AFFC

A Feast For Crows

Sansa I
Sansa II (Alayne I)
Sansa III (Alayne II)
AFFC Round-up: Sansa’s Development
AFFC Symbolism and Foreshadowing

AFFC

Sansa I

by Brashcandy

SUMMARY

The chapter begins with Sansa noting ironically that there was a time in her childhood when she would have done anything for singers to come to Winterfell and play songs for her, but now she cannot stand to hear Marillion’s constant singing at night.

But that was when she little girl, and foolish. She was a maiden now, three-and-ten and flowered. All her nights were full of song, and by day she prayed for silence.

Due to the sky cells being in the open air, Marillion’s singing can be heard throughout the entire castle:

He sang of the Dance of the Dragons, of fair Jonquil and her fool, of Jenny of Oldstones and the Prince of Dragonflies. He sang of betrayals and murders most foul, of hanged men and bloody vengeance. He sang of grief and sadness.

Sansa is disturbed by the music, and remembers that, although Marillion’s voice may sound rich and sweet, he is a wicked man who tried to rape her and played music to drown out her cries when Lysa tried to kill her. She asks Petyr to make him stop, but he claims that he has given the singer his word, and tells Sansa it will soon be over because Lord Nestor Royce is coming to the Eyrie the next day. Sansa is alarmed by the possibility that Lord Nestor will see Marillion and learn the truth, but LF has no such qualms:

On the contrary, I shall insist on it.” He beckoned her to take the seat beside him. “We have come to an agreement, Marillion and I. Mord can be most persuasive. And if our singer disappoints us and sings a song we do not care to hear, why, you and I need only say he lies. Whom do you imagine Lord Nestor will believe?

“Us?” Sansa wished she could be more certain.

“Of course. Our lies will profit him.

LF goes on to reassure Sansa that he will not let Lord Nestor harm his “daughter,” but Sansa thinks:

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

LF then proceeds to coach Sansa on how she must behave when Lord Nestor visits. He tells her that her fear will not make her look guilty and that she has her mother’s eyes, honest and innocent. He tells her that she needs only to tell Lord Nestor the same tale she told Lord Robert.

Robert is only a sickly boy, she thought, Lord Nestor is a man grown, stern and suspicious. Robert was not strong and had to be protected, even from the truth. “Some lies are love,” Petyr had assured her.

Sansa realizes that LF is serving her lies as well, but thinks:

They were comforting lies, though, and she thought them kindly meant. A lie is not so bad if it is kindly meant. If only she believed them…

She remembers the things her aunt told her before she died and is still troubled by them, although Petyr tries to dismiss them as the ravings of a man woman. She thinks that Petyr must at least love her because he saved her, but:

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

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

Later that night, she hears Marillion singing again, but this time hardens her heart against pity. She thinks that one has to tell lies sometimes to survive and that this is what she did in King’s Landing to avoid being beaten bloody by the Kingsguard. Lord Nestor arrives the next day and Sansa has to help get Robert ready. We learn that Robert has been accustomed to coming to Sansa’s bed at night, which she doesn’t like because he tries to nuzzle her breasts and can wet the bed when he has a shaking fit. She cleans him up as best as she can and takes him down to sit in the High Hall to receive the guests.

The High Hall had been closed since Lady Lysa’s fall since Lady Lysa’s fall, and it gave Sansa a chill to enter it again. The hall was long and grand and beautiful, she supposed, but she did not like it here. It was a pale cold place at the best of times. The slender pillars looked like fingerbones, and the blue veins in the white marble brought to mind the veins in an old crone eyes.

Sansa nervously recites her story to Lord Nestor and the other men he has brought with him. During her testimony a tear rolls down her cheek and she thinks, “that’s good, a tear is good.” Hearing the story again causes Robert to go into another fit and he has to be removed by Lothor Brune and Maester Coleman. The lords believe Sansa’s story, strengthened by their own dislike of Marillion. The singer is brought up from the dungeons and confesses his guilt to the Lords.
Sansa describes him looking almost elegant in contrast to Mord:

Someone had bathed him and dressed him in a pair of sky-blue breeches and a loose fitting white tunic with puff sleeves, belted with a silvery sash that had been a gift from Lady Lysa. White silk gloves covered his hands, while a white silk bandage spared the lords the sight of his eyes… Sansa stared at his hands while he spoke. Fat Maddy claimed that Mord had taken off three of his fingers, both pinkies and a ring finger. His little fingers did appear somewhat stiffer than the others, but with those gloves it was hard to be certain. It might have been no more than a story. How would Maddy know?

After Marillion is taken back to the sky cells, LF meets with Nestor Royce in private. Nestor informs him that he’s going to face more questions from the other Lords, in particular Lyn Corbray, whom Royce describes as a dangerous man. LF states that there is nothing he can do but receive them graciously when the time comes. He then takes out a parchment and proceeds to tell Nestor that Lady Lysa held him in high esteem and had made plans for him to become Keeper of the Gates of the Moon, but died before she could sign the document. LF has signed in her place as Lord Protector. After Nestor leaves, LF begins to explain to Sansa why his strategy worked. Sansa is able to figure out the significance of LF’s actions:

The signature… you might have had Lord Robert put his hand and seal to it, but instead…”

“… I signed myself, as Lord Protector. Why?”

“So… if you are removed, or … or killed…”

“… Lord Nestor’s claim to the Gates will suddenly be called into question. I promise you, that is not lost on him. It was clever of you to see it. Though no more than I’d expect of mine own daughter.”

“Thank you.” She felt absurdly proud for puzzling it out…

Petyr goes on to caution her that she must always pretend to be his daughter, even when in private, in case a servant overhears something:

Do you want more blood on your pretty little hands, my darling?”

Marillion’s face seemed to float before her, the bandage pale across his eyes. Behind him she could see Ser Dontos, the crossbow bolts still in him. “No,” Sansa said. “Please.”

“I am tempted to say this is no game we play, daughter, but of course it is. The game of thrones.”

I never asked to play. The game was too dangerous. One slip and I am dead.

LF tells her that she can trust no one, and that he once told this to Ned but he didn’t listen. He places two fingers on her left breast, telling her that she must be Alayne “all the time,” even in her heart.

Can you do that? Can you be my daughter in your heart?”

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

Later in the night, Sweetrobin comes to her bed, and questions if she is his mother now.

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

ANALYSIS

The beginning of the chapter really evoked that sad sense of the difference between then and now as it relates to Sansa’s experiences. The memory of how innocent she once was, and the loving relationship she had with her father, with Ned promising her that other singers would come again, is perversely contrasted with the reality of her life now: as she is involved in the schemes of Littlefinger, and has to constantly hear the plaintive singing of the man LF has framed for the murder of her aunt. Sansa, of course, is still feeling immense guilt over the entire situation, but is really powerless to do anything other than follow what LF tells her. It’s an ironic twist that the songs she would have normally enjoyed are now the songs that haunt and disturb her. I think this loss of pleasure is meant to highlight just what a corrupting influence LF is having on her life, and throughout the chapter we see the extent to which Sansa is confused and conflicted over his plans and what he is requiring of her.

The chapter is clear on the fact that Sansa knows she cannot trust LF, but she believes that there’s no one who can save her from him. The listing out of all the names of her family members and even Tyrion whom she believes has been put to death, reveals that if she felt she had a lifeline, she might have sought to escape the Eyrie or seek help somehow. But we see her thinking miserably that she has no other friend but Petyr. I really sympathised with Sansa’s predicament in this chapter. She wants to be away from LF, but with every other option seemingly closed, there’s nothing she can do but to try to adapt and survive.

The confusion she feels stems from on the one hand knowing that Littlefinger did nothing to help her out in King’s Landing, but then having to consider that he perhaps performed the ultimate gesture by getting her out of the city. Further, the two sides of the man: Littlefinger and Petyr are disturbing to her because as she notes, she doesn’t know where the man stops and the mask begins. Most significantly, though, Sansa is experiencing a battle with her own values and morals, which naturally rebel against the thought of telling lies which can harm others—even men like Marillion. LF’s solution to this, telling her that “some lies are love” is a seductive comfort to give to a young girl who is caught between knowing that she is doing something wrong, but believing that she is powerless to do otherwise, and that her very survival depends on it.

LF is firmly in daddy mode in this chapter, but it’s noteworthy that Sansa isn’t falling for the trick. As much as LF is playing a game with her, Sansa too seems to be playing her own game, in the sense of hiding her continued allegiance and connection to her Stark heritage. She is telling LF what he wants to hear, a talent that we know she developed during her captivity in Kings Landing. But of course, whilst in KL most people could see through her pretence of loving Joffrey and being loyal to him, she’s actually managing to be successful in fooling others in the Eyrie, as she gets Lord Nestor and the other men to believe her story about Marillion. She’s even managing to fool LF that she will be Alayne in her heart. So the Sansa in this chapter is definitely more skilled in her pretences, although she’s by no means callous and cold hearted like Littlefinger. She’s affected by Marillion’s songs, and feels quite nervous about having to face Lord Nestor.

Another important point to mention is Sansa’s thought that she didn’t ask to play the game of thrones that Littlefinger seems intent on bringing her into. The thought of Sansa becoming a Queen might be wonderful to readers, but this chapter clearly establishes the natural reluctance she feels to getting involved in the intrigues of game playing. It is something that LF lives for, and his insistence that Sansa be his daughter in her heart indicates that desire to mold her in his image, shaping her thoughts and behaviour. His ability to subtly manipulate Sansa is further shown when he asks her if she wants to have more blood on her hands.

