Quick Analysis of new TWOW excerpt, “Alayne”

THIS IS NOT A DRILL, REPEAT, NOT A DRILL.

A new Sansa Alayne chapter is up on GRRM’s website. Analysis under the cut

  • Mya Stone not taking her breakup well is a nice parallel for the running theme of the falseness of the allure of knightly gallantry and chivalric romance running throughout this chapter
  • interesting that Robert thinks Harry the Heir wants him dead – little bastard is smarter than I gave him credit for, although lichen is smarter than I gave him credit for.
  • if this is the controversial chapter, count me as surprised that anyone would consider it controversial. Sansa’s grown to be good at wit and manipulation, but that was always Sansa’s strong suit, so I don’t get why people wouldn’t expect her to get better at it as she matured.
  • Robert’s starting to remind me a lot of Aerys II, but flying-obsessed rather than fire-obsessed. “I will make them all fly…The Lord of the Eyrie can do as he likes…after she had died Robert had suffered terrible shaking fits whenever anyone came near him with a blade”
  • Sansa’s moving back and forth between her Alayne identity and her Sansa identity reminds me a lot of Arya as Mercy (I wonder if these two chapters were next to each other in the book) – in both cases, people seem to have mistaken method acting for some more profound loss of identity. And interesting how both Arya and Sansa are learning to be good actors and manipulators, but Sansa more in a political vein.
  • Hence her brilliant idea of a tourney to set up a “Brotherhood of Winged Knights,” paralleling Renly’s Rainbow Guard. The use of the symbolism of chivalry for political purpose – in this case, providing a rationale for the nobility of the Vale to gather in one place for a tourney, mayhaps a wedding, mayhaps a funeral…
  • So the tapestries were to bribe Nestor?
  • I love this courtyard scene, even though I must admit that I need to re-read it to learn everyone’s names. But it does an excellent job of making the Vale characters seem like a real community of people, albeit a rather socially exclusive one, and in showing Sansa using her gifts at wordplay and manipulation, but also that she’s still someone who enjoys being a teenager with other teenagers. I really like Myranda Royce, btw. Although the // with Jeyne Poole makes me nervous.
  • There is no way Ser Shadrich isn’t going to steal Sansa or at least try: ““My lady.  My pardons if I took you unawares…A good melee is all a hedge knight can hope for, unless he stumbles on a bag of dragons.”
  • Lyn Corbray – definitely a more effective villain than, say, Darkstar. Interesting that his sexuality is so openly known. And why did Littlefinger cross him?
  • So, now we meet Harry the Heir…and he’s kind of emblematic of all of these Vale knights. He’s a snob, a hypocrite, intently ambitious beneath his honorable facade, and he’s not that clever. And their introduction – woof. If ever there was a doubt that Sansa might actually fall in love with this guy, I think that’s settled now. But at least he slightly redeems himself for almost making Sansa cry.
  • Lothor Brune at least seems like a decent person.
  • Littlefinger embargoing grain…I’m guessing this is part of his eventual turn vs. King’s Landing.
  • So nice to see GRRM writing about food again.

So yeah, the Tourney at the Gates of the Moon is having serious Harrenhal vibes – the lords gathering for hidden political purposes, the death of the old heir the birth of the new, marriages in the offing, conspiracies all around…

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186 thoughts on “Quick Analysis of new TWOW excerpt, “Alayne”

  1. Sean C. says:

    Elio explained the extremely-overblown “controversial” quote on Twitter: Basically just the sudden burgeoning appearance of Alayne’s sexuality, and that that focus happesn w/o reference to a certain character.

    He also states that he himself didn’t consider it controversial, just that he thought some others might.

    We’re told here that Harry supposedly looks like Jon Arryn, which is interesting as (a) we’ve never been given a real physical description of an adult Arryn (even if Sansa just says he has “Jon Arryn’s look” rather than “the Arryn look”) and (b) the people who think Robert isn’t Jon’s son will probably seize on that.

    Myranda referring to the Waynwoods as “horse-faced” triggered my initial interest since that phrase is obviously closely associated with Sansa’s childhood interactions with Arya; I thought at first it was meant to analogize her to Jeyne Poole, the other user of the phrase, and whose place as Sansa’s friend Myranda appears to have taken (furthered by Sansa comparing their running through the halls to when she used to do that with Jeyne). But there’s a potential deeper implication there, particularly with Myranda referring to “the first Lady Waynwood”. We know that Jocelyn Stark and Benedict Royce had three daughters, one of whom married a Waynwood, but it was never stated before whether this was a Waynwood of the main line. But if the Waynwoods are all “horse-faced” like Arya, that may be a hint that Waynwood Daughter #1 was Lady Anya’s mother.

    Sansa is still hoping for Robert to live to adulthood and get married, so she apparently hasn’t realized that Littlefinger is going to poison him. I guess she chose to interpret his statements at the end of the last chapter as his being certain he will die naturally. Speaking of Robert, he’s another character who appears to be acting like he’s five years older in this chapter that was originally supposed to come after the five-year-gap — he’s talking about marrying Alayne, and he even rather hilariously states he wants Alayne to be his mistress if she can’t be his wife. I feel sad for him, though — he’s evidently perceptive enough to know that a lot of people are just waiting for him to die.

    • alkonost says:

      That’s a really good theory with regards to the Waynwoods. Sansa has a lot of distant cousins and potential allies in the Vale, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

      I’m not completely sure Sansa actually believes that Robert will grow up and get married. She seemed to be feeding him lines to get him to stop hitting on her. But it would be in character for her to intentionally misinterpret or block out the more sinister implications of Petyr’s plans.

    • Son of Fire says:

      Poison,eh sure we just had one of those!
      “The lord of the eyrie can do as he likes”…i’m thinking death by mis-adventure,like riding off a cliff.

    • MightyIsobel says:

      It seems clear to me that Elio said it would be controversial because at the time he thought it was funny to take a swipe at SanSan shippers.

      I think that’s awfully rude for a by-line collaborator but that’s just my opinion, man, so w/e.

      • It’s pretty funny since the most controversial thing about the chapter is just how non-controverial it really is.

        Also, being good at flirting, reading people and noticing how men look like is now “sudden burgeoning appearance of sexuality”? She’s doing nothing she hasn’t done since AGOT, she’s just better at it, and this chapter really had very little in terms of Sansa’s sexuality, especially compared to some of the previous Sansa chapters.

        • alkonost says:

          I agree that Elio’s comment made no sense, but I think that there was a bit of a shift in how Sansa’s sexuality was presented. Before, she’d always, justifiably, been uncomfortable when men openly lusted after her, but in this chapter that discomfort seemed to be absent and, she was more willing to flirt and use her beauty as a tool. But, apart from vaguely noticing that Harry was handsome, she didn’t seem to feel any lust or attraction towards the men she interacted with.

          During all the discussion that followed the Mercy chapter, I remember reading someone point out that Arya didn’t seem to feel any sexual desire herself in that chapter, but she’d become very savvy about reacting to other people’s sexual desire for her. I think that the same applies to Sansa in this chapter, in a way that it hadn’t before.

      • I’d say more dumb than rude – it caused a lot of sturm and drang over nothing.

    • Well, to be fair, the idea of LF poisoning SR has some clear logical problems about it – namely, it’s an incredibly risky move considering the fact that LF’s position as Lord Protector depends on SR being alive, and that his plan on securing influence over Harry via “Alayne” is not certain to work.

      • Sean C. says:

        Yeah, it’s true the poisoning theory remains just a theory, though it’s become so commonly accepted at this point that it’s hard to recall that sometimes.

        • Well, LF could be slowly poisoning SR, since he’s the type to make incredibly risky moves (which surely has to finally stop working for him when he stops being so lucky), but I don’t think it’s something obvious that Sansa would therefore have to assume. There’s no reason for her to jump to the conclusion that LF is poisoning SR, endangering his own position in case all his plans don’t work out, rather than just expecting SR to die and looking for an alternative way to remain in power in the Vale.

