment was gone. Sansa lowered her eyes. "Thank you," she said when he was done. She was a good girl, and always remembered her courtesies.

What an odd ending to her arc in AGOT, it almost reads like “…and she lived happily ever after” or “… and they did, until the end of days.” Almost like this is supposed to be the end of a fairy tale. But this is a subversion of the princess/knight trope I think. Shortly we will get a scene in ACOK when Sansa remembers her lessons, “a lady’s armor is her courtesy, that was it. She donned her armor and said…” Sansa I, ACOK. So in many ways, Sansa is receiving her armor, almost like a knight being given his/her armor.

IMO, by the end of AGOT we should be of the opinion that Sansa has a strong connection to Winterfell and the North, that she is her father’s daughter but hopefully not as foolish as he is. Afterall, Catelyn sent her daughters South to learn the ways of court and to get some seasoning.

A CLASH OF KING’S

Then ACOK starts and Sansa’s first chapter is the tournament on Joffrey’s name day. I won’t quote extensively except to note that Sansa saves “Ser Dontos the Red” from Joffrey who is more and more frequently referred to in Sansa’s POV as a “monster.” Perhaps it would be forced to note that Dontos is the last member of an old house, an orphan who the king wanted killed and his color is red. Ned also saved the last member of an old household marked by the color red. So I do see some parallels here.

We also get the quote above about the armor. It ties nicely to the ending quote from AGOT concerning courtesies.

Sansa II in ACOK opens with the beginning of Sansa’s escape, “Come to the Godswood if you want to go home.” The Ned parallels are obvious. Ned’s escape was always the Godswood, Catelyn tells us as much, “Whenever he took a man’s life, afterwards he would seek the quiet of the Godswood.” Cat I, AGOT. Oddly that chapter starts, “Catelyn had never liked this Godswood” which juxtaposes nicely with “Come to the Godswood if you want to come home.” Godswood, Winterfell, home, it is all the same imagery.

And I note that Sansa is oddly cold in this chapter, "A fire, I think . . . I feel a chill." She was shivering, though the day had been hot.

Again, could she be feeling the cold of Winterfell through Lady?

Then Sansa goes to the Godswood, thinking of Lady:

By the time she reached the godswood, the noises had faded to a faint rattle of steel and a distant shouting. Sansa pulled her cloak tighter. The air was rich with the smells of earth and leaf. Lady would have liked this place, she thought. There was something wild about a godswood; even here, in the heart of the castle at the heart of the city, you could feel the old gods watching with a thousand unseen eyes.

Sansa had favored her mother's gods over her father's. She loved the statues, the pictures in leaded glass, the fragrance of burning incense, the septons with their robes and crystals, the magical play of the rainbows over altars inlaid with mother-of-pearl and onyx and lapis lazuli. Yet she could not deny that the godswood had a certain power too. Especially by night. Help me, she prayed, send me a friend, a true knight to champion me . . .

What is fascinating here is that while Sansa prefers the Seven to the Old Gods, it is the Old Gods she prays to for a friend and she actually gets an answer, though not in the form she expected. And she can feel the power of the old gods despite there being no Weirwoods present.

I have to wonder again if she is sensing Lady buried beneath Winterfell, why so cold in the godswood? Why huddle in her cloak?

Then her prayers are “answered.”

"Thank you, sweet lady." Ser Dontos lurched clumsily to his feet, and brushed earth and leaves from his knees. "Your lord father was as true a man as the realm has ever known, but I stood by and let them slay him. I said nothing, did nothing . . . and yet, when Joffrey would have slain me, you spoke up. Lady, I have never been a hero, no Ryam Redwyne or Barristan the Bold. I've won no tourneys, no renown in war . . . but I was a knight once, and you have helped me remember what that meant. My life is a poor thing, but it is yours." Ser Dontos placed a hand on the gnarled bole of the heart tree. He was shaking, she saw. "I vow, with your father's gods as witness, that I shall send you home."

And Ned is present yet again. He is the alleged inspiration for Dontos deciding to help Sansa and he compares Sansa to Ned. Also, Dontos swears on the Heart tree, Ned’s favorite part of a godswood.

This is actually the same place that Ned warned Cersei that he had learned of her incest w/ Jaime and urged her to flee KL. It’s another tie between Sansa and Ned that should not be overlooked. The salvation of children discussed in the godswood is a nice parallel.

In fact, its fair to infer that Sansa spends a lot of time thinking of Winterfell while in the godswood at KL, “I pray for Robb's victory and Joffrey's death . . . and for home. For Winterfell. ‘I pray for an end to the fighting.’" Sansa III, ACOK

Every one of her chapters thus far has had some reference to Ned or Winterfell thus far. Even the next chapter mentioned Ned but it takes an interesting view of him in comparison w/ the Hound who has become a surrogate father figure for her in this book.

"Brave?" His laugh was half a snarl. "A dog doesn't need courage to chase off rats. They had me thirty to one, and not a man of them dared face me."

She hated the way he talked, always so harsh and angry. "Does it give you joy to scare people?"

"No, it gives me joy to kill people." His mouth twitched. "Wrinkle up your face all you like, but spare me this false piety. You were a high lord's get. Don't tell me Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell never killed a man."

"That was his duty. He never liked it."


"Is that what he told you?" Clegane laughed again. "Your father lied. Killing is the sweetest thing there is." He drew his longsword. "Here's your truth. Your precious father found that out on Baelor's steps. Lord of Winterfell, Hand of the King, Warden of the North, the mighty Eddard Stark, of a line eight thousand years old... but Ilyn Payne's blade went through his neck all the same, didn't it? Do you remember the dance he did when his head came off his shoulders?"

Sansa hugged herself, suddenly cold. "Why are you always so hateful? I was thanking you..."

Two items worth mentioning, the Hound is an excellent reader of people. Ned was a killer like the Hound who has become a pseudo-father figure to Sansa. Ned was the best leader in Robert’s Rebellion and was responsible for thousands of deaths. Aerys killed Brandon and Rickard and Rhaegar “kidnapped” Lyanna. I don’t doubt Ned enjoyed some of those killings.

The Hound also mentions Ned’s twitching legs, the exact detail that horrified Sansa in AGOT and haunted her dreams. The Hound really has an uncanny ability to read Sansa.

I also recall Ned’s quote to Bran that a man can only be brave when he is afraid. Sandor seems to agree, he wasn’t brave because he wasn’t scared. He wasn’t scared b/c the townsfolk didn’t threaten him, they ran away. Later the Hound is scared of the fire and we see how he really is not brave (by Ned’s definition and therefore Sandor’s).

Sansa even thinks of her father before the Blackwater:

Sansa knew most of the hymns, and followed along on those she did not know as best she could. She sang along with grizzled old serving men and anxious young wives, with serving girls and soldiers, cooks and falconers, knights and knaves, squires and spit boys and nursing mothers. She sang with those inside the castle walls and those without, sang with all the city. She sang for mercy, for the living and the dead alike, for Bran and Rickon and Robb, for her sister Arya and her bastard brother Jon Snow, away off on the Wall. She sang for her mother and her father, for her grandfather Lord Hoster and her uncle Edmure Tully, for her friend Jeyne Poole, for old drunken King Robert, for Septa Mordane and Ser Dontos and Jory Cassel and Maester Luwin, for all the brave knights and soldiers who would die today, and for the children and the wives who would mourn them, 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.

And during it in her next chapter with Cersei:

"For Stannis. Or your brother, it's all the same. Why else seek your father's gods? You're praying for our defeat. What would you call that, if not treason?"

Others have taken note of Sansa being much like her father as well. Indeed the entire small council suggested she may be treasonous like her father. Cersei could have used the term northern gods or your gods, but instead went with Father’s gods. Later during the battle, Sansa thinks of Lady who is buried beneath Winterfell once again:

Sansa backed away from the window, retreating toward the safety of her bed. I'll go to sleep, she told herself, and when I wake it will be a new day, and the sky will be blue again. The fighting will be done and someone will tell me whether I'm to live or die. "Lady," she whimpered softly, wondering if she would meet her wolf again when she was dead.

Winterfell gets mentioned in her final chapter in ACOK as well, but it is less relevant:

The High Septon stepped forward. "Your Grace, the gods hold bethrothal solemn, but your father, King Robert of blessed memory, made this pact before the Starks of Winterfell had revealed their falseness. Their crimes against the realm have freed you from any promise you might have made. So far as the Faith is concerned, there is no valid marriage contract 'twixt you and Sansa Stark."

Then her arc in ACOK ends with a thought of home:

"It's very lovely," Sansa said, thinking, It is a ship I need, not a net for my hair.

"Lovelier than you know, sweet child. It's magic, you see. It's justice you hold. It's vengeance for your father." Dontos leaned close and kissed her again. "It's home."

I also note that the arc ends with Sansa being given the hair net that will eventually be used to poison Joffrey. What is oft said of poison? It is a woman’s weapon… so here Sansa is being armed at the end of her arc yet again. She received her armor at the end of AGOT by remembering to be courteous, now she has her weapon, the very weapon that will be used to slay her personal monster, Joffrey.

A STORM OF SWORDS

Now her arc twists, she is no longer betrothed to Joffrey, but she is not free of the Lannisters yet. And she is torn between continuing to defend herself or letting others fight for her like the Tyrells or Ser Dontos.

Sansa's father’s lessons are not forgotten. Its his memory that inspires Sansa to tell the Tyrells the truth about Joffrey:

"My father always told the truth." Sansa spoke quietly, but even so, it was hard to get the words out.

"Lord Eddard, yes, he had that reputation, but they named him traitor and took his head off even so." The old woman's eyes bore into her, sharp and bright as the points of swords.

"Joffrey," Sansa said. "Joffrey did that. He promised me he would be merciful, and cut my father's head off. He said that was mercy, and he took me up on the walls and made me look at it. The head. He wanted me to weep, but . . . " She stopped abruptly, and covered her mouth. I've said too much, oh gods be good, they'll know, they'll hear, someone will tell on me.

"Go on." It was Margaery who urged. Joffrey's own queen-to-be. Sansa did not know how much she had heard.


"I can't." What if she tells him, what if she tells? He'll kill me for certain then, or give me to Ser Ilyn. "I never meant . . . my father was a traitor, my brother as well, I have the traitor's blood, please, don't make me say more."

"Calm yourself, child," the Queen of Thorns commanded.

"She's terrified, Grandmother, just look at her."