Sansa’s intelligence and her progress in figuring out the real motives behind actions are highlighted when she is able to determine just why it was that LF made sure that Nestor knew he had signed the document himself. She is definitely becoming a stronger student of the game, both in her ability to discern LF’s plots and to conceal her own hidden desires and thoughts.

The scene with Marillion was very curious, and pretty ripe for some good old crackpotting. Was it really Marillion who was blindfolded and brought before the guards? And if it was, has he really been blinded and lost his fingers, or is this just another elaborate hoax by Littlefinger? Interestingly, Sansa seems to have some doubt about the veracity of the servants’ claims that Mord did indeed take some of Marillion’s fingers, and she also notes the difference in the singer’s voice from when he sings strongly at night.

The situation with Sweetrobin is understandably burdensome for Sansa, as she is being asked to mother a sickly and spoilt little boy, who sees her as maternal replacement for his dead mother. Sweetrobin’s nuzzling of her breasts when he comes to sleep can be put down to an innocent desire to regain the sensation he had from his mother’s prolonged breast feeding and coddling, but when LF touches Sansa’s breast it’s pretty obvious that his desires are not of the innocent kind, even though he conceals them under the guise of wanting her to be his daughter in her heart. All this is worrisome concerning Sansa’s future, of course. She is having little to no say in what she wants, and is being compelled to be anyone but Sansa Stark. She is in the peculiar and uncomfortable position of being a pawn and a player, with little choice but to continue the status quo. LF still does not seem to see her as a person, telling her:

With my wits and Cat’s beauty, the world will be yours, sweetling.

This may sound like a magnificent promise, but there’s no consideration of what Sansa wants or the person that Sansa is. He’s still seeing her in the likeness of her mother, with himself now firmly in control of directing her destiny.

As I wrote in my recap of her development in ASOS upthread:

Overall, Sansa’s development in ASOS begs the question of whether becoming a player is worth the loss of idealism and optimism that seems to come along with it. By the end of the book we are seeing a much more cynical and world-weary Sansa, one who despite her unwillingness is becoming more ensnared in the machinations of Littlefinger. His constant mind games and revolving identity as father figure, romantic suitor and game teacher is having an adverse effect on her development. She may be learning the game, but LF’s usefulness as a mentor has to be seriously weighed against the danger he represents as a sexual predator and corrupt influence.

This first chapter of AFFC pretty much illustrates the dangers noted above in becoming a player. The challenge for Sansa will be to fight her inclination to see LF as a “true friend” and to not allow herself to be seduced both mentally and physically. The ending of the chapter is cause for concern therefore, because although the alternative of telling Sweetrobin that she is not his mother might have been unpleasant, it’s a slippery slope for Sansa to begin thinking that lies which are kindly meant do no harm.
Thoughts on possible foreshadowing

  • When Sansa is listing out the names of the people who are no longer alive or available to help her, the Hound’s name is strangely absent. Given that we know she still has thoughts about him, and that the last time we saw them together he was promising to kill anyone who hurt her, might Martin be trying to draw attention to him by deliberately leaving his name out? Could he be the one person who turns up to rescue Sansa?
  • She thinks that Tyrion is dead as well; at this point not yet knowing that he has escaped and killed his father. The Blackfish will later escape the siege at Riverrun, and Sansa’s mother is undead. So in addition to the Hound, she may have more true friends than she thought.
  • Again, in this chapter I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Lothor and Sandor, the kind of silent strength possessed by Brune that we see in the Hound.
  • Nestor Royce’s contention that the Gates of the Moon are considered as royal as the Eyrie. Perhaps we’re going to see some royalty there in the form of the dragon queen?

AFFC

Alayne I (Sansa II)

by Rapsie

SUMMARY

Alayne wakes up to a cold room.

It will be worse when winter has us in its grip, she thought. Winter will make this place as cold as any tomb. 

Her new bedchamber in the Maiden’s Tower is larger and more lavish than…

… the little bedchamber where she’d been kept when Lady Lysa was alive.

While the maid lights the fire, she goes outside onto her balcony. It is cold and windy, but the view made her forget everything. She looks out over the Vale. She thinks how lovely it is.

The snow-clad summit of the Giant’s Lance loomed above her, an immensity of stone and ice that dwarfed the castle perched upon its shoulder. Icicles twenty feet long draped the lip of the precipice where Alyssa’s Tears fell in summer. A falcon soared wide against the morning sky. Would that I had wings as well.

She looks down to each of the two castles below her and the tents of the Lords Declarant, who are at the Gates of the Moon. She thinks they look as small as ants and thinks:

If only they were truly ants, she thought, we could step on them and crush them.

Nestor Royce had closed the Gates of the Moon against them, but he only has 300 men while each of the Lords has a 1000 men. Alayne knows all their names: Young Lord Gilwood Hunter, Benedar Belmore, Lord of Strongsong. Symond Templeton, the Knight of Ninestars. Horton Redfort, Lord of Redfort. Anya Waynwood, Lady of Ironoaks and Bronze Yohn Royce. They had made a declaration against LF speaking of “misrule” and “false friends and evil counsellors.

It gets colder and she goes inside to choose something to wear to breakfast.
LF has given her all of Lysa’s old and fabulous clothing, but most of it is too big for her, so she had some of Lysa’s dresses when she was younger altered to fit her. She is as tall at 13 as Lysa was at 20. She looks through the wardrobe and finds a gown of Tully colours lined with vair. Gretchel helps her put the dress on and does her hair. She had darkened her roots again the night before and her hair is brown instead of red. She wonders what she’ll do when the dye runs out.

The wash had come from Tyrosh, across the narrow sea.

As she goes to breakfast she thinks how quiet and still the Eyrie is, because the servants talk quietly so that SR doesn’t have a fit and because there are no animals. Even the sound of the waterfall Alyssa’s Tears has stopped because it is frozen and would stay that way until spring.

She sits with SR, who is playing with his porridge. He demands eggs and Alayne explains that there are none. With the Lords Declarant at the foot of the mountain, Mya Stone has been unable to bring them supplies. The Lords had said no food was to go up until SR was sent down. Sansa tells SR that he can have eggs when Mya comes. SR wants eggs today and starts demanding them. Alayne again tries to explain that there are no eggs and he will have to eat his porridge.

He says he is not hungry and wants to go back to bed. SR said he hasn’t slept because of Marillion singing.

Alayne put down her spoon. “If there had been singing, I should have heard it too. You had a bad dream, that’s all.”

“No, it wasn’t a dream.” Tears filled his eyes. “Marillion was singing again. Your father says he’s dead, but he isn’t.”

“He is.” It frightened her to hear him talk like this. Bad enough that he is small and sickly, what if he is mad as well?

Alayne tells him that Marillion loved Lysa and couldn’t live with the guilt of what he had done and had walked into the sky. She reflects that neither of them had seen the body, but believes he is dead. SR continues, though:

But I hear him every night. Even when I close the shutters and put a pillow on my head.

He says that LF should have cut his tongue out, and Alayne thinks:

He needed a tongue to confess.

She asks SR to be a good boy and eat the porridge for her. But SR says he doesn’t want it and flings his spoon across the room. It hits a tapestry. SR shouts that he wants eggs. LF and Maester Colemon appear behind them, and LF tells SR that he shall have porridge and be thankful for it. The Maester tells SR his bannermen are coming to see him.

SR says he wants them to fly and LF says he is tempted to do so, but they have been granted safe passage and besides that they had already reached Stone.

Why won’t they leave us be?” wailed Alayne. “We never did them any harm. What do they want of us?”

“Just Lord Robert. Him, and the Vale.” Petyr smiled. “There will be eight of them. Lord Nestor is showing them up, and they have Lyn Corbray with them. Ser Lyn is not the sort of man to stay away when blood is in the offing.

His words did little to soothe her fears.

She thinks about the reputation of Lyn Corbray, who had slain Prince Lewyn of Dorne during Robert’s rebellion. Although LF had told her that the Prince was badly wounded by the time Corbray got to him, it is best not to mention that to Corbray. She asks why he is coming as she thought the Corbrays supported him. LF says that Ser Lyn’s brother does not get on with him as their father left the family sword, Lady Forlorn (I presume Valyrian), to Ser Lyn and not his brother Lionel.

SR pipes up that he doesn’t like Ser Lyn. and that he should not be there.

Not here. The Eyrie is impregnable, Mother said.

LF tells him that his mother is dead and until he is 16, LF rules the Eyrie. LF calls for a new spoon for SR’s porridge, but SR throws the bowl of porridge at him, which LF avoids, but it hits Maester Colemon instead. Alayne tries to sooth SR, but he goes into a fit. He falls backwards, accidently kicking Alayne in the process and winding her. LF is disgusted.

Alayne hopefully thinks that it is not so bad a fit as his last one. The guards come and LF orders them to take him away and have him leeched.

I could carry him myself, Alayne thought. He is no heavier than a doll.

Maester Colemon says that his condition is worsening and tries to help him sleep. LF says that he sleeps 12 hours a day and does need to be awake sometimes. The Maester continues that Lysa would breastfeed him to calm him, because Archmaester Ebrose says that mother’s milk has health giving properties.

Is that your counsel, maester? That we find a wet nurse for the Lord of the Eyrie and Defender of the Vale? When shall we wean him, on his wedding day? That way he can move directly from his nurse’s nipples to his wife’s.” Lord Petyr’s laugh made it plain what he thought of that. “No, I think not. I suggest you find another way. The boy is fond of sweets, is he not?”

“Sweets?” said Colemon.

“Sweets. Cakes and pies, jams and jellies, honey on the comb. Perhaps a pinch of sweetsleep in his milk, have you tried that? Just a pinch, to calm him and stop his wretched shaking.”

