Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Sansa VI


“How long must I look?”

Synopsis: Sansa wakes up to the nightmare that is now her life, gets beaten by Ser Meryn Trant on Joffrey’s orders, watches Caligula Joffrey dispense justice, and is then brought to see her father’s head on a spike and considers “whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.”

SPOILER WARNING: This chapter analysis, and all following, will contain spoilers for all Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones episodes. Caveat lector.

Political Analysis:

Sansa VI is a brilliant conclusion of George R.R. Martin’s deconstruction of romantic fantasy, and it strikes me as strange that so many people don’t see the deconstruction, especially after this point, because so much of the chapter revolves around imagery of waking up from dreams to see a nightmarish reality around them.

And as she wakes up, Sansa suddenly can see everything clearly: “Sansa stared at him, seeing him for the first time…She wondered how she could ever have thought him handsome. His lips were as soft and red as the worms you found after a rain, and his eyes were vein and cruel.” And what’s important is that from this moment on, Sansa refuses to give in – she openly states “I don’t want to marry you,” tells Joffrey to his face that “I hate you,” and when faced with her father’s head on a spike taunts Joffrey with the idea that “maybe my brother will give me your head.” Even when she takes the Hound’s advice – which I’ll discuss in just a second, she resists inside by refusing to give Joffrey the reaction he wants, insistent that “he can make me look at the heads but he can’t make me see them.”

Indeed, in this chapter, Sansa moves from being a romantic idealist to an outright cynic, turning on her own illusions: “there are no heroes, and she remembered what Lord Petyr had said to her, here in this very hall. “Little is not a song, sweetling,” he’d told her. “You may learn that one day your sorrow.” In life the monsters win.” And the context of this shift is crucial – it comes right in the midst of Joffrey’s judgments as Sansa muses on justice, “wishing she could hurt [Lord Slynt], wishing that some hero would throw him down and cut off his head.” This desire for cosmic and absolute justice, “to right the unrightable wrong,” to be delivered by some external paragon of virtue has been right at the heart of romantic medievalism from long before the time of Cervantes. If GRRM’s deconstruction in the Sansa chapters has a thesis, I think it could be summed up as “there is no justice, there’s just us.” Indeed, I would argue that one could interpret the character arc of many female protagonist of ASOIAF is a transition from desiring justice to come from above to enacting it themselves – whether we’re talking about Catelyn becoming Lady Stoneheart, Brienne slaying the very symbol of the devastation of the Riverlands, or Arya’s Batman origin saga. And I’m willing to lay money on the same happening with Sansa’s arc in The Winds of Winter.

At the same time, Sansa doesn’t and can’t wholly reject the tropes of chivalric romance – as the Hound (her fellow critic of the gap between the knightly ideal* and reality) reminds her, they can also be a means of survival when you’re dealing with a psychopath who thinks in fairy tale logic. “Save yourself some pain girl, and give him what he wants…he wants you to smile and smell sweet and be his lady love…he wants to hear you recite all your pretty little words the way the septa taught you.” By working within the genre, Sansa can eke out survival – and if she survives long enough, she may yet learn to prosper. Although the difficulty is that Joffrey is only half inside the logic of fairy tales, and the other half is madness. “He wants you to love him…and fear him” makes sense in Machiavellian politics, but not in a marriage.

* speaking of which, I have a side note about Meryn Trant that I’ll stick in the comments because it doesn’t really fit here.

In the Court of the Crimson King

At the same time, the revelation of Joffrey’s evil goes deeper than the surface level – the moment he gets in power, with no one willing to check him, his psychopathy comes to the fore. And it’s a truly terrifying blend of sadistic cruelty and an eerie parallel of Sansa’s immature romanticism. On the one hand, Joffrey states with a straight face and an odd spirit of wounded righteousness that “if he hadn’t been your father, I would have had him torn or flayed, but I gave him a clean death,” who has his knights beat his intended wife, who only shows interest in “what it pleased him to call justice” when it means he can order a thief’s hand chopped off,  a minstrel’s tongue ripped out, or a woman to be imprisoned for the sake of love, who casually speaks of having Sansa executed for bearing “stupid babies,” and who has the godsworn executed.

Credit to Ashley Lange

On the other hand, there’s something terrifyingly childish about Joffrey’s sadism. When he comes to Sansa, Joffrey speaks of “Mother says I’m still to marry you…my mother tells me it isn’t fitting that it isn’t fitting that a king should strike his wife;” when he’s walking Sansa to see her father’s head, he inquires about his birthday present as if he hadn’t executed her father only a few day’s earlier; and when he learns that his uncle has been defeated by Robb Stark, when he has Sansa beaten it’s because she’s not acting as a “true wife,” in a deliberate echo of Sansa’s belief in a “true knight,” and his plan to “raise a host and kill your brother myself” while Renly and Stannis menace King’s Landing is exactly the kind of romantic delusion that Sansa once believed, only reflected over gender lines.

It’s this combination that makes Joffrey so dangerous, in that it makes him a tyrant who’s only interested in violence rather than power: “nine cases out of ten seemed to bore him; those he allowed his council to handle, squirming restlessly…when he did choose to make a ruling, though, not even his queen mother could stay him.” To Joffrey, being a king means that he gets to impose a boy’s cruelty on others – thieves should have their hands, people who love traitors “must be a traitor too,” and technical disputes over property rights should be settled in duels to the death. If it were Cersei in charge all the time or if Joffrey was a power-hungry despot who actually ruled with an iron fist, there would be a certain predictability to it. Instead, all there is total uncertainty about who’s actually in charge at any point in time, and the cruel farce where the same King who still does what his mommy tells him and sneaks around her back using childish loopholes can also order grown men to their deaths.

On a side note – while I intend to go further into depth with this in Part V of Hollow Crowns, there is an interesting question about where Joffrey is getting these ideas. On the one hand, the idea that all traitors must be punished, all thieves maimed, all fights to the death, probably doesn’t come from Robert, who whatever else he might have been was a man who generally forgave his enemies if they weren’t blood Targaryens, and was never interested in punishment. More likely, although it’s not precisely clear from the text, is that the same woman who demanded bloody satisfaction for a dog bite impressed on her son that royal justice ought to be severe – but failed to foresee how her son might interpret her lesson.

Speaking of one of the distinctive elements of the new King’s madness, I think Joffrey’s clear misogyny has roots in both parents. We can clearly see an inheritance from Robert in his belief that a “true wife does not mock her lord” (with Cersei’s independence as proof in Robert’s eyes that she’s not a proper wife), that violence is the way to correct one’s wife (even though doing so oneself is “unkingly”), and that the only thing that matters about a wife is whether she can bear children. At the same time, Joffrey clearly gets instruction on gender issues from his mother: “you truly are a stupid girl…my mother says so…she worries about our children, whether they’ll be stupid like you.” Cersei’s massive internalized misogyny is a topic I plan to get into in AFFC, but the comment from Joffrey that “women are all weak, even her, though she pretends she isn’t,” reminds me a lot of Cersei’s exceptionalist identity. 

Historical Analysis:

Anne Neville lived most of her life as a bargaining chip for the House of Warwick,  as was the case for many women of her caste and time. Born in 1456 in the very castle of Warwick that served as the heart of her father, the Earl of Warwick’s empire in the north of England, Anne was in a sense a participant in the Wars of the Roses by birth – her father was the Kingmaker and the richest man in England, her mother was a de Beauchamp and the heiress of Warwick, and her maternal great-aunt was the wife of Richard, Duke of York and the mother of the “three suns” of York. Indeed, she spent much of her childhood at Middleham Castle where Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and George, Duke of Clarence, were fostered and thus grew up with some of the major political and military actors.

While there isn’t much direct evidence, it was widely rumored that the Nevilles and the Yorkist Plantagenets would strengthen their blood ties by marrying Anne to Richard and George to her older sister Isabelle. However, within eight years of Edward IV’s triumph of Towton, both of the Neville girls became collateral damage in the feud between King and Kingmaker – Edward blocked the engagement of his brothers to the two girls after their father objected to his own marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. Isabel was married to George two weeks before her new husband and her father fought her brother-in-law at Edgecote Moor. When Warwick’s rebellion fell apart politically, Anne’s hand was the price of a Lancastrian and French alliance necessary for an invasion of England in 1470.

Anne the former Yorkist was thus married to Edward of Lancaster (although the marriage wasn’t consummated in case a later change of plans would be politically advantageous to both sides), the heir of her family’s long-time enemy, placing her on both sides of the Wars of the Roses. When Edward of Lancaster was killed at the Battle of Tewksbury, Anne had lost both father and husband in a period of about two weeks. The next year, she married Richard of Gloucester, who had fought on the opposing side at both Barnet (where her father had died) and Tewksbury.

These twists and turns of fate have given way to two fundamentally incompatible myths. In the Ricardian story, Anne and Richard were a pair of star-crossed lovers who were meant to be together, unluckily divided by civil war and Anne’s marriage to a psychopathic prince (one of many inspirations for Joffrey), and finally reunited at last when the Good Guys triumph. In the Lancastrian story, brought to life most vividly by Shakespeare’s Richard III (Act I, Scene II), Anne is a dupe who is seduced by her husband’s murderer through appeals to her vanity, only to be cast aside when the monstrous tyrant decides to throw her over for his own niece. What historical evidence exists leans somewhat to the Ricardian side – Anne Neville went to some lengths to get married to Richard of Gloucester, although it’s hard to know whether this was due to True Love or her desire to get out of the custody of her brother-in-law George of Clarence, whom she clearly hated.

This part of Sansa’s story clearly takes from the Ricardian portrait of Edward of Lancaster as a sadistic little bastard (literally, in the eyes of the Yorkists). More on this when we get to Sansa’s interactions with Tyrion.