The old woman called to Butterbumps. "Fool! Give us a song. A long one, I should think. 'The Bear and the Maiden Fair' will do nicely."

But then Sansa tells Dontos about the Tyrell plan, forgoes her plans to return to Winterfell and it all gets mucked up. This is her punishment for relying on others and not trusting herself. She also forgot about the importance of who she is and the significance of her claim. Dontos has to remind her when he says the Tyrells only want her claim.

The morning of her wedding to Tyrion is a wonderful scene to review:

"I am, aren't I?" Sansa giggled, and spun, her skirts swirling around her. "Oh, I am." She could not wait for Willas to see her like this. He will love me, he will, he must . . . he will forget Winterfell when he sees me, I'll see that he does.

Queen Cersei studied her critically. "A few gems, I think. The moonstones Joffrey gave her."

"At once, Your Grace," her maid replied.


When the moonstones hung from Sansa's ears and about her neck, the queen nodded. "Yes. The gods have been kind to you, Sansa. You are a lovely girl. It seems almost obscene to squander such sweet innocence on that gargoyle."

"What gargoyle?" Sansa did not understand. Did she mean Willas? How could she know? No one knew, but her and Margaery and the Queen of Thorns . . . oh, and Dontos, but he didn't count.

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

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

"You're prettier with your mouth closed, Sansa," Cersei told her. "Come along now, the septon is waiting. And the wedding guests as well."

"No," Sansa blurted. "No."

"Yes. You are a ward of the crown. The king stands in your father's place, since your brother is an attainted traitor. That means he has every right to dispose of your hand. You are to marry my brother Tyrion."

My claim, she thought, sickened. Dontos the Fool was not so foolish after all; he had seen the truth of it. Sansa backed away from the queen. "I won't." I'm to marry Willas, I'm to be the lady of Highgarden, please . . .

She wants to use her beauty to make others forget about her political significance. But that is a vain endeavor. And again her father is mentioned, not Stark colors, not Sansa’s colors but her father’s colors. Cersei certainly views Sansa as decidedly Ned’s daughter. There is no psychological attempt to separate the two.

She eventually consents but does so with a certain ferocity to her:

Brave. Sansa took a deep breath. I am a Stark, yes, I can be brave. They were all looking at her, the way they had looked at her that day in the yard when Ser Boros Blount had torn her clothes off. It had been the Imp who saved her from a beating that day, the same man who was waiting for her now. He is not so bad as the rest of them, she told herself. "I'll go."

Cersei smiled. "I knew you would."

Afterward, she could not remember leaving the room or descending the steps or crossing the yard. It seemed to take all her attention just to put one foot down in front of the other. Ser Meryn and Ser Osmund walked beside her, in cloaks as pale as her own, lacking only the pearls and the direwolf that had been her father's. Joffrey himself was waiting for her on the steps of the castle sept. The king was resplendent in crimson and gold, his crown on his head. "I'm your father today," he announced.

"You're not," she flared. "You'll never be."

His face darkened. "I am. I'm your father, and I can marry you to whoever I like. [\spoiler]

I am not 100% certain what to make of the scene with the cloaks. I suppose that while the crown can remove Sansa’s cloak, it would be much harder to make her something other than a Stark. She will not wear other colors easily. Perhaps that’s a stretch.

The next Sansa Chapter in ASOS comes after the RW, again it opens with dreams of Winterfell, of family and of Lady:

She threw back the shutters and shivered as gooseprickles rose along her arms. There were clouds massing in the eastern sky, pierced by shafts of sunlight. They look like two huge castles afloat in the morning sky. Sansa could see their walls of tumbled stone, their mighty keeps and barbicans. Wispy banners swirled from atop their towers and reached for the fast-fading stars. The sun was coming up behind them, and she watched them go from black to grey to a thousand shades of rose and gold and crimson. Soon the wind mushed them together, and there was only one castle where there had been two.

She heard the door open as her maids brought the hot water for her bath. They were both new to her service; Tyrion said the women who'd tended to her previously had all been Cersei's spies, just as Sansa had always suspected. "Come see," she told them. "There's a castle in the sky."

They came to have a look. "It's made of gold." Shae had short dark hair and bold eyes. She did all that was asked of her, but sometimes she gave Sansa the most insolent looks. "A castle all of gold, there's a sight I'd like to see."


"A castle, is it?" Brella had to squint. "That tower's tumbling over, looks like. It's all ruins, that is."

Sansa did not want to hear about falling towers and ruined castles. She closed the shutters and said, "We are expected at the queen's breakfast. Is my lord husband in the solar?"

That was such a sweet dream, Sansa thought drowsily. She had been back in Winterfell, running through the godswood with her Lady. Her father had been there, and her brothers, all of them warm and safe. If only dreaming could make it so . . .

She threw back the coverlets. I must be brave. Her torments would soon be ended, one way or the other. If Lady was here, I would not be afraid. Lady was dead, though; Robb, Bran, Rickon, Arya, her father, her mother, even Septa Mordane. All of them are dead but me. She was alone in the world now.

If “knights” or “true knights” was the theme for Sansa in ACOK, its castles in ASOS. This isn’t the first time Sansa dreams of castles.

After the Purple Wedding, Sansa makes her escape. She realizes the role she played in Joffrey’s death:

A sudden terror filled her. Her heart hammered against her ribs, and for an instant she held her breath. Why am I so scared, it's only an amethyst, a black amethyst from Asshai, no more than that. It must have been loose in the setting, that's all. It was loose and it fell out, and now it's lying somewhere in the throne room, or in the yard, unless . . .



Ser Dontos had said the hair net was magic, that it would take her home. He told her she must wear it tonight at Joffrey's wedding feast. The silver wire stretched tight across her knuckles. Her thumb rubbed back and forth against the hole where the stone had been. She tried to stop, but her fingers were not her own. Her thumb was drawn to the hole as the tongue is drawn to a missing tooth. What kind of magic? The king was dead, the cruel king who had been her gallant prince a thousand years ago. If Dontos had lied about the hair net, had he lied about the rest as well? What if he never comes? What if there is no ship, no boat on the river, no escape? What would happen to her then?

Notice she hardly give it a second thought. She is quite glad her monster is dead. Then she meets one of her “knights” but Dontos was of course no true knight, he was sworn to another monster. And so Sansa finds herself going from one monster to another. Sad too, as Dontos said, “I wanted to be a knight. For this, at least.” Even he knows he was never a true knight.

I also note that this is the same stair that Ned followed LF down to see Cat when he told them the lie about Tyrion and the Dagger:

Ned followed him warily, wondering if this day would ever end. He had no taste for these intrigues, but he was beginning to realize that they were meat and mead to a man like Littlefinger.

At the foot of the steps was a heavy door of oak and iron. Petyr Baelish lifted the crossbar and gestured Ned through. They stepped out into the ruddy glow of dusk, on a rocky bluff high above the river. "We're outside the castle," Ned said.

"You are a hard man to fool, Stark," Littlefinger said with a smirk. "Was it the sun that gave it away, or the sky? Follow me. There are niches cut in the rock. Try not to fall to your death, Catelyn would never understand." With that, he was over the side of the cliff, descending as quick as a monkey.


Ned studied the rocky face of the bluff for a moment, then followed more slowly. The niches were there, as Littlefinger had promised, shallow cuts that would be invisible from below, unless you knew just where to look for them. The river was a long, dizzying distance below. Ned kept his face pressed to the rock and tried not to look down any more often than he had to.

This is no coincidence, its almost as though LF is luring Sansa down the rabbit hole the same he did her father. He used Eddard as a pawn in his plans, now he will try to do the same with Sansa. He almost projects it as much:

Sansa felt sick. "He said he was my Florian."

"Do you perchance recall what I said to you that day your father sat the Iron Throne?"

The moment came back to her vividly. "You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow." She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say. "Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?"


"Almost everyone. Save you and I, of course." He smiled. "Come to the godswood tonight if you want to go home."

You are safe now, that’s all that matters. You are safe with me and sailing home.”

LF is another kind of monster entirely, lying all the while. But home, Winterfell is still Sansa’s motivation and the shadow of Ned looms large over the entire scene.

End part 1

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Part 2

A STORM OF SWORDS PART 2.

Sansa’s adventures in the Vale mark a major turning point in her story. Much like has been suggested with Jon or Dany, these early experiences are training for later in life. Sansa survived her monsters and maidens story in KL, but now there is a new cast in the Vale. She needs new armor, a new weapon even a new identity.

We start with a new knight, Ser Lothar Brune:


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

Once again, she misreads knighthood. Brune is sworn to Baelish, but he’s a truer knight than Ser Dontos and will protect Sansa later on.

Home and castles are also going to be a major theme in this part of Sansa’s tale:

"And there it stands, miserable as it is. My ancestral home. It has no name, I fear. A great lord's seat ought to have a name, wouldn't you agree? Winterfell, the Eyrie, Riverrun, those are castles. Lord of Harrenhal now, that has a sweet ring to it, but what was I before? Lord of Sheepshit and Master of the Drearfort? It lacks a certain something." His grey-green eyes regarded her innocently. "You look distraught. Did you think we were making for Winterfell, sweetling? Winterfell has been taken, burned, and sacked. All those you knew and loved are dead. What northmen who have not fallen to the ironmen are warring amongst themselves. Even the Wall is under attack. Winterfell was the home of your childhood, Sansa, but you are no longer a child. You're a woman grown, and you need to make your own home."

In fact, LF flat out tells Sansa that she is now playing a new game, new rules and new characters, LF being the newest monster and therefore Sansa needs a new name:

Sansa took another sip of wine and tried to think of some polite conversation, but Lord Petyr saved her the effort. When Grisel and the other servants had gone, he said, "Lysa will not come alone. Before she arrives, we must be clear on who you are."



"Who I . . . I don't understand."

"Varys has informers everywhere. If Sansa Stark should be seen in the Vale, the eunuch will know within a moon's turn, and that would create unfortunate . . . complications. It is not safe to be a Stark just now. So we shall tell Lysa's people that you are my natural daughter."


"Natural?" Sansa was aghast. "You mean, a bastard?"


"Well, you can scarcely be my trueborn daughter. I've never taken a wife, that's well known. What should you be called?"

"I . . . I could call myself after my mother . . . "

"Catelyn? A bit too obvious . . . but after my mother, that would serve. Alayne. Do you like it?"