“A pinch?” The apple in the maester’s throat moved up and down as he swallowed. “One small pinch. perhaps, perhaps. Not too much, and not too often, yes, I might try.”

“A pinch,” Lord Petyr said, “before you bring him forth to meet the lords.” “As you command, my lord.” The maester hurried out, his chain clinking softly with every step.

Alayne asks LF if he wants porridge, and he says he detests porridge and would rather have a kiss. Alayne thinks a daughter shouldn’t refuse her father a kiss, so gives him a quick peck on the cheek and just as quickly steps away from him.

How… dutiful.” Littlefinger smiled with his mouth, but not his eyes.

He then tells her he has tasks for her, and gives her instructions for getting the hospitality ready for the guests. He then says she should change her clothing as well. Alayne looks at her dress and begins to ask if it is too… but LF cuts her off and tells her:

Is it too—”

“Tully. The Lords Declarant will not be pleased by the sight of my bastard daughter prancing about in my dead wife’s clothes. Choose something else. Need I remind you to avoid sky blue and cream?”

“No.” Sky blue and cream were the colors of House Arryn.

He tells her Bronze Yohn is the only one that matters. Alayne reminds him that Sansa Stark has previously been seen by him at the Tourney of the Hand, and met him in Winterfell…

… when his son rode north to take the black.” She had fallen wildly in love with Ser Waymar, she remembered dimly, but that was a lifetime ago, when she was a stupid little girl.

LF tells her that at the Tourney he would have seen was just a face in the crowd, and that at Winterfell Sansa Stark was just a little girl with red hair, while Alayne is a tall, fair maiden with chestnut hair ,and advises her that men see what they want to see. He tells her to prepare the solar.

Alayne asks why not the High Hall, and LF says that his presence in the High Hall might offend the Lords as he is too lowborn to sit in the high seat of the Arryns.

Alayne, regretting it as she says it, begins to suggest giving them Robert. LF says and “the Vale?” to which she retorts. “They have the Vale.”

LF says they have much of it, but that he is liked in Gulltown and has his own lordly friends in the Corbrays, the Graftons and the Lynderlys.

Still, where would you have us go, Alayne? Back to my mighty stronghold on the Fingers?” She had thought about that.

She had been thinking about that and suggests they go to Harrenhal as it is his seat. LF says he needed Harrenhal to be elevated enough to wed Lysa, but that the castle is ruined and cavernous and haunted and there is the small matter of the curse.

Alayne responds:

Curses are only in songs and stories.”

That seemed to amuse him. “Has someone made a song about Gregor Clegane dying of a poisoned spear thrust? Or about the sellsword before him, whose limbs Ser Gregor removed a joint at a time? That one took the castle from Ser Amory Lorch, who received it from Lord Tywin. A bear killed one, your dwarf the other. Lady Whent’s died as well, I hear. Lothstons, Strongs, Harroways, Strongs. Harrenhal has withered every hand to touch it.”

“Then give it to Lord Frey.”

Petyr laughed. “Perhaps I shall. Or better still, to our sweet Cersei. Though I should not speak harshly of her, she is sending me some splendid tapestries. Isn’t that kind of her?

Hearing the Queen’s name makes Alayne stiffen, and she says the Queen is not kind and that she scares her. She begins to reflect on what will happen to her if the Queen finds her, but LF cuts her off and tells her that Cersei might need to be removed sooner than he’d planned, but that she might remove herself first. He tells her:

In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you’ve planned for them. Mark that well, Alayne.

He says Cersei has yet to learn that, and she should go and see to the hospitality and a change of clothes. She makes sure the wine is mulled, finds the right cheese and has the cook bake enough bread for 20 people.

Once they eat our bread and salt they are our guests and cannot harm us.

She thinks that the Freys had broken guest right when they murdered her brother and mother, but that she didn’t think Bronze Yohn would break it. She then goes to the solar and has tables and chairs set up. She reflects that they will be at Snow by now, and that it will take them the whole day to climb up. She reflects that they may talk into the night and decides to get more candles. While Maddy makes the fire, Alayne has the scented beeswax candles found and goes to the kitchen to make sure everything is sorted with the food and drink. She then goes to bath and change.

There was a gown of purple silk that gave her pause, and another of dark blue velvet sashed with silver that would have woken all the colour in her eyes, but in the end she remembered that Alayne was after all a bastard, and must not presume to dress above her station. The dress she picked was lambswool, dark brown and simply cut, with leaves and vines embroidered around the bodice, sleeves, and hem in golden thread. It was modest and becoming, though scare richer than something a serving girl might wear. Petyr had given her all of Lady Lysa’s jewels as well, and she tried on several necklaces, but they all seemed ostentatious. In the end she chose a simple velvet ribbon in autumn gold.

She sees herself in a mirror and thinks that Bronze Yohn will never know her, that she hardly knows herself and feeling almost as bold as LF, she puts on a fake smile and goes to meet the guests.

The two elderly Lords Declarant, Redfort and Waynwood, come up by basket, but the rest climb the stair. She welcomes them in SR’s name and serves them food and drink. LF had given her their coats of arms to study so that she can immediately recognize them. She looks at each of the Lords in turn, describing their physical features and noting if they give her a clue about the Lord’s personalities.

She notes:

The Lord of Runestone stood as tall as the Hound. Though his hair was grey and his face lined, Lord Yohn still looked as though he could break most younger men like twigs in those huge gnarled hands. His seamed and solemn face brought back all of Sansa’s memories of his time at Winterfell.

She thinks that he must recognize her as she timidly offers him a glass of wine. He has slate-grey eyes and asks if he knows her.

Alayne doesn’t know what to say, but Lord Nestor tells him that Alayne is LFs natural daughter. Ser Lyn makes a slightly rude joke and Alayne blushes with embarrassment. Lady Waynwood asks her how old she is, and she says 14 and not a child but a maiden flowered. Lord Hunter jokes that he hopes she is not deflowered. Ser Lyn jokes “yet,” but suggests she is ripe for plucking. Lady Waynwood chastises them both and asks Alayne to take them to her father.

Alayne takes them through the castle to LF’s solar, and LF asks her to serve the wine. As she goes to get the wine, she is pleased to see the candles have been lit and the room smells of nutmeg. Nestor Royce sits beside LF and all the other Lords sit opposite him, apart from Ser Lyn who stands by the fire. Alayne sees him smile at Ser Lothor and thinks he is handsome, but that she doesn’t like the way he smiles.

LF commends the Lords on their declaration and wishes he, too, could have been invited to sign it. This takes the Lords by surprise, and LF continues that these false friends and evil counsellors should be routed out and that he only has SR’s best interests at heart. Bronze Yohn eventually says they didn’t come to bandy words with him. LF asks what they want from him, and they tell him that they want him gone and that the Riverlands need a Lord as Riverrun is besieged and bandits are looting the land, and the Brackens and Blackwoods are in conflict. LF says he has made it sound very attractive, but he has duties here. Bronze Yohn tells LF that he means to take SR to Runestone to foster him. LF asks why his house and not one of the other Lords. Lady Waynwood says he will not divide them and set them against one another. She says that their Maester is older and better trained to treat SR’s frailties ad that he will have young companions. LF says that SR is very fond of Alayne and will miss her if she goes, and suggests that Lord Grafton and Lord Lynderly are sending their sons and asks Lady Waynwood if she might send her ward, Harrold Hardyng.

This amuses Lady Waynwood, who calls him a bold thief. LF says he does not wish to steal the boy, but that he and SR should be friends. Bronze Yohn says they will meet at Runestone and that if he hands over the boy, then he can go unmolested to Harrenhal. LF says that his late wife made him Protector. Lady Waynwood says that Lysa Tully was Jon Arryn’s widow, but that LF is not related to SR, and Lord Hunter says that Lysa was never really of the Vale and had no right to make him Protector. LF asks if Lysa had a right to dispose of her own son.

Nestor Royce interjects and says he had once hoped to wed Lysa, and says that if any of them had wed her, they would have respected her wishes. Bronze Yohn is still not placated and attempts again to say SR should go with him. Symond Templeton reminds LF of the forces below, and he asks if they are threatening him with war. Bronze Yohn tells LF that they will have Lord Robert.

It seems to Alayne that there is a stalemate situation, but then Ser Lyn joins the conversation.

All this talk makes me ill. Littlefinger will talk you out of your smallclothes if you listen long enough. The only way to settle his sort is with steel.” He drew his longsword.

Petyr spread his hands. “I wear no sword, ser.”

“Easily remedied.” Candlelight rippled along the smoke-grey steel of Corbray’s blade, so dark that it put Sansa in mind of Ice, her father’s greatsword. “Your apple-eater holds a blade. Tell him to give it to you, or draw that dagger.”

She saw Lothor Brune reach for his own sword, but before the blades could meet Bronze Yohn rose in wrath. “Put up your steel, ser! Are you a Corbray or a Frey? We are guests here.

All the other Lords agree that this behaviour has shamed them. Ser Lyn calls them old women and walks out.

Lady Waynwood says LF must forgive the display, but LF queries why he must and says as they brought him they are responsible for his actions, and they must now hear his demands. LF tells them to remove their armies.

Go home and leave my son in peace.

And that the misrule was Lysa’s work and that they are to grant him a year to set the Vale to rights and if he doesn’t do it, then he will leave. LF threatens them with war if they do not comply and eventually the Lords give LF his year, but Bronze Yohn makes his feelings clear about how little he likes it.