      • Sam says:

        It’ll also probably be harder to marry Alayne to Harry if he is already Lord Paramount. Harry is in the weird social situation that he is actually not that high status, he comes from a relatively minor house. But as soon as Robert dies he jumps up several steps on the social ladder. While a bastard daughter might be a reasonable match for a Hardyng it is certainly not a good match for an Arryn.

        • Winnie says:

          My sentiments exactly. LF’s scheme probably necessitates SR surviving to the wedding, (and announcement of “Alayne’s” true identity,) but not for very long afterward.

          Of course I don’t think ANY of LF’s scheme, (either the marriage or SR’s death) is going to come to fruition.

          • Space Oddity says:

            Likewise.

            Hell, I’m one of the cranks who thinks Harry isn’t even the real heir.

          • Austin says:

            I forget who said it first (boiledleather maybe), but I think Littlefinger’s schemes succeed until the situation in the North/beyond the wall render his plotting pointless.

          • Petyr Patter says:

            Space Oddity, are you referring to the theory that Timett is actually the son of an older daughter kidnapped by the hills tribe and thus ahead in the line of succession?

        • Bail o' Lies says:

          Harry clearly already thinks that Alayne is beneath him already. If he becomes lord of the Eyrie before they are married he might break off the betrothal for a better bride. Judging by how he act and what Robert thinks of him as well as Sansa’s thoughts. He clearly knows he the heir to a boy who is so sick that he could can crock at any minute and he isn’t above speeding things along. His coat of arms is quartered with 1 Waywood’s broken wheel, 1 Hardyng’s diamonds, and 2 Arryn’s falcons.

      • It’s a risky plan, but that’s kind of LF’s M.O with conspiracies.

        And yeah, if it happens, it’s going to have to involve a sequence of events going absolutely right so that you move from one status quo – Alayne is marrying Harry, Robin is Lord of the Vale – to another – Harry is now Harrold Arryn and Alayne is now Sansa Stark, and Robin has “sadly died of an illness.”

        Lots could go wrong.

        • Petyr Patter says:

          And in that transition, nothing outwardly benefit Littlefinger. Right now, he controls the Vale by ruling through Robin. He will continue to do so for as long as Robin is a minor. If Robin dies, then Harold becomes Lord of the Vale. Harold will not be a minor for much longer, and his Regent Lord Protector is far more likely to be Lady Waynwood or Yohn Royce. Then, Littlefinger’s only place in the Vale is back on the Fingers, regardless of weather Sansa marries Harold or not.

          I don’t know what game he is playing, but I don’t think he’s being honest with Sansa regarding that plan.

    • Regarding the controversy, I think Elio should have kept schtum.

      Interesting observations. Regarding the poisoning, she clearly realizes that LF will try, but she’s not going to tell him, there’s no point in that.

    • brachanders says:

      You must have read a different version of the “Alayne” sample chapter.

      (1) The version I read does not say, or even suggest, that Ser Harrold “supposedly” looks like Jon Arryn. Instead, it states that says that “men old enough to have known Jon Arryn in his youth said Ser Harrold had his look.” In other words, Ser Harrold resembles Jon Arryn as he looked IN HIS YOUTH. There’s no reason to doubt the truth of the narrative on this point, so I don’t know why you feel the need to say “supposedly,”

      (2) Myranda didn’t refer to all Waynwoods as “horse-faced.” She was only talking about the Waynwood men. Just because two or more characters are described as “horse-faced” does not mean they are related to each other or to horses. Saying someone is “horse-faced” is simply a common expression for “homely.” It doesn’t mean the person is related to a horse or to other people that are “horse-faced.”

      (3) Alayne/Sansa thinks, “If the gods are good and he [Lord Robert] lives long enough to wed, his wife will admire his hair, surely.” Nothing in that thought is an expression of hope that Lord Robert will grow to adulthood and marry. For that matter, Robert doesn’t have to live to adulthood to get married; Tommen was a child when he married Margaery. If she had thought, “If the gods are good and pigs grow wings, then they will fly,” that doesn’t mean she hope pigs will grow wings and fly. Her thought is merely a hypothetical

      • Sean C. says:

        Ooh, blast from the past.

        1) It’s ultimately a matter of men’s opinion; but in any event, not sure why this was considered meaningful enough to be exposited on at length.
        2) A “horse face” is a certain facial type (e.g., many jokes aimed at Sarah Jessica Parker), which is also the sort of long face the Starks are said to have. Moreover, as I noted, its use here is very clearly meant to recall Arya’s childhood nickname.
        3) Robert living to marry is not akin to ‘and pigs grow wings’, so there’s no reason to interpret her as necessarily speaking hypothetically.

        • Sean C. says:

          * “expounded” on at length, and I mean by you in that case, not the author.

        • brachanders says:

          1) The passage “men old enough to have known Jon Arryn in his youth said Ser Harrold had his look” establishes that Ser Harrold resembles Jon Arryn in his youth. These “men old enough” are eyewitnesses to Jon Arryn’s appearance in his youth, so their observations cannot be dismissed as mere “opinions.”

          2) MW defines a “horseface” as “a long homely face.” The author applies the adjective “horse-faced” to diverse characters: e.g, Dolorous Edd Tollet, Brienne of Tarth, Del (one of Jarl’s raiders), Waynwood men in general, and Roland and Wallace Waynwood in particular. There’s no reason to assume that every time the author describes a character as “horse-faced” that he’s alluding to “Arya Horseface,” nor is there any rational basis for him to do so.

          Roland and Wallace “were long-faced and lantern-jawed, with stringy brown hair and pinched noses. Horsefaced and homely…”

          “Arya took after their lord father. Her hair was a lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn.” No mention of a lantern jaw, though. Yet Jeyne Poole used to call her “Arya Horseface and neigh whenever she came near.”

          3) My analogy is apt, but you don’t seem to understand the analogy.

          This is the passage that you misinterpret:

          “He [Lord Robert] does have pretty hair. If the gods are good and he lives long enough to wed, his wife will admire his hair, surely. That much she will love about him.”

          The passage is about Alayne’s admiration for Lord Robert’s hair, not her hope that he will live long enough to wed. She doesn’t wish him ill. Nor does she care whether he lives long enough to wed.

          Had the passage been, “He does have pretty hair. If he lives long enough to wed, his wife will admire his hair, surely. That much she will love about him.” would you be still be claiming she hopes he lives long enough to wed?

          If I said, “He does have pretty hair. If he’s lucky and lives long enough to wed, his wife will admire his hair, surely. That much she will love about him.” would that mean I hope he lives to wed?

          BTW: The expression “if the gods are good” appears 31 times in the 5 books.

  2. Joseph says:

    With the food being stockpiled in Gulltown, that makes me think that Daenerys will land there. I don’t see another possible reason for that being important that can be seen by a POV character.

    • winnie says:

      Ooohhhh good idea! There must be some reason they keep emphasizing how *inpregnable* the Eyrie is so I’m sure it will be attacked at some point and an attack from the air would make sense.

    • Son of Fire says:

      She’s gonna make landfall in dorne & destroy the watergardens.

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      Here’s one. Jon Snow had finally succeeded in getting money from the Iron Bank to use to buy desperately needed food from the Vale in one of his last chapters in Dance. Now that food isn’t coming, and what’s left of the Watch will starve.

      • Bail o' Lies says:

        I hope your theory is right. The people at the need food now and will need food when they are fighting the Others.

      • Allenips says:

        It could be that the grain that Bronze Yohn is willing to ship and sell is to the watch, kind of putting them in the same boat, but at a disadvantage against LF’s forces and maneuvers in the Vale.

    • Lann says:

      The Vale will probably be Tyrion’s mission. He did promise the vale to the mountain clans after all.

    • I don’t think so. I think Dany goes straight for King’s Landing.

      The grain is important, but I think more so for Sansa’s story than Dany’s.

  3. winnie says:

    Thanks for getting on this so quickly Steve. Here are my thoughts.