What If?

This chapter gives us only a few hypothetical scenarios, but they’re doozies:

  • Sansa pushes Joffrey? For a moment in this chapter, Sansa has the opportunity to kill Joffrey, although almost certainly at the cost of her own life, but chooses not to. If she had, some really interesting things happen: in the short-term, Tyrion’s management of King’s Landing gets much easier, since Tommen is a tractable child and not prone to murdering starving peasants, and Cersei will have something other than himself to focus on. (On the other hand, as we’ve seen from the Princess and the Queen, bad P.R that involves tragic deaths of noblewomen can have explosive consequences) It’s quite possible that the Tyrell marriage alliance still happens – although a young child under his mother’s regency is less appealing a prospect that a crowned King on the verge of his majority (and it’s not clear whether the sunk cost issue played into the second marriage). The Purple Wedding, however, is completely butterflied away, which means Sansa (assuming she isn’t murdered on the spot) isn’t vanished, Tyrion isn’t accused of treason (and doesn’t marry Sansa, come to think of it), Oberyn Martell never fights the Mountain, and Tywin isn’t killed by his own son. Now it’s possible that some of these same events happen differently – the Tyrells aren’t the only ones who know how to use poison and Oberyn is clearly looking to kill everyone involved in his sister’s death one way or another – but it wouldn’t be the same. At the same time, with Sansa dead, Jaime Lannister isn’t freed by Catelyn, and it may well be that the Starks pull out of the war using Jaime as the lever, since the person responsible for Ned Stark’s death is dead.
  • Joffrey marches on Robb? This hypothetical is absolutely hilarious. It would require Cersei being more incompetent than usual to allow this, but I could see a scenario in which Joffrey marches out of King’s Landing at the head of six thousand Goldcloaks, and Stannis takes the undefended city in a cakewalk and crowns himself King on the Iron Throne before Renly can get to it. This sets up a strange re-tread of the Siege of Storm’s End, except this time Stannis has a huge symbol of political legitimacy on his side and a huge navy to keep the food flowing into the capitol. While Renly’s army is too big for Stannis to defeat on the field, his political coalition could well begin unraveling if the Reacher lords begin to worry about what happens if Stannis survives. Now, the larger question is whether Tywin intercepts Joffrey before Robb’s army utterly destroys his green forces somewhere in the Riverlands – if he does, then Tywin’s army is a bit bigger, and Robb has less incentive to march west and every incentive to put the head of House Lannister and their claim to the Iron Throne under siege at Harrenhal. If he doesn’t, it’s quite likely that Joffrey dies on the banks of the Trident, dealing the Lannisters a devastating blow to their political legitimacy and inflating Robb Stark’s military legend even more. Tywin is reduced to a rebel lord with 20,000 men cut off from their home territory, facing enemy kings to both sides.

Book vs. Show:

The show played this pretty straight, with the exception of the somewhat older Joffrey being less childlike and more sadistic in his particular kind of insanity. It’s not a huge change, however.


160 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Sansa VI

  1. mulan says:

    This chapter was so depressing to read. I feel like so many Sansa fans just like her for her future potential (that she could be Queen of the North for example )…but Sansa in the text itself is such a compelling character in the text itself. “In life, the monsters win…” is probably one of my favorite lines in the series. I feel like so many Sansa fans are going to be upset if she doesn’t become Queen in the North and kills all her enemies in TWOW/ADOS which sucks because I’m sure she’ll still be interesting no matter what she does.

    You make some very interesting points about internalized misogyny. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Cersei really is one of the most disturbing examples of how much a misogynistic society can warp/destroy a woman. Not only was she raped and abused by her husband and emotionally abused by her father, BUT she also hates all other women, can’t empathize with them at all and is so abusive towards other women herself, plus she also hates herself for not being a man and believes she has a “feeble body”. She and her storyline seriously depress me sometimes.

    And totally agreed that this scene was done amazingly on the show, its a shame but the show has really gone downhill from season 1. I feel like there’s a big difference in quality between “Baelor” and “Rains of Castamere”. It’s the actors performances and production budget that bring the best in the show NOT the writing.

    Great essay! I really enjoyed reading this.

    • I don’t think the show has gone downhill. I think Season 2 had some significant missteps, but Season 3 was overall an improvement.

    • Winnie says:

      Oh, Cersei is the classic example of internalized misogyny…its incredibly obvious during the BoB, and the way she emotionally abuses Sansa, and insults every other woman in the Keep. She thinks women generally are inferior to men, but that she Cersei was the One True Exception, and has a serious chip on her shoulder that no one acknowledges that.

    • Sean C. says:

      This scene was done exceptionally well on the show — in retrospect, from three seasons out, it’s virtually the only major Sansa moment the show has done well (“Blackwater” in general is a strong episode for her, but the climactic Sansa/Hound scene is so neutered between how toned down the Hound is and the show’s stripping out most of their substantive interactions). Well, maybe the scene where she meets Margaery and Olenna.

      • Winnie says:

        I LOVE Margaey and Olenna on the show…but you’re right-one problem is that we don’t get to see all of Sansa’s inner dialogue and thoughts like we do in the books…so people who watch the show but haven’t read the books, have no idea how important Sansa truly is to the narrative.

      • Sean C. says:

        The loss of her inner dialogue is a weakness, but it doesn’t really go very far in accounting for the show’s various errors with Sansa’s story. As previously stated, the weakness of her big scene with the Hound in “Blackwater” are all due to the near total absence of the buildup to that scene, which (apart from the apparent production problems around the tourney) they could have included (and the tourney scene’s key points could have been made up for at some point, had they bothered). The gutting of her wedding chapter (the whole story, really), one of the character’s best moments and what would have been really dynamite material for Sophie Turner, was because they wanted to keep Tyrion looking squeaky clean.

      • Oh, I’ll get into that in detail when the podcast finishes with Season 4.

      • Winnie says:

        I think besides the wish to keep Tyrion sympathetic to viewers, they also had the problem of pairing up an underage actress with Clegane was going to inspire the yick factor…also I hear GRRM was also somewhat abashed and dismayed at how many Sansa/Hound shippers there were out there, so that might be another reason they toned it down for the show. Not saying it was the right call, just I know why they did it.

        I am somewhat hopeful to see what they do for Sophie once they get Sansa to the Eyrie…

      • I’ve been annoyed with some of the writer’s decisions in terms of Sansa’s character (especially the depiction of the wedding) but Sophie Turner does such a good job and has one of the more difficult jobs on the show because she’s portraying such an internalised character that doesn’t have the liberty to say what she’s thinking most of the time. She gives one of the most subtle, nuanced performances in the show, so she manages to salvage scenes that otherwise wouldn’t work if that makes sense. Jon has a similar issue – and I think his story has been much worse in terms of translating his character arc from book to show (although from what I’ve seen season 4 is looking like an improvement)

        • Sophie Turner has done a good job despite some mishandling of her character arc (although it’s not 100% by any means).

          Jon Snow’s issue is totally a script problem, mostly Season 2 material. Season 3 I thought was a significant improvement.

      • John says:

        Jon Snow *mostly* has a script problem, which mostly happened in Season 2 (which, I will note, is the period when Martin gives the writers the least material to work with). I do think that Kit Harington, while not terrible, is one of the weaker actors on the show, and has trouble transcending mediocre material.

  2. Matthew says:

    Actually in response to that one hypothetical (Joffery marching from Kings Landing) wouldn’t he just call the banners of the Crownlands nobles to him?

    This is actually something that has baffled me since ACOK and always given me pause, but there’s no way the Crownlands nobles aren’t as rich or capable as nobles from anywhere else in the kingdom and I believe the Game of Thrones Roleplaying Game Guide says the Crownlands could field up to 15,000 troops.

    Using that number I’ll engage in some hypothetical. Let’s say of those 15,000 Stannis commands some 3,000, this leaves maybe 12,000 who could still be mustered from the Crownlands, but let’s also say for the sake of argument that the some men who could have been raised by the other noble houses of the Crownlands also signed on with the Goldcloaks (maybe a few hundred for their fighting experience). That still potentially leaves Joffery with at least 10,000 troops he could summon.

    Even if that is a slight exaggeration then Joffery still could have called from the Houses of the Crownlands at least as many men as Stannis has available to him.

    I mean yes we see that the lords of Rosby, Stokeworth, and Dukensdale are all afraid of drawing Stannis ire and being raided, and that many of them are fairly craven, but through all this Joffery never sends orders for them to call their banners and Tyrion seems to have only middling results even though he is acting as Hand of the King! (I think he gets some 300 Stokeworth spearmen at one point?)

    This is something I’ve always taken issue with and I suppose you may cover it more in your review of ACOK but I’m just bringing up the point here.

    • Yeah – the Crownlands are problematic because they’re a missing 10,000 men. The only thing I can think of that gets you close is that a lot of the Crownlands chose the wrong side in Robert’s Rebellion and lost a lot of their fighting men on the Trident, to exile, or to the Wall.

      On the other hand, Tywin must have taken casualties at the Green Fork and suffers more on the march down, and likewise at the Fords, so it may be that Tywin commandeered the Crownlands forces from his base at Harrenhal to rebuild his army back to 20,000.

      • Matthew says:

        That’s potentially true, though you’d think at least a decade would be enough to help renew the strength of some of those houses, especially coastal houses. It’s also possible that Tywin managed to coerce some into sending men to fight for him (his reputation preceding him after all).

        Though the surly stance they have towards the new kings, 300 years of Targaryen loyalty, many excuses of providing for their own security, and the strain of the previous civil war might have taken its toll.

        I personally think it’s one of Martin’s greater oversights in the novels and that he really should have thought it through more (I mean I understand it from a narrative perspective, but the practical perspective is lacking especially since by all rights the king is the Lord Paramount of the Crownlands) and explained.