Afterwards, there is a feast and the Lords meet SR, who plays the little Lord. Ser Lyn and Bronze Yohn do not stay and instead go down the mountain.

He bewitched them, Alayne thought as she lay abed that night listening to the wind howl outside her windows. She could not have said where the suspicion came from, but once it crossed her mind it would not let her sleep. She tossed and turned, worrying at it like a dog at some old bone.

She gets up and goes to see LF. He asks what brings her there so late. She asks what will happen in a year. He tells her how each of the Lords will eventually come round to his side or perhaps die, apart from Bronze Yohn who will always be hostile.

Alayne asks about Ser Lyn.

The candlelight was dancing in his eyes. “Ser Lyn will remain my implacable enemy. He will speak of me with scorn and loathing to every man he meets, and lend his sword to every secret plot to bring me down.”

That was when her suspicion turned to certainty. “And how shall you reward him for this service?”

Littlefinger laughed aloud. “With gold and boys and promises, of course. Ser Lyn is a man of simple tastes, my sweetling. All he likes is gold and boys and killing.

ANALYSIS

In this chapter, we really see Alayne begin to develop her analytical and political observational skills as well as her own first steps to running a household. There is also a lot of symbolism and possible foreshadowing.

Captivity and Freedom and Flying

As the chapter opens, Sansa really is the Princess in the Tower to an extent. She is now the Maid in the Maiden’s Tower. Sansa is now a prisoner inside the walls of Alayne, but she is also safely hidden there. The change of chapter heading from Sansa to Alayne is, I think, significant. As GRRM said in a So Spake Martin when asked if Sansa would meet Sandor again:

Why, the Hound is dead, and Sansa may be dead as well. There’s only Alayne Stone.

Given the role of identity in both AFFC and ADWD, this could mean that Alayne and Sandor will meet, but the Hound and Sansa are both lost personas. Even if Sansa is revealed, she will never truly be Sansa again.

The language she uses in terms of her accommodation is also telling. When she recalls her previous bedchamber, she refers to herself as being “kept,” which again brings up the idea of imprisonment. She was still the bird in the cage with Lysa.

Indeed, even in these more luxurious apartments, she stands on her balcony desperate to fly away.

A falcon soared wide against the morning sky. Would that I had wings as well.

Sansa has been connected to flying things and birds since AGOT, and given GRRM’s confirmation that all the Stark children are wargs, it wouldn’t surprise me if she started warging them. She may yet she warg a dragon.

Flight also parallels to freedom, and for the last two and a half years of her life she has been seeking an escape from captivity to somewhere safe. Indeed, the situation is less than safe and they are in a virtual siege state.

Clothing

Lysa’s wardrobe is highlighted in detail, as is Sansa’s first choice of dress for the day, a red and blue dress that even LF describes as too Tully. The importance of dressing in House colours is brought up by LF:

Is it too—”

“Tully. The Lords Declarant will not be pleased by the sight of my bastard daughter prancing about in my dead wife’s clothes. Choose something else. Need I remind you to avoid sky blue and cream?

“No.” Sky blue and cream were the colors of House Arryn.

We then see Sansa look through Lysa’s wardrobe for something to wear. There are several possible foreshadowing points and possibly a parallel to Cersei in this passage. The first is what Alayne’s options are and what she chooses, barring in mind the importance of House colours.

There was a gown of purple silk that gave her pause, and another of dark blue velvet sashed with silver that would have woken all the colour in her eyes, but in the end she remembered that Alayne was after all a bastard, and must not presume to dress above her station. The dress she picked was lambswool, dark brown and simply cut, with leaves and vines embroidered around the bodice, sleeves, and hem in golden thread. It was modest and becoming, though scare richer than something a serving girl might wear. Petyr had given her all of Lady Lysa’s jewels as well, and she tried on several necklaces, but they all seemed ostentatious. In the end she chose a simple velvet ribbon in autumn gold.

The first gown is a “gown of purple silk that gave her pause.” Purple traditionally is only worn by kings. She thinks about wearing this dress, but moves on. I wonder if this signifies that she will have the option to marry the King and decide not to.

The second gown is “dark blue velvet sashed with silver that would have woken all the colour in her eyes.” Now, these aren’t the colours of House Arryn, but they are close and I would be interested to see if any other House has these colours. Again, it is due to her bastard status that she rejects this dress as being too high for her new station. Perhaps Harry will feel that he does not wish to marry a bastard?

The third gown is “dark brown” with “leaves and vines embroidered around the bodice, sleeves, and hem in golden thread,” and she chooses to wear a “simple velvet ribbon in autumn gold.” Now, this may mean nothing as the dress should be black to be exact, but the reference to leaves and autumn gold and the dark brown are very similar to the colours of House Clegane. Indeed, the autumn gold does seem reminiscent of Sandor’s tale about the three dogs dying in the autumn grass. As this is the dress she chooses, is this foreshadowing her choosing as simpler life with Sandor? Or could it be her dressing appropriately to her station?

However, it also seems to be very much connected to Cersei and the parallel journeys their lives are taking. At a similar point in the book, both women choose similar clothing. Indeed, this choice of attire scene might be the crossover point between Sansa ascending to greater things and Cersei beginning to fall. Certainly, the parallel between Cersei and Sansa have been present throughout the series and this scene may again reflect that. When Cersei goes to meet the High Septon:

Nothing too rich or colorful,” she said. “Something suitably devout and drab for the High Septon. He’s like to make me pray with him.

In the end, she chose a soft woolen dress that covered her from throat to ankle, with only a few small vines embroidered on the bodice and the sleeves in golden thread to soften the severity of its lines.

They chose almost an identical dress and do so thinking about the impression they need to create. Much as I would like to think the dress choice relates to Sandor, the coincidence of it being so close to Cersei’s dress is too large to ignore.
Caring

We also see that Alayne is actually very caring (if frustrated) with SR. The boy clearly is in some distress, and it is possible that Marillion is still alive and that LF is tormenting him. However, SR talks about hearing him even when he puts his “pillow” over his head, which makes me suspect they might actually be nightmares.

We also see LF’s disgust with the boy, and Alayne (although not aware of the meaning) does hear LF tell the Maester to give SR sweetsleep. What also comes through in this chapter is her guilt about implicating Marillion in Lysa’s death.

He needed a tongue to confess.

Songs and Stories

In the last couple of chapters, we have seen Sansa move away from her love of songs and stories. In this chapter we see her dismiss a curse, which she previously would have been wary of.

Curses are only in songs and stories.” That seemed to amuse him.

Sadly, LF seems to be pleased that he is destroying her love of tales and the change in her personality.

Politics

We see Sansa learn more and more about how to manipulate people in this chapter. She is observing LF, and worked out that Corbray was in LF’s pocket, which was very astute. LF has the Vale lords in his pocket. She is also playing another role where people do not pay any attention to her, but she is free to hear what they say.

Also, there was one interesting line from LF, which may mean nothing but he does say:

Go home and leave my son in peace.

Is perhaps SR actually his son and not Jon Arryn’s?
Safety

Again, desiring home and a place of safety have been large factors in her arc. She currently has no home, and she is still afraid (and rightly so) of Cersei and what will happen to her if she is found. At her suggestion of leaving LF asks where would they go.

Still, where would you have us go, Alayne? Back to my mighty stronghold on the Fingers?” She had thought about that.

She suggests they go to Harrenhal. The mention of the Fingers as a place of sanctuary, or Harrenhal, could foreshadow a visit to the castle or a life on the Fingers.

Sandor

In this chapter, she compares Bronze Yohn (the man who she briefly considers turning to for help) to Sandor.

The Lord of Runestone stood as tall as the Hound. Though his hair was grey and his face lined, Lord Yohn still looked as though he could break most younger men like twigs in those huge gnarled hands. His seamed and solemn face brought back all of Sansa’s memories of his time at Winterfell.

He is a link to happier times at Winterfell and the memories of his son are ones of a crush.

. . . when his son rode north to take the black.” She had fallen wildly in love with Ser Waymar, she remembered dimly, but that was a lifetime ago, when she was a stupid little girl.

It is sad that she now seems to see romance and crushes through such a cynical screen. However, it may be reading too much into things, but she does associate Bronze Yohn with strength and safety and his son with desire. A comparison to Sandor again may highlight an unconscious attraction.

The Younger Queen

Along with the purple gown, there are other links in this chapter to her and (f)Aegon. Both are in similar situations: pretending to be the children of men who were in unrequited love (or professed to be in love) with one of their parents. A parent that was subsequently killed, and they have to hide and pretend to be someone else to save them. Indeed, (f)Aegon even uses hair dye from Tyrosh, just like Sansa.

The wash had come from Tyrosh, across the narrow sea.

Stone Giant

The following phrase could mean nothing, but given the Mountain’s use of a lance in AGOT and Sansa being told of it, and of course her marriage to Tyrion, it may again hint to the savage giant being Tyrion or Ser Robert Strong.

The snow-clad summit of the Giant’s Lance loomed above her, an immensity of stone and ice that dwarfed the castle perched upon its shoulder.

AFFC

Alayne II (Sansa III)

by Brashcandy

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS

Sansa’s final chapter in AFFC begins with a mature depiction of Alayne, making final preparations for the descent from the Eyrie and taking charge of the difficult task of making Sweetrobin amicable and agreeable to the journey. Sansa has obviously grown accustomed not only to being in charge of the Eyrie’s household, but in having to lie to Sweetrobin in order to be able to control the boy’s behaviour and thoughts. The lies that she found difficult to repeat in the first chapter, now come smoothly and effortlessly:

Did Maester Coleman send you?” the boy asked.

