Recently I was a guest on one of my all-time favourite podcasts – A Podcast of Ice and Fire. We discussed Vassals of Kingsgrave; Valentine’s Day; the 15-minute Special for the upcoming Game of Thrones season; and recapped the fourth Sansa chapter from A Clash of Kings. I just wanted to give Amin and Kyle a big thanks for having me on. It was very strange to hear them talking to me, and saying my name. Once or twice I had to remind myself that I wasn’t listening to a regular podcast, and could interject on the conversation.
Here’s some extra notes on the Sansa chapter I forgot to mention (perhaps I was too starstruck):
- There’s a nice parallel between Jon’s last chapter and this one. At one point, each character stops to survey the landscape: they both see fires burning in the distance. I think this represents the literal and psychological dangers that loom. Technically they are safe, and the fires are far away, but a palpable dread looms large. In Sansa’s case, the prospect of having Joffrey’s child is worse than Stannis’ host. Her anxieties eventually spill out into the really frightened and desperate act of burning her mattress. She’s starting to lose it, and Cercei almost seems to take pity on her for that.
- Dontos makes a comment about how the power players watch each are constantly scrutinising each other, while the so-called fools of court—Sansa, Dontos, Moon Boy—are left to their own devices. In particular, he mentions Lady Tanda’s simple daughter, Lollys. Now, this is pure crackpot, but I’m wondering if Lollys has more intelligence and agency than she lets on. Obviousy what happens to her during the riots was horrfying, and she’ll bear those psychological scars for a long time. But if we move ahead to book 4, Bronn and Lollys have seized control of Stokeworth, a fairly major seat in the Crownlands. Now, while Bronn has a certain low cunning, he’s never struck me as a particularly savvy political animal, and is employed more as an instrument of violence by the real power brokers. Could his “simple” wife have been the one filling his ear with ambitious ideas?
- We assume Sansa’s vision of the mob is a flashback to the riots, but since so many dreams are prophetic, could it illuminate some future incidend? She recalls a thousand faces with monstrous inhuman masks. Could this be the Others? She also gets stabbed repeatedly, which didn’t happen during the riots. Of course, the knife is also part of her subconscious, her body telling her she’s started her period. She begs for the blood to stop, but her body has betrayed her: “unfurling a banner of Lannister crimson” (eww).
- Cercei says that love is fatal, but a lack of love is actually what contributes to her downfall. The reason Maegery wields such power and influence over the city, is because she is loved by the highborn and smallfolk. Cercei, on the other hand, is either lusted after, or feared. And the Faith robs her of both those assets.
- One the criticisms leveled against Sansa, particularly in this book, is that she is very passive. She is more like a fly on the wall, a window into the lives and actions of far more vital characters, such as Cercei, Littefinger, the Hound, and Joffrey. However, I think what we’re witnessing is Sansa learning how to act and observe. Inside, she is a tumult of emotions, but her exterior is demure and non-threatening. Much like Arya, she’s putting on various masks to blend into a very dangerous situation. I’ve heard it said that, for all of Arya’s resolve, she would never have survived in her sister’s place. The mask Sansa wears must be a lot more subtle and deliberate. Her weapons are words, and I think even this early in the series, we can see her honing those skills. Of course, in this chapter, we see some of that inner tumult spill out, when she tries to burn her mattress. It is definitely a “wild wolf” moment.
- Also, I don’t think Sansa gets enough credit for the courage she shows during ACOK. For example, Tyrion offers to house her in the Tower of the Hand, to protect her from Joffrey’s torments. However, she rebukes him, because she knows it will prevent her from seeing Dontos anymore. She refuses to let the dream of escape fade away. She is not resigned to her fate.