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Clegane, Sandor

“The Hound”

13th Level (Man-at-arms 12 / Brother of the Kingsguard 1)

The right side of his face was gaunt with sharp cheek-bones and a grey eye beneath a heavy brow… his hair thin, dark. He wore it long and brushed it sideways, because no hair grew on the other side of that face. The left side of his face was a ruin. His ear had been burned away; there was nothing left but a hole. His eye was still good, but all around it was a twisted mass of scar… Down by his jaw you could see a hint of bone where the flesh had been seared away.
— A Game of Thrones

There is only one man who wears a helm carved like a snarling hound, and they say his looks improve with the visor down. Sandor Clegane is as vicious as he is ugly, able to kill a knight or a butcher’s boy with equal ease. The Hound has no friends and no love. He does however, have very powerful patrons.

Sandor is an impressive warrior, so much so that Queen Cersei entrusts him to bodyguard her son. Cersei chose well, though his manners could do with a little polish. This grim and terrifyingly efficient guardian would say he works for the heaviest purse and the winning side, but a hound is a strange emblem for a man purely moved by mercenary reasons. Dogs can be strong or weak, fast or slow, but the one characteristic they all share is loyalty.

Sandor has no reason to develop any such quality. At best cold, at worst murderous, the Cleganes are not renowned for their sense of honour. Sandor’s older brother, Gregor Clegane, is the reason for Sandor’s ruined features. When Sandor was seven, he took one of his brother’s toys — a gift Gregor was too old to play with or value. Gregor, a full grown squire at the time, discovered the theft. He found his little brother, picked him up, and twisted his face into a brazier full of hot coals in retaliation, leaving Sandor permanently scarred. The boys’ father hushed the matter up and Gregor was knighted four years later. From that time on, the Cleganes barely acknowledged each other.

At the Hand’s tourney, when Gregor is unhorsed he flies into a murderous frenzy, and it is the Hound who steps forward saving Ser Loras and forcing Gregor to back off. Sandor matches strength with control, and ferocity with restraint. When the king commands them to cease, Sandor instantly goes to one knee, though it gives his brother a potentially fatal advantage. This is not the act of a man looking out for himself, but of a man who knows what loyalty really means. Sandor is ready to lay down his life for the king he respects, yet sneers at the concept of chivalry. No one knows better than Sandor Clegane how false the vows of knighthood can be.

Brave, strong, and loyal, Sandor consistently demonstrates the qualities of a good man behind the attitudes of a bad one. By the double standards of Westeros, it’s a winning combination. Beat a hound badly enough and it will learn to bite first in self-defence, but somewhere under all that anger is a worthy beast despite its uncertain temper. Desperate to protect himself, the Hound covers his decent nature by snarling at the world, as though he sees is better qualities as a weakness others will exploit. His underlying need for some kindness or recognition is revealed when he confides the secret of his disfigurement to Sansa Stark. Sansa is a child, innocent and reckless, with no great amount of common sense. No one knows why Sandor tells her his secret, possibly not even himself. Perhaps some part of him is desperate to make her understand the world behind the banners and trumpets of court and kings, to see the killer beneath the bright armour of a knight before she suffers a similar fate.

Sandor makes Sansa look at his destroyed face and admit that a terrible wrong was done to him. Once, long ago, the brutal Hound was an innocent child, just like everyone else. This is important, because no one else has admitted it in all Sandor’s life. He needs to hear it from someone with no connection to his situation, and yet, even this is a greater vulnerability than Sandor can admit. Having revealed so much of himself to another person, he threatens to kill her if she tells anyone.

Still, even after so threatening a bark, the Hound does not bite. After the death of her father, when Sansa is abused and tormented by Joffrey, Sandor shows her occasional deep kindness. Beaten by Joffrey’s knights, she is forced to recognise that vows do not a true knight make, the very same conclusion Sandor reached when he was seven. He never beats her at the prince’s bidding. He is no storybook hero to risk all for her, but neither is he a brute to punch her with mailed fists. Sandor Clegane is a killer, not a torturer; he kills because he is ordered to, not because he needs to inflict pain. It is this that marks the difference between Sandor and his brother.