“No,” she lied. “I heard my Sweetrobin was ailing.” After his encounter with the chamber pot the maester had come running to Ser Lothor, and Brune had come to her. “If m’lady can talk him out of bed nice, “ the knight said, “I won’t have to drag him out.”

We can’t have that, she told herself.

Throughout Sansa’s conversation with the boy, she is willing to do anything and say just about anything in order to get him calm enough to be dressed by the maids. Her approach with the boy is understandable given how much this conversation illustrates the extent of Sweetrobin’s spoiled nature, but later during her conversation with the maester it becomes clear just why such an approach is dangerous. Even though Sansa as yet does not realise the true danger that the boy is in, she has taken on the role of Littlefinger’s surrogate, working to allay the boy’s fears in order to keep up appearances:

Who would want to hurt my Sweetrobin? Your lords and knights adore you, and the smallfolk cheer your name.” He is afraid, she thought, and with good reason. Since his lady mother had fallen, the boy would not even stand upon a balcony, and the way from the Eyrie to the Gates of the Moon was perilous enough to daunt anyone.

Sansa has mastered the art of manipulation when it comes to Sweetrobin, knowing just what to say and how to say it, in order to get the boy to behave, yet she realises that Sweetrobin often takes liberties with her that he would not dare to with Petyr:

I want a hundred lemon cakes and five tales!”

I’d like to give you a hundred spankings and five slaps. You would not dare behave like this if Petyr were here. The little lord had a good healthy fear of his stepfather.

As she is about to call the servants in to get him ready, Sweetrobin throws his arms around her neck and kisses her:

It was a little boy’s kiss, and clumsy. Everything Robert Arryn did was clumsy. If I close my eyes, I can pretend he is the Knight of Flowers. Ser Loras had given Sansa Stark a red rose once, but he had never kissed her… and no Tyrell would ever kiss Alayne Stone. Pretty as she was, she had been born on the wrong side of the blanket.

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

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

What’s interesting in this passage is that Sansa never actually names Sandor. Obviously we know she’s talking about him, but the fact that he remains nameless helps to contribute to the idea that he could be any hero in a song. Her memory of that event has cast Sandor in the role of the dashing knight who comes and takes two things associated with romance and passionate attraction—a song and a kiss—leaving the fair maiden behind with some mere token of that affection. Sansa’s words reveal both a longing and a bitterness over having been left with “nothing but a bloody cloak,” and her attempt to quickly dismiss this as belonging to Sansa’s world, an identity that she believes she won’t be reclaiming anymore, makes one naturally suspect that she isn’t so comfortable with putting these thoughts to rest, but feels compelled to do so because of circumstances. However, this leaves us with a tantalising question: if Alayne is made to reclaim the identity of Sansa Stark, will this mean that she will necessarily have to confront and deal with these feelings for Sandor Clegane?

And yes, I think this passage confirms without a doubt that Sansa has feelings (of that kind) for Sandor. When Sweetrobin kissed her, she first thought of thinking about Loras Tyrell, but isn’t able to do so because she admits that Loras never kissed Sansa; but of course, we as readers are aware that Sandor never kissed her either. So on the one hand, we can appreciate Sansa’s growth from an idealistic young girl, romanticizing handsome knights like Loras, however, when it comes to Sandor, she’s still invested in a fantasy that has no basis in reality. The true feelings that she has for Sandor are responsible (IMO) for this discrepancy. Sansa’s maturity, involving her acute disenchantment with love and marriage, is preventing her from engaging in unrealistic fantasies of the Knight of Flowers, however, her romantic attachment to Sandor Clegane has only grown stronger, and her own memories have continued to resist the truth that he did not kiss her. Essentially, the fleeting infatuation with Loras Tyrell has passed, but her feelings for Sandor are much more substantive and real, and as such, continue to endure.

What’s also fascinating about Sansa’s thoughts here is that she has a sensory memory attached to the kiss:

She could still remember how it felt, when his cruel mouth pressed down on her own.

Not only does she remember a kiss taking place, but she recalls the actual sensation the kiss made. My reading of this is that it’s pure wish-fulfilment at work, but of course Martin doesn’t want to give too much away by actually having her describe how the kiss made her feel (Sandor’s mouth is described as cruel, but not the kiss). I think it’s important to note the gulf between Sansa’s first thoughts of this kiss back in ASOS, when she is with Margaery’s cousins, and now that she’s by herself in the Vale. Back then, her memory of the kiss was a little childish, an attempt to differentiate her “mature” experiences from the still innocent ones of the Tyrell girls. But this time, there’s none of that. Sansa now seems to be infusing the memory of the UnKiss with more sexual meaning, thinking of how it felt, more than simply remembering that it happened. Obviously we can attribute a lot of this to her growing up, and experiencing events like her own marriage and that of LF to Lysa, which bring sex and sexuality out into the open. Still, Martin seems to be continuing to weave a thread that was started back in ACOK in the relationship between Sansa and Sandor, and which continues to bind them together up to this point. In the two times that Sansa thinks of the Hound in this chapter, she’s not thinking of him as a protector or saviour, but rather as a man with whom she has shared very intimate experiences.

By contrast, Sansa’s thoughts of Littlefinger now echo the ones she had earlier of the Hound, when it’s arguable that she was still largely appreciative of his courage and guardianship. She says of LF:

I wish he were here. He would know what to do.

The earlier feelings of doubt and mistrust over LF all but seem to have disappeared in this chapter. Sansa seems to have truly adopted the identity of Alayne and the concomitant faith and reliance on her “father” that this entails. She’s also aligned her concerns with those of LF’s, with the result being that Sweetrobin’s health is being placed at risk:

Colemon only wanted the best for his charge, Alayne knew, but what was best for Robert the boy and what was best for Lord Arryn were not always the same. Petyr had said as much, and it was true. Maester Coleman cares only for the boy, though. Father and I have larger concerns.

This appears like a very callous reflection by Sansa, and strictly speaking, it is; but I don’t think it’s meant to portray Sansa/Alayne in a negative manner. Rather, I believe it highlights the danger that we’ve been noting ever since LF took Sansa under “his wing.” LF’s modus operandi is to put political concerns over those of people, and unfortunately, by implicating Sansa in his crimes and letting her know of the grave risks if they should ever be found out, he has managed to seduce her into embracing his vision, one that she now espouses in association with him. I know there’s a belief by some that Maester Colemon didn’t do a good enough job of making Sansa understand the serious threat that the sweetmilk presents to Robert, but I personally don’t agree with this. It’s not a matter of Sansa not caring, but rather that she seems to believe that she can’t afford to care. This perhaps is another pitfall of playing the game and becoming a player: you lose sight of the human costs of your actions, you begin as Sansa does here, to see people as two entities, rather than one, and you make the mistake in thinking that what affects one entity won’t affect the other. A sophisticated player like LF is all too aware of this human cost, and how to expertly exploit it; Sansa is prioritizing the necessity of her survival and unaware just yet that this might be bought with her cousin’s life:

It will mean my head if I am found, she reminded herself as she descended a flight of icy stone steps. I must be Alayne all the time, inside and out.

This assertion eerily echoes what LF told her in the first chapter of AFFC:

You are Alayne, and you must be Alayne all the time. Can you do that? Can you be my daughter in your heart?

At that time, Sansa answered by agreeing with what LF wanted to hear, but now she is determined to commit to this identity unreservedly.

Her thoughts on Lothor Brune’s feelings for Mya Stone reminded me of something that the old Sansa would be interested in (romance/matchmaking), but this time the specific details of that romance, a lowborn knight’s interest in a bastard girl is particularly suited to the concerns of someone like Alayne Stone.

Alayne wondered what Mya Stone made of Ser Lothor. With his squashed nose, square jaw, and nap of woolly grey hair, Brune could not be called comely, but he was not ugly either. It is a common face but an honest one… Sober, he was a quiet man, but a strong one. And Petyr says he’s loyal. He trusts him as much as he trusts anyone. Brune would be a good match for a bastard girl like Mya Stone, she thought. It might be different if her father had acknowledged her, but he never did. And Maddy says she’s no maid either.

Given the similarities that Martin has established between Sandor and Lothor, it seems fair to say that this passage is as a much about Sansa and Sandor as is it about Brune and Mya. We’ve noted this before, but again we see how Sansa has come to value other things outside of birth and good looks. She’s able to appreciate that Lothor, with his values of honesty and loyalty, would be able to give a girl like Mya Stone a good life. As noted, it’s tempting to read this as a direct parallel to the relationship between Sandor and Sansa as well: if Sansa was to remain as Alayne Stone, then a man like Sandor (with cleansed reputation), even though he might never become a knight, would make a good match for her. However, the reason why these two don’t correspond to this “ideal” match is because their relationship started and developed when Sansa was still Sansa Stark, highborn maiden of Winterfell. Alayne thinks of Sandor and the bedroom incident as belonging to the past life of Sansa. So whilst it’s clear that bastard girls and lowborn men can find happiness together, it’s quite another thing to apply this as foreshadowing for Sansa’s future with Sandor. Their relationship is a lot more complex and subversive, and Sansa’s thoughts on Sandor are a thousand times more complicated as a result.

When she climbs into the basket with Sweetrobin to descend to the castle Sky, she thinks for a moment of how long it took for Lysa to fall that distance, but quickly admonishes herself:

No, I mustn’t think of that. I mustn’t!

