There’s an old saw that we campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. If that’s the case, then Sansa V is the campaign speech of the Purple Wedding. While much of the chapter, strictly speaking, is a reaction to the narrative incident of Tyrion VIII, it does so with some of GRRM’s most lyrical writing both in terms of environmental description (I’m a personal fan of the description of Sansa sailing out through the wreckage of the Battle of Blackwater) and character thematics.
Speaking of which, the chapter starts somewhat in media res, with Sansa having already fled to the godswood from the throne room. As it transpires, Sansa managed to get out somewhat early, before Joffrey’s death but while his death was clearly about to happen:
Sansa felt as though she were in a dream. “Joffrey is dead,” she told the trees, to see if that would wake her.
He had not been dead when she left the throne room. He had been on his knees, though, clawing at his throat, tearing at his own skin as he fought to breathe. The sight of it had been too terrible to watch, and she had turned and fled, sobbing. Lady Tanda had been fleeing as well. “You have a good heart, my lady,” she said to Sansa. “Not every maid would weep so for a man who set her aside and wed her to a dwarf.“
A good heart. I have a good heart. Hysterical laughter rose up her gullet, but Sansa choked it back down. The bells were ringing, slow and mournful. Ringing, ringing, ringing. They had rung for King Robert the same way. Joffrey was dead, he was dead, he was dead, dead, dead. Why was she crying, when she wanted to dance? Were they tears of joy?
This liminal positioning applies both to Sansa’s position in time and her emotional state, where she finds herself appalled at the “sight…too terrible to watch,” while simultaneously gripped by “hysterical laughter” at the thought of being upset about Joffrey’s death. Too many months in captivity, forced to conceal and deny her reactions to the Red Wedding and other events, have alienated Sansa from her own emotions. She doesn’t know “why was she crying when she wanted to dance,” nor whether the tears she is crying are genuine grief or “tears of joy.”
GRRM’s description of Sansa’s state of mind resonates with descriptions of what it’s like to emerge from the shadow of abuse – while she’s overjoyed that Joffrey was “dead, dead, dead,” part of her mind is still in the defensive crouch after months of living under Lannister surveillance and thus not able to fully express her feelings. At the same time, Sansa feels as if it’s too good to be true, that she “were in a dream” of revenge and deliverance that could pop like a soap bubble if she says the words out loud that might make it true.
Dressing for the Escape
These feelings continue even as Sansa begins preparing for her escape. On the one hand, “it was Robb she wept for,” cut down as he was during the other color-themed wedding. On the other hand, Sansa retains enough basic empathy to allow her to weep for “poor Margaery, twice wed and twice widowed,” scarce realizing how carefully Margaery’s family and Margaery herself (to some extent) have orchestrated matters to keep things that way.
She found her clothes where she had hidden them, the night before last…
The gods are just, thought Sansa. Robb had died at a wedding feast as well. It was Robb she wept for. Him and Margaery. Poor Margaery, twice wed and twice widowed. Sansa slid her arm from a sleeve, pushed down the gown, and wriggled out of it. She balled it up and shoved it into the bole of an oak, shook out the clothing she had hidden there. Dress warmly, Ser Dontos had told her, and dress dark. She had no blacks, so she chose a dress of thick brown wool. The bodice was decorated with freshwater pearls, though. The cloak will cover them. The cloak was a deep green, with a large hood. She slipped the dress over her head, and donned the cloak, though she left the hood down for the moment. There were shoes as well, simple and sturdy, with flat heels and square toes. The gods heard my prayer, she thought. She felt so numb and dreamy. My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel.
It’s all part of a gradual emotional transformation, whereby Sansa believes that the “just” gods have “heard my prayer” both for escape but also for a form of hardening, whereby “my skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel.” Starting with a similarity between her pale skin and porcelain and ivory, we get an ascending scale of hardness, from porcelain’s brittle nature through to the warlike resilience of spring steel. Thus, we can see the process of character development – Sansa’s tempering in the world of intrigue and high politics – beginning even before she sees Petyr Baelish or is sent to the Eyrie.