Sandor is a complex man, hardened by a world more ugly than he could ever be. He laughs at foolish ideals all the time, particularly those of Sansa, at least until they are torn to shreds in front of her. Once she has lost everything, he tries to show her the lessons he had to learn alone: how to survive, how to keep going when dreams are dead. He tries to protect her and help her to protect herself. In that way, he is almost like a true knight — or a loyal hound.

– A Game of Thrones, Deluxe Edition Role-Playing Game and Resource Book

Baratheon, Cersei

(Queen)
10th Level (Noble 10)

The queen stood. “And what of my wrath, Lord Stark?” she asked softly. Her eyes searched his face. “You should have taken the realm for yourself. It was there for the taking… Such a sad mistake.”
“I have made more mistakes than you can possibly imagine,” Ned said, “but that was not one of them.”
“Oh but it was, my lord,” Cersei insisted. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
— Cersei Baratheon and Eddard Stark, A Game of Thrones

If there is one woman destined never to be a hearth-mate or homemaker, she is undoubtedly Cersei Lannister. The Lannister symbol is a lion and Cersei is undoubtedly a lioness, a golden-haired green-eyed feline among queens. Had she been born a whore, she would have been an empress of brothels. She was born noble, however, the first of two bright blond glittering twins fathered by Tywin Lannister and his beloved wife, Joanna. Little brother Jaime came out clutching his sister’s heel, and has been clutching other bits of her ever since.

Jaime would one day become a knight, wild and reckless of reputation. Had she been born male, Cersei would have out-Jaimed Jaime. She lacks no bravery when it comes to conflict, and would happily have slit half a dozen Targaryen throats to sit unchallenged on the Iron Throne. Unlike her brother, it would never have occurred to her to get off it. Unfortunately for Cersei, she was born female, and her path to conquest was never going to be that straightforward.

Cersei is the eldest of the Lannister children. As a male, she would be the heir to Casterly Rock, irrespective of looks, abilities, or any other factors. Because of her sex, however, she finds herself third in the line of succession. Anything she has must be given to her by her father or earned between Robert Baratheon’s bed sheets. It is not a situation designed to breed self-esteem. Kept back because of her sex and because there is room for only one Tywin-shaped ego in the family, it could be no surprise that this volatile, passionate woman’s nature would warp a little.

Under such circumstances, it might be thought that a woman like Cersei Lannister would become a Dacey Mormont or even a Mirri Maz Duur, finding power through arms or the occult. That, however, would not be Cersei’s way. She may crave self-determination, but in the end Cersei accepts the world into which she is born.

Cersei has taken on her culture’s distaste for women, so she both despises and treasures her own femininity. She has to work very hard for the gifts of command and influence given so easily to men of her station. As a result, she has no time for hapless females. At best, she will sneer at them; at worst, she will use them without a shred of pity. The world is harsh to women; to her mind, the sooner they learn how to use the rules to their own advantage, the better. If Cersei gave it a second thought, she might even argue that she does her own sex a favour by teaching them the lessons she had to learn by herself.

Cersei did indeed have difficult lessons to learn. When dealing with Lannisters, all roads lead to Casterly Rock, and the pervasive influence of Tywin. They pride themselves on a tradition of intelligence inherited from their famous ancestor, Lann the trickster. They use every resource they have to get what they want. They are abundant in wits, in wealth and in comeliness.

Like all the Lannister family — with the notable exception of Tyrion — Cersei is lovely to look upon. This alone makes her a treasure. The Lannisters understand the importance of appearances only too well. In a world where a woman’s worth is judged by her beauty, bloodline, and fertility, Cersei is worth a great deal. She may just be another breeder, but her owners can expect a fine price for her — nothing less than a crown.