In my opinion, this self-rebuke emphasizes what Sansa’s strategy has been in order to complete her identification with Alayne, and to steel herself against her fears and doubts. We saw it earlier with her thoughts on Sandor—the determination not to indulge in thoughts and memories that might remind her of another time, when she was “another” person, and now with those thoughts of Lysa which threaten to bring back the guilt she feels over the event. For Sansa to survive, even her thoughts cannot be treasonous to the reality that she has constructed for herself. I think it highlights the deep-seated insecurity she continues to feel, and that ultimately these thoughts will betray her, not necessarily to someone else, but to her own self. She isn’t comfortable with this role she has to play, although she’s doing a damned good job of it, and I expect that given the plans that Littlefinger reveals to her at the end of the chapter, we’re going to see some rebellion start to happen.

During the journey in the basket and later on across the narrow strip of mountain, Sansa plays the role of damsel in distress in order to calm Robert’s fears and prevent the little boy from having another shaking fit. Learning to play the damsel in distress whilst not actually being one appears like it’s going to be a cornerstone of Sansa’s game playing, particularly in how she relates to men. The strategy is successful in controlling Sweetrobin, and it’s noteworthy that another “game-player” and experienced woman like Randa Royce employs the same practice when dealing with Sweetrobin:

Lord Nestor’s daughter proved to be a short, fleshy woman, of an age with Mya Stone, but where Mya was slim and sinewy, Myranda was soft-bodied and sweet-smelling, broad of hip and extremely buxom. Her thick chestnut curls framed round red cheeks, a small mouth and a pair of lively brown eyes. When Robert climbed gingerly from the bucket, she knelt in a patch of snow to kiss his hands and cheeks. “My lord,” she said, “you’ve grown so big!

“Have I?” said Robert, pleased.

“You will be taller than me soon,” the lady lied.

Sansa is now entering a world of players, leaving behind the relative safety she enjoyed in the Eyrie. She is no longer the girl that went up the Mountain with hopes of her aunt being good to her:

Sansa Stark went up the mountain, but Alayne Stone is coming down. It was a strange thought.

Alayne Stone is coming down with far greater concerns than Sansa had going up, as well as with greater sophistication in playing the game and being wary of adversaries. It’s interesting how Sansa seems to draw strength from her identity as a bastard girl who has survived harrowing trials. She doesn’t close her eyes and let her mule lead the way, instead thinking:

… that seemed more something Sansa would have done, that frightened girl. Alayne was an older woman and bastard brave.

Her thoughts on being a bastard like Jon Snow further highlight how the identification with Alayne might have positive effects. Her understanding of what it’s like to be a bastard, to have people believe that it makes you unworthy of proper treatment and lacking in morals and values creates a bond with Jon that might not have come about otherwise.

If their initial conversation is anything to go by, Randa’s role in Sansa’s life will be to introduce the girl to a decidedly more mature way of thinking about men and their relationships with women.

Despite herself, Alayne found herself warming to the older girl. She had not had a friend to gossip with since poor Jeyne Poole. “Do you think Ser Lothor likes her as she is, in mail and leather?” she asked the older girl, who seemed so worldly-wise. “Or does he dream of her draped in silks and velvets?”

“He’s a man. He dreams of her naked.

Randa may be looking for the shock factor, but there’s an essential truth to her comments here, one that Sansa will undoubtedly encounter now that she is about to live at the Gates of the Moon and being charged with winning Harry’s heart. When Randa asks her about whether she knows what goes on in the marriage bed, we read:

She thought of Tyrion and of the Hound and how he’d kissed her, and gave a nod.

Thinking of Tyrion here is pretty straightforward, given that she was married to the man and was expected to go through with bedding him. However, once again, Martin gives us a fairly surprising thought about the Hound, which confirms how Sansa is seeing him in a very intimate light. She thinks of “how he’d kissed her,” suggesting that the Hound’s kiss was not chaste or innocent, but rather makes her think of the sexual activities between a man and a woman. That no kiss actually takes place, underscores the point that Sansa has created this fantasy of the Hound, and that she feels desire for him.

Sansa as the bastard girl Alayne now has two very different “role” models in Mya Stone and Randa Royce, with Mya serving to reflect the tenacity and courage that Sansa has learnt from her bastard persona, whilst Randa plays a familiar part to Sansa, that of the friend whom she can share gossip and stories with as she did with Jeyne Poole. Obviously we don’t know yet the relationship Sansa will develop with either girl, but they both appear to be ideally suited to teaching Sansa some lessons that she use to her benefit. On the topic of sex, love and marriage, Mya’s and Randa’s experiences reflect the same ones that Sansa has heard from Cersei, her aunt Lysa and about her mother, Catelyn. Ironically, Sansa’s lack of desire for her husband, but the clear attraction she feels for someone as “unsuitable” as the Hound, places her in closer understanding to what these women have gone through.

When they finally get reach the Gates of the Moon, and Sansa encounters the three knights meeting with Littlefinger, her response to the men is to be flirtatious and genial. She certainly gives no inkling of being a frightened girl wanted for kingslaying back in King’s Landing.

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

This natural yet artful way of speaking to men is something new for Sansa, and she masters it wonderfully, giving us a glimpse of what is to come if she has to turn on the charm during her time at the Gates of the Moon in order to play this dangerous game. Considering that one of these knights is actually looking for Sansa Stark, her performance here of a confident and bold young woman was important in helping to perhaps throw Ser Shadrich off her scent.

And now we come to the most disturbing part of the chapter: LF’s behaviour with Sansa. After she tells him that she’s glad he back, he replies:

I would never have known it from the kiss you gave me.” He pulled her closer, caught her face between his hands, and kissed her on the lips for a long time. “Now that’s the sort of kiss that says welcome home. See that you do better next time.”

“Yes, Father.” She could feel herself blushing.

At this point, LF is not even bothered to conceal his desire for Sansa, but is still making her keep up the ridiculous charade of viewing him as a father figure. It’s a twisted, and abusive relationship that he is forcing Sansa to endure, not to mention running the risk of having someone see them and blowing Sansa’s cover. That statement above, where the “yes, father” is juxtaposed with the description of Sansa’s blushing, perfectly captures the unnatural nature of this relationship, where Sansa has to view LF as a father, but is being made to face the discomfort of his sexual desire for her. As LF goes on to outline his plans for Sansa, he places her in more compromising positions, making her sit on his lap, and putting his fingers on her lips. Earlier in this chapter, Sansa noted that LF had told her that young girls were always happier with older men and that innocence and experience make for a perfect marriage. Based on his obvious desire for Sansa, along with those little words of wisdom, I feel confident in saying that I don’t expect that Littlefinger is truly planning on marrying Sansa off to Harry the Heir. I don’t know what he has planned, or how he plans to achieve it, but I believe that the only man he plans on having Sansa marry is himself, and that he is planning on ruling in the Vale, the North and the Riverlands.

His comments at the end of the chapter could have left no doubt in Sansa’s mind that LF is planning on killing off Sweetrobin, and now of course we have to wait to see what she will do. Before his revelation, she could have continued to delude herself into thinking that LF was looking out for the best interests of Lord Arryn of the Vale, but now it’s been confirmed that Robert Arryn has to die in order for Sansa Stark to be reborn. Sansa’s reaction to the Harry marriage pact might give us a clue to which way she will lean:

Petyr Baelish took her by the hand and drew her down onto his lap. “I have made a marriage contract for you.”

“A marriage…” Her throat tightened. She did not want to wed again, not now, perhaps not ever. “I do not… I cannot marry. Father, I …” Alayne looked to the door, to make certain it was closed. “I am married,” she whispered. “You know.

Sansa changes from saying that she does not want to be married to bringing up the reason why she cannot be married off. So she’s still hiding that strong aversion to marriage from LF, whilst he believes that all will be well when Cersei finally collapses upon herself, and Sansa is “safely widowed.” LF might tout Harry’s gallantry and his handsome looks, but these are qualities that Sansa no longer dreams about, at least not in the traditional sense as related to knights and knighthood. She’s just spent the chapter thinking about kissing Sandor Clegane, former Lannister dog and horribly disfigured man, and has grown to embrace her bastard identity and the freedom it affords her. Further, we’ve seen the pricks of conscience when she thinks about what happened to Lysa. Going along with the murder of Sweetrobin in order to fulfil a marriage contract she does not want, and to be with a young boy whose type she sees fit to ridicule rather than desire anymore, really doesn’t seem likely, even with the temptation of reclaiming Winterfell in the offer. Sansa has played LF’s game for a while now, but she’ll have to start playing for herself if she wants to achieve true independence and happiness. Right now, IMO, Sansa is legitimately a game player, but she’s playing under conditions that are abusive and hurtful to her personal development. She’s going to have remove Littlefinger as the game/Queen maker, and establish her own vision for her future.
Questions/thoughts on the chapter:

  • Who are the three queens? I’m thinking they are Cersei, Daenerys, and Margaery.
  • Littlefinger’s distaste for the similarity in names between Elys and Alys—I wonder how he would feel about Sandor and Sansa?
  • Will Myranda Royce be jealous when the marriage to Harry the Heir is announced given Alayne’s status as a bastard girl and her own hopes to marry him?
  • Sansa exclusively refers to Littlefinger as Petyr in this chapter, perhaps showing that she’s come to ignore the troubling nature of the man’s other identity, yet by the end of the chapter, Littlefinger seems to be fully back in operation. Surely she can no longer think of him as the genial Petyr and “father” after this?
  • As Sansa is descending down the Mountain, she thinks that the wind is howling fiercely, noting that:

It sounds like a wolf, thought Sansa. A ghost wolf, big as mountains.

Perhaps this might be foreshadowing of the eventual return of the wolves/Starks in TWOW?