Within Sansa’s preparations for escape, there’s also an interesting theme of clothing as class, where Sansa is disrobing herself of her noble’s garb and instead choosing “a dress of thick brown wool” as well as “simple and sturdy” shoes. However, she finds its difficult to fully divest herself of her social status, noting that the dress’s bodice is “decorated with freshwater pearls,” and will have to be hidden with a cloak if she’s to pass without notice into the night. Thus, we’re already setting the stage for the way that the social status of clothing will play into “Alayne’s” storyline later in ASOS and in AFFC.
Speaking of which, one absolutely critical elements of Sansa’s dress – the hairnet of “black amethysts from Asshai” – now comes to her attention, linking her sartorial endeavors to the broader question of Joffrey’s murder and who bears responsibility for the event:
Black amethysts from Asshai. One of them was missing. Sansa lifted the net for a closer look. There was a dark smudge in the silver socket where the stone had fallen out.
A sudden terror filled her. Her heart hammered against her ribs, and for an instant she held her breath. Why am I so scared, it’s only an amethyst, a black amethyst from Asshai, no more than that. It must have been loose in the setting, that’s all. It was loose and it fell out, and now it’s lying somewhere in the throne room, or in the yard, unless . . .
Ser Dontos had said the hair net was magic, that it would take her home. He told her she must wear it tonight at Joffrey’s wedding feast. The silver wire stretched tight across her knuckles. Her thumb rubbed back and forth against the hole where the stone had been. She tried to stop, but her fingers were not her own. Her thumb was drawn to the hole as the tongue is drawn to a missing tooth. What kind of magic? The king was dead, the cruel king who had been her gallant prince a thousand years ago. If Dontos had lied about the hair net, had he lied about the rest as well?
…Sansa pulled away from his touch. “You said I must wear the hair net. The silver net with . . . what sort of stones are those?”
“Amethysts. Black amethysts from Asshai, my lady.”
“They’re no amethysts. Are they? Are they? You lied.”
“Black amethysts,” he swore. “There was magic in them.”
“There was murder in them!”
Almost at once, Sansa intuits one of the major elements of the assassination plot, namely how the murder weapon was smuggled into the throne room and then delivered to the king’s chalice. This demonstrates a keener insight than Sansa is usually given credit for, because without the “benefit” of presentism (and remembering the detail from the Prologue of ACOK what the strangler looks like), it’s actually an impressive link to connect missing jewelry to Joffrey’s death.
Note that the theme of lying is already hard at work in the chapter, well in advance of Sansa getting to Baelish’s boat. Here, the tension between the black amethysts as “murder” versus “magic” stands in for Sansa’s larger question that “if Dontos had lied about the hair net, had he lied about the rest as well?” The answer is surprisingly difficult to parse: on the one hand, given that there’s no actual linkage between Sansa wearing the hairnet and Sansa escaping, and that the hairnet really did contain a deadly poison, Dontos definitely lied to Sansa. On the other hand, Dontos didn’t lie about Sansa’s escape being orchestrated for Joffrey’s wedding and the chaos of Joffrey’s murder is key to how Sansa is able to make her escape from the Red Keep unseen and unremarked, so in a roundabout metaphorical sense the black amethysts did contain a kind of magic that will help her go home.
In order to supersede Sansa’s concerns about his truth-telling, Ser Dontos lets slip that she’s in more immediate danger:
“Come, we must away, they’ll search for you. Your husband’s been arrested.”
“Tyrion?” she said, shocked.
“Do you have another husband? The Imp, the dwarf uncle, she thinks he did it.” He grabbed her hand and pulled at her. “This way, we must away, quickly now, have no fear.”
“Tyrion poisoned him?” Her dwarf husband had hated his nephew, she knew. Could he truly have killed him? Did he know about my hair net, about the black amethysts? He brought Joff wine. How could you make someone choke by putting an amethyst in their wine? If Tyrion did it, they will think I was part of it as well, she realized with a start of fear. How not? They were man and wife, and Joff had killed her father and mocked her with her brother’s death. One flesh, one heart, one soul.
“Be quiet now, my sweetling,” said Dontos. “Outside the godswood, we must make no sound. Pull up your hood and hide your face.” Sansa nodded, and did as he said.