Unfortunately for Cersei, the death of Lyanna Stark left Robert Baratheon an angry man. All her beauty could never mend his heart — something she could never forgive. Despite this failing, Cersei could certainly take care of his other needs. Sensual and exquisite of form, Cersei is extremely alluring. Robert Baratheon found nothing to object to in her person. This was the beginning of Cersei’s rise to power. Her father can subsidise a king, her brother can kill one, but neither can create one. That task, the creation of a Lannister monarch, came down to Cersei alone.

It would never be easy for someone of Cersei’s ego, already thwarted in ambition and expression, to become the bed mate of a man in love with another woman, though — especially a woman made ideal through death. Cersei could not even have the satisfaction of watching her rival grow old and ordinary. Lyanna Stark is forever the unattainable and tragic love in Robert’s life. The implicit rebuff, both to her status as his queen and her adequacy as his bedfellow, is more than she could possibly tolerate. She gave her royal husband three healthy, beautiful children to inherit his throne and continue his line … but none of them are his. Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are golden children, who resemble both mother and father, Cersei and Jaime Lannister.

It is hard to understand the complex link between twins, but by itself this does not explain the extent of the love between the Lannisters. They consider themselves to be bonded souls, perhaps even the same soul. It is not true. Jaime’s needs are very different to Cersei’s. Jaime may follow his sister’s lead, but he is a warrior; she is a politician.

It could be argued that Cersei’s feelings for Jaime is the nearest she will ever come to making love to herself, for they are so alike, so heroic looking, so beautiful. Whether she would love him so much were he not created in her own glorious image is a moot point. This might, however, explain Cersei’s contempt for her other brother, Tyrion. If Jaime is Cersei made male — a mirror of herself as she would wish to be — what is Tyrion but a grotesque distortion? Jaime is not the only Lannister male Cersei mirrors, though. Cersei inevitably echoes her father, the most powerful and successful being she knows in everything from her manipulation of her children to her personal disdain for Tyrion.

Her love for Jaime, however, is a radical departure from her father’s cool approach to matters of the heart. This alone is all her own feeling, and the intensity of it pulls her. It is dangerous, and yet comforting, for Jaime gives her most of the power in the relationship. While Jamie appears to be devoted to only Cersei, she in turn knows that her body is a weapon, and is willing to use it as needed, whether to deal with Robert’s occasional urges, or to attempt to seduce Eddard Stark. It is hard to tell whether she ever enjoys her lovers, or simply revels in the exercise of her personal power over men.

Incest is considered an abomination throughout the lands of Westeros, but curiously it does have a precedent in the royal house of Targaryen, where brothers and sisters become husbands and wives, kings and queens together. The theory was that it kept the blood pure. Cersei takes that precedent to heart, using it to justify her relationship with Jaime and her denial of her royal husband’s marital privileges. In at least two cases, those of Aerys II and Viserys — styled the Beggar King — the genetic inheritance seems to be mental instability, whatever the state of the blood. This situation repeats itself in the first child of Cersei and Jaime’s union: the heir to the throne of Baratheon, Prince Joffrey.

Cersei is so passionate and vivacious that even Tyrion, long since hardened to her wiles, finds her irresistible when joy overtakes her. When she is truly happy, she sparkles like a diamond. It is almost impossible not to love her. Cersei has not grown in circumstances where this bright side to her could develop, but it still reveals itself from time to time. Cersei Lannister is a brilliant but fickle friend, a proud and cunning foe, and above all, a guardian of her own power.

– A Game of Thrones, Deluxe Edition Role-Playing Game and Resource Book

Some instinct made her lift her hand and cup his cheek with her fingers. The room was too dark for her to see him, but she could feel the stickiness of the blood, and a wetness that was not blood. “Little bird,” he said once more, his voice raw and harsh as steel on stone.

A Clash of Kings, Sansa VII

The Unkiss sketch by mugiwaranami @ instagram

2

Modern AU Sansa and Sandor by 新幸 [pixiv]

“This is important! But you have to stay absolutely cool. I may be completely off-base, and panicking prematurely.”

“I don’t think so. I think you’re panicking post-maturely. In fact, if you were panicking any later it would be practically posthumously. I’ve been panicking for days.”