    Can’t bring myself to care about Harry since he’s clearly a red herring but I do like the friendship with Myranda quite a bit.

    Wonder if bringing in all this winged knight mythology is set-up for something to go down at the Eyrie.

    I agree the Mouse is going to make a grab for Sansa…maybe Varys hopes to marry her to Aegon?!? Though I think Arianne is gonna get the jump on that one.

    My theory is that Robin is going to surprise everyone and survive.

    Figures Baelish plans to make a fortune by hoarding grain during winter.

    Like Lothar Brune and hope for further advancement for him…and maybe a marriage between him and Mya.

    Anyone who after reading this chapter *doesnt* believe Sansa is destined to be the Stark family politician is deluding themselves.

    • Allenips says:

      The problem with the Mad Mouse is who exactly is going to pay him? He’s stated that Varys is offering the gold, but everyone knows he’s no longer master of whispers, so his potential bounty is gone with the wind. The only other recourse he has is to try and present Sansa to the queen, which given the instability and cult of personality around Cersei, that doesn’t seem like too appealing a proposition. I say his best bet is to be a middleman with the information and collect his gold and get the heck out of dodge, perhaps informing Bronze Yohn given the polarity going on in the Vale.

      • David Hunt says:

        Cercei would definitely pay get her hands on Sansa if she has any power to reward people when the Mad Mouse made his bid. She put forth the argument at Tyrion’s trial that he and Sansa were in it together. Although there she used a mountain of trumped up evidence, I’m of the opinion that she really believes that Sansa and Tyrion conspired together to poison Joffrey. If Sansa ever found herself in Cercei’s power, the best hope she’d have is being subjected to whatever horrific punishment that Cercei could come up with instead of her being “merciful” and saying, “Well, Qyburn said the last woman had been used up…”

        Regarding a middleman, I don’t recall a lot about Bronze Yohn, but I do remember that he’d guested at Winterfell and that he’s met Sansa. The Royce’s trace their ancestry back to the First Men and seem to have had good relationships with the Starks. Bad choice to try to sell off Sansa through in my opinion. Fortunately, I don’t think that Ser Mouse is going to successfully grab her. The part that I’m curious about is how he’s planning on getting her out of the Vale. Traveling the High Road alone is asking to die, so I’d say he was planning on getting her out by ship. I haven’t figured it out beyond that, but if Sansa’s ever in a port town, that’s when I’d expect him to make his move.

        • John says:

          Mace Tyrell also apparently believes that Sansa was in on Joffrey’s murder, so the Hand of the King would presumably be interested in the information as well, even if Cersei is still powerless.

          • Allenips says:

            Okay, there’s the Kingslanding government, but as seems to be the gossip, its not really inspiring confidence in the people of the realm that it can really accomplish anything let alone last very long, with people gradually standing on the sidelines waiting to see how the dust settles at the moment. Then there is to consider the probability to be rewarded as Cersei, who for all we know is still in power has been really bad about intentionally rewarding people, let alone getting Sansa out of the Vale given Gulltown is in LF pocket and the High Road is a bad option with the wildlings getting upity with their new weapons and armor. I suppose the biggest question is if the Mouse can somehow inform Kingslanding about it and still expect to get paid without meeting a horrible death in between. And then there is the matter of when his information reaches Kinglanding and when Sansa’s identity is revealed, making such info irrelevant.

            Unless Qyburn can somehow work the web like Varys and have people delivering messages across the globe in the span of days in the show, and pay the Mad Mouse for the info through them, then I’m not too optimistic that the Mad Mouse is a serious threat, perhaps just a red herring.

          • Amestria says:

            Littlefinger is making a big show of being really rich. The Mad Mouse always has the option of ransoming her back to him.

      • Bail o' Lies says:

        Honestly if the Mad Mouse grabs a hold of her he could sell her to several different people. He could sell her to Cersei to get the gold she is offering for her head. He could sell her to the Tyrells so either Mace can punish her for trying to kill his daughter or marry her to Willas. He could sell her to either Stannis or Aegon to force the Northerns to follow them. He could sell her to the North to see how much they would pay to get a Stark back. Or if he ambitiously stupid he could force her to marry him to see if he could press her claim.

      • The Mad Mouse probably already knew that Varys was no longer master of whisperers when he took up the mission, so I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t get the money from Varys directly.

        • Allenips says:

          But how does one go about approaching the Spider? Shadrich would need to know who to approach with his information and have an assurance of being compensated for the info. I don’t think we know enough about the Spider’s web to appropriately predict the options on the table or how things will play out.

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, I think Sansa playing matchmaker between Lothor and Mya is in the works. It makes political sense given Lothor is LF’s captain of the guards and top henchmen. Sansa would be winning an ally away from Baelish.

      I think Robert will live as well. GRRM has a special preference for bastards, cripples and broken things, which is why I think Robert will live while Harry will die.

    • I’d say more of a patsy than a red herring, but yeah, he doesn’t impress.

      The Winged Knight’s legend is that of slaying the Griffin Knight to win the Vale, so it’s very much a symbol of one dynasty passing to another.

      I don’t think Varys wants to marry her off as much as he wants her as the Lady in Winterfell to ensure that the Stark cause doesn’t trouble Aegon.

  4. Son of Fire says:

    Thanks for the heads up!
    I hope harry gets a lance in the face.

  5. Sean C. says:

    Also, not related to the content of the chapter, that accompanying illustration of Sansa is gorgeous, but I realized that the artist screwed up her feet. She has her legs crossed, but her feet are painted as if her right foot is her left foot, and vice versa, so the toes are in the wrong order on both feet.

  6. Brett says:

    If that was the “controversial” bit and also overblown, then I’m happy. I was worried the controversial Sansa bit would be something like Littlefinger trying to rape her, or the like.

    • Andrew says:

      GRRM said there was a chapter that was sure to be controversial, and this isn’t like to be the only chapter in TWoW.

      • Andrew says:

        Correction, it has been confirmed.

      • GRRM said nothing of the sort. Elio Garcia said he read a Sansa chapter from TWOW that “could be controversial in certain corners of the fandom”, which was then misquoted by Vulture magazine and overhyped as “Sansa chapter that’s sure to be controversial”, which lead to all sorts of crazy speculation. He later explained it was actually the only unreleased TWOW chapter he read – and he’s confirmed it now that this is the one he was speaking about. Apparently, he believed that SanSan shippers would be upset that Sansa isn’t thinking about Sandor in this chapter as well?! Elio seems to have some really weird ideas about fandom.

        The only thing that GRRM has said about unreleased TWOW chapters is that there’s a Damphair chapter that’s “really twisted” (the one he wanted to read at a con).

        • Crystal says:

          I know I was thinking, “THAT’s the controversial chapter?” Maybe to any Harry/Sansa shippers around because Harry was a jerk – but Harry/Sansa is not a popular ship.

          I thought the chapter was full of character development for Sansa, and enjoyed it.

    • Yeah, people’s imaginations made it so much worse than it was.

  7. jpmarchives says:

    Is it confirmed that this is the “controversial chapter”? If so, bullet dodged – no rape, no violent murder.

    The thing about close analysis of these chapters is that I end up assuming that whatever we are told, the opposite will happen. Take the marriage to Harry – it’s mentioned so many times in this chapter and Sansa does such a good job buttering him up I’m fairly convinced the whole thing is doomed. Sansa was betrothed to Joffrey for two whole books before that was put off and within just a few chapters she is married to Tyrion. When things start going well, you know you’re screwed. On the other hand, Sweet Robin’s death is so heavily foreshadowed I’m starting to think he might pull through. Is Littlefinger ever going to be wrong? His plot armour can’t last forever.

    As a comparison to the Mercy chapter, this is almost too on the nose for Martin. The playing of roles, the warring identities and especially the weaponized sexuality – they parallel each other to the extreme. The only difference is the result; take your pick boys, have your femoral artery slit open or become embroiled in one of Littlefinger’s schemes. Tough choice.