This revelation is perfectly timed to send Sansa down a blind alley of frenzied thought and speculation, trying to figure out whether Tyrion was indeed involved in the poisoning. From the way she thinks, we can certainly see that Tyrion is assumed to have opportunity – he brought Joffrey wine that Joffrey drank and then started choking shortly thereafter – and motive – he hated Joffrey for Joffrey’s insults to his person and that of his lady wife. What’s missing is means, and this is where Sansa can’t quite bring herself to admit that the amethysts contained a poison that “could…make someone choke by putting an amethyst in their wine.”
Almost immediately, Sansa perceives the danger to herself, that if the Lannister husband can be accused of murder, then his Stark wife will be viewed as complicit, at least as a source of motive if not as an active accomplice in her husband’s actions. Interestingly, Dontos doesn’t mention that Sansa has already been accused of complicity in Joffrey’s murder, making the question of guilt by association moot. Most likely, this is because Dontos wants Sansa’s mind concentrated on the immediate possibility of escape and the promise of home rather than dwelling on the assassination and how he has made her complicit in regicide. However, it’s also possible that Ser Dontos’ improbable network of informants (consider how little time has transpired between Cersei ordering Tyrion’s arrest and this moment in the godswood, and how difficult it would be to get from there to here while the Goldcloaks are locking down the former) is simply not as good as it first appears.
Making Good Their Escape
After a rather long section where the two of them descend the cliff face, the escapees arrive at the bottom of the ladder where they encounter Owell Kettleblack, who represents the first face of the inner conspiracy that Sansa has encountered so far:
Ser Dontos pulled her back onto her feet. “This way. Quiet now, quiet, quiet.” He stayed close to the shadows that lay black and thick beneath the cliffs. Thankfully they did not have to go far. Fifty yards downriver, a man sat in a small skiff, half-hidden by the remains of a great galley that had gone aground there and burned. Dontos limped up to him, puffing. “Oswell?”
“No names,” the man said. “In the boat.” He sat hunched over his oars, an old man, tall and gangling, with long white hair and a great hooked nose, with eyes shaded by a cowl. “Get in, be quick about it,” he muttered. “We need to be away.”
“How far must we go?” she asked.
“No talk.” The oarsman was old, but stronger than he looked, and his voice was fierce. There was something oddly familiar about his face, though Sansa could not say what it was.
“Not far.” Ser Dontos took her hand in his own and rubbed it gently. “Your friend is near, waiting for you.”
“No talk!” the oarsman growled again. “Sound carries over water, Ser Fool.”
Oswell is something of a clue to Baelish’s larger espionage network, but as of yet GRRM keeps things vague enough that it’s easy for Sansa and the reader to overlook why it might be significant that “there was something oddly familiar about his face.” Regardless, Oswell immediately makes an impression on the reader with his short, declarative sentences (shorn of such decorative features as verbs and gerunds and prepositions) as someone far more concerned with operational security than the drunken ex-knight.
After a lyrical sequence where Sansa is rowed through the consequences of her husband’s actions, as Blackwater Bay has been transformed into a ship’s graveyard, they pull up alongside the ship that will be the locus of events for the rest of the chapter.
As they came alongside, the galley dropped a rope ladder over the rail. The rower shipped the oars and helped Sansa to her feet. “Up now. Go on, girl, I got you.” Sansa thanked him for his kindness, but received no answer but a grunt. It was much easier going up the rope ladder than it had been coming down the cliff. The oarsman Oswell followed close behind her, while Ser Dontos remained in the boat.
Two sailors were waiting by the rail to help her onto the deck. Sansa was trembling. “She’s cold,” she heard someone say. He took off his cloak and put it around her shoulders. “There, is that better, my lady? Rest easy, the worst is past and done.”
She knew the voice. But he’s in the Vale, she thought. Ser Lothor Brune stood beside him with a torch.
This magician-like reveal of Petyr Baelish being the mastermind behind her escape and suddenly present
in near King’s Landing is largely responsible for Littlefinger’s fanon reputation as a teleporter, a reputation that became all the more difficult to argue against when the show abandoned its commitment to coherent worldbuilding. But in this specific case, the reveal is less impressive than it first appears. King’s Landing and the Vale are neighboring provinces on the east coast of Westeros, with a common border on the Narrow Sea. They’re only a few hundred miles apart, which makes travel from one to the other a matter of a few days (depending on where in the Vale Baelish started from). It’s honestly not that startling that Baelish was able to take a boat from one to the other unnoticed.