"Alayne is pretty." Sansa hoped she would remember. "But couldn't I be the trueborn daughter of some knight in your service? Perhaps he died gallantly in the battle, and . . . "

"I have no gallant knights in my service, Alayne. Such a tale would draw unwanted questions as a corpse draws crows. It is rude to pry into the origins of a man's natural children, however." He cocked his head. "So, who are you?"

"Alayne . . . Stone, would it be?" When he nodded, she said, "But who is my mother?"

"Kella?"

"Please no," she said, mortified.

"I was teasing. Your mother was a gentlewoman of Braavos, daughter of a merchant prince. We met in Gulltown when I had charge of the port. She died giving you birth, and entrusted you to the Faith. I have some devotional books you can look over. Learn to quote from them. Nothing discourages unwanted questions as much as a flow of pious bleating. In any case, at your flowering you decided you did not wish to be a septa and wrote to me. That was the first I knew of your existence." He fingered his beard. "Do you think you can remember all that?"

"I hope. It will be like playing a game, won't it?"

"Are you fond of games, Alayne?"

The new name would take some getting used to. "Games? I . . . I suppose it would depend . . . "

I just love the imagery as we are introduced more and more to LF. It’s a wonderful folding of themes and imagery. For instance when Sansa see the Giant sigil, LF says, “"Rather too fierce, for an amiable fellow like me," said Petyr. "I much prefer my mockingbird." A Giant is an obvious kind of monster, does transforming him into a mocking bird make him less monstrous? Will Sansa be able to see the monster underneath?

I also see some classic greek/roman mythology here when Sansa declines to eat a pomegranate. In Greek myth, the god of the underworld used a pomegranate to keep the daughter of Hestia or Vesta, goddess of the seasons, in the underworld. She would spend several months a year there and her return marked the return of spring. Sansa’s rejection of the pomegranate suggests that her return to Winterfell could mark the coming of spring:

Grisel reappeared before he could say more, balancing a large platter. She set it down between them. There were apples and pears and pomegranates, some sad-looking grapes, a huge blood orange. The old woman had brought a round of bread as well, and a crock of butter. Petyr cut a pomegranate in two with his dagger, offering half to Sansa. "You should try and eat, my lady."

"Thank you, my lord." Pomegranate seeds were so messy; Sansa chose a pear instead, and took a small delicate bite. It was very ripe. The juice ran down her chin.

Sansa will not take LF’s temptations, not yet. Later the game analogy is born out further and again Ned looms large:

Lord Petyr loosened a seed with the point of his dagger. "You must miss your father terribly, I know. Lord Eddard was a brave man, honest and loyal . . . but quite a hopeless player." He brought the seed to his mouth with the knife. "In King's Landing, there are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces."

"And I was a piece?" She dreaded the answer.

"Yes, but don't let that trouble you. You're still half a child. Every man's a piece to start with, and every maid as well. Even some who think they are players." He ate another seed. "Cersei, for one. She thinks herself sly, but in truth she is utterly predictable. Her strength rests on her beauty, birth, and riches. Only the first of those is truly her own, and it will soon desert her. I pity her then. She wants power, but has no notion what to do with it when she gets it. Everyone wants something, Alayne. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him."


"As you moved Ser Dontos to poison Joffrey?" It had to have been Dontos, she had concluded.


Littlefinger laughed. "Ser Dontos the Red was a skin of wine with legs. He could never have been trusted with a task of such enormity. He would have bungled it or betrayed me. No, all Dontos had to do was lead you from the castle . . . and make certain you wore your silver hair net."

The black amethysts. "But . . . if not Dontos, who? Do you have other . . . pieces?"

"You could turn King's Landing upside down and not find a single man with a mockingbird sewn over his heart, but that does not mean I am friendless." Petyr went to the steps. "Oswell, come up here and let the Lady Sansa have a look at you."

Of course, this is the quote that inspired the title of this thread, pawns, players and games. Its so well done.

Ned’s biggest error was trusting LF, will Sansa make the same mistake? It is suggested not, Ned had a miserable time figuring out the succession problem and Joff’s illegitimacy, but Sansa appears quicker with family resemblances:

The old man appeared a few moments later, grinning and bowing. Sansa eyed him uncertainly. "What am I supposed to see?"

"Do you know him?" asked Petyr.

"No."


"Look closer."


She studied the old man's lined windburnt face, hook nose, white hair, and huge knuckly hands. There was something familiar about him, yet Sansa had to shake her head. "I don't. I never saw Oswell before I got into his boat, I'm certain."

Oswell grinned, showing a mouth of crooked teeth. "No, but m'lady might of met my three sons."

It was the "three sons," and that smile too. "Kettleblack!" Sansa's eyes went wide. "You're a Kettleblack!"

"Aye, m'lady, as it please you."

"She's beside herself with joy." Lord Petyr dismissed him with a wave, and returned to the pomegranate again as Oswell shuffled down the steps. "Tell me, Alayne - which is more dangerous, the dagger brandished by an enemy, or the hidden one pressed to your back by someone you never even see?"

"The hidden dagger."

"There's a clever girl." He smiled, his thin lips bright red from the pomegranate seeds. "When the Imp sent off her guards, the queen had Ser Lancel hire sellswords for her. Lancel found her the Kettleblacks, which delighted your little lord husband, since the lads were in his pay through his man Bronn." He chuckled. "But it was me who told Oswell to get his sons to King's Landing when I learned that Bronn was looking for swords. Three hidden daggers, Alayne, now perfectly placed."

Dagger… LF you jerk… again Ned looms large, though Sansa would not get the reference.

Ned was a bad player of the game, Sansa shows a far greater aptitude for it.

After LF weds Lysa, Sansa is again saved from by a knight, Ser Lothar:

"Littlefinger?" He chuckled. "Lady Lysa loves me well, and I am Lord Robert's favorite. If your father offends me, I will destroy him with a verse." He put a hand on her breast, and squeezed. "Let's get you out of these wet clothes. You wouldn't want them ripped, I know. Come, sweet lady, heed your heart - "



Sansa heard the soft sound of steel on leather. "Singer," a rough voice said, "best go, if you want to sing again." The light was dim, but she saw a faint glimmer of a blade.

The singer saw it too. "Find your own wench - " The knife flashed, and he cried out. "You cut me!"


"I'll do worse, if you don't go."


And quick as that, Marillion was gone. The other remained, looming over Sansa in the darkness. "Lord Petyr said watch out for you." It was Lothor Brune's voice, she realized. Not the Hound's, no, how could it be? Of course it had to be Lothor . . .

Rape was always something Sansa feared, Joffrey threatened it, she faced possible rape during the riots, but now for the second time she is being saved by a knight. Sadly, I fear that the day will come when no one is there to save Sansa from being raped. I do wonder if that’s hinted at in this GRRM interview.

http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/george-rr-martin-fans-have-three-meals-and-drinks.html

The role of virginity in maiden/knight/monster tales is well established. I imagine it must play a role in her story. Obviously I’m not rooting for it, and am certainly not condoning it, but I do expect it to happen and it will be very upsetting for us readers.

Back to the text analysis, Sansa again dreams but this time she has nightmares. Still the same themes come up, family and even Lady:

That night Sansa scarcely slept at all, but tossed and turned just as she had aboard the Merling King. She dreamt of Joffrey dying, but as he clawed at his throat and the blood ran down across his fingers she saw with horror that it was her brother Robb. And she dreamed of her wedding night too, of Tyrion's eyes devouring her as she undressed. Only then he was bigger than Tyrion had any right to be, and when he climbed into the bed his face was scarred only on one side. "I'll have a song from you," he rasped, and Sansa woke and found the old blind dog beside her once again. "I wish that you were Lady," she said.

I don’t have much to say about this excerpt but that Sansa is still very much connected to her family and Lady.

Then she meets Lysa, the imagry at the end of this chapter is fun:

"Robert has weak eyes, but he loves to be read to," Lady Lysa confided. "He likes stories about animals the best. Do you know the little song about the chicken who dressed as a fox? I sing him that all the time, he never grows tired of it. And he likes to play hopfrog and spin-the-sword and come-into-my-castle, but you must always let him win. That's only proper, don't you think? He is the Lord of the Eyrie, after all, you must never forget that. You are well born, and the Starks of Winterfell were always proud, but Winterfell has fallen and you are really just a beggar now, so put that pride aside. Gratitude will better become you, in your present circumstances. Yes, and obedience. My son will have a grateful and obedient wife."

Chickens as foxes, or mockingbirds as giants? He likes games and the Lord of the Eyrie likes to win? And once again Sansa is wanted for a marriage. It’s the same story again, the same game, but different. Sansa task will be to play this game relying on the lessons she learned in the first game.

Then the final chapter of ASOS, one of the best in the entire series, IMO.

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was. She had dreamt that she was little, still sharing a bedchamber with her sister Arya. But it was her maid she heard tossing in sleep, not her sister, and this was not Winterfell, but the Eyrie. And I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl. The room was cold and black, though she was warm beneath the blankets. Dawn had not yet come. Sometimes she dreamed of Ser Ilyn Payne and woke with her heart thumping, but this dream had not been like that. Home. It was a dream of home.

am not going back to sleep, Sansa realized. My head is all a tumult. She pushed her pillow away reluctantly, threw back the blankets, went to her window, and opened the shutters.

Snow was falling on the Eyrie.

Outside the flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. Was this what woke me? Already the snowfall lay thick upon the garden below, blanketing the grass, dusting the shrubs and statues with white and weighing down the branches of the trees. The sight took Sansa back to cold nights long ago, in the long summer of her childhood.


She had last seen snow the day she'd left Winterfell. That was a lighter fall than this, she remembered. Robb had melting flakes in his hair when he hugged me, and the snowball Arya tried to make kept coming apart in her hands. It hurt to remember how happy she had been that morning. Hullen had helped her mount, and she'd ridden out with the snowflakes swirling around her, off to see the great wide world. I thought my song was beginning that day, but it was almost done.

The energy of this scene is palpable, we tingle as Sansa tingles. And again, she dreams of home. At this point, I really have to dismiss anyone who thinks Sansa is not a true daughter of Winterfell, a daughter of Ned Stark. She thinks about these things nearly every scene.

Then she goes outside to bask in its beauty, All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.”

Why does Sansa not belong in a pure world? Is it because there is no such thing? Or does she really belong.

This scene also reminds me of a scene long ago in AGOT, before Lysa’s letter reaches Ned and Cat. He opens the bedroom window embracing the cold.

So when they had finished, Ned rolled off and climbed from her bed, as he had a thousand times before. He crossed the room, pulled back the heavy tapestries, and threw open the high narrow windows one by one, letting the night air into the chamber.