    One final point; “dark Sansa” from the end of season 4 and the trailers for season five seems to highlight the crudity of the show in comparison to the books. Here Sansa is clearly playing the game and playing it well, yet her inherent kindness constantly shows through. Here’s hoping show Sansa doesn’t become just a callous Littlefinger clone. Obviously I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually seen the show…

    • MightyIsobel says:

      “Here’s hoping show Sansa doesn’t become just a callous Littlefinger clone.”

      I wish show!Sansa had not slapped Sweetrobin. That does not bode well for a portrayal of a character with inherent kindness.

      • Ah, but D&D seem to think that slapping or being rude to kids is what makes a character cool and endearing. They clearly expected the audience to cheer Sansa for slapping the “annoying brat”. It could be worse: see the hatchet job they did with Brienne’s characterization in season 4 and the way she kept being rude and dismissive of characters who are portrayed as nice and likable – Pod and Hot Pie – while also acting like an idiot bull in the china shop who didn’t even care to find who are Sansa’s relatives and where they live, but will be dismissively shutting up someone who is trying to give her info on Arya.

      • Lann says:

        I think its possible that D&D, if that is the route they take, are simply accelerating her development while George has more time to let her grow into it. She will not become LF’s clone because she does have his psychological issues but I would not be surprised if by the end of the books she does some horrible things which we would not expect from her. This would make her the reverse of Jaime’s arc.

        • Kuruharan says:

          I think this is true. Martin seems to break as many cuties as he possibly can. To borrow the line, “if you think this story has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

          It boggles my mind that people still think things will turn out at all “well” or that nice characters will somehow survive or somehow avoid becoming evil.

    • Yes, it has been confirmed.

      Doomed, I dunno. But definitely things are not going to go LF’s way.

  8. David Hunt says:

    I suspect that Lyn Corbray can get away with his sexuality being so well know because he’s a) a manly man who can kick the butts of even most knights, and b) he’s not expected to produce and heir.

    Regarding Lothor Brune, he may seem nice, but I’m disinclined to trust anyone who’s been working so close to LF for so long.

    Every time I saw the name Tollett, I found myself in a state of hyperawareness, scouring the words for any clue or mention of Dolorous Ed. e.g. “their sigil is a “black and grey pily.’ Say something random Tollet! I want to see if depression is a hereditary problem in the family!” etc.

  9. Empire25 says:

    I honestly thought the chapter was a bit dull. Had the walk and talk anatomy of a west wing episode. It is interesting why sansa is taking on the mission littlefinger gave her so much to to heart, especially in the midst of all the flashbacks. Not really much conext as to any charicters motivations or thoughts. Mostly happy that the tv show is coming back.

  10. Allenips says:

    It’s good to see Littlefinger making use of basic economics with the Vale’s export industry, and depressing to see that its not common sense to the lords managing such goods.

    It’s good to see the tourney taking place, and it was Sansa’s idea to boot, using the gallantry and storied image of the wing knight for political purposes, good for Sansa the politician.

    It was also fun hearing Randa going on about long faces and remembering that its a Stark feature that Sansa’s familiar with and gladly lacks.

    It’s also interesting to see Harry talk affectionately about his bastard daughters and yet shit on Alayne for being such, making me wonder if he’s okay with that kind of double standard or if it’s Harry’s position as Bronze Yohn’s pawn that is provoking this hostility.

    • Sean C. says:

      It’s good to see Littlefinger making use of basic economics with the Vale’s export industry, and depressing to see that its not common sense to the lords managing such goods.

      Yeah, I don’t know how Belmore and Grafton could possibly be unaware that the prices will keep going up the further you get into winter. That’s basic supply-and-demand.

      I also hope that comment about Royce is just a flippant dismissal, because if Littlefinger is seriously expecting Royce to sell off not just his surplus but his entire grain supply and become dependent on others, that’s…phenomenally stupid, and not something anybody who lives in this world and has seen winters would do.

      • Bail o' Lies says:

        It was nice that the Tourney was Sansa idea.

        I think Littlefinger think Royce is desperate. He hopes to sell off as much of his crops as possible in hopes of matching Baelish’s coins. From what we have seen and heard of the man I doubt it.

      • Wat Barleycorn says:

        Bingo. LF is bankrupting the lords declarant and using money rather than force of arms or force of law (legitimacy as Lord Protector) to conquer the Vale.

        LF, unlike these guys, was part of the War of the 5 Kings. They are blnded by historical trends, but LF is not. He knows how little grain is in the 7k, and that prices are just starting their climb. The LDs don’t–they haven’t seen the devastation in the Riverlands or done the math on how depleted the Tyrell stores are. And even if they know, they just don’t think that way. Experience and conformity are their deep prejudices. They will almost certainly yield to the temptation to oversell because the prices will keep climbing (in no small part because LF is keeping a big chunk of supply off-market.) They will also feel obligated to sell at fair prices to hungry allies in the devastated North, Riverlands, Crownlands etc. They will gamble on a short winter, confident that if it’s a normal or long one, they can just use all the lovely profit they made earlier in the season to buy grain themselves–as I’m sure they’ve been able to do in the past. At which point, the sellers will all be Team LF And the prices…oh my goodness.

        LF is cornering the grain market, giving himself the ability to pick winners and losers over the course of winter. Hugely powerful.

        This is why he remarried the Corbray heir to a rich merchant’s daughter and didn’t worry about ticking off Lyn Corbray. Bankrupt the father, own his son’s financial future, and you have control of the House. I expect he’s got similar plans tailored to each Lord Declarant.

        Littlefinger’s weakness has always been that he lacks an army. Well, armies don’t fight in winter. Apparently, Littlefinger does.

      • Amestria says:

        I don’t think Littlefinger expects Royce to sell all his grain supply, just most of it in expectation of a short winter.

        Belmore and Grafton might be skeptical because the prices are already ungodly high (“more then fair” being a euphemism for price gouging) and they expect spare grain from elsewhere to flood the market in response and depress them soon. There is after all a big demand to rebuild winter stores before winter hits. So they want to get their first and beat the increase in supply to get the maximum possible price.

    • Well, there’s basic economics, and then there’s accidentally starving your customers to death while you wait for the market to peak.

      • MightyIsobel says:

        And then there’s food riots! Maybe LF’s warehouses will be raided by mobs of angry armed women. I mean, how much can he possibly be paying his mercenary guards anyway?

  11. thatrabidpotato says:

    I think you tend to be overly sweeping in your criticisms of the series’s knights, both here in the Vale and throughout your chapter analyses. Plenty of them seem to be decent people. It’s part of what sets ASOIAF apart from lesser works (i.e., just about everything else ever written): every character, no matter how minor, is a unique individual.

    That said, I’m just amazed at 1. How little fanfare this had. When Mercy came out, everyone knew it was coming, and were excitedly betting on who the chapter would be about, and 2. Jesus Christ, this is our first Sansa material in almost ten years.

  12. thatrabidpotato says:

    And I almost forgot: Harry= douche. Sansa deserves better than him. Who she deserves, I’m not sure, but not this clown.

    • Winnie says:

      Personally, I think Sansa’s going to end up with Jon post Big Reveal. That or she’ll reconcile with Tyrion and they’ll form one helluva Power Couple.

      Though, I suppose there’s also an outside chance that once her true identity is revealed she might just marry SR after all. Shudder.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        If Jon and Sansa ever interact in a sexual manner, I will burn the books and bury the ashes with dung. Same goes for Jon and Arya, only I will run them through a shredder first. The Stark children’s relationship with each other should NOT be perverted like that.

        • AKladybird says:

          Haha if you want to feel good about relationships you’re reading the wrong story. I can see Arya n Jon. She thinks about him constantly.

          • Rufus Leek says:

            Arya thinks about Jon in the same way that she thinks about her parents. She’s loyal to her family above all else, and she thinks Jon is the only one left.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Because they are siblings and love each other as such. Too many people in this world think there are no other kinds of love than romantic love.