What is more impressive is his ruthless commitment to clearing up loose ends:
“Lord Petyr,” Dontos called from the boat. “I must needs row back, before they think to look for me.”
Petyr Baelish put a hand on the rail. “But first you’ll want your payment. Ten thousand dragons, was it?”
“Ten thousand.” Dontos rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. “As you promised, my lord.”
“Ser Lothor, the reward.”
Lothor Brune dipped his torch. Three men stepped to the gunwale, raised crossbows, fired. One bolt took Dontos in the chest as he looked up, punching through the left crown on his surcoat. The others ripped into throat and belly. It happened so quickly neither Dontos nor Sansa had time to cry out. When it was done, Lothor Brune tossed the torch down on top of the corpse. The little boat was blazing fiercely as the galley moved away.
With Dontos’ assassination, the genre of the chapter undergoes a sudden shift from lyrical romantic fantasy to gangster noir. Between the ironic inversion of the reward, Lothor Brune acting as Littlefinger’s hired muscle, the gangland-style machine-gun-typewriting of the injuries, and the burning of the body to destroy the evidence, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d stumbled on some bizarre crossover of Game of Thrones and the Sopranos.
However, Ser Dontos’ death serves more of a purpose than just a pretext for another shocking “whacking.” For a book and a half almost, Sansa has trusted the Hollard knight (a bit too much) as a true if not entirely honest friend. And now immediately after his murder, Littlefinger is pushing her to mistrust a man – that he put in her way, lest we forget – in the hopes that she will transmute her previous trust into suspicion:
“You killed him.” Clutching the rail, Sansa turned away and retched. Had she escaped the Lannisters to tumble into worse?
“My lady,” Littlefinger murmured, “your grief is wasted on such a man as that. He was a sot, and no man’s friend.”
“But he saved me.”
“He sold you for a promise of ten thousand dragons. Your disappearance will make them suspect you in Joffrey’s death. The gold cloaks will hunt, and the eunuch will jingle his purse. Dontos . . . well, you heard him. He sold you for gold, and when he’d drunk it up he would have sold you again. A bag of dragons buys a man’s silence for a while, but a well-placed quarrel buys it forever.” He smiled sadly. “All he did he did at my behest. I dared not befriend you openly. When I heard how you saved his life at Joff’s tourney, I knew he would be the perfect catspaw.”
Sansa felt sick. “He said he was my Florian.”
“Do you perchance recall what I said to you that day your father sat the Iron Throne?”
The moment came back to her vividly. “You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow.” She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say. “Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?”
“Almost everyone. Save you and I, of course.” He smiled.
While Sansa’s cri de cœur of “is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?” is most often analyzed as the thematic thesis of Sansa’s arc from starry-eyed, song-loving innocent in AGOT to budding political power-player in TWOW, it’s important not to ignore the immediate context of this quote. Namely, that Littlefinger is systematically trying to isolate Sansa from the people around her as part of a long-term grooming process aimed at getting her to first adopt his own wounded-romantic-turned-nihilist viewpoint and then accept him as the only source of truth in her world.
An integral part of this process is, Jorah-like, discrediting any other man around her who might provide an alternative source of information that would allow Sansa to exercise independent judgement rather than being entirely reliant on Littlefinger. One almost has to admire the Magnificent Bastardy involved when Baelish uses the fact that he, Baelish, cultivated Dontos Hollard as his catspaw specifically to manipulate Sansa using her previous act of kindness – and eventually, to turn that act of kindness into a weapon he can use to further disillusion her – and that he, Baelish, bribed and then murdered Dontos Hollard as a reason that only he, Baelish could be trusted.
Now that he’s got the business of the day over with, Littlefinger takes the opportunity to monologue to Sansa all about how clever his plans are:
As he led her below, he said, “Tell me of the feast. The queen took such pains. The singers, the jugglers, the dancing bear . . . did your little lord husband enjoy my jousting dwarfs?”
“I had to send to Braavos for them and hide them away in a brothel until the wedding. The expense was exceeded only by the bother. It is surprisingly difficult to hide a dwarf, and Joffrey . . . you can lead a king to water, but with Joff one had to splash it about before he realized he could drink it. When I told him about my little surprise, His Grace said, ‘Why would I want some ugly dwarfs at my feast? I hate dwarfs.’ I had to take him by the shoulder and whisper, ‘Not as much as your uncle will.'”