The wind swirled around him as he stood facing the dark, naked and empty-handed. Catelyn pulled the furs to her chin and watched him. He looked somehow smaller and more vulnerable, like the youth she had wed in the sept at Riverrun, fifteen long years gone. Her loins still ached from the urgency of his lovemaking. It was a good ache. She could feel his seed within her. She prayed that it might quicken there. It had been three years since Rickon. She was not too old. She could give him another son.

And now Sansa is doing the same thing.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sansa is at the Eyrie, the place of her father’ s childhood. One can see Ned playing in the same garden, the same snows Sansa now looks at. And she is here with the people who conspired to murder her father’s surrogate father, Jon Arryn. Jon Arryn, who saved Ned’s life and taught him to be the honorable man he became. There is a very sweet feeling I get in the idea that Sansa might be the one to avenge Jon Arryn’s killers given what he did for and meant to her father.

Then we get this nice line which I think sums up how GRRM views Winterfell in Sansa’s arc, “It was the taste of Winterfell. The taste of innocence. The taste of dreams.”

But Sansa doesn’t truly belong in the Vale, no more than Ned did:

When Sansa opened her eyes again, she was on her knees. She did not remember falling. It seemed to her that the sky was a lighter shade of grey. Dawn, she thought. Another day. Another new day. It was the old days she hungered for. Prayed for. But who could she pray to? The garden had been meant for a godswood once, she knew, but the soil was too thin and stony for a weirwood to take root. A godswood without gods, as empty as me.

Sansa is her father’s daughter when it comes to godswoods.

Next comes the infamous castle scene. I won’t go into any ghost of high heart analysis here, but I do love this scene:

What do I want with snowballs? She looked at her sad little arsenal. There's no one to throw them at. She let the one she was making drop from her hand. I could build a snow knight instead, she thought. Or even . . .

She pushed two of her snowballs together, added a third, packed more snow in around them, and patted the whole thing into the shape of a cylinder. When it was done, she stood it on end and used the tip of her little finger to poke holes in it for windows. The crenellations around the top took a little more care, but when they were done she had a tower. I need some walls now, Sansa thought, and then a keep. She set to work.

The snow fell and the castle rose. Two walls ankle-high, the inner taller than the outer. Towers and turrets, keeps and stairs, a round kitchen, a square armory, the stables along the inside of the west wall. It was only a castle when she began, but before very long Sansa knew it was Winterfell. She found twigs and fallen branches beneath the snow and broke off the ends to make the trees for the godswood. For the gravestones in the lichyard she used bits of bark. Soon her gloves and her boots were crusty white, her hands were tingling, and her feet were soaked and cold, but she did not care. The castle was all that mattered. Some things were hard to remember, but most came back to her easily, as if she had been there only yesterday. The Library Tower, with the steep stonework stair twisting about its exterior. The gatehouse, two huge bulwarks, the arched gate between them, crenellations all along the top . . .


And all the while the snow kept falling, piling up in drifts around her buildings as fast as she raised them. She was patting down the pitched roof of the Great Hall when she heard a voice, and looked up to see her maid calling from her window. Was my lady well? Did she wish to break her fast? Sansa shook her head, and went back to shaping snow, adding a chimney to one end of the Great Hall, where the hearth would stand inside.


Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snow. A few servants came out and watched her for a time, but she paid them no mind and they soon went back inside where it was warmer. Sansa saw Lady Lysa gazing down from her balcony, wrapped up in a blue velvet robe trimmed with fox fur, but when she looked again her aunt was gone. Maester Colemon popped out of the rookery and peered down for a while, skinny and shivering but curious.

Her bridges kept falling down. There was a covered bridge between the armory and the main keep, and another that went from the fourth floor of the bell tower to the second floor of the rookery, but no matter how carefully she shaped them, they would not hold together. The third time one collapsed on her, she cursed aloud and sat back in helpless frustration.

"Pack the snow around a stick, Sansa."

She did not know how long he had been watching her, or when he had returned from the Vale. "A stick?" she asked.

"That will give it strength enough to stand, I'd think," Petyr said. "May I come into your castle, my lady?"

Sansa was wary. "Don't break it. Be . . . "

" . . . gentle?" He smiled. "Winterfell has withstood flercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?"

"Yes," Sansa admitted.

He walked along outside the walls. "I used to dream of it, in those years after Cat went north with Eddard Stark. In my dreams it was ever a dark place, and cold."

"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer." She stood, towering over the great white castle. "I can't think how to do the glass roof over the gardens."

Littlefinger stroked his chin, where his beard had been before Lysa had asked him to shave it off. "The glass was locked in frames, no? Twigs are your answer. Peel them and cross them and use bark to tie them together into frames. I'll show you." He moved through the garden, gathering up twigs and sticks and shaking the snow from them. When he had enough, he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels in the middle of the yard. Sansa came closer to watch what he was doing. His hands were deft and sure, and before long he had a crisscrossing latticework of twigs, very like the one that roofed the glass gardens of Winterfell. "We will need to imagine the glass, to be sure," he said when he gave it to her.

"This is just right," she said.

He touched her face. "And so is that."

Sansa did not understand. "And so is what?"

"Your smile, my lady. Shall I make another for you?"

"If you would."

"Nothing could please me more."

She raised the walls of the glass gardens while Littlefinger roofed them over, and when they were done with that he helped her extend the walls and build the guardshall. When she used sticks for the covered bridges, they stood, just as he had said they would. The First Keep was simple enough, an old round drum tower, but Sansa was stymied again when it came to putting the gargoyles around the top. Again he had the answer. "It's been snowing on your castle, my lady," he pointed out. "What do the gargoyles look like when they're covered with snow?"

Sansa closed her eyes to see them in memory. "They're just white lumps."

"Well, then. Gargoyles are hard, but white lumps should be easy." And they were.

The Broken Tower was easier still. They made a tall tower together, kneeling side by side to roll it smooth, and when they'd raised it Sansa stuck her fingers through the top, grabbed a handful of snow, and flung it full in his face. Petyr yelped, as the snow slid down under his collar. "That was unchivalrously done, my lady."

"As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home."

She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

His face grew serious. "Yes, I played you false in that . . . and in one other thing as well."

Sansa's stomach was aflutter. "What other thing?"

"I told you that nothing could please me more than to help you with your castle. I fear that was a lie as well. Something else would please me more." He stepped closer. "This."

Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words. He tasted of mint. For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss . . . before she turned her face away and wrenched free. "What are you doing?"

Petyr straightened his cloak. "Kissing a snow maid."

"You're supposed to kiss her." Sansa glanced up at Lysa's balcony, but it was empty now. "Your lady wife."

"I do. Lysa has no cause for complaint." He smiled. "I wish you could see yourself, my lady. You are so beautiful. You're crusted over with snow like some little bear cub, but your face is flushed and you can scarcely breathe. How long have you been out here? You must be very cold. Let me warm you, Sansa. Take off those gloves, give me your hands."

"I won't." He sounded almost like Marillion, the night he'd gotten so drunk at the wedding. Only this time Lothor Brune would not appear to save her; Ser Lothor was Petyr's man. "You shouldn't kiss me. I might have been your own daughter . . . "

"Might have been," he admitted, with a rueful smile. "But you're not, are you? You are Eddard Stark's daughter, and Cat's. But I think you might be even more beautiful than your mother was, when she was your age."

"Petyr, please." Her voice sounded so weak. "Please . . . "

"A castle!"

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was. She had dreamt that she was little, still sharing a bedchamber with her sister Arya. But it was her maid she heard tossing in sleep, not her sister, and this was not Winterfell, but the Eyrie. And I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl. The room was cold and black, though she was warm beneath the blankets. Dawn had not yet come. Sometimes she dreamed of Ser Ilyn Payne and woke with her heart thumping, but this dream had not been like that. Home. It was a dream of home.

The Eyrie was no home. It was no bigger than Maegor's Holdfast, and outside its sheer white walls was only the mountain and the long treacherous descent past Sky and Snow and Stone to the Gates of the Moon on the valley floor. There was no place to go and little to do. The older servants said these halls rang with laughter when her father and Robert Baratheon had been Jon Arryn's wards, but those days were many years gone. Her aunt kept a small household, and seldom permitted any guests to ascend past the Gates of the Moon. Aside from her aged maid, Sansa's only companion was the Lord Robert, eight going on three.

And Marillion. There is always Marillion. When he played for them at supper, the young singer often seemed to be singing directly at her. Her aunt was far from pleased. Lady Lysa doted on Marillion, and had banished two serving girls and even a page for telling lies about him.

Lysa was as lonely as she was. Her new husband seemed to spend more time at the foot of the mountain than he did atop it. He was gone now, had been gone the past four days, meeting with the Corbrays. From bits and pieces of overheard conversations Sansa knew that Jon Arryn's bannermen resented Lysa's marriage and begrudged Petyr his authority as Lord Protector of the Vale. The senior branch of House Royce was close to open revolt over her aunt's failure to aid Robb in his war, and the Waynwoods, Redforts, Belmores, and Templetons were giving them every support. The mountain clans were being troublesome as well, and old Lord Hunter had died so suddenly that his two younger sons were accusing their elder brother of having murdered him. The Vale of Arryn might have been spared the worst of the war, but it was hardly the idyllic place that Lady Lysa had made it out to be.

I am not going back to sleep, Sansa realized. My head is all a tumult. She pushed her pillow away reluctantly, threw back the blankets, went to her window, and opened the shutters.

Snow was falling on the Eyrie.

Outside the flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. Was this what woke me? Already the snowfall lay thick upon the garden below, blanketing the grass, dusting the shrubs and statues with white and weighing down the branches of the trees. The sight took Sansa back to cold nights long ago, in the long summer of her childhood.

She had last seen snow the day she'd left Winterfell. That was a lighter fall than this, she remembered. Robb had melting flakes in his hair when he hugged me, and the snowball Arya tried to make kept coming apart in her hands. It hurt to remember how happy she had been that morning. Hullen had helped her mount, and she'd ridden out with the snowflakes swirling around her, off to see the great wide world. I thought my song was beginning that day, but it was almost done.

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.

Her maid rolled herself more tightly in her blanket as the snow began to drift in the window. Sansa eased open the door, and made her way down the winding stair. When she opened the door to the garden, it was so lovely that she held her breath, unwilling to disturb such perfect beauty. The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.