            Jon is Arya’s hero. He’s her big brother that protected her when she was little, he is her world, he’s everything she ever wanted to be. What he is NOT is an object of her sexual imaginings. There is ZERO indication of that. Nor should there be.

        • AKladybird says:

          Have you read GRRM original story proposal? Arya Jon & Tyrion have a love triangle? Anything is possible in this story. They are only cousins after all n not siblings. Plus Arya didn’t really grow up with him. She’s been on the road n in training for the rest of her “childhood”. She has a hole in her heart n hasn’t had any sexual feelings but this could change, especially if she sees Jon again.

          • “Plus Arya didn’t really grow up with him.”

            Oh yes, she did. She grew up with him, from birth to age 9. The critical period for the Westermarck effect, aka reverse sexual imprinting, aka “ewww hook up with him?! He’s my BROTHER!” is from birth to age 6-7. You got it backwards: it’s the relatives who only meet as adolescents or adults that have a probability of being attracted to each other, not those who spent their early, pre-adolescent years as family members.

            Sure, ASOAIF has its Jaimes and Cerseis – but they are clearly written to have always felt that way about each other, and to be an exception rather than the rule. Jon and Arya don’t feel about each other the way Jaime and Cersei did. The idea that they’re going to suddenly be sexually and romantically attracted to each other when they meet again is pretty ludicrous.

            Of course, GRRM’s original draft shows that, back in 1993, GRRM knew even less about developmental psychology than he did about genetics when he wrote AGOT. And also, it shows that he didn’t realize that “siblings fall for each other and feel guilty, but then they learn they’re not biological siblings, so all’s fine!” is one of the crappiest, most pathetic fictional cliches, used by authors who want to have their cake and eat it – they want to have some of the drama and edge of incest, but aren’t bold enough to take it to its logical conclusion, so they try to make it “acceptable” incest because “but I mean… it’s not really incest, is it?” (Yes, it is. You freaking grew up as siblings in the same household.) But the original draft is full of rather cliche ideas that seem incredibly lame from the perspective of what the series actually has become (from Draft!Sansa’s arc to Draft!Jaime’s), so there’s no reason to think that GRRM hasn’t grown wiser as a writer in the last 22 years.

          • I forgot to add: I think that the fact that GRRM went on to write an honest, straightforward incest storyline with Jaime and Cersei, without trying to mitigate it with any “but it’s kind of acceptable because it’s kind of not incest” crap (and made it impossible right in the beginning by making them twins!) makes it even less likely that he’d now resort to a lame “have your cake and eat it” “they’re siblings but they’re not” incest storyline as the crux of his story.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Timetravelbunny, I agree on all counts.
            Jaime and Cersei are CONDEMNED for their incest, no way is Martin going to have any non-Targs doing this and show it being any sort of a good thing.

          • Crystal says:

            I want to add about the brothers and sisters in the series generally – it is full of examples of brothers and sisters who have a loving and supportive bond – Oberyn and Elia, Rodrik Harlaw and his sister Alannys Greyjoy (who named her oldest son after her brother), Ned and Benjen and Lyanna, Meera and Jojen, Margaery and all her brothers. In fact, I would say that the brother/sister bonds seem to be happier and healthier than many husbands and wives. Jaime and Cersei are a pervy exception.

            I am more inclined to look at Oberyn and Elia or Rodrik and Alannys or the Tyrells to see how Jon will interact with his foster sisters when he sees them again.

          • lisse says:

            @timetravellingbunny Bless you. I hate Jon/Sansa and Jon/Arya because of the EMOTIONAL incest. They grew up thinking they were brother and sisters and because they find out, ‘oop, you’re my cousin’ that erases their emotional ties to each other as siblings? lol nah. GRRM’s early outline sounds terrible.

            And, I’m going to say it. As someone with adopted family members, it’s offensive to me when shippers of both the aforementioned ships act as if Jon and his sisters finding out they’re not blood siblings would make them dismiss their sibling bond and want to fuck. That’s…not how it works and I can just imagine how much adoptees love reading metas like that.

            I don’t mind Jaime/Cersei because the relationship is not presented as a positive thing in the narrative and it’s a relationship that’s soured for Jaime, at least. But Jon/Sansa and Jon/Arya are often presented as positive endgame material ships in each fandom.

      • Crystal says:

        I think that Sansa might be set up as the series’ Elizabeth I – powerful but unmarried. At this point, I couldn’t blame her if she never wanted to marry again (and she’s thinking that at the end of AFFC). She’s certainly on her way to being the politician of the family.

  13. Allenips says:

    Just finished re-reading the excerpt, and I got a nice conspiracy feel with the Baelish-Grafton-Belmore thing going on down in the vaults. It reminded me of the mystery knight when the conspirators are talking about having the right boy, and the comment about Bronze Yohn being a fool kind of clinches the fact that they KNOW what is going on.

  14. Bail o' Lies says:

    Did you really think that GRRM would release Sansa controversial chapter online as a preview? What good is that to bait reader? This is probably Sansa first chapter why would be the controversial chapter? It will be later on when Sansa will either kill SR or masturbate about someone or something like that.

    I’m surprised no one mention this yet but Harry going to fall off his horse on his first tilt. Sansa cursed him during their first meeting after call her a bastard. Any time she curse someone it happens. Janos Slint losing his head, his son falling of his horse during the tourney, and Joffery fleeing from the battle and all his men abandoning him. Honestly I think would be much more interesting if Harry were to die early on and foil Littlefinger plan. So we can see if he can come up with something else.

  15. Andrew says:

    1. Harry is a douche. From what little we have seen, he seems pretty shitty towards the women in his life per his comments regarding the mother of his first child, Cissy: “fat as a cow.”

    2. Regarding Ser Shadrich, I think he could convince her to go with him by saying that he intends to bring her to Stannis. The best lies have bits of truth, and he would mention the truth that he fought for Stannis on the Blackwater. He could even say he does it in hopes of a reward from Stannis to make it sound more believable.

    3. Mychel could at least give Mya some closure.

    4. It’s amusing to see Lyn Corbray pissed at knowing he’s going to be an uncle. Steven, I think Littlefinger arranged the marriage given his brother Lyonel is ultimately the head of House Corbray, not Lyn, and Littlefinger wants the guaranteed support of his house.

    • Sean C. says:

      2. Why would Sansa want to go to Stannis? If she was going to throw herself on the mercy of some other party whose motives she can’t wholly guess, she’d be better off going to Runestone, which is a lot closer.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        “I am sick unto death of Lady Lannister and her claim”, yeah, Stannis is not a good bet for her.

        • Sean C. says:

          Well, on that specific point, Stannis’ statement there is geared toward getting Jon to agree to be Lord of Winterfell for him (notice he never objects to rescuing “Lady Bolton” later in the same book). If Sansa were actually present I expect he would try to make use of her. But Sansa has no particular reason to want to go to him.

      • Andrew says:

        Because Stannis is in the North, and the news is he is trying to save her sister. Later it will be revealed he is supporting Rickon’s claim. Going from there it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Stannis would good to her given he is trying to rally Stark bannermen.

        • Grant says:

          Being in the North is hardly going to equal Sansa wanting anything to do with him and so far he hasn’t done much to publicize any support for Starks anywhere south of Winterfell.

          • Andrew says:

            She wanted to go back home to Winterfell her entire arc. I highly doubt his march on Winterfell is going to go unnoticed by the south. Besides, he is working to gain the support of Stark bannermen who would no doubt be supportive of Sansa.

          • Grant says:

            And wanting to go home in no way equals believing that she’d get anything good from Stannis, nor have we seen anything to say that Sansa has any idea of his political actions in the North. Just because he’s there doesn’t mean she’ll see every perfect action with the ability to learn more than her character should know.

            Now could she guess that if he’s at war with the Boltons he might agree to a Stark returning? Possibly. On the other hand, it’s just as possible that he’s agreed to raise up another family and she’d be inconvenient. Also I’m certain that she’s not too happy with her circumstances in the Vale, but at this time I don’t think she has a lot of reason to abandon them on the say-so of a hedge knight who claims that he once fought for Stannis.