    • Andrew says:

      I always got the impression that the reason why the Crownland lords didn’t offer anything beyond token support in the War of Five Kings was because they were (or still are) Targaryen supporters. After Robert’s Rebellion, there’s no doubt that many Crownland houses paid in land, gold and blood for siding with the Targaryens, their overlords for the past 300 years. My guess is that the majority of these houses stayed neutral throughout the conflict, since they were unwilling to die for the families that warred against them several years ago.

      Of course, my only support for this theory is when Dick Crabb (admittedly not the most trustworthy of characters) mentions that the men of the Crackclaw point follow the true kings, not “Robert and his ilk” (Feast for Crows)

      Plus, some of the houses on the Crownlands beyond those who normally swear fealty to Dragonstone offered Stannis support – the Massey’s castle is located in the Crownlands and members of that house are still supporters of Stannis.

      • That’s a good point.

        So the Crownlands would be down to half-strength for Joffrey anyway, so we just have to account for 5,000 men.

      • Sean C. says:

        While that may account for the Crackclaw people, it doesn’t answer why Rosby and Stokeworth are of so little help. It can’t be the attitude of their nobles, given that they’re both Lannister allies, and, in the case of Lady Stokeworth, is actually in harm’s way in King’s Landing when Stannis comes.

        But then, the Crownlands, much like the Riverlands, also seem drastically undermanned considering their, the quality of the lands (prime agricultural turf), and their being in an economically vibrant part of the Seven Kingdoms.

      • AJD says:

        I don’t see why everyone always assumes that Massey is sworn to King’s Landing rather than Dragonstone. Basically every canonical Massey is an ally to whoever is currently holding Dragonstone: Justin Massey supports Stannis, Gormon Massey supported Rhaenyra’s claim, and Tristan Massey was Aegon the Conqueror’s Master of Laws. The Massey lands are also just across the Gullet from Dragonstone. It seems very clear to me that the Masseys have always been vassals of Dragonstone, not King’s Landing.

        • Well, the question is whether Dragonstone was historically distinct from King’s Landing as a political unit of geography – given that most Kings would have been Crown Princes, one would expect that the Lord Paramount of the Crownlands would also be the Lord of Dragonstone nine times out of ten.

      • AJD says:

        Of course Dragonstone is historically distinct from King’s Landing—it existed for 200 years before King’s Landing did! Anyway, this feudal structure is fractal, right? House Osgrey is a vassal to House Rowan, rather than directly to House Tyrell, for instance. Similarly, the “Lords of the Narrow Sea” that Stannis calls when he raises his banners are those houses that are sworn to Dragonstone, rather than directly to King’s Landing; and they’re the same houses that were sworn to Dragonstone before King’s Landing or the “Crownlands” as a unit of political geography existed (as we can see because they were Aegon’s closest allies).

        • I meant historically distinct as an administrative district of Aegon’s kingdom.

          I get the fractal thing, but I’m saying given that most Targaryen Kings had been Princes of Dragonstone, the two would be ruled by the same person most times, so it’s not inconceivable that they’d be seen as the same unit, given their territorial proximity.

      • John says:

        Isn’t it possible that *all* Crownlands houses are sworn to Dragonstone, at least historically?

        I’d just note that an even bigger issue here is the apparently complete absence of a royal demesne. So far as we can tell, at the beginning of AGOT, Robert has direct authority over King’s Landing, and that’s it. This is highly weird, historically speaking. Especially since medieval European cities, generally, would have been self-governing and not under the direct control of feudal overlords.

      • AJD says:

        I don’t think all the Crownlands were originally sworn to Dragonstone: we read that “Aegon sent his sisters to nearby Rosby and Stokeworth and the castles surrendered without bloodshed. Darklyn of Duskendale and Mooton of Maidenpool did fight,” for instance.

        (By the way, is the term “Crownlands” ever used in the books, or is it something the fans made up for that region? In “The Princess and the Queen”, I think it’s referred to as the “kingslands”, not the crownlands.)

      • AJD says:

        Oh, certainly Dragonstone is considered part of the Crownlands jurisdiction overall. I was just responding to Andrew’s reference to House Massey as an example of “houses on the Crownlands beyond those who normally swear fealty to Dragonstone”—I think it’s fairly clear that Massey *is* one of the houses that normally swears fealty to Dragonstone.

        By the way, Steven, I’m hoping that once you start Clash of Kings you’ll have something to say about Stannis’s political accomplishment in actually rallying all the Dragonstone banners to his cause. These are houses that had been sworn to the Targaryens for 500 years, not 300 like the rest of the realm, and Stannis is the one who shows up and personally chases the Targaryens out and takes over their ancestral seat; but less than 20 years later the Velaryons and Celtigars and Masseys and everyone are all rallying to him when they could totally have just been like “screw that, we hope you Baratheons wipe each other out, leave us out of it” and Stannis couldn’t have done anything about it. Even Robert didn’t get all of the Stormlands behind him without a fight. Stannis must have done something to win the Dragonstone vassals’ loyalty in that time; or are they all just flocking to Melisandre?

  3. SpaceSquid says:

    Your teasing comment on Meryn Trant has teased me, you tease. When will I be satisfied?

  4. Winnie says:

    I like your comparison of Sansa to Anne Neville…interestingly, when Anne *did* marry it was to her own cousin…not sure if that’s foreshadowing anything or not.

  5. Mitch says:

    Yeah, about that Meryn Trant aside in your post, now you have me intrigued. Do go on…

  6. Jeff says:

    I got into the Books via the Tv show and I must say at the beginning I didn’t like Sansa much at all. I did think her stupid and naive and vein and overall empty-headed. But after I started reading the books it really began to strike me and I think it hit me in this chapter especially: she’s not stupid, she’s a little girl.
    I don’t say that to trivialize anything I mean that as a reality. The Stark parents both got married when they were what 17 and 19 after the murder of his father and brother and her fiance? That is a world of difference from where Sansa is right now. And in parenting matters I feel that Ned and Cat are the kind of more modern parents that would indulge their child’s passions. Sophie Turner started this role when she was 14 as did Show!Sansa. She is also taller than Book!Sansa will probably ever be (which can be quite misleading without reference).
    Book!Sansa, she is 12. And a very sheltered 12 at that. I was actively scared for her in this chapter because that is something that isn’t very obvious in the show, the danger. In the books things are so much less stable and more elaborate. I knew she would be fine but it’s easy to lose track of the dramatic irony and tension when watching the show.
    That will come up in the next Catlyn chapter because it hits you like a slap in the face that they know nothing about what Ned was trying to do or that Cersi’s children are illegitimate.

    Anyway, great review. I can’t wait for the next one. You had a few typos there I recommend plugging your stuff into Google Translate next time and have it read back to you. Perfect choice of the Hamlet quote there by the way.

    Where is the damn Meryn Trant thing?!

    • Sean C. says:

      As far as height goes, Sansa is later said to be taller at 13 than Lysa was at 21, so Sophie Turner being tall isn’t that different from the books.

    • Glad you liked it. Now you’ve made me paranoid about typos.

      Meryn Trant is below.

      • Jeff says:

        Sorry about that. 🙂

        Really do love your work though. I think I don’t just enjoy these books/show for themselves as much as what can be read into them, their commentary on philosophy and government and the nature of people to their place in power and what they do with that.

        I’m an old political junkie, I used to follow the returns and poll numbers from the UK General election of 2010.

        What I loved about the Harry Potter fan world and fanfiction especially was that the really good writers would take what you thought you knew about something and turn it around and upside down. Prefect Lionheart was a master of this. But here, I can just freebase the analysis for as long as I want. And ASOIAF/GOT gives you SO MUCH more to work with. As well as not being written by an overrated hack.

  7. Sean C. says:

    On the hypothetical of Joffrey ordering a march, I suspect the more likely outcome of that, by far, would be a mutiny by the Goldcloaks, not keen to march to their death. They’re basically paid mercenaries, after all.

    • David Hunt says:

      There might have been a mutiny, but I’m not sure it would have been the smart play. The smart play might have been to march with Joffrey (out of the city that’s about to be conquered by a hard-assed convert to a religion fond of burning people alive) and then desert and offer up there services to the “true king,” whichever king that might be.

    • Except then they’re unpaid mercenaries right by two larger battle-hardened armies who don’t like them.

  8. Ok, so here’s the thing about Meryn Trant – in this chapter, he’s used as the “false knight” who punctures Sansa’s belief that evil can be shamed by virtue. However, there’s something really not right about him – when Joffrey speaks his name, doesn’t give an order, he “was on her before she could think, yanking back her hand as she tried to shield her face and and backhanding her across the ear with a gloved fist,” hard enough to cause her head to bleed on his hand.

    Then when Sansa attempts to refuse to come to the throne room, “the look he gave her was without expression. He did not so much as glance at the bruise he had left her. He did not hate her….neither did he love her. He felt nothing for her at all. She was only a…a thing to him.” And when Arya insults his knighthood, “Ser Meryn Trant simply did not care.”

    I think Meryn Trant is a psychopath who’s gravitated to Joffrey’s service in the same way that the Tickler gravitated to the Mountain. That level of violence to a helpless non-combatant – that first punch could easily have killed her – without a moment’s hesitation, and treating her like she’s a thing and not a person, is definitely a sign of psychopathic tendencies.

    And I think this is strong evidence that Syrio Forel is not a Faceless Man who facechanged into Meryn Trant – because if the same man who was willing to risk his life to protect Arya was instantly ready to beat her sister into a pulp, he’s a terribly written character.

    • Winnie says:

      Agreed on all counts. One of the things Jaime noticed, (to his disgust) when he finally got home to KL, was the fact that that the KG had been degraded into a group of Joffrey’s personal thugs. Vicious sadists and psychos naturally attract others like them especially when they’re in a position of power.