Yet she stepped out all the same. Her boots tore ankle-deep holes into the smooth white surface of the snow, yet made no sound. Sansa drifted past frosted shrubs and thin dark trees, and wondered if she were still dreaming. Drifting snowflakes brushed her face as light as lover's kisses, and melted on her cheeks. At the center of the garden, beside the statue of the weeping woman that lay broken and half-buried on the ground, she turned her face up to the sky and closed her eyes. She could feel the snow on her lashes, taste it on her lips. It was the taste of Winterfell. The taste of innocence. The taste of dreams.

When Sansa opened her eyes again, she was on her knees. She did not remember falling. It seemed to her that the sky was a lighter shade of grey. Dawn, she thought. Another day. Another new day. It was the old days she hungered for. Prayed for. But who could she pray to? The garden had been meant for a godswood once, she knew, but the soil was too thin and stony for a weirwood to take root. A godswood without gods, as empty as me.

She scooped up a handful of snow and squeezed it between her fingers. Heavy and wet, the snow packed easily. Sansa began to make snowballs, shaping and smoothing them until they were round and white and perfect. She remembered a summer's snow in Winterfell when Arya and Bran had ambushed her as she emerged from the keep one morning. They'd each had a dozen snowballs to hand, and she'd had none. Bran had been perched on the roof of the covered bridge, out of reach, but Sansa had chased Arya through the stables and around the kitchen until both of them were breathless. She might even have caught her, but she'd slipped on some ice. Her sister came back to see if she was hurt. When she said she wasn't, Arya hit her in the face with another snowball, but Sansa grabbed her leg and pulled her down and was rubbing snow in her hair when Jory came along and pulled them apart, laughing.

What do I want with snowballs? She looked at her sad little arsenal. There's no one to throw them at. She let the one she was making drop from her hand. I could build a snow knight instead, she thought. Or even . . .

She pushed two of her snowballs together, added a third, packed more snow in around them, and patted the whole thing into the shape of a cylinder. When it was done, she stood it on end and used the tip of her little finger to poke holes in it for windows. The crenellations around the top took a little more care, but when they were done she had a tower. I need some walls now, Sansa thought, and then a keep. She set to work.

The snow fell and the castle rose. Two walls ankle-high, the inner taller than the outer. Towers and turrets, keeps and stairs, a round kitchen, a square armory, the stables along the inside of the west wall. It was only a castle when she began, but before very long Sansa knew it was Winterfell. She found twigs and fallen branches beneath the snow and broke off the ends to make the trees for the godswood. For the gravestones in the lichyard she used bits of bark. Soon her gloves and her boots were crusty white, her hands were tingling, and her feet were soaked and cold, but she did not care. The castle was all that mattered. Some things were hard to remember, but most came back to her easily, as if she had been there only yesterday. The Library Tower, with the steep stonework stair twisting about its exterior. The gatehouse, two huge bulwarks, the arched gate between them, crenellations all along the top . . .

And all the while the snow kept falling, piling up in drifts around her buildings as fast as she raised them. She was patting down the pitched roof of the Great Hall when she heard a voice, and looked up to see her maid calling from her window. Was my lady well? Did she wish to break her fast? Sansa shook her head, and went back to shaping snow, adding a chimney to one end of the Great Hall, where the hearth would stand inside.

Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snow. A few servants came out and watched her for a time, but she paid them no mind and they soon went back inside where it was warmer. Sansa saw Lady Lysa gazing down from her balcony, wrapped up in a blue velvet robe trimmed with fox fur, but when she looked again her aunt was gone. Maester Colemon popped out of the rookery and peered down for a while, skinny and shivering but curious.

Her bridges kept falling down. There was a covered bridge between the armory and the main keep, and another that went from the fourth floor of the bell tower to the second floor of the rookery, but no matter how carefully she shaped them, they would not hold together. The third time one collapsed on her, she cursed aloud and sat back in helpless frustration.

"Pack the snow around a stick, Sansa."

She did not know how long he had been watching her, or when he had returned from the Vale. "A stick?" she asked.

"That will give it strength enough to stand, I'd think," Petyr said. "May I come into your castle, my lady?"

Sansa was wary. "Don't break it. Be . . . "

" . . . gentle?" He smiled. "Winterfell has withstood flercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?"

"Yes," Sansa admitted.

He walked along outside the walls. "I used to dream of it, in those years after Cat went north with Eddard Stark. In my dreams it was ever a dark place, and cold."

"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer." She stood, towering over the great white castle. "I can't think how to do the glass roof over the gardens."

Littlefinger stroked his chin, where his beard had been before Lysa had asked him to shave it off. "The glass was locked in frames, no? Twigs are your answer. Peel them and cross them and use bark to tie them together into frames. I'll show you." He moved through the garden, gathering up twigs and sticks and shaking the snow from them. When he had enough, he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels in the middle of the yard. Sansa came closer to watch what he was doing. His hands were deft and sure, and before long he had a crisscrossing latticework of twigs, very like the one that roofed the glass gardens of Winterfell. "We will need to imagine the glass, to be sure," he said when he gave it to her.

"This is just right," she said.

He touched her face. "And so is that."

Sansa did not understand. "And so is what?"

"Your smile, my lady. Shall I make another for you?"

"If you would."

"Nothing could please me more."

She raised the walls of the glass gardens while Littlefinger roofed them over, and when they were done with that he helped her extend the walls and build the guardshall. When she used sticks for the covered bridges, they stood, just as he had said they would. The First Keep was simple enough, an old round drum tower, but Sansa was stymied again when it came to putting the gargoyles around the top. Again he had the answer. "It's been snowing on your castle, my lady," he pointed out. "What do the gargoyles look like when they're covered with snow?"

Sansa closed her eyes to see them in memory. "They're just white lumps."

"Well, then. Gargoyles are hard, but white lumps should be easy." And they were.

The Broken Tower was easier still. They made a tall tower together, kneeling side by side to roll it smooth, and when they'd raised it Sansa stuck her fingers through the top, grabbed a handful of snow, and flung it full in his face. Petyr yelped, as the snow slid down under his collar. "That was unchivalrously done, my lady."

"As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home."

She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

His face grew serious. "Yes, I played you false in that . . . and in one other thing as well."

Sansa's stomach was aflutter. "What other thing?"

"I told you that nothing could please me more than to help you with your castle. I fear that was a lie as well. Something else would please me more." He stepped closer. "This."

Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words. He tasted of mint. For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss . . . before she turned her face away and wrenched free. "What are you doing?"

Petyr straightened his cloak. "Kissing a snow maid."

"You're supposed to kiss her." Sansa glanced up at Lysa's balcony, but it was empty now. "Your lady wife."

"I do. Lysa has no cause for complaint." He smiled. "I wish you could see yourself, my lady. You are so beautiful. You're crusted over with snow like some little bear cub, but your face is flushed and you can scarcely breathe. How long have you been out here? You must be very cold. Let me warm you, Sansa. Take off those gloves, give me your hands."

"I won't." He sounded almost like Marillion, the night he'd gotten so drunk at the wedding. Only this time Lothor Brune would not appear to save her; Ser Lothor was Petyr's man. "You shouldn't kiss me. I might have been your own daughter . . . "

"Might have been," he admitted, with a rueful smile. "But you're not, are you? You are Eddard Stark's daughter, and Cat's. But I think you might be even more beautiful than your mother was, when she was your age."

"Petyr, please." Her voice sounded so weak. "Please . . . "

"A castle!"

The voice was loud, shrill, and childish. Littleflnger turned away from her. "Lord Robert." He sketched a bow. "Should you be out in the snow without your gloves?"

"Did you make the snow castle, Lord Littlefinger?"

"Alayne did most of it, my lord."

Sansa said, "It's meant to be Winterfell."

"Winterfell?" Robert was small for eight, a stick of a boy with splotchy skin and eyes that were always runny. Under one arm he clutched the threadbare cloth doll he carried everywhere.

"Winterfell is the seat of House Stark," Sansa told her husband-to-be. "The great castle of the north."

"It's not so great." The boy knelt before the gatehouse. "Look, here comes a giant to knock it down." He stood his doll in the snow and moved it jerkily. "Tromp tromp I'm a giant, I'm a giant," he chanted. "Ho ho ho, open your gates or I'll mash them and smash them." Swinging the doll by the legs, he knocked the top off one gatehouse tower and then the other.

It was more than Sansa could stand. "Robert, stop that." Instead he swung the doll again, and a foot of wall exploded. She grabbed for his hand but she caught the doll instead. There was a loud ripping sound as the thin cloth tore. Suddenly she had the doll's head, Robert had the legs and body, and the rag-and-sawdust stuffing was spilling in the snow.

Lord Robert's mouth trembled. "You killlllllllllled him," he wailed. Then he began to shake. It started with no more than a little shivering, but within a few short heartbeats he had collapsed across the castle, his limbs flailing about violently. White towers and snowy bridges shattered and fell on all sides. Sansa stood horrified, but Petyr Baelish seized her cousin's wrists and shouted for the maester.

She awoke all at once, every nerve atingle. For a moment she did not remember where she was. She had dreamt that she was little, still sharing a bedchamber with her sister Arya. But it was her maid she heard tossing in sleep, not her sister, and this was not Winterfell, but the Eyrie. And I am Alayne Stone, a bastard girl. The room was cold and black, though she was warm beneath the blankets. Dawn had not yet come. Sometimes she dreamed of Ser Ilyn Payne and woke with her heart thumping, but this dream had not been like that. Home. It was a dream of home.

The Eyrie was no home. It was no bigger than Maegor's Holdfast, and outside its sheer white walls was only the mountain and the long treacherous descent past Sky and Snow and Stone to the Gates of the Moon on the valley floor. There was no place to go and little to do. The older servants said these halls rang with laughter when her father and Robert Baratheon had been Jon Arryn's wards, but those days were many years gone. Her aunt kept a small household, and seldom permitted any guests to ascend past the Gates of the Moon. Aside from her aged maid, Sansa's only companion was the Lord Robert, eight going on three.

And Marillion. There is always Marillion. When he played for them at supper, the young singer often seemed to be singing directly at her. Her aunt was far from pleased. Lady Lysa doted on Marillion, and had banished two serving girls and even a page for telling lies about him.