          • Andrew says:

            Except the bulk of Stannis’s support is coming from Stark supporters who he now relies on. If he was willing to make the trek to Winterfell to save Arya, then imagine how one would guess he would treat Sansa.

            He couldn’t raise up another family without pissing off his supporters. I think Sansa will want to leave eventually. Especially given LF’s likely not going to be content with first base for long.

    • I get that, I still think it’s a mistake. I would not cross Lyn Corbray for love or money.

  16. Amestria says:

    There is no way Ser Shadrich isn’t going to steal Sansa or at least try: ““My lady. My pardons if I took you unawares…A good melee is all a hedge knight can hope for, unless he stumbles on a bag of dragons.”

    He knows!

    Well, that answers that.

    • Bail o' Lies says:

      It could be at some point he tries to steal Sansa before the reveal. Think about it who is going to care if Littlefinger’s bastard disappears unless they have figured out who she is. With her gone Harry the Heir is available again. Forcing Petyr or someone else to reveal who she so people would care foiling his plans.

    • Yep. I kind of want to see him in combat, and find out whether the Mad Mouse is any good.

      • Allenips says:

        That is a good question, he mentions that his ransom at the battle of the black water is what ruined him, as he was on Stannis’ side, but was he captured? Or did he pay a ransom because he was on the wrong side? And given how chaotic combat on the battlefield can be, in a one on one match how far can the Mad Mouse go? He seemed pretty confident when he was interacting with Brienne and the other hedge knights.

  17. Petyr Patter says:

    My own bullet points…

    So, Harold is a jerk. Not just because he was rude to Sansa, but because he called the mother of his bastard a fat cow and brags about how much better his new girlfriend is.

    Yet, Sansa really, really wants his hand. It looks like she’s buying whatever Petyr is selling, though I remain very, very suspicious.

    Also confirmed, Sansa is still legally married and believes she can’t get married until Tyrion is confirmed dead. I think this is important. Also interestingly, she doesn’t have any “negative” thoughts about her estranged husband.

    Petyr believed he bought Lyn Corbray with gold and male prostitutes. Now, Sansa is not so certain. I think her instincts are right here.

    As for the grain being piled up in Gullstown… Littlefinger may be thinking he can warehouse the product and make the money in the future, but he’s also created a very tempting target. And we know of at least three would be invaders: Tyrion (with or without Danaerys), Stannis, and Aegon the Maybe. What happens to his powerbase should Gulltown fall?

    • Amestria says:

      “Also interestingly, she doesn’t have any “negative” thoughts about her estranged husband.”

      She calls him “twisted.”

      • “Twisted” refers to his looks, not his personality. “Joffrey was comely too, though, she reminded herself. A comely monster, that’s what he was. Little Lord Tyrion was kinder, twisted though he was.”

        Sansa has never had any particularly negative thoughts about Tyrion, other than about his looks and about not wanting to be married to him/have sex with him. That’s nothing new. But it’s not like she’s ever had any particularly strong feelings about him, either. She doesn’t wish him ill and she felt bad about him being framed for Joffrey’s murder, but it’s not like she is too concerned about his well-being (other than what a generally nice person would feel about anyone’s well-being that they don’t hate).

      • Petyr Patter says:

        I think the main point I was thinking was “lesson learned.” Pay attention to how people act, not what they look like. Tyrion was “twisted” in terms of appearance, but was kind to her and called Joffrey out on his cruelty. Harold is the image of a gallant knight, but Martin has at break neck efficiency shown him to be a jerk.

        • Amestria says:

          Harold doesn’t seem so bad if promiscuity and a tendency for nasty remarks are the worst things about him. He doesn’t seem very spiteful, seeing as how he actually enjoyed Sansa making him feel and look like an idiot. He also seems rather honest, being very up front about his feelings, illegitimate children, and lovers. Either that or he has absolutely no guile whatsoever. He’s no Joffrey or Viserys, at the worst he’s might be a young Robert (emotionally starved, physically powerful and very entitled orphan finding solace in the martial arts and the embrace of interchangeable women).

          Oh dear…does that mean Sansa’s now acting out the role of Lyanna? And she’s going to get kidnapped and Harold’s going to try and get her back?

          • AKladybird says:

            In a way she’s already kidnapped, twice, though both times she went willingly.

          • Rufus Leek says:

            Harry’s rude and arrogant, but he’s also honest and willing to take advice. Reminds me a bit of a more openminded version of the Hound, but young Robert seems like a better comparison.

          • Petyr Patter says:

            Basically Harold has had about three pages of “screen time.” In that, we’ve already established promiscuity and a tendency for nasty remarks. I think the only other character who managed to look worse quicker is Cersei. As it turned out, her vanity, and ill manners were just the tip of the ice berg.

            No, I don’t think Harold is as wicked as Cersei, but in not a lot of time he’s already set a low bar for himself.

          • Viserys looked much worse much quicker.

    • Winnie says:

      Agreed that Sansa’s instincts regarding Lyn Corbray are probably more accurate than LF’s.

      And yeah, LF’s plan to hoard grain and use that to make himself the main power isn’t a bad one at all, but as you point out it *does* make for a very, VERY tempting target in the future for other figures-people who unlike LF HAVE armies at their disposal. And possibly even dragons as well…

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        He’s in the most impregnable of the Seven Kingdoms, he’s got a certain amount of lee-way in terms of making himself a target if anyone with an army were ever stupid enough to be tempted.

      • Sean C. says:

        He does have an army: the Vale’s army, which would obviously not tolerate somebody trying to take their grain.

        • Petyr Patter says:

          That is one way to look at it. Another way, is if someone takes Gull’s Town, then that someone has your grain, not Littlefinger. If that someone is willing to pay you or give it back in exchange for loyalty and service… then Littlefinger rapidly loses some of the leverage he has over the Knights of the Vale.

          • Sean C. says:

            The grain is mostly not in Gulltown, but regardless, taking Gulltown is a rather difficult task. Moreover, the Vale would generally respond rather poorly to invasion.

    • KrimzonStriker says:

      None of those potential invaders exactly have the fleet to pull off an attack on Gulltown at this juncture, not even the royal government given Redwyne’s forces will be busy fighting the Ironborne.

  18. Funny, years ago, when I first read Feast, I remember thinking of Harry this: Robert 2.0; well at least Robert wasn’t so callous towards women who weren’t his wife. And personally, I think Sansa’s putting an act here.

    Robert’s character feels a little jarring, but gotta give it to the kid, he’s smart on some things.

    I think LF is trying his luck and eventually is bound to end.

    Myranda is interesting again because of the ‘horse face’ comments, she’s the one who got Alayne to blurt Jon’s name and now, we know that Stark have married into Vale houses and Royces into the Starks, I might be over thinking, but I think something else it’s at play here.

    If Shandrick is looking for her because of Varys alone, Varys might be of the mind of getting Sansa & Aegon together; as the “last” Stark she could potentially bring in 2 (even 3) kingdoms. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it something that in Varys mind could work in Aegon’s favor.

    Also, if this is (and I see that it is) the “controversial”chapter, it’s bad sport on Elio’s part, imo, Sansa was already waking to her sexuality in Feast; hope he knows that choise of phrase launched the “Sansa will kill SR” and “Sansa will be raped/LF will try to rape Sansa” theories.

    • Winnie says:

      Yeah, I think Shadrach wants to grab Sansa because Varys has promised him a reward, (and despite Varys being underground, I have *no* doubt he can deliver on his promise-he has Illyrio backing him after all,) because Varys perhaps despairing of ever getting Aegon married to Dany is thinking Sansa would be a good backup plan.

      Of course, there are a couple problems-I don’t think Shadrach will succeed in snatching Sansa and furthermore my guess is Arianne’s going to wed fAegon first.