    • Andy says:

      I agree, and would add that GRRM repeatedly shows how this society fosters violence, not just as actions but as a way of life. Trant has risen this far because he is an effective knight, for a given definition of knight. People like him seem to have no trouble finding a place where their cruelty is appreciated, and as a result people like him have no incentive to hold back their cruelest natures.

      Compare to the difficulty of remaining somewhat moral that’s faced by Jamie, Dany, Balon Swann, and even Theon.

    • MightyIsobel says:

      “strong evidence that Syrio Forel is not a Faceless Man who facechanged into Meryn Trant – because if the same man who was willing to risk his life to protect Arya was instantly ready to beat her sister into a pulp, he’s a terribly written character.”

      Is that a theory?


      • It’s a pretty frequent theory on r/asoiaf and Just the other day, I got into a loooong argument with this one poster on r/asoiaf about it.

      • JT says:

        There are some fairly crazy theories out there, almost all of which I hope aren’t true.

        Other crazy ones include:
        – Either Howland Reed or Brynden Tully as the hooded man in Winterfell who Theon encounters in ADWD (why would Brynden Tully be in the North?)
        – Stannis or Mance Rayder fakes the letter that Jon receives from Ramsay at the end of ADWD (why would Stannis fake his own death to Jon?)
        – Tyrion is secretly a Targaryen (please no)

  9. Andy says:

    Joffrey dying at this point can only be good for all sides, if you think about it. The Tyrells still marry Tommen, as that was the plan from in the start in OTL. Tyrion and Cersei don’t have to deal with Joffrey’s crap in ACOK, and Tyrion is never framed for Joffrey’s murder. It’s possible that Tyrion is targeted by Littlefinger or Varys in some other way after the Blackwater, as a part of the whole “removing competent people” plan. Also maybe Tyrion is married to someone else to shore up alliances, which would be interesting. In any case, things can’t get much worse than OTL for him, unless he is outright assassinated.

  10. Andrew says:

    1) “wishing she could hurt [Lord Slynt], wishing that some hero would throw him down and cut off his head.”

    Funny enough, she gets her wish when Jon takes of Janos’s head.

    2) I think Sansa will eventually start to take control over her own life in TWoW, and enacting justice by herself. She will be the one to kill Littlefinger, likely when he tries to go to home with her after having had too much to drink. I think he may let it slip, under the influence, that he manipulated Joffrey into taking off Ned’s head when Cersei refused to let him marry Sansa. When that slips, her trigger will go off, and I think she will pull the dagger that he used to frame Tyrion and set up the conflict between her family and the Lannisters, and kill him with it.

    3) As for Joffrey’s cruelty being partly picking up lessons from his mother, I think Cersei picked up those lessons from her father. Tywin put someone in an oubliette for jesting that Tywin shits gold, and had a girl gang-raped for marrying Tyrion. Cersei picked up her father’s lessons in cruelty, but not in tempering oneself with moderation and long-term thinking.

    4)“women are all weak, even her, though she pretends she isn’t,”

    Cersei deludes herself into thinking she is a strong ruler when she is actually weak.

    5) “He [Pycelle] felt her brow, made her undress, and touched her all over while the bedmaid held her down.”

    Is this a bit disturbing or is it just me?

    • 1. Yep, a nice parallel.

      2. Either that, or she unmasks him before the assembled lords of the Vale at her wedding feast, and he has to run. Then ZombieCat eats his brains.

      3. Very true. Cersei desperately wants to be Tywin’s heir.

      4. True.

      5. Very, especially given what we learn later about the state of his vow of chastity.

    • MightyIsobel says:

      “5) “He [Pycelle] felt her brow, made her undress, and touched her all over while the bedmaid held her down.

      “Is this a bit disturbing…. ?”


      Sounds like an old-fashioned diagnostic for female hysteria to me. (NSFW?)

    • Winnie says:

      Not to mention that Tywin was the guy in Westeros to invent the “Castamere” effect on his enemies-a level of brutality that the nobility simply didn’t inflict on each other before. Cersei learned the cruelty and scorched earth tactics but she didn’t learn how to do it strategically.

      Tywin went to a LOT of trouble to make Cersei Queen…but he never thought to prepare her for it. Then Cersei went and made that same mistake with Joffrey only magnified. Something, Twyin only began to understand in ASOS.

      And yeah, the Pycelle thing IS creepy. I wouldn’t think twice if it was Luwin or Aemon, because you would KNOW they were doing an exam for clinical purposes only, but from Pycelle…ugh.

      • David Hunt says:

        “Tywin went to a LOT of trouble to make Cersei Queen…but he never thought to prepare her for it.”

        I think in his mind, he did prepare her for it. He saw that she had education in the niceties that a noble woman is expected to master, then sent her off to Robert to breed the next heir the throne. I get the impression that cementing an Alliance with the Crown and producing children are the entirety of what Tywin expected. The fact that she tries to do more is the thing that he seems upset with. It’s interesting as I’ve read that Tywin’s own wife was highly influential on him while she was alive. I believe the saying was that Tywin ruled the Seven Kingdoms and Johanna Lannister ruled Tywin.

        Tywin strikes me as someone who dismisses most women as inconsequential, so it makes me curious what it was about his wife that made her so different to him. The obvious answer is that he actually loved her, but it just begs the question as to what it was about her that engendered that love. It makes me wonder how Cercei would have turned out if Johanna had lived Or how Tywin would have turned out.

      • I think this has to do with Tywin’s very complicated view of gender – I don’t think he thought her preparation went farther than “get pregnant and have male children,” but then again his relationship with Joanna was very different. I really don’t understand how to parse that, but if joannalannister on tumblr ever starts commenting here, I’d love to get a guest expert opinion on that topic.

        • Laural H says:

          I see Joanna as being the one to urge Tywin into Castamere in the first place, so he’s going to think she’s an exception. Plus it’s not like Tywin thinks he hates women – Cersei remembered him smiling when he confided the royal marriage plans. I think after she died, though, he probably thought no woman would compare, and didn’t even conceive that Cersei needed any extra education about why a politician/lord does certain things.

      • David Hunt says:


        I suspect, as I hinted at, that Joanna was different because he truly loved her and that loved included his respect of her. I seem to recall reading about the last time he (almost?) smiled was at his wedding. As to why she’s so special to Tywin, of a similar degree as Irene Adler is to Sherlock Holmes…that’s the tough bit.

        I think I recall something about them knowing each other growing up, maybe her being the only one who agreed with Tywin about the House presenting a stronger face to the world. I’m tempted to compare them to Frank and Claire Underwood from Netflix’s House of Cards, working together to bring down their foes. That’s probably hyperbole at best.

      • WPA says:

        Well Tywin certainly wouldn’t be the fist brutal pragmatist in history to actually love and cherish his wife. It’s what makes him a more complex character and as a side contributes to his treatment of Tyrion- it’s not rational for him to hate his son for killing his mother in childbirth, but grief causes irrational things. But it’s not completely out there to believe that he has contempt (even for his daughter) for women ruling in a seat of power and to love/heed his wife’s opinion/ have her be basically the only person able to tell him to shut up, and get away with it. For all we know she may have been completely on board with dishing out the Castamere Treatment after watching how the family was treated by them over her younger years. Once she died he lost any such emotional equilibrium he had.

  11. This was really insightful. It was from this point that I started finding Sansa compelling on my first read through (although I did like her earlier chapters much more on the reread once I understood what Martin was doing with the character). While I’m glad she’s shedding some of her naive romanticism, it’s pretty awful that an 11 year old had to watch her father’s head get chopped off for that to happen. The corresponding scene from the show on the bridge is amazing – Sophie Turner’s face gives me chills.

    I agree with everything – this was such a great way to end the book and reflects both Sansa’s and the readers disillusionment. And Cersei as an internalised misogynist makes absolute sense. Cersei was probably always going to be awful, but it seems to be compounded by growing up seeing her twin brother get treated so differently simply because of his gender.

    Something is clearly genetically haywire in Joffrey, but both Cersei and Robert are complicit in how they brought him up. It always annoys me when people pin it all on Cersei, but Robert’s ‘kingly’ example was also important. I don’t know how I turned into such a Cersei apologist.

    • Thanks!

      I don’t think it’s genetic at all – Tommen and Myrcella are perfectly fine kids, and I think Tyrion pinpoints it when he calls it benign neglect.

      • Maybe Joffrey got all the bad incest genes? I don’t know, it is Martin genetics after all. The cutting open the cat episode happened pretty early on I think, and that seems super screwed up to me.

        • There is a genetic component to certain elements of psychopathy, but it requires both nature and nurture. Torturing animals was once a classic sign of early development for a serial killer, along with bedwetting and fire-starting, known as the Macdonald triad – which is probably what Martin was borrowing from. However, subsequent research has shown that the triad is not predictive of future behavior but rather associated with an abusive childhood.

  12. Maybe I’m having a dumb blonde moment here, but I really don’t get what advantage Cersei thinks marrying Sansa to Joffrey at this point will bring to the Lannister cause? It’s clearly too late to try and repair the damage by a marriage alliance, so why not simply keep her as a hostage? Obviously she gets overturned by Margaery anyway, so maybe this is a moot point.

    • It’s tricky – you have to look ahead to the big reveal in AFFC. I think Cersei sees Sansa as a non-threat that she might be able to use to subvert Maggy the Frog’s prophecy – as the hostage daughter of a dead rebel, Sansa could never threaten her. Hence the fixation on Sansa being dumb while Cersei thinks she’s so clever.

      But Margaery? Margaery’s a threat.