Lysa was as lonely as she was. Her new husband seemed to spend more time at the foot of the mountain than he did atop it. He was gone now, had been gone the past four days, meeting with the Corbrays. From bits and pieces of overheard conversations Sansa knew that Jon Arryn's bannermen resented Lysa's marriage and begrudged Petyr his authority as Lord Protector of the Vale. The senior branch of House Royce was close to open revolt over her aunt's failure to aid Robb in his war, and the Waynwoods, Redforts, Belmores, and Templetons were giving them every support. The mountain clans were being troublesome as well, and old Lord Hunter had died so suddenly that his two younger sons were accusing their elder brother of having murdered him. The Vale of Arryn might have been spared the worst of the war, but it was hardly the idyllic place that Lady Lysa had made it out to be.

I am not going back to sleep, Sansa realized. My head is all a tumult. She pushed her pillow away reluctantly, threw back the blankets, went to her window, and opened the shutters.

Snow was falling on the Eyrie.

Outside the flakes drifted down as soft and silent as memory. Was this what woke me? Already the snowfall lay thick upon the garden below, blanketing the grass, dusting the shrubs and statues with white and weighing down the branches of the trees. The sight took Sansa back to cold nights long ago, in the long summer of her childhood.

She had last seen snow the day she'd left Winterfell. That was a lighter fall than this, she remembered. Robb had melting flakes in his hair when he hugged me, and the snowball Arya tried to make kept coming apart in her hands. It hurt to remember how happy she had been that morning. Hullen had helped her mount, and she'd ridden out with the snowflakes swirling around her, off to see the great wide world. I thought my song was beginning that day, but it was almost done.

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.

Her maid rolled herself more tightly in her blanket as the snow began to drift in the window. Sansa eased open the door, and made her way down the winding stair. When she opened the door to the garden, it was so lovely that she held her breath, unwilling to disturb such perfect beauty. The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.

Yet she stepped out all the same. Her boots tore ankle-deep holes into the smooth white surface of the snow, yet made no sound. Sansa drifted past frosted shrubs and thin dark trees, and wondered if she were still dreaming. Drifting snowflakes brushed her face as light as lover's kisses, and melted on her cheeks. At the center of the garden, beside the statue of the weeping woman that lay broken and half-buried on the ground, she turned her face up to the sky and closed her eyes. She could feel the snow on her lashes, taste it on her lips. It was the taste of Winterfell. The taste of innocence. The taste of dreams.

When Sansa opened her eyes again, she was on her knees. She did not remember falling. It seemed to her that the sky was a lighter shade of grey. Dawn, she thought. Another day. Another new day. It was the old days she hungered for. Prayed for. But who could she pray to? The garden had been meant for a godswood once, she knew, but the soil was too thin and stony for a weirwood to take root. A godswood without gods, as empty as me.

She scooped up a handful of snow and squeezed it between her fingers. Heavy and wet, the snow packed easily. Sansa began to make snowballs, shaping and smoothing them until they were round and white and perfect. She remembered a summer's snow in Winterfell when Arya and Bran had ambushed her as she emerged from the keep one morning. They'd each had a dozen snowballs to hand, and she'd had none. Bran had been perched on the roof of the covered bridge, out of reach, but Sansa had chased Arya through the stables and around the kitchen until both of them were breathless. She might even have caught her, but she'd slipped on some ice. Her sister came back to see if she was hurt. When she said she wasn't, Arya hit her in the face with another snowball, but Sansa grabbed her leg and pulled her down and was rubbing snow in her hair when Jory came along and pulled them apart, laughing.

What do I want with snowballs? She looked at her sad little arsenal. There's no one to throw them at. She let the one she was making drop from her hand. I could build a snow knight instead, she thought. Or even . . .

She pushed two of her snowballs together, added a third, packed more snow in around them, and patted the whole thing into the shape of a cylinder. When it was done, she stood it on end and used the tip of her little finger to poke holes in it for windows. The crenellations around the top took a little more care, but when they were done she had a tower. I need some walls now, Sansa thought, and then a keep. She set to work.

The snow fell and the castle rose. Two walls ankle-high, the inner taller than the outer. Towers and turrets, keeps and stairs, a round kitchen, a square armory, the stables along the inside of the west wall. It was only a castle when she began, but before very long Sansa knew it was Winterfell. She found twigs and fallen branches beneath the snow and broke off the ends to make the trees for the godswood. For the gravestones in the lichyard she used bits of bark. Soon her gloves and her boots were crusty white, her hands were tingling, and her feet were soaked and cold, but she did not care. The castle was all that mattered. Some things were hard to remember, but most came back to her easily, as if she had been there only yesterday. The Library Tower, with the steep stonework stair twisting about its exterior. The gatehouse, two huge bulwarks, the arched gate between them, crenellations all along the top . . .

And all the while the snow kept falling, piling up in drifts around her buildings as fast as she raised them. She was patting down the pitched roof of the Great Hall when she heard a voice, and looked up to see her maid calling from her window. Was my lady well? Did she wish to break her fast? Sansa shook her head, and went back to shaping snow, adding a chimney to one end of the Great Hall, where the hearth would stand inside.

Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snow. A few servants came out and watched her for a time, but she paid them no mind and they soon went back inside where it was warmer. Sansa saw Lady Lysa gazing down from her balcony, wrapped up in a blue velvet robe trimmed with fox fur, but when she looked again her aunt was gone. Maester Colemon popped out of the rookery and peered down for a while, skinny and shivering but curious.

Her bridges kept falling down. There was a covered bridge between the armory and the main keep, and another that went from the fourth floor of the bell tower to the second floor of the rookery, but no matter how carefully she shaped them, they would not hold together. The third time one collapsed on her, she cursed aloud and sat back in helpless frustration.

"Pack the snow around a stick, Sansa."

She did not know how long he had been watching her, or when he had returned from the Vale. "A stick?" she asked.

"That will give it strength enough to stand, I'd think," Petyr said. "May I come into your castle, my lady?"

Sansa was wary. "Don't break it. Be . . . "

" . . . gentle?" He smiled. "Winterfell has withstood flercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?"

"Yes," Sansa admitted.

He walked along outside the walls. "I used to dream of it, in those years after Cat went north with Eddard Stark. In my dreams it was ever a dark place, and cold."

"No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer." She stood, towering over the great white castle. "I can't think how to do the glass roof over the gardens."

Littlefinger stroked his chin, where his beard had been before Lysa had asked him to shave it off. "The glass was locked in frames, no? Twigs are your answer. Peel them and cross them and use bark to tie them together into frames. I'll show you." He moved through the garden, gathering up twigs and sticks and shaking the snow from them. When he had enough, he stepped over both walls with a single long stride and squatted on his heels in the middle of the yard. Sansa came closer to watch what he was doing. His hands were deft and sure, and before long he had a crisscrossing latticework of twigs, very like the one that roofed the glass gardens of Winterfell. "We will need to imagine the glass, to be sure," he said when he gave it to her.

"This is just right," she said.

He touched her face. "And so is that."

Sansa did not understand. "And so is what?"

"Your smile, my lady. Shall I make another for you?"

"If you would."

"Nothing could please me more."

She raised the walls of the glass gardens while Littlefinger roofed them over, and when they were done with that he helped her extend the walls and build the guardshall. When she used sticks for the covered bridges, they stood, just as he had said they would. The First Keep was simple enough, an old round drum tower, but Sansa was stymied again when it came to putting the gargoyles around the top. Again he had the answer. "It's been snowing on your castle, my lady," he pointed out. "What do the gargoyles look like when they're covered with snow?"

Sansa closed her eyes to see them in memory. "They're just white lumps."

"Well, then. Gargoyles are hard, but white lumps should be easy." And they were.

The Broken Tower was easier still. They made a tall tower together, kneeling side by side to roll it smooth, and when they'd raised it Sansa stuck her fingers through the top, grabbed a handful of snow, and flung it full in his face. Petyr yelped, as the snow slid down under his collar. "That was unchivalrously done, my lady."

"As was bringing me here, when you swore to take me home."

She wondered where this courage had come from, to speak to him so frankly. From Winterfell, she thought. I am stronger within the walls of Winterfell.

His face grew serious. "Yes, I played you false in that . . . and in one other thing as well."

Sansa's stomach was aflutter. "What other thing?"

"I told you that nothing could please me more than to help you with your castle. I fear that was a lie as well. Something else would please me more." He stepped closer. "This."

Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words. He tasted of mint. For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss . . . before she turned her face away and wrenched free. "What are you doing?"

Petyr straightened his cloak. "Kissing a snow maid."

"You're supposed to kiss her." Sansa glanced up at Lysa's balcony, but it was empty now. "Your lady wife."

"I do. Lysa has no cause for complaint." He smiled. "I wish you could see yourself, my lady. You are so beautiful. You're crusted over with snow like some little bear cub, but your face is flushed and you can scarcely breathe. How long have you been out here? You must be very cold. Let me warm you, Sansa. Take off those gloves, give me your hands."

"I won't." He sounded almost like Marillion, the night he'd gotten so drunk at the wedding. Only this time Lothor Brune would not appear to save her; Ser Lothor was Petyr's man. "You shouldn't kiss me. I might have been your own daughter . . . "

"Might have been," he admitted, with a rueful smile. "But you're not, are you? You are Eddard Stark's daughter, and Cat's. But I think you might be even more beautiful than your mother was, when she was your age."

"Petyr, please." Her voice sounded so weak. "Please . . . "

"A castle!"

The voice was loud, shrill, and childish. Littleflnger turned away from her. "Lord Robert." He sketched a bow. "Should you be out in the snow without your gloves?"

"Did you make the snow castle, Lord Littlefinger?"

"Alayne did most of it, my lord."

Sansa said, "It's meant to be Winterfell."

"Winterfell?" Robert was small for eight, a stick of a boy with splotchy skin and eyes that were always runny. Under one arm he clutched the threadbare cloth doll he carried everywhere.

"Winterfell is the seat of House Stark," Sansa told her husband-to-be. "The great castle of the north."

"It's not so great." The boy knelt before the gatehouse. "Look, here comes a giant to knock it down." He stood his doll in the snow and moved it jerkily. "Tromp tromp I'm a giant, I'm a giant," he chanted. "Ho ho ho, open your gates or I'll mash them and smash them." Swinging the doll by the legs, he knocked the top off one gatehouse tower and then the other.

It was more than Sansa could stand. "Robert, stop that." Instead he swung the doll again, and a foot of wall exploded. She grabbed for his hand but she caught the doll instead. There was a loud ripping sound as the thin cloth tore. Suddenly she had the doll's head, Robert had the legs and body, and the rag-and-sawdust stuffing was spilling in the snow.