The deck rocked beneath her feet, and Sansa felt as if the world itself had grown unsteady. “They think Tyrion poisoned Joffrey. Ser Dontos said they seized him.”
Littlefinger smiled. “Widowhood will become you, Sansa.”
As a masterstroke goes, this falls somewhat short of the mark; we’ve already discussed how the jousting dwarfs failed to really draw Tyrion and Joffrey into a particularly noticeable public clash, and how even afterwards it was only Cersei’s malice, and not Littlefinger’s machinations, that led to Tyrion being seized for murder. Nevertheless, there’s something to be learned from this passage: first, we get the first hint of many that Sansa’s marital status is key to Littlefinger’s ultimate plans, which is why having Tyrion take the fall for Joffrey’s murder was so much more important to Littlefinger than it was to the Tyrells. Second, it’s yet more evidence that something deeply personal underlies the Tyrion/Littlefinger machinations; it’s not enough for Tyrion to be implicated, it must happen in the maximally humiliating fashion possible.
And here at last, we get the closest thing we get to an explicit discussion of Littlefinger’s motivations for this entire conspiracy, although one can has to be very careful in how one parses his “confession” to get to the truth:
He had this all prepared for me. “My lord, I . . . I do not understand . . . Joffrey gave you Harrenhal, made you Lord Paramount of the Trident . . . why . . .”
“Why should I wish him dead?” Littlefinger shrugged. “I had no motive. Besides, I am a thousand leagues away in the Vale. Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you. Remember that, Sansa, when you come to play the game.”
“The only game. The game of thrones.”
While there’s more than a little bit of Heath Ledger’s Joker in this passage, it’s mostly surface level rather than deep substance. It’s not actually the case, for example, that Baelish “had no motive” or was making “moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you.” Rather, Littlefinger’s motives are hidden from the reader and the Westerosi observer until Alayne II of AFFC, when it’s made clear that his objective is to put the Vale behind Sansa’s claim to the North. To a re-reader’s eye, Littlefinger’s actions fit with his long-term motivations: he wants to gain control over Sansa to use as his figurehead, so he arranges for her escape from King’s Landing; he wants to destabilize the Lannister/Tyrell alliance, so he arranges for Joffrey to be assassinated by the Tyrells (which he can reveal at any point); he wants Sansa to be free to marry again, so he does his level best to see that Tyrion is accused of Joffrey’s murder.
While he manages to conceal his immediate motivations, Littlefinger is less able to hide how he feels about Sansa:
He brushed back a strand of her hair. “You are old enough to know that your mother and I were more than friends. There was a time when Cat was all I wanted in this world. I dared to dream of the life we might make and the children she would give me . . . but she was a daughter of Riverrun, and Hoster Tully. Family, Duty, Honor, Sansa. Family, Duty, Honor meant I could never have her hand. But she gave me something finer, a gift a woman can give but once. How could I turn my back upon her daughter? In a better world, you might have been mine, not Eddard Stark’s. My loyal loving daughter . . . Put Joffrey from your mind, sweetling. Dontos, Tyrion, all of them. They will never trouble you again. You are safe now, that’s all that matters. You are safe with me, and sailing home.”
For all that Littlefinger has the reputation as someone who always plays his cards close to his vest, he’s never been able to hide the fact that he has something of a fixation on Sansa. Given how often he boasts in court of sleeping with Catelyn Tully and how often these advances on Sansa have been made in public settings (and once in the presence of the small council), it’s really only Cersei’s narcissism and Varys’ patience* that has prevented more from being done with this information. (*While Varys probably didn’t know about the plan to smuggle Sansa out of King’s Landing with Ser Dontos’ help ahead of time, he certainly puts two-and-two together quickly enough, and manages to get his chosen knight to the Vale first despite Littlefinger’s attempt to cover-up any connection between himself and Ser Dontos.)