      • Winnie says:

        I think that’s it exactly. In a way, Sansa’s helplessness made her the perfect in-law for Cersei-someone she could (seemingly) abuse with impunity. A ready made victim. (Though, I don’t think Sansa’s going to be staying that way much longer-and of course Sansa’s not only smarter than Cersei thinks she is-she’s probably smarter than Cersei, just young and inexperienced-though, learning fast) Can’t possibly do that with Margaery.

      • Sean C. says:

        There’s another wrinkle there, namely, that in ADWD Cersei claims to herself that she never intended for Sansa to marry Joffrey, and would have married her to somebody else in the Lannister family.

        Granted, Cersei’s view of the past is entirely self-serving, so it’s debatable how reliable that is (the remembrance in question is another part of her reflecting on how victimized she’s been by everybody, including Sansa, who was so ungrateful to her).

  13. ericd19 says:

    It’s interesting how GRRM has this dichotomy between an often ugly, unromantic reality and occasional instances of romantic, high mimetic, much more idealistic characters. It’s a world in which Ned Stark, Barristan Selmy, Rhaegar Targaryen and Arthur Dayne can exist alongside Viserys, Joffrey, Cersei, Meryn Trant and Gregor Clegane. Sometimes it gets a bit too much and, in my opinion, tonally clashes (Daenerys the Magical Dragon Princess gets on my nerves at times, as I’ve said before), however overall I think GRRM uses the darker aspects of his series to make the more idealistic elements shine even brighter by placing them amongst an otherwise dark world.

    • I agree with the last part of that – the effect that GRRM wants to have with his deliberate dichotomy is to intensify our emotional reaction so that the high is higher and the low is lower. It’s why “STANNIS! STANNIS! STANNIS!” feels so good, and why the Red Wedding hurts so bad.

  14. axrendale says:

    “What if Sansa pushes Joffrey?”

    Immediately makes me think of this:

    On a more serious note, I want to thank you for pointing out in a comment that Cersei likely sees Sansa’s marriage to Joffrey as a way of nullifying Maggy’s prophecy, which clears up something that had seriously bothered me in the first two books. The fact that Cersei was so set on hanging onto the match even after Ned’s death was puzzling – to the point where, in ACOK, after Tyrion comes up with the idea of sending an emissary to the Tyrells to propose a marital alliance, she balks so completely that the entire small council has to team up to bring her round to the idea. On first read, this comes off as sheer political lunacy on her part, but with AFFC kept in mind… well, it’s still political lunacy, but at least it makes sense in character terms.

    A few times on discussion boards, I’ve seen people float the suggestion that Cersei’s characterisation in the fourth book comes somewhat out of left field – it’s satisfying to see that in fact the Valonqar prophecy is being set up even as early as the first book, still further testimony to the impressiveness of GRRM’s plotting.

    Also thanks for yet another post of impeccable analysis. Sansa VI is one of the handful of chapters where I have a distinct memory of my impressions during my first read: it caused a complete revolution in my sentiments toward Sansa as a character, and the closing lines were nothing short of an emotional gut-punch.

    And then there’s Joffrey. It’s rather fitting that in a much later chapter (in AFFC, if I recall) his biological father Jaime is the one who delivers a rumination on how boys can be the cruelest of creatures. Tyrion delivers some rather pointed (and deeply satisfying) commentary on it too, later – there’s something just so terrifyingly juvenile about Joff’s insanity and tyranny that it can elicit an emotional response in readers greater than that owed to even more certifiable monsters that we meet later in the books.

    This is as an appropriate time as any to give mention to just how impressive Jack Gleeson’s performance is in managing to completely nail the very unique loathsomeness of this character. Gleeson’s performance is one of the few from the show that has succeeded in changing how I visualize the characters when I re-read the books (possibly the most successful in this regard after Conleth Hill’s portrayal of Varys).

    Kudos too, on the snippets of historical commentary (love reading these, keep up the great work!), and the synopsis – dropping that Hamlet quote is a gem.

  15. Winnie says:

    Oh, Gleeson’s work with Joffrey is just pitch perfect. He’s one of the treasures of the show.

    I think the problem with the Valonqar prophecy wasn’t the mention of another younger, more beautiful queen, to overthrow Cersei, but the whole Valonqar thing, which seemed a bit revisionist to Cersei’s relationship with Tyrion. Actually, I could always believe long before reading the prophecy, that Cersei consciously, or unconsciously, was trying to avoid a strong new Queen. She would never want to share the spotlight.

    Of course, it would be great literary irony now if Sansa, (who Cersei dismissed as a potential threat) were in fact the one to overthrow here. Especially, because let’s be honest here, of all the candidates for the new Queen, Sansa is the one who would pack the most emotional punch. Arianne and/or Dany are both more likely, (and Dany would certainly seem to be the favorite) but they just don’t have any kind of personal relationship with Cersei to make it interesting.

    • I don’t think it was that revisionist – her behavior throughout ACOK is pretty on-point with the Valonqar theory, and even more so in ASOS. They don’t spend much time interacting in AGOT, so we don’t have much material to work with, but my guess was that Tyrion was a lesser threat before he actually gained political office.

      As for the young queen – I think it’s going to be one of those things where prophecy is misunderstood and you get repetitions. I’m on record as saying that Cersei tries to have Margaery killed and Tommen saves her at the cost of his own life; I think Arianne and Aegon briefly replace her, and then I think Dany gets on the Iron Throne.

      • Andrew says:

        I don’t think Cersei would would kill Tommen, and I think it is more likely that Cersei keeps Margaery as a hostage after Tommen dies to guarantee the Tyrells’ loyalty.

        I don’t think KL will be taken by Dany; Aegon and Arianne maybe.

        • I don’t think Cersei will intend to – but I think it will happen regardless.

          And keeping Margaery hostage is far too logical for what Cersei is capable of atm.

          And I think KL will be taken by Dany – how else are we going to get the dance of the dragons between her and Aegon?

      • Andrew says:

        I think Tommen will die at the hands of the Dornish master at arms, Darkstar under a false name, that Cersei hired, given her thoughts in AFfC. She also has a weakness for guys with Valyrian features due ever since Rhaegar.

        I see a parallel for Cersei using Margaery as a hostage with a Tyrell in the KG like Aerys did Elia and the children with a Martell in the KG. Cersei does have some low cunning as Tyrion and Jaime note. It sounds like her first response to such a situation, with violence or threat of violence. Cersie kept a hostage for one Hand, Tyrion, why not a second? She also tries something similar with Kevan in bringing Dorna to KL.

        The Dance of Dragons doesn’t have to occur at KL. Dany will still fight Aegon whether he sits the IT or not. I think Aegon may have an intended temporary capital at Oldtown given that much of his support is in the southernmost end of Westeros. There are clues to Oldtown burning when Dany strikes, and Oldtown was spared the first Dance with KL taken, so I think Oldtown will be taken with KL spared in the second Dance. Cersei will want to keep the Tyrell army at KL to make herself feel safe like she would have had her father done.

        • Darkstar is being hunted for his life by Areo Hotah and Obarah Sand – if he shows up again, my guess is he shows up at Starfall so we can learn more about House Dayne.

          You’re forgetting that Cersei’s gone insane and House Tyrell reacts to Margaery being imprisoned by besieging King’s Landing. That won’t fly.

          Oldtown isn’t going to happen – whatever support Aegon might have will be Martell, not Tyrell, since the Tyrells have married into the anti-Targaryen dynasty.

      • Winnie says:

        Question is how long Dany can keep the IT…and who would be her heir…I’ve heard suggestions that she may yet bear another child.

      • Andrew says:

        Darkstar likely knows that High Hermitage is the first place they would look for him, and he wants to start a war between Dorne and the Lannisters. No one in KL knows what he looks like, and I don’t think Cersei’s thoughts on getting a Dornish master-at-arms was for nothing. Cersei calling for a Dornish master-at-arms may be his best chance yet.

        House Tyrell’s numbers won’t matter so long as Cersei’s men can still get to Margaery first. Besides,

        I see Oldtown supporting Aegon given that Oldtown supported Aegon II in the Dance of Dragons. Besides, I believe the clues point to Aegon and Connington aiding Oldtown when Euron strikes, winning the Hightowers’ support. I never said the Tyrells would support Aegon, but their bannermen may have different opinions.

        As to Dany, I think the clues point to her having a daughter. I think I know who the father will be, but you wouldn’t believe the angry responses I got from Dany fans. I think the clues point to Tyrion as the father of Dany’s daughter. Of course, I also think she will die in childbirth at the Wall.

        • 1. I didn’t say High Hermitage, I said Starfall.

          2. They did the last time Cersei’s men got to Margaery.

          3. Doubt it. Mace’s wife is a Hightower, and all his kids are half-Hightowers. Why would the Hightowers reject having their cousin be Queen in favor of Aegon, who can’t even offer them a royal marriage?

      • Andrew says:

        1. Doran stated Darkstar is at High Hermitage, his seat.

        2. What last time? The HS had Margaery, and he wasn’t using her as a hostage.

        3. Marriage isn’t an absolute guarantee for loyalty as Warwick the Kingmaker demonstrated. Margaery’s government (really Cersei’s) dragged its feet dealing with the Ironmen, and could be seen as having failed in it’s basic feudal duty to protect its vassals. They lost credibility so to speak. If Aegon shows up at the right moment, and aids them when Euron is attacking Oldtown when he could have taken advantage to attack a weakened Oldtown, he could potentially win the Hightowers as he succeeded where Tommen failed.

        • 1. Yeah, but I think he’s going to head to Starfall so we learn more about the Dayne connection.

          2. Right, and Mace Tyrell marched his army on King’s Landing. The Tyrells do not play around.

          3. Marriage and blood aren’t the same thing. Aegon can’t offer the Hightowers what the Tyrells can. And he’s not headed towards Oldtown.