Lord Robert's mouth trembled. "You killlllllllllled him," he wailed. Then he began to shake. It started with no more than a little shivering, but within a few short heartbeats he had collapsed across the castle, his limbs flailing about violently. White towers and snowy bridges shattered and fell on all sides. Sansa stood horrified, but Petyr Baelish seized her cousin's wrists and shouted for the maester.

Guards and serving girls arrived within instants to help restrain the boy, Maester Colemon a short time later. Robert Arryn's shaking sickness was nothing new to the people of the Eyrie, and Lady Lysa had trained them all to come rushing at the boy's first cry. The maester held the little lord's head and gave him half a cup of dreamwine, murmuring soothing words. Slowly the violence of the fit seemed to ebb away, till nothing remained but a small shaking of the hands. "Help him to my chambers," Colemon told the guards. "A leeching will help calm him."

"It was my fault." Sansa showed them the doll's head. "I ripped his doll in two. I never meant to, but . . . "

"His lordship was destroying the castle," said Petyr.

"A giant," the boy whispered, weeping. "It wasn't me, it was a giant hurt the castle. She killed him! I hate her! She's a bastard and I hate her! I don't want to be leeched!"

"My lord, your blood needs thinning," said Maester Colemon. "It is the bad blood that makes you angry, and the rage that brings on the shaking. Come now."

They led the boy away. My lord husband, Sansa thought, as she contemplated the ruins of Winterfell. The snow had stopped, and it was colder than before. She wondered if Lord Robert would shake all through their wedding. At least Joffrey was sound of body. A mad rage seized hold of her. She picked up a broken branch and smashed the torn doll's head down on top of it, then pushed it down atop the shattered gatehouse of her snow castle. The servants looked aghast, but when Littlefinger saw what she'd done he laughed. "If the tales be true, that's not the first giant to end up with his head on Winterfell's walls."

The imagery of it all is perfect. LF lusts after Sansa perhaps more than he did Cat. He hated her father, he has tried to replace her father. While I am not a father yet, I know men worry about their daughters and boys and losing their innocence. Yet here is LF invoking Sansa’s father’s name while he has sexual designs on Ned’s daughter. It is in many ways every man’s greatest fear, that some monster will brutalize his daughter. Even the phrases are spot on, “snow maid.” It could have been snow princess, but maidenhood is important here.

And LF’s motives are simple as well. He loved Cat, was denied her and resents the Starks and Tullys for it. Sansa, the daughter of both, the spitting image of Cat, is LF’s perfect revenge.

But Winterfell gives Sansa strength. Much like her claim will give her power when her identity is revealed. Given the turmoil in the Vale, I could see multiple lords supporting Sansa, especially if it were against Baelish.

This vignette suggests as much is possible. We know LF’s sigil used to be a giant, and when Winterfell is threatened by Robert Arryn, Sansa kills the giant and mounts his head on a spike on the Walls of Winterfell. By now, we should all be hoping she does the same to LF.

Lastly comes the scene with the moon door. I won’t reproduce it all here, but here’s a quote I loved, “"I don't want her here." Her aunt's eyes were shiny with tears. "Why did you bring her to the Vale, Petyr? This isn't her place. She doesn't belong here."

Indeed, Sansa does not belong in the Vale. Ned didn’t truly belong there either.

A FEAST FOR CROWS

Sansa’s arc ended in ASOS in mid-story I feel. It ends when she leaves the Eyrie, IMO. So this is really a continuation of part two of ASOS. But her chapter starts as it often does, with dreams of Winterfell:

Once, when she was just a little girl, a wandering singer had stayed with them at Winterfell for half a year. An old man he was, with white hair and windburnt cheeks, but he sang of knights and quests and ladies fair, and Sansa had cried bitter tears when he left them, and begged her father not to let him go. "The man has played us every song he knows thrice over," Lord Eddard told her gently. "I cannot keep him here against his will. You need not weep, though. I promise you, other singers will come."

Sansa’s identity is as strong as ever and she is learning to be cautious around LF.

"What if Lord Nestor values honor more than profit?" Petyr put his arm around her. "What if it is truth he wants, and justice for his murdered lady?" He smiled. "I know Lord Nestor, sweetling. Do you imagine I'd ever let him harm my daughter?"

I am not your daughter, she thought. I am Sansa Stark, Lord Eddard's daughter and Lady Catelyn's, the blood of Winterfell. She did not say it, though. If not for Petyr Baelish it would have been Sansa who went spinning through a cold blue sky to stony death six hundred feet below, instead of Lysa Arryn. He is so bold. Sansa wished she had his courage. She wanted to crawl back into bed and hide beneath her blanket, to sleep and sleep. She had not slept a whole night through since Lysa Arryn's death. "Couldn't you tell Lord Nestor that I am . . . indisposed, or . . .

But oddly Sansa values LF’s courage, the characteristics of a knight. But she suspects him of being a monster based on Lysa’s last words:

"And this lie may spare us. Else you and I must leave the Eyrie by the same door Lysa used." Petyr picked up his quill again. "We shall serve him lies and Arbor gold, and he'll drink them down and ask for more, I promise you."

He is serving me lies as well, Sansa realized. They were comforting lies, though, and she thought them kindly meant. A lie is not so bad if it is kindly meant. If only she believed them . . .

The things her aunt had said just before she fell still troubled Sansa greatly. "Ravings," Petyr called them. "My wife was mad, you saw that for yourself." And so she had. All I did was build a snow castle, and she meant to push me out the Moon Door. Petyr saved me. He loved my mother well, and . . .


And her? How could she doubt it? He had saved her.

He saved Alayne, his daughter, a voice within her whispered. But she was Sansa too . . . and sometimes it seemed to her that the Lord Protector was two people as well. He was Petyr, her protector, warm and funny and gentle . . . but he was also Littlefinger, the lord she'd known at King's Landing, smiling slyly and stroking his beard as he whispered in Queen Cersei's ear. And Littlefinger was no friend of hers. When Joff had her beaten, the Imp defended her, not Littlefinger. When the mob sought to rape her, the Hound carried her to safety, not Littlefinger. When the Lannisters wed her to Tyrion against her will, Ser Garlan the Gallant gave her comfort, not Littlefinger. Littlefinger never lifted so much as his little finger for her.

Except to get me out. He did that for me. I thought it was Ser Dontos, my poor old drunken Florian, but it was Petyr all the while. Littlefinger was only a mask he had to wear. Only sometimes Sansa found it hard to tell where the man ended and the mask began. Littlefinger and Lord Petyr looked so very much alike. She would have fled them both, perhaps, but there was nowhere for her to go. Winterfell was burned and desolate, Bran and Rickon dead and cold. Robb had been betrayed and murdered at the Twins, along with their lady mother. Tyrion had been put to death for killing Joffrey, and if she ever returned to King's Landing the queen would have her head as well. The aunt she'd hoped would keep her safe had tried to murder her instead. Her uncle Edmure was a captive of the Freys, while her great-uncle the Blackfish was under siege at Riverrun. I have no place but here, Sansa thought miserably, and no true friend but Petyr.

This is an excellent little bit of writing. What is an identity? Is it what we show others? She’s starting to realize how easy it is to craft an identity from nothing. And she is wondering which is the real Baelish, LF or Lord Petyr?

I also enjoy the singer as a twist on the maiden/knight/monster trope. Sansa always pined for singers, now she cannot abide one.

Also, we start to see Sansa using deceit as her weapon of choice, not merely courtesy (which can be a form of deceit, though well intended). She likes to Nestor Royce and even to LF, I think:

"If he's half as clever as a sheep pellet, you would think so. Ser Lothor knows as well. But Oswell has been in my service a long time, and Brune is close-mouthed by nature. Kettleblack watches Brune for me, and Brune watches Kettleblack. Trust no one, I once told Eddard Stark, but he would not listen. You are Alayne, and you must be Alayne all the time." He put two fingers on her left breast. "Even here. In your heart. Can you do that? Can you be my daughter in your heart?"

"I . . ." I do not know, my lord, she almost said, but that was not what he wanted to hear. Lies and Arbor gold, she thought. "I am Alayne, Father. Who else would I be?"

Lord Littlefinger kissed her cheek. "With my wits and Cat's beauty, the world will be yours, sweetling. Now off to bed."

Gretchel had laid a fire in her hearth and plumped her featherbed. Sansa undressed and slipped beneath the blankets. He will not sing tonight, she prayed, not with Lord Nestor and the others in the castle. He would not dare. She closed her eyes.

Sometime during the night she woke, as little Robert climbed up into her bed. I forgot to tell Lothor to lock him in again, she realized. There was nothing to be done for it, so she put her arm around him. "Sweetrobin? You can stay, but try not to squirm around. Just close your eyes and sleep, little one."


"I will." He cuddled close and laid his head between her breasts. "Alayne? Are you my mother now?"


"I suppose I am," she said. If a lie was kindly meant, there was no harm in it.

There is a nice thread about Arbor Gold and Lies being connected, is this Sansa’s lie to LF? And she lies to sweetrobin, several times. If I were to continue the concept of “arming” Sansa, this is LF giving her another weapon to use.

The next Sansa chapter is actually entitled “Alayne.” It does not begin with a dream or thought of Winterfell, because it is not a “Sansa” chapter. Sansa is Alayne here.

The Lords Declarant scene has little to do with Sansa herself, Winterfell is mentioned in passing from when Sansa met Bronze Yohn there.

But the chapter ends with Alayne getting very saavy to LF’s plans and the way he deals with the Lords. She figures out on her own that Lyn Corbray is on LF’s side.

The last chapter is also called “Alayne.” Again, no dream of home to begin the chapter. We also see that she is adopting the Alayne persona:

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

It made no matter. That day was done, and so was Sansa.

I have no comment on the mis-memory with Sandor but the bloody cloak is an interesting image, remind me of her flowering. And I like the line “That day was done, and so was Sansa.” She really is becoming Alayne.

I was surprised to see things in this chapter like the following:

"You had best take that up with the Lord Protector." She pushed through the door and crossed the yard. Colemon only wanted the best for his charge, Alayne knew, but what was best for Robert the boy and what was best for Lord Arryn were not always the same. Petyr had said as much, and it was true. Maester Colemon cares only for the boy, though. Father and I have larger concerns.

Father?? Father?? What about Ned? Is Sansa truly done?

Of course she isn’t. Miranda Royce reminds her of what is going on in the North:

Myranda gave her a shrewd little smile. "Yes, she was the very soul of wisdom, that good lady." She shifted her seat. "Why must mules be so bony and ill-tempered? Mya does not feed them enough. A nice fat mule would be more comfortable to ride. There's a new High Septon, did you know? Oh, and the Night's Watch has a boy commander, some bastard son of Eddard Stark's."