AFFC

Sansa’s Development

by Brashcandy

Reflecting the narrow mountain passes and the dizzying heights of the Eyrie castles, AFFC represents the most dangerous stage in Sansa’s journey so far, with Sansa under threat from the seductive machinations of Littlefinger when it comes to game playing, and the personal and ethical conflicts related to her Alayne Stone identity and the treatment of her cousin, Robert Arryn.

Lies and Arbor gold

The first Sansa chapter of AFFC firmly establishes LF’s game playing strategies, which involve being able to skilfully manipulate persons by telling them what they want to hear, and privileging the concern for oneself over the suffering of others. By the end of the chapter, Sansa too has come to realise the benefit of this performance, vowing to adopt the identity of Alayne Stone because she knows it is what LF wants to hear, and what will guarantee her the protection she needs:

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

This concurrence marks Sansa’s first real entry into the world of subterfuge and deception that characterises the game of thrones. She is making a conscious decision at this moment to hide her doubts and misgivings from LF, and to become someone else, to perform another identity. It’s notable then that her first entry into the game involves her telling a lie to the game-master himself, which parallels Arya’s choice to keep her hiding of Needle from the Kindly Man.

Sansa’s arc in AFFC also marks the end of her childhood, and an idealistic outlook that she managed to carry with her even through her worst times in King’s Landing. She is a much more wary and suspicious character in this novel, tempted but ultimately unwilling to confide in Bronze Yohn Royce:

She considered throwing herself at his feet to beg for his protection. He never fought for Robb, why should he fight for me? The war is finished and Winterfell is fallen.

As she becomes more disillusioned over the fate of Winterfell and everything connected to Sansa’s past, she becomes a lot more comfortable with the persona of Alayne Stone. Her bastard identity imbues her with a greater sense of confidence and courage, qualities that she needs to survive in a world where she can no longer count on high birth to protect her.

Father and I have larger concerns

We see a much more sophisticated Sansa in this novel; she’s the one called upon to handle Sweetrobin when he is giving trouble, and she’s essentially in charge of running the Eyrie’s household when LF is away. Added to this, she displays a great depth of curiosity about the nature of LF’s plans for the Lords Declarant and how he will be able to win them to his side. She isn’t content to let LF play the game but wants to know how the game is being played, and feels gratified when she is able to decipher what is going on:

He bewitched them, Alayne thought as she lay abed that night listening to the wind howl outside her windows. She could not have said where the suspicion came from, but once it crossed her mind it would not let her sleep. She tossed and turned, worrying at it like a dog at some old bone. Finally, she rose and dressed herself, leaving Gretchel to her dreams.

I felt the part about leaving Gretchel to her dreams was particularly symbolic of Sansa’s growth. She’s no longer the innocent young girl, able to dream and indulge in fantasies. Her interests now are clearly concerned with the world of the waking—political schemes and manipulative strategies. It’s important to stress that LF is teaching Sansa, and although his ultimate goal might be too have her under his control, she can use what she’s learning to negotiate her own freedom.

Sansa is also focused on self-preservation a lot more in this novel. She’s faced enough harrowing dangers and lost her trust in too many people, and it’s resulted in her taking a rigid stance relating to Sweetrobin and the sweetsleep that the maester warns against giving too frequently. In ACOK, we saw Sansa acting on instinct, saving Dontos’ life, and calming the women during the Blackwater, but I got the sense in reading her AFFC chapters that anything she does and say now is carefully considered and measured.

That day was done, and so was Sansa

Martin makes it clear in AFFC that Sansa is truly in her maidenhood stage, with her thoughts turning to Sandor Clegane and the kiss he took from her, in a memory that is filled with a sense of longing:

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

Meeting with more experienced women like Randa Royce and Mya Stone also seems like a natural development on this path to sexual maturity, and this is where her bastard identity might give her some freedom to explore future desires of this nature.

I found a comment by Lyanna Stark on LF’s role in all this to be particularly enlightening:

It was a bit worrisome at first when Cersei seemed to be the only woman with anything else but “dutiful marriage” in mind, but like a lot of things we took for granted in AGOT, that’s been turned on its head as well. Asha and Arianne are both examples of where really free-spirited women (and absolutely not chaste) are still accepted by their families and incidentally supported by their fathers quite a lot. LF seems to push Sansa into the same general direction. While LF is a super creepy git, he’s definitely acting like an enabling father figure here that maybe even The Ned was not able to, since his view of Sansa was of his little girl, not of a grown woman able to deceive, lie and play people. As strange as it is, LF is actually in many ways enabling Sansa to reach her full potential.

Although it’s becoming disturbingly clear that LF wants to reap the benefits of Sansa’s physical and sexual development, he’s still playing an important role in providing her with the tools which might ultimately enable her to become an independent power player and someone who’s comfortable with exploring their sexuality. What’s noticeable in AFFC is that Sansa is someone who rises to the challenges and responsibilities put before her. Had she remained a privileged girl of Winterfell, she might never have known just what she was capable of, and what her true strengths were. Her arc in AFFC highlights her intelligence and natural skill in dealing with others.

However, as I noted in my introduction, although this time is providing Sansa with lots of productive opportunities for growth and personal development, it’s still a significantly dangerous part of her arc, where she has to walk a fine line between looking out for herself, and making sure she doesn’t exploit others in the process (Sweetrobin); not allowing herself to become so involved in the strategies of game playing that she forgets there’s always a human cost involved (Lyn Corbray and the promise of gold and boys); and perhaps most importantly, not burying her innate distrust and suspicions of LF.

Overall, the image of Sansa in the novel:

  • Conflicted in the beginning over her complicity in Marillion’s arrest, but gradually becoming more comfortable with lies and lying. She begins to see them as being necessary to ensure her own survival and to keep Sweetrobin happy. She’s not exactly wrong in these estimations, but of course the danger is that the lies continue to escalate until something disastrous occurs.
  • Near complete loss of idealism: pretending to be the damsel in distress to soothe Sweetrobin, but nowhere near that naïve or helpless anymore. No longer finds the innocent pleasure in songs.
  • Very perceptive and astute: notices that Corbray’s smile doesn’t reach his eyes. She doesn’t simply accept what the servants say about Marillion but pays attention to the man when he brought before her. She guesses that LF signed the document making Royce the Keeper of the Gates of the Moon, so that the man would be beholden to him. Realises that LF did nothing to help her out in KL, but also realises that her life depends on playing along with him for the time being.
  • Greater confidence in using her feminine charms to disarm men: seen in her flirtatious behaviour with the knights in LF’s employ.
  • Replacement of Sandor Clegane as a conscious sexual fantasy over her old preference in Loras Tyrell. Highlighting just how far Sansa has come in terms of her romantic interests. She’s no longer interested in imagining some fantasy with Loras but rather invests her thoughts on the night the Hound came to her room. Of course, the fact that the kiss never happened is the glaring inconsistency here, but still, I think her inability to imagine Loras Tyrell in a romantic situation anymore speaks volumes.
  • Potential Queen of Westeros? LF’s final words are about her retaking Winterfell, but there’s a distinct possibility that he has greater plans in store for her that may involve the Iron Throne and not her Northern birthright. There’s foreshadowing in her arc that might hint at an involvement with the Targaryen storyline, not to mention her own training and natural inclinations are suited to courtly environments.
  • At the end of AFFC, Sansa’s future still remains very much in the air, and is tied to how much she is willing to sacrifice, and if indeed she longs for more personal peace or to reclaim her birthright. Right now, she’s becoming skilled in how to play the game of thrones, but we still have no direct assertion from her that she’s interested in more than simply making sure that she’s able to avoid her enemies. Just how much does Sansa really want to play the game?

AFFC

Symbolism & Foreshadowing

by Rapsie

Life is not a song — Life unfortunately is becoming a song

(Also known as the Do You Know the Way to San Jose?/Winterfell analogy)

With a dream in your heart you’re never alone,

Dreams turn to dust and blow away

So the small-town girl dreams of the city and the wonderful adventures she will have there. The reality does not live up to the expectation. That does not mean that the girl is not living in the city. It means that she had never anticipated the truth behind the dreams. Now she just wishes to return to the peace and safety of her old life, but doesn’t know how to get there.

Similarly, Sansa initially thinks of life as a song. However, she had never really understood the truth behind those songs: impossible love, heartbreak and death. The songs may be pretty, but that lives of the people on whom they were based were not always. Sansa’s life in Winterfell was hardly song-worthy: it was however safe and loving. Since her father’s death, she has been a captive and had to fear for her life. While unpleasant, this is part of being a hostage.

However, her forced marriage, dramatic escape via cliff face at a wedding where the King is murdered, followed by a disguise in the Eyrie, helping the young and sickly Lord down from the Eyrie, are all worthy events in any song. Sansa’s life has become the stuff of songs, just when she seems to have lost her faith in them.

SONGS

Up until AFFC, we have repeatedly seen mention of songs in Sansa arc. AFFC is no different.

Although she tries to drown them out and doesn’t want to hear them, Marillion:

… sang of the Dance of the Dragons, of fair Jonquil and her fool, of Jenny of Oldstones and the Prince of Dragonflies. He sang of betrayals and murders most foul, of hanged men and bloody vengeance. He sang of grief and sadness.

The Dance of the Dragons is a song that recounts the civil war that erupted between members of House Targaryen. It is usually sung by two singers, one female, one male. It is not one song, but a collection of ballads woven together to tell the story (From the Wiki).

Interestingly, it is sung twice in front of Sansa. Once at Joff’s wedding and then at the Eyrie. Could this relate to her having a role in the upcoming battle between Aegon and Dany?