      • JT says:

        I would almost certainly expect to see Darkstar again – the plotting practically requires it.

        – Foreshadowing: Jaime, Ned and Barristan have mentioned the Daynes multiple times

        – R+L=J: Ashara Dayne is mentioned as a candidate for Jon Snow’s mother, and Ned went to Starfall after the Tower of Joy, so presumably someone there might know

        – Dorne’s role in the war: we don’t who/what was behind his assassination attempt on Myrcella

        – POV: Areo Hoath (a minor POV character) is hunting him down, so we’ll get a POV from Starfall

        This arc may wrap up in one chapter as Areo Hotah is a minor POV character, but I would be very surprised if we don’t end up at Starfall one way or another.

        It’s funny, everybody always thinks that Howland Reed is the big Checkov’s gun that will reveal Jon’s true parentage. I wonder if Howland is just a red herring and the reveal comes from a different source (either the Daynes or Bloodraven).

      • Andrew says:

        1. I admit that is possible, but I don’t think Cersei thought of a Dornish master-at-arms is going to be for nothing.

        2. Cersei has hundreds of Lannister guardsmen in the RK. If Mace threatens to take Cersei’s head she will likely reply that his daughter’s will go first before her’s if he tries. Tywin Lannister had an army outside Duskendale, and the whole realm behind him yet he did not try anything except Barristan’s rescue mission a few months into it since he knew if tried to take Duskendale, Aerys would be killed inside the Dun Fort, and the sack would have been for nought if it was to save the king. If Mace tries to take KL and the RK, it would mean Margaery’s life.

        3. Aegon isn’t headed towards Oldtown now, but he is going to need to get the support of as many lords as he can. Connington can likely learn from Stannis in that cleaning areas of Ironborn is a good way to win support from local lords. If Aegon aids the Hightowers against Euron when he attacks, then I doubt Hightower will turn Aegon away or fight him. The Hightowers are lords, first and foremost, and their primary interests are the protections of their lands and assets, something Tommen’s government failed at. What good is your granddaughter being queen when your lands are being reaved with impunity and your city placed in danger or attacked?

        The Hightowers supported Aegon II in the Dance of Dragons, and I think that is a strong clue that Aegon will have Oldtown in the second. Plenty of foreshadowing seems to support that theory.

        • 1. Tommen’s not going to be alive long enough for that to matter.

          2. The High Sparrow had thousands of armed men. Didn’t stop Mace last time.

          3. Aegon’s going to be busy taking Storm’s End, fighting the Tyrell army, and then taking King’s Landing. And Margaery’s intervention was precisely what freed up the Redwyne fleet to protect the Reach. There’s no way Aegon beats the fleet to Oldtown.

      • Andrew says:

        1. Tommen getting killed by Cersei would be the right dose of irony given Tommen is killed by the man she hired, and it is her antagonizing attitude that leads her to get a Dornish master-at-arms to irk the Tyrells.

        2. Mace didn’t attack Baelor’s Sept, or have his men fight the Faith’s. The HS also wasn’t threatening to harm Margaery if Mace tried anything. Besides, how do we know Cersei doesn’t try this while Mace is away in the field dealing with Aegon or Dany?

        3. The Redwyne fleet is going to deal with the Ironmen not Aegon, and I think Redwyne is going to want to retake his fief, the Arbor, first from the Ironmen.

        I don’t see him fighting Aegon, but joining him after dealing with the Ironmen at Oldtown. In the Dance of Dragons, Aegon II had the Arbor so I imagine Aegon will have the Arbor in the second. Aegon has already taken Storm’s End, and it would be smart to draw bannermen away from the Tyrells, strengthening his power while weakening theirs at the same time. It wasn’t Margaery’s intervention that freed up the fleet, but Loras’s. If Aegon defeats the Ironmen when they attack Oldtown, it will be due to his actions not Cersei’s or the Tyrells. Otherwise, without Aegon Oldtown might have been sacked.

        The Hightowers are the wealthiest and most powerful Tyrell bannermen along with the Redwynes. Once they joined, the flood gates would open.

        • 1. I think Frankengregor is MUCH closer to hand than Darkstar.

          2. He still put the city under siege. Mace doesn’t back down when his family is threatened. And as I’ve said, Cersei is not compos mentis enough to pull this kind of thing off.

          3. Exactly! So if the Redwynes deal with the Ironborn, why do the Hightowers need Aegon? And why would they turn on the Tyrells who they’ve bred into?

      • Andrew says:

        1. I think Darkstar feels more right, and I think it will be left to Sandor to kill UnGregor. Besides, if UnGregor kills Tommen, Cersei will not want to keep him around anymore, and we saw him with Sansa in Bran’s vision so I don’t think it will be UnGregor who kills Tommen.

        2. Who is to say Cersei doesn’t try it while Mace is away in the field when Tommen dies?

        3. If the Redwynes are busy retaking the Arbor, then Euron is going to want to take Oldtown soon. The Redwyne fleet likely won’t be present at Oldtown when Euron attacks, and if so, Euron may use a feint like he did at the Shield Islands. Had Aegon not arrived, Oldtown might have been sacked, and the Tyrells sent little aid to Oldtown, likely even after Mace became Hand given his focus is on his daughter’s imprisonment.

        If Aegon has SE like Aegon II did in the Dance of Dragons, then it is not too far a shot to think that he will have the Hightowers and possibly, the Arbor.

        • 1. Gregor is much, much closer. And I don’t think Cersei will be up for wanting much, so that’s not an issue.

          2. It’s possible – I’m just saying I don’t think the Tyrells will fall for that.

          3. The Arbor wasn’t taken – Euron smashed the ships there, but unlike the Shield Islands, it wasn’t occupied. The Redwyne Fleet is going after the Iron Fleet which is operating in their area; I just don’t see the space for this happening just because of something that happened in the Dance of Dragons when the HIghtowers had entirely different political motives.

      • Andrew says:

        1. I think UnGregor won’t kill Tommen unless commanded to.

        2. Cersei has to find someway to survive until the end of ADoS. Mace is not exactly what one would call a genius.

        3. The Ironmen are using Vinetown and Starfish harbor as bases for preying on ships in Whispering Sound. As for the Dance of Dragons, it’s called foreshadowing. People on the forums have found that a lot of the history GRRM mentioned is to provide clues for events in the series.

        • 1. UnGregor is going to be commanded to kill Margaery, and Tommen will get in the way.

          2. Who says Cersei survives to the end of ADOS?

          3. That’s really reaching for foreshadowing; people act according to motive. The Hightowers backed Aegon II because his mother was a Hightower; they’re going to back Margaery because her mother is a Hightower.

    • Andrew says:

      Edit: Tommen is killed by Cersei’s master-at-arms not Cersei herself.

    • Andrew says:

      1. I think we can agree to disagree.

      2. Jaime is Cersei’s valonqar, and he is in the riverlands right now, captured by the BwB. I don’t see him killing her in TWoW as there is not enough build up in terms of motivations. Besides, with Jaime’s dream and a subtle clue in AFfC, Jaime will be alive when Jon’s heritage is publicly revealed, which likely won’t be until ADoS.

      3. No offense, but I advise you look at the foreshadowing threads on the forum before reaching that conclusion. There at least eight different threads for it. I think GRRM strictly adheres to the rule of Chekov’s gun.

      The Hightowers are lords first and foremost, a lord’s primary interest is the security of his lands. That is what the current Tyrell government failed at. The Hightowers fought on the side of the Targaryens, albeit with a son in Robert’s camp, and relation by blood is not a 100% guarantee for loyalty. If Aegon aids them at the right moment, when Euron attacks from the Honeywine, Oldtown’s backdoor, then I think they may join him out of gratitude, and fulfilling the role of a liege lord where Tommen failed.

      • 1. Sure.

        2. I highly disagree. TWOW is the climax, ADOS is the falling action.

        3. I agree with foreshadowing, but I also think ASOIAF fans sometimes invent foreshadowing where there isn’t. I think you’re just off on timing re: Aegon and the Redwyne Fleet and need to go back to the maps. Hightower didn’t have a son in Robert’s camp – I think you’re thinking of the Blackfyre Rebellion, when they didn’t have a blood relation on either side.

      • Andrew says:

        2. I think ADoS has some of the climax like the sixth Harry Potter book. It will be where Jon meets Dany, and likely where Tyrion and Dany die.

        3. According to Tyrion in ACoK, the Hightowers had a son in each camp I think. I don’t know when Euron will attack. I think it is marriage rather than blood as Margaery may be married to Tommen, but they have no issue anymore than Ann Neville and Edward of Westminster, and unlike Warwick the Kingmaker, it is not a daughter married to one side, but a grandaughter. I saw a bit of foreshadowing with three seagulls on the statue of Daeron I. Daeron went to war with Dorne.

        “Who shall be king over us?”
        A seagull screamed back at him.

        A seagull was perched on the Young Dragon’s head, and two more on the blade.

        I think it points to three kings coming to Oldtown to bring war, two to attack Oldtown and one to lead it. The first will be Euron when he attacks, Aegon will be the second to arrive at to lead Oldtown (seagull on the head), and I think the final monarch to visit Oldtown will be Dany/Tyrion to burn the city. Make what you want of it.

      • Andrew says:

        2. I don’ think Jaime will kill Cersei in TWoW given current lack of motivations and distance, and since he is her valonqar, he may not kill her until ADoS.

        3. No offense, but I think calling someone’s opinion “pure red-string tin foil thinking” is a bit disrespectful, a spectacular form of name-calling so to speak, or at the very least just stating your personal opinions as matter-of-factly. Especially since the said events haven’t occurred yet to be proven or disproven.

        I have studied the text for a long while, and GRRM does seem to hold to the rule of Chekov’s gun, IMO.