      • Indeed, Varys can deliver thanks to Ilyrio’s backing. Also, if he can get to Sansa and have an union with fAegon, it will also be good PR for fAegon and have quite possibly the backing of 2 kingdoms as Sansa is (for the most part in the South) thought as the last Stark. And if not, it would unite the North again by making her Queen. I am honestly hoping Arianne doesn’t marry him, but I think that’s the way the Winds (pun intended) are blowing.

        • Crystal says:

          There is a possibility of another Targaryen/Martell/Stark love triangle to be re-enacted, though it would go down in a different fashion because the circumstances and principals are very different.

          • Very possible. I know some people that think Aegon will fall in love with Elia Sand others with Arya Stark (as apparently he’ll follow into his father’s footsteps by going for someone with martial inclinations).

            But the Targaryen/Martell/Stark triangle with Aegon/Arianne/Sansa is quite possible, and obviously different to the last one.

          • Personally, I tend to think that Aegon/Sansa is highly unlikely to happen in any shape or form, and that all the theories about a Stark/”Targaryen”/Martell love triangle or Aegon “following into his father’s footsteps” literally (not to mention I don’t believe Rhaegar is actually his father) are nothing but a sign of how terribly unimaginative the ASOAIF fandom can be.

      • Bail o' Lies says:

        Even if the Mad Mouse doesn’t sell her to Varys she still very valuable since he can ransom her to many people.

      • John says:

        Varys of course could make good, but the offer was presumably “Varys as agent of Tywin,” not “Varys as free agent.” Shadrich will go to the court, not Varys. How on earth would he even find Varys?

      • Jim B says:

        Shadrach will succeed in kidnapping Sansa and getting her to a ship in Gulltown. But then the ship will be forced off course due to weather, and she’ll wind up in Essos, where she escapes from Shadrach. Hearing a rumor that Sandor is in Essos, she spends several chapters wandering around asking people “where do hounds go?”
        Then, she meets a handsome middle-aged man who reveals himself to be Rhaegar Targaryen, who explains that Robert actually killed some lookalike in borrowed gem-studded armor while Rhaegar escaped to Essos. Sansa and Rhaegar spend several more chapters having wacky adventures in Essos, during which the subject of Lyanna and Jon never comes up.

  19. If Harry reminds me of anyone, it’s the descriptions of Brandon Stark but with perhaps a tighter lid on any outbursts of anger.

    • Bail o' Lies says:

      Can you explain how he is similar to Brandon?

    • winnie says:

      Brandon was a hothead and a womanizer but I don’t recall him being a snob.

      • derzquist says:

        Well, let’s hone in our definition of ‘snob’ when we’re talking about an aristocratic society. Harry is obviously, blatantly, acutely aware that he has better than even odds of stepping up as Lord of the Vale in the very near future. Yet his foster family has argreed to betroth him to the natural born daughter of an up-jumped minor lord (and likely known even in the Vale as a schemer) who just happens to be holding a tempory leadership position that, presumably from Harry’s perspective, will evaporate when Harry rises to Lord Paramount.

        So, I wonder how much of Harry’s “snobbery” is an outward sign of suspicion.

        Certainly we all feel bad about this initial meeting since we got it from Sansa’s perspective and we all love Sansa for her rock hard resilience during the past several [3?] years of shit she’s waded through. And that makes us dislike Harry when his iciness almost made this wonderful young woman weep.

        But if Harry isn’t a complete lunk, we shouldn’t be surprised (or in my opinon, judge too harshly) that he narrows his eyes upon seeing Littlefingers lovely bastard daughter, and wonders what is the game being played?

      • To be fair, we have no record of how Brandon interacted with any smallfolk.

  20. KrimzonStriker says:

    I’m still debating about Harry, he’s still incredibly young as it stands and the environment he’s grown up under in the Vale certainly doesn’t do much in the way of shaping his prejudices. But those same prejudices also makes him predictable and easier to manipulate into the kind of figure people can rally around. Honestly this take against being wed to a basterd borne (which works perfectly in concert with the hypocrisy of fathering two bastard daughters already and ensuring they’re well taken care of at least) should have been expected (especially in the Vale) and why Catelyn definitely isn’t the outlier others make her out to be after all regarding Jon. not to mention that Littlefinger’s reputation precedes him as Harry indicates near the end, which he DOES have reason to be wary of.

    • John says:

      He’s been living with Yohn Royce, no? Bronx Yohn hates Littlefinger and has presumably been poisoning Harry against the idea of marrying “Alayne”. The way Harry puts this into effect is indeed asinine, but I think it’s totally reasonable for him to be wary of the match

      • Sean C. says:

        He’s been living with Yohn Royce, no?

        Not that we’re aware of. When last we heard he was still Lady Anya’s ward. He won a squires’ tourney at Runestone, but we’ve never been told anything about him living there. Which is why it’s so weird that everybody talks about Lord Yohn “allowing” him to come.

        • Austin says:

          I think it’s just cuz Yohn Royce is the most powerful lord in the Vale and if he wanted to prevent Harry from coming, he could.

        • John says:

          Don’t have the book handy, but according to the Wiki, Yohn Royce suggests that Sweetrobin could chill with Harry in Runestone. My understanding was that he was Lady Waynwood’s ward, but that he was being fostered by Bronze Yohn in Runestone.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            That interpretation seems the most sensible since Harry’s parents no longer seem to be around. An official ward on one end but fostered for training and knighthood on the other.

        • Allenips says:

          The suggestion of having Robin and Harrold together was mentioned when the Lords Declarent were arguing with LF about how to train and mentor Robin, and it was suggested that given Bronze Yohn’s experience with boys and arms, that he would be the best person for Robin to be around, with the added option of having Harrold there so they could be acquainted. I think the subtext of this is everyone is preparing for the eventuality of Robin’s death and having him and Harrold in one place is a power play in the Vale. Afterwards, Harrold wins his spurs from Yohn after he fails to gain control of Robin, proceeding on the path of polishing Harrold to be the next lord of the Vale with him moving up one more wrung of the ladder.

  21. Paul says:

    So, just a crazy idea here, but what if LF is setting up Harry to be the fall guy for sweetrobin’s murder? If “Alayne” and Harry get married, OR if Harry gets her with child, Lord Robert could be disposed of, then his murder blamed on Harry. With Harry and Robert out of the way, the child growing in the newly revealed Sansa Stark could be someone for the Vale to rally behind. That way LF could maintain control and Sansa could remain free for another marriage while also holding an heir to Winterfell and the Eyrie. Idk, just some conjecture, but I wonder about LF’s endgame a lot.

    This chapter was crazy good, I loved reading it. I was excited to see Harry Hardyng finally come into the picture and it was great to see Sansa as a player in this political web.

    Loved your analysis Steve, I look forward to the next aCoK chapter!

    • Petyr Patter says:

      I actually wrote a thread a while back barking up a similar tree. LF doesn’t get a payday with that marriage. Harold and Sansa would get Winterfell, and if young Arryn dies then they get the Eyrie and the Vale. If Sansa returns North and meets “Jeyne Poole,” then he is going to get a life long enemy in partial control of two kingdoms. Hence, I think he’s plotting something else.

      Still, I think he’d rather take direct control of the Vale, which he can only do if Harold and Robert are out of the picture. Why bet on a potential baby when you can bet on yourself?

      http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/99141-bad-news-baelish-or-purple-wedding-20/

      • John says:

        Isn’t “Jeyne Poole” actually just Jeyne Poole? Or is there someone posing as Jeyne Poole, as well?

        • Petyr Patter says:

          No, Jeyne Poole is posing as Arya, and Littlefinger knows this. I guess the quotations are usually used for fake names, but in this case I meant Sansa wouldn’t know it was Jeyne, but would none the less meet her. If Sansa goes North and hears that her sister is still alive, she will seek her out. Littlefinger knows this. When she finds her, and discovers it is instead her childhood friend, and Littlefinger threw her into a brothel… Will she send troops to help him fulfill some other ambition?