"Jon Snow?" she blurted out, surprised.

"Snow? Yes, it would be Snow, I suppose."


She had not thought of Jon in ages. He was only her half brother, but still . . . with Robb and Bran and Rickon dead, Jon Snow was the only brother that remained to her. I am a bastard too now, just like him. Oh, it would be so sweet, to see him once again. But of course that could never be. Alayne Stone had no brothers, baseborn or otherwise.

On the way down there is another interesting scene. Sansa crosses the gorge that her mother could not on her ascent:

"Ser Sweetrobin," Lord Robert said, and Alayne knew that 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, their cloaks snapping and flapping behind them. All around was empty air and sky, the ground falling away sharply to either side. There was ice underfoot, and broken stones just waiting to turn an ankle, and the wind was howling fiercely. It sounds like a wolf, thought Sansa. A ghost wolf, big as mountains.

Its not surprising to see Sansa succeed where her mother failed. I also suspect the sound of a wolf is meant to imply that Sansa succeeded because she is part wolf whereas her mother was not.

At the end of the trip, Sansa thinks of bed and dreams:

By the time they finally reached her father's castle, Lady Myranda was drowsing too, and Alayne was dreaming of her bed. It will be a featherbed, she told herself, soft and warm and deep, piled high with furs. I will dream a sweet dream, and when I wake there will be dogs barking, women gossiping beside the well, swords ringing in the yard. And later there will be a feast, with music and dancing. After the deathly silence of the Eyrie, she yearned for shouts and laughter.

I don’t think its just notice and swords ringing she longs for, its home. She used to dream of Winterfell, now she doesn’t even do that. But the wolf howl gives me hope that Sansa is still more Sansa than Alayne.

At the end of her story, we return to the idea of knights and monsters. We meet the three hedge nights, one of which is Ser Shadrich whom we know is questing for Sansa like Brienne:

Alayne laughed. "Are you louts?" she said, teasing. "Why, I took the three of you for gallant knights."

"Knights they are," said Petyr. "Their gallantry has yet to be demonstrated, but we may hope. Allow me to present Ser Byron, Ser Morgarth, and Ser Shadrich. Sers, the Lady Alayne, my natural and very clever daughter . . . with whom I must needs confer, if you will be so good as to excuse us."

The three knights bowed and withdrew, though the tall one with the blond hair kissed her hand before taking his leave.


"Hedge knights?" said Alayne, when the door had closed.


"Hungry knights. I thought it best that we have a few more swords about us. The times grow ever more interesting, my sweet, and when the times are interesting you can never have too many swords. The Merling King's returned to Gulltown, and old Oswell had some tales to tell."

And LF reminds Sansa of her father and she remembers that Sansa is married:

Petyr put a finger to her lips to silence her. "The dwarf wed Ned Stark's daughter, not mine. Be that as it may. This is only a betrothal. The marriage must needs wait until Cersei is done and Sansa's safely widowed. And you must meet the boy and win his approval. Lady Waynwood will not make him marry against his will, she was quite firm on that."

Then the tale seems to come full circle. LF reveals his plans with Sansa and Harry and promises her Winterfell in the process:

Petyr arched an eyebrow. "When Robert dies. Our poor brave Sweetrobin is such a sickly boy, it is only a matter of time. When Robert dies, Harry the Heir becomes Lord Harrold, Defender of the Vale and Lord of the Eyrie. Jon Arryn's bannermen will never love me, nor our silly, shaking Robert, but they will love their Young Falcon . . . and when they come together for his wedding, and you come out with your long auburn hair, clad in a maiden's cloak of white and grey with a direwolf emblazoned on the back . . . why, every knight in the Vale will pledge his sword to win you back your birthright. So those are your gifts from me, my sweet Sansa . . . Harry, the Eyrie, and Winterfell. That's worth another kiss now, don't you think?"

So here is the monster offering Sansa everything she could want, a royal princely husband, Winterfell, armies, power, love…. The question is, has Sansa learned enough to undo LF. Is she enough of Ned’s daughter still to do the honorable thing, whatever that may be.

Stories and songs have happy endings. I don’t know if Sansa’s does but I hope it does. Her story is not a fairytale, its not like the songs, but that doesn’t mean she won’t get a happy ending. But she has some monsters to slay and she has quite a bit to go before she’s ready I think.

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Thanks so much for reposting the essay here Lord Martin, and for including the additional insights and analysis :) I liked the point on the knights/castle thematic divisions of ACOK/ASOS and how she's being "armed" to ultimately mount her own defence. As much as Sansa is entrapped within castles throughout her arc, she does learn how to navigate these spaces to find relief, and Martin draws those deliberate contrasts with her parents' experiences which reveal a more capable approach and understanding of her surroundings. The positive relationships she's able to form with the non-knights also plays a crucial part in this navigation and her personal growth. If we accept that Martin is exploring a central theme of institutional breakdown and corruption, then Sansa is one of the reformers poised to construct better "castles" in the future, and this is right in line with her father's legacy.



About the upcoming controversial chapter in TWOW, Ran qualified his statements by saying that it might be controversial in some quarters, and this would strongly appear to rule out rape which would be controversial across the entire fandom. There are other reasons why I don't think Martin would plot such an event for Sansa, and it must said that although there are men like LF around who clearly have a predatory sexual interest in her, Martin has been gradually exploring her sexual awakening and agency.






Part 2



A STORM OF SWORDS PART 2.



I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Sansa is at the Eyrie, the place of her father’ s childhood. One can see Ned playing in the same garden, the same snows Sansa now looks at. And she is here with the people who conspired to murder her father’s surrogate father, Jon Arryn. Jon Arryn, who saved Ned’s life and taught him to be the honorable man he became. There is a very sweet feeling I get in the idea that Sansa might be the one to avenge Jon Arryn’s killers given what he did for and meant to her father.





There's also another scene, this time in Ned's POV, which further suggests precisely what you've noted here, and that Sansa's "guardianship" of Sweetrobin directly aligns her with the interests of her father and may be instrumental in bringing justice to his enemies:



Ned would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin, but he left his doubts unspoken. Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word. “The wife has lost the husband,” he said carefully. “Perhaps the mother feared to lose the son. The boy is very young.”



“Six, and sickly, and Lord of the Eyrie, gods have mercy,” the king swore. “Lord Tywin had never taken a ward before. Lysa ought to have been honored. The Lannisters are a great and noble House. She refused to even hear of it. Then she left in the dead of night, without so much as a by-your-leave. Cersei was furious.”


He sighed deeply. “The boy is my namesake, did you know that? Robert Arryn. I am sworn to protect him. How can I do that if his mother steals him away?”



“I will take him as ward, if you wish,” Ned said. “Lysa should consent to that. She and Catelyn were close as girls, and she would be welcome here as well.”



“A generous offer, my friend,” the king said, “but too late. Lord Tywin has already given his consent. Fostering the boy elsewhere would be a grievous affront to him.”



“I have more concern for my nephew’s welfare than I do for Lannister pride,” Ned declared.









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Lord Martin: Thank you so much for posting this. It was a treat to read your first post on this in the other topic, and your expansion and continuation was just icing on the cake. Such a pleasure to read!

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Just going to throw out an idea here for discussion:

We've discussed a lot of possibilities for Sansa's future. However, perhaps this one was omitted ...

What if Sansa goes insane ?

Lysa Tully was beset by a sort of madness. At an age roughly equivalent to Sansa's she lost the boy she loved to her sister, and then exile, and then came abortion, arranged marriage, and various miscarriages and whatnot.

The end result was that Lysa - who seems not to have been emotionally fragile at an early age anyway - being paranoid, bitter, and at the very end, hysterical. Not her fault for the bad hand she got dealt, but how this damaged psyche reacted was like catnip for Littlefinger. By the time she dies, she's killed her husband, precipitated a war, betrayed her sister (and family generally), and tried to murder her innocent niece. Sane ? Not really.

Catelyn Tully comes off better, especially at first. She seemed the more emotionally strong one as a child. She ends up in a far better personal situation over the years. Nothing too wrong with her, save perhaps too much emphasis on making proper southron-style ladies out of her girls, and having an irrational grudge against Jon Snow. However, with Catelyn, her undoing is when she gets hit with grief. It begins with Bran, and she goes to pieces when he is first injured & comatose. Then she captures Tyrion at the crossroads, essentially disregarding her own advice about being extremely cautious with the Lannister threat. Then with Ned's death and the capture of her daughters, she rapidly goes from vengeful to fearful - not a little, but a lot. It's like all the training she ever had in the highborn games of power were lost on her; like it or not, the Starks and Tullys were in a war, but the iron discipline fails her. Bran and Rickon's seeming demise

completes it - the grief breaks her, and she acts out of grieving desperate madness, releasing Jaime Lannister. (An objective look here would be that by doing so, she might be dooming both Sansa and Robb's survival.) Last of all, you see at the end, despite all her positive characteristics, grief and desperation are all she has and she has gone mad. Lady Stoneheart is a product of her last frame of mind, repeated obsessively as she haunts the Riverlands.

(Note: It also occurs to me that they are part Whent too, which means Harrenhal's curse enters into this.)

So, on to Sansa. She gained much from her mother, but it makes me wonder.... We have so many possible

futures for Sansa ... Sansa the player, Sansa the ice maiden of Winterfell, Sansa the greenseer, and so on. Some possibilities anre strong and triumphant, some tragic, and some are frankly a squick-fest.

Sansa is also of Stark blood, of course, but her father's iron will and steady sanity does not entirely exclude her suddenly having a touch of the "wolf's blood" too.

Still, what if Sansa's destiny is to end up insane, as her mother and aunt basically did ?

Not a possibility I think we'd like, but such a tragic outcome would not exactly be out of bounds in ASOIAF.

If she did go insane, when and how would it manifest? She has endured an immense amount of stress and tragedy, but what would finally be the last straw ? Or what is there that would certainly prevent her from going mad?

Anyway, hate to be Mr. Worst Case Scenario here, but hopefully we can get some opinions on this too.

Sansa seems to be very resilient, mentally. She's had to witness, and endure, things that would have broken a lot of people.

WRT Catelyn, I'd say she was only insane at the end of her life, and then, only as a result of what she'd had to endure, culminating in the murder of her son. I don't see any genetic predisposition to mental illness.

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