—  Lois McMaster Bujold, Cetaganda
4

The roll of arms from the Ashford Tourney, per the Hedge Knight TPB, 2nd edition. Sigils designed by Mike S. Miller, westeros.org, and Richard M. Boyé.

(Note the last set includes custom sigils designed for the creators of the comic. Elio Garcia’s sigil as “Randor the Exile” also appears in the third image.)

There was a crowd in the street. In the centre there rose the bulk of Constable Dorfl, and a key thing about the golem was that if he was banging a drum then no-one was going to ask him to stop. No-one except possibly Lord Rust, who strode up and snatched the drumsticks out of his hands.
“Yerss, it are species of your choice’s life in der First of Foot!” shouted Sergeant Detritus, unaware of the events going on behind him. “You learnin’ a trade! You learnin’ self-respek! Also you get spiffy uniform plus all der boots you can eat – here, dat’s my banner!”
“What’s the meaning of this?” said Rust, flinging the homemade banner on to the ground. “Vimes can’t do this!”
A figure detached itself from the wall, where it had been watching the show.
“You know, I rather think I can,” said Vimes. He handed Rust a piece of paper. “It’s all here, my lord. With references citing the highest authorities, in case you are in any doubt.”
“Citing the–?”
“On the role of a knight, my lord. In fact the duties of a knight, funnily enough. A lot of it is pretty damn stupid stuff, riding around the place on one of those bloody great horses with curtains round it and so on, but one of them says in time of need a knight has to raise and maintain – you’ll laugh when I tell you this – a body of armed soldiers! No-one could have been more surprised than me, I don’t mind telling you! Seems there’s nothing for it but I have to go out and get some chaps together. Of course, most of the watch have joined, well, you know how it is, disciplined lads, anxious to do their bit, so that saved me a bit of effort. Except for Nobby Nobbs, ‘cos he says if he leaves it till Thursday he’s going to have enough white feathers for a mattress.”
Rust’s expression would have preserved meat for a year.
“This is nonsense,” he said. “And you, Vimes, certainly are no knight. Only a king can make–”
“There’s a good few lordships in this city created by the Patricians,” said Vimes. “Your friend Lord Downey, for one. You were saying?”
“Then if you persist in playing games I will say that before a knight is created he must spend a night’s vigil watching his armor–”
“Practically every night of my life,” said Vimes. “A man doesn’t keep an eye on his armor round here, that man’s got no armor in the morning.”
“In prayer,” said Rust sharply.
“That’s me,” said Vimes. “Not a night has gone by without me thinking, "Ye gods, I hope I get through this alive.”
“–and he must have proved himself on the field of combat. Against other trained men, Vimes. Not vermin and thugs.”
Vimes started to undo the strap of his helmet.
“Well, this isn’t the best of moments, my lord, but if someone’ll hold your coat I can spare you five minutes…”
In Vimes’s eyes Rust recognized the fiery gleam of burning boats.
“I know what you’re doing, Vimes, and I am not going to rise to it,” he said, taking a step back. “In any case, you have had no formal training in arms.”
“That’s true,” said Vimes. “You’ve got me there, right enough. No-one ever trained me in arms. I was lucky there.” He leaned closer and lowered his voice so that the watching crowd wouldn’t hear. “Y'see, I know what 'training in arms’ means, Ronald. There hasn’t been a real war in ages. So it’s all prancing around wearing padded waistcoats and waving swords with knobs on the end so no-one’ll really get hurt, isn’t it? But down in the Shades no-one’s had any training in arms either. Wouldn’t know an epee from a sabre. No, what they’re good at is a broken bottle in one hand and a length of four-by-two in the other and when you face 'em, Ronnie, you know you aren’t going off for a laugh and a jolly drink afterwards, 'cos they want you dead. They want to kill you, you see, Ron? And by the time you’ve swung your nice shiny broadsword they’ve carved their name and address on your stomach. And that’s where I got my training in arms. Well… fists and knees and teeth and elbows, mostly.”
“You, sir, are no gentleman,” said Rust.
“I knew there was something about me that I liked.”

— Terry Pratchett, Jingo