    • Allenips says:

      Child lords are horrible things to rally around unless their was a cult of personality surrounding the parents, which is kinda lacking in this case. Plus what if Sansa doesn’t carry the child to term or it dies in infancy? The whole plan is ruined. And as LF has mentioned before, there are loads more Arryns in the Vale to choose from after sweet Robin and Harrold Hardyng, so the most influential, charismatic, or one in line would be the next guy before any babe born to a ‘bastard’ daughter.

    • I think that’s a bit far-fetched, I don’t think the Vale would rally behind the child of a kinslayer.

    • Victoria Bass says:

      Actually this would simplify matters a lot in that he wouldn’t need to kill two people just the one, frame the other a la Purple Wedding style but this time hoping that Harry is not rescued lol Now there is still the small problem of the danger that Sansa would be in if her identity is revealed before she is backed up by a powerful monarch as she still remains framed for Joffrey’s murder. Also, if she is married to Harry as Alayne then her identity is revealed and hey, bigamy! that would make the child illegitimate even if they had been “married” (as Harry and Alayne) and his first bastard daughter the Heir (or perhaps a younger brother if he has one). Despite it all I do feel that there is something in what you conjecture. Now, how about the other way around. Robin has been expressing apprehension re Harry wanting him dead, someone other than Sansa must have heard this too. Now if she marries Harry and is Harry who gets killed and framed for it (but that would require him to be older) unless it was again with poison and even so… Then either marry her to Robin and hope he dies (or kill him) but then would the Heir not be Edmure’s child? lol got my brain all in knots with this.

      • I’m confused now – wouldn’t Edmure’s child be heir to what? He/she would definitely be the heir to Riverrun after Edmure. Maybe Harrenhal. But we’re talking about the inheritance of the Vale, right? What does Edmure or his child have to do with it?

  22. Amestria says:

    It’s nice to see that Sansa is showing signs of having the potential to one day be smarter then Littlefinger. She thinks up the Winged Knight Tourney and cottons on to Lyn being really unreliable.

  23. Sean C. says:

    Anyway, glad to get a chance to read some new book stuff with Sansa, since the spoilers relating to her in the show are getting less promising by the day.

  24. Crystal says:

    This was my favorite of the TWOW preview chapters, but then I’m a big Sansa fan. Some people (on w.org IIRC) were unhappy that she’s “still LF’s pawn” but sheesh, you were expecting the most devious, or second most devious, man in the Seven Kingdoms to be outwitted by a fourteen-year-old girl? That would be unrealistic.

    I think it showed more character development for Sansa – the tourney and Winged Knights were her idea, and she is listening and observing what is going on around her, drawing her own conclusions about Lyn Corbray for instance. And if “horse face” was Myranda’s bait, she’s not taking it this time. I also enjoyed seeing Sansa cut loose with some snide remarks to both Lyn and Harry, who richly deserved them.

    Whether or not SR lives, I think Harry as Sansa’s husband is a non-starter. I know the Ashford Tourney theory is a crackpot, but I can’t help thinking of it, and wondering if there is something going with Aegon/fAegon down the line. In any case, I see Sansa as being set up as more an Elizabeth I figure, unmarried and powerful; if she never wants to marry again at the end of the series, I for one can’t blame her.

    With all this, I was glad to see Sansa’s kindness intact – she rescued poor stammering Ser Wallace by supplying a word he could pronounce. I think her innate kindness will be a help for her in winning allies of her own down the road. I also think that she is going to be distributing the food supplies a-la Margaery Tyrell – possibly to the Riverlands – and winning hearts that way; Queen Bread, so to speak.

    • I really liked this chapter, but I would rank it as 3rd best of the preview chapters, after Mercy (by far the best-written and most powerful of the preview chapters) and Theon; it’s ahead of Arianne mostly because I love Sansa while I’m rather indifferent to Arianne, and way ahead of Tyrion and Barristan, the latter being just a setup for the battle (and being the POV I don’t find terribly interesting).

    • I still kind of like Mercy more, but that’s because I’m a sucker for Shakespearean theater.

      As for the stutter, apparently that’s a screwup. Apparently “kn” sounds are unlikely to provoke stuttering, whereas “du” sounds are.

  25. thatrabidpotato says:

    “In the Vale, the men fuck sheep. You cannot fault them. Their sheep are prettier than their women.”- Daemon Targaryen.

    I couldn’t help remembering this chapter when I read that in World of Ice and Fire and laughing.

  26. JT says:

    It would be perversely pleasurable to see Sansa “break bad”, team up fully with Littlefinger, and then become an “evil queen” – think Cersei, but much smarter.

  27. Karl says:

    I think Sansa will convince Lyn Corbray to kill Harry during the tournament. Bronze Yohn is a known friend of the watch and likely is selling them his grain. Shadrich probably botches the kidnapping and ends up revealing her identitiy, Lothor takes Sansa’s side in overthrowing Littlefinger.

    • Sean C. says:

      What exactly makes you think Sansa would want Harry murdered?

      • JT says:

        If Harry dies and Littlefinger is gone, then Sansa doesn’t have any control over the Vale. A better long-term plan would be to have a son by Harry, then have Harry die. Then you can rule the Vale through your son’s claim, like Lysa did (and Littlefinger is doing) via Robin.

        • “Saying someone is “horse-faced” is simply a common expression for “homely””

          It is??? I thought “horse-faced” meant that someone had a long face with a heavy jaw. I can certainly think of attractive people who are sort of “horse faced”. My mother always called Vanessa Redgrave horse-faced.

          • brachanders says:

            MW defines “horseface” as “a long homely face.” (Note: No mention of a heavy jaw.)

            This passage from GoT describes Arya’s face as “long and solemn” but says nothing about a heavy jaw, even though Jeyne Poole calls her “Arya Horseface”: “Arya took after their lord father. Her hair was a lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn. Jeyne used to call her Arya Horseface, and neigh whenever she came near.”

            The author applies the term “horsefaced” to several other characters who surely don’t look alike and are not related:

            1. Dolorous Edd (“gloomy, horse-faced fool”)
            2. Brienne of Tarth (“the horse-faced bitch is worth her weight in sapphires”)
            3. Del (“a horse-faced youth near Jon’s own age”)
            4. Waynwood men (The first Lady Waynwod must have been a mare, I think. How 5. else to explain why all the Waynwood men are horse-faced?”)
            6: Roland and Wallace Waynwood (“both were long-faced and lantern-jawed. with stringy brown hair and pinched noses. ‘Horse-faced and homely,’ Alayne thought.”)

        • @JT: So, you think that 13-year old Sansa has suddenly had a personality transplant and turned into a heartless film noir femme fatale?

  28. […] Sansa’s experience here, it’s quite interesting therefore, that Sansa uses the trappings of chivalry in The Winds of Winter. While it’s not yet clear to what end, “Alayne” is […]

  29. Ben says:

    Anyone else think this pregnant 16yr old littlefinger arranged to marry that lord is jetne westerling carring robs baby? Thought it was interesting

    • Petyr Patter says:

      No. Last we heard, Jeyne Westerling was under guard on her way back to the Crag. A guard under order to kill her should an escape be attempted. Plus, the lovely Mrs. Westerling had been dosing her with a contraceptive, so very little chance of her being pregnant.

      Robb does have an heir, but his name is Bran.

  30. […] Moreover, as with Myrcella, Tyrion has a good eye for the long-term, especially the advantages of dynastic alliances. Littlefinger is far too much of an improviser and too ego-driven to make long-term alliances – if you look at the people who ally or work for him, his relationships are all transactional, and often quite acrimonious. […]

  31. […] it hopefully puts some hostages in my grasp a la Versailles and Edo; forth, as we’ve seen from Alayne, lesser Houses eat up drama and pageantry. (Possibly look into a knightly Order of the Trident to […]

  32. Gonzalo says:

    I don’t know if Robert believing Harry wantshim dead is actually a case of intelligence/deduction on his behalf or if at some point Lysa told him to distrust Harry, something along the lines: “My Sweetrobin should beware that Harry. He would be Lord of the Vale if something happens to my sweet lovely lord but I won’t let anything happen to you.”

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