However, it’s here we get the most extended treatise to date on how Littlefinger views Sansa. At his most (arguably) wholesome, Petyr sees himself as a paternal stand-in figure for a teenage girl who’s been violently bereft of both of her parents; to him, Sansa is the dreamed-of “loyal loving daughter” whom “in a better world…might have been mine.” It’s still bound up in his obsession with Catelyn Stark, an idée fixe that’s absolutely running riot throughout this speech, but it’s at least a solicitous motivation. The problem is that he can’t leave it there. Threaded throughout a speech that is supposed to be about how he views Sansa as a daughter is a running sexual theme; how Catelyn and he were “more than friends,” how she gave him “a gift a woman can give but once,” and so on. Needless to say, none of this is appropriate for a grown man talking to a thirteen-year-old, but it does make sense as part of a campaign of desensitization aimed at turning Sansa into the second coming of a teenaged Catelyn Tully, a Catelyn Tully who this time won’t reject him due to “Family, Duty, Honor” because he’s made her so dependent on him personally. And that’s the terrifying truth at the heart of Littlefinger: his desire to be her substitute father competes with (or rather queasily co-exists alongside) his desire to possess her sexually.
If Littlefinger is in some ways inspired by Jay Gatsby, this is Gatsby by way of Phantom of the Opera. He’s more right than he knows; Sansa is now safe from everyone but him.
Unlike last chapter, there isn’t a specifically-mentioned historical parallel that GRRM is borrowing from for Sansa V. However, I think that one possible inspiration for Sansa’s escape from King’s Landing can be found in the annals of the Anarchy, one of GRRM’s favorite sources for historical anecdotes.
In 1142, the Empress Matilda was ensconced at Oxford Castle, her temporary capital in England (after having been expelled from London before her coronation could take place), having dispatched a chunk of her forces under her half-brother Robert Fitzroy, the Earl of Gloucester, to Anjou to bring over her husband’s fighting men to England. King Stephen, having recently recovered from a serious illness, unexpectedly raised an army in the North of England that outnumbered Matilda’s forces and put the castle under siege, hoping to end the civil war by capturing the Empress during her moment of weakness.
Stephen’s pursuit of the siege was impressively vigorous; after taking the city of Oxford through an unguarded postern gate, he looted and burned it, and then pillaged the surrounding area to prevent Matilda’s outnumbered forces from supporting themselves by foraging. Using the pillaged resources to build siege towers, battering rams, and mangonels, he put Oxford Castle under suppressing fire and settled down to starve out the garrison over several months.
With supplies running low, Matilda embarked on a desperate gamble to prevent herself from falling into her enemy’s grasp. In the middle of the night, Matilda climbed down St. George’s tower on a rope, using a white cloak to disguise herself among the December snowfall. Accompanied by four knights, Matilda managed to pass unseen through enemy lines, walking twenty miles through the snow to safety at Wallingford.
The next day, her garrison surrendered to Stephen, who had won the siege of Oxford, but failed utterly in his goal of ending the Anarchy in one swift stroke.
As you might expect from a chapter involving dramatic escapes and murders, there’s a good deal of room for hypothetical scenarios in this chapter:
- Sansa doesn’t make it out? If for whatever reason Sansa is stopped in the throne room or the godswood, or doesn’t make it down the cliffside ladder, things change dramatically. It’s quite possible that Sansa would be put on trial next to Tyrion due to Cersei’s accusation, although Tywin’s larger plans would suggest that he would be manuevering to see that Sansa is acquitted of her charges so that she could be remarried to a Lannister upon Tyrion’s death. Tyrion’s escape at the end of ASOS would leave Sansa in an uncomfortable no-man’s-land, where it would be a tossup whether she would remain Cersei’s prisoner or whether Jaime could manage to smuggle her out to be returned to her family.
- Ser Dontos doesn’t die? Given that Varys knew of Dontos’ role almost immediately, the main change that this hypothetical makes is that the Lannisters would learn of Littlefinger’s role in the escape. This is a more subtle change than it first appears, because the Lannisters don’t really have a free hand to deal with the Vale, what with Euron attacking the Reach, mop-up operations in the Riverlands and Stormlands, and the arrival of the Golden Company. However, it would change things if the Lannisters were counting on the support of the Vale in the forthcoming fighting in and around King’s Landing. Moreover, it might force Littlefinger to act more quickly in setting up his Harry the Heir, Marry the Heir plot.
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