Jonquil and her Fool: A song that has been central to Sansa, and one of the main two songs associated with her arc, along with Naerys and the Dragonknight. Given the recent discussion about not saying Sandor’s name but referring to him obliquely, I note that instead of saying Florian and Jonquil, Florian has become “her fool.”

A bit off-topic, but in The Hedge Knight we learn a little more about the tale of Florian and Jonquil, and it seems to involve a giant and a dragon and Florian slaying the giant. However, it is described as:

… sad and sweet both, with a sprightly swordfight at the end, and a nicely painted giant.

I wonder if Sandor will in fact die for Sansa whilst slaying a giant. Although there is still the possibility of two giants: the one in Bran’s dream and the savage giant Sansa is meant to slay. The nicely painted giant made me think of LF and his mockingbird symbol.

It also says:

I like how you make them move, Jonquil and the dragon and all. I saw a puppet show last year, but they moved all jerky.

Now, the puppets are being moved by a Dornish woman. I wonder if this is hinting at Arianne Martell having an involvement in scheming with Aegon (or later on Sansa). Also, the jerky movements could be a hint at Sandor’s wounded leg.

Jenny of Oldstones and the Prince of Dragonflies: The Prince of Dragonflies was Duncan Targaryen, also known as Duncan the Small, who gave up his crown for the lowborn Jenny of Oldstones, who wove flowers in her hair. Apparently, Sophie Turner’s clothing in the TV series is decorated in dragonflies.

This could foreshadow a link to the Targs (perhaps Aegon), or it could symbolise her giving up her birthright to marry someone lower born than she is. Or, I hate to say it, but as he was known as Duncan the Small, it could be a Tyrion reference. Then again, he was only small compared to his namesake Duncan the Tall, who was nearly 7 feet tall.

All the songs he sings seem to be sad ones, though, and I think it could foreshadow that Sansa’s song will not be a happy one in the end. It also highlights that not all songs are nice ones and echoes Cersei’s comments about there being a dearth of good sacking songs.

HIDING and HOME

Since standing on the battlements of the Red Keep and forced to look at her father’s head, Sansa has wanted to go home. She has wanted to be safe again. We have seen LF tell her that her home is gone and she will now have to make her own home. We also see her take on a new identity. One that grants her more freedom, but also keeps her tied to LF. Here we see a juxtaposition between home/ safety and power/ politics.

She wanted to crawl back into bed and hide beneath the blanket, to sleep and sleep.

. . .

Littlefinger and Lord Petyr looked so very much alike. She would have fled them both, perhaps, but there was nowhere for her to go. Winterfell was burned and desolate, Bran and Rickon dead and cold, Robb had been betrayed and murdered at the Twins, along with their lady mother. Tyrion had been put to death for killing Joffrey, and if she ever returned to King’s Landing the queen would have her head as well. The aunt she’d hoped would keep her safe had tried to murder her instead. Her uncle Edmure was a captive of the Freys, while her great-uncle the Blackfish was under siege at Riverrun. I have no place but here, Sansa thought miserably, and no true friend but Petyr.

. . .

I never asked to play. The game was too dangerous. One slip and I am dead.

Sansa is now hidden as Alayne, and I think the change of POV title could be foreshadowing who she is as a person. As Alayne, she has finally found some safety. However, she still feels like a Stark: which identity is she being built up to assume permanently? However, we have seen in ADWD the very definite change in title that accompanies Reek’s transformation to Theon. Will Alayne become Sansa again? Will she know her name?

Also, LF mentions the Fingers. It is still noticeable that bleak as it is, it is still a safe refuge.

Still, where would you have us go, Alayne? Back to my mighty stronghold on the Fingers?” She had thought about that.

DEAD MEN
bgona: 20th April post 221L:

– Sansa calls Marillion the dead man. Even staying him alive. Why did try to give us GRRM that idea that is a dead man?

Another subtle foreshadowing that Sandor Clegane is not dead. After all, not all dead men are dead.

BIRDS

We have seen the continued allusion to Sansa and birds. In AFFC, this continues.

The snow-clad summit of the Giant’s Lance loomed above her, an immensity of stone and ice that dwarfed the castle perched upon its shoulder. Icicles twenty feet long draped the lip of the precipice where Alyssa’s Tears fell in summer. A falcon soared wide against the morning sky. Would that I had wings as well.

CLOTHING

There was a gown of purple silk that gave her pause, and another of dark blue velvet sashed with silver that would have woken all the colour in her eyes, but in the end she remembered that Alayne was after all a bastard, and must not presume to dress above her station. The dress she picked was lambswool, dark brown and simply cut, with leaves and vines embroidered around the bodice, sleeves, and hem in golden thread. It was modest and becoming, though scare richer than something a serving girl might wear. Petyr had given her all of Lady Lysa’s jewels as well, and she tried on several necklaces, but they all seemed ostentatious. In the end she chose a simple velvet ribbon in autumn gold.

The choice of gown here may be a reference to Sandor Clegane’s House colours, or a contrast with Cersei’s visit to the High Septon. Sansa also turns away from the purple (Royal colours) gown and the blue and silver gown (House Arryn).

Indeed, clothing has been symbolic for Sansa ever since the first book and her ruined dress. As noted by:

Brashcandy 25th April post 203:

This is a girl who wrapped herself in a bloody cloak from as far back as ACOK, and later kept it between her summer silks. She’s long recognized or at least been subconsciously affected by the symbolic value of garments, and this is why I do think that Martin was trying to foreshadow a relationship with Sandor Clegane when he had her dress in those house colours.

Another comparison was made:

Elba the Intoner 25th April post 298:

However, the dress that Alayne picks reminded me of the acorn dress that Lady Smallwood gave Arya to wear when she was with the BWB at Acorn Hall. They are both trying to be kept in disguises that hide their high born status so perhaps that is another parallel between them we are being reminded of.

So Sansa and clothing again comes to the fore. Whether the clothing choice echoes Arya, Cersei or Clegane colours all seem up for dispute.
THE UNKISS

It was a little boy’s kiss, and clumsy. Everything Robert Arryn did was clumsy. If I close my eyes I can pretend he is the Knight of Flowers. Ser Loras had given Sansa Stark a red rose once, but he had never kissed her … and no Tyrell would ever kiss Alayne Stone. Pretty as she was, she had been born on the wrong side of the blanket.

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

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

The kiss that never was has already been said by GRRM to be important. Oddly, I have a friend who has just started reading the books in the last couple of months. He completely missed that the Hound hadn’t actually kissed her (He also missed the R+L=J and thought Jon’s mother was Elia of Dorne, and the Patchface Prophecies and the Red Wedding hint from the House of the Undying). I do wonder how much we read into things and how much of this re-read has actually highlighted very subtle foreshadowing.

Additionally, we have Sansa matchmaking a bastard girl with a lowly knight.

Alayne wondered what Mya Stone made of Ser Lothor. With his squashed nose, square jaw, and nap of woolly grey hair, Brune could not be called comely, but he was not ugly either. It is a common face but an honest one… Sober, he was a quiet man, but a strong one. And Petyr says he’s loyal. He trusts him as much as he trusts anyone. Brune would be a good match for a bastard girl like Mya Stone, she thought. It might be different if her father had acknowledged her, but he never did. And Maddy says she’s no maid either.

There is the possibility that Sandor does have his name cleared, but would it be too much for both Sansa and Sandor (accused of crimes they didn’t commit) to have their names cleared? That seems like too much of a “happy ending” for a GRRM novel.

As Brashcandy stated  in her 29th April post:

Given the similarities that Martin has established between Sandor and Lothor, it seems fair to say that this passage is as a much about Sansa and Sandor as is it about Brune and Mya. We’ve noted this before, but again we see how Sansa has come to value other things outside of birth and good looks. She’s able to appreciate that Lothor, with his values of honesty and loyalty, would be able to give a girl like Mya Stone a good life. As noted, it’s tempting to read this as a direct parallel to the relationship between Sandor and Sansa as well: if Sansa was to remain as Alayne Stone, then a man like Sandor ( with cleansed reputation), even though he might never become a knight, would make a good match for her. However, the reason why these two don’t correspond to this “ideal” match is because their relationship started and developed when Sansa was still Sansa Stark, highborn maiden of Winterfell. Alayne thinks of Sandor and the bedroom incident as belonging to the past life of Sansa. So whilst it’s clear that bastard girls and lowborn men can find happiness together, it’s quite another thing to apply this as foreshadowing for Sansa’s future with Sandor. Their relationship is a lot more complex and subversive, and Sansa’s thoughts on Sandor are a thousand times more complicated as a result.

Certainly, we are having foreshadowing since ASOS of Sansa’s disillusionment with marriage and desire to find a love of her own, and her growing acceptance of bastards and of highborn women not being faithful.

A TIME FOR WOLVES

It sounds like a wolf, thought Sansa. A ghost wolf, big as mountains.

A little bit dreary my interpretation of this. I am not sure any of the Starks, bar Rickon, will be returning to being Starks. Jojen’s greendream told him that the wolves will return, but I wonder if this signifies the actual remaining Direwolves and not the Starks. With Sansa disinherited (potentially) and wanted for murder in KL, it is very possible that she does decide to stay Alayne Stone. Equally, Bran is becoming a tree, and Arya may remain a FM. Rickon will remember so little of his childhood that the essential values of Cat and Ned are lost to him, and although a Stark, he will not have that connection with the past that his siblings did due to losing everything at such a young age. I think possibly the Starks will play a dramatic role in the future books, but it will never be revealed as such. Currently, Sansa, Arya and Bran are all becoming behind the scenes players who pull the strings of events without others being aware of them.

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