        • 2. I think he’s going to have plenty of motivations by TWOW.

          3. I don’t mean to cause offense, but I’m calling it like I see it. You’re extrapolating from seagulls to argue that Aegon is going to take Oldtown, while ignoring a lot of evidence to the contrary. Chekov’s Gun requires the author to put the gun on the mantle to start with – i.e, to draw attention to a plot device. And I don’t think you’ve cleared the bar of demonstrating GRRM actually drawing attention to a device.

      • Andrew says:

        2. Cersei is foreshadowed to revive Aerys’s plan to burn down KL with her many comparisons to wildfire, and I don’t see her doing that without harming her remaining children. The only way I see Cersei doing that is if she is absolutely sure that the war is lost for her side with no hope of victory, and likely after all her children are dead so she has no claimant to throw her support behind.

        That would be the straw to break the camel’s back that I think would lead Jaime to kill her. If he kills her using the Hand’s chain like Tyrion did, then I don’t see Jaime accepting the position as Hand without losing the Tyrells. I think he would only accept it after Mace is dead, and he accepts the position just to keep things running rather than leave it to an increasing mad Cersei.

        There are also clues in his dream in ASoS pointing to Jon being one reason. I think it would occur when Jon has his heritage revealed, and the Wall falls, releasing him of his vows. Jaime’s light goes out in his dream while in Jon’s dream in ASoS he knows a light has gone out. Jaime still feels guilty over what happened to Rhaegar’s children. I don;t think that connection in the dreams is for nothing, Eventually, Jon and Jaime are going to meet, IMO.

        That is the last I’m going to address this.

        3. This is series is filled with a lot of unpredictability, with even unlikely things happening. I think Aegon is going to win Oldtown. GRRM did say the devil was in the details, and there are a lot of details. It is paying attention to these details that a lot of fans found out about R+L=J, Aegon being a Blackfyre and Sandor being the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle just to name a few. People are entitled to their opinion, and there is still the chance that I may be right. TWoW hasn’t come out, only then can one know with certainty that it can be right or wrong.

        I prefer to think of “You know nothing, Jon Snow” which draws some inspiration from Socrates, “I am the wisest man alive because I know one thing, and that is I know nothing.”

      • Laural H says:

        About 70% of those threads are possible foreshadowing of things that actually haven’t happened. I’ll take foreshadowing for the third rider, or Jon’s parents, but so many of the other theories “foreshadowed” contradict each other.

  16. nzinga's son says:

    “and it strikes me as strange that so many people don’t see the deconstruction, especially after this point,”

    It’s not that we don’t see it. The deconstruction is a good thing, but we GOT it after this scene specifically. The next few books should’ve been about Sansa learning how to navigate her world, instead we got two books of Sansa just sitting there and in the third she magically gains the ability to read people when she sits next to Baelish, presumably by osmosis.

    I was really hoping the show would fix this, instead they made her even more childish and just sitting there (Sansa doesn’t know what shit is, really?)

  17. nzinga's son says:

    Also, while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about this:

    “In life the monsters win.”


    The entire history of mankind shows that no, they really don’t. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but if we actually look at history, they lose a lot more than they win. Humanity is freer, safer, and healthier than it has ever been before. If this statement were true, we’d all be living in various dystopian, pseudo-feudal nightmares straight out of George Orwell; the forces of good, good people, good ideals, are WINNING, by a bloody landslide.

    Honestly, this nihilistic BS is the biggest thing that turned me off from this series. Yes, bad people get rewarded at times for doing bad things, yes, good people sometimes must do bad things in order to achieve good results, but there’s a huge difference between doing something cruel but necessary to achieve a good goal and: Goodness get’s you nothing, become a Sith Lord.

    • I think you’re falling prey to the depiction is endorsement fallacy. Sansa thinks this in a state of extreme depression and grief, she’s not a reliable narrator in that moment. And it’s definitely not where Martin’s work is headed – rather, it tends to work as an ironic reversal. People often comment that there are “no true Knights” – but Brienne is one, as is Dunk, despite them not formally being kngihts.

      • nzinga's son says:

        Brienne ends up betraying Jaime to save her own life, Dunk get’s killed by the king he practically raised in a desperate attempt to create dragons.

        • 1. I don’t think Brienne is actually going to follow through on betraying Jaime; I think she’s just getting strategic enough to realize that another sword would be useful in dealing with Lady Stoneheart.
          2. We don’t know how precisely Dunk died. Remember, Summerhall involved treason as well as fire.

      • David Hunt says:

        Dunk had to die somehow. He died in a tragic accident, with the man he raised, helping him try to realize his life’s dream. I don’t see anything there that would disqualify him as a true knight. People with that type of commitment can easily find themselves in situations that keep them from dying in their bed. As to Brienne, it looks bad but we don’t know the whole story. She refused to betray Jamie right up to moment they were going to hang her, so I maintain that whatever’s going on now is more complicated than Brienne simply betraying Jamie to save herself.

        • I’m guessing Dunk will go down trying to rescue Aegon, like a true knight.

          As for Brienne, she’s fetched Jaime but we don’t know whether she’ll be fighting him or fighting side-by-side with him.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Don’t forget Ser Barristan the Bold! (even a True Knight needn’t be PERFECT).

      • John says:

        Surely Brienne is betraying Jaime to save Podrick’s life (and perhaps Hyle Hunt’s, to a lesser extent). And we still don’t know how that will turn out.

    • Matthew says:

      You’re being just a bit harsh here. Yes overall ASOIAF is incredibly dark (and frankly some of the absurd levels this was taken to is what got so many people irritated with ADWD) but the series is one which is not overall dark.

      Justice is actually meted out quite a few times (Slynt, Joffery, Gregor and his men, the cities of Slaver’s Bay, and Tywin) but it’s rarely in a form which is a) inherently good or b) one which is outside of pure vengeance (hence why Slynt’s execution was so satisfying from a pure good stand point).

      There are lots of bright spots in the series but yes there is a highlight on the INJUSTICE that exists in this world. To me that’s to be expected and I actually applaud Martin for that.

      Frankly there have been plenty of dark moments, but there have been plenty of bright moments too.

      • axrendale says:

        Matthew, you ninja’d me!

      • nzinga's son says:

        ADWD is particularly what I’m talking about, and it isn’t as bad in the earlier books I’ll grant you, but I still feel that in an attempt to be “edgy” and “realistic” George makes people act like idiots in order to have a succession of extremely lame plot twists, and that his desire for said lame plot twists is a consequence of this series’s grimderp “dark” nature.

    • axrendale says:

      I think that it’s worth remembering that what we’re shown by the author is often more important than what we’re told.

      We get a lot of *talk* about how in “In life the monsters win”, but what actually happens to the monsters in the series? Tywin Lannister died on the toilet, and his legacy was ruined by his own children. Gregor Clegane was poisoned, and turned over to the tender mercies of Maester Frankenstein. Roose Bolton’s grip on the North is looking more shaky by the minute.

      And if Littlefinger isn’t dead before the end of ADOS, then I promise you that I will eat my hat.

      • Winnie says:

        Oh, yeah, the monsters may win in this series, “and good guys get killed,” but their victories tend to be short lived. In the long run, they pretty much end up screwing themselves. That ultimate travesty known as the RW seems to be coming back to haunt everyone who participated; ironically what was done as a plot to destroy and extinguish House Stark, (With the Bolton’s hoping this could let them take the North, and the Lannister’s figuring that by Sansa’s forced marriage/rape, they could ursurp the North,) now seems far more likely to be the death knell for the Houses who orchestrated it. The Bolton’s are down to two members who are literally surrounded by enemies, the Frey’s are the most hated family in Westeros, despised by even their own allies, and being picked off one by one, and the Lannister’s are self-destructing in a truly awe inspiring fashion. Meanwhile, contrary to what anyone believes there are *four* potential Stark heirs to retake the North…and contrary to what LF believes, Sansa won’t continue to be his puppet for very much longer. And don’t get me started on the Greyjoy’s and the whole IB culture, for that matter. We already have it on good authority, that the wolves will come back and in all likelihood dragons as well…but the future of the Lions, The Weasels, The Kraken’s, and the Flayer’s, I’m not so sure about.

  18. Abbey Battle says:

    An excellent article as ever Maester Steven!

  19. Streetmachine says:

    Another great article Steven, exciting that you are getting near the end of the first book.

    One thing I was interested in was how complicit the soldiers and guards, especially the White cloaks in this case, are in the suffering that people have to endure from psychos like Joffery.

    Surely there are times when these guys must question the abuse they are ordered to deal out. Now I know that they would feel impelled to follow orders; that guards that don’t follow orders like this probably don’t advance up the military hierarchy and that the psychopaths like Joffery usually pick the psychopaths like Ser Merryn to be in these roles because they can order them do this sort of thing but, aren’t there times historically when someone has said “enough!”?

    • I’ll get into this more in ACOK when we get to how the various Kingsguard deal with orders to beat Sansa, but clearly Meryn Trant does not blink.

      As for the Goldcloaks and killing babies, I think we have to look to years and years of institutional corruption at the very top influencing institutional culture, recruitment, and promotion.

      • Andrew says:

        As the saying goes, a fish rots from the head down.

      • WPA says:

        Well, in the show you do have that horrified look on the face of one gold cloak when told to kill an infant- and he doesn’t. He may be the exception, but I found that pretty striking. Presumably the ease with which Tyrion gets rid of Slynt implies there are some gold cloaks quite glad to be rid of him beyond mere opportunism.

        At the same time for the Kingsguard- Even someone as genuinely decent as Barristan Selmy stood by while a clearly deranged king gleefully burned people alive- at great psychological cost to himself. Jamie Lannister killed an insane tyrant and is forever marked as “Kingslayer” and looked down upon because of oath-breaking. Telling the child-tyrant off is something that isn’t going to happen even with the better guys on the guard.

    • JT says:

      I wonder how much of it is cyclical – look at the Lannisters: Tytos’ inffectiveness begets Tywin’s pragmatic ruthlessness which is taken one step further into Cersei’s total ruthlessness, which meets its logical conclusion in Joffery’s psychopathy. In turn, Tommen swings back the other way to extreme kindness. I’m sure that if Tommen were to live to enough to rule and have a son, his son would see that people (Mace Tyrell et al) take advantage of his father’s kindness and would in turn become more like Tywin than Tommen.

      There are Psychology studies that show that the best way to rise in a group is to be slightly more radical/extreme than the other members (this can mean being a little more radical politically, or just being the fraternity brother who parties a little harder than the other brothers), but only slightly. Diverging too far from accepted behavior draws condemnation (Ramsay Bolton with the Northern lords) and not participating in the behavior can result in a “freezing out” (Big Walder with his cousin, Ramsay and the bastard’s boys).

  20. drevney says:

    Also in Book vs. Show:

    In the show one of amputated heads on the spikes was a doll of president Bush.

  21. Roger says:

    Most people prefers Arya, but I like Sansa much more. She is a realistic high class damsel. Arya is too much a character of a typical fantasy novel (an anachronic “liberated” girl).

    Being Jeoffrey a minor (not still 16 years old) I wonder why Cersei and the Council don’t keep him more at bay. Of course he is the king, but just a boy. However, that didn’t stopped Rob Stark from taking commander.

    There are some paralels between Joff and Adolf Hitler’s family. Distant father and overprotective mother. There are some anecdotes showing Joff was a monster even at a very young age and Robert picking him. But I don’t think Robert was a harsh father (bad, but not abusive). I always found curious Jeoffrey is so proud of being his son, despite his mother hating his husband.

    I sometimes wonder what would happen if Robert had take some interest in Tommen or Myrcella (good children, after all). If he had sent Tommen to Dragonstone or Storm’s End… Who knows.

    In the show there is a great moment when Robert is dying and says goodbye to Jeoffrey. He seems truly affected by it. When Eddard denounces his bastardy and Jeofrey screams “LYER!”, he is truly offended. Even I felt a little bit of simpathy for him. The actor really does a good job!

    • David Hunt says:

      I’d guess that Cercei lets him have such free reign because of her internalized misogyny and conditioning to try to rule through men rather than directly. I’d guess that she sees his bald assumption that everything should go exactly as he wants it and somehow relates that to her own father’s iron demands of absolute obedience. Just a guess.

      Everyone else giving him such free reign is much easier. First, Cercei isn’t stopping him and if she’s letting him do it, who are they to stop it. Also, even if they weren’t immediately punished for thwarting Joffrey, the kid will obviously hold grudges. In a few years he’s going to be King is his own right with no one to hold him back. No one in the Royal Court wants to be on his bad side when that happens.

    • As I’ll point out, Arya too is a deconstruction.

  22. Abbey Battle says:

    One idea that has just occurred to me reading through the various comments regarding Lord Tywin and his apparent failure to prepare Cersei to wield political power in his own right; could his formative experiences dealing with Lady Tarbeck have rather turned him against Ladies OPENLY wielding power in defiance of their Lords?

    Could Tywin Lannister have been determined from an early age that he would NEVER train his own daughter to defy the proper order of things in such a fashion?

    • Winnie says:

      Well, when I said that Tywin didn’t prepare Cersei…I don’t just mean that he didn’t prepare her to be Queen Regent or hold power in her own right…it’s that Cersei doesn’t even seem to be especially good at being a Queen Consort and advancing her family’s interests through that, (the way Margaery does,) nor even well…behaving Queenly under pressure. She never tried to endear herself to the smallfolk, or perform her duties at court. Again, the BoB was so indicative of the larger problem…she vaguely understands, (and bitterly resents) that it’s expected of her to play hostess to the other women during the siege, but she can’t be bothered to put up a decent show. When the chips are down, she started hitting the booze and visibly losing it, to the point where a thirteen year old hostage had to take the helm. And her decision to have Joffrey taken from the battlefield…you didn’t need to be an expert on warfare to know how disastrous that would be. She sees being Queen as having power and wearing jewels, but she has no notion that it comes with responsibilities as well.

  23. zonaria says:

    Interesting to compare and contrast Joffrey dispensing ‘justice’ with another teenage ruler doing much the same thing – Dany in Meereen – also randomly arbitrary but without the depraved sadism.

  24. Brian M. says:

    Great piece. I’ve been looking forward to this particular chapter review for a while (this chapter is mainly what caused me to look at Sansa as probably my favorite character. Well, this and Blackwater).

    Anyway, question regarding the possibilities…do you think it’s really possible Joffrey would have been allowed to march out with the Goldcloaks? Given Cersei’s desperation to have Tywin march for KL with all due haste, I don’t see how she could really be persuaded to do that.

    As for Robb & Joffrey meeting in the field…it’s win-win for Robb. He either kills Joffrey outright/in single combat, or else holds him prisoner and gets Sansa back (and goes looking for Arya). But then what?

    • I think it’s possible but unlikely – Cersei doesn’t know how to deal with Joffrey when his blood is up, but given that marching the Goldcloaks out of King’s Landing means they all die, I think the Small Council would physically restrain him if they had to.

      If he captures Joffrey, Robb gets Sansa, Ice, and independence and Tywin MAYBE stops Stannis from marching into King’s Landing. If he kills him, Sansa probably dies and Stannis takes King’s Landing and closes the door behind him.

      • Winnie says:

        Alternatively, if Joffrey had marched with the Goldcloaks, the Small Council might have just concentrated on fleeing KL figuring if they tried arguing with Joffrey, he’d have his Goldcloaks seize *them*. The way things were going, I don’t think ANYONE at the Red Keep knew how to control Joffrey. That’s why Daddy had to send them Tyrion.

      • Sean C. says:

        The Goldcloaks were bought for the Lannisters by Littlefinger, so I don’t think he, at least, would be all that worried about them.

  25. JT says:

    BTW – I also just want to tell you that I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put in here! It would be hard for me to quantify how much my knowledge of both Medieval History and this series has increased thanks to your writing.

    PS – really excited to get your take on ASOS, particularly the chapter(s) where Theon spends time in the Iron Islands.

    • Thanks! I think you mean ACOK. Theon spends time learning many things in ASOS, but not about iron *islands*.

      • Winnief says:

        LOL! Personally, I am panting for your takedown of the BoB…and for Cersei’s conduct before and after the battle. Major prelude to the disaster of AFFC with the IB…she literally can’t see a MAJOR military threat on the horizon for the sake of a petty personal rivalry…but in AFFC there’s no Tyrion or Tywin to save the day…or Cersei from herself.

  26. Winnief says:

    Yeah. Its worth noting that while the show made a number of minor changes to Theon’s story arc in ACOK, I think in some ways they enhanced it, thanks to good writing and a dynamite performance by Alfie Allen so viewers always understood why Theon was doing what he was doing…even if he didn’t.

  27. thepissedoffpundit says:

    Maybe you’ll get into this when you start analyzing ACOK, but I don’t think Sansa turns into an outright cynic in this book. She’s still somewhat soft-hearted at the beginning of ACOK and as soon as she starts getting the letters from Ser Dontos, she goes back to her old mentality, particularly in the scene where Dontos whacks her upside the head with his “mace” and she actually thinks of him as “my Florian.” If it happens at all, I’d say her cynicism grows at the end of ASOS, when the jig with Dontos is up and she realizes for the second time that life isn’t a song.

  28. The Kingmaker was Earl not Duke of Warwick and Warwick isn’t in the north of England.

  29. […] Sansa VI (the final deconstruction, Joffrey the childish psychopath, what if she pushed him) […]

  30. […] when he’s the one who provided her with the script she’s had to memorize, back in her last chapter in AGOT. It’s hardly a passive process – as we can see, it requires a good deal of preparation […]

  31. […] With the case of Balon Swann, we get an interesting glimpse into feudal politics. House Swann’s absence from the battlefield is a partial solution to the question of what was going on with the Stormlands’ military numbers. In retrospect, House Swann’s absence from the battlefield to date and their status as marcher lords might well suggest that they are secret Blackfyre loyalists waiting for the Golden Company to land in the Stormlands. On the other hand, the fact that a noted Targaryen loyalist like Barristan Selmy squired for a Swann in his youth sort of counts against that. At the same time, it’s good to see the Lannisters actually playing the feudal politics game for once rather than trying to rule absolutely without the ability to do so. […]

  32. […] is as close as she can get to being a nice person. And for her, the two things are linked – as I’ve said, Cersei’s relationship with Sansa modulates depending on how much she fears Sansa at any […]

  33. […] but is forced by her gender to shelter in this room. Despite every attempt she’s made to seize power in her own right, she’s spend the entire book losing every scrap of power she managed to grab to the brother […]

  34. […] for the first time in nine months, is that he’s got a shallow bench. After years of Cersei’s cronyism, the ranks of the Lannister regime are made up of men like Mandon Moore and Meryn Trant, hired for […]

  35. […] same time, there is a marked difference between this pageantry and how things were carried on when Cersei or Joffrey, because now Tywin’s running the show. And if there is a grand political […]

  36. […] if quiet resistance – the implication, which Olenna agrees with, is that Eddard Stark was unjustly executed, and that Sansa remains a loyal daughter of House Stark despite any rote phrases to the contrary. […]

  37. […] Ironically, this danger exists because Cersei advanced Joffrey to the Iron Throne ahead of his normal majority in order to deal with Ned Stark, and then completely failed to establish her authority as […]

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